Grove City High School girls basketball coach Dale Corbett believes his team is prepared to challenge the top squads in the OCC-Ohio Division.
Although the Greyhounds lost two key players from a year ago to graduation in guard Miranda Frase and center Kristen Mesler, Corbett is excited about his team's potential and thinks it's ready to close the gap in the league standings.
Last season, Grove City went 8-14 overall and 2-12 in the league to finish seventh behind champion Reynoldsburg (12-2) and Gahanna (11-3).
"I think we can beat some people," said Corbett, whose team opens Monday, Dec. 2, at Central Crossing and begins league play Dec. 5 as host to Reynoldsburg. "We're better. We're more athletic than what we've been. We can shoot pretty well and on a good night we can give some people problems."
The top returnee is 5-foot-11 senior forward Bree Kilgus, who led the team in scoring last season at 8.4 points per game.
"We're more optimistic than last year and the year before because we're getting better team chemistry, so we're working better together," Kilgus said. "We lost some really good seniors, but we have a couple good freshmen and other people are stepping up this year, so we're looking to improve."
Senior guard Jen Draper (5-7) returns after deciding not to play last season. As a sophomore, she was special mention all-league.
"It's nice to have (Draper) back," Corbett said. "She belongs on the floor."
Also expected to contend for starting spots are senior forwards Michaela Antrobus (5-8) and Megan Darst (5-10) and 5-10 junior guard Kayla Mitchell.
"When Kayla is hot shooting the ball, she can carry a team," Corbett said.
He said 5-10 freshman guard Gina Conti also should contribute.
Senior guard Jordan Sargent (5-6), junior guard Cayla Maddy (5-5) and sophomore guard Ally Hutchison (5-4) also return.
Juniors Kaycee Damron (5-3, guard) and Tabitha Reid (6-2, center) round out the team.
"We're more athletic and our offense has been the strength all preseason, and all of a sudden we can't throw it in the ocean," Corbett said after a scrimmage against Dublin Jerome on Nov. 16. "Offense is one of those things that are correctible. As long as you play good defense, you're going to be OK and our defense has been pretty good."
Last season, Frase averaged 8.0 points and was special mention all-league and Mesler averaged 7.1 rebounds and was honorable mention all-league.
Corbett expects Reynoldsburg and Gahanna again to be the favorites in what he hopes will be a competitive league.
"You can't do anything about it and you're not going to sit there and apologize, but it is a very good division," Corbett said.
Last season, Reynoldsburg and Gahanna reached regional semifinals.
"We just want to improve as a team and just get better every game we go out there," Kilgus said.