Given that Saige Glover led the Pickerington High School North girls basketball team in scoring last season as a sophomore, Silas Williams figured he would depend on her to continue filling that role when he took over the Panthers last summer.
The 6-foot junior forward did just that during the regular season, averaging 13.7 points and 8.0 rebounds, but Glover isn't satisfied.
"I'd like to say I am doing well, but I could be better," Glover said. "My perimeter game needs work. Most of the time, I am not open in the post and I could shoot better when I am outside. It's taken more work to get used to what coach Williams wants to do. It was a change, but I've gotten used to it some."
Glover has scored in double digits in 15 games and boosted her average late in the regular season when she scored 20 points three times in four games, beginning with a 56-52 win over Hartley on Jan. 26 in the Nubian Classic at Africentric. She also had 20 points in a 66-49 loss to Thornville Sheridan on Jan. 28 and a 62-45 loss at Canal Winchester on Feb. 5.
The Panthers are 8-14 overall and finished 4-6 in the OCC-Ohio Division with a 78-25 loss at Reynoldsburg on Feb. 8.
"I do take some pride in it, but it's just how you play the game," Glover said. "I think I am more active sometimes. Last year, I noticed that I was standing around a lot. I also think I'm a better team player as well, or I try to be a better team player with sharing the ball and all that and having a better attitude."
Gabby Rullo, a senior guard, and Williams both said Glover has taken on an increasingly vocal role.
"She gives us a spark," Rullo said. "She'll score and that brings a spark, especially to our defense. She has stood out, especially this year. At halftime, even if we're down, she's making sure we know we've got this. She'll always pump us up. She's reached a lot more this season. That's just her growing up a little bit."
According to Williams, Glover has balanced being more outgoing with knowing her limitations, especially against defenses that increasingly focus on her.
"She'll get two or three people on her and early in the season, she would try to fight through that. Now she will pass out of them and that's helping us as a team," Williams said. "She is growing as a player. Teams have to watch out for her and plan for her. She is learning how to play that game and get her teammates easy shots and make them better."
North finished its regular season Feb. 9 with a 45-42 loss at Logan.
The Panthers took a first-round bye in the Division I district tournament. Seeded 20th of 45 teams, North will visit fourth-seeded Watterson or play host to 36th-seeded Hilliard Bradley in a second-round game Feb. 22.
"We're starting to hang our hats a little bit defensively, but we need to start getting enough points to match our defensive intensity," Williams said. "That takes time, but they are buying into the half-court traps, man-to-man defense, things like that. They are hitting their stride."
Boys team remains tied atop league
The boys basketball team continued gathering momentum as it entered February, recording its seventh win in an eight-game stretch when it edged host Reynoldsburg 53-48 on Feb. 8 to stay tied for first place in the OCC-Ohio.
Jack Sawyer had 25 points and Chris Scott scored 12 against the Raiders. North was 16-4 overall before playing Dublin Jerome on Feb. 12 and is 8-1 in the league, tied for first with Pickerington Central, entering a Friday, Feb. 15, home game against Grove City.
Central plays host to Gahanna on Feb. 15.
The win over Reynoldsburg followed a 92-63 home rout of Canal Winchester on Feb. 5. Sawyer had 24 points, Mike Lowery scored 14 and Scott and Hunter Shedenhelm each added 13 as North bolted to an 8-1 lead and the Indians, who came in at 17-1, missed their first nine field-goal attempts.
"This is a good time to play well," coach Jason Bates said, calling it one of the team's best wins of the season. "(The Canal Winchester game) was a good win because of the timing. Early on, teams don't have film on you, but now the element of surprise is gone and it's really about who you are as a team. Your players have to really execute and believe in the system. That definitely shows growth in your team."
The wins over Canal Winchester and Reynoldsburg helped the Panthers earn the fifth seed in the coming 47-team Division I district tournament. North will play host to 42nd-seeded Watkins Memorial in a first-round game Feb. 23.
"(Last week) was good preparation for the postseason," Bates said. "Those were tournament-type teams. That's exactly the thought we wanted to utilize."
Keaton, Kreinbrink lead swimmers
Rylee Kreinbrink of the girls swimming team won the 100-yard butterfly (57.24 seconds) and Lindsey Keaton finished second in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.38) and third in the 100 fly (58.52) in a Division I sectional meet Feb. 9 at Upper Arlington, leading the Panthers into the district meet Friday, Feb. 15, at Ohio State.
Keaton and Kreinbrink also were on the runner-up 200 freestyle relay (1:42.79) with Kate Kinley and Lilian Muszynski and Keaton helped the 200 medley relay finish third (1:51.43) with Grace Cherryhomes, Sydney Hopkins and Regan Turnbull as North scored 165 points and finished third behind the host and champion Golden Bears (385.5) as 16 teams scored.
The 400 free relay was third (3:48.25) with Cherryhomes, Kreinbrink, Caitlin McCluskey and Muszynski.
On the boys side, Connor Daniel was on the third-place 200 medley relay (1:44.01) with Jon Mason, Anthony Ojeda-Pesa and Wyatt Ross and placed fourth in the 100 backstroke (55.56) as North finished eighth (93) behind champion UA (317) as 15 teams scored.
The boys team's other relays placed fifth and advanced to district. The 200 free relay (1:35.24) consisted of Mason, Gavin Mumma, Ross and Spencer White and the 400 free relay (3:28.4) featured Daniel, Mumma, Ojeda-Pesa and White.
At district, the top two placers in each swimming event automatically advance to the state meet Feb. 22 and 23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded for each swimming event based on times statewide.
Divers did not compete at sectional.
The top four boys divers at district Thursday, Feb. 14, at Ohio State advance to state Feb. 23 at Branin Natatorium.
Wrestling team falls to Central
Although the wrestling team lost its fourth consecutive match against Central, 39-24 at home on Feb. 7, coach Derek Oney saw plenty of reasons for optimism.
The Panthers gave up 12 points by forfeit but won five weight classes, including wins from backups Titus Mahaffey, who won 3-0 over Carter Wade at 138 pounds, and Will Herdman, who pinned Blake Benson in 5:48 at 145. Both were at those classes because of injuries.
"They are learning how to compete, learning how to win and compete under pressure," Oney said. "This is a good rivalry. It gets heated, but at the end of the day, (Central) coach (Jason) Allen and I are going to shake hands and have a few laughs. I was happy with the effort of my kids. That's what I have been pushing all year and they are buying in."
North's other wins came from Rajesh Bomjan, who pinned Jarred Upperman in 1:35 at 113; Elliot Mahaffey, who pinned Dae'vion Hargrow in 1:11 at 170; and Josh Sanders, who beat Noor El-Barrad 7-2 at 220.
Central had won the previous three meetings between the teams by a combined score of 175-48.
North, which finished 2-3 in the OCC-Ohio, will finish the regular season Saturday, Feb. 16, with the Nye Cardinal Classic at St. Charles.
Athletes announce college decisions
Seven student-athletes announced their college decisions Feb. 6.
Jaylon Baylor will play football at Wheeling Jesuit, Kaitlyn Caminiti will play women's soccer at Martin Methodist, Tim Cheatwood and Mike Lowery will play football at Mercyhurst, Larry Martin will play football at Ashland, Alec Mendoza will play baseball at Notre Dame College and Charlie Steioff will play football at Thomas More.