Count Josh Corbin among those who entered the offseason feeling a touch of disappointment after the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys basketball team endured double-digit losses a year ago.
Already one of the program's top shooters, Corbin turned his focus to becoming a more complete player in hopes of helping the Lions improve on last winter's 15-10 finish.
Although he again is the team's leading scorer, the fact he's one of four players averaging between nine and 15 points has been just as rewarding for the 6-foot-3 junior guard.
He scored 18 points on a season-high six 3-pointers during an 87-55 victory over Lancaster on Jan. 5 but was one of four players to reach double figures in that game.
"The main thing I've been known by is my 3-point shot, but this year besides (the Lancaster) game and maybe one other game, I've been more focused on getting to the rack and getting more people involved," Corbin said. "Most teams face-guard me because they know (shooting is) my strong suit."
Corbin, who averaged a team-best 11.7 points a season ago, was scoring 14.6 per game heading into the Lions' contest Jan. 9 against Olentangy Liberty.
Gahanna was 8-2 overall and on a five-game winning streak before playing the Patriots. It is 3-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division as it prepares to close the first round of league play Friday, Jan. 12, at Pickerington Central.
Before playing Liberty, the Lions hadn't lost since Dec. 15, 54-40 to Pickerington North.
Through 10 games, junior guard Elijah Thomas was averaging 13.6 points, senior point guard Chase Rankin was averaging 12.8 and senior wing player Nate Ward was averaging 9.0.
Corbin has grown about an inch since last season and has scholarship offers from Akron, Cleveland State, Duquesne, Loyola Marymount and Toledo.
He's also got the respect of coach Tony Staib, who has noticed the progression Corbin has made from simply being a scorer.
"Last year he was a shooter, and the biggest thing about Josh is he's expanding his game," Staib said. "He can take it to the basket (and) he's rebounding the ball very well. Defensively, he's getting better. What I like is his maturation process where he's becoming a complete player. He is passing the ball more and is more of a playmaker now. He draws a lot of attention, so he needs to see the open man."
Corbin, who grew up in Lancaster before moving to Gahanna for his seventh-grade year, had 18 points in the Lions' 80-63 victory over Zanesville on Dec. 30.
He followed his performance against the Golden Gales by scoring 17 in an 83-59 victory over Thomas Worthington on Jan. 6.
Entering this week, his best offensive games came when he scored 24 points in wins over Reynoldsburg (67-59 on Dec. 8) and Whitehall (68-60 on Dec. 12).
Corbin likes the progression he's been seeing from his team as it heads into the season's second half.
"We have new pieces, so we're having to play different roles, and it's obviously growing more and more each game," he said. "I've learned to be more than just a scorer and do things to help us win, so I feel like I've progressed in that a lot."
Swimming teams making progress
The boys and girls swimming and diving teams have two weeks of preparation before competing in the OCC-Ohio meet Jan. 25 for diving and Jan. 27 for swimming.
After its only state competitor a season ago was lost to graduation, depth has been a strength for the boys team.
"The boys team has come along nicely," coach Jeff Riegler said. "We have the largest squad in my four years and many are able to compete in multiple events. We're very young but continue to improve daily."
On Jan. 5 at the Gahanna YMCA, the boys beat Teays Valley 108-62 as Johnny Belli won the 50-yard freestyle (23.73 seconds) and 100 breaststroke (1:04.83), Austin Wharton won the 100 free (55.35), Paul Padgett was first in the 500 free (5:44.03), McCord Riegler was first in the 100 backstroke (1:04.83) and the Lions won the 200 free relay (1:40.96), 200 medley relay (1:50.13) and 400 free relay (3:48.94).
The girls beat Teays Valley 116-48 as Hannah Snedden won the 100 breast (1:13.17) and the 200 individual medley (2:18.75) and Payton Vogelgesang won the 100 back (1:09.82) and 100 butterfly (1:05.62). Also taking first were Madison Gibson in the 100 free (1:03.7), Mackenzie Massmann in the 500 free (6:00.87), Rylee Slisher in the 50 free (29.26), Stefani Wasmer in the 200 free (2:33.82) and the 200 free relay (1:58.97), 200 medley relay (2:08.75) and 400 free relay (4:27.18).
"The girls team has had many close meets and with already small numbers has had to deal with a few illnesses and injuries," coach Riegler said. "Once everyone is back and at full strength, the second half of the season should show improvement."
Girls bowlers win Buckeye Classic
With two competitors finishing in the top 10 overall, the girls bowling team rolled a 4,010 to win the 18-team Buckeye Classic on Jan. 6 at HP Lanes.
Briann McKnight tied for second (569) and Shannon Gonzales was ninth (513). Delaney Ferguson (15th, 491), Lilu Smith (16th, 490) and Taylor Burns (tied for 28th, 461) rounded out the team's top five.
The boys were eighth (4,045) of 25 teams behind champion Sidney (4,398) as Hunter Blankenship took third (650) and DeAndre Quiero was 14th (584).
Before facing New Albany on Jan. 10, the girls were 6-0 overall and in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-A Division, and the boys were 5-1 overall and in the COHSBC-A.
Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 12 -- At Pickerington Central
Jan. 16 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne
*Jan. 12 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central. The Lions lost to the Tigers 59-53 on Dec. 6.
*Jan. 12 -- Pickerington Central at Gahanna Lanes
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 13 -- Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton
*Jan. 11 -- At Pickerington North with Pickerington Central
Jan. 13 -- Porter Memorial at Hilliard Bradley