The Hilliard Davidson High School girls basketball team consistently played strong defense through its first 20 games, giving up only 39.3 points per contest while going 17-3.
With the Division I district tournament approaching, coach Joy Taylor said her squad is striving to become more efficient on offense as well.
Before playing Olentangy Liberty in an OCC-Central Division game Feb. 5, the Wildcats were 15-0 when scoring 42 or more points but only 2-3 when scoring fewer than 42.
"The biggest thing we want to improve on is executing our sets better so that we're clicking on all cylinders offensively," said Taylor, whose team is seeded eighth for the tournament and plays host to Canal Winchester on Feb. 16 in the first round. "When you play good defense you always have a chance to win, but we know that we need to score well to win games, too."
The Wildcats scored only five points in the first quarter en route to losing to visiting Westland 40-39 in a league game Jan. 29 to drop out of first place in the OCC-Central.
Before Feb. 5, Davidson was 10-2 in the OCC-Central, one game behind Dublin Coffman (11-1). Coffman played Westland on Feb. 5 and concludes league play against Liberty on Friday, Feb. 8.
Westland's Christina Simpson scored the go-ahead points on a layup with 8 seconds left, and the Wildcats weren't able to get off a shot before time expired.
Point guard Lauren Bates, guard Ashley Hurt and guard Ellen Onders each scored eight points for Davidson, which had been on a three-game winning streak.
The Wildcats bounced back Feb. 1 to win a league contest at Upper Arlington 58-43. Davidson led 20-3 by the end of the first quarter and never allowed the Golden Bears to cut their deficit to single digits.
The Wildcats outscored UA 20-3 at the free-throw line. Bates scored 18 points, Hurt scored 13, post player Bri Ekanem scored 10 and guard Hannah Fecht scored eight.
"The girls wanted to get back on track after our loss and we started the game well by scoring 20 points in the first quarter," Taylor said. "Upper Arlington's a good shooting team and that's a tough place to play, so this was a good win for us.
"We played together as a team, found the open man and we were in double figures in assists in the first half. That's the way we need to execute our offense."
The Wildcats wrap up the regular season Friday, Feb. 8, by playing host to Thomas Worthington. They beat the Cardinals 41-37 on Jan. 8, as Bates had 16 points and 12 rebounds and Hurt scored 10 points.
"The biggest trend I want to see us continue is playing together as one team," Taylor said. "We need the girls to support each other because that's important to our success. Our starters are all doing a good job, but we play eight people, and the three girls we have coming off the bench, Ellen Onders, (guard) Michaela Cunningham and (forward) Faryn Buchanan are contributing to our success as well."
Boys coach happy with team's progress
Boys coach Kevin Logsdon was pleased with his team's competitiveness last week, going 1-2 while battling injuries.
On Jan. 29, the Wildcats lost an OCC-Central game at Westland 70-42, as wing player Nick Potts scored 14 points and post player Michael Simon scored 11, even though Simon missed the fourth quarter with a knee injury.
Simon was able to return and score seven points in a 53-39 home league loss to Upper Arlington three days later, but Potts broke his collarbone during practice Jan. 30 and will miss the rest of the season.
Post player Michael Kreiser scored 10 points and wing player Luke Brorein scored eight to pace Davidson against UA.
"We were competitive with Westland for a while but after Mike banged his knee in the third quarter we fell apart a little bit," Logsdon said. "We played better against Upper Arlington. We just missed a lot of good shots and free throws.
"It's a shame that Nick got hurt, because he was shaking off the rust after missing some games because of his collarbone, and right when he was rounding into shape, he broke it again."
The Wildcats bounced back to defeat Caledonia River Valley 54-46 on Feb. 2, as Brorein scored 15 points, wing player Josh Stimmel scored 11 and Simon scored 10.
"Our kids have been resilient all year and they came back and played well against River Valley," Logsdon said. "We scored 19 points in the first quarter, and that's the most points we've had in a first quarter all season."
The Wildcats play an OCC-Central rematch Friday, Feb. 8, at Thomas.
The Cardinals beat the Wildcats 45-39 on Jan. 8, as senior guard Lance Leslie scored 13 points and senior point guard Will Hill scored 11. Simon scored 12 points for Davidson.
"We need to minimize the turnovers and mistakes we made the first time we played Thomas Worthington," Logsdon said.