Coach Mark Hess is maintaining a positive outlook even though his Hilliard Darby High School boys basketball team lost its first four games.
The Panthers were 0-4 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Canal Winchester on Dec. 17.
"It's tough to gauge because when you're 0-4, everyone looks at the record," Hess said. "We have made strides and have played a tough schedule."
Darby lost to Thomas Worthington 54-35 in its opener Nov. 29 before losing another non-league game to Marysville 68-44 on Dec. 3.
Junior guard Jordan Clark led the Panthers with eight points against Marysville, while junior guard Joey Schneider had seven points. Junior guard Mo Museitif and sophomore guard Nick Powers both scored six points.
On Dec. 11, the Panthers lost their league opener to Westerville North 63-45 as Clark and Schneider had 12 points apiece. Senior guard Taylor Van Winkle and junior guard Lorenzo McLaurin both had seven points.
"We're a small team (in stature) and we lost a lot of experienced players," said Hess, whose team's tallest players are 6-foot-3 senior forward Zach Cowen and 6-2 junior forward Josh Palsgrove. "Marysville is big and physical and Westerville North is bigger at every position than we are and they have a good program. It was tough playing pretty good teams to start the season. It definitely was a learning experience for us."
Darby lost an OCC-Cardinal game to Dublin Jerome 65-53 on Dec. 13. Trailing 31-24 at halftime, the Panthers scored only four points in the third quarter as Jerome led 49-28 entering the fourth.
"We played better with a good first quarter and didn't play bad in the second," Hess said. "We just missed some shots in the third and gave them some easy points in transition to help them to extend the lead.
"We're still encouraged about what we saw (against Jerome). We only scored four points (in the third), but we had some great looks and they had some good chances in transition that they converted."
Girls team looks for consistency
Before playing Canal Winchester on Dec. 17, the girls team still was looking for its first victory.
Darby was 0-5 overall and 0-3 in the OCC-Cardinal.
"We continue to work hard in games and in practice," coach Jodi Korbas said. "We knew we were going to have some growing pains.
"We need to be more consistent on the defensive end. ... We need to be more consistent as a team. We haven't been able to put together a consistent game. We play well one quarter and not so well the next."
The Panthers opened Nov. 26 with a 43-34 league loss to Hilliard Bradley as freshman guard Jessica Cox scored 17 points and senior point guard Caitlin Snyder added nine.
Cox scored 10 points in a 56-28 loss to Marysville on Dec. 3. Senior forward Erika Boyd, junior guard Nicole Carter and freshman guard Gabby Iosue all scored four points.
Darby lost to Westerville North 56-28 in a league game Dec. 9. Junior guard Bekah Sislowski led with four points, and Iosue and Snyder had three points apiece.
The Panthers lost to Upper Arlington 54-13 on Dec. 10 as Boyd scored four points and Sislowski had three.
"We played some pretty good teams like UA and Westerville North, and we stuck with Bradley and Jerome (in a 49-39 league loss Dec. 13)," Korbas said. "We played well against Jerome, but (the Celtics') offensive rebounding hurt us and we had some unforced turnovers."
Cox led with 10 points against Jerome and Caitlin McCarthy added eight points.
"(Snyder) has been steady for us, but she's not a true point guard," Korbas said. "But that's the kind of player that she is. She will do anything for the good of the team.
"(Snyder) works so hard to get the ball up court that a lot of times she is a little off on her shot. Hopefully we can move her to off-guard. We're working other players there to see if that can happen."