New Albany High School girls basketball coach Jeff Blunt used the word "versatile" six times in 40 seconds last week discussing the contributions of senior Kaitlyn Gliha.
According to Blunt, the 5-foot-10 Gliha is as effective guarding point guards as forwards and has been discovering her offensive touch in recent games after taking a year off to concentrate on softball.
"She's so versatile," Blunt said. "We've intentionally been bringing her off the bench to provide offense for us, and she's the type of kid who's so versatile that she can guard any other player, whether (the opponent is) big or little. It puts us in a situation where we can be very versatile. We can go bigger with Kaitlyn or smaller.
"She's that type of versatile kid for us. It's been a blessing for us to have her back."
Gliha has played shooting guard and forward this season for the Eagles, who defeated Franklin Heights 64-29 on Dec. 13 to improve to 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Capital Division.
"I'm comfortable and confident at guard and in the post," said Gliha, who began playing basketball in fourth grade. "Growing up I was tall, but I was also thin and quick, so depending on the situation I'd be a guard or a post (player). Each year would be different. I like being able to do all these things that help the team in any situation."
Gliha began to discover her scoring touch recently, contributing six points in a 57-42 win over Delaware on Dec. 10 and six in a 50-29 win over Dresden Tri-Valley on Dec. 7.
"I'm slowly getting more rebounds and more shots up," Gliha said. "I know the game, I can read defenses better and I can see how things are going."
That being said, Gliha doesn't regret sitting out her junior season. She verbally committed to Miami University for softball in January then hit .513 last spring with a school-record 12 home runs and 47 RBI.
Gliha, who has 22 home runs and 113 RBI in her high school career, was named second-team all-state and first-team all-district last season. She signed with Miami on Nov. 13.
"I enjoy playing with the girls who are seniors this year. They're close friends of mine and I play softball with them as well," she said. "I really like basketball. It's a fun sport and I knew I wouldn't be playing it again competitively in a game situation. And I really thought I could help the team this year, so I decided mid-fall to go out. I hit some open gyms and really got into it the more I practiced. I knew I made the right decision."
Sophomore center Meche'la Cobb led the Eagles in scoring in each of their first seven games, averaging 23 points. She was the team's only double-digit scorer in the first five contests, however. That streak ended against Delaware when Taylor Snook scored 14 points.
"We have a high ceiling," Blunt said. "We haven't seen much varsity basketball as individuals, but you can see the confidence growing. We've had more contributions throughout the lineup, and it has to be that way. Meche'la will get her 15 to 25 points, and beyond that we'll need six to 10 from a variety of kids to be successful."
Hockey team starts CHC play with win
Club hockey coach Joe Kola wasn't entirely surprised his first-year team began its Capital Hockey Conference schedule with a 4-2 win over the Northeast Storm on Dec. 6.
"I'd seen a lot of signs of maturity leading up to that game," Kola said. "We had a bad loss in the Midwest Thanksgiving (Classic), and when I came into the locker room before our next game the guys were all sitting real quietly. What they were doing was going around the room and the players were saying what they needed to do that game to win. How many times do you walk into a locker room full of freshmen and sophomores and hear them responsibly saying what they'd do?"
New Albany was 1-2 in the CHC after losing to Newark 6-0 on Dec. 12 and to St. Charles 4-1 on Dec. 14. The Eagles are competing in the 15-team junior varsity division with Cincinnati Moeller, Cincinnati St. Xavier, the Columbus Hockey Club, Dublin Green, Dublin White, Hilliard, Newark, the Storm, Olentangy Liberty, Olentangy Orange, the PHA Prowlers, St. Charles, Upper Arlington and Westerville.
All of New Albany's remaining games will be against league opponents.
The program hopes to earn varsity status as early as 2014-15. After this season, it will make its case by demonstrating turnout and proving it can sustain itself financially.
New Albany's roster consists of juniors Brant Campbell (defenseman), Garrison Dorrell (forward) and Jesse Nusbaum (goaltender), sophomores Tristan Bonnette (defenseman), Lucas Flowers (forward), Mitchell Goodin (forward), Griffin King (forward), Nikolaj Peltier (forward) and Nathan Sardo (forward) and freshmen Nicholas Burack (defenseman), Tanner Hays (defenseman), Neel Kakarala (forward), Cameron Leymaster (forward), Benton Marcussen (forward), Richi O'Neil (goalie) and Tommy Pollack (defenseman).
"We talk about winning the championship," Kola said. "Is it a lofty goal? Sure, but I think we can win it. We're not going to win it on skill. We're not going to win it on individual play. We'll win it with our style and make the statement that New Albany's here. Hopefully what we do this year results in (having) a varsity team next year."
Wrestlers prepare for invitational
The wrestling team ends December with two invitationals before beginning OCC-Capital competition Jan. 9 at home against Big Walnut and Olentangy Orange.
The Eagles play host to the New Albany Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 21, and will participate in the Johnstown Invitational on Dec. 28.
"It's a huge part of our season to show up big at our own invitational," said senior A.J. Antolik, who competes at 160 and 170 pounds. "This year's not going to be easy. We have some classes to fill, and we need to find a heavyweight. But wrestling well here is always big for us."
Fourteen teams are scheduled to compete in the New Albany Invitational.
New Albany originally was scheduled to begin its league schedule Dec. 11 against Worthington Kilbourne, but that match was postponed to Jan. 23.
The Eagles have fared better in invitationals than duals this year. New Albany was second (174) to St. Charles (200) in the seven-team Tony Pizzurro Memorial Tournament on Nov. 30 at DeSales and sixth (93) behind champion Aurora (336) in Upper Arlington's 10-team Lee Spitzer Golden Bear Invitational on Dec. 7.
But the Eagles entered the week 1-5 in dual matches.