Adrian Crockwell admitted that it took almost two months for her to get fully comfortable in her role with the Pickerington High School Central girls basketball team.
The 5-foot-10 senior guard's teammates seem to have noticed.
"She's a really great player, especially offensively," guard Madison Greene said. "She makes fantastic passes. She is the best dribbler I've ever seen and she has a great shot. When we need her, she is there to hit a shot and take care of the ball. It was tough for her at first, but she's gotten a lot better within what we want to do."
Crockwell was averaging 6.9 points through 17 games for Central, which was 17-2 overall before playing New Albany on Feb. 6 and is 8-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division.
Ranked third in last week's Division I state poll, the Tigers had a 16-game winning streak snapped with a 55-50 loss at Reynoldsburg on Feb. 2. That loss, Central's first in the league in a 34-game stretch that dated to Feb. 10, 2015, dropped the Tigers into a first-place tie with the Raiders.
Central plays host to Grove City in its league finale Friday, Feb. 9. That same night, Reynoldsburg visits Pickerington North.
"When things start to get rough, we have to stick together and play as a team," Crockwell said. "I feel most comfortable taking a player off their dribble and getting the team involved. That's what I'm best at."
Crockwell played her freshman and sophomore seasons at Newark before transferring to Reynoldsburg for her junior year. She scored a season-high 19 points in a 75-68 win at Gahanna on Jan. 13, one of five games in which she had scored in double digits entering the week.
Comfortable with her offensive abilities, Crockwell -- who saw even more minutes in recent games in the absence of sophomore guard Nicole Stephens -- said her biggest adjustments have come on defense.
"I have to adjust to the defense (we) play and I'm getting better at it," Crockwell said. "After we went to Delaware (for the Diamond State Classic from Dec. 27-30), I felt a lot more comfortable with the team because we were around each other all the time and I think that helped us play well together. We've been playing well most of the season, and we have a lot of goals left to reach."
Stephens suffered a right ankle sprain Jan. 19 at North and returned for limited action against Reynoldsburg.
"Adrian will be vital to us going far in the (district) tournament," coach Johnathan Hedgepeth said. "She's a natural scorer. She scores the ball really well. I think it's a matter of trusting in our system and what we like to do defensively versus what she's done in the past. Not to say anyone is right or wrong, but it's just about understanding it so we can be in sync."
According to Hedgepeth, the Tigers not being in sync ultimately doomed them against Reynoldsburg. Maliya Perry scored 19 points and Greene added 14.
"We just lost focus. The girls lost themselves on some assignments. It was just bad fundamentals," Hedgepeth said. "We got outrebounded and outhustled and lost sight of the big picture and our responsibilities. Those are things we pride ourselves on doing."
Central is seeded third in the 50-team district tournament and will play host to 45th-seeded Westland in the first round Feb. 17.
Before that, the Tigers will seek their third consecutive league championship.
"We can't hang our heads," Crockwell said after the loss at Reynoldsburg. "We have to move on to the next goal."
Wrestlers prepare for North dual
The wrestling team will wrap up OCC-Ohio competition Thursday, Feb. 8, when it plays host to North.
Central is 2-2 in the league, having defeated Gahanna 46-33 and Reynoldsburg 57-17 on Jan. 11 at North before dropping two matches Jan. 25 at Lancaster, 36-33 to Grove City and 40-28 to the host Golden Gales.
The Tigers are seeking their third consecutive win over North, which is 0-4 in the OCC-Ohio. They defeated the Panthers 63-9 last year and 48-23 in 2016.
Central is coming off a strong performance in the Washington Court House Bracket Tournament on Feb. 3. Second-place finishes from Noah Dotson (132 pounds) and Silas Pearson (170) led the Tigers, who scored 105 points to place fifth of 17 teams as Steubenville won (221).
Bo Branson (106) and Jimmy Castro (heavyweight) earned third-place finishes, and Trevor Mangahas (113) and Carter Wade (120) placed fourth.
The match against North is Central's regular-season finale. The Tigers will not compete again until a Division I sectional Feb. 24 at Upper Arlington.
Boys basketball team on winning streak
The boys basketball team carries a four-game winning streak into a Friday, Feb. 9, home game against Grove City, and as a result its hopes for a share of the OCC-Ohio championship remain alive, albeit with no room for error.
Javohn Garcia scored 22 points to lead Central past Reynoldsburg 63-58 on Feb. 2. Adrian Nelson added 15 points and Josiah Fulcher scored 12 as the Tigers improved to 10-8 overall and 6-2 in the league.
Central is two games behind first-place North, which is 8-0. The Tigers would have to win both of their final two league games and the Panthers, who swept the season series from Central, would have to lose both of theirs for there to be a first-place tie.
"We've played together really well as a team and had some nice ball movement," Garcia said. "I was feeling pretty good tonight. We've just been playing our game lately. We are starting to click together more toward the end of the (regular) season and coming together more."
On Jan. 30, the Tigers held off host Groveport 64-63 in the completion of a game that was suspended Dec. 19 after Nelson's slam dunk broke a rim. Nelson had 15 points, Fulcher and Juan Elmore each scored 14 and Garcia added 13, including the game-winning jumper with six seconds left.
Below are the coming schedules for the Central boys basketball, girls basketball, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 9 -- Home vs. Grove City. The Tigers defeated the Greyhounds 70-54 on Jan. 5.
Feb. 10 -- At Newark
*Feb. 9 -- At Grove City. The Tigers defeated the Greyhounds 84-36 on Jan. 5.
Feb. 10 -- At Newark
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 10 -- Division I sectional at Upper Arlington. Winner of each swimming event automatically qualifies for district meet Feb. 17 at Ohio University. In addition, 27 at-large district berths will be awarded in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites. There is no diving at sectional.
*Feb. 8 -- Home vs. Pickerington North