The Licking Heights High School girls basketball team began the season with a program-best four-game winning streak.
The Hornets then were given a wake-up call in a 48-44 loss to Franklin Heights on Dec. 10.
"The girls were too excited to be 4-0 and learned a lesson by not taking their opponent seriously," coach Tay Tufts said. "We had beaten Franklin Heights (56-43) last season, so we came out and were served a humble piece of pie.
"Maybe they'll understand now that they have to stay humble and hungry. The good news is that it wasn't a league game."
Licking Heights was 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the LCL after defeating Heath 68-39 on Dec. 12 and playing Newark Catholic on Dec. 14.
The Hornets were hoping to get Skyler Ortiz back from a shoulder injury in time for the Newark Catholic contest. Ortiz, a senior shooting guard, was injured during the first half of a 44-42 league win over Granville on Dec. 5.
Licking Heights also beat Lakewood 55-42 in a league game Dec. 7, as senior point guard Dameras Whitlock scored 19 points. She had 11 against Granville and 18 against Franklin Heights.
"Dameras is scoring well, but she hasn't come close to hitting her stride just yet," Tufts said. "She's going to have an excellent season and her best is yet to come."
Senior guard Alexis Sanidad and 6-foot-2 sophomore post player Crystal Jackson both added eight points against Franklin Heights. Jackson had 10 points and 14 rebounds against Granville.
"We've got five girls who are nearly averaging 10 points per game," Tufts said before the Heath game. "Jackson has been a monster. She's averaging 10 points and 12 rebounds. Sanidad is averaging nine points and her defense has been absolutely fantastic.
"Imaani Wilson-Cunningham played ... in place of Ortiz and she scored 10 against Lakewood and nine against Granville. I've also been pleasantly surprised with the play of (6-0 freshman post player) Courtney Moore. Jackson, (6-3 sophomore post player Ashley) King and Moore have given us great play in the middle."
Young wrestlers impress coach
Wrestling coach Bo Ramsey is remaining patient while awaiting the return of several injured upperclassmen, including senior 170-pounder John Neary (ankle) and senior 220-pounder A.J. Velasquez (knee).
"We only had one upperclassman compete (Dec. 7 in the Kilted Classic at Sparta Highland)," Ramsey said. "We don't have enough bodies in the wrestling room to make for good practices. But at least we're dealing with the injuries now rather than late in the season like we did two years ago and somewhat last year. Once we get healthy, we'll be in a much better situation. In the meantime, we'll coach the ones who are healthy."
Ramsey has been impressed with several young wrestlers.
"Our young kids are stepping up and I'm very impressed with their scrappiness," he said. "I think they showed great improvement in their aggressiveness from the first time we wrestled (Dec. 4 against Central Crossing and Johnstown) to the Kilted Classic."
Sophomore Anthony Haist (106) and freshman Josiah Harrell (160) won titles for the Hornets, who will compete Saturday, Dec. 21, in the East Knox Invitational.
"Four freshmen did very well," Ramsey said. "In addition to Harrell, Finn Bohlen at 138 gave the No. 2 seed all he wanted and would've pinned him if he had three more seconds. L.A. Kelly at 145 would've had a great tournament, but he made a freshman mistake and it cost him a match. Dereck Wilson wrestled very well at 152. I was just impressed with a lot of what are young guys are doing already."
Senior Mike Hopewell, who went 4-1 and finished third at 220, was the only Hornets wrestler competing above the sophomore class.