There has been much for the Watterson High School hockey team to smile about so far this season.
The Eagles are 8-3-0-2 overall after losing to Chagrin Falls Kenston 6-3 on Dec. 17 in the championship game of the Rough Rider Tournament at Kent Arena. In pool play in the event, they beat Oxford Talawanda 6-4 on Dec. 15 and Hudson 3-0 and Kent Roosevelt 5-3 on Dec. 16.
In addition to its eight wins, Watterson had a tight loss to St. Charles and a pair of shootout losses.
The Eagles also are first in the Capital Hockey Conference-Blue Division at 3-2 heading into their game against Thomas Worthington on Friday, Dec. 22, at Chiller North.
"We've played very, very well," coach Jay Graham said. "I thought we were very good in the (Chiller) Thanksgiving (Classic from Nov. 24-26). Both of our losses were in shootouts. We played as well as we could and were right in the mix (in a 4-2 loss to St. Charles on Dec. 3)."
In a 3-1 win over Olentangy Orange on Dec. 8 at Chiller North, Nick Kuraly had two goals, Kyle Naderhoff scored one, Jack Kish and Ian Simone each had an assist and goaltender Max Graham made 28 saves.
Orange had beaten Watterson 4-3 in a shootout Nov. 24.
The Eagles already have earned a season sweep of CHC-Blue rival Gahanna with a pair of 11-1 victories on Dec. 1 and 2. Kuraly scored a program-record seven goals in the Dec. 1 contest.
Watterson's only blowout loss through its first 13 games was to Dublin Jerome, 9-3 on Dec. 10.
"We beat Orange 3-1 and played very, very well," said Graham, whose team will play four games in the Cleveland Heights Holiday Tournament from Wednesday, Dec. 27, through Dec. 29. "I was hoping to carry that into Jerome. Jerome's very, very good, but we certainly didn't play our best game. If we played the way we did (against St. Charles), it's certainly a lot more competitive.
"The one shining spot was that (goalie) Ryan Roark was fantastic against Jerome. The sad part is it should have been way worse. ... In the grand scheme, we've only had one of those games. We'd rather take it now than later."
Girls basketball team building consistency
The girls basketball team was within two baskets of getting off to a 6-0 start.
The Eagles beat Hilliard Bradley 53-36 on Dec. 16 to improve to 5-2 overall. Both of their losses -- to Upper Arlington on Nov. 24 and Westerville Central on Dec. 4 -- were by a 47-45 score.
"We're working hard to be more consistent," coach Tom Woodford said. "We play well in one quarter then not nearly as strong the next. When we've found ourselves in a deep hole, we've fought back and given ourselves a chance to win. We have to be more consistent and efficient on defense."
Through six games, senior guard Lainey Billing was averaging a team-high 12.1 points, followed by junior forward Grace Jenkins (9.0), sophomore guard Paige Woodford (8.8) and senior guard Gretchen Glanzman (6.8).
In a 49-33 win over Marys-ville on Dec. 13, Watterson built a 28-16 halftime lead. Jenkins had 19 points and Billing scored 15.
The Eagles are playing host to the Watterson Christmas Classic on Wednesday, Dec. 27, and Dec. 28. They will face Cincinnati Seton on the first day and New Albany on the second. Both games start at 4:45 p.m.
In the event's other matchups, Bradley faces New Albany (1:30 p.m.) and Hilliard Darby plays Chillicothe (3 p.m.) on the first day, and Darby faces Seton (1:30 p.m.) and Bradley plays Chillicothe (3 p.m.) on the second.
"It's a good mix of teams from central Ohio, southeast Ohio and Cincinnati," coach Woodford said. "Everyone gets to play teams that they normally wouldn't see throughout a typical season."
Boys basketball team to be busy over break
In addition to continuing CCL action Friday, Dec. 22, at home against St. Charles, the boys basketball team will play three other games before it begins the 2018 portion of its schedule.
St. Charles is 3-3 overall and 0-1 in the CCL.
Watterson travels to Grandview on Saturday, Dec. 23, for a matchup with a team that was 4-0 after beating Bexley 54-51 on Dec. 15. The Bobcats finished 16-6 a year ago, including beating the Eagles 56-48.
Watterson then will play two games in the four-team Dayton Northridge Holiday Tournament. The Eagles open the event against Dayton Carroll at 6 p.m. Dec. 28. Then on Dec. 29, they will play either the host Polar Bears or Liberty Union in the consolation game at 6 p.m. or in the championship game at 7:30 p.m.
Last season, the Eagles opened the Northridge tournament by losing to Carroll 51-42 but beat the host Polar Bears 70-39 in the consolation game.
Watterson improved to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the CCL with a 45-38 win over DeSales on Dec. 15.
The Eagles opened with a 61-43 win over Athens on Dec. 2 before losing to Fairfield Union 43-42 on Dec. 5 and falling to Hartley 51-32 on Dec. 8 in their CCL opener.
Against Hartley, sophomore guard Chris Crane had 12 points and junior guard Zach Sawyer scored nine.
The Eagles snapped a three-game skid against DeSales as junior forward Jimmy Patton scored eight of his 13 points in the third quarter. Sawyer and senior guard Liam Aman both scored 10.