Dublin Scioto High School boys basketball coach Tony Bisutti sees a lot of potential in his team this season.
The Irish are looking to improve on last season, when they finished 11-11 overall, tied for fifth in the OCC-Cardinal Division and lost to third-seeded Olentangy Liberty 60-40 in the second round of the Division I district tournament after beating New Albany 54-44 in the first round.
Scioto opened Dec. 4 against Olentangy and begins OCC-Cardinal play Friday, Dec. 7, at Westerville Central.
The Irish haven't had a winning season since 2008-09, when they went 24-2 and reached a regional final. They finished 5-16 in 2009-10 and 8-13 in 2010-11.
"I expect us to be a lot better (than last season), but it's a team that's going to have to hang in there and grind," said Bisutti, who is in his 18th season leading the program. "I think this is a team that can beat anybody on our schedule and we can lose to anybody on our schedule if we don't shoot it."
Scioto returns four players who saw considerable playing time a year ago in senior guards Josh Ashwill (6-foot-2) and Antonio Bisutti (6-2) and senior wing players Travis Wehder (6-4) and Travis Yates (6-3).
Last season, Ashwill averaged 10.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and three assists and was honorable mention all-district and second-team all-league. Bisutti averaged 10.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists and was honorable mention all-district and special mention all-league.
"We're a group of guys who love to play basketball and have a lot of heart," said Ashwill, a three-year letterwinner.
"The last three years we've been through some disappointment, but I know the six seniors are excited in knowing this is a team that we think can go far this year."
Wehder and Yates split time in the post last season and the hope is for them to be inside and outside threats this winter.
"Those guys have had double-figure games and have showed improvement," coach Bisutti said. "It's a big adjustment for those guys. Last year, we were very perimeter-oriented and it looks like we're going to have more front-line depth this year."
Also back is senior wing player Chase Sult (6-4), who has earned a starting position after coming off the bench last season.
Rounding out the team are senior guard Braxton Wallace (5-9), junior guards Andrew McKinley (5-9), Elisha Pack (5-10) and Kalib Wallace (5-9), junior wing player Derek Scott (5-8) and junior post players Zac Brown (6-5) and Bryan Chu (6-0).
Wallace is expected to be sidelined four to five weeks with an injury, coach Bisutti said.
"We really only have a six- or seven-man rotation, so we're going to have to play a lot of minutes," Ashwill said.
Scioto lost three players from a year ago to graduation, including its leading scorer in wing player Ryan Duncan, who averaged 11.2 points and was honorable mention all-league.
Last season, the Irish went 6-8 in the OCC-Cardinal to tie Olentangy and finish behind Liberty (12-2), Westerville North (11-3), Westerville South (11-3) and Westerville Central (7-7) and ahead of Dublin Jerome (2-12) and Marysville (1-13).
As part of OCC realignment last summer, Liberty and Marysville moved to the OCC-Central and Olentangy moved to the OCC-Capital.
They were replaced by Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Darby and Worthington Kilbourne. Bradley had been in the OCC-Capital and Darby and Kilbourne had been in the OCC-Central.