With inexperienced players in prominent roles a year ago, the Ready High School boys basketball team followed its 2009-10 run to a Division III state semifinal by winning just six games.

With inexperienced players in prominent roles a year ago, the Ready High School boys basketball team followed its 2009-10 run to a Division III state semifinal by winning just six games.

The positive side of that scenario is what could occur this winter.

While the Silver Knights have just three seniors, all but one player who was a key contributor last season has returned as Ready looks to bounce back from a 6-16 finish.

Ready opens Friday, Dec. 2, against visiting Horizon Science Academy, which was a Division III district semifinalist last year.

"We're a young group, but we've got a little bit of experience because we were so young last year," third-year coach Don Worstell said. "Both our sophomore and junior classes are pretty deep. Right now, the hard part is deciding who should play where."

One place where Ready should be at its strongest is the backcourt.

Senior Derek Farmer (5-foot-10) and junior Kyle Wilgus (6-0) each averaged 10 points to lead the team in scoring last season. Farmer missed the season's first six games but made 29 3-pointers, including eight during a 60-54 loss to Hartley in the second round of CCL play. Wilgus also made 29 3s and was honorable mention all-district.

Senior Bo Hardy (5-11) and junior Doug Strickler (5-10) averaged 6.5 and 5.0 points, respectively, and should be other key ball-handlers. Junior Kris Clarke (6-1) averaged 3.1 points last season.

Junior Ross Etgen (5-9) will see time at point guard and senior Joey Seipel (5-9) and sophomore Kelly Culbertson (5-8) also are hoping to be in the mix in the backcourt.

Brady Taylor, a 6-4 sophomore who averaged 3.6 points last season after becoming a key player in January, should be one of the top inside threats. Other frontcourt players should include junior Will Perry (6-1) and sophomores Matt Yoho (6-4), Josh Gantz (6-5) and Jimmy Hanley (6-1).

"I think everyone is a lot more focused than last year, and we have that experience now," Wilgus said. "We all believe we'll be in contention to win our conference, and we all know our conference is tough. We just need to stay humble and stay level-headed."

Ready earned regular-season wins last season over Marion Elgin (41-32), Fairbanks (39-35), Worthington Christian (43-42), Wellington (58-46) and Springfield Northeastern (51-48). It went 0-8 in the CCL to finish behind DeSales (6-2), Watterson (4-4) and St. Charles (3-5).

In the Division III district tournament, Ready beat Berne Union 50-21 in the first round before falling to Heath 50-46 in overtime in a second-round game.

"We've got nice depth this year," Worstell said. "We like our team. We're a pretty good shooting team with some young, big kids who are getting better every day. And you don't play at Ready if you don't guard.

"The CCL is a (challenging) league. I think Hartley's going to be the favorite after making it to the state final four (in Division II). DeSales is a tradition-rich program and Watterson is athletic and well-coached. St. Charles is a Division I school in a Division II-III league. It's an opportunity for us to play in a league that prepares us for the tournament at the end of the year."