Notebook: Olentangy Liberty boys basketball team adapts to changes
During a season in which it switched into a different OCC division while dealing with protocols for the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Olentangy Liberty boys basketball team knew that flexibility would be an important attribute to have.
The Patriots opened OCC-Central Division action with back-to-back losses but followed with wins over Hilliard Davidson (64-60 on Jan. 8) and Upper Arlington (60-46 on Jan. 12) to improve to 7-2 overall and 2-2 in the league.
“They come to school two or three days a week, they’re out of their routine and some kids aren’t even in school at all,” said coach Greg Nossaman, who is in his 13th season. “No one’s ever been through this before, but they come to practice hard every day. Our bench isn’t real long, so we’re just trying to keep them healthy. We don’t even have a locker room.
“We were supposed to go to Florida for a Christmas tournament and we can’t really do anything like that, so it’s kind of like a mini-AAU season where you come into the game, you’re dressed, you play a game and you leave. There’s no student section, and that’s what high school basketball is all about. But at least they get to play. We practice by ourselves. We keep our pods small and so far we’ve done pretty well. All of the games in this league are going to get chippy. (We have) a good bunch of guys.”
Liberty got 21 points from senior guard Henry Hinkle and 20 from senior guard Ty Foster against Davidson, while the scoring was more balanced against UA as Foster led with 17 points and three other players reached double figures.
Senior post player Andrew Wade had 14, junior forward Cooper Davis scored 11 and Hinkle added 10 against the Golden Bears, who were coming off a 63-57 win over Dublin Coffman on Jan. 8.
Through eight games, both Hinkle and Wade were averaging 16 points.
“We had a rough start at home, losing to (Hilliard) Bradley (70-53 on Dec. 18) and we also lost to Coffman (86-65 on Jan. 2), but we bounced back with a really good home game (against Davidson),” Wade said. “It’s a very tough league this year. Every team is solid. You have to compete every single time. We’ve been working on our defense because we’ve been giving up too many points. We gave up a lot of free throws (against Davidson), but I thought we shot the ball well and continued to score.
“(My role is) to just rebound, finish and try to get the ball to my teammates so we can get the win. I’m trying to get my shot a little better, stretch the floor a little more to bring out the defense to knock down some outside shots.”
Davis, who played the last two seasons for Reynoldsburg but competed on the same team as many of his teammates in middle school, was averaging 11.5 points through nine games.
Foster also was averaging 11.5 points through nine games.
“There’s definitely been some ups and downs, but it’s a good conference to be in,” Foster said. “It makes us better. Our juniors last year came in and started and we have our seniors back this year where we’re learning each day how to play together better along with Cooper Davis. We’re definitely getting better with ball movement.”
•Coach Tim Pennington is happy with the way his Berlin hockey team has been able to handle the hurdles of a season during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bears had won four consecutive games and were 8-3-1 overall before playing in the Pioneer Classic on Jan. 15-17 at Chiller North.
“Our theme has been to be resilient because everything is constantly changing,” Pennington said. “They’ve managed those changes well and they continue to work hard. The last few weeks we’ve been playing some of our best hockey.”
The Bears are second (15 points, 7-3-1) in the CHC-White behind Cincinnati Moeller (17, 8-0-1).
Goalie Josh Chmielewski surrendered just one goal in a 7-1 league win over New Albany on Jan. 9. Carson Jankowski had two goals and an assist, Ryley Scanlon had two goals and Zack Zielinski had one goal and two assists.
Alex Cunningham was in goal as Berlin defeated Liberty 5-1 on Jan. 10 in a non-league game. It was the first time the Bears had beaten Liberty. Jankowski had two goals, and Nick Piccioni and Zielinski had a goal and an assist apiece. The Patriots won the league meeting 6-3 on Dec. 6.
The Bears are scheduled to return to league competition when they play Watterson on Jan. 23 and Dublin Jerome on Jan. 24, both at Chiller North.
•The Olentangy boys basketball team was 6-4 overall before playing Delaware on Jan. 16 and takes a 3-1 record in the OCC-Cardinal into a Jan. 22 game at Berlin.
Coach John Feasel said team defense has been the main reason for his squad’s early success.
The Braves held six of their first 10 opponents to 48 points or fewer and allowed an average of 54.0 points before Jan. 16. That is their best defensive average in Feasel’s four-plus seasons, and almost six points better than the 59.8 points the Braves allowed last season.
“This is probably the best defensive team we’ve had since I’ve been here. We play hard, we take charges, we shut teams down and hold them in the 40s a lot,” Feasel said. “It’s keeping us in games. We have to keep playing good defense and get better on offense. We’re moving the ball well and shooting the ball well most of the time. We have to be able to do things offensively to get teams to help off and get other guys open.”
Olentangy suffered its first league loss Jan. 12, falling 65-52 at Thomas Worthington. Ethan Smith had 19 points, including five 3-pointers, and five steals and Tavian James added 16 points.
•The Berlin wrestling team began OCC-Cardinal duals with a 54-22 victory Jan. 7 over host Olentangy.
Caiden Hooks (160 pounds) and Matt Kirsop (heavyweight) both had pins, and Kody Goffin (152) won by default.
The Braves forfeited six matches, with Peter Emery (106), Garrett Farver (195), Austin Lambert (220), Luke Martin (113), Evariste Misseou (182) and Hugh Peterson (170) earning points for Berlin.
The Bears also won all of their duals in a home quad Jan. 19, defeating Big Walnut 59-19, Fairbanks 72-9 and Mount Gilead 65-9.
Misseou, Peterson and Tyson Scharschmidt (126) went 3-0 with three pins, while Daniel Barreca (120), Matt Barreca (138), Emery, Goffin and Hooks also won three matches.
•The Orange hockey team leads the CHC-Red at 7-1-0-1 with 15 points, ahead of second-place Upper Arlington (13, 6-2-0-1).
“This is the best group of leaders that I have ever had,” said coach Brenton Blaskie, whose team was 10-2-0-1 overall before playing host to the Pioneer Classic on Jan. 15-17 at Chiller North. “They’ve been rewarded on the ice from all they’ve been doing off of it. We had two separate 14-day shutdowns (from the coronavirus) and that hasn’t slowed us at all.”
The Pioneers are scheduled to return to league competition when they play New Albany on Jan. 22 at Chiller North and again Jan. 24 at Chiller Easton, and Jerome on Jan. 23 at Chiller Dublin.
Through 13 games, Austin Knupp had 17 goals and 17 assists, and Clayton Headlee had 11 goals and 18 assists. Ethan Muth had nine goals and nine assists and was a team-leading plus-23, and Payton Muth had four goals and 13 assists.
Goalie Luke Mercer was 5-0 with a save percentage of .873, and Kyle Diehr was 4-2-1 in goal with a save percentage of .907.
•The Orange wrestling program picked up a pair of key victories Jan. 7.
The boys team won its OCC-Central opener against Davidson 51-27.
Jackson Basnett (138), Dylan Dempsey (195), Geoff Kaminski (220), Zack Miller (152), Will Ramey (126) and Connor Svantner (170) were winners by pin for the Pioneers, who competed against Coffman on Jan. 14 and face Upper Arlington on Jan. 21 in league duals.
Jason Graf (heavyweight) won by decision and Dominic Lee (113) won by forfeit against Davidson.
The girls team posted a 60-24 victory over Minerva, which finished fourth in last season’s inaugural state tournament behind the runner-up Pioneers.
Haylie Atwell (131), Ayla Castin (121), Alicia Coleman (137) and Josie Nickoloff (126) were winners by pin for Orange.
Emily Duval (101), Noel Frye (150), Casey Homorody (160), Taryn Martin (170), Brianna Panzica (111) and Lucy Scheibeck (106) all won by forfeit.
•With a 37-28 victory over Marysville on Jan. 9, the Liberty wrestling team improved to 9-5 in duals. The Patriots lost to Brecksville-Broadview Heights 44-23 earlier that day.
Liberty opened OCC-Central action with a 39-22 loss to Coffman on Jan. 7. It is scheduled to continue league competition Jan. 21 at home against Bradley.
“Things have been moving pretty smoothly considering everything, and as a whole I’m really proud of our seniors leading the team,” coach Mark Marinelli said. “The team is just focusing on learning how to wrestle and compete. Getting used to wearing a mask in practice is something that took a little time, but our guys have done a great job and have been real positive in all areas.”
Against Marysville, seniors Jayce Fitzpatrick (170), Hunter Ford (132) and Lucas Uliano (160), sophomore Dylan Russo (220) and freshmen Broc Fitzpatrick (138), Brady Quillin (195) and Jaxon Rosselli (113) all won their matches and freshman Prestyn Parks (106) won by forfeit.
On Jan. 8, Uliano announced he is planning to compete for the Citadel.
•Seeking its second consecutive Division I state tournament appearance, the Olentangy girls bowling team is 4-0 overall and in the COHSBC-A entering a Jan. 22 match against Grandview and is 3-0 in the OCC-Buckeye.
The Braves’ 794.9 average as a team was third in the 27-team conference regardless of division through Jan. 13. Phoebe Anderson’s 174.9 average led the team, ahead of Alex Oberyszyn (159.8), Hannah Lamar (158.4), Savannah Claar (157.9) and Katie Claar (156.6).