During the 2010-11 season, the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls basketball team earned a Division I district runner-up finish despite having four sophomores as key players.
While that was among the most unproven teams the Lions have entered a season with since Rick Hauser took over as coach in 2002-03, that squad tops this year's in terms of experience.
The leading returning scorer is junior Sydney Stokes, a 5-foot-8 guard who averaged 4.8 points a year ago when Gahanna won its third district championship in four seasons and second in a row.
Senior Trinity Hunter, a 6-1 post player who has been receiving college interest, played sparingly last winter in a lineup that featured five Division I recruits in Zenobia Bess (Illinois State), Maddison Blackwell (Xavier), Chrishna Butler (Cleveland State), Quiera Lampkins (Ohio University) and Reyna Montgomery (Detroit Mercy).
Gahanna, which went 22-5 a year ago and earned an OCC-Ohio Division runner-up finish at 11-3 behind Reynoldsburg (14-0), opened Nov. 24 with a 60-51 win over Cincinnati Walnut Hills in the Gary West Memorial Tipoff Classic at Reynoldsburg.
"Some of the seniors have been around all of this, but they haven't been the main players on the team," said Hauser, whose team was a combined 74-26 over the past four seasons.
"Trinity is probably our best player. She's a (Division I) prospect and a post kid who's very athletic. I don't complain really about how athletic we are, but we are really young and inexperienced."
The other seniors in the program are 5-8 forward Morgan Ross and guard Chandlar Helms.
Sophomore guard Yasmin Norman averaged 1.8 points in a backup role last year but should be a key ball-handler.
Other juniors are Rachel Browne (post player), India Carter (forward), Ana Hoosier (guard), Taylor McIlwain (guard) and Taylor Turley (guard).
Freshmen guards Nina Colson and Sam Jenkins are expected to be immediate contributors, while freshmen guards Amanda Fire and Kennedy Rasberry are looking to contribute.
"It's been coming together really well," Stokes said. "We have three seniors and a few young ones who have come in, and I think this year a lot of people have worked a lot on their games. A lot of younger kids have actually been doing quite well. Varsity is a faster pace than last year, but we've been communicating very well together."
Stokes started every game last season for the Lions, who beat Pickerington North 49-46 in a district final but lost to Olentangy Orange 63-52 in overtime in a regional semifinal.
Butler was the leading scorer at 13.4 points per game, followed by Lampkins (12.7), Blackwell (7.7) and Bess (6.0). Montgomery missed the first 19 games recovering from a knee injury.
Lampkins made ThisWeek's Super 12 team, was first-team all-league and all-district and finished with 910 career points. Butler was third-team all-district and first-team all-league and finished with 811 career points. Blackwell was second-team all-league and Bess was honorable mention all-league.
"This is a little bit different of a group this year," Hauser said.
"With this group, everybody's got to be on the same page. When people get out of the system, we tend to struggle."