One of the most memorable events to take place for the Dublin Jerome girls basketball team since Natalie Herring took over as coach came when it pulled a second-round tournament upset to reach a Division I district semifinal for the first time in program history during her first season with the program in 2016-17.
More moments like that are starting to happen for the Celtics, who have endured six consecutive losing seasons, including three under Herring.
Heading into their OCC-Cardinal Division contest Jan. 7 against Delaware, however, Jerome had won four games in a row, was 7-4 overall and in the thick of the league title race at 4-2.
"We knew if we could do it, this would be the year," senior guard Kendall Sestili said. "We set goals of how many games we wanted to win and how far we wanted to go throughout the tournament. It's helped us mentally to become stronger."
Jerome opened with back-to-back losses but broke through Dec. 3 with a 54-48 victory over Scioto, which finished second in the league last season.
The Celtics and Irish match up again Friday, Jan. 10, at Scioto, which was 9-3 overall and 4-2 in the league before playing Hilliard Bradley on Jan. 7.
Jerome's league losses before Jan. 7 came against Olentangy Berlin (50-40 on Dec. 13) and Bradley (47-29 on Dec. 20).
It followed by beating Marysville 42-29 on Dec. 27 and host Teays Valley 53-45 on Dec. 28 in games at the Lady Viking Holiday Classic.
Then after beating Logan 51-47 on Jan. 2, the Celtics put together a season-best defensive effort through 11 games in beating Hilliard Darby 37-17 on Jan. 3.
Jerome held six of its first 11 opponents below 40 points and was outrebounding opponents by an average of 29.7-15.6 during that time.
Before Jan. 7, senior guard Jamie Cline was averaging 12.1 points, senior post player Alie Intihar was averaging 7.5 rebounds and junior forward Amaris Lowery was averaging 8.3 points and 4.2 rebounds.
"Our chemistry and how we work together has improved drastically," Cline said. "We've been working hard and working together. Our practices have been more defensive-oriented because defense is what wins games. With the rhythm we're in, it's just easier to find each other on the court. With us having a more experienced team with four seniors, that really helps."
Hockey team trying to find rhythm
The hockey team continues CHC action Friday, Jan. 10, against Springboro at South Metro Ice and Sunday, Jan. 12, against Coffman at Chiller Dublin.
Both of those opponents compete in the CHC-White Division while the Celtics are in the CHC-Red.
Jerome is 8-8-1 overall and 1-5-1 in the league after beating Cincinnati St. Xavier 5-2 on Jan. 4.
The Celtics tied Olentangy Liberty at 1 on Dec. 27 but lost to Upper Arlington 2-0 on Dec. 29 and St. Charles 4-3 in overtime on Jan. 3.
Against Liberty, Adam Booth scored off of assists by Avery Mlicki and Anthony DiPaolo.
Jerome is 7-3 outside of league competition, including a 4-2 win over Coffman 4-2 on Dec. 7.
In a 6-3 victory over the Hilliard Wildcats club team Dec. 22, Evan Halligan had two goals and DiPaolo, Landon Hale, Matt Kish and Mlicki each scored one.
Nikolas Wagner and Ryan Norkin have split time at goaltender, with Wagner going 4-1 against non-league opponents and Norkin posting the other four wins.
Boys basketball team showing 'no quit'
The boys basketball team was 5-6 overall and 1-4 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Delaware on Jan. 7.
The Celtics' record, though, could be vastly better if a few additional breaks had gone their way during the season's first half.
A 43-41 loss to Hilliard Darby on Jan. 3 marked Jerome's third consecutive loss by five points or fewer. The Celtics have won four games by one or two points, with two of those victories coming in overtime.
"It has been (fun)," coach Richie Beard said. "It's added some gray hairs. Obviously, coaching a young team, you've got to learn how to win. One of the nice things with this group is there's no quit."
Dan Lee had 24 points in a 51-46 loss to Olentangy Orange on Dec. 27 and Ryan Nutter scored 22 in a 67-62 loss to Hebron (Kentucky) Conner on Dec. 28 in games in the Stephen Gussler Invitational at Thomas Worthington.
Against Darby, Lee had 16 points and Nutter scored 12 as the game was tied at 5 after one quarter and 15 at halftime before the Panthers outscored the Celtics 28-26 in the second half.
Below are the coming schedules for the Jerome boys basketball, girls basketball, gymnastics, hockey and wrestling teams:
Jan. 14 -- Home vs. St. Charles
*Jan. 10 -- At Scioto. The Celtics beat the Irish 54-48 on Dec. 3.
Jan. 14 -- At Westerville North
Jan. 9 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
Jan. 11 -- McGee Invitational at home
Jan. 13 -- At Washington Court House Miami Trace
Jan. 10 -- Springboro at South Metro Ice
*Jan. 12 -- Coffman at Chiller Dublin. The Celtics beat the Shamrocks 4-2 on Dec. 7.
*Jan. 9 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
*Jan. 15 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin