Olentangy Liberty High School girls basketball coach Ron Florey has joked with Alexa Fisher that he wants her to be "an extension" of him when it comes to attitude and leadership.
She hasn't disappointed at that task so far this season.
Despite having a partially torn right ACL that requires her to wear a brace, Fisher was the team's leading scorer through five games even though she wasn't cleared to play until late November.
The 5-foot-8 sophomore also has resembled her coach in the way she's controlled the action at point guard.
"I've been telling (my teammates) that it's OK to make mistakes in practice, but I think some of them are still a little timid," Fisher said. "I've tried to say that we always need to be at full-go."
On Dec. 10 in a 35-31 win that snapped Liberty's seven-game losing streak against Olentangy, Fisher made a 3-pointer to tie it at 31 with 3 minutes, 33 seconds left.
After sophomore forward Lauren Hofer made a pair of free throws with 1:11 to go to give the Patriots a 33-31 lead, Fisher scored the game's final basket with 46 seconds left.
Fisher, who had 16 points in a 54-34 win over Orange in Liberty's opener Nov. 23, was averaging 10 points through five games.
The Patriots were 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Marysville on Dec. 17.
On Dec. 13, Liberty didn't give up any points in the second quarter but lost to Upper Arlington 34-25. Fisher was held to three points.
"I've got to give a lot of kudos to Lexi," Florey said. "She's playing with a brace and it impacts her some, but ... she's learning to have more poise. She said something that sounded a lot like me the other day."
Against Olentangy, Liberty led 8-2 in the first quarter but the Braves came back to tie it at 20 at halftime.
The Braves also led 27-20 with 4:15 left in the third quarter before the Patriots rallied.
Junior guard Hayley Hickman and junior forward Kristen Levering both had seven points for Liberty, with Levering leading in rebounds with 11 and Fisher adding 10.
"It's the first time in a while that we've beaten (Olentangy)," Fisher said. "We've been preparing for this game for a long time. Olentangy's been an amazing team for a while, so this was one of our goals."
Braves hope to learn from Liberty loss
Liberty has four players who are at least 6-0, including the 6-2 Levering, so Olentangy coach John Feasel wasn't surprised his team struggled on offense in the loss to the Patriots.
The Braves hope they don't have similar issues Friday, Dec. 20, when they travel to New Albany for an OCC-Capital game.
Olentangy beat Orange 56-40 on Dec. 14 to improve to 2-2 overall and 2-0 in the league before playing Franklin Heights on Dec. 17.
New Albany is 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Capital.
"(Liberty) is big and long and when you're big and long you can cover a lot of space," Feasel said. "This means nothing to the league race, but we have to learn from it for when we're in games against teams like New Albany."
New Albany is led by sophomore Meche'la Cobb, a 6-0 forward who is the team's tallest player and had 19 points in a 57-42 win over Delaware on Dec. 10.
The Braves' first victory this season came Dec. 3, 58-45 over Delaware. They then avenged a pair of losses from last season by beating Orange, which went 14-0 in the league a year ago as Olentangy finished second at 12-2.
The Braves had won league titles the previous three seasons in the OCC-Cardinal.
Olentangy's point total against Liberty was its lowest since it lost to Reynoldsburg 56-31 in a 2012 Division I district final, as the Braves scored just four points over the last 12:15 against the Patriots.
Sophomore Kelly Meade sat out a few minutes early in the fourth quarter after hurting her back but finished with a team-best 12 points.
"They played really well and we couldn't throw it into the ocean," Feasel said of the Liberty game. "We've got to score more points. I think we played hard, but we just didn't play very smart. You've got to be able to score 40 points."
Against Orange, junior Morgan Horvath scored 13 points and Meade added 12.
Pioneers taking steps forward
Orange closes the 2013 portion of its schedule when it plays host to Delaware on Friday, Dec. 20, and travels to Mount Vernon on Saturday, Dec. 21, in league games.
The Pioneers' loss to Olentangy dropped them to 0-5 overall and 0-3 in the OCC-Capital.
Orange beat Olentangy 57-52 and 64-60 last season on the way to winning the league title.
On Dec. 7, Orange got 19 points from Lexi Werling and 11 from Mikaela Lyons but couldn't overcome a scoring drought in a 53-43 loss to Hilliard Davidson.
After leading 24-22 at halftime, Orange was outscored 10-2 in the third quarter and 21-17 in the fourth.
The Pioneers also lost to Worthington Kilbourne 27-20 in overtime Nov. 25 in their league opener.
Last season, Orange beat Delaware 89-51 and 61-39 and Mount Vernon 45-32 and 69-21.