Beechcroft High School girls basketball player Hailee Cannady expects to see some sad faces when her team participates in its final home game of the regular season a couple weeks from now.
Although Cannady is the only member of her class who will be recognized when the team celebrates senior night Feb. 5 against Mifflin, the Cougars have put together what Cannady believes is an especially tight-knit group.
"We'll all still cry together on senior night even though I'm going to be the only one," Cannady said. "I like the group of girls that I have around me. This is probably one of the best seasons we've had since I've been here. The season itself has been really good."
After going 12-9 in both the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, Beechcroft lost its Division II district tournament opener and finished 6-15 a year ago.
The Cougars were 7-7 overall and 4-4 in the City League-North Division before playing Centennial on Jan. 15.
Cannady, a 5-foot-5 guard, has provided leadership to a group that includes junior point guard Odyssey Riley, junior post player Tivia Hylton, junior guard Keelah Bohanan and sophomore guard Terika Broady. Riley and Broady both were averaging 12 points and Hylton was averaging eight rebounds and three blocks through 12 games.
"We've got a good mix of kids," coach Mike Fleming said. "We'll come in here and have a good time because it's just a good group of kids. I don't have to worry about their grades and we actually have fun."
Last summer, Cannady traveled to Italy with her Advanced Placement history class.
During basketball season, she has been filling out essays as part of her application to earn one of 1,000 annual Gates Millennium scholarships.
The Gates Millennium Scholars Program, funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is given to African-American, American Indian/Alaska native, Asian Pacific Islander American and Hispanic American students.
"You have to go through this whole process and write out eight essays," Cannady said. "Most of the subjects differ, and there's a personal essay you have to fill out. You have to persuade them. I'm (ranked) around sixth or seventh (academically) in my class. I didn't really have a good sophomore year, but I picked it up last year. I went to Italy for 11 days last June and I'm actually using some of that in my personal essay."
"(Cannady's) a good kid," Fleming said. "Even beyond basketball, I'm going to miss having her around."
Brookhaven girls shaking off loss
The Brookhaven girls basketball team slipped further out of first in the City-North with its 66-39 loss to league-leading Northland on Jan. 8.
But the Bearcats, according to coach Darris Gattis, still have plenty to play for. Brookhaven is 6-2 in the league while Northland was 9-0 before playing Mifflin on Jan. 15.
"The girls are playing really well," Gattis said. "This is just a year where there is one really exceptional basketball player in (Northland's) Alexis Peterson. She's one of the best players I've seen in my 16 years. We match up well with Northland except for her."
With freshman guard Ashley Johnson, sophomore guard Nazerae Butler and senior forward Jade' Gattis leading the way, the Bearcats were 9-3 overall before playing Columbus International on Jan. 15.
Brookhaven was second in last week's Division II area coaches poll behind Hartley.
"(Johnson) is one of the most dynamic freshmen around," Gattis said. "Her and Nazerae both run the point. They're combo guards. We're not surprised that Ashley has played well and that Nazerae is playing well.
"We feel really good about our position. We play fast. Jade' gets all of her points off hustle plays and has always been a high field-goal-percentage type of player. I like the way we're playing."
Vikings, Bearcats bowlers standing out
The Northland girls and Brookhaven boys bowling teams are in the thick of title races in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-Central Division.
The Bearcats defeated league-foe Watterson 1,915-1,881 on Jan. 10 and were 6-1 in the COHSBC-Central before facing Columbus West on Jan. 15.
Seniors Leitonn Backus, Nathan Baker, Bruce Foster and Derrion Ross, juniors Neitronn Backus and Clevis Towns and sophomore Brian Brockman comprise Brook-haven's roster.
Joaquin Jordan, who also has coached tennis and baseball at the school, is leading the Brookhaven boys team for the first time.
The Northland girls squad also has a veteran look.
The Vikings lost to Ready 1,816-1,793 on Jan. 7 and were 6-1 in the league before playing Westerville North on Jan. 14. Ready is 8-0 in the COHSBC-Central.
Seniors on the team include Jessica Adams, Lizzie Haskell, Angela Holley, Lenicia Johnson, Jimsara Redon, Janelle Tyler and Cherie Wright. Junior Bradishia Foster and sophomores Aleah Holley and Leah Spencer round out the roster.
"Sadly enough we lost to Ready," coach Peggy Holley said. "We were down by 86 pins at the start of the first Baker game but dug back and lost by 23. Janelle Tyler, who's a senior, has been leading the way along with Bradishia Foster."