Having served as an assistant for the New Albany High School girls basketball team six years ago, coach Jeff Blunt had the chance to meet some of his current players as far back as elementary school.
One of the girls who made an impression on him was Cheyenne Hartley-Carr, now a 5-foot-7 senior guard. Blunt felt confident enough before the season to say, "I think she'll make someone happy at the next level," all the while hoping she'd have a strong final season at the varsity level.
So far, she's been a stable force for the Eagles as they vie for a high seed in the coming Division I district tournament. A point guard early in the season out of necessity, Hartley-Carr has moved back to shooting guard and become one of several dependable options for New Albany. Although she was averaging only 7.7 points through 15 games, she had tied her season high of 14 points three times and had led the team in scoring six times.
"Honestly, she isn't exceeding expectations. She's just a good basketball player," Blunt said. "I saw it during the summer. I've known her for many years, and I'm happy it's coming out on the court. I actually think she has more in her. I am excited for her to start showing that."
Hartley-Carr, a three-year letterwinner, was the Eagles' point guard at the beginning of the season as three-year starter and University of Akron-bound senior Hannah Scipio finished recovering from a torn ACL in her left knee.
When Scipio returned in December, Hartley-Carr moved to the Eagles' three-guard position, while four-year starter Chrissy Harris remained at two-guard.
"I know my role is to be a shooting guard. When I'm open, I'll shoot, but I also like to assist a lot and help my team out, too," Hartley-Carr said. "We're moving forward in a positive direction. We're working harder and practicing better and making each other work harder."
Blunt said the Eagles' offense also benefited from putting freshman Meche'la Cobb at power forward, which opened up more offense for the guards.
"That helped Cheyenne at the 3," Blunt said. "At that point, we had our best offensive group on the floor. We have tremendous power off the bench now (with seniors Meghan Jayes and Emily Rolwing). I think we've settled into a rotation."
The Eagles entered the week at 9-6 overall and 6-3 in the OCC-Capital Division, behind Olentangy Orange (9-0) and Olentangy (8-1) and ahead of Big Walnut (4-5), Delaware (4-5), Mount Vernon (4-5), Watkins Memorial (1-8) and Franklin Heights (0-9).
"We're definitely playing better," Blunt said. "The goal has been since I came here that we want to play our best basketball in February, so I hope we are ramping up to that point."
Swimming teams set for league meet
New Albany will play host to the OCC-Capital swimming and diving meet Friday, Jan. 25, and Saturday, Jan. 26. The diving portion will take place Jan. 25, and the swimming finals are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Jan. 26, after the OCC-Ohio meet that begins at 9:30 a.m.
Several Eagles' times rank highly either in the district or state, according to last week's SwimMeet.com honor roll. The girls 200-yard freestyle relay was ranked 15th (1 minute, 41.47 seconds) statewide in Division I and second in the district (1:41.47).
On the district level, sophomore divers David Dinsmore and Estee Pryor were the top-ranked boy (314.15 points) and third-ranked girl (266.4), respectively. Senior Elly Gleason was fourth in the 50 free (24.79), the girls 400 free relay was fourth (3:44.11), the boys 200 free relay was fifth (1:31.64), sophomore Taylor Berend was sixth in the 200 IM (2:13.31) and seventh in the 100 free (53.9), the boys 400 free relay was eighth (3:26.66) and the boys and girls 200 medley relays both were 10th (1:45.54 and 1:58.45, respectively).
All of those rankings, except the girls 200 medley relay, led the OCC-Capital. Olentangy's 200 medley relay was ranked eighth (1:57.5).
Wrestling team falls in league action
The wrestling team dropped to 0-5 in the OCC-Capital with two losses Jan. 17 at Delaware, 75-3 to Mount Vernon and 60-18 to Olentangy.
Winners for the Eagles were senior Gabriel Sheets at 160 pounds, who defeated Mount Vernon's Kyle Daniels by decision; freshman Brian Woo (113), who won against Olentangy by forfeit; sophomore Frank Boscarillo (138), who pinned Olentangy's Dan Burns in 1:34, and freshman Matthew Jones (170), who pinned the Braves' Connor Slade in 1:16.
New Albany competed against Hilliard Darby on Jan. 23 in the first round of the Division I state team tournament. The Eagles were seeded eighth in Region 5-B, and the Panthers were the top seed.
The winner faces fourth-seeded Thomas Worthington or fifth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in the second round Wednesday, Jan. 30, at a site to be determined. The regional semifinal also is Jan. 30 against second-seeded Westerville North, third-seeded Hilliard Bradley, sixth-seeded Westerville South or seventh-seeded Whetstone.