Doug Etgen has been stressing defense in his first season as coach of the Westerville Central High School girls basketball team, and that finally paid off with a pair of wins.

Doug Etgen has been stressing defense in his first season as coach of the Westerville Central High School girls basketball team, and that finally paid off with a pair of wins.

The Warhawks moved to 2-4 overall and 1-3 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Olentangy Liberty last Tuesday. Etgen believes those victories came when his team needed them the most.

"After we had a disappointing loss to (Westerville North 46-39 on Dec. 13), we were able to come back three days later and beat Buckeye Valley (49-29)," said Etgen, whose team plays at 7 p.m. Monday against New Albany in the Phil Brown Rotary Holiday Shootout at Otterbein. "(Buckeye Valley) had been struggling and we wanted to come out strong defensively early. It was good to see the girls bounce back like that after a tough loss."

Alyson Jurcenko led the Warhawks with 12 points and Bri Pond added 11. Molly Baatz had nine points.

The Warhawks picked up their first league win last Friday in a 41-36 win over Marysville.

"That was a good win because we had played a few good OCC teams and had come up short," Etgen said. "But again, our success started on the defensive end. We played well in our half-court defense and contested every goal, and that's our goal every game."

Jurcenko led Central with 11 points and Jessica Wooden added nine points, including three 3-pointers.

But it wasn't an easy win. Central led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, but the Monarchs turned up their full-court pressure to cut their deficit to five points.

"They were able to whittle away the lead, but we held on to win, which is an important step for us," Etgen said. "There were a couple of points against (Westerville) South (46-39 loss Dec. 10) and North where we coughed up leads with the full-court press. Against Marysville we were able to clear that hurdle."

The next hurdle will be the two-day Holiday Shootout on Monday and Tuesday at Otterbein. They will play at 6:30 p.m. Monday against New Albany, which was 5-1 overall before playing Franklin Heights last Tuesday.

"New Albany is a good team and they beat South (47-40 on Dec. 16)," Etgen said. "They have a really balanced team and have been strong in the post."

Monday will be the first experience for Etgen at the Rotary Shootout, but he knows the event will be able to showcase the Westerville teams more than ever. For the first time, because the teams all play in the same OCC division, the schools will not play each other, but the six games will feature the six Westerville boys and girls teams against area opponents.

The Holiday Shootout will open at 5 p.m. Monday with the North boys playing Delaware followed by the New Albany and Central girls and then the South boys against New Albany at 9 p.m.

On Tuesday, the South girls begin at 5 p.m. against Westland followed by the North girls and Beechcroft at 7 p.m. and the event closes at 9 p.m. with the Central boys playing Jonathan Alder.

"It's a good chance to showcase the city's teams, and with the holidays being here, it's a good chance fans -- whether you are form Central, North or South -- to come out and watch and cheer for all of the teams," Etgen said. "That's something I think is special about the event.

"I like to play in holiday tournaments and it's really nice because this one is close to home and the kids can spend times with their friends and family. It's really good for the kids and the people of Westerville."

•South will play Westland in the Holiday Shootout. The Cougars were 1-5 before playing Thomas Worthington last Tuesday.

"They play well and second-year coach (Stephen) Clines has them playing hard, they're scrappy and they come ready to play," coach Jeff Brenning said.

The Wildcats fell to New Albany 47-40 on Dec. 16, but Brenning was impressed with his team's perimeter game. The Wildcats hit a season-high eight 3-pointers, with Katherine Calo going 3-for-5 on 3-point attempts.

"New Albany went to the zone and we were able to get some good shots," said Brenning, whose team was 3-4 overall and are 2-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing a league game last Monday against Marysville. "Katherine Calo finished with three 3s and had 14 points. That's a good sign, especially if that (production from Calo) continues."

Sarah Myles was 3-for-7 on 3-pointers against New Albany and scored 12 points.

One thing that remains a concern for Brenning is free-throw shooting. The Wildcats were only 10 of 24 in a 55-39 loss to Dublin Scioto on Dec. 12 and were just 8-for-18 against New Albany.

"We do a lot to try to improve on shooting free throws in practice," he said. "We play a little game where if you swish (the free throw) you get two points, if you hit the rim and make it it you get one points and if you miss you get a zero. The player with the most points doesn't have to run at the end of practice, so they work really hard not to make them. Plus, they have lot have a lot of fun."

South beat Jerome 37-27 last Friday in an OCC-Cardinal game. Brooke Robbins scored 14 points, Calo added nine and Myles had seven.

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Central, North and South girls basketball teams:

CENTRAL

Dec. 16 -- Defeated Buckeye Valley 49-29

*Last Friday -- Def. Marysville 41-36

*Last Tuesday -- Played Dublin Scioto

Monday -- At Phil Brown Rotary Holiday Shootout at Otterbein vs. New Albany (7 p.m.). Central lost 48-40 last season.

*Jan. 3 -- At Olentangy

Of note: The Warhawks were 2-4 overall and 1-3 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday.

NORTH

Dec. 16 -- Def. Mount Vernon 45-40 (OT). Megan Lutz scored 12 points and Monique Jones added 11.

*Last Friday -- Lost to Scioto 57-37. Jones scored 13 points and Lutz added nine.

Last Saturday -- Lost to Whetstone 80-65. Jones scored 24 points, including three 3-pointers, and Lutz had 13 points.

*Last Tuesday -- Played Olentangy Liberty

Tuesday -- At Phil Brown Rotary Holiday Shootout at Otterbein vs. Beechcroft (7 p.m.). Last year, North lost to South 49-26 in the event. The Warriors and Beechcroft did not play last season. The Cougars are 3-4.

*Jan. 7 -- At South

Of note: The Warriors were 2-4 overall and 1-3 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday.

SOUTH

Dec. 16 -- Lost to New Albany 47-40

*Last Friday -- Def. Jerome 37-27

*Last Monday -- Played Marysville

Tuesday -- At Phil Brown Rotary Holiday Shootout at Otterbein vs. Westland (5 p.m.). Last year, South beat North 49-26 in the event. The Wildcats beat Westland 57-47 last season.

*Jan. 7 -- Home vs. North

Of note: The Wildcats were 3-4 overall and are 2-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Monday.

*OCC-Cardinal game