When opponents take the court against the Bexley boys basketball team, they have one primary task in mind: slowing the production of Damian Davis.
No matter their plan of action, the 5-foot-9 senior guard seems to be a near-unstoppable force for the Lions, averaging 19.5 points through 10 games.
Coach Todd Phillips doesn't know where his team would be without Davis.
"It's impressive because Damian's our one guy back to go with all of these new kids," said Phillips, whose team was 2-9 overall and 0-4 in the MSL-Ohio Division before playing Grandview on Jan. 7. "Everyone knows he is our best player, and he still is averaging around 20 per game. It's going to be getting tougher for him as we go through the season."
Davis scored a game-high 29 points with five 3-pointers and a 6-for-6 performance from the free-throw line in a 65-54 loss to St. Charles on Dec. 23. He had only five points at halftime and scored 17 in the fourth quarter.
"When I came out at halftime, my friend, (2019 graduate and Clark State player) Nasir Tucker, told me what was wrong with my shot," Davis said. "He said I needed more arc on it. I worked on that at halftime, and I hit my first shot (of the third quarter) and everything felt good after that."
Davis followed that up with a 21-point performance, including five 3s and another 6-for-6 effort on free throws, as the Lions defeated Olentangy Berlin 47-43 on Dec. 30.
Through 10 games, he was shooting 38.0 percent (30-for-79) on 3s and 79.7 percent (51-for-64) on free throws.
"I don't know where we would be without Damian," Phillips said. "We knew this year was coming and we knew we were going to take a dip with the inexperience, but he has been great.
"He has been so patient. He's a great, great person and always has been. He's so unassuming and selfless. When you watch him play, he never, never, never changes expressions. If he has a bad play, it never turns into two."
Davis started as a sophomore, averaging a team-best 12.7 points. He missed four games last season with a leg injury, but finished with averages of 11.6 points and 1.6 steals.
"It's a new role (as a leader that) I have to take because in the past I have had seniors always on me and helping me out," Davis said. "My taking on a leadership role has been difficult during this (2-9) stretch. I've had to help teammates out, keep their heads up when they miss shots and have them keep on playing the game so it will all come together."
Davis said the experience built over the past two seasons has made him a better player.
"I feel like I have more in my package to use and I have gotten stronger, quicker and faster from working on my game," he said. "I feel like I approach both (perimeter shooting and driving the lane) in the same way depending on how my defender is playing me. If they are backing up, I can hit the shot. If they are all up on me, I feel I can beat them on the move and get in the lane."
Davis' dual-threat potential makes defenders pick their poison, according to Phillips.
"Damian's really gotten better on the dribble," Phillips said. "Most of his shots that he took as a sophomore were off screens, but I noticed over (last) summer that he was really good at getting in the lanes and getting past people. He has really improved with the ball and has become a well-rounded player.
"He's quick enough to get to the ball, and he's good enough with the ball that he can get his own shot. He has a remarkable ability that a lot of guys who get the ball and create their own shot don't have. A lot of them really aren't great shooters, but he still can shoot at high rate even shooting off the dribble for himself."
Davis has a 3.8 GPA and wants to play at the next level. He hopes to study sports management or pre-law.
"Time flew," he said. "I remember when I was a freshman swinging on j.v. and playing varsity as a sophomore. This year is already going fast. It's moving by so quickly. We need to keep practicing hard and make the most of it."
Girls team wins three league games in a row
The girls basketball team has won three consecutive league contests to improve to 3-2 in the MSL-Ohio.
The Lions were 4-6 overall before playing Watterson on Jan. 7.
Bexley won its first MSL-Ohio game Dec. 14, defeating Grandview 53-36.
Grace Heilman and Sydnie Smith both scored eight points in a 32-19 league win over Columbus School for Girls on Dec. 20.
Sofia Sheridan (12 points) and Smith (10) led the Lions in their highest scoring output of the season, a 70-17 league rout of Wellington on Jan. 4 as 13 players scored.
Roberts leading boys bowlers
Tyler Roberts was leading the boys bowling team with a 176.7 average through six matches.
The Lions were 3-4 overall and in the COHSBC-C after losing to Columbus Academy 1,603-1,579 on Jan. 6.
Jordan Herman was next at 160.2, followed by Zach Herman at 157.8.
Maggie Hayes (137.9) and Haven Horton-Kunce (134.4) led the girls team, which was 0-7 overall and in the COHSBC-C after losing to Academy 1,476-1,304.
Below are the coming schedules for the Bexley boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
Jan. 10 -- Home vs. Bloom-Carroll
*Jan. 10 -- At Whitehall
*Jan. 14 -- Home vs. Columbus Academy
Jan. 11 -- Jim Shaw's Baker Shootout at Holiday Lanes
*Jan. 13 -- Columbus International at Sequoia Pro Bowl
*Jan. 15 -- Worthington Christian at HP Lanes
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 11 -- Teays Valley Invitational at Circleville YMCA and Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton
Jan. 9 -- Home vs. Hamilton Township and Hartley