Because of a lack of experience last season, the Watterson High School boys basketball team played at a deliberate pace offensively and tried to grind out low-scoring victories.

Because of a lack of experience last season, the Watterson High School boys basketball team played at a deliberate pace offensively and tried to grind out low-scoring victories.

The Eagles finished 10-14 overall, losing to top-seeded Hartley 44-38 in a Division II district final.

This season, 19th-year coach Vince Lombardo is hoping his team will score more points while continuing to play solid defense.

"We'd like to push a little more and open things up more offensively, because our overall team speed is good and we're shooting and handling the ball better," said Lombardo, whose team opens Saturday, Dec. 3, at home against Hilliard Darby and begins CCL play Dec. 16 at Hartley. "We want to be a strong defensive team again, but we're also hoping we can be a little more aggressive offensively to score more points."

The Eagles return two starters in 6-foot-3 senior post player Jake Brobst and 6-0 senior wing player Erik Oman. Brobst averaged 4.2 points and Oman averaged 2.4 points last season.

Also back are seniors Alex Golonka (6-2, post player), Jake Lombardo (6-0, wing player), Andrew Malone (6-0, wing player), Peter Markle (6-2, post player), Tyler Schafer (5-9, guard) and Jared Sivinski (6-1, guard).

Rounding out the team are juniors Greg Jacknewitz (6-1, wing player), Bryan Jackson (6-4, post player) and Mike Vlahakis (6-2, wing player) and sophomores Cody Calhoun (5-10, guard) and Andy Grieser (6-3, wing player).

"We have quite a few seniors, but we don't have a lot of floor experience as a whole," coach Lombardo said. "Our goals for the offseason were to get stronger and improve our shooting and I think we've done those things."

Last season, the Eagles lost 11 of their first 15 games. But they won three of their final five regular-season contests, including a 60-48 victory over DeSales at Ohio Dominican, which snapped a 13-game losing streak to the Stallions.

Watterson finished third in the CCL at 4-4, behind Hartley (7-1) and DeSales (6-2) and ahead of St. Charles (3-5) and Ready (0-8).

The Eagles opened the district tournament with a 46-36 win over Linden-McKinley, upset fourth-seeded Canal Winchester 39-37 in overtime in the second round and beat fifth-seeded Centennial 27-23 in a semifinal before losing to Hartley.

"We play a challenging schedule because it prepares us to do our best in our league games and during tournament time," coach Lombardo said. "The CCL never seems to be down and that's true again this season. Hartley might get the nod as the favorite because they're the defending champs and they return a lot, but I think the rest of us are capable of giving them a run for their money."

•The hockey team opened in the Midwest Thanksgiving Classic, losing to Olentangy Orange 10-1 and Strongsville 4-1 on Nov. 25, losing to Upper Arlington 7-1 on Nov. 26 and defeating Cincinnati Sycamore 9-0 on Nov. 27.

Watterson, which finished 0-21 overall last season after losing to top-seeded Dublin Jerome 11-1 in the first round of the district tournament, begins Capital Hockey Conference play Dec. 16 against Upper Arlington at the OhioHealth Ice Haus.

The Eagles went 0-13 (0 points) in the 14-team CHC last season to finish last, behind co-champions Jerome (12-1, 24) and Olentangy Liberty (12-1, 24) as well as Cincinnati Moeller (11-2, 22), Dublin Coffman (10-2-1, 21), St. Charles (7-4-2, 16), UA (7-4-1-1, 16), Orange (6-4-3, 15), Olentangy (7-6, 14), Thomas Worthington (5-7-1, 11), Gahanna (4-9, 8), DeSales (3-9-0-1, 7), Worthington Kilbourne (2-11, 4) and Dublin Scioto (1-12, 2).

Watterson went 0-2 in the Blue Jackets Cup consolation tournament a year ago, losing to Kilbourne 12-2 and DeSales 11-1.

"This season will be another growth period for the program, but I anticipate that we will make great strides under the leadership of senior Austin Kobbeman, who is in his second year with Watterson hockey," coach Don Lewis said. "Austin chose to leave a very successful club team and represent his high school and we are lucky to have him."

Kobbeman, a forward, will serve as captain, while junior forwards Denis McPhillips and Grant Stover will serve as assistant captains.

Manning the other forward positions are sophomore Jaesuk Bae and freshmen Tommy Hatem, Sam Magee, Zac McKenna and Derek Petrucci.

Sophomore Aaron King returns to start in goal.

The defense corps is comprised of juniors Bobby Bryant, Henry Buster, Kyle Lister and Tim Silleck and freshman Sean Roark.

Against Sycamore, Magee scored five goals and Hatem, Kobbeman, McKenna and McPhillips each scored one.

"We are also blessed with an influx of very talented freshmen," Lewis said. "Zac McKenna brings a world of top level experience to our team and has been immediately inserted as the top-line center. We are excited for this season and the continued growth of Watterson hockey."

•The girls basketball team opened Nov. 29 at home against Scioto. The Eagles will travel to Hartley on Wednesday, Dec. 7, for the CCL opener.