With one of its most experienced players missing parts of three games because of injuries, the Dublin Jerome High School boys basketball team had some inconsistent moments in the first half of the regular season.
Not that having senior point guard Lucas House get healthy has been the only difference, but the Celtics certainly have been boosted since he's settled back into the lineup.
After missing Jerome's 66-49 opening loss to Worthington Kilbourne on Dec. 8 because of a fracture in his left foot, House endured a concussion in a 56-53 loss to Delaware on Jan. 9 and missed a 59-52 win over Scioto on Jan. 16.
The Celtics had won four of six games and were 11-7 overall and 5-4 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Hilliard Bradley on Feb. 6.
"We struggled early and I was out for a little bit, but we've really picked it up and really started playing together as a team," House said. "We've been trusting our offense and just playing together. I'm feeling a lot better."
House had 26 points in a 57-53 loss to Logan on Jan. 23 and scored 17 in a 56-50 overtime win over Perrysburg on Jan. 27.
Then in a 62-58 victory over Hilliard Darby on Feb. 2, House scored a team-high 21 points as the Celtics built a 30-23 halftime lead and held off a rally attempt to avenge a 57-55 loss Jan. 5.
"This is the first time we've been healthy all year," coach Richie Beard said. "It's about us just getting consistent the rest of the way."
Jerome has a league game Friday, Feb. 9, at home against Delaware and closes the league schedule Feb. 16 at Scioto.
The Celtics also will get a gauge regarding where it stands Tuesday, Feb. 13, when it travels to Pickerington North, which is fifth in the Division I state poll and was first in last week's area coaches poll.
The Division I district tournament drawing is Sunday, Feb. 11, and the Celtics figure to be seeded somewhere in the upper half of the 48 teams.
In addition to the recent performances of House, Beard has been pleased with the contributions he's received from junior forward Jack Kemp, junior wing players Trey Ballengee and Joey Pickering and junior guard Joseph Gatien, whom he believes is one of the best on-ball defenders in central Ohio.
"We play team defense, so we've got to help each other out and put a lot of ball pressure on," Beard said. "(In some games) our help-side defense was not very good. (In a 50-34 win over Thomas Worthington on Jan. 26), it was. We have to help each other and trust each other.
"Our big thing all year is that we've not been able to put two sides of the ball together. We've been really good offensively and not been great defensively, or we put out great defensive efforts and not shot it well. Our biggest thing is getting both ends being consistent."
Hockey team looking to defend Cup title
The hockey team earned the top seed for the Blue Jackets Cup and will open the eight-team tournament at 8:10 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, against eighth-seeded Watterson at OhioHealth Ice Haus.
Last season, Jerome beat Olentangy Liberty 7-5 in the Cup championship game.
The drawing for the district tournament was to be held Feb. 7. That tournament gets underway Feb. 16.
The Celtics beat DeSales 7-0 on Feb. 2 and Springboro 3-1 on Feb. 3 to finish first in the Capital Hockey Conference-Red Division at 15-1 and improve to 23-4-3-2 overall.
Against Springboro, Avery Mlicki, J.P. Weaver and Kellen Posacki each scored and goaltender Harrison Graff made 21 saves.
Graff is 18-3-3-1.
"We play so well together," Graff said. "We've got a kid named Adam Bervan who came in from the AAA (travel) program, but a lot of our defenders have played together for four years. Me and (2017 graduate Jack) Richey shared (the goaltending duties) my sophomore and junior year and this year I'm the full starter. Working with my team helps a lot and I've definitely been working on rebound control. If you put (the puck) in the corners, it helps your team out a ton. (We have) very good communication."
Girls basketball team preps for postseason
The girls basketball team received the 36th seed for the 50-team Division I district tournament and will open against eighth-seeded Hartley or 38th-seeded Olentangy Orange in the second round Feb. 23 at the site of the higher seed.
The Celtics snapped a three-game losing streak with a 37-35 overtime victory over Darby on Feb. 2 and were 6-12 overall and 5-4 in the OCC-Cardinal before facing Bradley on Feb. 6.
Jerome earned a season sweep of Darby after also beating the Panthers 40-38 on Jan. 5.
In the rematch, Demi Brewer had 10 points and Alie Intihar had nine points and 14 rebounds as the Celtics outscored the Panthers 12-3 in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
Jerome closes its league schedule with games Friday, Feb. 9, at Delaware, and Tuesday, Feb. 13, at Scioto.
Below are the coming schedules for the Jerome boys basketball, girls basketball, hockey swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 9 -- Home vs. Delaware. The Celtics beat the Pacers 56-53 on Jan. 9.
Feb. 13 -- At Pickerington North
*Feb. 9 -- At Delaware. The Celtics lost to the Pacers 54-46 on Jan. 9.
Feb. 10 -- At Logan
*Feb. 13 -- At Scioto. The Celtics lost to the Irish 39-34 on Dec. 5.
Feb. 10 -- OCC-Cardinal at Hilliard Davidson
Feb. 8-11 -- Blue Jackets Cup tournament. Jerome is the top seed and opens Feb. 8 against eighth-seeded Watterson at OhioHealth Ice Haus. Winner plays fourth-seeded Upper Arlington or fifth-seeded Cincinnati Moeller in semifinal Feb. 9 at Chiller Easton. The championship game is at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Ice Haus.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 10 -- Division I sectional swimming at Kenyon College. The winner of each event and 27 at-large qualifiers in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites advance to the district meet Feb. 17 at Ohio University.
Feb. 12 -- Division I district girls diving at Dublin Community Recreation Center. Top four finishers advance to state meet Feb. 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Feb. 13 -- Division I district boys diving at Dublin Community Recreation Center. Top five finishers advance to state meet Feb. 24 at Branin Natatorium.
*Feb. 8 -- At Hilliard Darby
Feb. 10 -- All-North Tournament at home