Olentangy Valley News

Girls Basketball

Perry finds niche playing 'my sport'

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The journey to finding her role as a forward and captain for the Olentangy Liberty High School girls basketball team has included its share of unpredictability for senior Emily Perry.

There's the fact she was a strong candidate to be the Patriots' point guard as a sophomore before a knee injury kept her from playing that season.

Then there's her lineage: She is the daughter of professional golfer Chris Perry and the granddaughter of former Major League Baseball pitcher Jim Perry.

While Chris Perry was a regular in PGA Tour events from 1985-92 and 1995-2001 and Jim Perry won 215 career games and the 1970 American League Cy Young Award for the Minnesota Twins, Emily Perry always felt more of a push toward basketball.

"(Golf is) not my sport," she said. "My dad gave me a golf set, but I'm so impatient. I played a lot of years of softball, but quit when I was in seventh grade. I play basketball because it's my sport."

Although Perry is one of just two seniors along with Melissa Veerman for a program that also has only two juniors, Liberty was 8-3 overall before playing Westerville South on Jan. 14.

The Patriots edged Dublin Coffman 64-62 on Jan. 8 and beat Thomas Worthington 52-19 on Jan. 10 to improve to 6-2 in the OCC-Central Division.

Upper Arlington leads the league at 7-1 and Liberty, Coffman and Westland all are 6-2.

Perry scored nine points against Coffman, which was her season high entering the Westerville South game.

"On (Jan. 6) I had all the girls (on the team) over (at my house) and we watched the movie 'Miracle,' " Perry said of the movie about the gold-medal winning 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. "We usually watch one movie together and I kind of thought we needed to come together because Coffman would be a tough game."

In addition to her attempts to show leadership on a team that is on track to threaten the program record of 15 wins in a season, Perry is ranked in the top 10 in her class academically.

She believes she learned a lot about basketball during her sophomore year when she was forced to the sidelines.

"I'm a passer and I see the floor so well," Perry said. "The last two years have been a little different, but (the Coffman game) was really the first game I've felt really good since the injury. I love being a leader. I always try to be positive.

"The basketball IQ on our team is very good and that helps. I definitely can see and think about things and I understand more of what the coaches want to show us after sitting out (as a sophomore). I do study quite a bit. I work really hard (academically) and that comes to basketball, too."

Coach Ron Florey has been happy to have the 6-foot-1 Perry as a key player in the team's zone defense.

"She's long and pretty active," Florey said. "I look for her to rebound, and when she scores nine (like she did against Coffman), that's a bonus."

Braves out to perfect league start

Olentangy will attempt to continue rolling through the OCC-Capital when it plays host to Big Walnut on Friday, Jan. 17.

On Jan. 11, the Braves beat Big Walnut 59-38 to improve to 9-4 overall and 7-0 in the league.

Olentangy is 4-0 since losing two of three games in a KSA Events Holiday Tournament held Dec. 27-30 in Orlando, Fla.

"We've really pulled together and have played well lately," sophomore guard Kelly Meade said. "We've been working really hard on our end-of-game situations."

Olentangy has yet to play Mount Vernon because the first-round matchup between the teams scheduled for Jan. 7 was postponed to Feb. 10 at Mount Vernon in what will be the league finale for both teams.

The Braves will play host Feb. 7 to the Yellow Jackets, who were 6-0 in the OCC-Capital after beating Franklin Heights 65-25 on Jan. 13.

The Braves earned a season sweep of Delaware on Jan. 10 with a 65-50 win. Meade scored 20 points, Morgan Horvath had 16 and Rachel Womeldorf added 15 against Delaware, which the Braves led 24-9 after one quarter.

Olentangy, which beat Delaware 58-45 in the first-round league meeting Dec. 3, then got 20 points from Horvath and 17 from Meade against Big Walnut. The Braves led the Golden Eagles 18-2 after one quarter and also outscored Big Walnut 19-8 in the third.

On Saturday, Jan. 18, Olentangy plays Huntington (W.Va.) St. Joseph in the Prep Shootout at Pickerington Central. St. Joseph beat Africentric 58-52 on Jan. 11 and was 10-3 before playing Jackson on Jan. 15.

The Irish are led by senior guards Mychal Johnson and Griffin Dempsey, who have signed with Notre Dame and Charlotte, respectively.

"(Playing St. Joseph) will show us what we're made of," Meade said.

Pioneers set for non-league rematches

A year ago, Orange went 18-2 in the regular season, with its losses to Northland (69-59) and Reynoldsburg (63-58).

The Pioneers lost to the Raiders 62-21 on Jan. 13 and get a rematch with Northland on Saturday, Jan. 18.

Then on Wednesday, Jan. 22, Orange travels to Gahanna for a rematch of a game the Pioneers won 63-52 in overtime in a Division I regional semifinal last season.

Orange is 1-11 overall and 1-7 in the OCC-Capital. The Pioneers return to league play Thursday, Jan. 16, at New Albany.

After beating Franklin Heights 45-29 on Jan. 3 for its first victory, Orange lost to Big Walnut 44-28 on Jan. 8 and to Worthington Kilbourne 48-35 on Jan. 9 in league games and fell to Fairfield Union 44-30 on Jan. 11.

Junior forward Lexi Werling, who was averaging a team-best 11.6 points through 11 games, had nine points against both Big Walnut and Kilbourne and 12 against Fairfield Union.

The Pioneers lost to Kilbourne 27-20 in overtime Nov. 25 to begin league play. In the rematch, the Wolves led 28-24 at halftime before going on a 13-4 run in the third quarter.

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