Reynoldsburg Roundup: Croff sets tone for boys basketball team with work ethic
This is the season that Zaveon Croff has been building toward.
Considering he was one of the most experienced players among a five-member senior class for the Reynoldsburg boys basketball team, Croff was expecting to play the most important role of his prep career.
According to coach Andy Moore, Croff has been thriving in his own way.
“He’s first of all a great kid and he works hard,” Moore said. “He’s our strongest, most athletic kid and he’s not a vocal leader but is more of a leader by example. The guys respect him because of that.”
During a 66-61 loss to Dublin Coffman on Jan. 5, Croff scored a varsity career-high 19 points.
His putback basket with 3 minutes, 30 seconds to go tied it at 55. Senior guard Josiah Mobley missed a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left with the Shamrocks leading 63-61.
Croff, who is 6-foot-1 but plays forward, has shown the ability to shoot, drive and rebound since joining the varsity as a sophomore when the Raiders earned a Division I district runner-up finish.
Reynoldsburg was 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Buckeye Division after beating Groveport 64-58 on Jan. 9.
“(Coffman) just beat us (with us having) a couple missed rebounds,” Croff said. “They’re one of the best teams. We’re small but we’re fast and we can shoot. Teams doubt us because of how small we are and they underestimate us.”
Mobley, who was a contributor as a sophomore and then spent last season at Whitehall, has been averaging 13.5 points.
Mobley also scored 19 against Coffman before following with consecutive 16-point games in a 59-40 win over Central Crossing on Jan. 8 and against Groveport.
The Raiders were scheduled to play Newark on Jan. 12 but the game was moved to Jan. 22. They also were scheduled to play Walnut Ridge on Jan. 23 but that game was canceled because of the delay to the beginning of the season for City League programs.
Instead, Reynoldsburg picked up a non-league game Jan. 23 against DeSales.
“(Mobley) leads a different way,” Moore said. “He’s a vocal leader and the kids respect that, too. He and (senior guard) Julian (Heckman) are our two hardest workers. They work on their games individually, so that’s been really good. (Mobley) wasn’t shooting the ball well his first two games and I told him that (he works) too hard not to shoot it well, and he’s shot it well since then to his credit.
“One of the things we have to do better is execute in the halfcourt. We’re not making excuses, but we haven’t been together for real long. We have to get back to rebounding the basketball. We did a really poor job of that (against Coffman).”
Reynoldsburg opened with a 59-50 win over Licking Heights on Dec. 5 but didn’t play again until Jan. 2 when it began OCC-Buckeye action with a 65-44 win over Lancaster.
Through five games, Croff and Heckman both were averaging 11.6 points and junior forward Jabari Mitchell was adding 7.0 points.
Junior guards Bryden Burnett and Jonye Madison are both seeing extensive varsity action for the first time, and Burnett scored nine and Madison added eight against Groveport.
Croff averaged 6.7 points last season but scored in double figures in four of the first five games.
“I’m pretty happy,” Croff said. “It’s a big role to have my senior year. I’m one of the seniors on the team and I’m ready to have a good year. I’m fast, I can dribble, I can be a catch-and-shoot type of guy. Even though I’m not the biggest on the court, I play hard and box out on the boards.”
Girls basketball team
picking up steam
Following a 61-56 victory over Shaker Heights Laurel on Jan. 6 in a matchup of state-ranked programs, the girls basketball team crushed Central Crossing 100-11 on Jan. 8 and Groveport 97-22 the next day.
On Jan. 12, however, Reynoldsburg lost 45-31 at Newark in a matchup of teams that were ranked fourth and first, respectively, in last week’s Division I state poll. The setback dropped the Raiders to 6-1.
Against Central Crossing, the Raiders got 24 points from junior forward Mya Perry, 18 from junior guard Makiya Miller and 16 from junior post player Alexia Mobley.
Then against the Cruisers, junior guard Imarianah Russell finished with 31 points, Perry had 22 and Mobley scored 16. The teams play again Jan. 22.
Through six games, Russell was averaging 21 points, Perry was averaging 18 and Mobley was averaging 12.8.
Other regulars have included junior guards Trinity Ramos and Jamiona Ross and sophomore guard Sam Savoy.
Ramos had 10 points against Central Crossing and Savoy scored eight against Groveport.
Freshman Daniya McDonald, a 6-1 guard/forward, had eight points against Central Crossing.
“I felt like our kids that (have come) off the bench (have done) a really good job, too, like Jamiona Ross and Sam Savoy,” coach Jack Purtell said. “Once we get a little better offensively, some of the shots we’re taking (will be better).”
After having the beginning of the season delayed until late December, the boys and girls bowling teams didn’t have their first matches until Jan. 6.
The boys team lost to Hilliard Bradley 2,496-1,929 at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl and the girls fell to the Jaguars 2,038-708.
On Jan. 7, the boys lost to Hilliard Davidson 2,091-1,486 but the girls did not compete.
Against Bradley, junior Alijah Walker averaged 195 in a two-game series, followed by seniors Cris Weatherly (168.5), Mark Drake (153.5), Terrell Jackson (150.0) and Ben Wilson (147.0).
Weatherly averaged 178.5 against Davidson, followed by Drake (156.5) and Wilson (150.0).
Competing for the girls against Bradley were seniors Katie Morgan (113.0) and Jenan Alkhatib (112.0) and junior Lizzy Folk (101.0).