Erin Boehm of the Big Walnut High School girls basketball team often hears her coach shouting from the bench: "Shoot the ball, shoot the ball!"
The junior guard has been listening and building her confidence as one of the team's best shooters, particularly during a recent eight-game stretch in which the Golden Eagles earned seven victories.
"For the first couple games, shots weren't falling, and I think my confidence was a little lower then," Boehm said. "Ever since (a 57-27 win at) Groveport (on Jan. 16), my shots have been falling, and I've been working on my game speed. ... It's good to hear my coach wanting me to keep shooting."
Boehm led all scorers with 16 points in a 54-39 win over visiting Dublin Scioto on Jan. 30. It marked the fifth consecutive victory for the Golden Eagles, who were 12-5 overall and 5-3 in the OCC-Capital Division before playing unbeaten Newark -- ranked first in last week's Division I state poll -- on Feb. 2.
Big Walnut's only loss in its eight games prior to facing Newark came against Westerville Central, 42-39 on Jan. 9.
Through 17 games, Boehm was averaging 9.5 points and a team-high 3.7 assists. Senior forward Katie Cochran was averaging a team-high 13 points, while sophomore point guard Avery Schone was averaging 8.5 points and 2.6 assists.
First-year coach Jason Crawford has spent a good portion of the season trying to find the right fit for his rotation.
"Honestly, it took me a little while to grasp their individual skill sets and what works best for them," Crawford said. "We're trying to tailor things to meet those skill sets."
The Golden Eagles continue to improve their chemistry on the court.
"Our communication has been much better this year," Boehm said. "Our coach has stressed talking, even on free throws, like who has who, even though it might be an obvious answer about where they're going or who they're guarding on the press break."
Big Walnut is in position to finish as runner-up in the OCC-Capital behind Newark. Entering play Feb. 2, the Golden Eagles were tied for second in the league with New Albany, ahead of Canal Winchester (4-4), Groveport (1-6) and Franklin Heights (0-7).
Big Walnut concludes league play Feb. 9 at Franklin Heights. The Golden Eagles routed the Falcons 79-15 on Jan. 5.
Crawford is most concerned about his team staying consistent.
"We have to make sure we're valuing every possession and not being loose and not being sloppy," Crawford said. "We're kind of peaking at the right time and, hopefully, we can continue this success into the (Division I district) tournament."
The district tournament draw is Sunday, Feb. 4. First-round games are Feb. 17.
Swimmers prep for sectional
The boys and girls swimming and diving teams are preparing for the postseason, which starts this week.
The Golden Eagles will compete in a Division I sectional meet Saturday, Feb. 10, at Thomas Worthington. The winner of each swimming event automatically advances to the district meet Feb. 16 and 17 at Ohio University. In addition, 27 at-large qualifiers will advance, based on times from the sectional sites in the Central District, East District and Southeast District.
There is no diving at sectional.
Big Walnut competed in the OCC-Capital meet Jan. 25 and 27 at New Albany.
Colin White earned the title in diving (382.55 points) and Dominic Carifa won the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, 3.35 seconds) and finished second in the 100 butterfly (56.79) for the boys team, which finished second (278) behind New Albany (458.5) and ahead of Canal Winchester (206), Groveport (74) and Newark (55).
The 200 freestyle relay of C.J. Rockwell, Will Hefner, Sam Delfino and Carifa (1:43.45) and the 400 free relay of Rockwell, Delfino, John Grumney and Carifa (3.41.24) both placed second, and the 200 medley relay of Grumney, Braden Buckler, Camden Adrian and Hefner was third (2:07.05).
Eliana Smith led the girls team in the OCC-Capital meet, winning the title in diving (296) as Big Walnut finished third (139) behind New Albany (459) and Canal Winchester (295) and ahead of Newark (126) and Groveport (116).
The 400 free relay of Leksi Murnieks, Jordan May, Kate Vandekieft and Lauren Schnipke placed third (4:36.69) and Murnieks finished fourth in the 100 free (1:01.96).
Boys basketball team hoped to end skid
The boys basketball team was hoping to end a three-game losing streak when it played host to Newark on Feb. 2.
The Golden Eagles were 8-8 overall and 4-3 in the OCC-Capital before playing the Wildcats. They will conclude their league schedule with games Friday, Feb. 9, at home against Franklin Heights and Feb. 16 at Groveport.
Big Walnut's skid included a 55-46 league loss at New Albany on Jan. 26 and a 40-37 loss at Lancaster on Jan. 30.
Kegan Hienton had 18 points and Nathan Montgomery scored 13 against New Albany, while Montgomery had a team-high 10 points against Lancaster.
Boys bowlers post season-high score
The boys bowling team posted its highest score of the season in defeating Olentangy Orange 2,307-1,884 on Jan. 31.
The Golden Eagles improved to 9-5 overall, 6-5 in the Central Ohio Bowling Conference-A Division and 3-3 in the OCC-Buckeye with the victory.
Matt Priestas had a season-high 437 two-game series against the Pioneers and Johnny LeMaster rolled a 435.
The girls team fell to 10-5 overall, 6-5 in the COHSBC-A Division and 3-3 in the OCC-Buckeye with a 1,736-1,686 loss to Orange. Kaitlyn Morrison led the Golden Eagles with a 328 two-game series.
Below are the coming schedules for the Big Walnut boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
Feb. 6 -- Home vs. Marysville
*Feb. 9 -- Home vs. Franklin Heights. The Golden Eagles beat the Falcons 71-29 on Jan. 9.
Feb. 10 -- Home vs. Marion Harding
Feb. 6 -- At Marysville
*Feb. 9 -- At Franklin Heights. The Golden Eagles beat the Falcons 79-15 on Jan. 5.
Feb. 10 -- Home vs. Mansfield Madison
Feb. 7 -- Morral Ridgedale at Capri Lanes
Feb. 7 -- At Marysville
Feb. 10 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Hilliard Davidson
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 10 -- Division I sectional at Thomas Worthington
Feb. 10 -- Home vs. Northridge