Notebook: Olentangy Berlin Bears boys basketball team enjoying record season
The Olentangy Berlin boys basketball team never had a winning record at any point during its first two seasons.
The Bears lost their first nine games in their inaugural 2018-19 season on the way to a 3-20 record. Last season, they lost their first eight games and would finish 4-19.
Berlin seems to have found the formula for success this season, however. After winning their opener 37-36 over Caledonia River Valley on Dec. 1, the Bears ran off three more victories to start 4-0 and were 7-4 overall before playing Franklin Heights on Jan. 8.
Coach Donovon Barrett said his team has taken the steps necessary to win.
“We’ve shown a lot of resilience and toughness,” said Barrett, whose team was 0-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division after losses to Dublin Jerome (52-51 on Dec. 18) and Olentangy (64-45 on Dec. 19). “These guys have worked so hard over the past few years, and going through all of this day in and day out, it was good that they got to see the fruits of their labor.”
Sophomore forward Jason Inbody scored 21 points, including the game-winning layup in the final seconds, in a 43-42 win over Delaware on Dec. 28.
“It means so much,” Inbody said. “We were struggling so much last year.”
Through 11 games, senior guard Austin Corley led the Bears in scoring at 14.1 points per contest. He scored a program-record 29 points in a 59-58 win over Proctorville Fairland on Dec. 29 in the Whitehall Holiday Tournament.
Inbody and freshman guard/forward Derek Goodman both were averaging 9.5 points.
“If there hadn’t been a pandemic going on, we would have probably sat in the locker room and savored it more,” Barrett said of the win over Delaware. “It felt good to sit there for a brief moment and celebrate a team win like that.”
Corley scored 14 points and senior forward Aiden Loeffler added nine as the Bears edged visiting New Albany 40-38 in overtime Jan. 5.
The Bears are scheduled to play OCC-Cardinal games at Thomas Worthington on Friday, Jan. 15, and at home against Marysville on Wednesday, Jan. 20.
•A two-week quarantine in mid-December did little to slow down the Liberty hockey team.
After losing 1-0 in overtime to Upper Arlington on Dec. 27 at OhioHealth Ice Haus in their first game in 21 days, the Patriots won their next three, including 3-0 over the Golden Bears in a Dec. 30 rematch at Chiller North.
Liberty was 5-5-1-1 overall and 4-1-0-1 in the CHC-Red after losing 6-3 to Orange on Jan. 3.
“We’ve had a lot of tough games,” coach Kevin Alexander said. “We’re so young. Everybody (in the CHC) is so young. It seems like everybody in the Red Division is real close.”
According to Alexander, the Patriots have been boosted by the addition of senior forward Jackson Vojin, who has attended Liberty throughout high school but previously played travel hockey.
Through 12 games, Vojin had four goals and 11 assists, senior forward Ben Brown had six goals and five assists and junior forward Gage Schlotterbeck had seven goals and four assists, while senior Landon Smith was leading the defense.
“I’m one of the only seniors and our defense has been on and off,” Smith said. “We’re really young. Our hopes the past three years has been to win the league. I haven’t been able to do that yet, and we want to get to state this year.”
•The Liberty girls basketball team didn’t let a rough start spiral out of control.
After opening with a 53-29 win Nov. 21 over Mount Orab Western Brown, the Patriots lost their next four games.
Included in that stretch were a 63-62 loss Dec. 8 to Marion Harding, an opponent they added the day of the game, and a 47-44 loss Dec. 11 to Worthington Christian, a matchup they had scheduled two days earlier.
First-year coach Tom Waterwash wasn’t disappointed with the effort his team showed against Worthington Christian, which won eight of its first nine and was seventh in the first Division III state poll.
The Patriots then won four of their next five, including beating Marysville 45-37 on Jan. 5 to improve to 5-5 overall. They were 1-1 in the OCC-Central after losing 62-42 to Dublin Coffman on Jan. 2.
Senior guard Caitlin Splain was averaging a team-best 12.3 points through 10 games, followed by junior forward Jordan Rich (10.2) and freshman guard Gigi Bower (9.3).
“From where we started, we’re so close,” Waterwash said. “I coached baseball (under Liberty coach) Ty Brenning for six years and I told my coaches that this feels like a baseball season because you get a rainout and you call somebody else. But our kids are adapting and I’m really proud of them.”
•Coach Anthony Calo believes the best is yet to come for the Orange boys basketball team.
The Pioneers won three of their first four contests, with Jason Foster averaging 11.2 points. The senior forward then missed the next two games with a shoulder injury as Orange lost 75-57 to Westerville Central on Dec. 31 and 66-50 to Hilliard Bradley on Jan. 6 to fall to 1-2 in the OCC-Central.
Calo expected Foster to return as soon as Jan. 9 against Grove City.
“We have to work on the small things because we are so, so close,” said Calo, whose team was 3-3 overall before playing the Greyhounds. “We have to play hard continually and play together continually. We have to put together four good quarters.”
Through six games, senior guard Andre Irvin was averaging 16.8 points, followed by sophomore guard Mikey McCollum (6.8) and junior forward Aidan King (6.5).
The Pioneers are scheduled to play a league game at Liberty on Friday, Jan. 15.
•Through seven games, Maddie Goodman has led the Berlin girls basketball team, which was 2-5 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Marysville on Jan. 8.
The senior guard/forward led in scoring (12.2 points per game) and assists (1.2) and had made 12 of 14 free throws (85.7 percent). She also had made 13 of 36 3-pointers (36.1 percent).
Senior guard/forward Courtney Suchan was averaging 5.5 points, a team-leading 5.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals, while sophomore forward Abbie Bell was adding 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.
The Bears defeated Jerome 49-44 on Dec. 18 for their league victory. Goodman scored 18 points and Suchan added 13.
•Sophomore guards Emma Delmore and Kayla Delmore were leading the Orange girls basketball team though five contests.
Kayla Delmore was averaging 12.4 points and Emma Delmore was averaging 9.4 points for the Pioneers, who were 1-4 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Central before facing Bradley on Jan. 8.
“We know this is a process and our group has to understand that they have to fall in love with that,” first-year coach Brian Cromwell said. “Part of the process is those dirty effort plays that we have to get better at making. We have to be willing to go all out.”
The Pioneers are scheduled to play a league game at Liberty on Friday, Jan. 15, before contests at Berlin on Monday, Jan. 18, and at home against Olentangy on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
•After a month off from games because of a COVID-19 quarantine, the Olentangy girls basketball team got out to a winning start in OCC-Cardinal play and faced a chance to build on that with four league games in eight days from Jan. 8 to Friday, Jan. 15.
Kennedie Doup’s 15 points, nine of which came on 3-pointers, paced the Braves in a 47-37 home win over Hilliard Darby on Jan. 2. That followed a 50-42 loss at Big Walnut on Dec. 30, the Braves’ first game since a 49-39 win over Dresden Tri-Valley on Nov. 28.
Doup had 13 3-pointers through four games for Olentangy, which was 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the league before playing Jerome on Jan. 8.
•Keith Poss, who played on three state championship lacrosse teams at Thomas from 1989-91, was named the Olentangy girls lacrosse team’s new coach Dec. 15.
Poss succeeds Amy McCormick, who went 51-31-1 from 2016-19 and coached the Braves to Division I, Region 1 runner-up finishes in her first and last seasons. Poss had coached the Liberty Middle School girls team since 2017.
“Coaching girls lacrosse is an extreme passion of mine that has grown and grown over the years,” Poss said. “Establishing a tight-knit culture with my players, parents and coaching staff is paramount to me. With the limitations that COVID-19 has presented, it could make this a bit more challenging to achieve so I’ll probably need to be more creative at times to get us to where I want us to be, but we will get there.”