Westerville South High School senior Marcus Ball will graduate knowing he left his mark on two athletic programs.
After an all-state season in football, Ball is leading the boys basketball team, which is 9-4 overall and 5-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division entering its game Friday, Jan. 18, at Worthington Kilbourne.
"Marcus has done so much for us, he's been so solid over the years," basketball coach Ed Calo said. "He does a variety of different things. We like to think of him as a stat-sheet stuffer because he gets assists, he can get rebounds, he can get steals and he can score. He's a complete basketball player. He's been in a lot of ballgames where we've been successful. He knows how to win. We expect a lot of leadership from him."
Ball's final year at South began with him helping the football team post an 8-3 overall record and qualify for the Division I, Region 3 playoffs for the third time in four seasons. The eighth-seeded Wildcats lost to top-seeded Hilliard Darby 31-10 in the first round.
Ball, a wide receiver, defensive back and punter, had four interceptions and was first-team all-district and third-team all-state on defense, and first-team all-league.
With little time to rest, Ball joined the basketball team, and the 6-foot-3 forward quickly emerged as a leader with the graduation of key players Isiah Rogers and Stephen O'Daniel.
"I have a big role, but that's what I do, I'm a leader," Ball said. "I was born a leader. I like to lead. I like to get guys in groups and whether you have all the potential in the world or the ones who don't, you just make the best out of what you have."
Ball connected on six 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and scored a game-high 28 points as the Wildcats suffered a 69-64 home loss to Westerville North on Jan. 11.
The Warriors secured the win at the free-throw line, as they were 18-for-23 and the Wildcats were 5-for-11.
North is 10-0 overall and 6-0 in the league.
"They're a good team and I give them a lot of credit," Calo said of North. "They're very good, they do a lot of things very well and they made plays when they had to, and that's a sign of a really good team. We're disappointed that we didn't come up with a couple extra loose balls and we didn't execute a couple plays. Defensively, we broke down in a couple places. The biggest thing is we got ourselves into a hole and we didn't take care of the basketball."
Ball is averaging a team-high 12.8 points. Last season, he averaged 14.2 points and led the team in rebounding at 8.3 per game and was named first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
He has fond memories of his time learning the game from Calo.
"This is a lot bigger than basketball," Ball said. "Just what coach (Calo) talks about ... just getting better each day in sports, in the classroom and just having a successful day and getting better."
Ball was heavily recruited to play football and has verbally committed to the University of Wisconsin, where his brother, Ray, is a redshirt freshman offensive lineman.
Since Marcus Ball's verbal commitment, Badgers coach Bret Bielema resigned and became the coach at Arkansas. Ball said he remains committed to Wisconsin and hopes to meet new coach Gary Andersen soon.
Calo believes Ball also could play basketball at the collegiate level, and Ball said he has been considering walking on as a basketball player at Wisconsin. South graduate Traevon Jackson is a sophomore guard on the team.
Ray Ball attended the South-North basketball game.
"It's awesome," he said of his brother verbally committing to Wisconsin. "The fact that he chose us out of all the schools that he had, it's just absolutely amazing."
Girls team to face Kilbourne
The girls team enters its game against Kilbourne on Friday, Jan. 18, looking to end a five-game losing streak.
The Wildcats defeated Kilbourne 34-25 on Dec. 7.
South lost to Dublin Jerome 60-26 on Jan. 8 and Westerville North 57-33 on Jan. 12.
Against Jerome, guard Chenelle Moore scored eight points.
Guard Kayla Ivey scored nine points against North.