At 6 foot, 3 inches, Kegan Hienton of the Big Walnut High School boys basketball team doesn't exactly look the part of a post player.
The junior, however, has become a consistent, go-to scorer for a Big Walnut team that was 7-3 overall and 2-2 in the OCC-Capital Division before playing Groveport on Jan. 11. It marks the Golden Eagles' best start since the 2011-12 season, when they won seven of their first 11 games and finished 12-10.
As a sophomore, Hienton averaged 9.7 points to rank second on the team, behind guard Brody Lawhun (10.2).
"After my first varsity season last year, I wanted to work really hard in the offseason and expand my game, not only in scoring, but rebounding and just being a better overall player," Hienton said. "I expected to have a better season, but I didn't know if I expected this."
Hienton is among the area's top scorers this season, averaging 17.9 points through 10 games. He scored 21 in a 60-48 win over Westerville Central on Jan. 8, with nine of those points coming in the first quarter. He also had six rebounds and three blocks.
The victory was Big Walnut's fourth consecutive and its fifth in six contests.
Hienton had a career-high 29 points in a 74-58 victory over Caledonia River Valley on Dec. 22.
"We're a pretty unselfish team, but definitely when we're struggling offensively, we get (the ball) into him or run our offense through him and he's going to score," coach Brett Bartlett said. "Sometimes he'll draw a double-team and it opens up things for other guys."
Forward Carson Becker (9.3 points) was the Golden Eagles' second-leading scorer, followed by Lawhun and guard Nathan Montgomery (both 8.4).
Against Central, Montgomery added 13 points and four assists and Lawhun and Becker scored 12 and 10 points, respectively.
In addition to giving the Golden Eagles a strong inside presence, Hienton is capable of knocking down the midrange jump shot or 3-pointer. What impresses Bartlett most is Hienton's movement around the basket.
"There aren't a lot of guys who are back-to-the-basket post players these days, and he has the ability to do that and get a feel where his defender is," Bartlett said. "He has really good balance and footwork. His moves overall underneath (the basket) are pretty solid, and he has a good touch, too."
Hienton wouldn't mind increasing his scoring average to 20 points by the end of the season, but his goals are much broader.
"I feel like I'm just adding on to last year, trying to progress as a player and doing what I can to help my team win," he said.
Girls basketball team showing resiliency
The girls basketball team's 39-38, come-from-behind non-league victory over Westerville Central on Jan. 8 had no bearing on the OCC-Capital standings, but it meant a lot to coach Jason Crawford.
Big Walnut trailed 10-4 after the first quarter and was down 10 points after the Warhawks hit a shot to open the third quarter.
"I talked to the girls about responding to adversity and being resilient when things aren't going our way," said Crawford, whose team was 8-3 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Capital before playing Groveport on Jan. 11.
Alyssa Tarney secured the win over Central by hitting a baseline runner with 12 seconds left.
Erin Boehm had 11 points and Brooke Stooksbury scored 10 to lead the Golden Eagles, who outscored the Warhawks 18-8 in the third quarter.
Big Walnut will play host to Olentangy Orange on Tuesday, Jan. 15, before facing Canal Winchester at home on Friday, Jan. 18, in an OCC-Capital contest. The Golden Eagles defeated the Indians 40-28 on Dec. 7 in the first round of league play as Avery Schone scored a team-high 12 points.
"Obviously, with us winning the first time through (league play), they're going to come out with a little revenge on their mind," Crawford said of the Indians. "It's definitely going to be a battle the second time through."
Girls bowlers out to great start
The girls bowling team is off to the best start in program history.
The Golden Eagles defeated Olentangy Berlin 1,916-1,567 on Jan. 9 to improve to 5-2 overall and 3-2 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-A Division. They are 0-2 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Caitlyn Lambert and Ashleigh Westervelt rolled season highs in a 2,007-1,647 win over Whetstone on Jan. 8.
Lambert bowled a season-high 221 game and had a 365 two-game series, while Westervelt set season highs with a 211 game and a 418 series. Kaitlyn Morrison finished with a 379 series, with a high game of 204.
Anna Tanner rolled a team-best 534 three-game series in the Buckeye Classic on Jan. 5 at HP Lanes, as Big Walnut finished ninth (3,261) of 24 teams, behind champion Clayton Northmont (3,654). Tanner placed second behind Lexington's Brittany Salimbene (536).
The boys team finished eighth (3,970) of 26 teams in the Buckeye Classic, behind champion Mentor (4,313).
Johnny LeMaster rolled a 621 three-game series to finish fifth behind champion Brandon Watkins of Springfield Kenton Ridge (652).
Bryan Mengel (24th, 539) had the second-best series for Big Walnut, which improved to 5-1 overall and 4-1 COHSBC-A with a 1,934-1,713 win over Berlin on Jan. 9. The Golden Eagles are 1-1 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Below are the coming schedules for the Big Walnut boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
Jan. 15 -- At Olentangy Orange
*Jan. 18 -- At Canal Winchester. The Golden Eagles lost to the Indians 57-53 on Dec. 7.
Jan. 15 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange
*Jan. 18 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester. The Golden Eagles beat the Indians 40-28 on Dec. 7.
*Jan. 15 -- Marysville at Dragon Lanes
Jan. 19 -- Central District Preview Tournament at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 18 -- Gahanna at Gahanna YMCA
Jan. 19 -- Diving meet at Columbus School for Girls
*Jan. 17 -- At Canal Winchester
Jan. 19 -- Ron Thomas Sr. Invitational at Jonathan Alder