Despite playing nearly the entire first half of its 22-game schedule without winning, the Hilliard Bradley High School boys basketball team didn't waiver from its work ethic and goal of building for the future.
"Our will and determination to fight never changed," coach Michael Limbird said. "Our young kids have adjusted to the banging of the game and aren't backing down. We've grown in so many ways. The guys are developing the broader parts of their game, whether that's post moves or defending."
The Jaguars defeated Teays Valley 60-51 on Jan. 5 in their 11th game. They fell to 1-13 overall and 0-8 in the OCC-Cardinal Division by losing to Dublin Jerome 68-54 on Jan. 18.
"The win over Teays Valley was a sigh of relief, and we were overwhelmingly excited," Limbird said. "Although the kids bring it every day in practice regardless, we needed the win. We lost a close one to (Hilliard) Davidson (38-37 on Dec. 28) and we played well. At that point we just wondered what it was going to take to break through. Fortunately, I think it prepared us for the win over Teays Valley."
Bradley did not return any starters from last season and has no seniors on the team. The Jaguars start a freshman, two sophomores and two juniors. The freshman is point guard Brandon Glenn.
"He's really starting to play very well," Limbird said. "At first, I think he was a little timid. He adjusted to playing with and against older kids on this team, but it took him awhile to get comfortable defending and attacking older opponents.
"But now he's very confident and is a leader on the floor for us. He doesn't try to do too much. He knows when to attack and when to facilitate. He's getting much better at breaking down defensive pressure and getting our offense started."
Glenn, who scored a team-high 15 points against Jerome, recalled the first time last spring that he was asked to play point guard with the varsity lineup.
"It was an open gym at Watterson and when I got the opportunity I was pretty surprised at first," he said. "But I play in AAU at a high level. When we went to team camps at Ohio State and Ohio University, I became the starter. So I've had some time to prepare for this."
What helped Glenn is that he had played with many of the older players on the team at some point.
"They welcomed me pretty well," he said. "We're a young team. It's not like I'm a captain on a team full of seniors or anything like that. We're all pretty good friends and we respect each other. Plus, our coach makes most of the decisions and play calls except on fast breaks.
"(Limbird) told me I'm playing like a sophomore or junior and that maybe next year I can make more decisions. (The transition from AAU to varsity) hasn't been as tough as I thought it would be at first."
The Jaguars are hoping to be more competitive in the second round of OCC-Cardinal play.
"We're excited to see how much improvement we've made," Limbird said. "We want to cut down on some of the margins of losses and we hope to win some as well. We've got a great group of unselfish and hard-working players and I think that is evidenced by our locker room. I don't know of too many teams who can (start) 0-10 (without) fighting or pointing fingers and playing the blame game.
"We've had none of that. These kids enjoy working and playing together and it's going to pay off later this year and next year."
Girls team falls in third-place battle
In a battle for third place in the OCC-Cardinal, Jerome held off the Bradley girls team 35-32 on Jan. 18.
The Jaguars fell to 5-4 in league play, a game behind Jerome (6-3). Westerville North is 9-0 and Dublin Scioto is 7-2. Rounding out the standings are Westerville South and Westerville Central at 4-5, Hilliard Darby at 1-8 and Worthington Kilbourne at 0-9.
Forward Meredith Miller scored 12 points against Jerome.
Miller and guard Shelby Haworth both scored 10 points in a 38-24 non-league win over Olentangy Liberty on Jan. 15.