Watterson Roundup: Coach Sam Davis enjoying second stint with girls basketball team

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Senior guard Danielle Grim is one of the top returnees for the Watterson girls basketball team and first-year coach Sam Davis, who also led the Eagles from 1978-86.

In his first few months as Watterson girls basketball coach, Sam Davis has been impressed with the players and families who are a part of the program.

It’s exactly what he expected.

Three years after graduating from college, Davis took over as the Eagles’ coach and led them to a 137-35 record from 1978-86 before leaving for a two-year stint at Otterbein.

He later returned to coaching at the prep level and entered this season with a 532-335 record in 40 seasons that includes tenures with the Hartley boys (1988-91), the Gahanna boys (1991-2000) and the New Albany boys (2000-20).

Davis replaced Tom Woodford, who led the program for 19 seasons. Last winter, the Eagles went 23-3 and were Division I district runners-up for the second year in a row.

“I’m loving it,” Davis said. “The girls are just amazing. They really want to be taught. They’re really eager to listen to what we have to say. Here’s the biggest thing is that they’ve been raised right and Tom Woodford, I can’t say enough. He’s a great coach and they were in great shape when I got here. We’re just trying to not mess things up. We have a good nucleus of kids that really seem to like each other and the coaching staff we’ve been able to put together is awesome.”

CCL contests are suspended through Dec. 18 because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but practices are allowed.

Watterson is led by seniors Kilyn McGuff (5-foot-11, wing player/guard) and Danielle Grim (5-8, guard).

McGuff had 16 points in a 43-40 loss to Pickerington Central in last season's district final as the Eagles settled for a runner-up finish for the third time in four seasons. She averaged 14 points while making first-team all-district.

Grim missed six games at midseason with an injury but scored 15 in a 54-19 second-round tournament win over Hilliard Darby and averaged 8.5 points. She has signed with LIU-Brooklyn.

The other seniors are Brynn Mulligan (5-4, guard) and Caroline Slater (5-9, forward). Mulligan likely will be the point guard.

Junior Kiley Graham (6-0, forward) averaged seven points last season, and juniors Grace Cantwell (5-6, guard) and Norah Dorley (5-9, forward) both averaged four points.

Junior Kiley Graham (6-0, forward) missed preseason action with a finger injury but also is a key returnee.

Junior Tanya Eagle (5-7, guard) is another who gained varsity experience last season.

The other juniors are Maria Decaminada (5-8, wing player), Alexa Machol (5-7, guard/wing player) and Kenna Ryan (5-5, guard).

Sophomores Keiryn McGuff (5-9, wing player) and Sydney Spears (6-0, forward) also should contribute.

The only players lost from last season are guard Paige Woodford, who is now at Mercyhurst after making honorable mention all-district, and guard Emily Dixon.

“They’ve worked really hard,” Davis said. “I can’t say enough about how they’re buying into what we’re doing, and the biggest reason I’m excited is that I can see what we can do. I’m very excited and I praise God I’ve got the opportunity to come back to Watterson.”

Senior forward Hayden Storts is among the key players for the Eagles hockey team, which went 13-22-1 last season.

Hockey team looks

to continue growth

Despite having only five seniors last season, the hockey team improved by four wins and battled for the CHC-Blue Division title.

The Eagles have a nine-member senior class and return several key players as they look to contend in a CHC-Blue that again includes Columbus Academy, DeSales, Dublin Scioto and Gahanna and has added Olentangy and Worthington Kilbourne.

No CHC games were scheduled through the end of November because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We obviously had some key losses,” fifth-year coach Jay Graham said. “We’ve got some key returning guys and have brought in some new people into the fold. As we continue to jell and get better, we’ll add some help in that respect. We lost some offensive flare, but we bring back our leading scorer.”

That player is sophomore forward Brandon Trout, who had 32 goals and 15 assists last season.

Senior Adam Pavliga had 12 goals and nine assists and, according to Graham, could be the top defenseman in the CHC.

The other seniors are Tino Auddino (forward), Nick Colombo (defenseman), Daniel Davis (forward), Owen Gibson (forward), Colin Meyer (forward), Pablo Smith (defenseman), Hayden Storts (forward) and Reed Whetstone (forward).

Sophomore Andrew Burri is the goalie after splitting time at that position last season with 2020 graduate Max Graham, who had eight goals and five assists in limited duty at forward in addition to being in the net.

Junior forward Luke Simone and sophomore forward D.J. Colombo are other key returnees.

Others looking to contribute include juniors Lucas Chan (forward) and Marie Grassi (defenseman), sophomores Collin Durham (forward), Brandon Feaver (defenseman) and Charlie Pelleriti (forward) and freshmen Alex Shirack (forward) and Logan Storts (forward).

Grassi has girls club experience.

“There’s a few teams that have girls on them and I think you’ll see that more at the high school level, which is great, and she does really, really well,” Graham said.

“Our key returning guys will all be important in what we do and all the other players will help keep some continuity. Those guys are being asked to carry the bulk of the play and our newcomers are filling in nicely. I think we’ll be competitive (in the CHC-Blue) and have got as much of an opportunity to come out (first) as anybody.”

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Coach: Sam Davis, first season

Top players: Grace Cantwell, Norah Dorley, Kiley Graham, Danielle Grim, Keiryn McGuff, Kilyn McGuff and Brynn Mulligan

Key losses: Emily Dixon and Paige Woodford

Last season: 23-3 overall

2019-20 CCL standings: Watterson (6-0), Hartley (4-2), DeSales (2-4), Ready (0-6)

2020 postseason: Defeated Westerville Central 60-29; def. Hilliard Darby 54-19; def. Worthington Kilbourne 45-40; lost to Pickerington Central 43-40 in Division I district final

HOCKEY

Coach: Jay Graham, fifth season

Top players: Tino Auddino, Andrew Burri, D.J. Colombo, Nick Colombo, Daniel Davis, Adam Pavliga, Luke Simone, Hayden Storts and Brandon Trout

Key losses: Max Graham, Mason Jolly, Zach Kubatko and Ian Simone

Last season: 13-22-1 overall

2019-20 CHC-Blue standings: Columbus Academy (7-7-1-1), Watterson (7-9), Gahanna (5-11), Dublin Scioto (2-14), DeSales (0-16)

2020 postseason: Def. Olentangy 6-4; lost to New Albany 11-1 in second round of district tournament