For proof of how far the New Albany High School boys bowling team has come from its inaugural season last year, assistant coach Keith Kresina needed only to point to the Eagles' season-opening match Dec. 7.

For proof of how far the New Albany High School boys bowling team has come from its inaugural season last year, assistant coach Keith Kresina needed only to point to the Eagles' season-opening match Dec. 7.

In a 2,283-2,207 loss to Olentangy at Delaware Lanes, the Eagles' five bowlers averaged 182.1 pins per game and easily beat their best score of a year ago, which was 2,037 in a loss to Worthington Christian.

That was the first time the Eagles cleared the 2,000-pin mark, and it was in their 21st match.

New Albany surpassed that mark again in a 2,011-1,827 victory over Big Walnut on Dec. 9 at Capri Lanes, a win that made the Eagles 1-1 overall as well as in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-North Division and the OCC-Capital before a Dec. 14 match against Olentangy Liberty in COHSBC-North play.

"If we can average 160 or 165 as a team throughout a match, good things will happen. (On Dec. 9), we averaged 166 and won. (On Dec. 7), we averaged 182 and lost. They are right where I want them to be," said Kresina, who returns as an assistant to second-year coach Damian Hammond. "It shows you how much they improved. That they all came back is a huge plus. Some of them took lessons from professionals. The ones I worked with improved, too. Seeing them improve is what it's all about."

Four of New Albany's top five bowlers are returnees -- seniors Robert Bell and Kenneth Kresina, junior Evan Hammond and sophomore Brendan Cohen. The Eagles' fifth scorer in each of their first two matches was freshman Adriane Hammond.

Bell bowled a 432 series to lead New Albany against Olentangy. Evan Hammond had a team-best 378 against Big Walnut.

"Last year, we were just blindly throwing, but now we are really bowling," senior Justin Slutsky said. "We are doing so much better."

New Albany lost only two bowlers to graduation in Victoria Houser and Vaishnavi Kothapalli.

The Eagles went 7-17 overall last year as well as 7-7 in the COHSBC-Central, ninth behind champion Ready (15-0), and 0-8 in the OCC-Ohio, eighth behind champion Pickerington North (7-1).

"Last year, we were a group of individuals that really didn't know each other. This year, we have the foundation," junior Josh Allen said. "We know what we need to do and how to execute.

"It's just the repetition and making sure I don't fluctuate with my form. Last year, I was all over the place. Now I am more consistent and generating more strikes and spares. It's something to build off of. It's easier to grow off your foundation when you know what your foundation is."

Rounding out the roster are seniors Bryce Lake and Jack Ziessler, junior Sarah Cohen and sophomores Kaylee Leite and Amanda Lifter.

New Albany has been realigned into the COHSBC-North with Big Walnut, Dela-ware, Gahanna, Hilliard Brad-ley, Hilliard Darby, Hilliard Davidson, Liberty, Marysville, Olentangy, Olentangy Orange, Thomas Worthington, Westerville Central, Westerville North, Westerville South and Worthington Kilbourne.

Other teams in the OCC-Capital are Delaware and Orange.

Girls basketball team preps for showdown

The girls basketball team is in almost as good of a position as it could have hoped for through six games, and the seventh game presents a big opportunity.

At 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Capital, New Albany will play host to defending league champion Olentangy on Friday, Dec. 18. The Braves are 4-1 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Capital.

However, coach Jeff Blunt can't help thinking a little bit about the Eagles' loss, 46-38 at Mount Vernon on Dec. 1.

"We're still a little disappointed about that. It was a tough environment and we didn't respond well," Blunt said. "Other than that, I've been pretty pleased. The girls know Meche'la Cobb (a senior guard and Ohio University recruit) is the focus of the game plan, but the great thing right now is Meche'la is doing a good job involving other girls. When she is guarded, and usually other teams will put their best player or players on her, the kids are responding. They're making big plays and spreading the ball well."

Cobb is averaging 20.7 points and 7.8 rebounds, ahead of Brooke Isabel (9.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.2 steals, 4.0 assists) and Micaylah Nash (8.8 points, 9.2 rebounds).

Blunt also lauded the play of sophomore guard Raegen Elwer (3.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.7 steals) and freshman forward Josie Smith (4.7 points, 3.3 rebounds).

"Raegen is turning into a fine player, and Josie has been a great addition," Blunt said. "She's talented and she's also engaged. She's always asking questions about how to get better, getting (to practice) early and staying late."

New Albany went 2-0 last week, with a 60-32 win at Delaware on Dec. 8 and a 77-43 rout of Franklin Heights on Dec. 11.

Cobb had 25 points and six rebounds against the Pacers. Against the Falcons, Cobb had 22 points, Nash had 16 and Smith added 12.

Hockey team succeeding early

The hockey team has acquitted itself well so far in its first varsity season, as it takes records of 4-4 overall and 0-3 in the Capital Hockey Conference into a Friday, Dec. 18, game against DeSales at Chiller Easton.

Ryan Sellars has a team-high 12 goals to lead a balanced offense for New Albany, which won its first three games, lost its next three and went 1-1 this past weekend, defeating Cincinnati Elder 7-2 on Dec. 12 and losing to Upper Arlington 7-1 on Dec. 13.

The Golden Bears outshot the Eagles 55-15.

Dom Vinciguerra has six goals, half of which came against Elder. Colin Parson has five goals, and Alex Arenschield and Cameron Leymaster have four each.