Ben Roderick isn't interested in the hype.
Coming off a season in which he averaged 18.7 points for the Olentangy Liberty High School boys basketball team, Roderick has emerged as one of central Ohio's most dynamic scorers as a junior wing player and guard.
He's 6-foot-5 and already has scholarship offers from Akron, Ohio University, Stony Brook, Tennessee-Martin and Toledo, but he's intent on taking his role in stride.
"I'm just trying to get my teammates involved, and when they look for me to score, I have to be the leader," Roderick said. "When we need a basket, then I need to take control. If it's not there, and if they double or collapse, I need to kick to my teammates knowing they'll make the open shot."
Roderick already has more than 800 career points and is in on pace to break 1,000 before the end of the regular season.
Heading into Liberty's game Jan. 9 against Gahanna, the Patriots were 5-4 overall and Roderick was averaging 25.3 points.
Although it had been only eight days since the football team lost to Mentor 27-21 on Nov. 24 in a Division I state semifinal, Roderick -- a standout wide receiver -- poured in 37 points in the boys basketball team's opening 89-82 loss to Mentor on Dec. 2.
He scored 31 in a 60-51 victory over Murrysville (Pennsylvania) Franklin Regional on Dec. 28 before being held to a season-low 18 in a 66-53 loss to Westerville Central on Jan. 5.
Liberty, which bounced back to beat Lexington 62-35 on Jan. 6, is 2-2 in the OCC-Buckeye Division heading into its game Friday, Jan. 12, at Olentangy. The Patriots then travel to Kettering Fairmont on Saturday, Jan. 13, to face Xenia in the Flyin' to the Hoop Invitational.
"I'm trying to attack the rim more and trying to get to the free-throw line," Roderick said. "We've all been playing since fourth or fifth grade, so we bring a sense of chemistry. We're going to make the right play at the right time and it doesn't matter who scores."
Roderick, who averaged seven points as a freshman when Liberty went 10-13, helped the Patriots improve to 15-9 last season.
According to coach Greg Nossaman, Roderick and Liberty have plenty of upside heading into the season's second half.
The only senior in the program is 6-8 post player Dan McFarland, who is expected to become eligible for the Patriots' game against Olentangy.
"These are great kids," Nossaman said. "I like them. (Roderick has been) attacking the rim a little bit more. When he starts driving, he's a tough matchup. He's got to get a little stronger, but he's only 16 years old."
Swimmers continue to prep for big meets
First-year coach Peter Krosnosky is pleased with the progress of the swimming and diving program heading into the home stretch of the regular season.
He said standouts on the girls team have included swimmers Hannah Beavers, Allie Kenny, Lila Leary, Abby Noonan, Rachel Peroni, Kate Saczawa and Abby Weis and diver Morgan Menninger.
"The girls have a ton of big-meet experience, both at the state and national level," Krosnosky said. "The girls are very poised and smart about the big-picture goals of districts and state, with returning qualifiers on both the girls swim and diving teams."
On Dec. 21, the girls were third (72) in the five-team Dela-ware County Relays behind Olentangy (82) and Delaware (74), and the boys were first (78).
Boys standouts have included John Bently, Eli Grubbs, Isaac Iverson, Max Miller, Blake Overly and Matthew Patterson. Jack Matthews and Chris Tracewell also should be key contributors over the coming weeks, according to Krosnosky.
"The boys team continues to gain experience and speed," Krosnosky said. "The team is improving daily. Training is high energy and fun."
Wrestling team building chemistry
With 58 athletes in the wrestling program, an effort has been made to build camaraderie.
"The biggest surprise is how good our team is at knee football and dodgeball, as they like to compete against each other on the mat in different forms," coach Mark Marinelli said. "We have 58 on the team, and we really enjoy each other and are going to push each other to give the best effort every time out."
The Patriots open OCC-Buckeye action Thursday, Jan. 11, at Orange.
On Dec. 29 and 30 in the Brecksville Holiday Tournament at Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Liberty finished fifth (139.5) of 48 teams behind champion Detroit Catholic Central (200).
Connor Brady (152 pounds), Carson Kharchilava (170) and Trevor Lawson (182) all won championships and Blake Saito (132) finished fifth.
Jordan Rosselli, who went 1-2 at 120, has gotten out to a strong start, according to Marinelli.
"The effort our guys and parents have been giving is second to none right now, and if it stays that way, we can continue to improve our results," Marinelli said.
Strong start continues for hockey team
A 10-0 win over Thomas Worthington on Jan. 7 at Chiller North gave the hockey team its sixth consecutive victory.
Liberty, which is 16-3-2 overall and 8-1 in the Capital Hockey Conference-Red Division, held a ceremony before its 5-0 victory over Olentangy on Jan. 6 at Chiller North in memory of Gavin Schlotterbeck and Hunter McClelland. The former Liberty students died in a car crash July 17.
Schlotterbeck was on the junior varsity team last season.
Below are the coming schedules for the Liberty boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 12 -- At Olentangy
Jan. 13 -- Xenia in Flyin' to the Hoop Invitational at Kettering Fairmont
Jan. 16 -- Home vs. New Albany
*Jan. 12 -- Home vs. Olentangy. The Patriots lost to the Braves 47-38 on Dec. 5.
Jan. 17 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto
*Jan. 11 -- Delaware at Sawmill Lanes
*Jan. 12 -- Olentangy Orange and Westerville Central at Central Ohio Gymnastics and Cheerleading
Jan. 15 -- At Olentangy with Big Walnut and Orange
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 13 -- Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton and Hilliard/Olentangy Challenge at Hilliard YMCA
*Jan. 11 -- At Orange