The Worthington Kilbourne High School girls basketball team has reached the critical part of its season, according to coach Steve Palmer.
A crucial four-game stretch began with a non-league contest Jan. 15 against Westland. It continues with OCC-Cardinal Division games Friday, Jan. 18, at Westerville South, Jan. 25 at home against Westerville Central and Jan. 29 at Hilliard Darby.
"I'm looking at standings in the OCC and City League and there are a lot of teams with four or five wins right now," said Palmer, whose team was 4-10 overall before playing Westland. "We have some games now where we should be full strength and have a chance to put some wins up. That would help with the (Division I district tournament) draw and give us a confidence boost heading into the postseason. It would be great for team morale."
In first-round league matchups, the Wolves lost to South 34-25 on Dec. 7, to Central 43-39 on Dec. 14 and to Darby 56-45 on Dec. 18.
"Those were all close games down the stretch, although we had to foul and we fell further behind in a few of them," Palmer said. "Plus, we didn't play any of those games at full strength because of injuries to (guard) Kayla Pack, (wing player) Carli Taute and (post player) Sydney Warinner, and (guard) Lauren Barnhart also missed some time with illness. We go seven or eight deep, but we scrambled and struggled with our substitution patterns and had no flow in those games."
After beating Thomas Worthington 51-47 on Dec. 28, the Wolves had lost three consecutive games before playing Westland.
However, all three were to teams at the top of the league standings. The Wolves lost to Dublin Jerome 54-40 on Jan. 4, to Westerville North 56-46 on Jan. 7 and to Dublin Scioto 61-29 on Jan. 11. North leads the OCC-Cardinal at 8-0, Scioto is 6-2 and Jerome is tied with Hilliard Bradley at 5-3.
"We had a great grind-out team win against Thomas, and we played great team defense," Palmer said. "It was good to beat our rivals. Then we played fairly well against Jerome and gave North its toughest league test of the season. ... We played well defensively and had good scoring balance."
Against North, Pack had 13 points, post player Maria Calvert had 12 points, guard Brianna Bell scored 11 and Warinner added 10.
"We played our best game against Westerville North," said Calvert, a senior and co-captain. "We played as a team and had very few breakdowns on defense. If we did that every game, we'd do amazing. That's our goal is to make every game like that one now, with a different outcome."
Thomas girls continue up-and-down season
Inconsistencies continue to plague Thomas.
After starting 1-3, Thomas looked as though it had found its way by regrouping to be 4-4.
However, the Cardinals' loss to Kilbourne began a four-game losing streak that left them 4-8 overall before playing Scioto on Jan. 15.
Senior guard Frannie Frazier, a Ball State signee, scored 21 points against Kilbourne, but she did not play in a 51-17 loss to Central Crossing on Jan. 4.
The Cardinals gave Hilliard Davidson all it could handle before losing 41-37 on Jan. 8. Thomas was outscored 22-14 in the second half. Frazier scored 15 points and senior forward Kamille Freeman added six.
Thomas fell to Olentangy Liberty 43-32 on Jan. 11 as the Patriots scored 19 points in a row to turn a 17-9 second-quarter deficit into a 28-17 third-quarter lead. Frazier scored 12 points and Freeman added nine.
Cardinals boys set for UA rematch
The Thomas boys team will play host to Upper Arlington in an OCC-Central Division game Friday, Jan. 18.
The Cardinals lost to the Golden Bears 60-58 on Dec. 7, as Danny Hummer scored 23 points and Kevin Vannatta had 20 for UA. For Thomas, senior forward Jay Smallwood scored 13 points, senior guard Lance Leslie had 12, senior point guard Will Hill had 11 and junior center Yemi Sholesi had 10.
The Cardinals lost to Olentangy Liberty 56-50 on Jan. 11 to break a six-game winning streak and drop to 8-3 overall and 4-3 in the OCC-Central.
In another league contest Jan. 8, Thomas defeated Hilliard Davidson 45-39 as Leslie scored 13 points and Hill had 11.
UA will enter on a two-game losing streak after falling to Dublin Coffman 67-54 on Jan. 11 to drop to 6-6 overall and 4-3 in the OCC-Central.
Wolves boys look to get untracked
Kilbourne lost two OCC-Cardinal games last week, falling to Westerville North 76-46 on Jan. 7 and Dublin Scioto 60-42 on Jan. 11.
Kilbourne had lost four of five games to drop to 4-8 overall before playing Big Walnut on Jan. 15.
The Wolves, who are 2-5 in the OCC-Cardinal, play host to Westerville South in a league game Friday, Jan. 18.
The Wildcats beat the Wolves 62-58 in double overtime on Dec. 7, as Marcus Ball scored 21 points and Trent Slade added 14 for South. Senior wing player Ryan Adolph scored 20 points, junior post player Mike Chambers had 14 and junior guard Seth Hill and senior wing player Tyler Stern-Tucker both had 11 for the Wolves, who used a 22-9 fourth quarter to force overtime.
South lost to Westerville North 69-64 on Jan. 11 to drop to 9-4 overall and 5-2 in the OCC-Cardinal.