Save for a half in Newark’s only victory so far, the Wildcats have sputtered on offense.
Newark only had five first-quarter points and shot 38 percent for the game in a 68-57 loss to Gahanna in a Ohio Capital Conference-Ohio Division game on Friday. The Wildcats had four first-quarter points and shot 32 percent in their previous loss to Zanesville.
Sophomore point guard Jordan Dartis will draw attention all season after his fabulous freshman season, and his shots are not falling. He was limited to six points on 2-of-8 shooting before fouling out against Gahanna. The Wildcats were 4-of-16 from 3-point range.
“Our half-court man offense is struggling right now,” coach Jeff Quackenbush said. “I need to get that simplified for the kids. We are thinking too much. That is my fault. That is on me. That is the first thing we need to get corrected. That is two games in a row we have struggled to score early in a game.”
Newark uncharacteristically is 0-3 at home. The Wildcats will try to jumpstart their season on the road this week in a pair of OCC-Ohio games. They visit Grove City on Tuesday and Groveport on Friday.
With the status of starting center Teddy Metzen uncertain after he left the Gahanna loss with an ankle injury, the Wildcats might need another strong effort from the bench. The Wildcats had 24 bench points against the Lions.
“I just try to guide them, making sure they are practicing hard,” senior sixth man Brandon Jefferson said. “I try to lead by example. It carries over. If you play hard in practice, normally it translates well to the game.”
This week begins a busier stretch on the court for the Wildcats. After playing just four times during the first three weeks, the Wildcats will have two games each week most of the rest of the way.
After Christmas, Newark hosts a holiday tournament on Dec. 28 and 29. The Wildcats open January with a stretch of four games in eight days, beginning with a visit from defending state champion Pickerington Central on Jan. 4.
“You never can have enough practice, but we need to get out there,” Quackenbush said. “Especially after you lose a game, kids want to get back out there and play.”
Granville off to fast start
Granville’s defense has been a big part of its unbeaten start. The Blue Aces limited their first four opponents to an average of 41 points per game.
The Blue Aces ran out to a 24-12 start in a 68-38 victory against Lakewood (1-5, 0-3) on Friday in a Mid-State League-Ohio Division game. The Blue Aces limited the Lancers to two single-digit quarters.
“Our guys deserve a lot of credit because they have bought into the fact that we have to play solid defense,” said first-year coach Adam Teeters, a former Bishop Watterson assistant.
“They have been willing to do whatever we’ve asked them to do, and they’ve done it by giving 100 percent in practice.”
The Blue Aces (4-0, 2-0) will get a big test on Thursday when they host defending league champion Newark Catholic.
Although Granville’s defense has been stifling through the first four games, its offense has been balanced. Against the Lakewood, Granville had three players in double figures, led by Ethan Schmidt’s 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Teeters has been impressed with the 6-foot-7 senior.
“I told him in the summer that he could be a load inside for us,” Teeters said. “He has been one of the most consistent players I’ve ever coached. He comes into practice every day ready to work, and he wants to get better.”
Utica gets first win
Utica is looking to its seniors for leadership, and the Redskins got that and more against Danville on Friday.
Senior leaders Broc Stradley, Luke Holmes and Spencer Kendall each scored in double figures as the Redskins beat the Blue Devils 44-38 in Mid-Buckeye Conference play.
Stradley and Holmes each had 12 points, and Kendall, an undersized post player at 6-1, added 10 points. The Redskins (1-3, 1-2) broke away from a 29-29 tie at the end of the three quarters. They lost while facing a similar situation earlier in the season against Johnstown.