Jill Klepzig has a difficult task every time she takes the court for the Hilliard Bradley High School girls basketball team.
The 5-foot-7 senior forward must try to shut down, or at least contain, opposing post players who typically are several inches taller. Instead of running from the challenge, Klepzig has accepted it and become a defensive presence for the Jaguars.
"I have to really work hard and try to work around the post player and try to not worry about their size," Klepzig said. "Coach (Steve De Dent) always says don't wrestle (with them), so I try to get around and try to not let them post up on me and hold me down. I know they are bigger than me, but I can't be scared. I need to work as hard as I can."
De Dent said Klepzig continues to work hard to get the job done.
"Jill really is more of a 4 (power forward) than a true 5 (center)," said De Dent, whose team was 3-12 overall and 2-7 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Worthington Kilbourne on Jan. 22. "She brings senior leadership and knows what we want and tries to do those things.
"She is more of a leader by actions than words and tries to show the younger kids what we want done. She has been in the program for four years, three with (former coach) Kathy (Lindsey) and this year with me. She knows me and knows my expectations. There are no surprises for her."
Klepzig said the defensive-minded De Dent has had a big impact on her play on the court.
"Coach stresses defense and he has taught so many things throughout my high school career," said Klepzig, who was averaging 2.9 points and 2.8 rebounds through 15 games. "He taught me to get into a low stance and make sure you are moving off the ball. He really stresses help-side defense and making sure we help each other out and don't leave anyone stranded."
Klepzig is one of three seniors for Bradley, along with guard Jaiden Bryant and forward Ashley Walls.
"I think I'm a leader and I help out a lot on defense," Klepzig said of her role. "I study the person I'm going to be guarding for the upcoming game. I want to get to know what they are good at and try to help out and make sure they don't succeed against us."
Kelpzig played travel basketball as a youth and also played in middle school before joining the Jaguars' program as a freshman.
"I really like how I get to meet new people (in basketball) and hang out with my friends both on and off the court," she said. "I like being able to blow off some steam by going to basketball if I have had a long day. I have been through this with all of the coaches and my teammates. This team is like my second family."
De Dent said his team continues to improve, and Klepzig could play a key role down the stretch.
"Jill is a real pleasure to coach," he said. "She is pretty even-keeled and doesn't get too excited. She has grown a lot through in the first part of season and if she gets more aggressive, she'll continue to do that."
Boys team wins 27th league game in a row
The boys basketball team won its 27th consecutive league game by defeating host Thomas Worthington 47-31 on Jan. 18.
Bradley was 12-0 overall and 8-0 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing host to Kilbourne on Jan. 22. Entering that contest, the Jaguars had won 29 consecutive home games and 26 regular-season games in a row.
Bradley trailed Thomas 26-25 with 7 minutes, 19 seconds left in the third quarter after a three-point play by the Cardinals' Ben Wight. However, the Jaguars held Thomas scoreless for the next 9:04 and built a 39-26 lead.
"I didn't think we guarded the ball well in the first half, but (Thomas) got three points right off the bat in the second half and then five for the rest of the game," coach Brett Norris said. "Zach Hummel is the best post defender that I have ever coached, and Chris (Mayfield) did a great job as well. Matt Allocco scores a lot for us, but he is an equally great defender. We had a good collective defensive effort."
Allocco led Bradley with 18 points, finishing 8-for-8 from the foul line, including 6-for-6 in the fourth quarter. Mayfield added 14 points and Hummel scored seven.
For the second consecutive season, bad weather forced Bradley to cancel its game in the Flyin' to the Hoop showcase at Kettering Fairmont. The Jaguars were to play Orlando (Florida) Oak Ridge on Jan. 19 and now are scheduled for only 21 regular-season games.
Patterson excels for gymnastics team
Senior Lexi Patterson led the gymnastics team by finishing third in the all-around in a four-team meet Jan. 17 at Kilbourne.
The senior totaled 33.35 in the all-around to finish behind Darby's Anne Hassay (35.1) and Kilbourne's Emily Mosic (33.5), as the Jaguars finished fourth (127.7) behind champion Darby (133.7).
Patterson tied for fourth on floor exercise (8.7) and placed fourth on vault (8.2), fifth on uneven bars (8.0) and seventh (8.45) on balance beam.
Gabi Graff finished seventh in the all-around (32.0), led by her performance on bars (tied for sixth, 7.8).
Below are the coming schedules for the Bradley boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 25 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin. The Jaguars defeated the Bears 50-29 on Dec. 14.
Jan. 26 -- Newark in Jared Sullinger Ohio Scholastic Play by Play Classic at Pickerington Central
*Jan. 25 -- At Berlin. The Jaguars lost to the Bears 43-40 on Dec. 14.
Jan. 26 -- At Teays Valley
*Jan. 24 -- Davidson at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
Jan. 26 -- Jaguar Baker Marathon at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Jan. 28 -- Thomas Worthington at Capri Lanes
Jan. 29 -- At *Thomas with Darby and Davidson
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 26 -- OCC-Cardinal meet at Thomas
*Jan. 24 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome
Jan. 26 -- Watkins Memorial Invitational