Markyia McCormick said her adjustment to the Canal Winchester High School girls basketball team has been seamless, and the 5-foot-7 junior point guard's statistics seem to reflect that.
McCormick was averaging 17.6 points through five games for the Indians, who were 4-1 overall before playing Central Crossing on Dec. 19 and are 2-1 in the OCC-Capital Division.
Coach Willie Jordan hopes McCormick continues thriving, but with a few adjustments.
"I would say she is enjoying her role a little too much," Jordan said with a chuckle. "Her role is more than what she's taking on right now. Right now, she is looking to score and I'd like for her to get other people a little more involved (and) not put all the pressure on herself to make baskets. In a tight game, we can rely on her, but it makes the game easier when other girls can get easy baskets, too.
"One way or the other, a guard will either establish themselves as a pass-first player or as a scorer who can get others involved. We all know what we can do. They know (McCormick) can score. It's a give-and-take."
McCormick scored in double digits in each of the Indians' first five games, and almost outscored Groveport by herself Dec. 15 with 27 points in an 85-28 win.
Although she spent her freshman and sophomore years at nearby Pickerington Central, her move into the Canal Winchester district in July paved the way for reunions of sorts. She played against teammate Shalea Byrd in AAU ball, and with teammates Kynadee Anthony, Amanda Rarick and Natalie Rarick on the Westerville Igniters when they were in elementary school.
McCormick mostly played junior varsity last season at Central, but came off the bench for several varsity games as a backup to Division I prospect Madison Greene and Missouri Southern State University recruit Kai Jones. McCormick scored in 11 varsity games a year ago, with her high being 11 points in a late-season win over Grove City, as the Tigers won their second consecutive Division I district championship.
McCormick, who has scholarship offers from Detroit Mercy and Robert Morris, was confident that she would make an immediate impact with the Indians.
"(Jordan) told me he wanted me to come in, help us win games and be a leader and get to know the other girls and distribute the ball like I can," McCormick said. "I think a lot of the girls have a lot of trust in me, as I do in them, and the stats show that we're all getting pretty good numbers and getting wins."
Byrd, who was averaging 9.3 points through four games and had a 14-point, 12-rebound performance in a 54-49 win at Licking Heights on Dec. 9, said McCormick quickly learned her teammates' tendencies.
"She has a very good sense of when and when not to pass the ball," Byrd said. "She knows her teammates and how to read us and where we'll be. She has been trying really hard to get to know us and see how we play, what we're going to do with the ball when we get it."
Canal Winchester lost its league opener, 54-35 at Newark on Dec. 4, before edging host Big Walnut 49-47 in overtime Dec. 8.
McCormick acknowledged that she and her teammates have a chip on their shoulder as they try to maintain the team's upward trend. The Indians finished 2-21 overall in 2015-16 and 12-11 last season.
"I love the challenge of being able to let everybody in the (area) know that Canal Winchester is not what we were before," McCormick said. "I love that experience. I want to be a part of this improvement. Our whole goal is to get people more awake on Canal Winchester basketball."
Boys basketball team seeks more wins
The boys basketball team is playing at the pace coach Lyndell Snyder anticipated and living up to his expectations defensively, but the Indians haven't always been able to finish.
Canal Winchester was 3-3 overall before playing Central Crossing on Dec. 19 and is 1-1 in the OCC-Capital.
Its three losses were by an average of seven points, although in the Indians' largest loss, 55-43 at Dublin Scioto on Dec. 12, they were within five points with two minutes to play before a missed 3-pointer that would have cut the deficit to two turned into an Irish layup that gave them a seven-point lead.
"I like our effort and energy, and we're playing fast like I thought we could. We've just been on the short end of a few games and a few critical possessions," Snyder said. "We need to figure out a way to start games better. We were 4-for-26 in the first half (against Scioto) and 0-for-9 on 3-pointers. We weren't taking bad shots; we just couldn't make a bucket and (Scioto) executed after our mistakes. We're scrappy, though, and we haven't been out of a game yet."
Brady Snyder had a career-high 28 points against Scioto and was averaging 17.5 points through four games, followed by Stanton Smith (9.5).
Through six games, the Indians were allowing an average of 57.2 points and scoring an average of 56.1, a figure boosted by wins last weekend over Groveport (64-56 on Dec. 15) and Hamilton Township (65-58 on Dec. 16).
Harrison Landis scored a team-high 18 points against the Cruisers. Snyder had 25 points against the Rangers and Darryl Brown scored 16.
"Defensively, I really like where we are. We're so much better than last year," coach Snyder said. "We're better on help-side, jamming cutters and hedging screens. We've made that a focus to get better on the defensive end. That's the culture we are trying to create."
Fry, relays pace swimmers at Ned Reeb
Blake Fry of the boys swimming team finished 14th in the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, .91 seconds) and 17th in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.86) to lead the Indians in the Ned Reeb Invitational on Dec. 16 at Ohio State.
Those performances scored all 11 points for Canal Winchester, which finished 32nd behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (610) as 36 teams scored.
The girls finished 28th (31) behind champion and OCC-Capital rival New Albany (357.5) as 41 teams scored. The 200 free relay placed 12th (1:42) and the 400 free relay finished 14th (3:46.94).
Below are the coming schedules for the Canal Winchester boys basketball, girls basketball and swimming & diving teams:
*Dec. 22 -- At Franklin Heights
*Dec. 22 -- Home vs. Franklin Heights
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 22 -- Watterson at Columbus Aquatics Center