Scott Sellers

Clear Fork girls basketball coach Scott Sellers watches the action during Wednesday's non-conference game against Lexington at Clear Fork. The Colts beat Lady Lex 62-43 and are 9-1 on the season.

BELLVILLE — Scott Sellers was a gym rat during his playing days at Clear Fork and he’s doing his best to rebuild the girls basketball program in his likeness.

If the first half of the 2021-22 season is any indication, Sellers’ restoration project is well ahead of schedule. The Colts are 9-1 in Sellers’ second season in charge after Wednesday’s 62-43 win over Lexington and, for the first time since joining the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference for the 2017-18 school year, will be playing meaningful conference games in the second half of the season.

What’s more, the nine wins is the most for Clear Fork since the Colts went 19-5 and won a sectional title under Heidi Roush during the 2014-15 season.

“I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that we just won our ninth game and that’s more than we’ve had since 2015,” Sellers said Wednesday night. “It’s easy to overlook that when you’re playing well.”

A 1998 Clear Fork graduate, Sellers took over for Randy Pore in October of 2020. The late start, coupled with the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, made for an uneven first year — Clear Fork was 7-14 and lost to Mansfield Senior in the opening round of the Division II sectional tournament.

“It was a great year for learning what to do and what not to do,” Sellers said of his rookie season. “I wouldn’t trade last year for anything because I learned a lot from last year and we’ve made adjustments to it.”

With a full off-season under Sellers came a renewed enthusiasm for basketball.

“From April through the end of October, when we started practice, I had eight core kids and for the most part I saw them for six months. They did this,” said Sellers, a 2021 Clear Fork Valley Athletic Hall of Fame inductee who scored 1,107 points during his four-year varsity career. “The coaches were opening the gym in the mornings four days a week in April and May and I had six kids coming. Then in June and July, despite soccer and despite softball, they were coming to everything.

“Then in the fall, some of the kids who were playing other sports were taking time to dribble. They put in the effort in the off-season. A lot of these games are won (in the off-season).”

Clear Fork is led by Bekah Conrad, a 6-foot-4 senior center. Conrad is averaging 15.4 points and 11 rebounds a game and swiped 19 boards against Lex on Wednesday.

Four other Colts are averaging at least 5.5 points a game. Lilly Wortman is good for 10.8 points a game, while Annika Labaki averages 6.2 points a night. Trinity Cook (5.7 ppg) and Lyv Davis (5.6 ppg) give Clear Fork one of the most balanced attacks in north central Ohio.

“We’re really unselfish so we (move) the ball around,” Conrad said Wednesday. “We’re really excited to have changed our program and we’re building a culture as a team.”

Clear Fork returns to action Dec. 28 at Fredericktown before hosting MOAC-leading Shelby on Dec. 30. The Whippets are the three-time defending conference champs and are 42-1 since joining the MOAC for the 2018-19 season.

With a deep and athletic group, Clear Fork hopes to stay in the hunt for the MOAC title as the season unfolds.

“We have athletes and we want them to have fun,” Sellers said. “I think that’s part of it, too. The kids are having a good time.

“They’ve put in so much time. It’s all a process for us.”

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I have covered high school sports in Richland County since 2000. Email him at curt@richlandsource.com or follow him on Twitter: Follow @curtjconrad on twitter.

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