Tree of Life Roundup
Crews is taking lead role for girls squad
The Tree of Life Christian School girls basketball team has adjusted to playing without 2012 graduate Tori Thompson.
The Trojans are 10-4 overall and 3-2 in the MOCAL.
Tree of Life rebounded from its first losing streak of the season -- it lasted two games -- to defeat Beechcroft 58-56 on Dec. 28, Morral Ridgedale 41-39 on Jan. 3, Columbus East 53-36 on Jan. 5 and Fairfield Christian 49-24 on Jan. 8.
Against Ridgedale, 5-foot-8 senior wing player Kristin Crews led the Trojans with 18 points. Last season, Crews averaged 12.3 points and was first-team all-league and third-team all-district in Division IV.
"I've been surprised because we lost an all-state player ... and it's just amazing how far we've come and how we've been able to change," Crews said of losing Thompson.
Freshman guard Megan King (5-6) had 17 points against Ridgedale, and Crews scored 22 against East.
Against Fairfield Christian, Crews scored 19 points, 5-6 junior guard Morgan Pennington scored 13 and King scored 12.
The Trojans' four-game winning streak ended with a 36-34 overtime loss at Granville Christian on Jan. 11.
Also back are junior guard/wing player Kasey Tick-nor (5-8) and senior guard Hannah Murray (5-6). Ticknor was honorable mention all-league.
Other players are seniors Alyncia Mason (5-6, wing player), Brianna Mason (5-9, post player) and Kailah Sanders (5-10, post player) and junior Mary Honaker (5-10, post player).
Thompson, a post player, led the team in scoring (15.8) and rebounding (10.0) per game last season when she was named first-team all-league, the Player of the Year in the district and first-team all-state. She finished her career with 1,078 points and now is a freshman volleyball player at Cedarville University.
"We have to move on and I feel we have done a good job this year," sixth-year coach Steve Cawley said. "This is a whole different team, a whole new team and we haven't really talked about (Thompson). We've moved on."
The Trojans also have had to replace 2012 graduate Hannah Pratt and junior post player Sydney Grubb, who is planning to transfer to DeSales.
Despite the loss of those key players, Cawley believes his team will contend for its third consecutive MOCAL title. Last season, the Trojans finished 12-0 in the league, ahead of Fairfield Christian (9-3), Gahanna Christian (7-5), Delaware Christian (6-6), Grove City Christian (4-8), Granville Christian (3-9) and Madison Christian (1-11).
"It's still something we want to put in front of us. It's still something that is available," Cawley said of winning the league title.
Last season, Tree of Life finished 18-4 overall after losing to Danville 58-51 in the second round of the district tournament. The Trojans defeated Grove City Christian 60-43 in the first round.
Boys team also lost key players
The boys basketball team also was affected by graduation but has remained competitive.
The Trojans are 8-5 overall and 2-3 in the MOCAL.
Tree of Life lost to Grove City Christian 55-53 on Nov. 30 for its first loss to the Eagles in program history. The Trojans avenged that loss by defeating the Eagles 76-56 on Jan. 8.
"We're not as strong as we have been in years past," said 14th-year coach Joe Arndt, who shares coaching duties with eighth-year coach Jim Morgan. "We have guys playing who haven't played a lot, but they still scrap."
The top returnee is senior guard Zac Wooten (6-0), who was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district last season.
Also back is senior guard/forward Nathan Durbin (6-3), who missed part of last season with a broken ankle.
Other returnees are seniors Donnie Tong (6-1, forward) and Mark David Wright (5-10, guard).
Other players are senior Josh Winkler (6-0, forward), junior Walter Woodard (5-11, forward) and sophomores Kurtis Goines (6-0, guard), Carl Jones (5-9, guard), Sam Ruark (6-1, forward) and Melvin Shuler (5-9, guard).
"We don't have a lot of size this year," Arndt said. "Nathan and Donnie have to guard post players all the time, so consequently we're trying to play zones and pressure the ball to try and create turnovers before it gets down in there."
The Trojans lost five players from a year ago to graduation, including Rashawn Thompson, who was first-team all-league and third-team all-district. Other key losses were Leonard Awuah and Kyle O'Connell, who were honorable mention all-league.
Last season, Tree of Life finished 19-6 overall after losing to Millersport 44-37 in a district semifinal. The Trojans opened the postseason with wins over Ridgedale (43-34) and Granville Christian (54-45).
The Trojans finished second in the MOCAL at 9-3, behind Fairfield Christian (12-0) and ahead of Delaware Christian (7-5), Gahanna Christian (7-5), Granville Christian (5-7), Grove City Christian (2-10) and Madison Christian (0-12).
"Fairfield (Christian) is the team to beat this season. They have all their players back," Arndt said.