By Jarrod Ulrey, THISWEEKSPORTS.COM
A pair of juniors and a sophomore who were asked to take on different and larger roles this season have proven up to the task thus far for the Worthington Christian High School boys basketball team.
The Warriors knew almost from the get-go that one of their freshmen would play a leading role, and he’s settled in fine, too.
A year after finishing 9-14, Worthington Christian was 8-4 overall before playing Fairbanks on Jan. 15.
“We’re just a lot more talented this year, a lot more solid and a lot faster, which helps,” junior forward Nakimba Mullins said. “We can score a little more than last year when we couldn’t get points on the board. This year, we’re doing a lot better at that.”
Mullins, junior guard Derrick Hardin, sophomore guard Tyler Kindberg and freshman point guard D.J. Moore have comprised the nucleus of one of the area’s rising Division III teams.
Worthington Christian is 1-3 in the MSL-Ohio Division and will try to avenge a 62-56 loss to Grandview on Friday, Jan. 18, when it visits the Bobcats, who are another of the area’s stronger Division III teams.
In last week’s Division III area coaches poll, Grandview was fourth and Columbus Academy, which also competes in the MSL-Ohio, was sixth. Another league power, Bexley, was fourth in Division II.
Rounding out the MSL-Ohio is Whitehall, which beat Worthington Christian 57-46 on Jan. 4.
The Warriors’ league win came against Academy, 53-49 on Dec. 14 when they rallied from a 22-14 halftime deficit.
“We have good team chemistry and the kids are buying in to what we’re asking them to do offensively and defensively,” coach Kevin Weakley said. “Now it’s just going to take time to process where we can be good for four quarters on a consistent basis. We lost to Grandview and we didn’t play well in crunch time. Against Academy, we played really well in crunch time. We’re a young team learning how to win.”
Moore has been an immediate offensive force. He had a 30-point performance in a 70-41 win over Whetstone on Dec. 22 and was averaging a team-high 17.8 points through 12 games, followed by Hardin (15.2), Mullins (11.9) and Kindberg (8.3).
Mullins, who has grown to about 6-foot-4, is playing an increased role inside this season, while Hardin has been more of a creator after focusing much of last season on being a spot-up shooter.
“Their roles are different than last year because they need to do more,” Weakley said. “D.J. certainly helps guys get in position where they can be successful, but those guys have played a lot of basketball. Hardin can really shoot the ball and you have to account for him on the floor. A good team has lots of different pieces, and Derrick helps D.J. because you have to guard Derrick and it creates more space on the floor for D.J. to create off the dribble.”
Read more of Jarrod Ulrey’s coverage of WC sports, including updates on the girls basketball team, bowling team, and swimming and diving team here.