Watkins Memorial High School boys basketball coach Pat Dimmick likes the way his team entered 2014.
The Warriors won three of their final four contests in the 2013 portion of their schedule and were 4-3 overall and 2-3 in the LCL before playing Northridge on Jan. 3. They finished 6-17 last season.
"We're playing some good basketball right now and a lot of that is due to our depth," Dimmick said. "We're getting contributions from everyone and things are clicking.
"We go 11 deep and that's a nice luxury to have. I think we're a hard team to do a scouting report on, which is great."
After falling to 1-2 overall with a 66-43 loss to Johnstown on Dec. 13, the Warriors defeated Licking Valley 56-52 on Dec. 17 before losing to Licking Heights 53-49 on Dec. 20. They rebounded again to beat Hilliard Bradley 74-66 on Dec. 23 and Fisher Catholic 49-30 on Dec. 28.
Sophomore guard Joey Looney had 16 points and senior forward Jared Clark scored 10 against Fisher Catholic.
"Looney had a real nice game and we took what the defense was giving us," Dimmick said. "Looney had open looks and was knocking down his perimeter shots. I also thought (senior forward) Zach Lescalleet played well. He's done a good job these past four games inside after a slow start to the season. Clark has been our most consistent player."
Against Bradley, senior post player Hunter Holton had 17 points and 17 rebounds. Clark had 12 points and Lescalleet and senior guard Clay Gray both scored nine, as all 11 players for Watkins Memorial scored.
"Holton is really coming along and getting his basketball legs now," Dimmick said. "He played great against Bradley, but we came out slow and missed a ton of layups in the first half. We woke up, started to play good defense, made some shots and our confidence grew. Things snowballed for the better for us."
The Warriors outscored Bradley 33-17 in the fourth quarter.
In the previous game against Licking Heights, Watkins Memorial stumbled late in the game, being outscored 16-7 in the fourth quarter. Gray had 13 points and senior guard Ben Shroyer scored nine.
Gray had a team-high 17 points against Licking Valley, which was outscored 33-22 in the second half.
"We put some pressure on (Licking Valley) in the second half and we handled their pressure better," Dimmick said. "When we began handling their pressure, we got better shots and made them. It was a good turnaround.
"The Licking Heights game was a true rivalry game with physical play and technicals. We were unable to score down the stretch and Heights made some clutch baskets and then made their free throws."
Watkins Memorial closes out the first round of LCL play this week with games Tuesday, Jan. 7, at Utica and Friday, Jan. 10, at Granville.
Wrestling team places 2nd at West Jefferson
The wrestling team scored 339 points to place second to West Jefferson (432) in the 17-team West Jefferson Invitational held Dec. 27 and 28.
Sophomore Dean Marek (120 pounds) and junior Andrew Lieb (132) won titles and freshman Alex Lieb (106) was runner-up.
"Andrew Lieb had a very good tournament, beating a tough kid in the finals," coach Mark Kurth said. "Dean Marek avenged an earlier loss to Matt West of Hillsboro in the finals."
Andrew Cornelius (126) placed third and Adam Tompkins (170) and Jarod Taggart (106) placed fourth. Brad Swearingen (113) and Robert Speaks (152) both finished fifth and Marvin Bennett (160), Jack May (195) and Andrew Triona (132) placed sixth.
"I am very pleased with the team effort at West Jefferson," Kurth said. "A lot of the younger wrestlers saw some good varsity action and many placed. We entered 16 wrestlers in the tournament and 12 placed in the top six, so it was a pretty good day for the Warrior wrestling team."
The Warriors, who participated in the Big Dawg Duals at Dresden Tri-Valley on Jan. 3 and 4, will compete in the Marion County Invitational on Friday, Jan. 10, and Saturday, Jan. 11, at Marion County Fairgrounds.
Girls basketball team ends losing streak
Vicki Smith and Rylan Perry both scored 13 points to lead the girls basketball team to a 52-26 win over Northridge on Dec. 21, snapping a five-game losing streak.
Lexi Denison added nine points for the Warriors, who were 2-7 overall before playing Grove City on Jan. 2 and were 2-5 in the LCL before playing Utica on Jan. 4.
Watkins Memorial has two league games this week, playing host to Granville on Thursday, Jan. 9, and Lakewood on Saturday, Jan. 11.