With a team of only sophomores and freshmen, first-year Whitehall-Yearling High School girls basketball coach Darrin Green has done a lot of teaching this season.
The Rams have struggled, as they were 0-8 overall before playing Hamilton Township on Dec. 19. They are 0-3 in the MSL-Ohio Division.
"You have to keep coaching," Green said. "The kids want to play, so you can't take that away from them. They want to learn. They're trying to do better. They're trying to do what they're asked, it's just a process. This whole year is about foundation building."
Whitehall's most competitive outcome was a 54-34 loss to visiting Grandview on Dec. 16.
The Rams trailed just 13-7 after one quarter and allowed just 19 points in the second half after trailing 35-14 at halftime.
Freshman guard Desira Henderson led Whitehall with 10 points, followed by sophomore guards Izzy Simmons and Sahlena Harvey with seven apiece.
Despite the disappointing record, Simmons has seen improvement.
"I really like coach Green and all the coaches that we have," she said. "They have us coming in and working and they have us progressing. I really appreciate them for that. We're getting better each game."
The Rams played without sophomore guards Kiara Bagley (concussion) and Annequia Peterson (sprained ankle). Green said Bagley has been one of the top players on the team.
While the Rams lack varsity experience, Grandview started two seniors in Kacey Murphy and Jayla Coplan, with the 5-foot-11 Murphy enjoying a distinct height advantage over Whitehall's relatively small lineup.
Murphy led the Bobcats with 15 points, followed by freshman guards Tayler Pierce and Hannah Yochem with 12 apiece.
"We try not to think about the age difference," Simmons said. "We have to be (mentally tough) about it."
Before playing Grandview, Whitehall's most competitive outcome was a 59-35 loss to visiting Bloom-Carroll on Dec. 5.
In their first eight games, the Rams lost by an average margin of 36 points.
"Wins and losses this year is not the biggest goal of ours," Green said. "We're trying to build structure. We're trying to build discipline."
The schedule also has included a 70-16 loss at Pickerington North on Dec. 12.
Whitehall still has a pair of MSL-Ohio games against Columbus Academy, a team it defeated 48-40 and 32-30 in overtime last season on its way to finishing 5-18 overall and 2-10 in the league.
"All of our girls need experience playing and that's why most of the girls also play j.v. because they need the playing time," Green said. "They need not just the playing experience, (but) that confidence to play against the j.v. competition level. They're freshmen and sophomores. They need that experience (and) that confidence-building."
Boys basketball team prepares for Jaguars
The boys basketball team turned in a solid effort Dec. 15 at London in preparation of its showdown with visiting Wellington on Thursday, Dec. 21.
Reiko Bagley scored 30 points and Darius Butler added 14 in leading the Rams to an 87-46 win.
"Coach (Drew Williams) said we executed the plan that he made for us before the game and how we worked as a team," senior forward Marcus Harris said. "We just have to come together more. There's always something we can work on. We're never perfect."
Whitehall improved to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the MSL-Ohio.
Wellington, which has moved to Division III after being the Division IV state runner-up last season, was 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the MSL-Cardinal before playing Millersport on Dec. 17.
The Jaguars earned an 82-50 win over Grove City Christian on Dec. 15 as Bob Faller scored a game-high 28 points.
Wrestling team 'getting better'
Wrestling coach Steve Pennington was pleased with his team's effort as it went 2-3 in the Grapple at the Castle Duals on Dec. 16 in Ona, West Virginia.
"We have such a young team," Pennington said. "They keep getting better each week, but we're just not there yet and this tournament is very tough. There are some really good teams. We got beat up a little bit."
Assante Ndongo went 5-0 at heavyweight, and Andrew Dickens (195) and Carter Paddock (113) each went 4-1.
"Everybody got at least one win, so that was good," Pennington said.
"We're jelling as a team. With having such a young team, the continuity takes a while."
Whitehall will compete in the Canton McKinley Invitational on Dec. 28 and 29.
Below are the coming schedules for the Whitehall-Yearling boys basketball and girls basketball teams:
Dec. 21 -- Home vs. Wellington
Dec. 22 -- At Ironton
Dec. 23 -- Huntington (W.Va.) at Ironton
Dec. 21 -- Home vs. Lakewood
*Dec. 23 -- Home vs. Worthington Christian