Erica Aiello was nicknamed "Shorty" at age 5 while playing in the Westerville Youth Baseball and Softball League.

Erica Aiello was nicknamed "Shorty" at age 5 while playing in the Westerville Youth Baseball and Softball League.

Now the point guard for the Westerville South High School girls basketball team, the 5-foot-3 Aiello makes up for her lack of height with desire and dedication.

"I tell her there is no (size) disadvantage," coach Silas Williams said. "What she brings to the table is no disadvantage or advantage in that regard. Her energy that she brings, her intensity that she brings, it surpasses anybody that she plays. Although she's 5-3, she plays like she's 5-10, 5-11 and it makes it an evener match. You have to respect her."

Aiello, a senior captain, has the Wildcats in position for what they hope is a successful postseason.

The Wildcats are 9-8 overall and 7-4 in the OCC-Cardinal Division as they prepare to visit Marysville on Friday, Feb. 3. South defeated Marysville 59-32 on Dec. 21.

South is looking to bounce back from losses to Dublin Scioto 52-41 on Jan. 24 and Dublin Jerome 42-35 on Jan. 27.

"The conference is a dogfight," Williams said. "We just have to respond, dig our nails in and find out what went wrong, fix it and go from there."

Aiello is second on the team in scoring average (8.5 points per game) and has effectively guided South's offense.

Against Jerome, the Wildcats fell behind 12-1 late in the first quarter and trailed throughout the game before Aiello led a fourth-quarter rally. She made two 3-pointers to help pull her team within 38-35 with 1 minute, 10 seconds remaining, but the Wildcats could not get closer.

Rylee Holman led South with nine points and Aiello scored eight.

Senior guard Morgan Neighbors averages a team-best 11.1 points.

Aiello believes the Wildcats will bounce back from their losses to the Dublin teams as they prepare for the Division I district tournament. The drawing is Sunday, Feb. 5.

"These losses give us more motivation to work harder in practice and come out the next game with more intensity than we did the previous game and just keep working," Aiello said. "I like where we are. Even though we've lost some games that we should have won, we can go into the tournament as the underdog and maybe some teams will underestimate us, and then we'll really show what we have."

Aiello also excels for coach Jerry Kelbley's softball team and is undecided on which sport she would like to play in college. She has received interest from Mount Union for basketball and Otterbein for softball.

Last season, the softball team was 13-10 overall and tied Olentangy Liberty for fifth in the league at 6-8, behind co-champions Westerville North and Marysville (11-3).

Aiello, who was first-team all-league, was second on the team in hitting at .337 behind Leigh Siedlak (.377).

In basketball, she was second-team all-league last season.

•The boys team will look to extend its winning streak to four games when it plays host to Marysville on Friday, Feb. 3.

The Wildcats beat Marysville 73-62 on Dec. 21.

"Marysville is playing really hard," South coach Ed Calo said. "That's what impresses me about them. They just keep coming after you. They haven't been discouraged not having a lot of success. That's the kind of team that comes up and bites somebody."

South then will look to avenge a 59-53 loss to North on Jan. 3 when it visits North on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

The Wildcats are coming off road wins over Scioto 58-46 on Jan. 24 and Jerome 67-51 on Jan. 27.

Against Scioto, Marcus Ball scored 23 points.

Ball and Isiah Rogers each scored 18 points against Jerome.

"It's nice to beat them on the road," Calo said. "It's a good test for us to win on the road. We haven't been shooting the ball real well, but we've been playing hard, so they were two good wins."