With several returning players, second-year Central Crossing High School boys basketball coach Anthony Mangette is optimistic his team will show marked improvement.
The Comets were 2-20 overall last season and went 0-14 in the OCC-Central Division to finish eighth behind champion Olentangy Liberty (13-1).
"We're excited," Mangette said. "I know the players better and the players know me. They know I have high expectations and I'm going to try to uphold (them) to that and they have to play at that level. I know the players and I know their strengths and weaknesses better. It's a two-way street that's looking a lot better."
Central Crossing opened Nov. 29 by beating host Hilliard Bradley 60-58 in overtime. The Comets play host to Liberty on Friday, Dec. 6, in their league opener.
The top returnees are 6-foot senior guard Marc Russell, who averaged 9.0 points last season and was honorable mention all-league, and 6-6 junior post player Matt Dwane, who averaged a team-best 9.1 points. Both scored 14 points against Bradley.
"One thing I've definitely seen -- especially early that is helping -- is everybody is a little bit more used to him and how he runs things and what he wants," Russell said of Mangette. "That's going to help a lot. He's more used to us and what to expect. The comfort level is there a little bit where it probably wasn't last year."
Other returning players are seniors Brock Casey (5-10, guard) and Dwight Diggs (6-3, forward), junior Andrew Russell (6-4, forward) and sophomore Noah Stephens (6-4, forward). Stephens scored 18 points against Bradley.
Other players are senior Luke Duncan (6-2, forward) and juniors Faizal Cali (6-2, guard), Luke Cameron (5-10, guard), Casey McManaway (6-0, guard), Isaiah Napper (5-10, guard) and Anthony Thompson (6-4, forward).
"We have some size and we're looking forward to probably using that as our strength and trying to get the ball inside a little bit more," Mangette said.
The Comets lost two players to graduation in post players Cody Hall and Kyle Hall.
"We lost two seniors from last year's team, but we do have quite a bit of experience coming back," Mangette said. "We're really excited. If we play to the level that we can get to, which we know we can, we should get more wins than what we had last year."
Mangette said he expects Liberty, Dublin Coffman and Upper Arlington to again contend for the top spots in the league, and he hopes his team improves on last season's last-place finish.
Central Crossing lost to top-seeded Northland 104-50 in their Division I district tournament opener last year.
"We're shooting for about .500," Marc Russell said. "That would be a great year for us, especially coming from where we've been the past couple of years. With the guys and the experience we have and the schedule we have this year, it's possible. Looking ahead, 10, 11 wins is ideal for us and would put us in a really good spot."