Canal Winchester High School boys basketball coach Kent Riggs is counting on his team's speed and athleticism this season to compensate for what it lacks in terms of height.
The Indians' tallest player is 6-foot-3 and half of its roster is 5-11 or shorter.
"We're not very big, but we have some good speed and we have guys who handle the ball well," said Riggs, who is in his 26th season leading the program. "Our guys are pretty athletic and it's in their nature to run and score in transition. We have the ability to pass and move the ball up court well, and our shooting could be a strength based on what we've seen so far.
"If we rebound and defend, we should have a good year."
Canal Winchester opened Dec. 4 against Reynoldsburg and begins MSL-Buckeye Division play Saturday, Dec. 8, at home against Bloom-Carroll.
The Indians returned four players from last season, including two starters in 5-11 senior guard Thomas Nolan and 6-2 junior guard Daltyn Colley. The other returnees are 5-10 junior guard Jalen Smith and 6-1 sophomore forward Skyler Scott.
Last season, Nolan averaged 13.1 points and was named second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, as the Indians finished 10-11 overall, tied for second in the MSL-Buckeye and lost to ninth-seeded Olentangy Orange 53-46 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
Rounding out the roster are seniors Marshawn Floyd (5-10, guard), Kevin Ilich (5-9, guard), Keenan Tate (6-1, center) and Nick Toledo (5-11, forward), junior Alex McCoy (6-1, forward) and sophomores Kamon Craine (6-3, center), Seth McCoy (6-2, forward) and Brendan Snyder (5-11, guard).
The Indians lost four key players from last season in forwards Alex Fox and Austin Whitlatch, 6-4 center Zach Morehead and point guard Shemar Waugh. Fox and Whitlatch graduated, Waugh transferred to Northland for his junior season and Morehead opted not to play his senior season.
Last season, Whitlatch averaged 8.5 points and was honorable mention all-league and Waugh averaged 12.4 points, 3.5 assists and two steals and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Fox and Morehead averaged five and 4.7 points, respectively.
"Thomas, Daltyn and Skyler all played a lot for us last year," Riggs said. "We'll need our seniors to have big years for us."
Canal Winchester went 9-5 in the MSL-Buckeye last season to tie Logan Elm for second, behind Bloom-Carroll (14-0) and ahead of Amanda-Clearcreek (7-7), Circleville (6-8), Teays Valley (6-8), Fairfield Union (5-9) and Hamilton Township (0-14).
This will be the Indians' final season in the MSL-Buckeye, as they move to the OCC-Cardinal next year.
"We want to go out on a good note with a good league record," Riggs said. "Bloom-Carroll has got to be the favorite and Logan Elm has another solid team, so the MSL is going to be competitive as always."
Swimming teams set to start season
The boys and girls swimming and diving teams open Saturday, Dec. 8, in the Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State.
The girls squad includes seniors Sydney Boyer, Andrea Ratliff and Jenna Zuberi, juniors Hanna Klatt, Casey Pastor and Devon Shull, sophomore Lexie Meade and freshmen Bailee Faulkner, Chloe Palmer and Joelle Zuberi.
Last season, Canal Winchester scored 98 points and finished fourth in the MSL meet, behind Granville (410), Columbus Academy (271) and Teays Valley (110) and ahead of Bexley (95), Grandview (82), Newark Catholic (57), Heath (38), Bloom-Carroll (27), Circleville (26), Fisher Catholic (9), Amanda-Clearcreek (9), Liberty Union (6) and Lakewood (2).
The Indians scored 31 points and placed ninth in the Division I sectional at Upper Arlington behind champion UA (446).
Klatt, Pastor, Shull and Meade finished seventh in the 200-yard freestyle relay in 1 minute, 52.23 seconds and ninth in the 200 medley relay in 2:04.2.
Meade also placed 10th (26.47) in the 50 free and Pastor placed ninth (2:22.27) in the 200 individual medley and 11th (1:03.49) in the 100 butterfly.
The Indians failed to score in the district meet at Ohio State, which UA won (522), and did not have any state qualifiers.
At district, Meade placed 26th in the 50 free (26.42), Pastor finished 27th in the 100 fly (1:04.12) and 25th in the 200 IM (2:24.26), the 200 free relay placed 25th (1:50.75) and the 200 medley relay finished 26th (2:02.96).
The boys team has only three members in seniors Wyatt Meade and Rex Weiser and sophomore Ward Bright.
Despite having only three members last season, the Indians scored 54 points and finished eighth in the MSL meet, behind Granville (302), Academy (164), Grandview (158), Circleville (104), Bexley (102), Bloom-Carroll (66) and Heath (56) and ahead of Liberty Union (53), Newark Catholic (34), Lakewood (30), Amanda-Clearcreek (23), Licking Valley (14), Teays Valley (12), Fisher Catholic (9) and Logan Elm (3).
Canal Winchester scored 33 points and finished 10th in the Division I sectional at UA behind champion UA (397.5), as 2012 graduate Sam Decker won the 50 free (21.61) and 100 free (47.32),
At district, the Indians finished 15th (35) behind champion UA (435), as Decker won the 50 free in a team-record 20.89 and finished fourth in the 100 free in 47.14 and advanced to the state meet at Branin Natatorium in Canton in both events.
At state, Decker placed third in the 50 free (21.2) and ninth in the 100 free (46.68), as the Indians scored 25 points to finish 24th behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (297.5) as 47 teams scored.
As a junior, Decker won the 100 free (team-record 46.1) and placed third in the 50 free (20.91) at state in Division II.
"We have a whole new group of kids, including a lot of first-year swimmers," third-year coach Julie Pastor said. "I would just like to get some kids to district because it's not a sure thing for us like it was last year."