Jahvon Garcia is a point guard by nature, but that might not be indicative of everything the 6-foot-3 senior does for the Pickerington High School Central boys basketball team.

Not only is he the Tigers' leading scorer with an average of 18.9 points, but he also is contributing 4.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 block and has committed just eight turnovers to help Central to an undefeated start.

Those statistics reflect Garcia's commitment after last season, when he helped the Tigers reach a Division I state semifinal, to expand his game and become more than a point guard.

"He's more dynamic overall," coach Eric Krueger said. "He's not out there putting up 30 shots a game. He is very unselfish. We have a great team chemistry and he is so dynamic on both sides of the ball.

"He's shooting really well. He's better from outside and I am not sure that in the past he's had the ability. He can make plays on the other end of the court, too. He's one of the best guards in Ohio."

Central is 12-0 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Ohio Division entering a Friday, Jan. 18, home game against Pickerington North.

The Tigers were ranked second in the state last week and 25th in the country by MaxPreps.

Because of his length, Garcia, who was committed to Miami University but reopened his recruitment in November, also plays shooting guard and small forward.

"I just like to lead my team and make sure everybody is involved and playing well together," said Garcia, who averaged 12.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists last season, helping key an 11-game winning streak that carried Central to a state semifinal. "All I worked on with my trainer in the offseason was shooting from 3-point range, coming off the dribble, pulling up and getting my shot even better. We always emphasize that all five people have to rebound. A lot of it comes from my length and playing really good defense."

Garcia's balance and efficiency was on display Dec. 1 in a season-opening 64-46 win over Springfield in the All-Ohio Nike Hoops Showcase at Pickerington North. He scored 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting and added seven rebounds.

Garcia splits time running the point with Jay Rodgers and Tahleik Walker, although even forwards Coleton Landis and Connor Maciag occasionally bring the ball up the floor.

"Coming into the year, we didn't really have a set point guard; it was whoever could get out and go and run the offense. We have 10 seniors and eight of them are guards," Maciag said. "Jahvon is a very good decision-maker. He can finish well in the paint and I've seen him get a lot more athletic as well. He went from pulling up a lot last year to finishing at the rim and battling with the bigs on every possession."

Garcia might be depended on even more by Central in coming games, given that the Tigers will be shorthanded against the Panthers -- whom they defeated 80-67 on Dec. 7 behind Garcia's then-career high 28 points, a mark he eclipsed Jan. 12 by scoring 29 in a 76-46 win at Eastmoor Academy -- and beyond.

The 6-7 Landis, who committed to Rio Grande on Jan. 12, sprained his right ankle early in a 65-50 win at Westerville South on Jan. 8 and his return date is uncertain, and Rodgers and Sam Towns' eligibility for the remainder of the season is in doubt. Both transferred in from Springfield before the season and Krueger was unsure last week if they will be able to play again.

New Ohio High School Athletic Association rules state that transfers must sit out the second half of the 22-game regular season as well as the postseason. The Tigers' 11th game was a 63-54 win at Gahanna on Jan. 11.

"It's a next-man up philosophy until we get healthy," Krueger said. "But Jahvon is a guy we'll continue to depend on. He's just a big-time player."

Girls look to continue crosstown dominance

Ranked second in the state in Division I last week, the girls basketball team will look for its fifth consecutive win and 13th of the season when it plays host to North on Friday, Jan. 18.

Central improved to 12-1 overall and 6-0 in the OCC-Ohio with a 71-52 win over Gahanna on Jan. 11. Madison Greene had a game-high 22 points and Felesia Ondongo and Maliya Perry each scored 10 for the Tigers, who were coming off a 61-42 win over Westerville South in their home opener three nights earlier.

Central is seeking its ninth consecutive win over the Panthers, against whom they lead the all-time series 16-7.

Perry had 20 points and Ondongo scored 12 in the Tigers' 73-29 win at North on Dec. 7.

Central then will participate in the annual Classic in the Country on Monday, Jan. 21, when it plays Huber Heights Wayne at Berlin Hiland. The Tigers are in the event for the fifth consecutive year, having won in each of their previous four appearances, including 58-36 over North Canton Hoover last year.

Bowling teams try to get back on track

The boys and girls bowling teams will be looking for their first wins of January when they travel to Marysville for an OCC-Central match Friday, Jan. 18, at Marysville Lanes.

Both teams went 0-2 last week.

The boys lost to Whitehall 2,146-1,859 on Jan. 7 at Holiday Lanes and fell to Hilliard Darby 2,309-1,775 on Jan. 10 at Ten Pin Alley. The girls fell to the Rams 1,603-1,438 and lost to the Panthers 1,638-1,549.

The girls team is 4-3 overall and in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-B and 3-1 in the OCC-Central. Jaycie Arnet's 150.3 game average through six matches leads the Tigers, ahead of Kate Merkel (147.4), Kiara Kozak (133.1) and Frankie Moore (114.6).

Led by four bowlers averaging between 154 and 165, the boys team is 1-6 overall and in the COHSBC-B and 0-4 in the OCC-Central. Christian Kirton led the Tigers with a 164.8 average through six matches, followed by Grant Gilkey (164.6), Jamison Stoniosis (164.0), Travis Allasi (163.4) and Evan Tailford (154.8).

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

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

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 18 -- Home vs. Pickerington North. The Tigers defeated the Panthers 80-67 on Dec. 7.

Jan. 21 -- Trotwood-Madison in Flyin' to the Hoop at Kettering Fairmont

Jan. 22 -- Home vs. Westerville Central

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 18 -- Home vs. Pickerington North. The Tigers defeated the Panthers 73-29 on Dec. 7.

Jan. 21 -- Huber Heights Wayne in Classic in the Country at Berlin Hiland

Jan. 22 -- At Westerville Central

BOWLING

*Jan. 18 -- Marysville at Marysville Lanes

SWIMMING & DIVING

Jan. 19 -- Presidential Pentathlon at Ohio Wesleyan

WRESTLING

Jan. 19 -- Panther Invitational at Pickerington North

*League contest