With an 8-3 record entering the second half of the season, a talented Westerville South High School girls basketball team should become even stronger with the addition of Gabby Hutcherson and Mira Randolph.
Hutcherson, a 6-foot-3 sophomore post player/guard, and Randolph, a 5-5 sophomore guard, sat out the first 11 games because of OHSAA transfer rules. They were expected to make their debut for the Wildcats on Jan. 9 against Pickerington Central.
Hutcherson, who transferred from Westerville North, averaged 10.5 points last season and was second-team all-OCC-Buckeye Division. She already has offers from 14 Division I college programs.
"We do get a great piece to the puzzle (in Hutcherson), but we still have to execute," coach Silas Williams said. "What people don't realize is we still have to gain that chemistry of her being on the floor with what we have. They've been doing a great job in practice of implementing that."
Randolph is a transfer from Olentangy Orange.
With both players watching from the bench, the Wildcats defeated Hutcherson's former team, North, 44-25 on Jan. 5. Anyssa Jones scored 14 points and Sommer Pitzer added 12.
"It was tough to sit there and not being able to go in the game and doing anything about it," Hutcherson said. "I still have close friends on the (Warriors) and I love them all."
South, which improved to 4-0 in the OCC-Buckeye, faces another league test when it visits Westerville Central on Friday, Jan. 12, as part of a girls-boys doubleheader.
"We're definitely better than last year (when we went 15-10)," Jones said. "Our performance from last year to this year is like night and day. We move the ball better than we did last year. Last year we were individuals -- we didn't share the ball -- and this year we're consistent on offense (in) making that extra pass and we're knocking down shots."
A season after finishing 1-22, the Warhawks were 9-1 overall before playing Big Walnut on Jan. 9. They are 3-1 in the OCC-Buckeye.
"I've always liked what Central had," Williams said. "They just went through a year last year that was a little bit of turmoil and they let it get to them mentally, but they have decent pieces over there."
Central features a former South standout on its coaching staff in Jodie McClain, who is in her first season as an assistant under first-year coach Jim Morgan.
McClain, a 2006 graduate of South, finished her prep career with 1,050 points. She was named OCC-Central Player of the Year in her junior and senior seasons, earned second-team all-state in 2005-06 and helped the Wildcats win three consecutive league titles.
"I am so looking forward to (facing South)," McClain said. "I'm looking forward to seeing Silas and some of the girls. They're doing a lot of good things with the program. It's going to be a tough battle and on any night it's anyone's game."
The win over North helped the Wildcats rebound from an 82-80 overtime loss at Dublin Coffman on Jan. 3.
South trailed 29-15 after one quarter before rallying. Jacy Sheldon, an Ohio State commit, won it for the Shamrocks with a breakaway layup at the buzzer.
Jones led the Wildcats with 28 points, followed by Cailin Duffy with 18, Christiana Robertson with 14 and Pitzer with 12.
"We came back, competed and fought," Williams said. "We should have pulled it out, but Jacy made the play in the end. Sometimes that's a testament of they've been through a few more wars than we have. It's a learning lesson for us and I think we took it very well."
Boys basketball team set to play Central
The boys basketball team will look to rebound in OCC-Buckeye play when it visits Central on Friday, Jan. 12.
Coach Ed Calo was disappointed with the Wildcats' effort in a 56-39 loss to visiting North on Jan. 5.
The game was tied at 9 after one quarter, but the Wildcats were outscored 19-8 in the second quarter and could not recover. They slipped to 1-3 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Jordan McMillian led South with nine points.
"We put every game behind us, win or lose," Calo said. "You learn from it, though. You don't completely discard it. You learn from it and you take advantage of the situation. We made a thousand mistakes. You just grow up from it."
Before the game, former Wildcats standout Kaleb Wesson was one of eight South graduates inducted into the school's athletics hall of fame. Wesson is a freshman post player at Ohio State.
The Wildcats were 6-3 overall before playing Pickerington Central on Jan. 9. They defeated visiting Cleveland East Tech 71-44 on Jan. 6 as Ryan Greggs scored 20 points and McMillian added 11.
Bowling teams to face Central
The boys bowling team will face Central on Wednesday, Jan. 17, at Columbus Square Bowling Palace with first place possibly on the line in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-A Division.
The Wildcats were 4-1 overall and in the league before facing North on Jan. 10, while the Warhawks were 6-0 overall and in the league before facing Olentangy Liberty on Jan. 9.
South, which was 1-1 in the OCC-Buckeye entering the match against North, defeated London 2,077-1,654 on Jan. 5 as Colton Rice (411, two-game series) and Callan Van Scyoc (383) led the way.
The girls team was 3-2 overall and in the COHSBC-A and 1-1 in the OCC-Buckeye before playing North.
The Wildcats defeated London 1,756-1,476 as Taylor Knox had a 379 series and Maggie Van Scyoc had a 307.
Below are the coming schedules for the South boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 12 -- At Westerville Central
Jan. 13 -- At Cleveland St. Ignatius
*Jan. 12 -- At Central
Jan. 14 -- Kettering Fairmont in Classic in the Country at Berlin Hiland
Jan. 13 -- Central District Preview at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
*Jan. 17 -- Central at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 13 -- Central Ohio Splash meet at Thomas Worthington (swimming) and Westerville Community Center (diving)
Jan. 13 -- At Buckeye Valley with Columbus East and North Union