While the Worthington Kilbourne girls basketball team has enjoyed a solid start under first-year coach Stephanie Jones, she sees areas for growth.
The Wolves are 3-3 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division. In league play, they defeated Thomas 60-39 on Dec. 3, Hilliard Darby 64-31 on Dec. 10 and Hilliard Bradley 43-39 on Dec. 13, but lost to Dublin Jerome 46-39 on Dec. 6.
Kilbourne plans to build on its early play, with aspirations of competing for the league championship after finishing 10-13 overall and 5-9 in the OCC-Cardinal a year ago.
"We want to be at the top," Jones said. "Kilbourne's kind of fallen in the middle of the road or toward the bottom in years past. I think we have a lot of experience; all starters are returning. So I feel like we can compete to be more at the top of the league instead of the middle of the pack."
To get there, Jones said the Wolves need to focus on "meshing" and playing well as a team, both offensively and defensively. While she said the team has been playing good half-court defense, it needs to improve its offensive sets, rebounding and boxing out.
"We've got to be successful at the little things, and we focus on that and we talk about that a lot," Jones said. "We need to do the little things well so the big things happen. We need to be doing all the little things successfully, not just a few little things here and a few little things there. We need to get it all clicking."
Leading the way have been junior Amya Harris (5-5, guard), sophomore Lauren Scott (5-7, guard), sophomore Celeste Sloma (5-8, guard) and senior Julia Taylor (5-7, guard) -- all starters -- along with sophomore Molly Humphrey (5-9, guard/forward) and senior Jackie Wolford (5-8, guard/forward).
Through five games, the Wolves were allowing 41.4 points per game while scoring 44.2.
"Our defense has been pretty good since the get go," Wolford said. "We're working on our zones, too. Our offense is one of the things we're working on still, so we're trying to get into rhythm and everything, and (get) shots to go in, too."
Jones said part of it comes down to the players learning the new system she has installed.
"They're learning a whole new system between me and the previous coach, so it's taking some time to get that fluid and running things well," she said.
Scott was averaging a team-high 17.2 points through five games, followed by Sloma at 8.5 and Taylor at 6.2.
The Wolves resume league play Friday, Dec. 20, at Delaware.
Gymnastics team features strong cast
With victories in its first two meets, the gymnastics team is building on a productive offseason and hoping to translate that into success the rest of the season with a roster that is mostly intact from a year ago.
"The girls did a great job in the preseason, strengthening and condition, so I think that's been really helpful and has paid off for us now," 28th-year coach Cindy Fushimi said. "I think physical fitness is a plus. I think we're a little ahead of where we were before because of their commitment in the offseason."
The Wolves beat Olentangy Orange, Marysville and Westerville Central with a score of 135.15 during their opener Dec. 4. They experienced similar success in their next meet Dec. 11, beating Westland, Upper Arlington, Central Crossing and Franklin Heights with a score of 134.55.
Despite some early success, Fushimi said the team's routines aren't quite polished, but that's to be expected.
"We just need to work on making them clean and trying to reduce falls and deductions and things like that," she said.
Leading the way is an experienced roster featuring athletes such as junior Emily Mosic, the team's only state qualifier last year. Mosic qualified on vault and balance beam.
"She has that experience under her belt now," Fushimi said. "I think that gives her a strong desire to get back to the state meet."
The Wolves also expect to receive contributions from seniors Trinity Leo, Abby Deitrick and Senna Harrison. The latter two are working their way back from injuries.
Although this is her first year on varsity after transitioning from club gymnastics, senior Hannah Hale is expected to make an impact as well.
"I think she's going to be a huge help toward our score," Fushimi said. "She's been making that transition from club gymnastics to high school gymnastics and I think she's handling that really well."
Fushimi also expects contributions from junior Sophie Seculov and sophomore Reagan Leo.
"Seculov is strong on beam and Leo is a good all-around gymnast," she said.
Boys team moving in 'right direction'
Boys basketball coach Tom Souder has a good feeling about his team.
"I really like the direction we are heading," he said. "We're somewhat of a young team, and the seniors and the juniors are kind of leading everybody in the right direction."
The Wolves lost to Briggs 59-55 in their opener Nov. 29 but then beat Watterson 36-33 on Dec. 3 and Jerome 63-43 on Dec. 6 in their league opener. Also in league play, they lost to Darby 43-41 on Dec. 10 and fell to Bradley 54-43 on Dec. 13.
Souder complimented the leadership provided by seniors Will Alban (5-11, guard), Blake Gardner (6-2, forward) and Braydon Biehn (6-0, guard) along with juniors Cayden Dougherty (5-10, guard), Mitchell Tomasek (6-4, forward) and Ian Schupp (6-4, forward) and sophomore Ayden Parsons (5-10, guard).
"We've got four guys that have a lot of experience and then add the seniors to that mix, we've got seven guys that kind of have an idea of where they want to go and what they want to be," Souder said. "And I've been really impressed on how they have kind of directed each day.
"I'm excited. I like this group a lot. They're very coachable, they want to be good (and) they want to be pushed. But they're fun to be around."
Below are the coming schedules for the Kilbourne boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 20 -- Home vs. Delaware
*Dec. 20 -- At Delaware
*Dec. 20 -- Hilliard Davidson at Capri Lanes
Dec. 20 -- Washington Court House Miami Trace at Trics Gymnastics
*Dec. 19 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby