Led by three returning starters, the Dublin Scioto High School girls basketball team is looking to improve on last season, when it finished 13-8 overall and placed second in the OCC-Cardinal Division.
Third-year coach Matt Fisher, whose team opened against Watterson on Nov. 27, expects to have a solid rotation with as many as nine players contributing to what he anticipates will be a more extensive full-court defense.
"Our scrimmages and practices have been fantastic," Fisher said. "We're doing a lot more full-court pressure than we've ever done, and that's quite a different defensive style for us. With who we have back, we can (substitute) and rotate a lot more."
Among the returning starters is 5-foot-10 senior point guard Anna Buhigas, who averaged a team-best 16.2 points, 4.2 assists and three steals last season and was named OCC-Cardinal Player of the Year and second-team all-district.
Buhigas became the go-to scorer midway through last season when 2012 graduate Emily Jones, a post player, sustained a season-ending knee injury. Jones, the only senior on Scioto's roster last season, averaged 10.1 points and was special mention all-league and honorable mention all-district.
The other returning starters are 5-11 senior forward Katie Collins and 5-9 senior guard Casey Suich. Collins was honorable mention all-league last season.
Fisher expected to have four starters back this season, but Jones' sister, Elise, will miss the season with a knee injury. A senior wing player, Elise Jones averaged 12.2 points and a team-high 8.6 rebounds last season and was named second-team all-league.
Other returnees are seniors Bri Prichett (5-9, forward) and Kathleen Thorndal (6-0, post player).
"The five seniors have been playing together since fourth grade," Buhigas said. "We know how we play and we have good team chemistry. I definitely feel like we have a lot more varsity experience, but we also have some juniors who are going to help us."
Those juniors include guard Abbie Moore (5-6), forward Alex Mielke (5-11) and guard Rachel Willis (5-6). Fisher also looks for 5-6 freshman guard Camille McLellan to be a regular contributor. The Irish are looking to have a more-balanced attack this season.
"We've really been working on a dribble-drive offense this year," Buhigas said. "We're trying to have more patience in attacking the basket. With injuries last year, I was left to be the scorer. This year, I think people know that, but we have others who can score."
Scioto went 11-3 in the OCC-Cardinal last season to finish behind Olentangy (13-1) and ahead of Westerville North (9-5), Dublin Jerome (8-6), Westerville South (8-6), Olentangy Liberty (5-9), Marysville (2-12) and Westerville Central (0-14).
As part of OCC realignment, Liberty, Marysville and Olentangy left the OCC-Cardinal and were replaced by Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Darby and Worthington Kilbourne.
The Irish begin league play Friday, Nov. 30, at Kilbourne.
"The obvious frontrunner looks like Westerville North, but I think it's going to come down to the last couple of weeks," Fisher said of the league. "It looks like a very competitive division. Really, I don't have a clue who it's going to be."
Scioto lost to Darby 43-29 in the first round of the Division I district tournament last season.