The Watterson girls basketball team has been building an impressive early season resume.
The Eagles already have beaten two opponents that were Division I district runners-up last season in Gahanna and Upper Arlington.
Watterson, which also was a district runner-up a year ago, was 7-0 before playing Pickerington North on Dec. 16 and had held each of its first seven opponents to 40 points or fewer.
The start to the season has coach Tom Woodford -- who earned his 400th career victory when the Eagles beat Hilliard Davidson 50-35 on Dec. 9 -- wondering how high his team's ceiling is, particularly because he believes there is room for improvement offensively.
"We haven't gotten hot yet," said Woodford, who is in his 19th season guiding the Eagles. "Our shooting (against Davidson) was a little better. We can handle the 2-2-1 press. We're not trusting our pass versus a zone and we're also not trusting the cut because it's different, so that's something we've got to work on, to trust each other on the cut and also trust each other on the pass."
In addition to their defensive play, another reason for the Eagles' strong start has been the emergence of junior forward Kilyn McGuff, who was averaging 15.4 points through seven games.
That is more than double what she averaged last season when Watterson went 23-3.
"We work really hard and we focus on the tiny things in practice and really try to make ourselves better," McGuff said. "We aren't selfish with the ball. We know we have talent, but we try to play team ball. We try to look for everyone on the court. Our defense always leads to offense. When we play well on defense, it really helps the flow of our game."
Watterson, which has reached 20 wins in three of the past four seasons, still has three games remaining before opening CCL action Jan. 9 at Ready. The Eagles will play host to the Watterson Christmas Classic on Dec. 27 and 28, facing Chillicothe on the first day and Big Walnut on the second.
On Dec. 14, the Eagles beat Gahanna 49-37 as McGuff and junior Danielle Grim both had 13 points, sophomore Kiley Graham scored eight and senior Paige Woodford and sophomore Norah Dorley both scored six.
Graham, Grim and Woodford all were averaging between seven and eight points through seven games.
"(McGuff) had it in her, but it was up to her if she was going to take that step forward," coach Woodford said. "She played AAU this spring and wanted to get better and she has, but this took her to another level of coaching.
"A lot of these kids are playing multiple sports but still find time to work on skill work at 8 o'clock on a Monday night. They're in open gym after going to field hockey or after soccer to work on those skills."
Hockey team making progress
After losing 3-0 to Gahanna on Dec. 7, the hockey team returned the favor with a 6-1 victory over the Lions on Dec. 14 at Chiller Dublin.
Just as important as avenging the loss, according to coach Jay Graham, is the method the Eagles used to do so.
"I really like what our team did (in the win over Gahanna) because it's kind of a culmination of what we've been talking about," Graham said. "(We want to be) keeping things to the outside, making plays for each other, moving the puck and being more physical. It kind of started (in a 7-2 loss to Olentangy Orange on Dec. 13) with what we did in the second half of that game. We hung with them for a good portion of the time and we need to do that for a full game."
Watterson is 5-6 overall and 3-2 in the CHC-Blue Division.
Freshman forward Brandon Trout had a pair of goals to help the Eagles build a 5-0 lead in the win over Gahanna.
Sophomore forward Luke Simone scored seconds into the third period but suffered a dislocated left knee with about eight minutes remaining and was carried off the ice.
"If nothing tore and (doctors) can get it back in (place), I've seen guys come back with not a whole lot of time out, but we'll just have to see when the swelling goes down," Graham said.
"Adam Pavliga is one of the best defensemen in the league, for sure, and I think Zach Kubatko is a guy who's overlooked because he just does his job. I love Tino Auddino, who is one of our new guys and is a staple on the second and third lines. D.J. Columbo has definitely brought a spark to us offensively and Daniel Davis has played phenomenally well the last two games. I'm very pleased with where we're at."
Girls bowlers out to strong start
The girls bowling team was 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the COHSBC-D Division before facing Linden-McKinley and Columbus East on Dec. 16.
The Eagles' only loss through five matches came against Hartley, 1,551-1,540 on Dec. 11 at Holiday Lanes.
On Dec. 13, Watterson put together a season-best performance while beating DeSales 1,750-1,493 as Joy Packard rolled a 339 two-game series, followed by Isabelle Payton (333), Rachel Reuter (301), Christina Rose (242) and Madison Shaw (226).
Through five matches, Payton was leading the Eagles with a 175 average.
The boys team was 0-5 overall and 0-4 in the COHSBC-D before facing East and Linden on Dec. 16 and St. Charles on Dec. 17.
The Eagles' best score through five matches came in a 1,747-1,544 loss to Ready on Dec. 5 at Sawmill Lanes.
Through five matches, Jack Kish had a team-best 151.1 average, followed by Jacob Garland (147.3).
Both the girls and boys teams will compete against Hartley on Thursday, Dec. 19, at Sawmill Lanes. Following that match, they won't compete again until Jan. 6 when they face Africentric at Sawmill Lanes.
Below are the coming schedules for the Watterson boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, hockey and swimming & diving teams:
Dec. 20 -- Home vs. Mansfield Madison
Dec. 21 -- At Hilliard Davidson
Dec. 21 -- At Logan
*Dec. 19 -- Hartley at Sawmill Lanes
Dec. 20 -- Olentangy Berlin in Kent Holiday Tournament at Kent State
Dec. 21 -- Chagrin Falls Kenston and Hudson in Kent Holiday Tournament
Dec. 22 -- TBD in Kent Holiday Tournament
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 21 -- At New Albany