A 64-53 victory over Bexley on Jan. 21 gave the Wellington School boys basketball team its second consecutive championship at its home Jaguar Invitational and its seventh win in a row this season.
Still, there are reasons to believe that the Jaguars' upside is significant for the season's remainder despite their solid recent play.
The game against Bexley was just the fourth this season for juniors Solomon Pierre-Louis and Guy Schmidt, who transferred from Columbus Academy and Grandview, respectively, after being key players for their former teams. Each had to sit out the first 11 games because of the Ohio High School Athletic Association's transfer rule.
Pierre-Louis has settled in quickly, scoring 15 points in a 76-39 win over Horizon Science Academy on Jan. 20 in a semifinal of the Jaguar Invitational and 25 points in the final to earn tournament MVP honors.
He was averaging 18.5 points in four games for Wellington, which was 11-4 before playing Zanesville Rosecrans on Jan. 25.
"I wasn't as much of a scoring focus at Academy, but here they definitely saw a lot of my potential and allow me to express myself on the court," Pierre-Louis said. "Whether it's through shooting or dribbling, I can be a lot more intense. Academy is a great school, but at the same time, I wanted to try something new since I was there since kindergarten."
Schmidt had nine points against Bexley.
The two newcomers are joining seniors Dustin Harder, Ngozi Pinkston and Adam Porter, juniors Noah Berry and John Faller and sophomore Dallas Patrick as key players.
In addition, junior guard Bob Faller, who has been out the entire season with an injury, is expected to return late during the regular season after making honorable mention all-district last season.
Wellington was fourth in last week's Division IV area coaches poll behind Grove City Christian, Africentric and Harvest Prep.
The Jaguars play Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Grove City Christian and have matchups remaining against Division I powers Upper Arlington (Feb. 14 on the road) and St. Charles (Feb. 18 at home).
"We play as a team," coach Artie Taylor said. "Winning the Jaguar Invitational is big for us. Solomon has been great, not just on the court, but off the court for us.
"Guy Schmidt is also new to the team and he's brought some ball-handling, especially down the stretch. They're all starting to build chemistry."
Swim teams taking
The swimming and diving program has two regular-season meets left, including Saturday, Jan. 28, when it competes in Centennial's Stars Invitational at Columbus Aquatics Center.
"We're growing as a team," coach Bill Miller said. "Even though we've got a lot of seniors and they're starting to make some big time drops, we're actually sophomore-heavy with a couple juniors. The sophomores are really making some good strides with their times."
On Jan. 12, the boys team scored 43 points to finish behind Columbus Academy (116) and ahead of Hartley (11) as senior Shashank Singh won the 100-yard backstroke (1 minute, .59 seconds).
Singh and John Haynes, who is strong in the 100 butterfly, have led a six-member senior group of boys.
Junior David Jacques has focused much of his time on the 100 breaststroke after previously competing mostly in diving, while his twin brother, junior Eric Jacques, has continued to be a strong scorer in diving.
"Haynes had his first time in the 100 fly (in December) and had a great swim (Jan. 4 in a meet) at Marion Pleasant," Miller said. "He's at that point where if he can figure out how to swim it, he'll tear it up. David Jacques has dropped his breast time every time, and I think he placed in a meet (in that event) for the first time ever this year. Eric decided to focus on diving but has done the backstroke. He's been doing well."
On Jan. 12, the girls team scored 42 points to finish behind Academy (116) and Hartley (86) and ahead of Madison Christian (6).
Sara Anderson, who has competed for the Ohio State swim club, has been leading the girls despite being a freshman.
"As a freshman, she's kind of doing a little bit of everything from the 200 (individual medley) to the 100 (freestyle)," Miller said.
Girls basketball team
starting to hit stride
Although it came up short of defending its title as host of the Jaguar Invitational, the girls basketball team had won seven games in a row before losing to Ready 44-29 on Jan. 21 in the tournament final.
Wellington was 8-7 before playing Columbus Academy on Jan. 24 and has four regular-season games remaining.
"It was a very disappointing loss (to Ready)," coach Bill Mitchin said. "They were very physical and aggressive and we tried to match it but came up a little short. ...
"I'm pleased with our progress. Our ball movement was excellent (during the winning streak) as was our transition on offense, and we averaged almost 16 steals a game."
Wellington opened the Jaguar Invitational with a 61-32 win over Harvest Prep on Jan. 20 behind 17 points from sophomore Savannah Childress and 14 from junior Macey Shock.
Childress, who had a team-high 11 points against Ready, is a transfer from Academy who sat out the first 11 games but averaged 12.5 points during her first four games with the Jaguars.
The 5-4 guard is teaming with Shock and sophomore Addie Shock in the backcourt, which is the team's biggest source of strength.
"(Childress has) been practicing with us and that's helped," Mitchin said. "We have to have Savannah and the Shock sisters in sync. The thing we're working on with the kids is moving the ball."