A perfect start for the Hilliard Darby High School girls basketball team certainly did wonders for a group that entered the season without a superstar.

A perfect start for the Hilliard Darby High School girls basketball team certainly did wonders for a group that entered the season without a superstar.

But reality set in for the Panthers following an 56-30 loss to an unbeaten Upper Arlington team last Friday.

"They were our first real competition, and it certainly made us realize we have a ways to go to get better," senior forward Allison Jordan said. "We were without our point guard (senior Kalee Seagle), and we didn't handle it very well. We just have to bounce back."

The schedule doesn't get any easier for Darby, which was 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Central Division before playing defending Division I regional champion Dublin Coffman last Tuesday.

After the Christmas break, it features three consecutive games, including two at the Watterson Christmas Classic.

The Panthers on Monday face a Watterson team that has won five in a row since a 42-33 loss to Dublin Scioto in the season opener. Tuesday's opponent is Whitehall.

Scioto, which was 5-1 overall before last Tuesday, is host to Darby on Wednesday.

The Panthers resume league play on Jan. 5 at Thomas Worthington, which dropped to 1-5 overall and 1-3 in the league following last Friday's 55-51 loss to Coffman in overtime.

"We know we've got a lot of league games left and anyone can beat anyone," coach Liz Lehman said. "We don't want to overlook anybody, but we don't want to pump anybody up too much, either. Like a lot of teams right now we feel like we're in contention for a league title."

Without Seagle, who's nursing two ankle sprains, the Panthers struggled with UA's pressure last Friday.

Darby trailed 23-11 at halftime and allowed the Golden Bears to win the third quarter 22-9.

No Panthers reached double figures in their lowest offensive output of the season.

"No one could score and we just really didn't bring it from the start," Lehman said. "It certainly was a wake-up call, but I think the girls responded in practice. Kalee is a calming presence on the court and not seeing her out there I think was kind of a shock."

Darby's smaller lineup will be tested by Watterson senior post player Mary Kate Campbell (6-foot), a Tiffin recruit who's among four returning letterwinners for the Eagles.

The starting lineup includes forward Domini Paradiso (6-0) and point guard Courtney Haley (5-9).

Watterson won its second consecutive CCL title outright last season before falling to Coffman 41-22 in a Division I district final.

"We like the competition," Jordan said. "I think our problem has been staying focused at times. Everyone has to realize their role and how it fits into the game plan. Sometimes I don't think everyone's on the same page."

Scoring has been by committee for the Panthers, who last year were led by Shanee` Jackson, the school's second all-time leading scorer (852 points).

Competition for playing time remains at a high level.

"No starting spot is set in stone," Lehman said. "We used two different starters against UA, so it's made for good practices."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Darby boys and girls basketball teams:

BOYS

*Last Friday -- Lost to Upper Arlington 54-41. Dylan Rudy finished with 13 points *Last Tuesday -- Played Dublin Coffman Tuesday -- At Lancaster Wednesday -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome *Jan. 5 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington

Of note: The Panthers were 2-3 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Central Division before last Tuesday.

GIRLS

*Last Friday -- Lost to Upper Arlington 56-30. The Golden Bears outscored Darby 22-9 in the third quarter. *Last Tuesday -- Played Dublin Coffman Monday -- At Watterson Christmas Classic vs. Watterson Tuesday -- At Watterson Christmas Classic vs. Whitehall Wednesday -- At Dublin Scioto *Jan. 5 -- At Thomas Worthington

Of note: The Panthers were 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Central Division before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Central game