Whitehall-Yearling High School boys basketball coach Drew Williams compares his team to a school project.
He believes it is a work in progress and it will take time to find the proper solution to its goals.
After beginning the season 7-0, the Rams lost three of their next four games and were 8-3 overall and 5-0 in the MSL-Ohio Division before playing Bexley on Jan. 7.
"This was a project," Williams said. "It's no different than a project. You're trying to solve for X. We don't know exactly what X is. It's an unknown variable for us. We're figuring it out. We're starting to figure out a rotation: Who can do well, how hard they're going to play and things like that."
Whitehall lost at home to Groveport 81-76 on Jan. 4. Unlike previous losses to Harvest Prep and Hartley when the Rams fell behind early and could not recover, Whitehall trailed Groveport before rallying to take the lead in the fourth quarter.
Groveport led 65-47 late in the third, but the Rams used a 23-4 run to take a 70-69 lead with 6 minutes, 15 seconds remaining. R.J. Mims' 3-pointer gave the Rams their first lead since 12-10.
Whitehall again led at 74-73 with 2:30 remaining, but the Cruisers closed the game on an 8-2 run.
"We played the same way (early) against Hartley," Williams said of his team's 76-60 loss to the Hawks on Dec. 30. "We got behind and they quit, so what I wanted to see was were they going to step up and not quit this time. They showed me a lot. I'm really looking forward to what's coming up next."
Mims led the Rams with 19 points against Groveport. C.J. Prater scored 17 and D.A. Sanders added 16.
"We've been working on (rallying from early deficits)," Sanders said. "Coach has been telling us to just keep calm when things happen like that and just keep playing (and) stick to the game plan."
After playing Bexley, Whitehall visits Worthington Christian on Saturday, Jan. 11, for another league game. The Rams opened the season with a 49-37 win over the Warriors on Dec. 3 in Williams' debut.
Entering the week, Worthington Christian and Grandview were 3-1 in the league and Bexley was 2-0.
"We control our own destiny in the league, and like I told the kids, the teams that they've played against are solid teams that they lost to," Williams said. "I'm not going to hold my head down about that."
Whitehall lost to Harvest Prep 83-69 on Dec. 27 in the Newt Oliver Classic at Byesville Meadowbrook. The Rams trailed 46-30 at halftime, and Sanders scored 17 points.
Whitehall bounced back to defeat Caldwell 72-65 the next day in the Newt Oliver Classic, as Mims scored 17 points.
Mims scored 23 points against Hartley.
Wrestling team places third at Logan Elm
The wrestling team went 5-2 to finish third in the eight-team Logan Elm Invitational on Jan. 3 and 4 behind Amanda-Clearcreek (7-0) and Circleville (6-1).
The Rams defeated Belpre 41-38, Logan Elm 39-32, Bainbridge Paint Valley 46-28, McArthur Vinton County 44-26 and Chillicothe Zane Trace 60-12. They lost to Amanda-Clearcreek 66-11 and Circleville 40-33.
Ana Abduljelil went 7-0 at 113 pounds and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler.
Noah Jay was 7-0 at 106, while Angolsom Weldu (120), Travis Bailey (160) and Shawn Barnes (heavyweight) went 5-2 and placed third.
"I really thought we could take second, but with the way the kids wrestled, taking third was good," coach Steve Pennington said.
"I expected Ana and Noah to win, but the three third-place finishes, I was very happy about that."
Whitehall will compete in the Licking Heights Invitational on Friday, Jan. 10, and Saturday, Jan. 11. Last season, the Rams finished first (239 points) ahead of runner-up Westerville North (233).
North defeated Whitehall 64-18 in a quad meet Dec. 11 at New Albany.
"We already had a match with North and they beat us up, so it would nice to get some revenge against them," Pennington said.
"It's a big, 16-team tournament. It's usually really tough."
Girls basketball team earns first victory
The girls basketball team was 1-10 overall and 0-4 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Madison Plains on Jan. 7.
The Rams earned their first win by defeating Groveport 34-31 on Dec. 28 in the Whetstone Winter Classic.
Whitehall lost to Whetstone 55-38 on Dec. 27 as R.J. Cunningham scored 12 points and Brenell Williams added 10.
The Rams also lost to Independence 44-28 on Jan. 4 at home.