A young Thomas Worthington girls basketball team experienced some growing pains during the first half of the season.
Coach Bill Sperlazza anticipated this considering the Cardinals lost a significant portion of their offense, including former starters and 2019 graduates Breanne Beatty and Sarah Charley, and are relatively inexperienced.
"We lost about 80 percent of our offense from last year. So we knew going into this season that we were going to have a young team with a little bit of inexperience," he said. "We do bring back two starters from last year, (senior) Emma Wince and (junior) Lauren Gerber, but other than those two starters, not a lot of experience."
Sperlazza said the varsity level presents a bit of a learning curve for younger players, but he's optimistic that he'll see improvement in the second half of the season.
"We knew it was going to take some time (for our young players) to adjust and get used to playing at the varsity level," he said. "So I think in the second half of the season, I hope we can build off of the experience that our younger players have soaked up during the scrimmage season and the first half of the regular season, and that our confidence will grow and (so will) our ability to navigate varsity basketball games in the OCC."
The Cardinals were 3-7 overall and 0-6 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Hilliard Darby on Jan. 7. They have had close league losses against Hilliard Bradley (49-44 on Dec. 6) and Olentangy Berlin (46-37 on Jan. 3).
Gerber, a guard who was leading the Cardinals in scoring (9.7 points), 3-point shooting (17-for-50, 34 percent) and free-throw percentage (17-for-19, 89.5 percent) through nine contests, said the team needs to focus on closing out games.
"We're trying to focus more on finishing games because we've had a couple of games that we had in the bag until the fourth period, and we either kind of fall out of it, or like, against Bradley for example, we went into overtime but just couldn't finish the game," she said. "Overall, you can see our potential as a team when we play together. We're just looking for that consistency."
Sperlazza said there have been times when the Cardinals have punched above their weight.
"Given the youth and inexperience of our team, we've had really good games this year," he said.
"We've beaten a solid Lancaster team, we competed very well with a senior-laden (Dublin) Scioto team and we competed very well with Hilliard Bradley. I think my favorite thing about the team is on game day they compete and they play hard."
Sperlazza said freshman guard Chaneya Garner and sophomore guard Jocelyn Ramos-Chears, both starters, are two younger players who have distinguished themselves so far this season.
Garner is the team's starting point guard.
"We have asked a lot of her and put a lot on her shoulders," Sperlazza said. "She has for the most part done an admirable job certainly given the situation."
Sperlazza said Ramos-Chears could develop into an impact player for the Cardinals.
"She has the potential to be a really good offensive player," he said. "The thing about Jocelyn is she's committed to this game. She works in the offseason. She works in the gym, in the weight room. We know we're going to get the best Jocelyn we can get, because she loves the game."
Wrestling coach seeing improvement
Wrestling coach Brad Todd was looking for improvement from his team at the beginning of the season.
Several weeks later, he's seen some good things from his wrestlers.
"I've seen some really good progress," he said. "Everyone in the lineup has been strong for us."
The Cardinals lost their league duals against Dublin Jerome and Bradley, but they've had several strong individual performances, including from 120-pound sophomore Channing Thornton (12-3), 132-pound sophomore Michael Blain (11-1), 160-pound sophomore Majed Ahmad (10-3), 182-pound sophomore Brayden Jamison (9-4) and 220-pound junior Mason Gates (11-0).
Boys medley relay impresses coach
Swimming and diving coach Keeler Callahan said he has been impressed with his boys 200-yard medley relay so far this season.
Callahan said the relay, which consists of freshman Matt Fralic, senior Sam Steele, junior Grant Simeone and junior Eli Short, swam well at the Ned Reeb Invitational on Dec. 14 at Ohio State and the Viking Invitational on Dec. 21.
"I was really impressed with them," Callahan said. "I thought they put themselves in a good spot for the end of the year.
"We've gotten under the 1:40 barrier at both the Ned Reeb invite and the Viking invite, which is a tough barrier to break through, especially earlier in the season. At the end of the year, we should be well under that 1:40 mark."
Callahan said the boys team had consistent performances during the morning preliminaries and evening finals at both invitationals.
"Even with how good the swims have been in the morning, the majority of their relays have actually dropped time at night even more, which is really hard to do during the same race twice in one day, and still being able to drop time after a good morning swim," he said.
On the girls side, Callahan said senior Audrey Taylor, freshman Sloane Antonetz and freshman Katie Browning have been having good seasons.
Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 10 -- Home vs. Kilbourne
Jan. 11 -- At New Albany
*Jan. 10 -- Home vs. Kilbourne
Jan. 14 -- Home vs. Central Crossing
*Jan. 16 -- Hilliard Bradley at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
Jan. 15 -- Home vs. Bradley, Hilliard Darby, Hilliard Davidson
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 15 -- Marysville at Marysville YMCA
*Jan. 9 -- At Olentangy Berlin
Jan. 11 -- Comet Classic at Central Crossing
Jan. 15 -- Vikings tri-meet at Northland