Thomas Worthington High School girls basketball coach Laurie Barr says inconsistency is at the root of her team's sluggish start to the season.
The Cardinals lost to Marysville 58-37 on Dec. 20 in an OCC-Central Division game, marking their fourth consecutive loss. They were 1-5 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Central before playing Upper Arlington on Dec. 23.
"In two of our losses, poor free-throw shooting killed us," Barr said. "We have also shot poorly from the floor a few times. Even when we shoot it a little better, we'll have a bad game rebounding or our turnovers have soared. We just haven't put things together. We have been so inconsistent. That's the perfect word. It describes our play thus far."
Barr anticipated that her team would encounter some problems given its youth and inexperience.
The Cardinals' most lopsided loss through six games came at the hands of Dublin Coffman, which won 60-24 on Dec. 17 in the first of two league matchups.
"At one point against Coffman, we had four freshmen and a sophomore on the floor," Barr said. "Right now, we've got seven varsity regulars and six were not on varsity last year. We're a work in progress. I think a lot of our problems come back to decision-making.
"We're giving up a lot of points, but many of them come from bad offensive possessions. Turnovers and quick shots lead to breakouts the other way. We are a very small team, so we have to have good shot selection and patience in our half-court sets."
Thomas posted its only victory through six games against New Albany, holding on for a 39-38 win on Dec. 3. The Cardinals missed an opportunity to pull out a win against Walnut Ridge, as it struggled from the foul line in a 69-63 overtime loss on Dec. 7.
"We were 6-for-22 from the line against Walnut Ridge and our free-throw shooting also was really poor in the loss to Olentangy Liberty (55-39 on Nov. 29)," Barr said. "But on the positive side, Jada Sleet and Laura Gomez have been playing pretty well."
Through five games, Sleet, a freshman point guard, was averaging 12 points and Gomez, a senior guard, was averaging 8.8. Senior post player Jenna Anderson was next on the team, averaging 7.2 points.
"Jada can create for others or get to the basket herself," Barr said. "She's (5-foot-4), but she's not afraid to drive. I also like the fact that even on her drive, she can get the ball back out to teammates for open shots.
"She also has good range from the perimeter, so that really keeps defenses honest. She has a variety of ways to score and that says a lot for a freshman. Often times, you can stop an opponent because they have just one move or one way to score, but she's different."
The Cardinals will play host to the Worthington Holiday Classic on Friday, Dec. 27, and Saturday, Dec. 28. On the first day, Kilbourne will play Brookhaven at 6 p.m. and the Cardinals will face Tallmadge at 7:30 p.m. On the second day, Brookhaven will play Tallmadge at 6 p.m. and Thomas will face Kilbourne at 7:30 p.m.
"This is an event that started last year that (former Kilbourne coach) Steve Palmer put together and we agreed to a two-year deal," Barr said. "But this will also be the last year for the event since we now have the Worthington Day.
"That will be Jan. 18 at Kilbourne and include only Worthington teams. The seventh-graders play each other, followed by (the) eighth-graders, freshmen, j.v. and varsity. It's Worthington versus Worthington all day and should draw a good crowd, play up our rivalry and extend it through the youth programs."
Kilbourne girls seek third straight win
The Kilbourne girls team enters the Worthington Holiday Classic having won its last two games and three of its last four.
The Wolves defeated Watkins Memorial 38-19 on Dec. 10 before losing to Mount Vernon 50-38 on Dec. 13 in an OCC-Capital contest.
They bounced back to win back-to-back league games against Big Walnut (46-33 on Dec. 17) and Franklin Heights (64-34 on Dec. 20) to improve to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the OCC-Capital.
Against Big Walnut, Carli Taute had 14 points and Kayla Pack scored 10. Pack had 20 points to lead the way against Franklin Heights, followed by Taute with 15 points and Jordyn Wilson with 12.
Kilbourne boys playing in Kentucky
The Kilbourne boys team will spend the next three days competing in the Gateway Holiday Classic at Mount Sterling (Ky.) Montgomery County High School.
The Wolves, who went 1-2 in the event last season, will face Richmond (Ky.) Madison Central on Friday, Dec. 27, and will play Montgomery County or Lexington (Ky.) Paul Lawrence Dunbar on Saturday, Dec. 28, depending on the outcomes of the opening-round games.
The event concludes Sunday, Dec. 29.
Kilbourne improved to 4-2 overall with a 50-29 win over Dublin Scioto on Dec. 21 after falling to 3-1 in the OCC-Capital Division with a 52-50 loss to Franklin Heights on Dec. 20.
Michael Chambers had 15 points and Griffin Dahn scored 11 against Scioto. Connor Silva led the Wolves against Franklin Heights with 11 points, with Chambers and Isaiah Young each scoring nine.
Kilbourne beat Big Walnut 56-38 in a league game Dec. 17, getting 15 points from Chambers, 13 from Seth Hill and 11 from Dahn.
Thomas boys also heading to Kentucky
Thomas will be competing in the Wes Unseld Invitational from Friday, Dec. 27, through Sunday, Dec. 29, at Louisville (Ky.) Seneca.
The Cardinals defeated Marysville 67-57 on Dec. 20 to improve to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Central.
Jaret Gerber led Thomas with 17 points, followed by Alex Baughman with 14 and Yemi Sholesi with 12.
The Cardinals lost to Dublin Coffman 64-41 in a league game Dec. 17. Their leading scorer was Tyrrell Stewart with nine points.