With just one win entering her team's game Jan. 14 against Columbus Academy, Whitehall-Yearling High School girls basketball coach Stephanie Jones has tried to emphasize the positives.
The Rams fell to 1-12 overall and 0-6 in the MSL-Ohio Division with a 46-20 loss Jan. 11 at Worthington Christian.
The Warriors led the league at 7-1 before playing London on Jan. 14. In their first meeting against the Rams, they won 58-13 on Dec. 3 at Whitehall.
"We're improving," Jones said. "Sometimes we take two steps forward and three steps back. They've been working hard in practice. Last time (Worthington Christian) beat us by 45 and (this time) we lost by 26, so we put that down as a positive."
Although the Warriors again pulled away in the rematch, Jones was pleased her team remained close throughout the first quarter and didn't lose its intensity late in the game.
"One of the things that we've been focusing on is playing with intensity for all four quarters and not letting our mistakes take us out of our game mentally," Jones said. "We've been battling with that."
Nia Parks' basket gave Whitehall its only lead at 2-0. But the Rams' defense gave the Warriors problems in the first quarter, as Worthington Christian led 8-2 after one.
In the first game, Worthington Christian led 16-5 after the first quarter.
The Warriors built a 22-4 lead late in the second quarter in the rematch before Whitehall's R.J. Cunningham hit a 3-pointer to make it 22-7 at halftime.
The Rams trailed 29-7 at halftime in the first game.
Stephanie Ellis completed a three-point play late in the third quarter and Brenell Williams hit two free throws, but the Rams trailed 32-13 entering the fourth quarter of the rematch.
Cunningham led Whitehall with seven points.
"We're becoming better shooters," Jones said. "We're working the ball better offensively. We're really young, so these girls are learning to play together as a team."
The Rams visit Madison Plains on Saturday, Jan. 18, for a league game.
Since defeating Groveport 34-31 in the Whetstone Winter Classic on Dec. 28, Whitehall had lost three consecutive games before playing Academy.
"We're improving, we're coming together as a team," Williams said. "Every game we get better and better. We'll get there."
Wrestlers place fourth at Licking Heights
The wrestling team turned in another strong effort, finishing fourth (118.5 points) in the 16-team Licking Heights Invitational on Jan. 10 and 11 behind champion Westerville North (304.5).
Whitehall entered the finals in fifth place, but overtook the host Hornets (111) for fourth.
Noah Jay (106 pounds) and Ana Abduljelil (113) both went 4-0 to finish first.
Jay improved to 17-1 overall with a 15-7 win over Licking Heights' Anthony Haist in the final, while Abduljelil improved to 28-0 with a win by technical fall (5 minutes, 12 seconds) over Brookhaven's Giovaughni Bonner in the final.
Also placing for Whitehall were Phillip Wagner at 126 (third), Tyler Thomas at 195 (fifth), Austin Nichols at 145 (sixth) and Travis Bailey at 160 (sixth).
The Rams compete Wednesday, Jan. 22, against Big Walnut in the first round of the Division II state team tournament at a site to be determined. The winner faces Licking Valley after the first dual, with the winner advancing to a Region 14 semifinal Jan. 29 at a site to be determined.
Boys basketball team defeats Warriors
The boys basketball team ended a two-game losing streak by defeating host Worthington Christian 75-67 on Jan. 11.
The Rams were 9-3 overall and 6-0 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Bexley on Jan. 13 in a game that was postponed Jan. 7 because of bad weather.
Against Worthington Christian, the Rams closed the game on an 11-2 run. C.J. Prater led Whitehall with 21 points and D.A. Sanders scored 18.
Grandview was second behind Whitehall at 4-1 in the league before playing Worthington Christian on Jan. 13. Bexley was 3-1 before playing the Rams.
Boys bowling team rolls past East
The boys bowling team returned to play following winter break by defeating Columbus East 2,153-1,558 on Jan. 10 at Holiday Lanes.
Paul Gress had a 422 series and Andrew Sturgill finished with a 388.
The Rams were 6-0 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-South Division before facing Marion-Franklin on Jan. 13. They trailed Briggs (9-0) and Teays Valley (7-0) and were ahead of Marion-Franklin (6-1).
Whitehall faced Briggs on Jan. 15 and competes against Teays Valley on Friday, Jan. 17, at Holiday Lanes.
The girls team defeated East 1,680-1,177 as Taylor-Jo Morton had a 313 series and Taylor Deskins had a 299.
Whitehall was 5-0 in the league before facing Briggs, which was 8-0 in the league before playing Walnut Ridge on Jan. 13.