The Hilliard Davidson High School boys basketball team enters a key three-game stretch playing its basketball of the season.

The Wildcats play host to Dublin Coffman on Friday, Jan. 18, riding a seven-game winning streak.

Davidson, which is 9-2 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Central Division, hasn't lost since being edged 45-43 by Upper Arlington on Dec. 14 at home.

"It's all about our kids getting better," coach Tim Congrove said. "That UA game still hurts. We've been talking about that one. It was a motivator."

The Wildcats lost to Coffman 73-57 on Dec. 7 as Dominiq Penn -- the son of former Ohio State standout Scoonie Penn -- had 21 points and Luke Bartemes scored 19. The Shamrocks, who are 12-0 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Central and were ranked seventh in the Division I state poll and third in the district poll last week, made 13 3-pointers in the game.

Davidson then plays host to Olentangy Liberty on Tuesday, Jan. 22, before returning to league play Jan. 25 at UA.

The Patriots and Golden Bears were ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, in the district last week. Liberty is 10-2, while UA was 7-3 overall before playing Hartley on Jan. 15 and is 4-1 in the OCC-Central.

"The schedule is not getting any easier," Congrove said. "We're at a tough back-end of our schedule. Our schedule is pretty tough. We are playing well right now. These guys are sharing the ball, playing hard, sitting down guarding and our goal is not being satisfied, but keep getting better and better."

The Wildcats have been boosted by the return of 6-foot-5 junior center Gage Keys, who missed the first seven games as he recovered from a LCL injury in his right knee sustained during football season.

"He really gives us a true post presence," Congrove said. "Not that we don't have guys who can do that, because we're very big, but he's really hard to guard inside with how strong he is. He's good with his back to the basket. If we keep getting that ball inside to him, that's only good things for us because he's hard to guard in there."

Keys has been averaging a team-high 13.8 points since his return to the lineup. He missed the earlier games against Coffman and UA.

"It all starts in practice," Keys said of the team's recent success. "We've been having really good practices ever since we took that loss by two points to UA. That's really motivated us."

Christian Gillilan, a 6-7 forward, is averaging 13.2 points and 6.7 rebounds, 6-7 forward Jacob Drees is averaging 12.1 points, a team-best 9.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists and 6-3 guard Caleb Stimmel is averaging 8.7 points.

"I love the (offensive) balance," Congrove said. "That makes us hard to guard. Guys sharing the ball and being unselfish, that's all good stuff for us."

Davidson earned its seventh consecutive win by beating Marysville 71-64 on Jan. 11 at home.

The Wildcats led by as many as 20 points in the third quarter before holding off a Monarchs' rally.

Stimmel led Davidson with 22 points, followed by Keys with 17, Gillilan with 11 and Desean Stokes with 10.

Gillilan and Stimmel both had 14 points, Keys scored 13, Drees scored 12 and Zach Mayer added 10 in a 79-51 win over visiting Olentangy Orange on Jan. 8.

"Distributing the ball is one of our big things," Keys said. "We want to have (at least) 15 assists (per game), so that's something that we always focus on and that helps us all get the ball an equal amount."

Wrestlers finish fifth at Porter event

The wrestling team finished fifth (137.5 points) of seven teams in the Porter Memorial Tournament on Jan. 12 at Bradley, behind champion Darby (198.5).

Alan Morales (113 pounds), Jackson Sowers (138) and Luke DeWeese (145) all finished first and Dylan Evans (170) and Zak Hughey (195) placed third.

"Everything is going great," first-year coach Chris Kline said. "I'm having a lot of fun. I've been doing this sport for a long time and I finally got my chance to be a head coach. Some of our guys took a step forward this weekend getting that championship win, so it's a good success for us moving forward."

Bowling teams looking for improvement

After competing in just one match in December, the bowling teams are looking to gain valuable experience during a busy January schedule.

The boys team was 0-3 overall and in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-B Division before a match against Worthington Kilbourne on Jan. 15 and is 0-1 in the OCC-Central after losing to Gahanna 2,153-1,730 on Jan. 11 at Gahanna Lanes.

Chase Miles had a team-best 325 two-game series against Gahanna, followed by Grayson Holloway (313), Dominic Williams (308), Brady Ingland (274) and David Hudkins (259).

The Wildcats opened the month with a 2,016-1,979 loss to Groveport on Jan. 8 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.

"I'm a little disappointed because they can bowl good in practice and then they (get into a match) and they can't do anything," coach Adrian Jasinski said. "I have to figure out what's going on and why. We have to figure out what to do to get a little bit better."

The girls team also was 0-3 overall and in the COHSBC-B before competing against Kilbourne and is 0-1 in the OCC-Central after losing to Gahanna 1,805-1,505 on Jan. 11.

Lauren Domer had a team-best 268 series against Gahanna, followed by Molly Cottrill (263), Reilly Wolfinger (261), Hannah Mathews (228), Liesel Kehrle (118, one game) and Laurel King (109, one game).

The Wildcats lost to Groveport 1,498-1,414 on Jan. 8.

"We want to work on picking up spares because I know we struggle with that," Wolfinger said. "We're going to try to schedule more practices."

Girls basketball team set for Shamrocks

The girls basketball team enters its OCC-Central game against visiting Coffman on Thursday, Jan. 17, looking to avenge a 73-26 loss to the host Shamrocks on Dec. 10.

Davidson was 12-3 overall and carried a nine-game winning streak into its contest against Pickerington North on Jan. 15. The Wildcats are 4-2 in the league, two games behind the Shamrocks (6-0).

Emily Simon scored 21 points in a 56-31 league win at Marysville on Jan. 11 and was closing in on 1,000 career points. She had 990 before playing North.

Aleshire named boys track coach

Longtime boys track and field assistant coach Ryan Aleshire has been promoted to head coach, replacing Jim Smith, who stepped down last month after leading the Wildcats' program for 31 seasons.

Aleshire, a 1993 Hilliard graduate, served as an assistant the past 17 seasons and also has been an assistant with the football team for 20 years.

Smith, who also resigned last month as a physical education and health teacher at Davidson, moved to Washington, D.C., with his wife, Lori Baldwin, who accepted a position in corporate engagement at Georgetown University.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Davidson boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 18 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman. The Wildcats lost to the Shamrocks 73-57 on Dec. 7.

Jan. 22 -- Home vs. Olentangy Liberty

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 17 -- Home vs. Coffman. The Wildcats lost to the Shamrocks 73-26 on Dec. 10.

Jan. 22 -- At Liberty

BOWLING

*Jan. 17 -- Whitehall at Ten Pin Alley

Jan. 19 -- Worthington Christian D2 Challenge at HP Lanes

*Jan. 22 -- Pickerington North at Ten Pin Alley

GYMNASTICS

Jan. 17 -- Beauty and the Beast at Worthington Kilbourne

Jan. 21 -- At Olentangy with Big Walnut, Bradley, Darby, Liberty and Upper Arlington

SWIMMING & DIVING

Jan. 17 -- At New Albany

Jan. 19 -- Bradley and Darby at Hilliard YMCA

WRESTLING

*Jan. 17 -- At Westland

Jan. 19 -- Hamilton Township Classic

*League contest