Two years ago, Chase Sutton earned a spot on the boys basketball team at New Albany High School. He was a versatile sophomore who could play almost every position, and coach Sam Davis was quick to credit his impact as the Eagles went 15-6 overall.

Two years ago, Chase Sutton earned a spot on the boys basketball team at New Albany High School. He was a versatile sophomore who could play almost every position, and coach Sam Davis was quick to credit his impact as the Eagles went 15-6 overall.

Sutton had another solid year as a junior, but he still wasn't the type of player that grabbed many of the headlines. Heading into this season, Sutton was a two-year starter, but he really hadn't had that eye-catching, breakout performance to put him on the radar for opponents around the area.

As luck would have it, New Albany wound up being one of the last teams to open, thanks to the postponement of its game Dec. 6 against Whitehall. When the Eagles finally hit the floor against Watkins Memorial on Dec. 12, it didn't take long for Sutton's presence to be felt. He hit four 3-pointers and scored 27 points, nine more than his previous career-high, as New Albany rolled to a 59-35 win.

"I don't know, I was just feeling it," Sutton said. "It felt like I could hit any shot."

The outburst against Watkins Memorial could have been dismissed as an exception to the norm, except for the fact that he followed with three more games with at least 16 points, including 33 points Dec. 23 as the Eagles lost to Franklin Heights 93-92 in a triple-overtime.

By the numbers, it's clear that Sutton has improved his offensive game, and that's exactly what the Eagles needed. With the graduation of last season's leading scorer, J.J. Armstrong, Sutton was expected to be one of the go-to scorers, along with senior forward Peter Kobelt. Sutton had been a solid offensive player for the last two years, and he averaged 10.5 points last season, second on the team.

Last offseason, though, Sutton focused on improving his shooting stroke, particularly from 3-point range. It appears to have paid off -- through four games, he had hit 14 3-pointers and was averaging 23.8 points.

Davis, however, doesn't believe that Sutton's biggest steps have been made on the offensive end. Sutton, who missed part of his freshman season because of academic trouble, has improved his work ethic in the classroom and has become a more mature leader.

"It's just a maturity on the floor," Davis said. "He shares the ball, even though he's scoring. He's always the first one over to pick someone up if they take a charge or go to the floor. Chemistry is such an important part of a basketball team."

Sutton's effort on the floor has come at both ends this season, which hasn't gone unnoticed by the coaching staff.

"He's defending again," Davis said. "Last year he took a year off on the defensive end of the floor, but this year he's really defending very well."

"I think I'm working a lot harder on defense this year," Sutton said. "I'm making it more of a main priority to get better at it than I did last year."

The Eagles have six seniors, compared to just two last year, but Sutton is the only three-year starter and one of two third-year varsity players, along with Kobelt. All along, Sutton was well aware that his role would be a key one this season, but understanding that fact, according to Davis, is only half the battle.

"He's been here for three years, he gets it, he knows what he has to do. And the encouraging thing for me is that he's doing it," Davis said. "Not just that he knows, but that he's acting on it."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the New Albany boys basketball team:

Dec. 16 -- Defeated Pickerington Central 64-49. Chase Sutton scored 19 points and Peter Kobelt had 17.

*Dec. 19 -- Lost to Olentangy Orange 55-42. Sutton had 16 points.

*Dec. 23 -- Lost to Franklin Heights 93-92 (3OT). Sutton scored 33 points, Kobelt had 25 and Scott McDonald added 10.

Last Monday -- Played Westerville South

Last Tuesday -- Played Whitehall

Saturday -- At Centennial

*Tuesday -- Home vs. Big Walnut

Of note: The Eagles were 2-2 overall before last Monday and are 1-2 in the OCC-Capital.

*OCC-Capital game