Garner Wallace's expectations of himself are so lofty that even after a three-game week in which he averaged 16.7 points, recorded 10 rebounds and five assists in his season debut and was named the team's Most Valuable Player in a showcase event, the Pickerington Central boys basketball team's junior forward still considered himself "rusty."
In a basketball sense, he might have been.
The 6-foot-5 Wallace gave himself no time to rest after helping the Tigers football team to its second Division I state championship in three years. Within 48 hours after Central defeated Cincinnati Elder 21-14 in the final Dec. 6, Wallace attended Junior Day at Miami University and received his first football scholarship offer from the RedHawks, then joined the basketball team and was in the starting lineup Dec. 10 at Groveport.
That does not count any off-the-court activities, such as the church and school organizations to which he belongs, for Wallace, who against the Cruisers scored 19 of his game-high 23 points in the first half of a 90-44 win.
But for Wallace, his schedule never was in doubt.
"I've been doing the same thing my whole life. I've always played three sports -- even when I was younger, I played baseball instead of running track -- so I am used to going from season to season," Wallace said. "I still feel like I'm a little rusty. But now that I am older, I feel like I should set an example and work as hard as I can."
Wallace, who joined the basketball team's starting lineup midway through last season and has remained there ever since, was averaging 11.2 points through nine games for the Tigers. Central was 6-3 overall before playing Westerville South on Jan. 7 and is 3-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division entering a Friday, Jan. 10, home game against Gahanna.
"It's crazy to say it, but we kind of expected him to do what he is doing," coach Eric Krueger said. "We were praying for him and (forward) Demeatric (Crenshaw, the football team's quarterback) to stay healthy through their big run and then get here and get up to speed as much as they could.
"Garner is a kid who is constantly improving. He is doing everything he needs to do off the court, which helps everything translate on the court. His skills have improved. He understands the game. There's been a lot of growth."
As a wide receiver, Wallace had 20 catches for 220 yards and also made 59 tackles with three interceptions at free safety. He also was on the track and field team's state championship 800- and 1,600-meter relays last spring and finished fourth at state in the 1,600.
The basketball team's schedule dictated that Wallace would miss at least one game if the football team reached either a state semifinal or the championship game. Central opened Nov. 30 with a 54-53 loss to Toledo St. Francis in the All-Ohio High School Hoop Showcase at Pickerington North, but the Dec. 6 game against North was postponed to Dec. 17 to avoid a conflict with the football final.
Wallace had 17 points, seven rebounds and two steals Dec. 14 in a 72-44 win over Akron Buchtel during the Ohio Scholastic Play by Play Classic at Nationwide Arena and was named the Tigers' MVP.
Wallace also is on Student Council and is a member of student leadership groups Sunny Side Up and Young Life.
"People see what he does in football, basketball and track, but he also goes that hard with his youth group," said Wallace's mother, Brandi Garner. "Even when he was a baby, he didn't sleep very much. ... He's always been super motivated athletically and just as much academically.
"We always thought he'd excel in something. We just didn't know it would be this many things."
Wallace, who also owns a basketball scholarship offer from Western Carolina, recently joined the boys bowling team. He planned to participate in home matches beginning earlier this week.
"It's just fun," Wallace said. "It's something else to do."
Defense pacing girls basketball team
The girls basketball team was 9-1 overall before playing Westerville South on Jan. 7 and is 5-0 in the OCC-Ohio as it begins the second half of league play Friday, Jan. 10, at Gahanna, and defense has played a large part in the Tigers' success.
Central averaged 60.9 points and allowed 36.0 points per game through nine contests. The most the Tigers gave up during that stretch was 56 in a five-point win over Gahanna on Dec. 3.
Only one team, Shaker Heights Laurel, had put up 40 points against Central in that stretch. That came in the Tigers' 49-40 win on Dec. 27 in the inaugural Tiger Roundball Classic.
"(With) our defensive pressure, we're causing teams to turn it over a lot, which is helping us get our offensive game going," guard Nicole Stephens said. "We've struggled getting our flow going on offense, but we're working in new pieces."
Central has won 16 consecutive games in OCC-Ohio play and is 48-1 in the league dating to the 2015-16 season.
Wrestlers place at Scioto tourney
Bo Branson's second-place finish at 126 pounds led the wrestling team in the Kevin Cleveland Invitational on Jan. 3 at Dublin Scioto.
Branson went 3-1, losing to Oregon Clay's Austin Thompson 3-2 in the final.
Heavyweight Garrett Meek placed fourth and Brycen Rogers finished sixth at 106. Both went 3-2 on the day.
Central, whose lineup was in flux well into December because of the football team's state championship run, sent six wrestlers to Scioto. The other three were Cameron Griffith (220), Mekhi Hargrow (138) and Kaleb Mangahas (120).
The Tigers begin OCC-Ohio competition Thursday, Jan. 9, at Reynoldsburg. Central went 4-1 in the league last year to finish second behind Lancaster (5-0).
Below are the coming schedules for the Central boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 10 -- Home vs. Gahanna
Jan. 11 -- Home vs. Eastmoor Academy
*Jan. 10 -- At Gahanna. The Tigers defeated the Lions 61-56 on Dec. 3.
*Jan. 10 -- Groveport at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Jan. 14 -- Pickerington North at Rule 3
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 10-11 -- Northeast Classic at Branin Natatorium in Canton
*Jan. 9 -- At Reynoldsburg
Jan. 11 -- Porter Memorial Tournament at Hilliard Bradley