Tyrese Hughey and Omari Effiong have fit in perfectly with the Thomas Worthington boys basketball team.
The junior move-ins, both forwards, have helped the Cardinals to records of 12-2 overall and 6-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division. In the league, Thomas trails Hilliard Bradley by one game.
Coach Sean Luzader said the 6-foot-7 Hughey, who previously attended Licking Heights, and the 6-2 Effiong, who previously attended Pickerington North, are making key contributions.
"Pretty much it was a seamless transition for them," Luzader said. "They're both outstanding kids, they're both great academically and (they) really just fit well into our school community right away."
Both players said they're enjoying their debut season with the Cardinals, who can pull into a tie for first in the OCC-Cardinal if they win Friday, Jan. 17, at Bradley. Thomas lost the first meeting 49-46 on Dec. 6.
"We both contribute a lot of energy, a lot of defensive presence, like rebounding, and athleticism," Hughey said. "We add to the scoring we can do as well."
"I'm good with these guys, and it's fun playing with them," Effiong said.
Led by Jalen Sullinger's 16 points, Thomas closed the first round of league play by beating Kilbourne 66-35 on Jan. 10.
Through 12 games, Hughey was averaging 11.3 points, second behind Sullinger's 16.8. Hughey also was averaging 9.6 rebounds.
Luzader said Hughey is filling the big-man role that used to be occupied by Ben Wight, who is now playing for William & Mary.
"There (was) a big void there as far as needing a big guy. So Tyrese Hughey moved in and definitely fills that void," Luzader said. "He's a big body, he can definitely take care of the paint (and) he can score inside and out. And so he's playing that Ben Wight role with a different skill set, though."
Effiong was averaging 7.8 points through 12 games and was second in rebounds, averaging 4.4.
Luzader said Effiong contributes all around the court.
"He wasn't really well known, kind of under the radar. Not many people were talking about him, and he's just an incredible athlete," Luzader said. "He is a guy that gives us great energy, gives us great defense, rebounds -- he's just kind of a do-it-all guy. He's been huge for us."
Despite the Cardinals' success so far this season, Effiong said the team isn't looking too far ahead.
"We have to take it one game at a time," he said. "We can't worry about everything in the future and things that are too far in the future. We can't get off track."
Hockey team looks to play cleaner game
At 12-8-1-1 overall and 3-5-1-1 in the CHC, coach Bill McGill said the hockey team would benefit from getting more shots in the net and committing fewer penalties, and therefore not subject itself to playing shorthanded for stretches of games.
"We're a little bit disappointed in the season so far to date in that we can't seem to win any of the close games, mostly because we take too many penalties and find ourselves playing shorthanded," he said.
McGill also said there have been examples where, despite outshooting opponents, the Cardinals have lost because they could not translate those shots into goals.
"We have to figure out how to put the puck in the net," he said. "We just lost (Jan. 5) in overtime 3-2 to Olentangy Berlin (despite the fact that) we outshot them 50-25. We couldn't score and we lost."
Senior Will Pischel has 24 goals and 13 assists, and junior Evan Kendall has 14 goals and nine assists.
Girls bowling team faring well
Entering a Thursday, Jan. 16, match against Bradley at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, the girls bowling team is 4-1 overall, 3-1 in the COHSBC-B and 2-0 in the OCC-Cardinal.
Paige Stephens leads the Cardinals with a 156.4 average.
The boys team is 0-6 overall, 0-5 in the COHSBC-B and 0-2 in the OCC-Cardinal, but Nate Johnson's average of 202.9 ranked him 10th in the COHSBC entering the week.
Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 17 -- At Hilliard Bradley. The Cardinals lost to the Jaguars 49-46 on Dec. 6.
*Jan. 21 -- At Delaware. The Cardinals defeated the Pacers 56-43 on Dec. 13.
*Jan. 17 -- Home vs. Bradley. The Cardinals lost to the Jaguars 49-44 on Dec. 6.
*Jan. 21 -- Home vs. Delaware. The Cardinals lost to the Pacers 58-34 on Dec. 13.
*Jan. 16 -- Bradley at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Jan. 17 -- Hilliard Davidson at Capri Lanes
Jan. 19 -- 2020 Winter Shootout at HP Lanes
*Jan. 22 -- Hilliard Darby at Capri Lanes
Jan. 17 -- Wheeling (W.Va.) Linsly at Chiller North
Jan. 18 -- Athens at Chiller North
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 17 -- At Columbus School for Girls
*Jan. 23 -- Home vs. Darby