Watterson Roundup: McGuff sisters enjoying time together on Eagles girls basketball team

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Basketball is the family business for sisters Kilyn and Keiryn McGuff, who are key players for the CCL-champion Watterson girls team. Their parents are Kevin McGuff, who is Ohio State’s women’s coach, and Letitia McGuff, who is a former college player and coach.

When Keiryn McGuff is in the game for the Watterson girls basketball team at the same time as her sister, Kilyn McGuff, she understands she may receive advice regarding how to handle certain situations. 

Viewing basketball as a growth process goes with the territory for a family that has shown fervor for the sport for as long as both can remember. 

Kilyn, a senior, and Keiryn, a sophomore, are two of the six children of Kevin McGuff, who is Ohio State’s women’s basketball coach, and Letitia McGuff, who is a former college player and coach. 

“(Kilyn is) always helping me on the court, telling me to go get a rebound, go do this, and it’s really helping me become a better player,” Keiryn said. “We do everything together. We’re hitting (our stride) at our tournament season, so we’ll be at our peak when we’re playing the best teams.” 

This is the second and final prep season that the sisters are teammates for the Eagles, who improved to 15-4 overall and wrapped up the CCL title at 5-0 when they beat Hartley 39-38 on Feb. 9 on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by senior guard Danielle Grim.  

Watterson is seeded fifth for the Division I district tournament and opens the postseason Feb. 19 at home against 30th-seeded Northland. The winner plays 13th-seeded Hilliard Bradley, 14th-seeded Olentangy Liberty or 26th-seeded Pickerington North on Feb. 24 in a district semifinal. 

Should the Eagles advance to a district final for the third consecutive season, the most likely opponent would be fourth-seeded Westerville North or seventh-seeded Pickerington Central on Feb. 27. 

Kilyn scored 16 points in last year’s 43-40 district final loss to Central as the Eagles finished 23-3. 

Under first-year coach Sam Davis, Watterson has adjusted to a new motion offense that has been led by Kilyn (16 points per game) and Grim (11 ppg). 

“It was definitely a challenge adjusting because (former) coach (Tom) Woodford’s system was so different, but I think we’re about to hit our peak going into the tournament,” Kilyn said.

While the sisters acknowledge that there is a bit of a sibling rivalry between them, the increasing time on the court together for Kilyn, who is about 5-foot-11, and Keiryn, who is 5-9, has been memorable for both. 

Keiryn averages five points and has been among the team’s leading rebounders along with her sister. 

“It’s been fun,” Kilyn said. “I know if I don’t get a rebound, she’ll go and get it because we play kind of similarly. I’m a senior so I’m older, but I think she’ll definitely improve a lot over the years.” 

The next-closest sibling in age is Lukas, a seventh-grader who also plays basketball. 

Letitia McGuff, whose maiden name is Bowen, finished her college career in 1995 at Notre Dame with 999 rebounds to rank second in program history. 

A year later, she was hired as an assistant at her college alma mater. Kevin McGuff joined the Fighting Irish’s staff as an assistant 10 days later. 

Bowen and McGuff were on the staff at Notre Dame when it won the 2001 national title. They married in 2002. 

Kevin McGuff was Xavier’s head coach from 2002-03 through 2010-11, leading the program to six NCAA tournament appearances, and then served as Washington’s coach for two years before taking over at Ohio State in 2014-15.

Kilyn believes her family’s background has helped her and her sister have a “higher basketball IQ.”  

“Keiryn for a sophomore asks such intelligent basketball questions and I think she’s got a chance to be a really good player,” Davis said. “Kilyn is a really good player. Hopefully we’ve coached them up, but they came to us like that. Both of them are skilled and we’re blessed to have them. They’ve got good basketball savvy and mechanics.” 

Owen Samenuk and Watterson open the Division II district tournament Feb. 23 with a first-round game at Bexley.

Boys basketball team 

to begin tourney play 

The boys basketball team is seeded 13th for the Division II district tournament and will open Feb. 23 at 11th-seeded Bexley in a first-round game. 

The winner plays Feb. 26 at seventh-seeded Linden-McKinley. 

The Eagles snapped a seven-game losing streak when they beat Ready 61-60 on Feb. 5 at home, improving their CCL record to 1-6. 

With a 45-40 loss Feb. 6 to Worthington Kilbourne, Watterson dropped to 4-13 overall. 

Against Ready, sophomore guard Owen Samenuk hit a 3-pointer to give the Eagles a 47-42 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Sophomore guard Seven Scott gave Watterson a 54-49 lead on a 3 midway through the final period, and Watterson led by seven during the final minute before Ready’s rally came up short. 

Samenuk finished with 14 points, Scott had 12 and senior guard Jake Hoying added 11. 

“If you watched us (against Ready), those are some of the things we need to do,” coach Vince Lombardo said. “Ready’s having a real nice season and put it to us pretty good (in a 69-49 loss Jan. 13).

“(The rematch) was a big step for us. We feel like we’ve been playing better basketball.” 

Bowlers prep 

for postseason 

The boys and girls bowling teams open the postseason with Division I sectional competition at HP Lanes. The girls compete Feb. 18 and the boys compete Feb. 20. 

From both sectionals, the top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the district tournament Feb. 22 at HP Lanes. 

The girls team improved to 5-6 overall with a 1,616-1,267 win over Whetstone on Feb. 8. It is 2-3 in the CCL and 1-1 in the COHSBC-D Division.  

Christina Rose was leading the Eagles with a 164.0 average, and Rachel Reuter was averaging 147.8. 

The boys team lost to Whetstone 1,624-1,435 to drop to 0-12 overall. It is 0-6 in the CCL and 0-3 in the COHSBC-D. 

Jack Kish was leading the boys in average at 180.8, and Peter Assaf was averaging 165.9. 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek