As he and his teammates filed out from the locker room following a 60-59 overtime loss to visiting Pickerington Central on Jan. 25, Reynoldsburg High School boys basketball player Tyrek Pugh soaked in the postgame talk given by coach Scott Davis.
The Raiders, as Davis reminded them, didn't have time to dwell on the two-game OCC-Ohio Division losing streak they were on heading into their game Jan. 30 against Gahanna.
Pugh, unlike the rest of his teammates, heard a few of Davis' talks before this season when both were at Beechcroft.
The 5-foot-9 junior guard played for Davis as a freshman with the Cougars before transferring and spending last season on the Raiders' junior varsity.
"I was already used to how he coaches," Pugh said. "When he got here, it was like home again."
Pugh got a boost in playing time when sophomore guard Lloyd Chatman went down with a hamstring injury during a 54-36 win over Newark on Jan. 8. Chatman missed the next five games and was questionable for the game against Gahanna.
Pugh made a season-high three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in a 62-45 non-league win over Dublin Coffman on Jan. 19 and also scored 11 against Pickerington Central.
The Raiders were 13-3 overall and 7-2 in the league before playing Gahanna. Pickerington Central lost to Reynoldsburg 53-52 on Dec. 14 but was 8-1 in the league before playing Pickerington North on Jan. 29.
Reynoldsburg's other league loss came against Grove City, 50-43 on Jan. 18.
"We have to try to keep going," Pugh said. "(Davis) told us (after the loss to Pickerington Central) that it was two good teams with the potential to be great and that they just made more plays than us. We have to leave (that) game in the locker room."
The Raiders led 12-0 midway through the first quarter of the rematch against Pickerington Central, but the game was tied at 22 by halftime.
The Tigers led by as much as seven during the second half, but Reynoldsburg senior forward Wendell Davis scored eight of his team-high 22 points in the fourth quarter.
Davis hit the first of two free throws with 23.1 seconds to go in the fourth, and the game went to overtime tied at 51.
The Raiders led 55-51 but missed four consecutive free throws in one stretch as the Tigers rallied to take a 58-57 lead.
Senior forward Mykel Traylor-Bennett made a pair of foul shots with 9.8 seconds left to make it 59-58, but Central's Jae'Sean Tate drove through Davis and Traylor-Bennett for the winning layup just before time ran out.
Against Grove City, the Raiders led 37-35 heading into the fourth quarter.
"We didn't close the (Central) game, and we talked about that," coach Davis said. "We have to walk out of the locker room and leave (the loss) in there. We've still got a lot of people to play in our league and they've got a lot of people to play. If we think about this, we're in trouble because there are still a lot of games to be played.
"We're at a point where we've encountered some adversity in (back-to-back) league games. We bounced back (from the Grove City loss) by beating a good Dublin Coffman team and we've got to bounce back again."
Girls basketball team moves on after loss
Senior guard Yamonie Jenkins believes the girls basketball team got a gauge of some of the improvements it needs to make during a 45-38 loss to Twinsburg on Jan. 21 in the Classic in the Country at Berlin Hiland.
The Raiders did their best to put that loss behind them with a 64-30 win over Pickerington Central on Jan. 25. Junior post player Alyssa Rice scored 20 points and senior forward Destini Cooper had 14 as Reynoldsburg improved to 16-2 overall and 10-0 in the league.
The Raiders took momentum from that win into their game Jan. 29 against visiting Gahanna, which they beat 54-44 on Dec. 18.
Reynoldsburg was first in last week's Division I area coaches poll and Gahanna was second.
The Raiders play Friday, Feb. 1, at Pickerington North, a team they beat 50-32 on Dec. 21. Since then, however, North has returned sophomore guard Emily Thomas from an injury.
"We've just got to keep chopping wood," coach Jack Purtell said. "It's a work in progress. Our goal all year is to be playing our best at the end of the year."
"After playing a team like Twinsburg, it shows us where we are as a team," Jenkins said. "We've just got to work at getting better."
Bowling teams prep for sectional tourneys
The bowling teams will learn whether they'll compete in a sectional at Eastland Lanes or Columbus Western Bowl at the drawing Sunday, Feb. 3.
The girls were second at 9-1 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-South Division before playing Marion-Franklin on Jan. 29. They lost 1,840-1,539 on Jan. 15 to Briggs, which leads the league at 12-0.
The girls clinched the OCC-Ohio championship with a 1,771-1,743 win over Lancaster on Jan. 14. They went 4-0 in OCC-Ohio matches.
Before Jan. 29, Angela Williams was leading the team in average at 158.2 and Michaela Johnson was averaging 153.5.
"Briggs is extremely strong," coach Jean Martin said. "Each year we keep getting better but we still have to keep doing better. I'm really optimistic about this team."
The boys were third at 9-2 in the COHSBC-South before playing Marion-Franklin on Jan. 29. Whitehall was 11-1 and Teays Valley was 10-1.
Matt Scholl was leading the boys in average at 181.6 before Jan. 29, followed by Chad Szczepanski (176.8) and Zak Aeling (176.5).
Wrestling team loses state opener
The wrestling team lost its opener in the inaugural state dual tournament.
The eighth-seeded Raiders fell to top-seeded Mount Vernon 63-9 in a Division I, Region 6-B match Jan. 23.
Winning matches for Reynoldsburg were Nick Johnston (170 pounds) and James Love (182).
Swimming teams set for postseason
The swimming and diving teams will compete in a Division I sectional Feb. 9 at Upper Arlington.
On Jan. 25 and 26, the girls team finished third (205) in the OCC-Ohio meet at New Albany behind Pickerington North (306) and Gahanna (297.5) and ahead of Pickerington Central (175), Lancaster (129), Grove City (107.5) and Newark (30).
The boys team was seventh (75) in the league meet behind Pickerington North (349), Lancaster (197), Grove City (187), Gahanna (186) and Pickerington Central (169) and ahead of Newark (48).