Before the season began, the OCC-Ohio Division appeared to be one of the toughest in the area in high school girls basketball.

Before the season began, the OCC-Ohio Division appeared to be one of the toughest in the area in high school girls basketball.

After four league games, no coach knows that more than Reynoldsburg coach Jack Purtell, whose team lost to visiting Pickerington North 46-44 last Saturday to drop to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the OCC.

"This year, you can't judge all of your progress on wins and losses, on the amount of games we win and the amount of games we lose," Purtell said.

The Raiders' other loss was at Grove City 46-42 on Dec. 9, meaning its two losses were by a combined six points.

Through last Saturday, the top four teams in the OCC-Ohio -- Pickerington Central (5-1 overall, 4-1 in league), Gahanna (4-1, 3-1), Grove City (5-1, 3-1) and Gahanna (4-1, 3-1) -- had lost to each other or Reynoldsburg.

Purtell, his staff and the players will look to some of the little things to judge progress sometimes.

"We have to take care of the little things, like boxing out, take better care of the ball, how hard we compete and playing together," Purtell said.

North senior Brittney Callahan led all scorers with 17 points last Saturday. Aryelle Covington (13 points) and T'Shera Lucas (12 points) led the Raiders.

Reynoldsburg led 21-20 at the half, but North was up 35-28 heading into the fourth and led by 10 early in the fourth quarter.

The Raiders rallied and tied the score with less than two minutes left, but fell just short. Callahan made two free throws with less than one minute remaining for the winning points.

Lucas drove for a potential-tying basket after the free throws, but couldn't convert and no foul was called.

"It was a very physical game and both teams played hard," Purtell said. "It was too bad one team had to lose. The effort was tremendous on both sides. It was a great game, we just didn't get it done.

Purtell added that he was probably more satisfied with last Saturday's loss to North than a 41-36 win over Newark on Dec. 12.

•GOING MOBILE -- For the first time in Purtell's 18 seasons as a head coach, he's taking a team to Florida for winter break.The Raiders will play three games in a tournament at Cape Coral (Fla.) Baker.

"We want to mix pleasure with business during the trip," Purtell said. "We want the kids to enjoy things down there, but we want to win some games, too."

The first game is set for 7 p.m. Monday against Baker. The second and third games will be Tuesday and Wednesday, with the field being completed by Florida schools Brooksville, Jupiter, Lehigh, Mariner, North Fort Myers and Palmetto Ridge.

The Raiders will return to league player at home against Groveport on Jan. 6 and Gahanna three days later.

"We play an extremely difficult second half of the season," Purtell said of the schedule that includes return games with all the league rivals as well as a contest Jan. 19 at the Classic in the Country at Berlin Hiland against Middletown Madison and one Jan. 24 at Toledo Notre Dame. "We'll be away from our cozy surroundings and have to win on the road."

Seven of the last nine games of the season are on the road. Purtell is confident his team is sharp enough and strong enough mentally to get through the road stretch and the strong schedule his team will face.

"With this group, we have good leadership. We have kids with a lot of time invested in basketball," Purtell said. "We talked before the season, there will be ups and downs. We'll be ready for them."

At a glance

Below are recent results and coming schedule for the Reynoldsburg girls basketball team:

*Last Saturday -- Lost to Pickerington North 46-44

*Last Tuesday -- Played Lancaster

Monday-Wednesday -- At tournament at Cape Coral (Fla.) Baker

*Jan. 6 -- Home vs. Groveport

*Jan. 9 -- Home vs. Gahanna

Of note: The Raiders were 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the OCC-Ohio before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Ohio game