Central boys still have yet to solve South
A major goal continues to elude the Westerville Central High School boys basketball team -- defeating Westerville South.
The Warhawks fell to 0-13 against the Wildcats with a 50-48 overtime loss Jan. 4 at home.
The last four meetings have been decided by two points, including a 67-65 decision in the second round of the Division I district tournament last season.
"I don't give a crap about close anymore," Central coach Todd Minney said. "It's about victories. They outplayed us at the end of the game. We didn't execute like we should have. It's disappointing."
After beginning the season 4-1, the Warhawks had lost three consecutive games before playing Hilliard Darby on Jan. 8.
Against South, the Warhawks were making a bid for their first win in the series, leading 39-33 early in the fourth quarter before a near-capacity crowd.
Senior Marcus Ball, however, led a comeback for South. He scored on a backdoor play and fed a behind-the-back pass to Trent Slade for a layup and a 40-39 Wildcats lead with 5 minutes, 35 seconds remaining in regulation.
Central took its final lead of the game at 44-42 on consecutive baskets by Eric James.
Slade's dunk gave South a 46-44 lead in the final minute before Kwamel Wade's basket on an assist from James with 16 seconds left forced overtime.
South never trailed in overtime, as it opened a 50-46 lead and then held off Central's comeback bid. The Warhawks' Jalen Malone missed a 3-pointer from beyond the top of they key and Wade's baseline shot off the rebound was short as time expired.
Malone led Central with 15 points and James scored 13.
"We have a lot of work to do," senior Charles Carmon said. "I feel like we definitely could have pulled away with this win. The fourth quarter, it came down to late in the game and we just didn't execute enough and that was our problem."
Slade led South with 15 points and Anthony Dixon scored 10.
"I just feel for him," South coach Ed Calo said of Minney, who is a former assistant coach in the South program. "His team plays their butts off and they play hard. That's all you can ask and hope to do."
Minney believes his team will recover from its recent struggles.
"I love these kids, I really do," he said. "We've gotten better almost every single practice that we've had. I love the kids' hearts. What we really need to do is close out, and being able to execute when the game is on the line is a huge part of things. We have personnel to do that and it's not happening."
Girls team edges South for fourth win
After finishing last season 0-21, the girls team continues to show improvement under second-year coach Jamiya Pride.
The Warhawks earned their fourth win of the season by defeating host Westerville South 36-34 on Jan. 5.
Central took the lead for good at 33-32 on Marissa Conkins' 3-pointer with 4:10 remaining.
Point guard Andrea Hodge led the Warhawks with 12 points.
The Warhawks had won three consecutive games before playing Darby on Jan. 8.
Central has been without Megan Mills (left wrist) and Maggie Sabo (left ankle) because of injuries.
"I'm sure when Mills and Maggie got injured people probably thought that's an easy win," Pride said. "(What) they don't know is we have young girls that are stepping up. We could play our entire j.v. on varsity. They have the potential to do well, so it's not about one person on our team. It's not about Emma Stille, it's not about Andrea Hodge, it's about everybody contributing."
Pride said an improved defense has keyed the team's turnaround.
"We finally have them playing defense and we're trying to get better each game," he said. "Defense, defense, defense. There are many things that we can focus on, but defensively, for me, that's where it begins and ends."
Central visits Dublin Jerome on Friday, Jan. 11. The Celtics defeated the Warhawks 43-29 on Nov. 30.
"We're definitely a different team," Pride said. "That was our second game of the year. We have momentum right now. It's good for the program. The girls are enjoying it and it's only going to make them better and better."