Sarah Bechtel comes from a basketball family. Her brother, Bryant, is a freshman guard at Muskingum University and her father, Reed, played in high school in Pennsylvania.

Sarah Bechtel comes from a basketball family. Her brother, Bryant, is a freshman guard at Muskingum University and her father, Reed, played in high school in Pennsylvania.

"All my cousins play basketball in Pennsylvania," said Bechtel, a senior guard for the Worthington Kilbourne High School girls team. "Even my grandmother (Nancy Bechtel) played basketball. It just runs in the family."

At family get-togethers, one question has been difficult for Bechtel to answer - "So, how did your team do last season?"

"Once I say (our record), it goes into deeper questions," said Bechtel, whose team finished 3-18 in both 2008-09 and 2009-10. "Were the games close? What was the problem? How are you going to do this year?"

After a solid start by the Wolves this season, Bechtel can't wait for the next family gathering. With a 54-35 victory over Westland last Friday, Kilbourne improved to 3-3 for its best start since 2007-08.

"You always want your older kids to lead and I think this senior class just got tired of losing," coach Steve Palmer said. "They've really brought the team together."

Bechtel, who had nine points in a 53-38 loss to Hilliard Davidson on Dec. 14 and seven points against Westland, has been one of the reasons why the team has gotten off to a good start. She is averaging about nine points a game and has made nine of the team's 19 3-pointers.

She's also contributing in other ways.

"Sarah has always been a great shooter, but I think her strength is her basketball IQ," Palmer said. "She understands that there's more to basketball than just shooting and has become a more well-rounded basketball player."

To work on her game, Bechtel spent time shooting baskets with her brother and father at the Powell YMCA.

"Bryant (a 2009 Kilbourne graduate) and I are both very similar types of players, but he's way ahead of me," Bechtel said. "He's had a little more coaching and he passes on tips that he has gotten to me."

The Wolves followed the same pattern each of the previous two seasons. They opened with a win over Licking Heights and beat Westland twice for their three wins.

"Losing games is never a fun experience, but the hardest part of last year was it felt just like the (2008-09) season," Bechtel said. "It didn't seem like anything had changed."

This year, the Wolves beat Hilliard Darby 39-23 on Dec. 7. Last season, the Panthers defeated Kilbourne 54-31 and 41-21.

Even in a 49-37 loss to Upper Arlington on Dec. 10, Kilbourne showed signs of improvement. Last year, the Wolves lost to the defending league champions 55-38 and 59-27.

The Wolves have improved in closing games, outscoring opponents 86-64 in the fourth quarter through six games. UA is the only team to have outscored Kilbourne over the final eight minutes, winning the fourth 16-13.

The challenge for the Wolves, according to Bechtel, is to keep the strong start going despite only two games in the next few weeks. Kilbourne plays at Westerville Central on Tuesday and at Central Crossing on Jan. 3.

"I'd rather be continuously playing games to stay in it," Bechtel said. "Most of the other sports don't take that kind of break. It's awkward, but we're going to take that time to look at ways we can improve ourselves."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Kilbourne and Thomas girls basketball teams:

KILBOURNE

*Dec. 14 - Lost to Hilliard Davidson 53-38. The Wildcats outscored Kilbourne 15-3 in the first quarter. Sarah Bechtel had nine points.

*Last Friday - Defeated Westland 54-35. Mary Frances Gardner and Kayla Pack had 13 points each.

Tuesday - At Westerville Central. The Wolves lost to the Warhawks 39-27 last year.

*Jan. 3 - At Central Crossing. The Wolves lost to the Comets 44-39 and 41-38 last year. The game was moved from Jan. 4 to avoid a conflict with Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.

Of note: The Wolves are 3-3 overall and 2-3 in OCC-Central.

THOMAS

Dec. 14 - Def. Marysville 38-34. Natalie Carroll had 12 points and Whitney Miller added 11.

*Last Friday - Def. Dublin Coffman 51-47. Carroll had 22 points.

*Last Tuesday - Played Westland

Monday-Tuesday - At North Canton Hoover Invitational. The Cardinals went 1-1 at the tournament last year, defeating Cincinnati Ursuline 45-40 and losing to Hoover 49-22.

*Jan. 3 - At Hilliard Darby. The Cardinals defeated the Panthers 55-47 and lost to Darby 62-54 last year.

Of note: The Cardinals were 5-1 overall and 3-1 in OCC-Central Division before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Central game