Wellington Roundup: Boys basketball team eager to get started

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Senior Marcus Stewart is the top returnee for Wellington after being named second-team all-district and all-league last season. The Jaguars reached a Division IV regional final, only to see the remainder of the postseason canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Finding out the beginning of its season was being delayed provided an unpleasant flashback for the Wellington boys basketball team.

After beating Fort Loramie 38-35 in a Division IV regional semifinal last March, the remainder of the Jaguars’ season was postponed and ultimately canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The MSL-Ohio Division isn’t beginning its league schedule until January, which leaves Wellington tentatively scheduled to open Dec. 19 at home against Westerville North.

The Jaguars also have moved back up to Division III, where they are among the smallest schools in enrollment statewide.

“We won the (regional) semis and were slated to play in the finals before we were shut down,” coach Artie Taylor said. “You can’t forget about it because we’re still kind of going through it. We all were at a point initially thinking that this was going to be a week or two thing and we’ll get back at it. And now we’re still finding ourselves sitting at home, trying to figure it out still, so it’s definitely been tough sledding in that regard.

“We as a staff talk about how hard it is to generate success and it’s even harder to sustain success, especially at the high school level when you don’t really truly know what you have year in, year out. We’ve been pretty fortunate to sustain some excellence, but with that being said, it’s hard to get there. There’s high expectations in our program. When you have a chance to do what we did and don’t get a chance to play it through, it makes it really tough.”

The top returnee is senior Marcus Stewart, a 6-foot-4 guard who averaged 11.5 points last season and was second-team all-district and all-league.

Junior Chase Ouellette (6-5, forward) also returns after averaging 8.5 points.

Senior Evan Henry (6-0, guard), junior Aurius Calloway (6-1, guard) and sophomores A.J. Taylor (6-5, forward) and Max Schaeffer (5-10, guard) also are back and should play bigger roles. Henry was the backup point guard last season.

Sophomore Ben Beckman (5-10, guard) should play a key role for the first time.

Others looking to contribute include seniors Vinny Giang (5-11, guard) and Kethan Mokadam (5-10, guard), sophomore William Garner (6-2, guard) and freshman Roarke Marincit (6-0, guard).

The Jaguars lost a 2020 senior class led by first-team all-district forward Elijah Meredith, who averaged 18.5 points, as well as guards Connor Herrick, Noah Jones-Beyene and Yoshi Parker, who all averaged 5.0 points. 

Sophomore Brandon Ivery, who averaged 8.0 points, transferred to Gahanna.

“We’ve not got a whole lot of on-the-court experience, but we have some kids that have been in the mix and have been involved and had to play in some games,” coach Taylor said. “Marcus Stewart and Chase Ouellette are two key guys in the starting lineup for us. Marcus has been starting since his freshman season and Chase has been starting since his freshman season, so they’ve got a lot of experience.”

Sophomore Daniela Casline is one of the top returnees for the Jaguars, who have a new coach in Matt Conkling.

Girls basketball team

returns most of roster

The girls basketball team has a new coach in Matt Conkling, who was Village Academy’s coach before joining the program as an assistant under Kimball Johnson last winter.

The Jaguars, who won a combined five games over the last two seasons under Johnson, finished 1-22 last winter with a roster that had just two seniors.

Wellington has no seniors this year, but there are several returnees who played key roles last season.

“The core of our team is returning from last year,” Conkling said. “Some of our key players will be at our center position and guard position. As a team, we can’t take anything for granted. We have to approach every practice like it may be our last, so we come out every day with the purpose of getting better and winning the day. These are very challenging times, not anything a coach has ever seen before. 

“I stress to the team the importance of accepting that this year will be fluid, that we need to adapt quickly when changes happen and that we can and will keep moving forward to achieve our goals of getting better — mentally and physically — every day.”

The top returnees are 6-0 sophomore post player Daniela Casline, junior guards Jameela Askira (5-6), Abigail Burkhardt (5-3) and Rhea Singh (5-6) and sophomore forward Katie Kuttrus (5-9).

Also on the team are sophomore guard Dylan Ehlers and freshman guards Eva Dulle, Alexia Fischer, Rowan Hubbard, Sophia Kramer, Gigi Manley, Charlotte Rost and Vivian Swanson.

Wellington had six league games scheduled in November and December postponed because of the pandemic and is scheduled to open league action Jan. 5 at home against Bexley.

“We need to stay grounded and focus on the things we can control, (such as) building strength, skills and teamwork,” Conkling said. “My hope for this season is to compete each day. We want to get better on and off the court, keep working hard and give great effort. If we continue to do that, we’ll achieve our team goals.”

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

BOYS BASKETBALL

Coach: Artie Taylor, seventh season

Top players: Aurius Calloway, Chase Ouellette, Max Schaeffer, Marcus Stewart and A.J. Taylor

Key losses: Connor Herrick, Brandon Ivery, Noah Jones-Beyene, Elijah Meredith and Yoshi Parker

Last season: 18-9 overall

2019-20 MSL-Ohio standings: Whitehall and Worthington Christian (both 9-3), Grandview (8-4), Buckeye Valley and Wellington (both 6-6), Columbus Academy (4-8), Bexley (0-12)

2020 postseason: Defeated Madison Christian 99-26; def. Northside Christian 72-25; def. Morral Ridgedale 66-36; def. Berne Union 69-45; def. Fort Loramie 38-35 in Division IV regional semifinal

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Coach: Matt Conkling, first season

Top players: Jameela Askira, Abigail Burkhardt, Daniela Casline, Katie Kuttrus and Rhea Singh

Key losses: Lilliana Adkinson, Eli Burkhardt, Hannah Jones-Beyene and Ellie Weinberg

Last season: 1-22 overall

2019-20 MSL-Ohio standings: Whitehall (13-1), Worthington Christian (12-2), Bexley (10-4), Buckeye Valley (7-7), Grandview (6-8), Columbus School for Girls (5-9), Columbus Academy (3-11), Wellington (0-14)

2020 postseason: Lost to Newark Catholic 54-12 in second round of Division IV district tournament