Among the things new coach Scott Davis has preached to sophomore Lloyd Chatman and the Reynoldsburg High School boys basketball team's other guards has come in the form of a warning.
"We know we've got to look for our shot," Chatman said. "He will take us out if we don't look for our shot."
Chatman, who split last season between the freshman and junior varsity teams, is among those who believe they've listened to Davis' instruction so far.
Although Reynoldsburg's first offensive option is senior forward and Ashland University recruit Wendell Davis, a backcourt that also includes seniors Jaylen Givens and Travis Gleason and junior Tyrek Pugh has attempted to be aggressive.
Last season, Givens and Gleason were backups. Pugh, like Chatman, is on the Raiders' varsity for the first time, although he contributed as a freshman at Beechcroft when Scott Davis was the Cougars' coach.
The Raiders improved to 8-0 by beating Dresden Tri-Valley 63-54 on Dec. 27.
"I didn't think we'd get off to (an 8-0) start," Chatman said. "We need to work on our pressure defense and just shooting."
The Raiders beat Gahanna 40-38 on Dec. 18 despite having no players score in double figures and making no 3-pointers.
They then beat Pickerington North 42-35 on Dec. 21 as senior forward Mykel Traylor-Bennett scored a team-high 11 points and Wendell Davis had nine.
Also against North, Chatman had seven points and Givens scored six on two 3-pointers. Chatman made a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left in the third quarter to give the Raiders a 35-27 lead.
"Our defense has been the one thing that's been consistent," coach Davis said. "Against Gahanna we didn't make a 3 and we didn't have anybody make double figures, but we still were up 34-19. Some of the things we're doing offensively are completely new to these guys.
"We want to work on more ball and player movement, with lots of cutting, and it takes all five of them to be in sync. If they're not, then the offense breaks down. We want our kids to shoot and I have confidence in all of them to shoot. A lot of these guys other than Wendell are really new to playing together. ... We've got so much potential for growth."
Hot start continues in girls basketball
The girls basketball team entered the eight-team National Bracket of the Diamond State Classic in Wilmington, Del., with a 7-0 overall record.
Included during the start were OCC-Ohio Division wins over Gahanna (54-44 on Dec. 18) and Pickerington North (50-32 on Dec. 21).
The Raiders won their 46th consecutive regular-season game and improved to 8-0 by beating Potomac (Md.) Bullis School 56-41 on Dec. 27, but they lost to Brooklyn (N.Y.) Ford 48-41 on Dec. 29. They defeated Wilmington (Del.) Ursuline Academy 49-43 on Dec. 30.
"(During past holiday breaks) we've gotten out of central Ohio and gotten an opportunity to do some team building," coach Jack Purtell said. "This is a little more on a national level.
"We're improving. We're saying there are five letters we're working on, and that's 'March.' We've been close a couple times."
Nicole Orr scored 15 points, Alyssa Rice scored 12 and Yamonie Jenkins had 11 against Gahanna, which the Raiders led 52-38 entering the fourth quarter.
Reynoldsburg used a 16-2 third quarter to pull away from Pickerington North.
Rice had 14 points and seven rebounds, Jenkins scored 12 points and Shiloh Murphy added seven points and four steals.
Purtell also was pleased with a bench against North that included De'Shay Thomas, who had four points, as well as Shanice Johnson and Natalie Orr.
"We knew it would be a big week, and we prepared hard in practice," Rice said. "It was a good assessment of where we are, but we know our season is far from over. We knew we didn't play our game in the first half (against Pickerington North) so we wanted to come out in the third quarter and set the tone."