It seems like everyone has their eyes on Haley Cox when she takes the court for the Central Crossing girls basketball team, especially opposing defenders.
The 5-foot-7 senior guard is the Comets' all-time leading scorer with 1,153 career points before playing Reynoldsburg on Feb. 4. She also is closing in on the all-time leader from the boys program, 2009 graduate Bryce Barnes, who scored 1,188 points.
After scoring 29 points in a 69-41 victory over Briggs on Jan. 15, Cox averaged just 8.8 points over the next five contests. That was well below her 14.8 average through 20 games.
"I really try to do what I can, no matter if they are face-guarding or whatever," Cox said. "I still set screens and I still run the play. I have to work harder to get open and get shots off."
It can be tough. In a 61-22 loss to visiting Hilliard Davidson on Jan. 31, Cox was scoreless at halftime as the Comets trailed 28-5. She would finish with a team-leading 11 points.
"Haley is pretty much the foundation of our team," said coach Ann Tiefenthaler, whose team was 4-16 overall before playing Reynoldsburg and is 2-7 in the OCC-Central Division. "She brings energy and determines the energy for the game.
"She is the one that propels the offense forward. If she's on, we're on. If she's off, we're off. She kind of motivates everyone in that sense without even having to speak, even on defense. Usually if she gets a steal, we can start a run that way."
Zone defenses tailored toward stopping Cox might be having an effect on her production, but she's determined to make adjustments.
"You just keep shooting," she said. "I would much rather not give up on myself and keep my confidence up instead of just stop shooting.
"Recently (cold shooting) has been happening often, but I have been trying to get back into it. (The defenses) may have something to do with that, but it's something I have to work through."
Tiefenthaler said the attention Cox receives from opponents opens the door for other players to step forward. Two guards have stepped up in that regard in junior Sydney McCullough and sophomore Georgia Lakso.
Lakso averaged 9.1 points through 20 games, and McCullough had averaged 6.8 points in her previous six games before playing Reynoldsburg.
"Haley can get pretty frustrated, " Tiefenthaler said. "We have had to deal with diamond-and-1s and box-and-1s on her.
"She has to handle double-teams against most teams. We have to deal with her being face-guarded, so we have to find ways to deal with that. We can have her teammates set screens or helping other teammates step up (offensively) to where the attention is drawn off her for a hot second. Sydney McCullough stepped up (with 14 points Jan. 28 in a 45-43 loss to Westerville Central), and so then they had to face-guard both Sydney and Haley."
The Comets are seeded 41st for the Division I district tournament and play at 12th-seeded Olentangy Liberty on Feb. 15 in a first-round game.
That means the clock is ticking on Cox's prep career. She is undecided on a school, but would like to play collegiately.
"I feel like I am better both on and off the ball (than earlier in my career)," she said. "I'm stronger so driving has been a lot easier. I have a better shot and I'm better with ball-handling. Everything has just improved.
"I think I will need to be stronger (in college) and I will need to be more vocal. Also, I need to improve my shot off my dribble."
Tiefenthaler believes Cox will need to expand her game on offense at the next level.
"She needs to be driving more than setting and shooting these 'Steph Curry' 3s," Tiefenthaler said. "She needs to drive more to draw the foul and she can be more successful. She can look to get the ball to her teammates on little ducks or dives and the percentage on inside shots is much better than from the outside."
Howard, Thompson lead swimmers at UA
Haylee Howard and Emma Thompson helped lead the girls swimming and diving team in the Upper Arlington Invitational on Feb. 1 in preparation for a Division I sectional in the same pool Saturday, Feb. 8.
Howard was third in the 100-yard butterfly (1 minute, 11.31 seconds) and Thompson placed sixth in the 200 freestyle (2:14.97). They joined Haley Kumfer and Madison Studt on both the runner-up 200 medley relay (2:12.91) and fifth-place 400 free relay (4:15.37).
The Comets finished fifth (140 points) of seven teams behind champion UA (398).
The boys team was fourth (98) behind champion Davidson (392). The 200 free relay of Mason Smith, Jacob Archer, Mitchel Smith and Matt Groom was fourth (1:45.24), and the same four swimmers were on the sixth-place 400 free relay (3:55.32).
Boys basketball team sweeps Davidson
The boys basketball team snapped a four-game losing streak by defeating Davidson 49-48 on Jan. 31 to sweep the Wildcats in OCC-Central play.
Logan Green scored 13 points and Devon Miller added 11 to lead the Comets, who were 4-14 overall before playing Reynoldsburg on Feb. 4 and are 3-5 in league play.
Central Crossing lost to Teays Valley 68-59 on Jan. 28. Miller had 24 points and Jalen Coles added 12.
Below are the coming schedules for the Central Crossing boys basketball, girls basketball, gymnastics and swimming & diving teams:
*Feb. 7 -- At Dublin Coffman. The Comets lost to the Shamrocks 64-48 on Jan. 3.
Feb. 11 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange
*Feb. 7 -- Home vs. Coffman. The Comets lost to the Shamrocks 86-28 on Jan. 3.
Feb. 12 -- OCC-Central meet at Marysville
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 8 -- Division I sectional at Upper Arlington. The winner of each event and 27 at-large qualifiers in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites advance to district Feb. 13 at Ohio State. There is no diving at sectional.