Groveport Madison girls basketball player Casey Humphrey's height of 5-foot-3 might not indicate all she is willing and able to do in helping lead the Cruisers.
The junior guard's versatility and skill on both sides of the ball was on display within the first few minutes of a 40-23 loss to New Albany on Dec. 20.
Humphrey hit a 3-pointer on the Cruisers' second possession to give her team an early one-point lead. Two possessions later, she cut to the basket and made a layup high off the glass, and throughout the night was not afraid of contact with Eagles forwards Maddy Hofmann and Lauren Wood, who stand 5-9 and 6-2, respectively.
Humphrey banked in another layup in the second quarter to end a 6-minute, 38-second scoring drought and added two coast-to-coast layups off steals in the second half, but that wasn't enough to keep pace with New Albany.
Except for some of the results, this season thus far has been what Humphrey expected from herself on an individual basis. She was averaging 13.3 points through 10 games to help Groveport to records of 3-7 overall before playing Central Crossing on Jan. 7 and 1-4 in the OCC-Capital Division entering a Friday, Jan. 10, home game against Big Walnut.
"Last year, I was able to score everywhere, but my shot wasn't falling as much," Humphrey said. "I was young. I was a sophomore and new to the team. Now, being a junior, I have to step up and be able to score from anywhere. My shot has gotten better. I'm more comfortable with it and I have worked at that.
"My worst fear on the court is getting my shot blocked by a taller player. That's part of the reason I try to take it to the rim and score from closer in. I know I can do that and maybe draw some contact or a foul."
Humphrey scored a career-high 23 points in a 52-32 win over Franklin Heights on Dec. 6 and reached 20 points two more times, in a 65-31 loss at Pickerington Central on Dec. 10 and a 48-41 loss at Logan on Dec. 28.
Humphrey transferred from Westerville South before last season but immediately emerged as a driving personality for the Cruisers. She was their leading scorer with 14 points in their only Division I district tournament game last season, a 77-29 loss to eventual state runner-up Pickerington Central.
"She's a leader," forward Sha'Ron Whatley said. "When we need motivation, she's there. She carries us when she has to. Without her, I am not sure where we'd be this season.
"She's probably better than what I expected. Last year, we had a lot of seniors and now this year, we're depending on some younger girls. She has stepped up because she knows we need her to step up."
Humphrey is especially encouraged by her team's defense, which held five teams to 37 points or fewer through 10 games. The Cruisers lost 36-33 to Newark's junior varsity team in OCC-Capital play Jan. 3.
"Our communication on defense has been very good," Humphrey said. "It's how long we are, too. That determines how we're going to do. We get deflections and our movement has been really good. I absolutely thought this would be a strength for us."
Groveport begins the second half of league play Tuesday, Jan. 14, at Big Walnut in the completion of a game suspended Dec. 3 because of a power outage.
"If we continue to communicate well, we can have a better season," Humphrey said. "We've had games where our energy has just been off, but we've had some strong games, too."
Balance pacing bowling teams
The boys bowling team's top five scorers were within 18 pins of each other in terms of average entering the week, and the girls team's second- through sixth-leading scorers were separated by 8.2 pins through the first five matches of the season.
Hunter Rathburn averaged 185.3 for the boys, who were 2-3 overall and 1-3 in the COHSBC-B before a match against Thomas Worthington on Jan. 6 and are 0-1 in the OCC-Cardinal entering a Friday, Jan. 10, match against Pickerington Central at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Austin Snyder averaged 179.7 pins through five matches, followed by William Lawson (178.2), Jake Benline (172.7) and Jeremiah Slonaker (167.8).
Rathburn had the boys' top two two-game series this season entering a week, a 455 on Dec. 10 against Worthington Kilbourne at Capri Lanes and a 440 on Dec. 2 against Hilliard Bradley at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Suzie Francis' 131.5 average through five matches led the girls, ahead of Jessica Clayton (112.3), Kayla Sheets (109.3), Makayla Harold (105.6), Ellisia Little (104.1) and Amanda Comehn (102.2).
Francis rolled a team-best 307 series in a Dec. 11 match against Hilliard Darby, which the Cruisers won 1,386-1,370.
The boys' wins entering the week were against Bradley (2,276-2,205) and Newark (2,111-2,085 on Dec. 9 at Park Lanes).
Boys basketball team gathers momentum
The boys basketball team put a four-game winning streak on the line Jan. 7 at Central Crossing, on the heels of two huge performances from guard Scotty Lomax.
Lomax scored a career-high 31 points Jan. 3 in a 68-56 home win over Newark and followed that up the next afternoon with 29 points as the Cruisers beat Centennial 69-61 in The Challenge at Pickerington North.
Groveport was 6-4 overall before Jan. 7 and is 2-2 in the OCC-Capital entering a Friday, Jan. 10, game at Big Walnut.
The Cruisers also defeated Newark 46-43 last season. The Wildcats are 31-3 in OCC-Capital play since the start of the 2016-17 season and have won three consecutive league championships.
Groveport's earlier wins came at home against Granville (57-47 on Dec. 21) and at Teays Valley (65-56 on Dec. 30).
Below are the coming schedules for the Groveport Madison boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 10 -- At Big Walnut
Jan. 14 -- Home vs. Westerville Central
*Jan. 10 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
Jan. 11 -- Home vs. Bloom-Carroll
*Jan. 14 -- At Big Walnut in completion of suspended game from Dec. 3
*Jan. 9 -- Dublin Scioto at Sawmill Lanes
*Jan. 10 -- Pickerington Central at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Jan. 15 -- Lancaster at Tiki Lanes
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 10 -- Athens at Ohio University
*Jan. 9 -- At Canal Winchester