Despite losing six players to graduation, the Tree of Life Christian School boys basketball team remains on target for another Mid-Ohio Christian Athletic League championship.

Despite losing six players to graduation, the Tree of Life Christian School boys basketball team remains on target for another Mid-Ohio Christian Athletic League championship.

The Trojans are 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the MOCAL and return to action Tuesday when they play host to Morral Ridgedale. Their lone defeat was a 69-57 loss to Whitehall -- a Division II team -- on Dec. 15.

"We're just kind of a work in progress," said Joe Arndt, who shares coaching duties with Jim Morgan. "Some games we look good and some games we struggle."

The Trojans, who are seeking their ninth consecutive MOCAL title, return to league action on Jan. 5 when they visit Grove City Christian. Many expect the Eagles to challenge Tree of Life's reign in the league.

"Everybody wants to beat us, so we get everybody's best game," Arndt said. "Grove City Christian has all its guys returning."

Last season, Tree of Life finished 22-2 overall and 12-0 in the MOCAL, ahead of Fairfield Christian (10-2), Gahanna Christian (7-5), Madison Christian (6-6), Grove City Christian (5-7), Northside Christian (2-10) and Delaware Christian (0-12).

The Trojans reached a Division IV district final for the first time, losing to top-seeded Newark Catholic 55-37 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.

Tree of Life is led by 6-foot-4 senior forward Bryan Redic, who scored a game-high 25 points in a 64-57 win over Delaware Christian last Friday. Last season, he was named first-team all-MOCAL, all-district, as well as special mention all-state.

Also back are junior point guard Nick Levin, who was honorable mention all-MOCAL last season, and 5-10 senior guard Dannye Winkfield, who scored 20 points against Delaware Christian.

Senior center Joel Lutsch (6-7) has provided muscle in the middle and junior guard Tremayne Blanks (6-1) also has been a valuable contributor.

Also on the roster are seniors Michael Marrah (6-2), Sam Sheedy (5-10) and Mitch Shonkwiler (5-11), junior Chase Grayson (6-1) and sophomores Kyle O'Donnell (6-0) and Rashawn Thompson (6-2).

"We're still pretty good, but we're young," Redic said. "We just need a lot of people to step up. We lost six seniors last year and three of them were starters. We have three new starters, who just have to step up their game."

•The girls basketball team faced an early challenge when it played Fairfield Christian -- the two-time defending MOCAL champion -- last Tuesday.

Tree of Life, which was 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the MOCAL before facing Fairfield Christian, returns to action on Jan. 2 when it visits Ridgedale. The Trojans lost to the Rockets 67-32 in their district tournament opener last season.

"The girls are really jelling and it's amazing what a difference that makes," third-year coach Steve Cawley said. "Last year, a lot of these girls were on this team, but there wasn't the same cohesiveness."

Tree of Life defeated Delaware Christian 47-34 last Friday. Sophomore Victoria Thompson, a 6-0 post player, led the Trojans with 24 points. Junior Kelly Huston (5-9) had 13 points in a 51-39 win over Berne Union on Nov. 28 and scored 15 in a 59-30 win over Gahanna Christian on Dec. 1.

Senior TaQueedia Patton (5-7), freshman Kristin Crews (5-7) and Thompson scored 10 points apiece in a 54-14 win over Northside Christian on Dec. 7 and junior Joung Oh scored 14 points in a 45-18 win over Grove City Christian on Dec. 11.

Seniors Lisha Badea and Hailee Daugherty and junior Jennifer Emrick returned. Also on the roster are junior Emily Durbin and sophomore Carly Davis.

"Our chemistry has been a lot better than in the past," Daugherty said. "I think we're all in it for the team effort and not just for individual gains."

Last season, the Trojans finished 12-9 overall and 10-2 in the MOCAL, placing second behind Fairfield Christian (12-0).

"Fairfield is going to be a challenge," Cawley said. "They're the reigning two-time champion, so they have it until we take it from them. We want to win the MOCAL."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Tree of Life boys and girls basketball teams:


*Dec. 4 -- Defeated Northside Christian 68-20 Dec. 5 -- Def. Northridge 60-36 *Dec. 8 -- Def. Gahanna Christian 75-47 *Dec. 12 -- Def. Fairfield Christian 68-40 Dec. 15 -- Lost to Whitehall 69-67 *Last Friday -- Def. Delaware Christian 64-57 Tuesday -- Home vs. Morral Ridgedale *Jan. 5 -- At Grove City Christian

Of note: The Trojans are 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the MOCAL.


Nov. 28 -- Def. Berne Union 51-39 *Dec. 1 -- Def. Gahanna Christian 59-30 *Dec. 7 -- Def. Northside Christian 54-14 *Dec. 11 -- Def. Grove City Christian 45-18 *Last Friday -- Def. Delaware Christian 47-34 *Last Tuesday -- Played Fairfield Christian Jan. 2 -- At Ridgedale Jan. 5 -- Home vs. Gilead Christian

Of note: The Trojans were 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the MOCAL before last Tuesday.

*MOCAL game