The Gahanna Lincoln High School girls basketball team features three players in their third seasons as key contributors and a fourth in her second year as a starter.
But even veteran lineups like that, according to Lions senior forward Maddison Blackwell, can't forget about the value of talking on the court.
She said her team's performance in a 49-44 win over Pickerington Central on Jan. 11 is a good example.
"I think the season has been going well, but we can do a lot more than what we've shown," Blackwell said. "We were kind of just all over the place (against Central). We didn't communicate as well in that game, but we've been getting it together in practice."
Blackwell played for Hilliard Davidson during her first two seasons before transferring to Gahanna and starting as a junior last season.
Senior guards Chrishna Butler and Quiera Lampkins and senior post player Zenobia Bess are in their third seasons as key players. Senior guard/forward Nikki Campbell-Muriente is in her second season as a part-time player.
The Lions also are expected to return another experienced player before the end of the month when senior Reyna Montgomery, who is recovering from a knee injury, is cleared to play.
Without Montgomery, sophomore guard Sydney Stokes has been seeing regular minutes.
Blackwell, who averaged 8.2 points a year ago and signed with Xavier in the offseason, played a key role in the nine-game winning streak the Lions were on before playing Watterson on Jan. 23. She scored in double figures in five of those games.
Blackwell was held to two points Dec. 18 in a 54-44 loss to Reynoldsburg.
Gahanna gets another shot at the Raiders, who were fourth in last week's Division I state poll, on Tuesday, Jan. 29, on the road.
"My freshman and sophomore years at Davidson they had me as a post player, but with my AAU team I've played guard," Blackwell said. "They just want me to shoot more. My freshman and sophomore years I would sometimes only score three or four points a game, but this year I've had 16 in a game."
Hockey team battling for Cup berth
The hockey team can take a big step toward qualifying for the Blue Jackets Cup this weekend.
In the Capital Hockey Conference, the top four teams in the Red Division, the top three in the White Division and the winner of the Blue Division advance to the Blue Jackets Cup. The remaining six teams will compete in the Consolation Cup.
The Lions are 5-4-0-2 (12 points) to lead the Blue Division. They play Worthington Kilbourne on Friday, Jan. 25, and Watterson on Saturday, Jan. 26, at Chiller Easton and face Dublin Scioto on Sunday, Jan. 27, at Chiller Dublin.
The Lions close the CHC schedule with games against Dublin Jerome (Feb. 1), Thomas Worthington (Feb. 2) and Dublin Coffman (Feb. 3).
Kilbourne is second (5-6, 10) in the CHC-Blue, followed by Watterson (3-8, 6), Olentangy (3-11, 6) and Scioto (0-12, 0).
"(Kilbourne and Watterson) are the two teams we need to stay ahead of in the Blue Division," coach J.J. Stallsworth said. "(Forward) Austin Hays had one of those days in the Watterson game (during a 6-3 win Jan. 12) where he had a hat trick. We kind of came out and did what we needed to do."
Gahanna's leading scorers have been Mason Settle, Skyy Goebel, Zach Champman, Jake Chobany and Jack Jander.
"I think we're still in the early stages of turning our program around," Stallsworth said. "Some of the guys are starting to recognize where we've been in the past. Last year we only won seven games, so we're happy (with our progress)."
Boys basketball team getting back on track
The boys basketball team is hoping to put together a solid second half.
After beating Chillicothe 69-52 on Jan. 12, the Lions defeated Groveport 67-43 in an OCC-Ohio game Jan. 18 and played Westerville Central on Jan. 22.
The game against Groveport was the first since the 2013 portion of the schedule began that Gahanna had its entire lineup. Manny Powell (five games), Aaron Jackson (four games), Troy Mundy (three games) and Javon Bess (one game) all have missed time for disciplinary reasons.
The Lions return to OCC-Ohio play Friday, Jan. 25, against visiting Newark and play host to Reynoldsburg on Tuesday, Jan. 29. Powell and Bess did not play Dec. 18 when Gahanna lost to Reynoldsburg 40-38.