The Reynoldsburg High School boys basketball team has put together one of central Ohio's best defensive resumes during the season's first three weeks.
After giving up an average of 42.5 points in a pair of non-league wins to begin the season, the Raiders gave up 10 points in the first two minutes before controlling the action the rest of the way in a 50-46 win Dec. 7 in their OCC-Ohio Division opener at Grove City.
Reynoldsburg then edged defending Division I state champion Pickerington Central 53-52 on Dec. 14 and beat non-league Delaware 69-46 the next day.
Delaware's Mike Wells entered the game Dec. 15 averaging 28.8 points but scored just four in the game's first 12 minutes. According to Raiders coach Scott Davis, he was 2-for-4 from the floor before suffering a possible concussion trying to take a charge from Wendell Davis and did not return.
"Defense is something that we're always working on," senior guard Jaylen Givens said. "It starts collectively. It starts with Travis Gleason and Mykel (Traylor-Bennett), and we've just got some great athletes. We talk a lot about defense and it shows."
Against Pickerington Central, the Raiders led 42-30 after three quarters before holding off a late rally.
Davis scored 29 points, including a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to seal the win.
Davis also was instrumental in the win over Grove City, as he took a charge with 35.1 seconds to go and made four free throws in the final minute.
Davis finished with a team-high 18 points while Givens made three 3-pointers and had 16 points against the Greyhounds.
In addition to Davis being 6-foot-4, the Raiders are rotating a pair of 6-4 seniors alongside Davis in Traylor-Bennett and Mike Smith.
"We were really pleased with the job we did defensively (against Grove City)," coach Davis said. "It was 10-1 (Grove City) after the first minute and a half and we had a heck of a defensive effort after that.
"Our kids are taking pride on the defensive end. We've got some kids who are getting some opportunities, but we're still trying to piece things together."
Wrestling team coming together
The wrestling team is hoping to be closer to having a full lineup by the time it competes Dec. 28 and 29 in the Chagrin Falls Kenston Invitational, which coach Jared Ball believes will be one of the toughest events on its schedule.
Because some of his athletes weren't able to make their expected weight, the Raiders forfeited three weights Dec. 14 in the East Side Tri against Licking Heights and Watkins Memorial and Dec. 15 in the Wolfpack Classic at Worthington Kilbourne.
Despite being shorthanded, Reynoldsburg beat Licking Heights 44-30 and went 3-2 in the Wolfpack Classic.
The Raiders' other match in the East Side Tri was a 54-21 loss to Watkins Memorial.
"Some of our kids aren't going to be able to get down to their weight certification until after Christmas, but I think our kids have wrestled pretty admirably so far," Ball said. "We won our last three matches to go 3-2 (at Kilbourne), so for a young team I thought it was a good way to finish the day."
One of the highlights of last weekend, according to Ball, came when the Raiders beat Buckeye Valley on criteria after the teams tied at 42. They won their last five matches by pin, with freshman Dominic Hathaway getting a pin at 113 pounds to end the dual.
Seniors Nick Johnston (170) and Jordan Reed (220) and junior James Love (182) have been among the team's top wrestlers early on, Ball said.
The Raiders open OCC-Ohio action Thursday, Dec. 20, against visiting Lancaster.
"I kind of look to (Johnston, Reed and Love) for leadership and they're all about 8-1 or so," Ball said. "James went 5-0 with five pins over the weekend and Nick won the Wazie Classic (on Dec. 1 at Mount Vernon) at 170. Jordan has been very consistent throughout his career. Those are the guys who are really leading the team. With all these young kids we're very young, but I'm surprised at their athleticism. It's been a fun season so far."