Randy Darst could bemoan that his Grandview Heights High School girls basketball team has no seniors, a couple of juniors and the remaining players are freshmen.

Randy Darst could bemoan that his Grandview Heights High School girls basketball team has no seniors, a couple of juniors and the remaining players are freshmen.

Instead, the first-year coach is happy to have an eager group that is excited to be playing varsity.

"They are hungry to learn the game and it's impressive how quickly they are picking up drills that are the foundation of our program," said Darst, whose team opens Tuesday, Nov. 29, with a non-league game at Columbus School for Girls. "They have made it very easy to work new things into practice.

"They are like a bunch of throwbacks. I never had to ask them to sprint to the center of the court to huddle up and talk about things; they just did that on their own. They lock on to what we are saying and there are no side conversations when the coaches are talking. They listen to us and that's the kind of things you need to build a program."

Darst was an assistant with the Pickerington Central girls program last season, and he also has been an assistant at Teays Valley and Canal Winchester. He coached one season of boys basketball at Teays Valley and led the girls program at Williamsport Westfall for four seasons before returning to school in 2001 to get his master's degree.

Darst replaced Steve Hall, who resigned in May after 12 seasons leading the program to spend more time with family. Last season, the Bobcats finished 12-11 overall, losing to top-seeded Africentric 83-37 in a Division III district semifinal.

In the MSL-Cardinal Division, Grandview finished fourth at 8-6, behind Harvest Prep (14-0), West Jefferson (11-3) and Liberty Union (9-5) and ahead of Fisher Catholic (6-8), Berne Union (5-9), Licking Heights (3-11) and Millersport (0-14).

Returning for the Bobcats are juniors Abby Riggs (5-foot-7, forward) and Connor Skeen (5-11, post player). Both saw limited action last season.

"I try to go by what the seniors did last year as far as leadership goes," said Riggs, who was the starting goalkeeper for the girls soccer team this fall. "When you're a goalie, along with the other defenders, you're always making sure that the offensive players are in the right place on the field. I'll be doing a lot of that on the basketball court as well."

The freshmen include Emma Bulla (5-4, guard), Mary Guida (5-8, forward), Emma Hecker (5-5, guard), Ali Lachey (5-7, wing player) Megan McCauley (5-6, point guard), Madi Osborne (5-4, guard), Grace Palmer (5-9, post player), Morgan Taylor (5-8, forward) and Allison Voelker (5-6, wing player).

Skeen said the Bobcats have to be aggressive, especially in the lane.

"We can't be afraid of contact," she said. "We need to get inside and make some shots."

Darst praised the efforts of assistant coaches Michelle Chavanne, Joni Lung, Lauren McGeehen and Stephanie Yocum in helping to prepare the players for the season.

"We have spent a ton of time on footwork, basic ball handling and shooting skills," Darst said. "We didn't get a lot of time in the summer from when I was hired, so we're working on things you normally work on in June and July.

"We're putting in a basic motion offense and working on execution. They are one of the more intelligent groups of kids that I've ever worked with, and that's just not lip service. These kids are picking up things at a great pace. It's been a great surprise."