Even losing all-time assists leader Jake Chobany to graduation hasn't kept the Gahanna Lincoln High School hockey team from having one of the best starts in program history.

Even losing all-time assists leader Jake Chobany to graduation hasn't kept the Gahanna Lincoln High School hockey team from having one of the best starts in program history.

A player with the same last name -- Chobany's brother, senior Jared Chobany -- has had a lot to do with that.

With an 8-1 win over Watterson on Dec. 18 in the Kent Roosevelt Rough Riders Tournament at Kent State, the Lions improved to 9-0-3 overall. Two of the ties, against Chagrin Falls Kenston (3-all) and Hudson (4-all), took place Dec. 17 in the same event.

Jared Chobany opened the three-day tournament with two goals and five assists in a 13-4 win over Oxford Talawanda on Dec. 16. He closed it with two goals and two assists against Watterson and has 18 goals and 21 assists overall to lead the Lions in scoring.

"Over the last year I definitely started to pick up," he said. "I guess it just clicked. I think my hockey IQ is good because I've been around it for a long time. I know where to go. Last year, me and my brother both broke (Gahanna's all-time) scoring record, and I'm putting out the same output this year. My first game this year I beat his (career goals) record, but I've still got to catch Jake on assists. He might have that one."

After Gahanna went 17-14-1 a year ago, the unbeaten start admittedly has been somewhat of a surprise to Jared Chobany, although not because of the team's personnel. He believes it is as strong as it's been since he joined the program a year after his brother.

Jake Chobany closed his prep career with program bests of 86 goals and 116 assists.

Jared Chobany entered the season with 85 goals and 60 assists and surpassed his brother in career goals in the Lions' opening 7-1 win over the Northeast Storm on Nov. 25.

Proving to be talented offensive complements to Jared Chobany have been juniors Austin Barok (18 goals, 20 assists) and Austin Trudeau (8 goals, 15 assists).

"With Barok, Jared Chobany and Austin Trudeau on one line, it's worked out very well," coach J.J. Stallsworth said. "Jared's played 100 games for us, which makes a huge difference. Having his brother here for three years, everybody was in Jake's shadow. Being here without Jake, he's stepping up."

Jared Chobany remembers the brothers skating for the first time shortly after beginning elementary school and competing in club hockey a few years later. He believes being around the sport for so long helped the brothers stand out the last few years.

Gahanna is 3-0 with 6 points in the Capital Hockey Conference-White Division. New Albany is 4-2 and Springboro is 4-3 with 8 points apiece.

The Lions could face their biggest challenge to date when they play Friday, Dec. 23, at OhioHealth Ice Haus against Upper Arlington, which is one of the top teams in the top division of the CHC, the CHC-Red.

Gahanna is hoping to again contend for the CHC-White title after finishing second last year behind Olentangy Liberty, which is now in the CHC-Red.

The Lions don't play New Albany or Springboro until the 2017 portion of their schedule.

"Chemistry with our lines, that's a big part of our output," Jared Chobany said. "We keep playing down to other teams' levels, but if we just play our game we can beat anyone."

Girls basketball team finding its way

Over its first seven games, the girls basketball team faced two defending league champions, two other teams that made the state tournament last season and a team coached by one of Ohio's all-time winningest coaches.

With all that in mind, having a 4-3 overall record heading into its game Dec. 20 against Westerville South didn't sound bad to first-year coach Betsy Morrison.

"I couldn't be more pleased," she said. "We lost to (Division II state semifinalist) Eastmoor (Academy 46-40 on Dec. 2) in our home opener, but it was that under-the-lights-for-the-first-time feel. We battled (defending OCC-Ohio champion) Pickerington Central (in a 56-49 loss Dec. 6), and against (Division I state semifinalist) Reynoldsburg we never stopped fighting. We've never quit."

The Lions might have found their go-to scorer for years to come in freshman Edyn Battle, who had a season-high 21 points in a 58-57 loss to Reynoldsburg on Dec. 9 in which Gahanna nearly rallied from a 16-point deficit.

Battle had 20 points in a 58-44 win Dec. 16 at Pickerington North. The Panthers are coached by Dave Butcher, who has more than 700 career victories.

The other defending league champion Gahanna played was Northland, which won the City-North last season but lost to the Lions 60-42 on Nov. 26.

"We still have a lot more to work on, but I think we're coming into the season strong," Battle said. "We're getting along well and we're sharing the ball well."

Battle entered the week averaging 14.9 points to complement senior guard Sam Jenkins, a Walsh signee who was averaging 10.1 points.

"It's a lot more competition, but I love playing the older girls and just being able to compete," Battle said. "I think I'm doing well, but I have a lot to improve."

Gahanna won 53-17 on Dec. 14 at Teays Valley and will return to the school for the Jeff Sheets Holiday Classic, in which it will play Dublin Jerome at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 28.

Boys basketball team undergoing growth

The boys basketball team has four games remaining before returning to OCC-Ohio action Jan. 6 at Grove City.

The Lions, who beat Cleveland Heights 70-61 on Dec. 17 in the LeBron James Classic at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary to improve to 3-3 overall, are hoping for better results in league play during the 2017 portion of their schedule.

After having a four-game winning streak over Reynoldsburg snapped with a 66-50 loss Dec. 9, Gahanna fell 44-41 on Dec. 16 at home to Pickerington North to drop to 0-2 in the OCC-Ohio.

"This is the first time for 12 of our guys to be in a big-time environment," coach Tony Staib said. "Really Jordan Mitchell is the only one with experience. If this team really sticks together ... we'll be a team that's going to be very dangerous as the year goes on."

The Lions hung with defending Division I state champion Westerville South despite being without Mitchell for about six minutes in the second half because of cramping before losing 58-53 on Dec. 5.

Mitchell scored 14 points and Chase Rankin had 11 against Reynoldsburg.

The Lions beat Whitehall, a Division II district runner-up last season, 72-54 on Dec. 10.

Against North, the Lions trailed 37-25 after three quarters before rallying to within 43-41 with 37.1 seconds left.

Josh Corbin led Gahanna with 11 points but Mitchell was held to four against the Panthers, who finished fourth in the league last season at 7-7 as the Lions tied Pickerington Central for the title at 12-2.

Corbin then scored 24 against Cleveland Heights.

Gahanna likely won't be able to have many more lapses in league play if it is to continue a streak in which it has won at least a share of three consecutive titles.

"We play a lot of guys and we will be at our best when everybody produces," Staib said. "Balanced scoring will make us the best team we can be. We're strength in numbers, and we have to commit to being that."

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