Throughout the Watterson High School girls basketball team's impressive first half of the season, senior Grace Jenkins was most encouraged by the unselfishness she sensed throughout its locker room.
Being a part of such a unit fits her personality well.
Although she was a key contributor for the girls volleyball team when it won a Division I district championship in October and again has been one of the leaders on the basketball court this winter, Jenkins is considering competing only at the club or intramural level in one or both of those sports collegiately.
The 5-foot-10 post player might end up focusing on an education in the medical field while attending a large school like her older sister, 2016 graduate and former Eagles girls basketball standout Claire Jenkins, who is a student at Ohio State.
Jenkins, whose family includes another sister, Maren, who is in eighth grade, also has had her career interest shaped by experiencing the loss of another sibling, Seth Jenkins, who died of leukemia in 2010.
"My dad (Todd Jenkins) is an OBGYN, so over the summer I worked in his office, and I also know some other doctors and nurses," Grace Jenkins said. "My brother passed away from cancer when I was 10, and that experience really changed me, so I realized I wanted to help families in that situation. He had (leukemia) for six years, so it was definitely hard. It brought our family a lot closer."
Watterson improved to 11-1 overall and had won five games in a row after opening its CCL schedule Jan. 5 with a 46-24 victory at DeSales. The Eagles won their first six games before falling to Gahanna, a Division I district champion last season, 46-40 on Dec. 12.
On Jan. 3, Watterson beat Pepper Pike Orange 63-42 as sophomore forward Kilyn McGuff made four 3-pointers and finished with 18 points, junior guard Paige Woodford made three 3s and totaled 13 points and Jenkins added 11 points.
Through 11 games, Woodford was averaging a team-high 12 points, followed by Jenkins (9.0), senior wing player/guard Elizabeth Rabold and sophomore guard Danielle Grim (both 7.5) and McGuff (6.5).
"I'm really hopeful and excited based on what I've seen so far," Jenkins said. "This is one of the best teams I've personally been on. We all have great relationships and all of us want the team to succeed. No player is trying to be the best player and score the most points, and based on our box scores, we almost always have a different leading scorer. I really think we're going to do really well."
Jenkins dressed as a sophomore when the Eagles were Division I district runners-up and was the Eagles' third-leading scorer last season at 7.7 points per game. She is listed an inch taller than Claire Jenkins, who averaged 12 points and was honorable mention all-district as a senior in 2016 when the Eagles won the CCL and went 20-4.
"(Grace) has been our 5 and she's a huge athlete," Rabold said. "She gets up and down the court like nobody's business. To get the ball down the court and to have a girl that big and that strong down there, it's crazy."
According to coach Tom Woodford, the contributions of a four-member senior class that also includes forward Julianna DiSabato and guard Lauren Lucki has been paramount for a team that could be even better than a season ago when it went 16-9.
"I personally love being the underdog," Jenkins said. "I like having a goal and being able to surprise people when we reach that goal. I like it when people underestimate Watterson and our teams."
Boys basketball team seeking consistency
The boys basketball team closes the first round of CCL action Friday, Jan. 11, at Ready. After opening league play with a 41-27 victory over Hartley on Dec. 7, Watterson lost to DeSales 62-59 on Dec. 14 but beat St. Charles 53-46 on Dec. 21.
The Eagles were 4-5 overall after beating Mansfield St. Peter's 45-39 on Jan. 5 and before facing Buckeye Valley on Jan. 8.
Through eight games, senior guard Zach Sawyer was averaging 17.3 points.
He leads a six-member senior class that also includes forward Jimmy Patton, who was averaging nine points, and guard Stephen Garrett, who was averaging five.
Sophomore guard Davis Boone was averaging seven points and junior wing player Chris Crane was averaging five for the Eagles, who play Tuesday, Jan. 15, at Westerville North. The Warriors were Division I district runners-up last season.
Watterson's other win through nine games came Dec. 23 when it beat Hilliard Darby 57-37 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Sawyer had 18 points, Patton scored 11 and senior forward Drew Davis and Matt Rhomberg both scored eight.
"(We have to continue) moving the ball, taking care of their pressure, not turning it over and knowing the game plan," Sawyer said. "We have good chemistry. We're always hanging out off the court so when we get on the court, we always know what to do and complement each other. We're still learning. We've got some young guys playing, but I think we're good together. Shooting-wise, we can shoot it a little better."
Wrestlers get season started
The wrestling team took another step in its return after not competing the last two seasons when it traveled to the Bobcat Invitational on Jan. 5.
The Eagles finished fifth (158.5 points) in the 13-team event that also included Ready from the CCL and Columbus West, which is the program that first-year coach Felix Catheline headed before taking over at Watterson. Ready finished eighth (143.5) and West was 10th (128) behind champion Franklin Heights (263.5).
Danny Siegel (160 pounds) was runner-up, Brady White (182) placed third and Nick Youell (170) finished fourth.
Watterson opened Dec. 19 at Franklin Heights, losing to the host Falcons 42-21 but beating West 33-24. That night, Santino Auddino (132) earned the Eagles' first victory in their return to competition.
Below are the coming schedules for the Watterson boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 11 -- At Ready
Jan. 12 -- At Kettering Alter
Jan. 15 -- At Westerville North
*Jan. 10 -- At Hartley
Jan. 15 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester
*Jan. 11 -- Linden-McKinley at HP Lanes
*Jan. 15 -- St. Charles at Sawmill Lanes
*Jan. 12 -- Columbus Academy at Chiller Dublin
*Jan. 13 -- DeSales at Chiller Dublin
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 12 -- Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton
Jan. 15 -- At Columbus Academy