Watterson Roundup: Hockey squad gets boost from defense

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Senior Adam Pavliga has been a key player for Watterson's improving defense. He also has helped the offense, delivering five goals and six assists in the first nine games.

Helping coach Jay Graham celebrate his 400th career victory is something senior Adam Pavliga won’t forget. 

Pavliga and his fellow defensemen on the Watterson hockey team played a big role in the 3-2 win Dec. 30 over Columbus Academy at Chiller Dublin that gave Graham that honor. 

With a defensive corps that also includes seniors Nick Colombo and Pablo Smith and sophomore goalie Andrew Burri, the Eagles were 5-4 overall and 4-3 in the CHC-Blue Division after losing 4-0 to Thomas Worthington on Jan. 3 at Chiller Easton. 

“(Graham) deserves every bit of it,” Pavliga said. “He’s a fantastic coach and a better guy and I wouldn’t want to play for anyone else. 

“(Our defense) looks a lot better than last year. We’re really improved. They’ve got their heads up and are moving the puck a lot quicker. It’s looking really good.” 

Pavliga, who also competed for the boys golf team in the fall and plans to compete for the boys tennis team this spring, had 12 goals and nine assists last season. 

With five goals and six assists through nine games, he also has been one of the Eagles’ top scorers this winter. 

Sophomore forward Brandon Trout had eight goals and seven assists, sophomore forward D.J. Colombo had eight goals and three assists and senior forward Hayden Storts had six goals and two assists.

Burri saved 88 percent of the shots he faced through nine games. 

Among Watterson's other wins were league victories over Worthington Kilbourne (5-3 on Dec. 19) and DeSales (10-2 on Dec. 21, 5-1 on Dec. 28). 

The Eagles’ only loss against a CHC-Blue team through nine games was 6-3 to Olentangy on Dec. 22 at Chiller Ice Works. 

“Obviously Brandon Trout has been doing a lot for us,” Graham said. “Burri has been very solid between the pipes. D.J. Colombo and Brandon Trout have been carrying a lot of the offensive load for us but everybody has been chipping in, even our second and third lines who have been spelling the other guys. I’m very pleased with what our guys are doing right now. 

“We’re young but excited about our young talent. We’ve got a couple real good classes coming up, so we’re real excited with where the program is going. We’ve got a good backbone for where the program is headed.”

The Eagles don’t return to CHC action until Jan. 23 against Olentangy Berlin at Chiller North. 

“We’ve developed a lot and are starting to help out the (defense) a little bit, getting pucks out of the corners,” Trout said. “It’s going well.” 

Senior Danielle Grim was averaging 10.6 points through five games for the Eagles, who have been working to adjust to new coach Sam Davis' motion offense.

Girls basketball team 

grows in new system 

The girls basketball team believes it is starting to make headway in its hopes of running a consistent motion offense under new coach Sam Davis. 

After losing two of their first three games, the Eagles beat Dublin Coffman 52-36 on Dec. 29 and Olentangy Berlin 59-38 on Jan. 2 to improve to 3-2. 

Among the losses was a 40-39 double-overtime setback Dec. 28 against Hilliard Bradley. 

“Our defense has been solid,” senior guard Danielle Grim said. “We played absolutely horrendous on the offensive side (against Bradley). (The win over Coffman) was one of the better days of running our offense. We’ve got a new coach and we’re running a totally new offense. We’re running motion and it’s kind of hard for the girls to grasp it. It’s reading the defense more than what we ran with (former coach Tom) Woodford that was very structured. With this motion, you kind of get to choose what you’re going to do and you’ve got to read the defense. You have to trust the coaches.” 

Running the motion offense is something that Grim, a Long Island recruit, hopes will help her adjust to the college game considering that system is used widely at that level. 

Grim put together a 26-point performance in a 58-38 win over Upper Arlington on Dec. 23 and was averaging 10.6 points through five games. 

Senior guard Kilyn McGuff had 20 points and 14 rebounds against Berlin and was averaging 13 points through five games. 

McGuff’s freshman sister, guard Keiryn McGuff, also has filled a key role offensively, while junior forward Kiley Graham is another who has been among the regular contributors. 

Watterson travels Thursday, Jan. 14, to DeSales in first-round CCL action. 

“We didn’t make shots (against Bradley) and didn’t really execute very well,” Davis said. “(Former Hartley coach) Mike Lanza coaches our defense and just does a really great job. He’s got the girls playing really well defensively. I feel so bad for these kids because they were so successful and what they ran (under Woodford) was really good, but we’ve changed a lot. Not because I’m a knucklehead, but because I’ve got to coach what I know. It’s just taken them a while to grasp it. You can’t just walk on to the floor and run motion.” 

Eagles seeking new 

cross country coach 

Matt McGowan has concluded a 32-year run as boys and girls cross country coach.  

After McGowan in 2017 guided the boys team to its first state berth since 1981, the Eagles made it back to the Division II state meet this fall, finishing 17th on Nov. 7 at Fortress Obetz.  

“I and my assistant coaches would welcome to continue to coach, but that is not in the cards or the direction the athletic director or principal want to continue,” McGowan said.   

“(In 2019) Bishop Watterson was the first school in 25 years to win both the boys and girls CCL cross country championships and this year we finished second by one point in both. My goal in coaching is to get as many students out for cross country as possible and to coach and develop them as athletes and good citizens. With my background in my own running and coaching, I want the athletes to enjoy the sport and improve during the season and run their best at the end of the season, want to run on the team again next year and hopefully want to continue to run the rest of their lives.”  

In addition to his tenure in cross country, McGowan spent seven seasons as the head boys track and field coach, one season as the head boys and girls track coach and 20 seasons as an assistant track coach.  

“We appreciate all the years of hard work and dedication that coach McGowan has put into our cross country program and wish him the best,” athletics director Doug Etgen said. 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek