Maggie Simon's favorite thing about basketball isn't scoring a key basket, making a free throw or outhustling other players for rebounds.
"It has to be taking a charge," said Simon, a 5-foot-6 guard for the DeSales High School girls basketball team. "It just gets me excited. It really gets me into the game, and I think that carries over to my teammates, too."
How many charges has Simon taken?
"I have no idea. Coach (Brian Cromwell) doesn't keep track," Simon said, chuckling. "It's too many to remember."
Cromwell spares no adjectives describing Simon, a two-year starter who was averaging 7.2 points through 10 games and never stops working to be in the right spot to get a key rebound or lend help on defense. DeSales was 8-2 overall before playing Logan Elm on Jan. 6 and is 3-1 in the CCL.
"She's the heart and soul of this team," Cromwell said. "I know I've said that before, but she just gets after it very hard. I think she struggles with containing herself sometimes and, because of that, she can get into foul trouble. But her effort makes such a difference for us, and our girls respect her because she works so hard."
Simon is one of three seniors for DeSales, with Tessa Mulligan and Coley Tuel being the others. Simon saw some varsity time as a sophomore, although that mainly was limited to dressing for postseason games as DeSales won a Division II district championship but became a starter last season, when the Stallions tied Hartley and Watterson for the CCL title and lost to Hartley in a Division II district final.
Last spring, Simon was a captain on the girls lacrosse team.
"She has such a drive and she always gives us an energy boost," guard Jori Arnold said. "Maggie keeps us going. She's always into the game, but she knows how to have fun off the court, too. She gets along with everybody."
Simon contributed at key times during a 42-37 win over Watterson on Jan. 4, a game in which DeSales trailed 26-12 halfway through the third quarter. She hit a 3-pointer early in the fourth to pull the Stallions to within 32-27 and made two foul shots with 1 minute, 22 seconds left to help extend a one-point lead.
Scoring averages reflect that DeSales is balanced offensively. The season point totals for the Stallions' top six scorers through 10 games ranged from 83 to 61, led by Joenyia Herd-Middlebrooks with 83. Arnold was next with 73 points, followed by Simon (72), Andrea Grassbaugh (66), Tuel (65) and Taylor Freeman (61).
"For us, it's really all about who's playing well in a specific game," Cromwell said. "That's how it's been all year."
DeSales resumes CCL play Saturday, Jan. 11, at home against Columbus School for Girls. The Stallions' only loss in the first half of league play came against Hartley, 52-50 on Dec. 12. The rematch is scheduled for Jan. 23 at DeSales.
Cromwell hoped that loss -- in which the Stallions squandered a 13-point, third-quarter lead -- serves as a lesson in how to deal with adversity. Later that week, DeSales rebounded to win the Cincinnati Hughes Holiday Classic, defeating Trotwood-Madison 57-48 on Dec. 27 and Hughes 48-32 in the final Dec. 28.
"We're seeing more of what we're made of," Simon said. "We remember that loss to Hartley. Now it's the second half of the league season, and we'll get another chance against them. We just have to play our hearts out the rest of the way."
Swimmers getting set for meet in Canton
Four members of the swimming and diving teams will participate as individuals in the Northeast Classic on Saturday, Jan. 11, at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Competing in individual events are Anne Marie Cummins (100-yard backstroke, 100 butterfly), Maureen Cummins (100 backstroke, 50 freestyle) and Kaylee Spahr (100 breaststroke) from the girls team and Coleman McKinney (50 free, 100 free) from the boys squad.
According to coach Mallory Hoffman, Claire Alexander, Eliza Cargin and Chelsea Johnson will compete on relays.
Swimmers must meet time standards to participate.
Branin Natatorium will play host to the state meet Feb. 19-22. The DeSales girls team has moved up to Division I this season while the boys team remains in Division II.
"This meet is so competitive, and it's a great opportunity for the girls and Coleman to size up the competition they'll see down the road," Hoffman said. "We'll get to see what events they should be swimming and how they feel in them. Hopefully, (this weekend) will be a confidence booster."
According to Hoffman, Cargin, Maureen Cummins and Johnson have emerged as the Stallions' top freestylers. Maureen Cummins and Johnson are freshmen and Cargin is a sophomore.
"Right now, we're still experimenting with who will score points in what event, especially with our freshmen and sophomores," Hoffman said. "Especially in the last couple meets, we've started to figure some things out. I'm excited to see what we'll see in Canton."
Carfagna improving for wrestling team
Domenic Carfagna of the wrestling team continued his solid freshman season by placing eighth at 106 pounds in the Marion Harding Classic held Dec. 27 and 28.
Carfagna began his season by winning the 106 title in DeSales' season-opening Tony Pizzurro Memorial Tournament on Nov. 30.
"His learning curve is high," coach Nick Preston said. "He's picked up the small things that will help him turn the corner. He gets out when he's on bottom. And when you're a freshman, a lot of times it's just difficult to be more savvy than an older guy you're wrestling. But he has handled himself well. He's like a sponge when it comes to learning."
Coupled with an eighth-place by junior Brian Dytko at heavyweight, DeSales earned 36 points and finished 27th in the Marion Harding Classic behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (162) as 33 teams scored.
According to Preston, Dytko, a first-year wrestler, currently weighs about 225 pounds and is expected to compete most of the remainder of the season at 220. He was the 220 champion in the Pizzurro tournament.
"A lot of our young guys have been thrown into the fire, so to speak," Preston said. "They've handled themselves really well, especially for not having had any junior varsity matches to prepare themselves before being in big matches and tournaments."