Whitehall-Yearling High School girls basketball player Stephanie Ellis has been a steady contributor in what has been an up-and-down season for her team.

Whitehall-Yearling High School girls basketball player Stephanie Ellis has been a steady contributor in what has been an up-and-down season for her team.

The senior point guard is hoping to close her prep career on a positive note. The Rams were 4-11 overall before playing Westland on Jan. 16.

"Stephanie is our heart and our soul," coach Terry Cornett II said. "As a teenage woman in America's society, she's going through so many (things). So coming to the basketball court, it's a joy for a coach to have a girl who goes out there and plays that hard. She shares the ball with her teammates."

A four-year varsity player, Ellis was second-team all-MSL-Ohio Division and third-team all-district in Division II last season.

Ellis, who also competes on the girls track and field team, would rather see the attention focused on her teammates.

"I like that coach thinks of me that way, but I don't feel like I'm the heart and soul because although sometimes I do contribute a lot, I feel like everyone contributes their own part," Ellis said. "Although I do good things, without their good things we wouldn't function. I don't consider myself the main organ of the team."

Cornett said the Rams, who had won two of their last three games before playing Westland, have shown improvement.

"Our won-loss record doesn't mirror the same type of success that we've had as a program and as people this season," Cornett said. "It's been awesome."

Cornett pointed to the play of Ellis as a key in the Rams' development. She has taken steps to improve her play throughout her career, including participating in elite camps in the offseason.

"Stephanie is such a bright girl and she has a bright future ahead of her," Cornett said. "Her unselfishness has caused her scoring to drop, but at the same time the rest of our players are playing the best that they can and we've been able to squeeze out a few wins against some very tough and very good basketball teams."

Ellis would like to play basketball in college while also pursuing a nursing degree. She is considering Ashland, Ohio Dominican and Ohio University.

Whitehall defeated Patriot Prep 44-24 on Jan. 5 behind 14 points from Brielle Valentine and 13 from Ellis.

The Rams also defeated Columbus Academy for the second time this season, winning 32-30 in overtime Jan. 13 at home. Niemma Jenkinson had a career-high 17 points and scored Whitehall's four points in overtime.

The Rams were 2-5 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Bexley on Jan. 17.

"I just want to get the girls to jell more on offense," Cornett said. "If we can jell a little more on offense, we can create more scoring opportunities. The girls are playing the best that they can and everybody is giving their best effort."

Wrestlers preparing
for state team tourney

The wrestling team is seeded fourth in its region in the Division II state team tournament and will play host to the second and third rounds Wednesday, Jan. 25.

After a first-round bye in Region 14-A, the Rams will face fifth-seeded DeSales, with the winner competing against top-seeded Caledonia River Valley or eighth-seeded Columbus East in the third round later that day.

The third-round winner takes on second-seeded Upper Sandusky, third-seeded Bexley, sixth-seeded Hartley or seventh-seeded Sparta Highland in a regional semifinal Feb. 1 at a site to be announced. The regional final also is Feb. 1.

Coach Steve Pennington said his program offered to play host to the early rounds after River Valley declined.

"I like the state duals," he said. "We always have pretty good success. It's extra mat time for the kids. I like the format."

Whitehall tuned up for the state duals by finishing third (154 points) of 19 teams in the 46th annual Licking Heights Invitational on Jan. 13 and 14, behind Westerville North (222) and Fairfield Union (171.5).

"Westerville North is a big (Division I) program that's had a lot of success," Pennington said. "One of the reasons that they keep coming to this tournament is because we're there. They know they're going to get quality matches against us."

Raashad Strickland (106 pounds), Branham Kipruto (113), Tyliq Stewart (126) and Tamagne Shiferaw (132) all finished second, and Josh Sandoval (182) and Assante Ndongo (220) placed fourth.

Boys basketball team
suffers league loss

The boys basketball team looked to bounce back from a 48-41 league loss at Worthington Christian on Jan. 14 when it played Westerville North on Jan. 17.

The Rams were 6-5 overall before playing North. They are 4-2 in the MSL-Ohio.

C.J. Prater scored a game-high 27 points to lead Whitehall against Worthington Christian.

The Rams defeated West Jefferson 63-40 in a league game Jan. 10 as Prater scored 18 points and Antoine Blackshear added 10.

Girls bowling team
remains unbeaten

The girls bowling team is undefeated entering its match Thursday, Jan. 19, against Pickerington North at Rule 3.

The Rams are 8-0 overall and in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-South.

Whitehall defeated Marion-Franklin 2,285-878 on Jan. 10 as Madison Stiffler had a 511 two-game series and Alexis Stiffler finished with a 432.

Makayla Barber had a 426 series in a 2,116-1,656 win over Eastmoor Academy on Jan. 9.

The boys team is 8-1 overall and in the COHSBC-South.

The Rams lost to Marion-Franklin 2,151-2,022 as Justin Biller had a 382 series.

Whitehall defeated Eastmoor 2,320-1,804, with Biller finishing with a 438 series and Jason Kefauver adding a 423.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank