With just one senior in a key role a year ago, the Ready High School boys basketball team lost its final 11 games of the regular season but won two tournament games to advance to a Division III district semifinal.
The Silver Knights still might be reaping some of the benefits of that postseason run, according to senior guard Doug Strickler.
"I think we have a very tight team," he said. "We all hang out together and love each other. I think (last year's postseason) did a lot for us because we had been on a losing streak."
Ready defeated Horizon Science Academy 51-34 on Jan. 12 and was 8-5 overall and 1-3 in the CCL before playing league-foe Hartley on Jan. 18 and Yellow Springs on Jan. 19.
The Silver Knights began last season by winning seven of their first nine, but seven of the losses during their long losing skid came to CCL teams.
Ready defeated CCL-rival DeSales 42-34 on Jan. 4 after losing twice to the Stallions last season.
The Silver Knights trailed visiting Hartley 38-35 on Jan. 10 after Strickler made a 3-pointer with 1 minute, 20 seconds remaining.
Hartley, which made just 10 of 24 free throws but outrebounded Ready 45-21, hung on for a 42-35 victory.
Strickler was the team's leader in scoring average through 12 games at 10.1 points, followed by senior guard Kyle Wilgus (9.3), junior forward Josh Gantz (7.9) and junior forward Matt Yoho (6.1).
Strickler scored 20 points in a 59-52 win Jan. 8 over Marion Pleasant and led Ready with 26 3-pointers through 12 games.
"This is a really fun team to coach," coach Don Worstell said. "(Against Hartley) we didn't do everything we needed to. The character of all of our kids is outstanding, but it's a matter of us executing our game plan and being able to possess the ball. It's not our height that's hurting us, it's our width."
Girls team trying for turnaround
Inconsistencies on offense and struggles with rebounding have kept the girls basketball team from having the kind of success it has been seeking.
The Silver Knights defeated Jonathan Alder 54-33 on Jan. 12 to improve to 7-7 overall and had won four of six before playing Yellow Springs on Jan. 19.
Senior guard Kim Lloyd averaged 18.1 points during the six games before Ready faced Yellow Springs to increase her season average to 14.6.
The Silver Knights stumbled to 3-for-9 shooting from the free-throw line during the fourth quarter of a 46-43 overtime loss to Hartley on Jan. 5.
Coach Joe Lang also believes Ready needs to be more efficient with its opportunities.
He is looking forward to the Silver Knights' game Tuesday, Jan. 22, against visiting Johnstown.
Last season, Ready lost to the Johnnies 65-52 in a first-round Division III district tournament game.
"I can see the improvement in us, but what the kids see is that we're not winning (some of our close games)," Lang said. "We lost the lead with two minutes to go against Hartley and hurt ourselves. We've got to correct the things we're not doing well. Rebounding, especially on the defensive side, has been a reoccurring thing we're trying to improve along with our foul shooting. Kim Lloyd is only (5-foot-6) and she's our second-leading rebounder."
Wrestling team seeks to reach potential
First-year wrestling coach James Yonushonis has high expectations for what he believes is a talented team.
The Silver Knights placed fourth (140.5 points) behind champion Whitehall (342.5) in the 19-team Ready Winter Classic on Dec. 27 and 28 despite having just seven competitors.
Placing among the top four in their respective weight classes were Steven Pozz (second at 126 pounds), Dalton Scott (second at 138), Will Martello (third at 145) and Patrik Garren (first at heavyweight). Patrick Stover was sixth at 152 and Nick Headlee placed fifth at 132.
All six are juniors.
Garren received the Mark Schell Outstanding Wrestler Award at the Winter Classic and was 20-0 entering the Catholic Invitational Tournament on Jan. 19 at Olentangy Liberty.
"As a whole, we've been doing well," Yonushonis said. "We've just performed a little under our potential individually. I think we can get more out of ourselves. A lot of that falls on me and just us doing the necessary things to be getting there. Hopefully the fact that we haven't hit our best tournament yet is a good thing.
"The six juniors have been close the whole way through. They've been committed to extra wrestling and extra competition. It's definitely drawn them closer together."
Ready was expected to compete in Division III in the inaugural state team tournament but decided to withdraw. The tournament begins Thursday, Jan. 23.
The individual postseason begins Feb. 15.