After a hot start, the New Albany High School boys basketball team was disappointed after a second consecutive loss last week, but the Eagles have not been discouraged from their long-term goals.

After a hot start, the New Albany High School boys basketball team was disappointed after a second consecutive loss last week, but the Eagles have not been discouraged from their long-term goals.

New Albany dropped to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Capital Division after losing 58-46 to defending league champion Olentangy Orange last Friday. Three days earlier, the Eagles lost 56-50 in a non-league game against Pickerington North on Dec. 15. They also played league rival Franklin Heights last Tuesday.

Even in defeat, the Eagles learned that they can hang with the highly-regarded Pioneers. New Albany hit just three of 23 3-pointers last Friday. They know they will have a shot to turn the tables when the teams play again on Jan. 29 at New Albany.

"I think after watching the film, we realized our defense was really pretty good against them," center Scott McDonald said. "But every time we stopped them, we would come down and turn the ball over or not get a good shot."

Coach Sam Davis agreed that the defensive effort was about as good as he could expect against a team with players like Zack Joseph and Taylor Rieger. Joseph, the Division II district Player of the Year last season, scored 22 points and Rieger had 11. The Pioneers averaged 65.3 points per game in their first three games.

Along with the rough outside shooting, the Eagles struggled to get to the free-throw line. New Albany attempted nine free throws compared with 39 attempts for Orange.

The Eagles stayed in the game largely because of the effort of McDonald, who scored 17 points and grabbed a program-record 21 rebounds. In his third season on varsity, McDonald has made significant strides with his offensive game, averaging 11.2 points before last Tuesday.

"In previous years, we've had really good guards and relied on them shooting the three-ball," McDonald said. "If we missed it, we would just hope to get the rebound. Now, we're trying more to get the ball inside to me in our offense."

Even with McDonald's improvement, Davis said it is still imperative that his team be more effective shooting from the outside than they were against Orange.

"Us shooting from the outside is what opens things up for Scott on the inside," Davis said. "It was a combination of (the poor shooting) and they started doubling down in the second half a little bit, and we just couldn't do anything with it. We had a lot of good looks, but we did not make very many shots."

Guards Ryan Mayle, Tommy Smotrich and Sammy Krebs each have given the Eagles an offensive spark at times. Each has scored in double-figures three times, with Mayle averaging 11.8 points per game, Smotrich averaging 10.4 and Krebs averaging 8.6.

Davis is pleased with the play on both ends of the floor from point guard Travon Bodrick, a first-year varsity player. Junior forward Nick Sosh also has provided "really, really good energy" since entering the starting lineup.

Overall, the Eagles head into their holiday break, which is only a week long, feeling good about their play.

Davis said he's just looking for the Eagles to sharpen up a few things on the offensive end before the bulk of the league games begin in January.

"I hope we come out of this break playing together as a team a little bit better," Davis said.

"I think defensively, we're giving really great energy. I'm very pleased with that end of the floor. But offensively, we've just got to limit our turnovers and get our shot selection better and our timing better on all of our sets."