Reynoldsburg Roundup: Raiders boys bowling team trying to develop consistency
With five seniors leading the way last winter when the Reynoldsburg boys bowling team won league and Division I sectional titles, opportunities were limited for other members of the squad.
Current seniors Cris Weatherly, Terrell Jackson and Mark Drake and junior Alijah Walker sometimes contributed in Baker games but rarely played full games.
Thrust into bigger roles for the first time, the Raiders’ new leaders have helped the team post competitive scores during a season that didn’t begin until early January because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“They’re still a really young team and they’re trying to find their way,” coach Jamie Gapen said. “They have their good matches and have their bad matches. One of the disappointing things with the pandemic is not being able to have the parents cheering them on.
"We’ve had our challenges up and down with very few practices to get ready for the season before we jumped right in feet first, but we’re out there trying to have fun and just be thankful that we’re able to get out there and bowl.”
After losing to Marysville 2,227-2,006 on Jan. 25, the Raiders were 1-7 overall, 1-6 in the COHSBC-B Division and 1-3 in the OCC-Central Division.
Weatherly was averaging a team-best 186.1 through 16 games, followed by Walker (167.4), Jackson (160.0), Drake (157.5) and senior Ben Wilson (146.9).
Senior Katie Morgan has joined the boys team and averaged 121.3 during her first six games.
Morgan, who along with senior Jenan Alkhatib and junior Lizzy Folk, competed for the girls team in a 2,038-769 loss to Hilliard Bradley on Jan. 6. After that, however, the Raiders elected not to continue having a full girls squad because of low numbers.
“We ended up losing our girls team,” Gapen said. “Katie was the only four-year senior, and (girls coach) Jeff (Morgan) wanted to make sure she’d hopefully get to bowl to finish out her senior year, so we were able to get her on the boys team and that way she could finish out being a four-year bowler.”
Weatherly’s best performance through 16 games came Jan. 15 when he bowled games of 202 and 236 in a 2,014-1,841 victory over Pickerington Central. He said he's been working extensively in practice and in matches on picking up the 10 pin to help improve his score.
The postseason will begin with sectional competition Feb. 19 or 20 for the boys team at HP Lanes.
“It’s been a slow start trying to rebuild the team, considering all of the varsity boys were seniors last year,” Weatherly said. “Rebuilding team chemistry is a big thing, but other than that, we’re trying to hopefully get a couple more wins. I think we could still improve as the season goes on.
“It’s been fun. I’m really going to miss them when I graduate. So far we’ve been having fun even though the season hasn’t been going as well as we’d like it to be.”
Girls squad learns
through rough stretch
Following a 6-0 start, the girls basketball team lost 45-31 to Newark on Jan. 12 as part of a stretch in which it lost three of four.
The Raiders bounced back with an 81-21 win Jan. 22 over Groveport that gave them an 8-3 overall record which included a 5-1 mark in the OCC-Buckeye.
While the setback to the Wildcats was Reynoldsburg’s first league loss, its other two defeats during that stretch were at out-of-town events.
The Raiders lost 47-40 to Huber Heights Wayne on Jan. 16 in the Journey to the Tourney at West Chester Lakota West and 65-61 on Jan. 18 to the Las Vegas (Nevada) Centennial Bulldogs in the Classic in the Country at Berlin Hiland. The Bulldogs are led by senior Taylor Bigby, an Oregon signee.
“We’re way stronger and learning each other way more as the days go by,” junior forward Mya Perry said. “We had a few losses, but it helped us learn a lot about ourselves and our team. We’ve worked way harder since the losses. We learned better communication, better ball movement and most importantly, working on our weaknesses and making them strengths.”
Perry scored 17 against the Bulldogs, which was her average through 11 games.
Junior guard Imarianah Russell was averaging a team-high 20 and junior forward Alexia Mobley was adding 12 points per game.
The Raiders continue league action Feb. 5 at Lancaster and Feb. 9 at home against Pickerington Central. They beat the Gales 69-10 on Jan. 2 and the Tigers 60-53 on Jan. 15.
On Feb. 10, Reynoldsburg will play a rescheduled game against Division III power Africentric, which had won back-to-back state titles and made the state tournament last season before it was canceled.
The Division I district tournament is scheduled to begin Feb. 16.
Boys basketball team
in battle for title
With two weeks of OCC-Buckeye action remaining, the boys basketball team finds itself in the hunt for the title.
After beating Groveport 61-47 on Jan. 22, the Raiders were 5-1 in the league, with their only loss 57-47 to visiting Pickerington Central on Jan. 15.
Reynoldsburg returns to league action Feb. 5 at home against Lancaster, plays host to Central Crossing on Feb. 12 and closes the league schedule Feb. 19 at Central. The Raiders beat the Golden Gales 65-44 on Jan. 2 and Central Crossing 59-40 on Jan. 8.
After losing to DeSales 53-39 on Jan. 23, the Raiders were 7-3 overall.
Senior guard Josiah Mobley scored 11 points and senior wing player Zaveon Croff had 10 points against the Stallions.
Through 10 games, Mobley was averaging 14.5 points, followed by senior guard Julian Heckman (12.0) Croff (11.5) and junior forward Jabari Mitchell (7.5).
Junior forward Malekai Booker and junior guards Jonye Madison and Martize Powell also have been key contributors.
The Division I district tournament is scheduled to begin Feb. 23. The tournament draw is Feb. 7.