The Licking Heights High School boys basketball team had been seeking a consistent second scorer to support senior standout Babe Murphy since senior DeAnthony Hosley suffered a season-ending knee injury during a 64-34 win over Utica on Dec. 3.
The Hornets seem to have found one in senior Dante Burnette, who scored in double figures in six of the first seven games in the 2014 portion of the schedule. He averaged 15.7 points and 8.1 rebounds during those six games.
"We're starting to become more than one-dimensional," coach Nathan Clark said. "Everyone knows how good Babe is and he's seeing box-and-ones and all sorts of special defenses. He's still averaging some great numbers (20.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists through 15 games) considering that, but we're getting others to step up now.
"Dante has really taken it upon himself to score and to make things happen for his teammates. He's been very good lately."
Burnette had 17 points and 10 rebounds in a 63-50 win over Heath on Jan. 24, as the Hornets improved to 8-7 overall and 7-6 in the LCL. Murphy had 12 points and five assists despite foul trouble, and Martell Davis had 15 points and five steals.
"Martell Davis played a super game against Heath," Clark said.
"I don't know if Babe has ever been our third-leading scorer in any game, but that's what we needed. I hope we continue to play like that. Babe is a willing facilitator. He just wants to win."
Burnette scored 14 points during a 54-49 overtime victory against Lakewood on Jan. 21, as the Lancers' box-and-one defense limited Murphy to 14 points.
"I think we're starting to understand how to win close games," Burnette said. "We've played in a lot of close ones. We're making the right decisions with the ball and trying to get everyone involved. We're taking good shots and playing good defense.
"Our goal right now is to limit our mistakes and just get ready for the (Division I district tournament). We don't want another first-round knockout. This is the last year for (seven) of us and we want to get some playoff wins."
The Hornets played Watkins Memorial on Jan. 31. A league game at Newark Catholic on Jan. 27 was postponed and rescheduled for Feb. 13.
Wrestlers preparing for sectional tourney
The wrestling team concludes its regular season Wednesday, Feb. 5, at Jonathan Alder and begins the postseason Feb. 15 in a Division I sectional at Watkins Memorial.
The Hornets' final big competition before the postseason was the LCL tournament Feb. 1 at home.
Sophomore Brandon Haist (120 pounds) said he thinks the Hornets have the ability to advance seven wrestlers to the district tournament Feb. 21 and 22 at Hilliard Darby. The top four finishers in each weight class at sectional advance to district.
Haist and his twin, Anthony Haist (106), reached district last season, as did senior A.J. Velasquez (heavyweight) and junior Ty Yeager (132), who is injured and out for the season.
"I think Anthony and A.J. and I can get back at least to district and I think Mike Hopewell (220), L.A. Kelly (138), Joe Harrell (152) and Taylor Woolard (126) all have good chances," Brandon Haist said. "Of course, we all have to wrestle to our abilities and I really haven't had as good of a season as I did last year.
"I moved up a weight class and I'm no longer stronger than some of my opponents. I'm going to have to work a lot on that in the offseason."
Girls basketball team edges Warriors
The girls basketball team was 9-9 overall and 7-7 in the LCL after beating Watkins Memorial 49-48 on Jan. 30.
It was Licking Heights' first game since beating Heath 63-45 on Jan. 23. Dameras Whitlock scored 22 points and Skyler Ortiz added 10.
It was Licking Heights' first game since beating Heath 63-45 on Jan. 23.
The Hornets, who also played Licking Valley on Feb. 1, close the regular season this week. They play home league games Tuesday, Feb. 4, against Newark Catholic and Thursday, Feb. 6, against Johnstown before playing Saturday, Feb. 8, at Northridge.
The Division I district tournament draw is Sunday, Feb. 2.
Through 17 games, Dameras Whitlock was averaging 14.4 points and Skyler Ortiz, who missed three games with an injury, was averaging 12.8 points.
Crystal Jackson was averaging 8.1 rebounds.