Thomas Worthington High School girls basketball coach Laurie Barr must feel like every time she solves one problem another develops.
"One game, we rebound real strong and the next game we don't," she said. "One game we take advantage of the transition game, the next one we don't. One game, we shoot well and the next one we don't. We just haven't put everything together yet."
The Cardinals' lack of consistency was the reason they were 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Dublin Coffman on Dec. 18.
In their league losses, Thomas fell to Olentangy Liberty 48-40 in the opener Nov. 30 and to Upper Arlington 55-46 in overtime Dec. 7.
"We trailed Liberty by three points with 17 seconds left and the Upper Arlington game is one we should've won, but we were 11-for-22 from the (free-throw) line," Barr said. "We've got to focus on consistency and win the close ones."
Senior guard/forward Frannie Frazier is doing her best to lead the Cardinals. The 5-foot-10 Ball State signee has averaged 16.0 points through five games, but her team worth is measured by more than just her scoring, according to Barr.
"She provides leadership, is active on the boards, is a great passer and she sees the floor well," Barr said. "She enjoys leading the team in assists and getting her teammates involved. She's a fourth-year starter. I think when people, or opponents, talk about Frannie they think she's a great scorer. Well, she has led our team in assists, steals and rebounds the last three years, but she hasn't led us in scoring in all three years."
Barr said she has been encouraging others to step up and some have answered the call.
The Cardinals have gotten contributions from senior Kamille Freeman (nine points and nine rebounds against UA), junior Ally Lucas (6 points and 10 rebounds against UA), junior Laura Gomez (15 points in a 50-42 win over Westerville Central on Dec. 4) and sophomore Francie Zidonis (8 points in a 42-39 win over Westland on Dec. 14).
Gomez injured an ankle and did not play against Jerome (49-33 loss Dec. 11) or Central. Barr expected Gomez to return this week.
The Cardinals have allowed an average of 46.6 points through five games, another area in which Barr said needs improvement.
"The lack of consistency also is on defense," she said. "It's not the effort that is lacking, just the execution. We'll play a strong defensive series and then break down and foul someone taking an off-balance shot. Or, we'll play great defense, force a bad shot and then allow an offensive rebound. To me, defense isn't finished until we secure the ball. The defensive rebound is part of what I call defense.
"So, like I said, it's not just one area. It's the fact that we are too inconsistent in too many areas. We need to work hard to pull all those areas together."
Kilbourne struggling with injuries, defense
After defeating Ready 51-44 in the opener Nov. 23, Kilbourne also has struggled with consistency.
Part of the problem for the Wolves, who were 2-5 overall and 0-3 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Hilliard Darby on Dec. 18, stemmed from injuries.
Junior Kayla Pack, the team's leading scorer last season at 12.6 points per game, had a toe injury that limited her movement. She missed three games before trying to work her way back in limited action during a 43-39 loss to Westerville Central on Dec. 14.
Freshman Sydney Warriner, a 6-0 post player, was injured during the first quarter of a 34-25 loss to Westerville South on Dec. 7 and had yet to return.
"We were young to begin with, with four of our top eight or nine players being freshmen," coach Steve Palmer said. "So we were going to need time to get these young girls acclimated. Some of the inconsistencies stem from that, but then when your top player goes out with an injury, it further complicated things."
That's not to say there haven't been some bright moments, according to Palmer, but poor team defense has made things increasingly difficult.
"We've just got to get better defensively (and) learn to play without reaching and fouling," he said. "We only lost to Dublin Scioto 59-51 (on Nov. 30) and they're supposed to be one of the top two teams in our new league (OCC-Cardinal).
"Scioto had 35 free-throw attempts. We lost to Delaware (55-38 on Dec. 4) and they had 32 free-throw attempts. Our defensive deficiencies need to be fixed."