The Whetstone High School girls basketball team needed just 10 games to eclipse its win total from last season, when it finished 6-17.
The Braves surpassed last year's win total with a 38-35 win over Mifflin on Dec. 22. They were 7-3 overall and 4-1 in the City League-North Division before playing Centennial on Jan. 9.
"I've been really pleased with the girls and how hard they want to work," first-year coach Torrie Ruffin said. "I think they see a potential in themselves this year that they didn't see last year. When you can see the improvements and it makes a difference in the record, you become more encouraged."
Senior forward Whitney Staggs said the team chemistry also has improved.
"We're more of a team this year because we're all friends off the court," she said. "We've got a new energy with a new coach, new plays and new strategy and we have a bond that we didn't have last year."
Staggs was averaging 20.7 points through 10 games to lead the Braves.
"Whitney has really stepped her game up and I think a large part in that is that she is getting help this year," Ruffin said. "She doesn't feel like she has to do everything this year. It's not all on her shoulders now."
Ruffin also noted the play of senior Haylee Thomas-Speigle at point guard and freshman Amelia Morris at guard.
"Haylee is a tough player who grew up playing in the post but was thrown into being a guard last year," Ruffin said. "She has grown into the position and is calmly bringing the ball over halfcourt. Amelia was a point guard in middle school and has great vision, especially in the halfcourt. They have provided us with much better ball-handling."
Morris isn't the only freshman excelling for the Braves this season, as center Macy Staggs was averaging 8.1 points through 10 games and has been strong on the boards, according to Ruffin.
"Macy is a very good rebounder and smart player who sees the floor well," Ruffin said. "She works very well with (her sister) Whitney and their give-and-go is virtually unstoppable."
Macy Staggs scored 12 points against Mifflin and had seven points and a season-high 16 rebounds in a 34-28 win over Linden-McKinley on Dec. 12.
"(Macy is) 6-(foot)-1 and I'm 5-10, so our pick-and-roll is working well," Whitney Staggs said. "We play different positions, but I try to help her some because she's a freshman and hasn't had as much varsity coaching. We both have played AAU ball and our dad helps us a lot."
Others who have been playing well, according to Ruffin, are senior guard Hannah Rizzi and sophomore forward Lauren Armstrong.
"Hannah is doing a nice job within the rhythm of our offense and also has played well defensively," Ruffin said. "Lauren is doing a good job on the defensive end and adding good rebounding support."
Komara, Jones leading boys team
Senior forwards Eddie Komara and Sean Jones are leading the boys basketball team, which was winless entering a Jan. 9 game against Centennial.
The Braves, who did not play a contest over the holiday break, fell to 0-8 overall and 0-4 in the City-North with a 68-49 loss to Mifflin on Dec. 22.
Komara had 18 points and Jones scored 10 against the Punchers.
Komara had a season-best 24 points in a 63-42 loss to Dublin Jerome on Dec. 16 and was averaging 16 points through eight games. Jones had a season-high 16 points in a 70-47 loss to Northland on Dec. 19 and was averaging 9.6.
The Braves will play a league game Friday, Jan. 12, at International.
Bowling teams rolling along
The boys and girls bowling teams both were in first place in their respective Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference standings entering this week.
The boys team was 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the COHSBC-C Division and the girls team was 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the league. The boys were tied for first with Northland, while the girls were tied for first with Worthington Christian.
Both teams competed against Worthington Christian on Jan. 11 and will be at Sequoia Pro Bowl for matches against International on Tuesday, Jan. 16, and Big Walnut the following day.
Entering the week, Joshua Roeder led the boys team with a 200.6 game average, followed by Davis Kleen (179.6), Dalton Daugherty (169.8) and Victor Waitkus (155.1). Abby Swank had a 180.5 average to lead the girls team, followed by Lindsay Arnold (150.1), Alea Millington-Fuqua (133.9) and Allison Weeks (131.3).
Below are the coming schedules for the Whetstone boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling and swimming & diving teams:
*Jan. 12 -- At International
*Jan. 16 -- At East
Jan. 11 -- Home vs. Centerburg
*Jan. 12 -- Home vs. International. The Braves beat the Lions 62-47 on Dec. 5.
*Jan. 16 -- Home vs. East. The Braves beat the Tigers 47-37 on Dec. 8.
*Jan. 11 -- Worthington Christian at HP Lanes
*Jan. 16 -- International at Sequoia Pro Bowl
Jan. 17 -- Big Walnut at Sequoia Pro Bowl
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 12-13 -- Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton
Jan. 17 -- Marion Harding at Marion YMCA