The DeSales High School boys basketball team probably wished it had wings to fly to Jefferson City, Mo., for the Machens Great 8 Classic in late December.
After the Stallions braved a 12-hour bus ride in snowy conditions that at times bordered on a whiteout before arriving at their destination, the play of their wing players showed the team's potential for the remainder of this season.
Senior Oliver Grimard and junior Taz Collins helped the Stallions' perimeter game thrive, as DeSales went 2-1 and finished second in the eight-team event held Dec. 27-29. Grimard and Collins each scored 18 points in a 68-59 first-round win over host Jefferson City and the duo scored 13 and 12 points, respectively, in a 51-48 semifinal win over Jefferson City Helias Catholic. The Stallions lost in the championship game, falling 55-45 to Memphis (Tenn.) Lausanne Catholic.
Collins and Grimard both made the all-tournament team.
"There were times we played with a level of freedom and confidence on the offensive end I hadn't seen this year," coach Blair Albright said. "We scored 41 points in the first half (against Jefferson City). The two teams we beat are as good as anyone we've played to this point this year. We're definitely still a work in progress, and one of the big things we saw in Missouri was our results really are contingent upon the effort we put forth."
Collins, who missed the Stallions' first two games because of a suspension, had his two highest-scoring games this season against Jefferson City and Helias Catholic. Grimard was averaging 10.3 points through eight games, ranking second on the team behind senior forward Darrien Scott (11.6).
"We just needed Oliver to have better focus and understand the game plan," Albright said. "One of the things is there were injuries at his position, so we had to ask Oliver to play more minutes than he usually would. Having (senior guard) Chucks Ariguzo back, even with (senior forward) Nick Ruebel hurt, Oliver can get some stretches on the bench now to catch his breath and be fresher and contribute more after he gets a little rest."
After playing three games in three days in Missouri, the Stallions play only their second game since returning home when they face Watterson on Friday, Jan. 11, at Ohio Dominican University.
Albright is hoping his players' bond grew stronger during the long road trip, which started with a bus ride three hours longer than expected Dec. 26 after a snowstorm hit Columbus and other areas of the Midwest.
"Just getting there was an adventure," Albright said. "My assistant (coaches) deserve some credit for doing a lot of driving. But it really turned into a good bonding experience. We'll see how much that pays off."
Ferguson thriving in new weight class
Ian Ferguson of the wrestling team placed sixth at 182 pounds in the Brecksville Invitational Holiday Tournament held Dec. 28 and 29 and won that weight class in the Kevin Cleveland Invitational on Jan. 5 at Dublin Scioto.
The senior's natural weight class is 170, meaning most of the opponents he has faced outweigh him by as many as 15 pounds.
"We plan on bringing him down in the next few weeks, but Ian's been holding his own," coach Nick Preston said. "When he puts his mind to it, he can beat anyone. He's become more of a solid wrestler. He isn't having too many mental lapses and he's just more disciplined with what he does. He's doing the basics well, and that's why we expect to get him to the podium in any tournament we're in."
Ferguson was the only Stallions wrestler to place in the tournament at Brecksville-Broadview Heights. He lost to Tim Knipl of Centerville 3-2 in the fifth-place match, as DeSales scored 23 points to finish 42nd of 45 teams behind the champion and host Bees (191.5).
Ferguson defeated Roger Pack of London 9-3 in the final of the Kevin Cleveland Invitational.
Singer continues to lead bowlers
Miranda Singer is living up to her leadership role as the only senior on the boys bowling team.
She has been the Stallions' high scorer in eight of their nine matches and is averaging a team-best 390.3 pins per match, as DeSales is 7-2 overall and 6-2 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-Central Division.
Singer rolled a season-high 476 series in a 2,034-1,230 win over Whetstone on Dec. 18.