The Watkins Memorial High School boys basketball team lost its seventh consecutive game Jan. 15 when Utica freshman Mitchell Marston stole an inbounds pass with 2.5 seconds remaining and made a layup at the buzzer for a 52-51 victory.
The Warriors were denied their first win since Dec. 18, when they beat Big Walnut 58-44, and their play irked second-year coach Pat Dimmick.
"We played awful and we continue to make the same mistakes we've made most of the season," he said.
"We didn't deserve to win the game because we couldn't finish and we couldn't finish because we didn't execute. We have guys lining up in wrong positions and missing assignments and it's really frustrating."
The Warriors took a 47-38 lead when junior forward Hunter Holton made two free throws on an intentional foul by Utica with 2:41 remaining.
Watkins Memorial led 47-42 with 1:15 left and had the ball. After a timeout, the Warriors threw away the inbounds pass and Broc Stradley made a 3-pointer.
Following two free throws with 11.7 seconds left that gave the Warriors a 51-47 lead, Utica's Trever Smith made a 3-pointer from the left corner with 2.5 seconds to play and Watkins Memorial called timeout.
The Warriors' inbounds pass under their basket was behind senior post player Kevin Crawford, and Marston stole it and scored uncontested.
"Obviously, it's a rough one to lose, but the game wasn't lost in the end," Dimmick said. "We played terrible in the first quarter. We didn't decide to play until midway through the second quarter. We've got to play a full 32 minutes and we didn't start or finish well.
"Our goal this season is progression and learning to be competitive. We want to get better daily and we haven't done it. There's nothing positive to take out of this game, even if we would've won. We had missed assignments offensively and defensively and these guys have to wise up and start doing the right things. To be a good program, that stuff has to stop."
Holton scored 15 points, senior guard Aarmanni Garnett had 13, Crawford had nine and senior guard Thomas O'Sickey added eight.
The Warriors were 3-10 overall and 1-6 in the OCC-Capital Division before playing Delaware on Jan. 18.
"The coaches are going to keep hammering away at these guys in practices and hopefully some of it will sink in," Dimmick said. "That's the only way we're going to start seeing some smiles on these faces around here."
Girls basketball team struggling
The girls basketball team also is slumping, as it lost its third consecutive game by falling to Olentangy Orange 55-21 on Jan. 11.
The Warriors are struggling to score, as they lost to New Albany 70-36 on Jan. 8 after losing to Olentangy 64-27 on Jan. 4.
Watkins Memorial was 4-11 overall and 1-7 in the OCC-Capital before playing Delaware on Jan. 18.
The Warriors' lone game this week is Friday, Jan. 25, at Mount Vernon. Watkins Memorial lost the first-round game 49-38 on Dec. 14.
Wrestling team to open state duals
The wrestling team was looking forward to the Division I state dual tournament, until getting banged up in the Marion County Invitational on Jan. 11.
"We were a little more excited about the state duals heading into Marion than we were when we left," coach Mark Kurth said. "We have some injuries and we won't be at full strength.
"We've got four or five banged up and we're not going to rush them back for an OCC match or a state dual because our goal is to have these kids ready for the sectional, district and state (individual) tournaments. That's what kids will remember years from now, how they did in those tournaments."
The Warriors will compete in the eight-team Region 6-B. They are seeded seventh and will face second-seeded and host Pickerington Central in the first round Wednesday, Jan. 23. The winner will face third-seeded Teays Valley or sixth-seeded Gahanna on Jan. 30 at site to be determined, with that winner advancing to a regional semifinal, also on Jan. 30
"Pickerington Central is a pretty good team," Kurth said. "At full strength, we might give them a run, but I'm not so sure now."
Kurth declined to name the wrestlers who are dealing with injuries.
The Warriors finished fifth (196.5 points) in the 34-team Marion County Invitational to be the top placer from the Central District. Sandusky Perkins scored 306 points to win.
Five Warriors reached semifinals. Andrew Lieb (120 pounds) and Noah Holter (138) both finished second, with Nick Lancia (152) and Damian George (220) both placing third. Chris Bankes (126) was fourth.