With Amber Stokes in the fold for much of the last two seasons, the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls basketball team knew it would get instant offense whenever it needed it as well as a player who was as quick and strong defensively as any in central Ohio.

With Amber Stokes in the fold for much of the last two seasons, the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls basketball team knew it would get instant offense whenever it needed it as well as a player who was as quick and strong defensively as any in central Ohio.

Without her -- and the five other 2008 graduates who were key players a year ago -- the Lions unquestionably have a new look. It has led coach Rick Hauser to go back to basics with a team that returns just one starter as well as half a dozen players who have played roles in the past.

Gahanna opens Friday at Westerville South and begins OCC-Ohio Division play Dec. 5 at Groveport. The Lions went 18-5 overall and won the league at 9-1 a year ago.

"For the last year and a half, we had a kid on our team that could get us a shot at any time," Hauser said. "Now we've got to be a lot more fundamentally sound than in the past. That's been a pretty big emphasis in what we're doing. Right now we look good for periods of time and then all of a sudden we're not very consistent."

Junior Haley Schmitt, a 6-foot post player who averaged 9.6 points and seven rebounds and was honorable mention all-district in Division I a year ago, is the lone returning starter.

Sophomore Tiyona Marshall averaged 5.2 points in a part-time role a year ago and should step into a starting role in the backcourt along with senior Jendy Weppler.

Weppler got injured in Gahanna's opening loss to Pickerington Central 58-41 a year ago and missed the rest of the season. She started at point guard as a sophomore and averaged 3.0 points and 1.9 assists and was honorable mention all-OCC-Ohio.

Junior Brianna Cain (5-11) will join Schmitt down low after missing all of last season with injuries. Seniors Katie Battle (5-9) and Emily Sheets (5-9) and junior Jill O'Donnell are others who saw sporadic playing time last year.

Junior guards Casey Salopek, Lauren Arnett and Emily Richardson and junior forwards DeAnn Deal (5-8) and Phylicia Marrow (5-8) are others on the roster.

"We've got a little bit of depth," Hauser said. "The kids off the bench are just about as good as our starters. Haley's role is going to change last year. She's going to go from our third option to being our No. 1 option, and Jendy's job is going to be to set the table. We need Jill, Lauren and Casey to hit open jump shots. I think shooting is something that we do well."

Stokes, an Ohio State recruit, averaged 20.2 points, 4.0 assists and 3.7 steals and was named to the ThisWeek Super 12. She also was first-team all-district and co-Player of the Year in the OCC-Ohio along with third-team all-state.

Also gone are graduates Kimberly Frissora, Markea Holt (10.8 points), Lauren Kemp (3.7 points), Julie Macioce (7.7 points) and Jami Thomas. Holt is playing for Kirkwood Community College in Iowa, Macioce is playing for Otterbein and Thomas is at Marietta.

The Lions won the OCC-Ohio ahead of Lancaster (8-2), Hilliard Darby (7-3), Newark (3-7), Westland (2-8) and Groveport (1-9) last season. Gahanna, Lancaster, Newark and Groveport remain in the league and are joined by Grove City, Pickerington Central, Pickerington North and Reynoldsburg. Central won the OCC-Cardinal (10-0), North won the OCC-Central (10-0) and the Raiders and Greyhounds move in from the OCC-Buckeye. Grove City went 14-8 overall, including losing to Gahanna 58-42 in the second round of the district tournament.

Reynoldsburg went 16-7 overall and 6-4 in its league last year.

Gahanna, which opened the postseason last year with a 59-23 win over West, lost to Hilliard Davidson 59-49 in a district semifinal.

"From day one to now we've improved so much," Weppler said. "If we keep improving that much, we'll be OK. A strength of our team is team chemistry. That's helped us work on our plays. We're all pretty intelligent so we don't have to work on our plays too much."

At a glance

•Coach: Rick Hauser, seventh season

•Opener: Friday at Westerville South

•Key players: Brianna Cain, Tiyona Marshall, Haley Schmitt and Jendy Weppler