After his Westerville Central High School girls basketball team defeated Dublin Scioto by 49 points in the first meeting, coach Jamiya Pride believed his Warhawks were ripe for an upset in the rematch.
Central finished the game on a 6-1 run to defeat host Scioto 38-31 on Jan. 17 in an OCC-Cardinal Division game.
The Warhawks, who won the first matchup 64-15 on Dec. 7, only led the Irish 30-24 entering the fourth quarter. Scioto then cut its deficit to 30-29 with 4 minutes, 28 seconds remaining.
"A game like this teaches your team that it has to prepare hard for every game," said Pride, whose team had won four consecutive games and was 8-6 overall before playing Ready on Jan. 21. "We knew after the first meeting that (the Irish) would know what we would be doing and we knew they would be a much better team."
Scioto held the Warhawks without a basket for nearly one quarter, a span of 7:52 in the second half, until freshman Hannah Richardson entered the game. The 5-foot-10 post player hit a layup with 3:36 remaining for her only points of the contest.
"That was a key basket for us and really helped to turn things around," Pride said. "We had to find someone to score and we have found ways to win with looking to some younger kids."
Sophomore post player Morghan Hyatt and junior guard Imani Steele both had driving layups in the final surge for Central, and senior guard Halle Kramer made a pair of free throws with 4.8 seconds left.
The Warhawks are third in the OCC-Cardinal at 6-3, behind Westerville North (8-0) and Hilliard Bradley (7-2) and ahead of Dublin Jerome (5-3) and Westerville South (5-4).
"We're still learning how to play with each other. When we lost (6-0 sophomore post player) Emma (Stille) last month (to a knee injury suffered in a 40-32 loss to North on Dec. 20), there was a period of adjustment," Pride said. "We've been looking for consistency, and we're starting to get that."
North weathers 4 games in 8 days
North was 11-4 overall before playing Centennial on Jan. 22.
That ended a stretch of four games in eight days for the Warriors. They started with a 69-38 OCC-Cardinal victory Jan. 15 over Canal Winchester and followed with a 60-25 league win over Hilliard Darby on Jan. 17.
"We play nine or 10 girls, so we have a nice rotation and hopefully we won't get too tired in that (four-game) stretch," said coach Jim Kloepfer, whose team has won 28 consecutive league games. "We're fine with having that many games because of our depth."
Junior Symone Simmons led a balanced attack with 14 points against Canal Winchester and junior Hannah Ferguson scored 13. Sophomore Ronni Royer had 10 points and junior Anna Gibbs had eight.
Simmons had 23 points against Darby. Ferguson scored 11 and sophomore Megan Bellner had seven.
"I'm really confident in our bench," Kloepfer said. "We also have (junior) Devin Jackson back ... from an ankle injury and she should only get stronger and be close to becoming the force she has been for us over the past couple of years."
The Warriors defeated Eaton 48-39 on Jan. 20 in the Classic in the Country at Berlin Hiland. Simmons led with 15 points, Jackson had nine and Kelsey Walker added eight.
Wildcats pick up two more victories
South was 9-7 overall before playing Watterson on Jan. 21.
Junior Chanelle Moore scored 13 points and sophomore Camille McLellan had 10 to lead the Wildcats past Olentangy Liberty 41-31 on Jan. 14. Senior Jada Smoot had eight points and senior Cheyenne Raker added seven.
On Jan. 17, Moore scored 23 points as South defeated Canal Winchester 50-22 in a league contest. Raker scored 10 points and junior Audrey Sylvester added six.
"Our chemistry has been a lot better and Camille does a good job of generating the fast break," coach Silas Williams said. "She plays with a lot of intensity and is a high-energy player."