Tongue firmly in cheek, Olentangy High School boys basketball coach John Feasel laid out his expectations for senior guard Sean Marks before the season.
"He just needs to get about 30 points and 10 assists (per game) and I'll be happy," Feasel said. "That's all I'm asking."
Even if Marks hasn't quite hit those numbers, he already has passed one benchmark and entered the week closing in on another.
The 5-foot-11 Ohio Dominican recruit, who leads the Braves in points per game (20.5) and assists (3.7) and is third in rebounds (4.5), scored his 1,000th career point Dec. 15 and is 10 points away from becoming the program's all-time leading scorer entering a Friday, Jan. 18, game at Westerville South.
Marks admits he thought a lot about one of those milestones and, until recently, very little about the other.
"It is exciting," he said. "Scoring 1,000 points had been a goal of mine since I was a freshman. It's a cool opportunity since not a lot of people get to do that.
"(Becoming Olentangy's all-time leading scorer) was not a priority, to be honest. I'd like to get there and if I get there, it'll definitely be nice. It's kind of exciting to have a chance anyway."
Rob Sanders scored 1,170 points from 1978-82.
Marks passed 1962 graduate Allen Morgan into second place all-time with a 36-point outburst in a 64-53 loss at Liberty on Jan. 11. Morgan recorded 1,125 points.
Marks crossed the 1,000-point plateau during the first quarter of a 68-57 win at Parkersburg (West Virginia) South in the third-place game of the Parkersburg South Holiday Tournament. It was an especially memorable night considering that his father, Jon, graduated from South and his grandfather, Mike Hayden, coached football at the school for 14 years before serving as executive director of the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission.
While Marks has been Olentangy's leading scorer in nine of 11 games, he has had plenty of support. Classmate Noah Gossett is averaging 11.5 points and 3.6 rebounds and shooting 51.5 percent (34-for-66) from 3-point range.
Of Gossett's 126 points, 102 have come from the outside, including two key 3s during a 21-6 fourth-quarter surge that powered the Braves past Upper Arlington 60-53 on Jan. 8.
Olentangy is 6-5 overall and 2-3 in the OCC-Buckeye Division.
"I just really wanted to have my shot be more consistent and I think I've been able to do that," said Gossett, whose summer routine included making 300 baskets every other day. "Sean scores whenever he wants; he can shoot and drive, but he finds me open a lot. He finds everybody a lot. ...
"It was an adjustment playing full time on varsity. Getting up to speed is the biggest thing, but I'm confident. That's a big help."
According to Feasel, confidence has been the biggest key for Gossett.
"Last year, he wouldn't have shot those (3s he did at UA)," Feasel said. "He knows his job is to get the ball, get a good look and go."
The loss to Liberty put Olentangy three games behind the league-leading Patriots entering the second half of OCC-Buckeye play.
"We've had a hard schedule so far, but we've competed every game. That will lead to victories. We will end up winning more games at the end of our schedule, I think, because the beginning was so hard," Marks said. "I think (Feasel) does that to get us ready for the end of the year, seeing a variety of places to play and a variety of styles so we're prepared come tournament time."
Wrestlers split first league duals
Despite being shorthanded, the wrestling team went 1-1 in its first two OCC-Buckeye duals last week, defeating visiting Westerville South 43-28 on Jan. 10 before losing 50-23 at Liberty the next night.
Olentangy is competing without Cameron Everson (152 pounds), Ethan Hand (220), Brady Pethtel (145) and Jacob Sherman (113). While Hand is out for the season because of an ankle injury and Sherman has yet to wrestle after undergoing knee surgery, Everson has missed the past few weeks because of a knee injury and Pethtel is sidelined because of mono.
According to coach Dennis Lyberger, Sherman, a Kent State recruit and two-time Division I state qualifier, has a doctor's appointment scheduled for next week and hopes to wrestle again by early February.
"We can only deal with controllables, like effort, and we're getting good efforts," Lyberger said. "We're basically four guys short ... but a guy like Adam (Orndorf, who has replaced Everson at 152), he's getting better and better. He might do some crazy, funky stuff but it works for him and he's solid with it. He is staying in better positions and doing what he has to do to be a winner."
The Braves won eight weight classes against South and six against Liberty, including Nick Varanelli's 7-5 win over state-ranked Lucas Uliano at 132. Uliano was ranked 14th at 126 last week by BoroFan.net, which had Varanelli ranked 24th statewide at 132.
Pethtel was ranked 14th at 145.
Olentangy continued its league schedule Jan. 16 at home against Westerville Central and will travel to the Top Gun Tournament on Friday, Jan. 18, and Saturday, Jan 19, at Alliance.
"We're in pretty good shape. We can win matches even if somebody's a little better than us," Lyberger said. "I've told the guys that is something we have to use to our advantage."
Gymnastics team continues winning
The gymnastics team completed its third consecutive undefeated season in the OCC-Buckeye on Jan. 9 when it scored 134.7 points to finish first in a four-team meet, ahead of Big Walnut, Liberty and host Westerville Central.
Olentangy, which averaged 136.89 points in its first four competitions, finished league duals at 4-0 for the third consecutive season.
The OCC-Buckeye meet is Feb. 9 at Thomas Worthington.
The Braves won their season opener Dec. 22 at Buckeye Gymnastics, scoring 136.65 points to finish ahead of league foes Orange (129.3) and Big Walnut (107.1) as well as Liberty (119.25). Only the Jan. 9 result against the Patriots counted in the league standings.
Olentangy scored 139.4 points Jan. 2 to win a five-team competition at Dublin Coffman ahead of runner-up Dublin Jerome (136.425).
Led by Madeline Vouis' tie for second place on floor exercise (9.35), the Braves finished third (136.825) in the 17-team McGee Invitational at Jerome on Jan. 12 as Mentor won (139.525) and Hudson was second (137.275).
Olentangy will play host to a meet for the second consecutive season Monday, Jan. 21, when Big Walnut, Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Darby, Hilliard Davidson, Liberty and Upper Arlington visit.
Below are the coming schedules for the Olentangy boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 18 -- At Westerville South. The Braves lost to the Wildcats 79-69 in overtime Dec. 7.
Jan. 19 -- Centennial at Hoosier Gym in Knightstown, Ind.
Jan. 22 -- At Big Walnut
*Jan. 18 -- Home vs. Westerville South. The Braves lost to the Wildcats 77-61 on Dec. 7.
Jan. 22 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
*Jan. 17 -- Westerville Central at Delaware Lanes
Jan. 19 -- Central District Preview at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
Jan. 21 -- Home vs. Big Walnut, Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Darby, Hilliard Davidson, Liberty and Upper Arlington
Jan. 18 -- Newark in Pioneer Classic at Chiller Easton
Jan. 19 -- Mentor and Wheeling (W.Va.) Linsly in Pioneer Classic at Chiller Easton
Jan. 20 -- TBD in Pioneer Classic at Chiller North
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 19 -- At Upper Arlington
Jan. 22 -- At New Albany
Jan. 18-19 -- Top Gun Tournament at Alliance