Notebook: Hard work keeps Hilliard Bradley Jaguars boys basketball team on successful path

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Cade Norris, one of two freshmen starting for Bradley, blocks a shot by Olentangy Liberty's Tylar Foster on Dec. 13. Through seven games, Norris was averaging 13.7 points, 3.1 assists and a team-high 8.0 rebounds.

Despite new faces, the Hilliard Bradley boys basketball team has picked up where it left off last season. 

The Jaguars won their first seven games and were ranked second in the initial Division I state poll behind Cincinnati Moeller. All this has been accomplished despite losing junior forward Tayshawn Mayfield to a knee injury during football and having a pair of freshmen in the starting lineup. 

Bradley finished 25-2 a year ago, beating Walnut Ridge 59-32 in a Division I regional semifinal March 11 beforethe rest ofthe postseason was postponed, then later canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.  

“I just think that very much like our past teams, we’ve built a program of guys who have worked and invested their time and we’ve been very smart,” said coach Brett Norris, whose team is in quarantine until Saturday, Jan. 16, because of positive coronavirus tests. “They’ve been together for a while now and guys are making the right plays.” 

The freshmen in the lineup are guard Jeb Bischoff and forward Cade Norris, the son of coach Norris. Through seven games, Cade Norris was averaging 13.7 points, 3.1 assists and a team-high 8.0 rebounds, and Bischoff was adding 7.3 points and had made 13 of 36 3-pointers (36.1 percent). 

Senior guard Keaton Norris, Cade’s older brother, said having an extra month of practice when the season was delayed because of the pandemic helped the team be better prepared. 

“I know that the guys with us this year were ready to go from the start,” said Keaton Norris, who was averaging a team-best 17 points and 4.3 assists. “(The extra practice time) was good for the young guys to get more reps. It was good for them to get more time. 

“They’re definitely built to play with us. They play hard, and that’s the way we do things. They’re fitting right in with us. They’re experienced now, seven games through. They’re finding their roles, doing their jobs and helping us win.” 

Keaton Norris is one of three returning starters, joined by senior forward A.J. Mirgon (14.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists) and junior forward Peyton Murphy (4.4 points, 5.6 rebounds). 

The Jaguars are 2-0 in the OCC-Central Division after defeating Olentangy Liberty 70-53 on Dec. 18 and Olentangy Orange 66-50 on Jan. 6 to increase their league winning streak to 59 games. They resume league play Tuesday, Jan. 19, at home against Upper Arlington.

“It was an inevitable situation,” coach Norris said of the quarantine. “We knew it would be tough to get through the season without this happening. Maybe it's good that it's happening now and we can get it over with and get back to the season.” 

Darby wrestling coach Brendan Moody picked up his 150th dual victory as part of a home quad Jan. 2 against Caledonia River Valley, Pickerington Central and Westerville Central. 

The Panthers defeated Caledonia River Valley 45-29 before beating Pickerington Central 66-5 for the milestone victory. They lost to Westerville Central 40-31. 

“It may have been my 150th dual victory, but I didn’t have any takedowns or have my hand raised in any of those wins,” Moody said. “That just comes from coaching for 12 seasons and having hard-working wrestlers and assistant coaches around me. It means I’ve stuck it out as a coach but the kids got those wins.” 

Landry Lee (126), Woody Saadeh (138), Carter Slubowski (113) and Bradley Weaver (heavyweight) all went 3-0 for the Panthers, who opened OCC-Cardinal dual competition Jan. 7 against Marysville. They have a league dual Thursday, Jan. 14, at Olentangy Berlin. 

–Scott Hennen 

Through five contests, Davidson's Ryan Paris was third on the team in scoring at 11.2 points a game.

•After beginning the season 3-0, the Davidson boys basketball team was hoping to find some consistency coming off a pair of losses.  

The Wildcats were 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Central before playing Olentangy Liberty on Jan. 8.  

“We lost two in a row and it’s not the side of the win-loss column that we like to be on,” coach Tim Congrove said. “We have a lot that we can better at and there’s a lot of things we need to continue to work on and grow together. That’s the mindset right now, getting better each day.”  

Davidson lost to visiting Gahanna 66-51 on Jan. 2. Jared Frey led the Wildcats with a game-high 21 points and Ryan Paris added 11.  

Davidson split its first two league games, defeating Olentangy Orange 66-59 on Dec. 19 and losing to Dublin Coffman 86-64 on Dec. 28.  

Jayden Nervis scored 20 points, Frey added 13 and Peyton Frey had 12 against Orange, while Jared Frey had 25 points, Nervis had 13 and Paris added 11 in the loss to Coffman.  

Through five games, Jared Frey led the team in scoring at 17.6 followed by Nervis (12.6), Paris (11.2) and Peyton Frey (10.0).  

The Wildcats will play host to Upper Arlington on Jan. 15.  

“We’ve been talking about playing our best basketball in February and the things we need to do to get better,” Congrove said. “Coffman and Gahanna exposed us on a few things, so we’ve been talking about it. We’re working on chemistry still and trying to get better every day.”  

–Frank DiRenna 

•Coach Steve De Dent wants to see his Bradley girls basketball team play better on the offensive end. 

The Jaguars were 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Central before facing Olentangy Orange on Jan. 8. 

“We’re not on the same page right now,” De Dent said. “Our biggest problem has been on the offensive end. We have to be willing to run plays and share the ball.” 

Bradley split its first two league contests, defeating Upper Arlington 69-35 on Dec. 19 and losing to Olentangy Liberty 43-39 on Dec. 29. 

“Carly and Chloe Callahan have been playing well for us, and Macy Chapman has been playing well defensively, drawing our opponent's top player,” De Dent said. “Tori McClelland has been hustling and has been giving us that toughness we need, and Leigha Dennison has played well." 

The Jaguars are scheduled to play at home against Dublin Coffman on Friday, Jan. 15, in a league contest and at Dublin Jerome on Tuesday, Jan. 19. 

–Scott Hennen 

•The Davidson girls basketball had a limited early-season schedule, as it was 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Central before playing Liberty on Jan. 8.  

The Wildcats opened with a 52-47 win over visiting Jerome on Dec. 23. Gwen Jenkins’ two free throws with 50 seconds remaining snapped a 47-all tie. Brianna O’Connor led Davidson with 17 points.  

Davidson lost to Reynoldsburg 79-44 on Dec. 29 and Coffman 54-34 on Jan. 5.  

Ashley Barrington scored 13 points in the loss to the Shamrocks.  

The Wildcats will visit UA on Friday, Jan. 15.  

–Frank DiRenna  

Darby boys basketball coach Chris Maul said the key for his team will be more consistently playing a complete game  

“We’ve had stretches in each game that have cost us the opportunity to win,” Maul said. “We’ve had a string of empty possessions in a row where we’ve had four, five turnovers. We’ve had (consecutive) possessions of poor shots. … We have yet to play a full 32 minutes. They have to put a complete game together in order for us to win these.”  

The Panthers, who are 1-5 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Cardinal, had their season paused when a player in the program tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 5.  

Darby will resume practice Friday, Jan. 15, before traveling to Jerome on Saturday, Jan. 16, in an OCC-Cardinal contest.  

The Panthers defeated Central Crossing 54-32 on Dec. 22 for their lone win.  

Alex Smith scored 11 points, and Javi Quimba and Matt Sech each added 10 to lead Darby.  

“Every game has been competitive and they’ve been fun games to play in, but we have to learn how to win these games,” Maul said. “The little things are really costing us when it comes down to securing the victory. Our practices have been good. We’ve seen some growth overall.”  

–Frank DiRenna 

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