Basketball would be relatively boring for Luke Hippler if all he did was roam the paint and grab rebounds, so the DeSales High School boys team's senior guard has made sure such monotony is not an issue.

Basketball would be relatively boring for Luke Hippler if all he did was roam the paint and grab rebounds, so the DeSales High School boys team's senior guard has made sure such monotony is not an issue.

The 6-foot-5 Hippler makes sure his contributions and stat sheet are balanced, as he averaged 9.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.6 steals, 2.0 blocks and 1.8 assists to help the Stallions to a 10-2 overall record.

"I like a little bit of balance," said Hippler, a second-year starter. "Sometimes I want to get those offensive rebounds and get inside a little bit, but then I want to get outside and get my (defender) on me so I can get by him. I like to be an inside-outside player, but when my shot is not falling, I want to be inside and getting rebounds and drawing fouls."

Hippler's points, rebounds and blocks per game are second only to senior center Caden Sanchez (13.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.2 blocks). His 16 3-pointers are second only to Kayin Derden's 21.

"Luke just brings a lot to the table," Sanchez said. "He's a good shooter. He's a good driver and he is a really good defender. It's very important (to have a big guy with those qualities). If they are guarding on the perimeter, they don't want to help off, so it's really important."

Although he was a starter virtually all of his junior season, Hippler took his game to the next level with a series of strong performances during DeSales' run to a Division II regional final. Hippler had 16 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks in a 57-53, comeback win over Whitehall in a district final and contributed seven points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in a 67-47 rout of Steubenville in a regional semifinal.

Hippler averaged 7.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 2.0 steals as a junior.

"I think that (experience) helps," coach Joe Bills said. "We got some big wins last year and he was a part of those. At the same time, this is a different team.

"In the last couple years, he's always been option No. 4 or 5, maybe third, and he hasn't always taken advantage of that opportunity to score the ball. I really harped on him this year and you can see that is paying off. He's had a game with 23 points (a 58-48 win over Washington Court House on Dec. 28) and another with 17 (in a 70-57 win over Barberton on Dec. 27). He is shooting with a lot of confidence, and he is an excellent player when he is playing with confidence."

Hippler remained busy once basketball season ended, helping the boys volleyball team reach a Division II district semifinal. He was named honorable mention all-East Region in Division II as an outside hitter.

Heidelberg, John Carroll and Wooster, among other colleges, have expressed interest in Hippler for basketball.

The first of two meetings with defending league champion St. Charles takes place Friday, Jan. 20, on the road. The second will be Feb. 22 at DeSales, and both teams hope that will be for the CCL title.

DeSales had an eight-game winning streak snapped with a 76-73 overtime loss to Grove City Christian on Jan. 9. The Stallions rebounded to beat Ready 41-30 on Jan. 13 to improve to 3-0 in the CCL and beat Horizon Science Academy 79-31 on Jan. 14.

"We just take coaching well and we execute our game plan," Hippler said. "I just think with Caden inside, we have great size, so if somebody gets beat, we have somebody there to help. If it's not Caden, we have good chemistry so we always know if we get beat, somebody is there to back us up."

Boys, girls swimmers
showing progress

Swimming coach Ryan Buechner has seen drastic time drops from several competitors as the CCL meet looms.

Buechner cited strong performances from Ian McCandlish, Tim Pham and Aaron Spittell of the boys team as well as Maureen Cummins of the girls team. Cummins, a Xavier University recruit, is unbeaten in six dual meets and has seen time in backstroke, butterfly and freestyle events.

"The season is off to a great start," Buechner said. "Ian McCandlish is primed to qualify for (the Division II) district (meet) this year after missing it by less than a second last year in the 100 (-yard) backstroke. He is already five seconds faster (1 minute, 6.3 seconds) than he was in the event a season ago.

"Aaron Spittell has made great strides in his 200 and 500 free, dropping 12 and 24 seconds (to 2:20.35 and 6:38.44, respectively) in our most recent meet against Westerville Central and Central Crossing. Tim Pham has dropped 15 seconds in his 100 (breaststroke) from a year ago (to 1:30.12) and has shown great leadership as a captain."

Cummins' personal-best times are 59.52 seconds in the 100 back and 53.81 in the 100 free. She came up just shy of the latter time in the Northeast Classic, finishing eighth (54.16) as the only DeSales swimmer to reach a championship final.

Cummins was joined at the Northeast Classic by teammate Mary Ruff. Swimmers had to time standards to qualify for the meet.

DeSales has two duals remaining, at Columbus Academy on Tuesday, Jan. 24, and at St. Charles on Jan. 27 before the CCL meet Jan. 28 at Columbus School for Girls.

Girls basketball team
falls to Eagles

The girls basketball team will try to keep pace in the CCL race Thursday, Jan. 19, when it visits Hartley.

DeSales suffered its first league loss Jan. 12, 24-21 at home to Watterson. Eagles guard Gabby Garrett banked in the winning 3-pointer as time expired to end a game in which the Stallions led 6-4 after a quarter and trailed 11-9 at halftime.

Emma Burns' game-high 12 points led DeSales. Gabby Elliott and Bella Shivley rounded out the scoring with six and three points, respectively.

DeSales was 8-6 overall before playing Licking Heights on Jan. 16 and is 2-1 in the CCL. The Stallions rebounded from the loss to Watterson by routing Briggs 44-20 on Jan. 14 behind a career-high 19 points from Gabby Elliott.

DeSales and Watterson, which is 3-0 in the league, meet again Feb. 2 at Watterson.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave