Following a pair of double-digit losses to open City League-North Division action, the Whetstone girls basketball team led East by one point entering the final period of their contest Dec. 10.
The Braves weren't able to hold on, falling 43-40, but it was an example of how far they've come since last season when they were swept by the Tigers, including a 16-point loss, on their way to a 3-19 finish.
According to coach Torrie Ruffin, most of the other evidence of improvement has been more subtle but just as important.
"The (assistant) coaches and I are extremely impressed with how much progress the girls have already made, especially given the fact that many of them have little to no experience in basketball," Ruffin said. "They pick up on concepts and skills so quickly. I can't help but to imagine what they could have been if they had been playing and developing from a young age."
The Braves were 1-6 overall and 0-4 in the City-North before playing International on Dec. 17. They swept the Lions in league play last season.
Whetstone plays Saturday, Dec. 21, at DeSales and Dec. 28 at home against Thomas Worthington before returning to league play Jan. 7 at Beechcroft.
In a 59-27 loss to Centennial on Dec. 13, senior Salma Kebe had nine points and junior Heaven Goble scored seven.
Goble had 11 points in a 58-33 loss to Hamilton Township on Dec. 12 and was averaging a team-best seven points before Dec. 17. Also through seven games, Goble and senior Lauren Armstrong both were averaging five rebounds and sophomore Ellen Edwards was averaging 2.5 blocks.
Boys basketball team growing offensively
After opening Nov. 29 with a 53-38 loss at Bexley, the boys basketball team beat East 58-47 on Dec. 10 for its first win under new coach Dean Washington.
The Braves then lost to Centennial 85-58 on Dec. 13 and were 1-2 overall and 1-1 in the league before facing International on Dec. 17.
Whetstone, which played Franklin Heights on Dec. 18, concludes the 2019 portion of its league schedule Friday, Dec. 20, at Mifflin and then travels to Mount Vernon Nazarene to face Westerville North on Saturday, Dec. 21.
One of the biggest positives early on for the Braves has been the emergence of junior guard Caleb Brigle, who scored 26 points against East and was averaging 19.3 points through three games.
Senior forward/center Jaden Arledge had 16 points against East and was averaging 10.7 points before Dec. 17.
"Caleb Brigle played a lot of AAU in the summer, so he's got some game experience," Washington said. "He's got a pretty high basketball IQ. Jaden Arledge ... could be a pretty good player. I came over to try and change their mindset and that's what we're working on right now."
Bowlers finding early positives
The bowling teams don't compete again until Jan. 6 when they face Marion-Franklin at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl in COHSBC-C Division action.
The boys were 0-3 overall and 0-2 in the league before facing South on Dec. 16 at Sequoia Pro Bowl and West on Dec. 17 at Game of Western Columbus, but each of its first three matches were within 150 pins.
Whetstone rolled a season-best total through three matches in an 1,870-1,727 loss to Mifflin on Dec. 11 as sophomore Josh Jones bowled a 343 two-game series and senior Nairan Normand rolled a 332 series.
"We just have to be quicker at making adjustments," Normand said. "We're all really good bowlers and just have to get out of our heads and make sure we pick up easy spares."
The girls team was 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the league before facing South on Dec. 16, with its best performance through three matches coming in a 1,689-1,116 win over Mifflin on Dec. 11 as senior Alea Millington-Fuqua bowled a 357 series, followed by sophomore Stella Thompson (319) and junior Jillian Clark (310).
"It's been about what I expected," coach Larry Howell said. "We're young."
Below are the coming schedules for the Whetstone boys basketball, girls basketball, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 20 -- At Mifflin
Dec. 21 -- Westerville North at Mount Vernon Nazarene
Dec. 21 -- At DeSales
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 21 -- Wellington at Columbus Aquatics Center
Dec. 19 -- At Walnut Ridge