Their stories didn't line up word for word, but Reynoldsburg High School boys basketball coach Scott Davis and senior forward Wendell Davis, who are not related, agreed about the importance of an exchange between the coach and his players during a recent practice.
After the Raiders' 61-37 win over host Lancaster on Jan. 4 to improve to 9-0, Wendell Davis said his coach had told him and his teammates the day before that they were the worst 8-0 team in central Ohio.
"No, I think I said in the Eastern United States," coach Davis said.
"Actually, I think he said America," Wendell Davis said.
As the two joked about the conversation, Wendell Davis, an Ashland University signee who had 23 points and 12 rebounds against the Golden Gales, said he knew exactly what his coach was trying to emphasize.
"He just says to stay humble," Wendell Davis said. "We should be happy to be 8-0 (before the Lancaster game), but we could just as easily go to 8-8. All of the hard work we've done, our coach set the bar high from game one. He looks at us like this is something we should be doing."
Even though the Raiders won their second Division I district championship in program history a year ago, their postseason run came after a regular season in which they lost nine games.
Reynoldsburg fell to 9-1 overall with a 43-41 loss to Zanesville on Jan. 5 but was 5-0 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing Newark on Jan. 8. Among its victories were a 56-39 win over area power Westerville South on Nov. 30, a 53-52 win over defending state champion Pickerington Central on Dec. 14 and a 40-38 win over another one of central Ohio's top teams, Gahanna, on Dec. 18.
The Raiders trailed Lancaster 13-4 with 3 minutes, 1 second left in the first quarter, but they rallied to take a 24-21 lead into halftime and outscored the Gales 21-6 during a third quarter in which Davis had six points, four rebounds and two steals.
Sophomore guard Lloyd Chatman contributed 12 points and senior Mike Smith, who has served as a backup in the frontcourt behind Davis and Mykel Traylor-Bennett, added eight points.
"We've got a target on our backs," coach Davis said. "We're going to get everybody's best effort. (Lancaster) was up 13-4 and we didn't call a timeout. We just tried to keep our poise, and we also have to be patient. If it's close for a while, we can't panic.
"Overall, I'm pleased. Defensively in the second half (against Lancaster), we got stops. It's been different guys stepping up every night. With Wendell and Mike Smith in the post position, we know we'll get a lot of production out of that position."
Swimming teams getting back on track
The boys and girls swimming and diving teams competed for the first time in more than two weeks Jan. 5 when it went against Westerville Central and Westerville North at Westerville Recreation Center.
The boys team lost to Central 132-19 and lost to North 129-28, and the girls team lost to Central 109-61 and lost to North 104-62.
"We did hold some practices (during the holiday break), but the snow hurt us a little bit and a lot of kids go out of town," coach Stephanie Kiss said. "They did have a really good practice (Jan. 3) and, after our first meet this year, a lot of them were right at where they were at the end of last season. So really, we're doing great. Their heart is in it and they want it."
Sophomore Morgan McCafferty, who advanced to the Division I state meet in the 100-yard backstroke last season to become the program's first state qualifier since 2006, has been working on cutting time in the event as well as in the 100 butterfly.
McCafferty and classmate Marisa Glusich have been among the early standouts, according to Kiss.
In addition to McCafferty and Glusich, junior Sara Kohs and sophomore Leah Svoboda are expected to be key contributors in relays in the coming weeks.
"I want to create two pretty good relays and kind of spread them out," Kiss said.
Kiss is looking forward to seeing her teams compete Saturday, Jan. 12, in the Bexley Invitational at St. Charles.
Senior Josh Dorsett and sophomore Devin Wooddell have been among the top swimmers for the boys team, Kiss said.
Girls bowlers off to strong season
The girls bowling team entered the week as one of two undefeated teams in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-South Division.
The Raiders are 10-0 overall and 8-0 in the COHSBC-South after defeating Walnut Ridge 1,530-1,312 on Jan. 7 and Briggs was 5-0 in the league before competing against Columbus East on Jan. 8.
The top players for Reynoldsburg have been senior Angela Williams and sophomores Michaela Johnson, Emily Harrell, Katie Crow and Lauren Sampson.
In a 1,750-1,732 win over Whitehall on Dec. 21 at Holiday Lanes, Johnson averaged 177.5 pins per game, followed by Williams (165.5) and Crow (153).
The Raiders scored more than 1,600 pins in five of their first 10 matches, with their highest total coming against Whitehall.