There's little doubt that Ty Craig has had an impact on the Thomas Worthington High School boys basketball team.

There's little doubt that Ty Craig has had an impact on the Thomas Worthington High School boys basketball team.

Without him in the lineup, the Cardinals were 0-6. Before last Tuesday, they were 5-3 with him.

Craig, a 6-foot-1 junior guard, missed the first six games after suffering a strained left calf in the final preseason game Dec. 1. One of only three returning letterwinners entering the season, he made his debut in a 52-39 win over Worthington Kilbourne on Dec. 27.

"He's been a big part of our success recently," coach Bob Miller said. "There's no doubt about that.

"I would say he's our best rebounder. He's an athlete, and he can shoot (the ball) and drive it. He gives us a presence both offensively and defensively. He's helped us defensively with his rebounding and his long arms and he's helped us offensively."

Craig averaged 2.0 points in 24 games last season coming off the bench but was expected to help carry the scoring load this season. He has met those expectations, as through 14 games he was second on the team in scoring, averaging 9.9 points. Only guard Nick Girardi (13.9) was averaging more.

"It was just horrible," Craig said of the injury. "I couldn't wait to play. In the Kilbourne game, when I first came in, the crowd got excited and everybody on the team got excited. I hit my first two (3-pointers). It felt really good."

Craig scored six points against Kilbourne and just three in his next game, a 62-42 loss to Canal Winchester on Dec. 29. But he averaged 11.7 points over the next six games, scoring a career-high 22 in an 81-70 overtime loss to Whetstone on Jan. 17.

"He's continuing to gain confidence as the season goes on," Miller said. "You can see him shoot and drive with more confidence and defend with more confidence."

But according to Miller, Craig isn't the only player to gain confidence. The entire team is playing with more confidence than it did earlier, particularly after consecutive losses to Upper Arlington (69-62 in overtime Dec. 9) and Hilliard Davidson (57-53 on Dec. 12).

"Losing to Arlington and Davidson the way we did, right at the end of the game, it really took us three games to recover from that," Miller said. "I think the kids really lost their confidence. But we've won some ballgames and I think we're continuing to improve both offensively and defensively.

"With (guard Eric Easley) and Nick penetrating and Ty and (guards Dillon Crecelius) and Sam Bohon shooting from the perimeter and David Herbst inside, I think we have a pretty good combination offensively. We just have to continue to work for offensive consistency and we have to keep getting better defensively."

Craig said a 50-47 win over UA last Friday shows that the Cardinals have made strides since their loss to the Golden Bears.

"Before the game, (Miller) said, 'This is the second half of the season, it's a new beginning. Let's show who's gotten better,'" Craig said. "And we proved that we got better."

Chances are that improvement won't be enough to propel the Cardinals to the OCC-Central Division championship, but Miller isn't ruling it out.

Before last Tuesday, Thomas was fourth in the OCC-Central at 4-5 behind Dublin Coffman (8-0), UA (6-2) and Davidson (4-3) and ahead of Hilliard Darby (3-4), Central Crossing (3-5), Westland (3-5) and Kilbourne (1-8).

"A lot of teams are bunched together and we said that we wanted to show in the second half (of league play) that we can improve more than some of those teams and make a good run and whatever happens, happens," Miller said.

Thomas' Dillon Crecelius (facing) celebrates with Nick Girardi after hitting a 3-pointer with one second left to lift the Cardinals to a 50-47 victory over Upper Arlington last Friday.

The Cardinals' Ty Craig splits the UA defense of Kevin Sullivan (left) and Colin Casey during the victory over the Golden Bears last Friday.

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the Kilbourne and Thomas boys basketball teams:

KILBOURNE

*Last Friday -- Lost to Hilliard Darby 56-50. Nathan Sparks scored 15 points and Tim Gebert and Cameron Green had 10.

*Last Tuesday -- Played Upper Arlington

*Friday -- At Westland. Kilbourne won 58-55 on Dec. 19.

*Tuesday -- Home vs. Hilliard Davidson. Kilbourne lost 64-44 on Dec. 16.

Of note: The Wolves were 1-11 overall and 1-8 in the OCC-Central before last Tuesday.

THOMAS

*Last Friday -- Defeated Upper Arlington 50-47. Nick Girardi scored 23 points, including a 3-pointer with one second left.

*Last Tuesday -- Played Davidson

*Friday -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman. The Cardinals lost 69-48 on Dec. 19.

*Tuesday -- Home vs. Westland. The Cardinals lost 75-60 on Dec. 23.

Of note: The Cardinals were 5-9 overall and 4-5 in the OCC-Central before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Central game