Mike Woods believes he is a far cry from the lanky freshman who played varsity for the Central Crossing High School boys basketball program.
By his own estimation, the 6-foot-4 senior guard was timid compared to the player who has evolved into the Comets' top scoring threat.
Through 18 games, Woods was averaging a team-high 14.2 points and had made a team-best 37 3-pointers on 110 attempts (33.6 percent). He also led the Comets by making 59 of 75 free throws (78.7 percent) and had shown his versatility by averaging 4.3 rebounds and blocking 24 shots.
"I've gained a lot more confidence," said Woods, whose team is 10-11 overall and 2-7 in the OCC-Central Division. "In my freshman and sophomore years, I just wanted to shoot the ball and now I'm driving with the ball more and my pull-up game has gotten better, too.
"I have been working on ball-fakes and jump-stops and other things coach (Neil Hohman) has asked me to do. He's really helped my game a lot."
Woods was the top returning scorer from last season, when he averaged 12.0 points and 4.5 rebounds and also shot 41-for-133 on 3s (30.8 percent) en route to being named special mention all-league. As a sophomore, he averaged 11.7 points and 4.3 rebounds and was named honorable mention all-league.
"Mike started three straight years and has probably been our best shooter in those three seasons," Hohman said. "He's taken and made a lot of 3-pointers.
"He is kind of a gym-rat guy who is always shooting and working on his game. He's not afraid to take a shot when he's open or if he has a good look. He has a good frame to him and he can rise up and take (the shot)."
That shooting ability also comes with some problems, mainly being the focal point of opposing defenses. Woods welcomes the attention because it can open scoring opportunities for his teammates.
"If they are double-teaming or face-guarding me, I try to screen for the other players," Woods said. "If I do that, they can be open to drive the lane, get fouled or hit a mid-range jump shot.
"That's what happened (in a 58-56 win) against Groveport (on Jan. 9). I was screening for (Anthony Lowe), and it seemed like he had the first 16 points of the game (in an 18-point outing)."
Hohman, in his third year leading the program, said Woods has done more than just increase his scoring during that span. He also has improved his defense and his free-throw shooting.
"Mike has really worked on his game," Hohman said. "He has raised his point total, but also has his free-throw percentage near 80 percent. Defensively and rebounding-wise, he's involved in much more plays instead of being out on the perimeter. He has become a proactive player."
Woods is happy with the adjustments the Comets have made this season to become a more complete team. After losing close games to Ready (65-62 on Dec. 12), Marysville (52-51 on Dec. 15) and Hilliard Davidson (43-40 on Dec. 22), he believes the team currently is playing some of its best basketball.
"At the beginning of the year, we started off slow," he said. "I think we were playing a lot of one-on-one ball and we were losing some close games. In the last few games, we won three in a row before losing to Davidson (56-45 on Feb. 2) and Reynoldsburg (42-36 on Feb. 6).
"In those (victories) we were playing super-hard and we have been moving the ball great. We haven't been selfish and we have been looking for our teammates more. Our assist numbers have been high compared to earlier in the season."
The Comets are seeded 31st of 47 teams for the Division I district tournament. They open Feb. 24 with a first-round game at 22nd-seeded Walnut Ridge.
"In the summertime if had a basketball event, Mike, Keason (Lowe) and Nic (Miller) were always there providing good team leadership," Hohman said. "(Woods) has stepped up as a leader this year and made some plays on the floor when we need him."
Girls relays advance to district
The girls swimming team had all three relays advance to the Division I district meet Saturday, Feb. 17, at Ohio University.
Competing in a sectional Feb. 10 at Upper Arlington, the 11th-place 400-yard freestyle relay of Madison Studt, Haley Kumfer, Lauren Lynn and Emma Thompson finished in 4 minutes, 11.09 seconds and is seeded 27th at district.
The same four girls comprised the 10th-place 200 medley relay (2:08.01) that is seeded 29th and the 12th-place 200 free relay (1:54.31) that is seeded 30th.
The boys team did not have any individuals or relays advance.
The winner of each sectional event and 27 at-large qualifiers in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites advanced to district.
The top two placers in each event at district automatically advance to state Feb. 23 and 24 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded for each event based on district times statewide.
Gymnasts finish sixth in league meet
Heather Watkins, Mackenzie Turner and Katlyn Wooten helped lead the gymnastics team in the OCC-Central meet Feb. 10 at Hilliard Davidson.
The Comets finished sixth (106.1) behind UA (131.325), Davidson (129.875), Marysville (126.65), Grove City (109.05) and Westland (106.275) and ahead of Dublin Coffman (73.675) and Franklin Heights (49.85).
Watkins was 13th in the all-round (26.875), followed by Turner (26.0, 14th) and Wooten (25.4, 15th).
Cori Dotters had the team's top individual performance, finishing 13th on vault (7.925). She was 27th in the all-around (20.725).
Girls team opens district at Gahanna
The 41st-seeded girls basketball team opens the Division I district tournament Saturday, Feb. 17, at ninth-seeded Gahanna.
The teams have not played this season.
The winner advances to a second-round contest Feb. 23 against 26th-seeded Hilliard Darby at the home of the better seed.
The Comets finished the regular season 7-15 overall and 2-8 in the OCC-Central after losing to Coffman 90-39 on Feb. 9. Bailee Davis scored 10 points and Sam Poor added nine.
Below are the coming schedules for the Central Crossing boys basketball and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 16 -- Home vs. Westland. The Comets defeated the Cougars 87-68 on Jan. 16.
*Feb. 15 -- Home vs. Marysville