DeSales High School boys basketball coach Blair Albright found some positives in his team's 53-33 loss at Hartley on Feb. 1.
Even though the Stallions fell to 0-6 in the CCL and they had a few defensive lapses that helped the Hawks expand a six-point halftime lead to 14 within the first six minutes of the second half, Albright thought his team's overall defensive execution was as good as he's seen the entire season.
"We took care of the ball better than we have all season and we really guarded them well. Our physical nature defensively seemed to bother them in the first half," Albright said. "But at the end of the day, you have to be able to make some shots to beat a team like that. If you're not able to make some shots and just make some plays defensively, you can play your tail off like our guys did ... (but) the other points on the board become harder to execute."
Inconsistency has been the primary issue for DeSales, which is 8-10 overall and averaging 47.6 points entering a CCL contest Friday, Feb. 8, at Ready. Since a 3-1 start, the Stallions' only back-to-back wins came Dec. 27 and 28 in the Machens Great 8 Classic in Jefferson City, Mo., where they beat Jefferson City 68-59 and Jefferson City Helias Catholic 51-48 before losing in the final 55-45 to Memphis (Tenn.) Lausanne Collegiate, but a challenging schedule since hasn't helped.
The loss to Hartley was the last of a five-game stretch that included a 43-33 loss to league-foe St. Charles on Jan. 18, a 36-33 win over New Concord John Glenn on Jan. 19 in the Route 40 Classic at Zanesville West Muskingum and losses to two of the top Division I teams in the area in New Albany (64-38 on Jan. 22) and Olentangy Liberty (60-38 on Jan. 26).
Entering the week, New Albany was 17-1 and Liberty was 19-1. John Glenn had received some votes for the Division II state poll a few days before facing the Stallions.
DeSales rebounded from the Hartley loss by beating Beech-croft 66-59 in double overtime on Feb. 2. Senior forward Darrien Scott had a team-high 15 points as the Stallions came from 11 points down and finished the game on a 12-2 run.
"We've gradually improved, but at the same time so has our competition," Scott said. "We've teetered and tottered back and forth. If we keep gradually improving, we'll be all right and we can win some games."
DeSales has used a sometimes-stingy zone defense to hold seven opponents to 44 points or fewer. That's what some players believe will be the team's key in the postseason.
"Gradually, we're working harder to stay in the correct radius and playing harder in our zone and manning up when we have to," junior guard Taz Collins said. "But at the offensive end, we can't seem to make shots."
The Stallions have two league games remaining to avoid their first winless CCL season since 1962-63. After facing Ready, they will play host to Watterson on Feb. 15. They lost to the Silver Knights 42-34 on Jan. 4 and lost to the Eagles 58-41 on Jan. 11.
"The postseason is something we have to look forward to," said Albright, who referred to the Division II district tournament as "the light at the end of the tunnel." "These next (four) games (to end the regular season) are games where we can get into a bit of a rhythm for ourselves. There's no game on our schedule we're guaranteed to win and there's no game we can't lose. That being said, we hopefully can come out of this starting to click offensively, especially.
"If we can couple that with good effort ... we can get into a situation where maybe we get some benefit from the difficult schedule we've played."
The district tournament begins Feb. 23.
Girls team clinches share of CCL title
Sophomore guard Carli Codner-Pinto had 19 points to help carry the girls basketball team past host Watterson 55-43 in a CCL game Feb. 2, clinching at least a share of the league championship.
Senior guard Miranda Johnson added 14 points for the Stallions, who are 6-1 in the CCL. DeSales can clinch the league title outright at home Saturday, Feb. 9, against Hartley. The Hawks won the first matchup 41-33 on Jan. 12. Johnson had 15 points to lead the Stallions, who were outscored 25-15 in the second half.
Hartley and Watterson are tied for second in the league at 5-2. Watterson plays host to Columbus School for Girls on Feb. 9. The Unicorns are 0-7 in the league.
Last season, the Stallions lost to Hartley 31-22 in their CCL finale, costing them the outright championship. They shared the title with Watterson, as both teams finished 6-2, ahead of Hartley (5-3), Ready (3-5) and CSG (0-8).
Wrestlers fall in team tournament
The wrestling team was eliminated from the Division II state team tournament with a 71-11 loss to top-seeded and host Whitehall in a Region 14-A semifinal Jan. 30.
The Stallions, who were seeded third, defeated second-seeded Columbus South 41-36 in the second round of the dual-format tournament earlier that day to reach a semifinal.
Senior Ian Ferguson (170 pounds) and freshman Jake Maynard (120) each went 2-0 that day. Ferguson recorded two wins by major decision, beating South's Gabe Valentine 16-0 and Whitehall's Bryce Hortz 16-1.
Ferguson and Maynard also won titles in the CCL tournament Feb. 2 as the host Stallions scored 137 points to finish fourth, behind St. Charles (263), Hartley (238) and Ready (149) and ahead of Watterson (79).
Ferguson defeated St. Charles' Cole Delaney 8-1 in the championship match, and Maynard pinned Watterson's Ben Kring in 1 minute, 46 seconds in his final.