Since returning in the 2005-06 season after being dormant in the early part of the decade, the Gahanna Cage Classic usually has seen the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls basketball team compete against at least one strong opponent from the northeast or east side of Columbus.

Since returning in the 2005-06 season after being dormant in the early part of the decade, the Gahanna Cage Classic usually has seen the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls basketball team compete against at least one strong opponent from the northeast or east side of Columbus.

The four-team tournament will have even more of a local flavor this season.

The Lions will face Hilliard Davidson for the second consecutive season in the first round of the Cage Classic at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday. The other first-round matchup pits Mifflin against New Albany - a pair of schools that are just five and six miles, respectively, from the tournament site - at 6 p.m. that same day.

The consolation game is at 6 p.m. Dec. 30, followed by the championship game.

Last season, Gahanna's two-year run of holding the Cage Classic title ended when it lost to Marion Harding 57-42 in the final.

"I like it because it's all local teams," coach Rick Hauser said. "That's going to add to the number of people who will be there. Adding New Albany and Mifflin, which are schools that are right next door, is kind of nice to be honest. New Albany's had a pretty good season so far. I think we used to play Mifflin in a lot of sports."

Davidson lost to New Albany 54-40 in the first round of the Division I district tournament last season to finish 11-10, but improved to 4-1 with a 63-51 victory over Central Crossing last Friday.

The Wildcats have switched from playing primarily zone to more man-to-man defense this season, and the early results have been positive as they allowed just 38.5 points during their first four games.

Senior guard Samantha Bradway and sophomore post player Maddison Blackwell have been among the early standouts for Davidson.

"They've got a couple sophomores that are good players, kind of like us," Hauser said.

New Albany won the OCC-Capital Division and was a district runner-up last season when it finished 20-4. The Eagles have a younger look after losing twin sisters and Miami University recruits Hannah Robertson and Haley Robertson to graduation, but sophomore point guard Hannah Scipio, senior guard Madi Miller and sophomore guard Cheyenne Hartley-Carr have helped fill the gap. Sophomore Emily Rolwing is a 6-foot post player who also is taking on a prominent role.

The Eagles, who are coached by former Gahanna assistant Jamie Puryear, were 4-1 before playing Franklin Heights last Tuesday. They beat Hilliard Bradley, which was a Division II district runner-up a year ago, 48-47 on Dec. 7 but lost to Olentangy Orange 54-36 last Friday.

Mifflin is 3-2 under first-year coach Allen Jarrett. The Punchers went 9-11 last season but won more than 200 games, including six district and two City League titles under former coach Troy Taylor, who stepped down in the offseason. Mifflin is led by 6-0 senior post player Shanevian Holden.

Gahanna was 6-0 after beating Pickerington Central 51-45 last Friday and played defending OCC-Ohio Division champion Pickerington North last Tuesday.

According to Hauser, senior Tiyona Marshall and sophomore Reyna Montgomery have played up to their capabilities after being the most experienced returnees, and sophomores Chrishna Butler and Quiera Lampkins have looked comfortable despite being in key roles for the first time.

"We need to find a way to score more around the basket, but our perimeter players have done a nice job," Hauser said. "I expected us to compete and be in games. Four of our first five games being on the road I think helps us. They're all playing hard on the defensive end and trying to pressure the ball."

•The toughest competition the boys team saw during the season's first two weeks likely came in its own practices.

On the way to outscoring their first four opponents by an average of 32.5 points, the Lions rarely saw a drop-off in play even when they utilized the deepest part of their bench.

Having nine seniors also has helped de-emphasize the fact that Gahanna has few players with previous varsity experience.

The Lions allowed an average of just 44 points through four games.

"We've tried to keep the same chemistry we had from last year so that we can still be the team to beat," senior Jamel Morris said. "We always just talk about knowing your role. If you're a jump-shooter, do what you can do to help us win.

"(Our defensive system) is what we've been building. All the way up from the freshman to the varsity, we just pick it up at a faster pace and get used to it."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln boys and girls basketball teams:

BOYS

*Last Friday - Defeated Pickerington Central 78-53. Stevie Taylor scored 23 points for the Lions, who outscored the Tigers 20-10 in the third quarter.

Last Saturday - Def. Columbus East 65-33. Trey Warr scored 14 points and Aaron Jackson scored 10 for the Lions, who outscored the Tigers 17-2 in the third period.

*Last Wednesday - Played Pickerington North

Dec. 30 - At Independence. The Lions defeated the 76ers 81-55 last season.

*Jan. 3 - At Grove City. Last season, the Lions beat the Greyhounds 92-53 and 77-55.

Of note: The Lions were 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Ohio before last Wednesday.

GIRLS

Dec. 14 - Def. Hilliard Darby 54-23. The Lions led 31-6 at halftime.

*Last Friday - Def. Pickerington Central 51-45. The Lions outscored the Tigers 18-10 in the fourth quarter. Chrishna Butler scored 18 points.

*Last Tuesday - Played Pickerington North

Wednesday-Dec. 30 - Home in Gahanna Cage Classic. Gahanna plays Hilliard Davidson (7:45 p.m.) in the first round Wednesday, with the loser playing in the consolation at 6 p.m. Dec. 30 and the winner playing for the championship at 7:45 p.m. Dec. 30. The other first-round matchup pits Mifflin and New Albany at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

*Jan. 3 - Home vs. Grove City. The Lions beat the Greyhounds 66-48 and 64-35 last season.

Of note: The Lions were 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Ohio before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Ohio game