With eight newcomers, including seven freshmen, accounting for more than half of his 13-player roster, Wellington School girls basketball coach Bill Mitchin wasn't sure how his team would fare this season.
As it turns out, the Jaguars are on pace to finish with a better record than they had last season when they went 7-14 with a more-experienced roster.
Wellington is 5-7 following a 52-16 loss to Gahanna Christian on Jan. 14.
"I honestly didn't know how our team was going to react to playing varsity competition this year because we're so young and inexperienced, so I've been pleased with how quickly this team has evolved," Mitchin said. "The biggest surprise is how aggressive we've been. The girls haven't shied away from competing with older teams like some freshmen might do. We've played with a bit of swagger at times and we need to continue to play with confidence to be successful."
After losing its first two games and four of its first six contests, Wellington put together a three-game winning streak, defeating Patriot Academy 44-34 on Dec. 15, Ridgeway Ridgemont 50-25 on Dec. 19 and Horizon Science 49-18 on Dec. 21.
Through 11 games, the Jaguars were 5-1 when scoring 39 points or more.
Forward Halle Jefferson had 12 points and guard Helen Fite scored nine against Patriot Academy. Post player Donnette Cox had 19 points and Jefferson scored 10 against Ridgemont, and Fite had 15 points and Cox and forward Mallory Tannous each scored 10 against Horizon Science Academy.
"Our team responds well to short-term goals," Mitchin said. "And when we were two games below .500, I challenged them to get back to .500 heading into our winter break, and they exceeded that goal by getting to 5-4. The difference during our three-game winning streak was we shot the ball well and executed our offensive sets well.
"Four of our first six losses were games we could have won if we would have executed our offense better and scored more points."
Wellington plays host to the Jaguar Invitational this weekend. It opens against Columbus School for Girls on Friday, Jan. 18, and will play Crestline or Shekinah Christian on Saturday, Jan. 19, in the consolation or championship game.
The consolation game is at 10 a.m. and the championship game is at 2 p.m.
In the event last season, Wellington beat Horizon Science Academy 34-30 and lost to Shekinah Christian 56-28 in the championship game.
"For an independent team like us that doesn't have a conference title to compete for, this gives us a championship to shoot for during the regular season," Mitchin said.
"The winning team gets a trophy and that's something our kids would like to have.
"Our focus is on getting past our first game to get to compete in the championship game. Columbus School for Girls has struggled this year, but we can't take any game for granted."
Girls swimmers win Bexley Invitational
The girls swimming and diving team scored 435 points to win the Bexley Invitational on Jan. 12 at St. Charles, ahead of runner-up Bexley (393).
"The girls won every event, except one," coach Bill Miller said. "Our team is right on track for the season. We have our returning swimmers matching their times from last year. Our young swimmers are dropping times each meet and are right on track to finish strong at the end of the season."
Xin sets record for boys swimming team
The boys swimming and diving team scored 124 points to finish third in the Bexley Invitational behind Bexley (405) and St. Charles (392).
Matthew Xin, a freshman, won the 500-yard freestyle in a program-record 5 minutes, 23.5 seconds and won the 200 free in 1:58.02. Joe Campbell, a junior, won the 100 free in 53.09.
"This was our best meet as a team this season," Miller said. "We had more swimmers achieve their personal best or season best today. Everyone had a good swim with at least one personal best."
The boys and girls teams will compete in a meet Friday, Jan. 18, at Columbus School for Girls with Bexley and St. Charles.
"The whole team is ready and primed for the last half of the season," Miller said.
"Our swimmers are working hard at practice, dedicated to success and are making improvement each swim."