Imani Babatunde is in the basketball portion of her year.

The three-sport athlete at Columbus School for Girls plays tennis in the fall and competes in track and field in the spring, but right now she is focused on making the basketball team the best it can be.

Through 10 games, the 5-foot-10 senior forward was leading the Unicorns in rebounds (10.6 per game) while also averaging 6.8 points, 1.6 steals and 1.3 assists.

"I think every sport has its benefits," Babatunde said. "I love the competitive aspect and the team aspect of them all. I like them all.

"The good thing about playing three sports (in a school year) is that I don't get tired of it. If I were to do any of them year-round, I know I would get tired of it. This way, everything is always fresh for me."

A fourth-year starter in basketball, Babatunde spent three seasons with the junior varsity tennis team before playing varsity last fall. She's been a key member of the track team since her freshman year and holds the program record in the 200 meters (25.59 seconds). She also helped set program records in the 400 relay (49.34) and 800 relay (1:43.77).

The Unicorns were 2-8 overall before playing Grandview on Jan. 16 and are 0-2 in the CCL. They have been playing without leading scorer Brinley Zieg, who was averaging 11.4 points before suffering a season-ending injury to her right wrist in a 67-24 loss to Watterson on Dec. 9 in league play.

"Imani's our senior leader right now," coach Isaac Klopfenstein said. "She's our leading scorer now and she is by far our leading rebounder and (our leader) in steals and also has a lot of assists. She does everything for us.

"She's the one I turn to and the girl we turn to when we need something. She's not so much of a vocal leader, but she really leads by example."

Last season, Babatunde led the Unicorns in scoring (8.8 points per game), rebounding (10.0) and steals (3.3).

"Most of the teams that we play do not have someone of the athleticism that Imani has," Klopfenstein said. "Her pure athleticism is unmatched, especially in her ability to chase down a rebound with her quickness and jumping ability. She has played for us for four years and has been in just about every situation she can be in as a player, and that brings in a lot of experience."

Babatunde said it wasn't easy being a starter as a freshman. She had the talent to succeed, but didn't have the confidence needed to put her skills to best use.

"I think I've definitely become more comfortable with the ball," she said. "As a freshman, you sometimes are too scared to shoot or too scared to make plays because you're the young one and looking up to the older players. You pass them the ball to let them do things.

"As you get older, you take more of a leadership role and it's up to you to make more plays and shoot more shots. I tell our young players now that they should be playing their hardest and not to be afraid to shoot or not to be afraid to make a play just because they're younger."

Babatunde does not expect to compete in any sport at the college level. Carrying a 3.84 GPA, she plans to focus on a major geared toward pre-dentistry, perhaps at Ohio State.

However, Klopfenstein expects her to have a strong finish to her basketball career.

"We are looking for Imani to be more assertive and it's something she never had to do before," he said. "She never has been the one that everyone looks to. She's been comfortable as a role player where she would get the rebound or the steal or the assist and filling those categories, but she never was the one that we would turn to when we needed a big bucket, but now she is. She has gotten comfortable with that."

Swimmers continue to work hard

Bad weather prevented the swimming and diving team from traveling to Canton on Jan. 13 for the Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium.

The Unicorns have not competed in a meet since the Ned Reeb Invitational on Dec. 16 at Ohio State, but coach Stephanie Donley said the team continues to have strong workouts.

"We have had a great training cycle," said Donley, whose team competes Friday, Jan. 19, at home against Dublin Coffman and Pickerington North. "We have had some good challenge sets and we continue seeing improvement in our times. We're on track to having a great second half of the season."

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the CSG basketball and swimming & diving teams:

BASKETBALL

Jan. 18 -- At Centerburg

Jan. 23 -- Home vs. New Hope Christian

SWIMMING & DIVING

Jan. 19 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman and Pickerington North