Moments after his team's 67-26 home win over Columbus Academy on Dec. 14, first-year Whitehall-Yearling girls basketball coach Quentin Taylor glanced at the gymnasium's ceiling.
Taylor pointed to the banners and noted his program's lack of recognition, which is something he and his players are looking to change this season.
The Rams improved to 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the MSL-Ohio Division with the win over the Vikings. They're looking to win their first league title since the 1980-81 season and first district championship.
"It's early, but that's the goal," Taylor said of winning a Division II district title. "I didn't take the job just to be .500 or make an appearance in the district tournament. We want wins. We want titles. If you look around this gym, there's nothing girls basketball-related. It's crazy. We're going change that and make history here."
The Rams are seeking back-to-back winning seasons after finishing 14-10 last year under former coach Darrin Green.
"I'm happy I took the job because these girls are sponges," said Taylor, who is a former coach in the boys program at Whitehall. "About two months ago, I would have said I'm a little concerned, but these girls have bought into a whole new philosophy. They bought into a new way of pushing themselves, pushing each other. They hold each other accountable."
Sophomore forward Alexia Mobley has played a key role in the team's strong start. Mobley, who transferred from Reynoldsburg, has committed to the University of Louisville.
Against Academy, Mobley had 24 points and 17 rebounds, Jewel Watkins had 18 points and five steals and Kiara Bagley had 12 points and eight rebounds.
Mobley scored 20 points, Bagley had 12 and Watkins added 10 in a 60-36 win at Grandview on Dec. 9.
"Our energy," Mobley said when asked about the key to the team's early success. "Once we get into it, our energy goes high and you can't stop us."
Whitehall continues to play without sophomore guard Brooklynn Greer, who broke her left wrist in a 63-26 win at Columbus School for Girls on Dec. 6. As of Dec. 16, she was hoping to return in four weeks.
The Rams should face a tough test Friday, Dec. 20, when they play host to Worthington Christian, which is 6-0 overall and 5-0 in the MSL-Ohio. The Warriors, a Division III program, won the league title last season.
"We have to get ready for the Division II district tournament," Taylor said. "There's going to be a lot of bumps and bruises in a row ... but we're going to learn and we're going to take the good with the bad just to get better."
Whitehall also has games coming up against Warrensville Heights on Monday, Dec. 23, at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, against Solon on Dec. 27 at Pickerington Central and against London on Jan. 2.
Despite the solid start, Taylor believes his team still can improve.
"We have a lot to learn," he said. "We have to make sure that we can learn how to have a killer instinct to finish games. I'm big on unforced turnovers and defensive rebounding. I hate when another team gets a lot of second shots. We have a lot of things to work on."
Wrestlers place third in home tournament
The wrestling team finished third (262 points) in the six-team Dan Gartner Duals on Dec. 14 at home. Winfield (West Virginia) won with 324 points and Liberty Union was second with 266.
The Rams' Shea Jordan (106 pounds), Nakylan Haley (138), David Winegarner (170) and Andrew Dickens (heavyweight) won titles, and Steven Fancelli (113) and Dajuon Brewer (145) finished second.
"Overall, I thought we wrestled well," coach Steve Pennington said. "(It was) definitely better than our (49-27 loss Dec. 11) at New Albany. That is the key. We need to keep improving every time we step on the mat. This is such an inexperienced team. Its ceiling is extremely high. We expected some champs, but four was a nice surprise and throw in Andrew Dickens being voted the Outstanding Wrestler and it was a great day."
Gymnast begins senior season
Senior gymnast Rebekah Revadelo has started her final prep season, as she again is training with the Westerville Central program.
Revadelo competed in the Hilliard Invitational on Dec. 14 at Hilliard Darby and finished third on balance beam (8.875) and 26th in the all-around (31.325).
She is hoping to qualify for her first state meet.
"She's a beautiful beam kid and I would love to see her place at district," coach Shea Stammen said. "Her beam routine can compete with the best of them when she hits, when she's on. We're trying to increase the difficulty of her dismount a little bit. ... I know she has that ability and potential."
Last season, Revadelo tied for 48th in the all-around (31.225) at district. She tied for 46th on uneven bars (7.6), tied for 47th on beam (8.175), tied for 95th on floor exercise (7.85) and tied for 106th on vault (7.6).
"To make state on beam would be great," she said. "Beam came easier to me. It was more about balance and having control. I like that a lot more."
Below are the coming schedules for the Whitehall-Yearling boys basketball, girls basketball and wrestling teams:
Dec. 21 -- Huntington (W.Va.) in Ironton Classic
*Dec. 20 -- Home vs. Worthington Christian
Dec. 23 -- Warrensville Heights at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland
Dec. 19 -- At Walnut Ridge with Whetstone