Since taking over the Marysville High School girls basketball program nine seasons ago, coach Aric Tucker not only has emphasized a commitment on the court, but also a commitment to the community.
The Monarchs again participated in service projects during the holiday season, including providing gifts and support for a 10-year-old girl through Care Train of Union County, an organization that assists families and individuals experiencing economic difficulties.
Each player purchased at least one gift for the girl, and the team accompanied her to an Ohio State women's basketball game Dec. 9.
"We have such great kids," Tucker said. "We've done a lot of service projects. They've put in a lot of time and bought into understanding that there are things bigger than them. So to see them have the success on the floor, it's such a rewarding feeling to see when good things happen to good people."
Also for the holidays, the Monarchs collected toys at home games for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program, which collects new, unwrapped toys and distributes them as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children.
The Monarchs also served food to visitors at the Hope Center in Marysville, which houses various social services, ministries and other programs.
"We like to help out with the community," senior Katy Turner said. "We want to think about others. There are things bigger than high school and the important thing is it's nice to help people."
On the court, after beginning the season 0-6, Marysville had won four consecutive games before playing Upper Arlington on Jan. 4.
"We told our kids starting off with our scrimmages and going into our first game that we were better than we were last year," said Tucker, whose team finished 4-17 last season. "We had girls with a lot of experience and we were just hoping to find some consistency. We've been really close in the conference games. We started with five (consecutive) conference (losses) and there are some games we should have won."
The Monarchs continue OCC-Central Division play Tuesday, Jan. 8, at home against Central Crossing.
Tucker said his team played well in a 64-61 league loss to Thomas Worthington on Dec. 21. The Monarchs then began their winning streak with a 52-40 victory over Jonathan Alder on Dec. 22.
Marysville won the Lady Cats Holiday Tournament at North Union, defeating Bexley 33-31 in the first round Dec. 27 and North Union 39-36 in the title game Dec. 28.
"The big game was the North Union game," Tucker said. "They were undefeated and we beat them at their place in their tournament. I'm very proud with the way our kids are playing hard and starting to play together, taking ownership of what's going on on the floor."
Against Bexley, Turner led Marysville with 11 points and Meranda Wilson's putback with 11 seconds remaining lifted the Monarchs to the win.
Wilson scored eight points against North Union, which defeated Marysville 56-31 in the title game last season.
Wrestlers turn in strong effort
The wrestling team again had a good showing in the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Invitational Holiday Tournament on Dec. 28 and 29, finishing fifth (109.5 points) behind champion Brecksville-Broadview Heights (191.5) in a 45-team field.
Marysville was the top finisher from the area, as Hilliard Davidson was ninth (99.5), Mount Vernon was 16th (73.5), Olentangy Orange tied for 28th (61), Olentangy Liberty was 31st (57), Gahanna was 32nd (49.5) and DeSales was 42nd (23).
Leading the Monarchs was senior Noah Forrider, who finished first at 138 pounds by defeating Alex Mossing of Toledo Central Catholic 8-5 in the final.
Forrider also was first at 138 last season, as Marysville finished fifth (125.5) behind champion Oregon Clay (167) in a 37-team field.
Also placing for Marysville this season were senior Chase Boyd at 160 (third), junior Darius Walker at heavyweight (fourth) and junior David Sparks at 126 (fifth).
"We had some guys wrestle well," coach Shawn Andrews said. "Our heavyweight wrestled really well. He's a first-year starter and he placed fourth up there. Forrider won it for the second time and he wrestled well, obviously. Chase and David wrestled well, placing. I think they both had goals of placing higher.
"We had some guys who needed to win a match or two more than they did. We're happy with fifth place, but we're glad it's the middle of the year and not the end of the year because we still have some room to grow."
Boys basketball team ends losing streak
The boys basketball team snapped a three-game losing streak by defeating visiting Fairbanks 70-48 on Dec. 28.
The Monarchs led 25-10 after the first quarter.
Logan Roston led Marysville with 13 points and Kody Davisson and Case Chamblin each scored 11.
Chamblin, a 6-foot-3 sophomore forward, began the season on junior varsity and was promoted before the holiday break.
"We're still trying to fight our inconsistencies and just continuing to improve every time we step on the floor whether it's a practice or a game," coach Ryan Grose said.
"We continue to make progress, but we still have room for improvement."