Based on how her swimming season has been going, Reynoldsburg High School junior Morgan McCafferty knows she's got much to be excited about.
McCafferty represented the Greater Columbus Swim Team of Ohio in the USA Junior National Championships in mid-December and has gotten out to a strong start since rejoining the Raiders' girls team later that month.
For someone as driven as McCafferty, however, there isn't time to be satisfied.
"I'm actually really happy with (my season) so far, but I'm not getting comfortable because I can do better," she said.
McCafferty was swimming for her club team when the Raiders competed in their first four meets.
On Dec. 13, she competed in the junior nationals in Greensboro, N.C., in the 100-yard backstroke. McCafferty, who also competed in the junior nationals a year ago, finished the event in 57.11 seconds to place 109th of 173 participants.
Her personal-best time is 57.04, which came when she placed third in the Division I district meet for the Raiders last year to advance to state for the second consecutive season.
"I did OK (at junior nationals)," McCafferty said. "I didn't do as well as I wanted to do, but now I know exactly what to fix. I need to work on my start and (getting a better kick off of) my walls. I've always had a problem with my walls and this year I've done amazingly better."
The Raiders compete in the OCC-Ohio Division meet Saturday, Jan. 25, at Thomas Worthington.
Last season, the girls team placed third (205) behind Pickerington North (306) and Gahanna (297.5) and the boys were sixth (75) behind champion North (349).
McCafferty won the 100 back (59.03) and was third in the 200 individual medley (2:18.11) in addition to swimming on two relays in the league meet a year ago.
She went on to place 10th in the 100 back (57.14) at state after placing 12th (57.7) at state as a freshman.
During the postseason, McCafferty said she might compete in the 100 butterfly and in both the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay in addition to the 100 back.
Among those who could join her on relays are senior Sara Kohs, juniors Marisa Glusich and Leah Svoboda and sophomore Acadia Gaver.
"I definitely know the state meet isn't a joke and that you have to be aggressive every day in the pool," McCafferty said. "All I need to do is get the right mindset and I can get into the top five (in the 100 back).
"The crowd is insane at both (the state meet and the junior nationals). I'd say state is more exciting, but only 1 percent of club swimmers make it to the national meet."
Boys basketball team enduring tough losses
The boys basketball team lost six of eight after getting out to a 4-2 start.
Of the losses during the recent stretch, five came by six points or fewer.
Although it's not much consolation to coach Scott Davis, he believes it's important to keep that in mind when considering the growth of his team, which had few experienced players entering the season.
"Five of our (first) 12 games have come down to the final possession of regulation," Davis said. "We came up short in four of those. Newark needed a basket to tie it and send it into overtime (before beating the Raiders 69-63 on Jan. 8). Eastmoor (Academy) threw one in at the buzzer to beat us (50-48 on Jan. 11). We had the lead at Pickerington Central with under two minutes left and had a chance to tie it at the end (but lost 69-66 on Dec. 13).
"Is being young a contributing factor? Maybe a little bit, but we've got some senior guards. We do really only have three players that saw significant playing time last year who are back in (junior) Lloyd (Chatman), (senior) Travis (Gleason) and (senior) Tyrek (Pugh)."
The Raiders were 6-8 overall before playing New Albany on Jan. 21. They lost to Grove City 68-64 on Jan. 17 to fall to 4-5 in the OCC-Ohio and then lost to Dublin Coffman 46-44 on Jan. 18.
Reynoldsburg, which also had a 67-66 setback to Marion-Franklin on Dec. 27 among its recent losses, plays host to Gahanna on Tuesday, Jan. 28, in a rematch of a game it lost 68-55 on Dec. 17.
"It's just been a little bit of everything," Davis said. "We don't get the key rebound, maybe we miss some free throws or maybe it's a turnover. We're hoping (the close games bode) well for the second half of the season. It's a credit to our players because they've come to practice every day and worked hard. I think a weaker team would have packed it in."
Girls team ready for league stretch run
The girls team lost to Millersburg West Holmes 44-40 on Jan. 20 in the Classic in the Country at Berlin Hiland to fall to 15-2.
The Raiders beat Grove City 43-27 on Jan. 17 to improve to 9-0 in the OCC-Ohio.
In the loss to West Holmes, Courtney Purtell hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 42-40 but the Raiders ended up on the short end in a game between state-ranked powers.
Reynoldsburg is sixth in Division I and West Holmes is tied with Clyde for first in Division II.
Alyssa Rice led the Raiders with 14 points.
While Reynoldsburg was a Division I regional semifinalist last season, West Holmes was the Division II state runner-up each of the last two seasons.
Reynoldsburg returns to league play Friday, Jan. 24, at Pickerington Central and Tuesday, Jan. 28, at Gahanna.