As the Westerville South girls basketball team's fourth coach in three seasons, Jermaine Guice realizes the transition might take a little longer than normal.
After opening with an 89-41 loss at Newark on Nov. 26, the Wildcats had won four consecutive games and were 4-1 overall before playing Marion Harding on Dec. 17.
South played its first two games without Anyssa Jones, who was out with an injured right ankle.
"We're slowly getting better," Guice said. "There's still improvement that we need to take care of, but they are getting better. They're competing. They're playing hard and that's half the battle."
The Wildcats improved to 2-0 in the OCC-Buckeye Division with a 51-43 win over visiting Olentangy Liberty on Dec. 13. South has won 23 consecutive league games since a 33-22 loss at Westerville North on Feb. 10, 2017.
Despite the strong start in league play and four consecutive wins following the lopsided opening loss, Guice believes his team is far from its potential.
South was just 10-for-22 from the free-throw line and made just one 3-pointer against Liberty.
Aja Austin led the Wildcats with 13 points, followed by Jones with 12 and Tamara Ortiz with 11.
"Coach said we didn't play our best, but we still won," Austin said. "We just have to work harder in practice and get better every day. We have a lot of talent. It's just sometimes we don't work as hard. But we're going to get back in the gym and we're going to work hard and get better."
Ortiz, a freshman point guard, came off the bench to provide a much-needed lift.
"Our freshmen are giving us a really good spark," said Guice, who also was referring to Leila Jones and Nelia Guice, his daughter. "They're coming in and they're playing good minutes for us. They're really getting after it defensively and helping the team that way."
Boys basketball team seeking improvement
Boys basketball coach Ed Calo expects his team to rebound from a slow start.
South was 2-3 overall before playing Jonathan Alder on Dec. 17. It is 1-1 in the OCC-Buckeye.
"It's all part of learning," Calo said. "We're a young team. We have some young kids, but at some point in time -- and some point has to be real soon -- we can't use that as an excuse. We're working hard and our kids should be learning. We just have to pay better attention to the details. If we do that, we'll be fine."
The Wildcats lost at Liberty 75-59 in league play Dec. 12 as Jaiden Guice scored 15 points and Keyton Kowalski had 12.
South bounced back to defeat host Marysville 75-55 on Dec. 14. Tabari Howard scored 22 points, followed by Drey Carter with 13 and Guice with 12.
Peter Pedrozo scored 20 points, Guice had 18 and Carter added 13 in a 65-58 win over visiting Olentangy on Dec. 6 in the league opener.
The Wildcats also lost to Newark 62-57 in overtime Dec. 3 and Gahanna 61-46 on Dec. 10.
Morton competes in Ironman tournament
Senior wrestler Aaron Morton competed in the Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit Ironman Tournament on Dec. 13.
He won his first two matches at 152 pounds, but was forced to withdraw after suffering a pinched nerve in his right shoulder and neck area during a quarterfinal match.
Morton was leading Dominic Isola of Orlando (Florida) Lake Highland Prep 2-1 late in the second period when the injury occurred. He went on to lose 4-2 and lost by default in his first consolation match to finish 2-2.
Morton accounted for his team's eight points as the Wildcats tied for 83rd behind champion Kingston (Pennsylvania) Wyoming Seminary (234.5) as 106 teams scored.
Morton was expected to return to action this week.