Morgan Horvath has a work ethic that Olentangy High School girls basketball coach John Feasel jokes drives him crazy.
During the fifth-place game of a KSA Events Holiday Tournament on Dec. 30 in Orlando, Fla., the Braves were held to one of their lowest point totals of the season in a 53-34 loss to Pittsburgh Fox Chapel.
On the morning of Jan. 1, shortly after the team returned from the trip, the senior guard wasn't in the mood to take the day off.
"She called me wanting to come out and shoot," Feasel said of Horvath. "She's a great kid, a very good student and she wants to be in the gym all the time."
After averaging 6.5 points for a senior-laden team a year ago, Horvath has blossomed into the team's top scorer this winter.
She scored 25 points in a 65-56 loss Dec. 28 to Canton (N.C.) Pisgah and topped that performance with 26 points in a 62-49 loss to Huntington (W.Va.) St. Joseph on Jan. 18 in the Prep Shootout at Pickerington Central.
She is averaging 16.7 points.
Olentangy, which also lost to Big Walnut 50-49 on Jan. 17, is 9-6 overall and 7-1 in the OCC-Capital Division. It continues league play Saturday, Jan. 25, at Orange.
Horvath made a concerted effort over the summer to prove to Feasel she was ready to take a step forward this winter as one of the team's four seniors.
"For me, basketball is like a getaway from the stress of school," Horvath said. "I'm kind of a perfectionist and I like to work on my game a lot.
"Over the summer, I was in the gym every day. With all of the seniors we lost I knew I had to step up. We've had so many great seasons and I wanted to prove to Feasel that we could keep us there."
The Braves averaged 61 points during a four-game winning streak that followed the loss to Fox Chapel.
Horvath averaged 14.8 points during Olentangy's first four games after returning from Florida, while sophomore Kelly Meade averaged 18 and junior Rachel Womeldorf averaged 14.
Womeldorf averaged 4.1 points over the team's first nine games.
Meade is averaging 14.5 points.
While Horvath has hopes of playing collegiately, she also has performed in the classroom. She hasn't received a grade lower than an A since sixth grade.
Her father, Mark, and her mother, Jamie, are optometrists at Horvath Vision Care, and Morgan is considering studying biology, optometry or dentistry in college.
Horvath believes the work ethic she has shown in the classroom and on the court is paying off.
"You definitely have to have a high basketball IQ, such as knowing where players are on the court at all times," she said. "There are always games that disappoint me, but I'm always going to work for something."
Young players growing for Orange
Although victories have been difficult to come by, Orange coach Kelly Joseph believes her team has been making steady progress.
In addition, several freshmen have become key players.
While junior forward Lexi Werling was averaging a team-best 11.3 points through 12 games, freshmen Hannah Sargent (forward), Nia Lee (forward), Megan Erickson (forward), Schaeffer Lilley (guard) and Marlo Robinson (forward) all have scored in varsity games.
Sargent had eight points and Robinson scored her first two points in a 48-35 loss to Worthington Kilbourne on Jan. 9.
At 5-foot-9, Sargent complements Werling and junior forward Mikaela Lyons, the team's tallest player at 5-10, in the post.
Sophomores Bree McCague (forward) and Lena Mancini (guard) also are key players.
"We're young and excited," Joseph said. "They look forward to coming to practice every day. (The freshmen) have gotten a little taste of it and they've been doing a good job of winning on the (junior varsity)."
Orange lost to New Albany 58-38 on Jan. 16 in a league game and fell to Northland 67-34 on Jan. 18. The Pioneers were 1-13 overall before playing Gahanna on Jan. 22 and are 1-8 in the OCC-Capital.
Liberty trying to stay in title race
Although Liberty had a four-game winning streak snapped with a 41-31 loss to Westerville South on Jan. 14, its goal of staying in the OCC-Central title race remains intact.
The Patriots beat Central Crossing 32-29 on Jan. 17 to improve to 7-2 in the league. They lost to Reedsville Eastern 70-38 on Jan. 18 in the Prep Shootout at Pickerington Central and were 9-5 overall before playing Pickerington Central on Jan. 21.
Liberty travels Friday, Jan. 24, to Upper Arlington, which is 8-1 and first in the league.
The Patriots lost to the Golden Bears 34-25 on Dec. 13.
Junior guard Hayley Hickman had 11 points against Westerville South.
Against Central Crossing, sophomore guard Alexa Fisher had 11 points, seven steals and four rebounds.