Bexley High School boys basketball coach Dave Gustin said his players remain upbeat despite having endured numerous close losses.

Bexley High School boys basketball coach Dave Gustin said his players remain upbeat despite having endured numerous close losses.

The Lions ended a seven-game losing streak and improved to 5-10 overall with a 52-49 win over Heath on Jan. 28. Eight of their losses have been by fewer than 10 points, including last-second losses to Wellington (62-61 on Dec. 13), Watterson (50-49 on Dec. 30) and Columbus Academy (52-50 on Jan. 20).

"We've had a couple of unlucky breaks, losing a couple of buzzer beaters," junior center Grant Murphy said. "We struggled recently trying to get over this slump we (were) in, but we'll be just fine come playoff time."

"It's been tough," Gustin said. "We're right there. We're a possession away. You have to be resilient and come back and be willing to practice the next day."

Gustin said he hopes the win over Heath proves to be a turning point. Senior Jalen Robinette made the winning basket against the Bulldogs, hitting a 3-pointer with three seconds left.

A win over visiting Newark Catholic, which was ranked second in the Division IV state poll last week, on Tuesday, Feb. 7, would be another confidence-builder.

The Green Wave, who improved to 12-2 overall with a 63-60 win over Whitehall on Jan. 28, are tied with Columbus Academy for first in the MSL-Ohio Division at 8-1. Licking Valley is third at 6-3, followed by Granville (5-4), Bexley (3-6), Heath (3-6), Whitehall (2-7) and Lakewood (0-9).

The Lions lost 60-52 to Newark Catholic on Jan. 6. Bexley trailed 44-31 but outscored the Green Wave 21-16 in the fourth quarter.

"I think we can really compete with this team and we can beat them," Murphy said. "It would be great to beat one of the teams at the top of the league."

The Lions will be looking to contain Newark Catholic's Jett Speelman, a 6-foot-5 forward who can shoot from the outside, and point guard David Meurer. Speelman was averaging 17.7 points and 9.8 rebounds through 12 games. In the first matchup this season, Speelman had 18 points and Meurer scored 12.

In five of its last six games, Newark Catholic has had at least three players score in double figures.

"Our defense is going to play a huge role in that game because they've got four kids that just score," Gustin said. "We will have to keep the game in the 50s. We will have to work on some long possessions, but I think we are capable of doing that."

"It's a challenge, but we have the athletes who can defend a player like (Speelman)," Murphy said. "Athletically, we're much better than that team. I think it will come down to not turning the ball over and keeping possession."

Bexley has struggled in the fourth quarter this season. Before outscoring Heath 19-12 in the fourth quarter, the Lions had been outscored in the quarter the previous four games, averaging just 7.8 points in those contests.

"The fourth quarter has been kind of tough for us," Gustin said. "We're having trouble closing out games.

"We're trying to lower our turnovers. I see them going through a tough stretch right now, but they're still coming every day to practice and being ready for games."

•The girls swimming and diving team scored 95 points in the MSL meet on Jan. 28 at Columbus Academy to place fifth of 14 teams, behind champion Granville (410).

Junior Sierra Humphrey placed fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1 minute, 17.19 seconds.

Humphrey also teamed with freshman Abby Early and sophomores Megan Niermeyer and Maya Saar to place fifth in the 200 freestyle relay (1:54.25) and with Early, junior Sarah Jones and Saar to finish fifth in the 200 medley relay (2:10.26).

Also placing fifth were junior Rebecca Schulman, freshman Sivan Zouela, sophomore Ashley Marra and junior Sandy Spira in the 400 free relay (5:16.8).

The boys team scored 102 points in the 16-team MSL meet to place fifth, behind champion Granville (302).

Senior Kris Baker, juniors Jacob Turner and Ian Davis and freshman Ben Hoffman teamed to finish fourth in the 200 medley relay (1:55.82) and fifth in the 200 free relay (1:45.22).