Whetstone boys basketball coach Dean Washington said his team still has plenty of work to do midway through his first year with the program.

The Braves were 1-10 overall and 1-4 in the City League-North Division before playing Linden-McKinley on Jan. 14. Last season under Rickie McClanahan, they finished 4-19 overall and 3-1 in the league.

Washington, who stated he would like to see better defensive play at the beginning of the season, said there is still a lot of work to do on that front.

"We have to learn to play defense. That's all there is to it, no ifs, ands or buts," he said. "Right now, teams that have better athletes are just kind of having their way against us, and we have to make ourselves become a little more mentally tough where we want to stop the opponent, as opposed to letting the opponent have their way."

Washington said the Braves also need to improve on the offensive end of the court. Through 11 games, they were averaging 43.8 points per contest and allowing an average of 69.6.

That being said, Washington likes the effort he's seen from his players.

"They've bought in," he said. "Even though there's been ugly defeats, the kids are trying hard and we try to stay positive.

"I'm used to winning. That's what I'm trying to get us to understand, the mentality that it takes to compete."

Washington particularly likes the efforts turned in by sophomore forward Damarius Warfield, junior guard Caleb Brigle, junior forward Zach Casto and freshman guard Alejandro Soto.

"Those are some kids that come every day and put forward that workman, blue-collar effort," Washington said.

Brigle was averaging a team-best 17.8 points through 11 games, followed by senior forward Jaden Arledge (9.7).

Despite the struggles, Brigle said the team has great chemistry.

"We're playing very well together, we have a lot of team chemistry," he said. "Behind closed doors, I think we all love each other and we all care for each other. We all have each other's backs, so I think we just have to grow on that."

Girls basketball team gaining experience

Third-year girls basketball coach Torrie Ruffin is seeing progress with this year's team midway through the season.

Whetstone was 1-10 overall and 0-5 in the City-North before playing Linden on Jan. 14, but Ruffin said her players are starting to comprehend the game better than they did a year ago. Last season, the Braves were relatively inexperienced and finished 3-19 overall and 3-11 in the league.

"It's gone better than last year. We're making progress," Ruffin said. "(The players) understand the game better. Obviously, their skills are a lot better, they're coming in and working. Last year, a lot of them were so new to the sport. This year, they actually understand it now. It just needs to all connect."

Through 11 games, the Braves were averaging just 22.9 points. Heaven Goble, a junior guard, was averaging a team-best seven points, followed by senior guard Salma Kebe (6.8).

Ruffin said sophomore guard/forward Ellen Edwards and sophomore guard Vida Barzdukas have been other key contributors.

"(Edwards) works hard, she's just a workhorse," Ruffin said. "She comes in, she does extra work ... she does everything possible to be successful. ... And I would say Vida Barzdukas is another one that's been really standing out and coming and doing the extra work to be successful.

"I feel like those two are really the ones that put in more than just practice time."

Going forward, Ruffin said she wants her team to work on building up their confidence.

"The girls really need to understand that they're capable of playing and that they actually are pretty good basketball players," she said. "They just have to believe in themselves."

Girls bowling team entered week unbeaten

Entering a match against Northland on Jan. 13, the girls bowling team was 6-0 in the COHSBC-C Division and the boys team was 2-4 in the COHSBC-C.

The girls defeated Bexley 1,502-1,052 on Dec. 6, Columbus Academy 1,504-1,501 on Dec. 9, Mifflin 1,689-1,116 on Dec. 11, West 1,383-1,116 on Dec. 17, Marion-Franklin 1,328-1,171 on Jan. 6 and International 1,579-1,221 on Jan. 9.

Senior Alea Millington-Fuqua had a team-best 170.5 average through six matches, followed by sophomore Stella Thompson (120.8).

The boys defeated West 1,525-1,222 on Dec. 17 and International 1,805-1,387 on Jan. 9, but lost to Bexley 1,711-1,603 on Dec. 6, Academy 1,665-1,566 on Dec. 9, Mifflin 1,870-1,727 on Dec. 11 and Marion-Franklin 1,840-1,564 on Jan. 6.

Through six matches, sophomore Josh Jones had a team-high 155.6 average, followed by freshman Abram Normand (154.2) and senior Nairan Normand (140.2).

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Whetstone boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 17 -- Home vs. East. The Braves beat the Tigers 58-47 on Dec. 10.

*Jan. 21 -- At Centennial. The Braves lost to the Stars 85-58 on Dec. 13.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 17 -- At East. The Braves lost to the Tigers 43-40 on Dec. 10.

*Jan. 21 -- Home vs. Centennial. The Braves lost to the Stars 59-27 on Dec. 13.

BOWLING

Jan. 21 -- Worthington Christian at HP Lanes

*Jan. 23 -- Centennial at Sequoia Pro Bowl

SWIMMING & DIVING

Jan. 18 -- Wellington at Columbus Aquatics Center

Jan. 22 -- Marion Harding at Marion YMCA

WRESTLING

Jan. 18 -- Panther Invitational at Pickerington North

Jan. 22 -- Home vs. Watterson

Jan. 23 -- Home vs. Linden-McKinley

*League contest