At any given time, the Olentangy Orange High School boys basketball team might have two freshmen and three sophomores on the court, but that's not an excuse second-year coach Anthony Calo wants to hear.
Calo said the Pioneers have played enough games that their youth should no longer matter.
"We are young, but that is old hat and can't be an excuse," said Calo, whose team is 2-10 overall and 2-5 in the OCC-Capital Division. "Being young is not an excuse 12 games into the season. We're making young mistakes that need to go away."
Orange has shown glimpses of the team it may become with wins over Big Walnut (52-43 in overtime Jan. 8) and Worthington Kilbourne (50-49 on Jan. 10).
The Pioneers also took New Albany, which leads the OCC-Capital at 5-2, to the limit in a 43-42 loss Jan. 17. Freshman Jay Joseph led Orange with 14 points and three 3-pointers, while sophomore Colin Shepherd also scored 14 and sophomore Grant Gossard had 13.
"We play well when we are disciplined and focused," Calo said. "We just haven't been consistently disciplined or focused."
Orange lost to Liberty 52-34 on Jan. 18 as Joseph scored 12 points and senior Chase Mosher added eight, but the Pioneers impressed Patriots coach Greg Nossaman.
"That's going to be a good team," Nossaman said. "There's nothing like varsity experience. (The Pioneers) beat a good Worthington Kilbourne team and had a shot to beat New Albany. They are playing solid basketball."
On Jan. 14, the Pioneers lost to Westerville Central 55-35 after trailing 24-22 at halftime against a Warhawks team that entered this week 10-3. Joseph scored 14 points, Gossard had 12 and sophomore Haydn Audsley added seven.
"It's tough because when you're young, you can always say that you're working hard," Calo said. "But there's a difference between working hard and working smart. We have to figure out how to work smart."
Patriots set for showdown with UA
Liberty is 9-6 overall entering a key OCC-Central contest Friday, Jan. 24, against visiting Upper Arlington.
The Patriots and Dublin Coffman are tied for the league lead at 7-1, one-half game ahead of the Golden Bears (6-1).
In the first meeting with UA, senior Law Jones hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Liberty a 34-31 win. Senior Michael DeLeon had 12 points and Jones had nine, all on 3s.
"We play UA on Friday and that will be big for us," Nossaman said. "We have been playing good defense and we need to continue to do that. We have been making people work for their shots."
On Jan. 17, DeLeon scored 22 points and senior Zach Nice had 21 in a 77-52 win over Central Crossing in OCC-Central play. Junior Sam Fowler scored eight points and both Jones and junior Brad Smith had six.
The next day, DeLeon scored 16 points and Nice had 15 in the win over Orange. Smith had nine points and Jones added six.
"It was important for us to get a good start in games and we were able to do that (with a 13-2 lead against Orange)," Nossaman said. "But we have to keep going and not fall asleep like we sometimes do. We have to work hard every single night."
Braves win two consecutive games
Olentangy improved to 5-7 overall by defeating Teays Valley 69-64 on Jan. 18.
The Braves are 2-4 in the OCC-Capital entering their home game Friday, Jan. 24, against Orange.
Junior Jimmy Gundling scored 19 points against Teays Valley. Sophomore Seth O'Neal had 13 points, junior Ryan Sieve had 11, sophomore Christian Mazzeo scored eight and sophomore Brandon Mazzeo added seven.
On Jan. 17, Sieve scored 15 points to lead Olentangy past Big Walnut 69-56 in league play to snap a two-game losing streak. Gundling scored 12 points, sophomore Derrick Wyche had 11, O'Neal had eight and junior Andrew Kaylor added seven.