Whitehall-Yearling Roundup: New-look girls basketball team starts season slowly
Despite a slow start, Whitehall-Yearling girls basketball coach Quentin Taylor believes his team has the potential to compete for the MSL-Ohio Division title and make a postseason run.
The Rams were 2-4 overall and 0-1 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Wellington on Jan. 8.
“We have to be ready for the (Division II district) tournament,” Taylor said. “Just like last year when I was talking about putting the banner up, that’s not the same this year. The goal is to get better as the year goes on. The goal for us is try to get back to that district championship game.”
The Rams lost to Lakewood 60-47 in a district final last season.
Whitehall has a new look after losing seven players to graduation in addition to junior Alexia Mobley, who transferred back to Reynoldsburg after playing her freshman season with the Raiders. Mobley is a Louisville commit.
“This league is going be hard for us because everybody knows us,” Taylor said. “We lost seven seniors and a (Division I college) commit. That’s going to hurt.”
Despite losing the key contributors, Taylor has confidence in his current group, which is being led by senior Jewel Watkins, a Coppin State commit.
Whitehall opened league play with a 53-50 loss to visiting Bexley on Jan. 5. Watkins scored a game-high 29 points despite missing most of the first half after committing three early fouls.
“Watkins is our workhorse,” Taylor said. “She’s going to surprise you at times and take over a game, but you always need help.”
Charjae Brock added 11 points.
The Rams played without guard Brooklynn Greer, who was out with an illness, and post player Shyaira Johnson and guard Mackenzie Schmittauer, who were out with ankle injuries.
“We’re shorthanded,” Taylor said. “We’re missing Brooke Greer, but it’s next person up no matter what for us. I don’t go for excuses. We have to play better at the point-guard position. My point guard (Brock) has to play better. She has to be more aggressive. She has to take pressure off Watkins. We’re going to bounce back.”
Whitehall will play host to Grandview on Saturday, Jan. 18, in a league game.
The Rams defeated Harvest Prep 70-23 on Dec. 21 and Franklin Heights 73-12 on Dec. 23.
“This team doesn’t give up,” guard Ry’Yair Smith said of the Rams' slow start. “We’re fighters. We’re going to go until that (final) buzzer. We’re going to get it together. We won’t stop. We know what we’re capable of. Last year was great, but we’re going to put that behind us and continue with this year.”
Boys team opens
league play with win
The boys basketball team opened MSL-Ohio play with a 58-47 win over Columbus Academy on Jan. 5 at home.
The Rams trailed 41-40 midway through the fourth quarter. Kei’Von Wiggins led Whitehall with 18 points, followed by Teddy Brown with 15 and Kaden Macklin with 12.
“That was a nice win especially when we’re not clicking the way we want to click,” coach Drew Williams said. “Academy is well-coached. I love the way (Jeff Warstler) coaches his program. I love the way his kids play. I like how we came through in the end. That’s solid.”
Whitehall was 3-4 before playing Liberty Township Lakota East on Jan. 9 and visits Westerville North on Saturday, Jan. 16.
The Rams also defeated Johnstown 54-51 on Dec. 23 and Dublin Jerome 55-52 on Jan. 2.
“The schedule is brutally ridiculous,” Williams said. “I don’t know anybody in central Ohio who is playing the games we’re playing. I’m playing anybody I can because I don’t know if we might get shut down.”
Wrestling team hopes
for added mat time
With the school district limiting its schedule, wrestling coach Steve Pennington hopes his team can gain valuable experience as the season continues.
The district has limited the program to compete in just dual matches while other programs have multiple-team events and tournaments on their schedules.
Pennington said there are 14 dual matches on his team's schedule.
“It’s unfortunate because my kids are going to have just 14 matches going into the sectionals, but more than that, I have kids who have two to three forfeits already,” Pennington said. “They’re not going to be ready for sectionals. We’re doing everything we can.”
Whitehall opened MSL-Ohio action with a 54-27 win over Bexley on Jan. 6. Twelve of the 14 matches were decided by forfeit.
The Rams were 1-3 overall and 1-0 in the league before facing Buckeye Valley on Jan. 8. Shea Jordan was leading the way at 3-1 at 106 pounds.
Whitehall returns to league action Wednesday, Jan. 20, against visiting Grandview.