Reynoldsburg Roundup: Josiah Mobley's return provides boost to Raiders boys basketball team
Being back with the Reynoldsburg boys basketball team this winter has gone almost exactly like senior Josiah Mobley hoped it would.
Mobley averaged five points as a sophomore when the Raiders were Division I district runners-up.
A year ago, the 6-foot guard averaged 11 points to help Whitehall earn a share of the MSL-Ohio Division title and reach a district semifinal while finishing 15-9, but he decided to transfer back to Reynoldsburg.
“It feels great to be home,” Mobley said. “Being at Whitehall for one year and now coming back here, we’re having a great season. I’m glad to be back with my boys and to be with coach (Andy) Moore on the coaching staff.
“I really grew as a player from my sophomore year when I first played varsity to now, both mentally and physically.”
On Feb. 6 in a non-league game against Jonathan Alder, the Raiders trailed by as much as 17 before rallying to within two on a 3-pointer by Mobley with 11.1 seconds left.
Mobley had a chance to win the game but missed a 3-pointer with 3 seconds to go as Reynoldsburg lost 57-55 to a Pioneers’ team that is the No. 1 seed for the Division II district tournament. Mobley finished with 24 points.
“He got a good look, and he’d been hitting shots,” Moore said. “He’s played better and better all year. He’s starting to make better decisions, and his shot selection is getting better. I think he forced a lot of things early in the year and got a little out of control offensively, but he’s really good.”
Junior guard Julian Heckman finished with 11 points and Mobley had 10 points as the Raiders defeated Hilliard Bradley 41-39 on Feb. 9 to improve to 10-5 overall. The Jaguars won a Division I district tile last season and are the district’s No. 3 seed this year.
Reynoldsburg was 7-1 in the OCC-Buckeye Division after beating Lancaster 66-35 on Feb. 5 to remain in contention for the league title.
On Feb. 19, the Raiders will get a rematch on the road with Pickerington Central after losing 57-47 on Jan. 15 in the first round of league action. The Tigers were 8-0 in the league after beating Groveport 90-60 on Feb. 5.
Mobley was averaging 14.5 points through 15 games, followed by senior wing player Zaveon Croff (11.0) and Heckman (9.5).
Junior guard Jonye Madison and sophomore forward Jabari Mitchell also have played key roles.
The Raiders are seeded 10th for the district tournament and play 27th-seeded Watkins Memorial or No. 30 Dublin Jerome on Feb. 26 in a second-round game.
“We’re in a really good stretch,” Mobley said. “We’ve gotten a lot better since the beginning of December. We only played one game in (the 2020 portion of the schedule). We’ve started doing better and better and the coaching staff believes in us. I feel like we can have a chance to really go far (in the postseason).
“Yes we’ve got to work on a couple things, but anybody can lose and anybody can win. We proved that (against Jonathan Alder) when we came back from 17 down.”
Bowlers look for
At times this season, the boys bowling team has shown that it could be capable of qualifying for the Division I district tournament despite struggling to win COHSBC-B Division matches.
The Raiders surpassed 2,000 pins in matches three times, including in a 2,014-1,841 win over Pickerington Central on Jan. 15, and picked up another victory Feb. 2 when they beat Thomas Worthington 1,919-1,762.
After going 2-11 overall, 1-5 in the seven-team OCC-Central to finish last behind co-champions Gahanna and Pickerington North and 2-10 in the COHSBC-B, Reynoldsburg opens the postseason with sectional competition Feb. 19 at HP Lanes.
The top 16 teams and top 16 individuals not on qualifying teams at each sectional advance to the district tournament Feb. 22 at HP Lanes.
The top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams at district move on to the state tournament March 6 at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.
“(The match against Thomas) was the best set of Baker games we had the entire season and that helped boost them quite a bit,” coach Jamie Gapen said. “The lanes were a lot dryer (at Holiday Lanes on Feb. 2) than what they expected, but they ended up taking over.
“This year it seems like the scores aren’t quite as high (throughout central Ohio) as last year, but at the same time, the boys are going to have to shoot really well to advance (to district).”
Senior Cris Weatherly led the Raiders in average during the regular season at 176.8, followed by junior Alijah Walker (167.5), senior Terrell Jackson (162.7) and senior Mark Drake (154.3).
The other senior is Katie Morgan, who had been on the girls team before it was forced to disband in January because of low participation numbers.
Morgan considered competing as an individual in the Division I girls postseason but will remain with the boys team.
“I wanted to bowl my senior year, so I’ll just go with the boys,” Morgan said. “It’s like a family. With the girls sectional, I would have been bowling by myself, so it was kind of easier to bowl with the boys. There’s a better chance of us moving on.
“My freshman year I didn’t even know there was a bowling team until October when they started mandatory practice. I’ve bowled since I was 7, so I thought it would be something cool. Now it’s four years and it’s been good.”
Harper takes over
as volleyball coach
The girls volleyball program will have a new coach in Caitlin Harper, a 2009 Reynoldsburg graduate.
Harper replaces Cassie Tackett, who led the program one year and was the Raiders junior varsity coach in 2011 and then was the varsity coach in 2013 and 2014.
She also coached for the Buckeye Volleyball Club from 2012-19, was the Licking Heights freshman coach in 2019 and has been a coach with the Evolution Ohio Volleyball Club since June 2019.
In Tackett’s only season, the Raiders improved by two wins and finished 10-11 overall and third at 5-5 in the OCC-Buckeye.
“We’re thrilled to have Caitlin back at her alma mater to lead our volleyball program,” athletics director Jack Purtell said. “Her experience as a player, coach and trainer will enhance the experience for our student-athletes. Caitlin became the obvious choice throughout the interview process. It became very apparent that Caitlin was the right choice to head our program.”