Workouts have taken a different direction this season for the Hilliard Darby High School girls basketball team.

Workouts have taken a different direction this season for the Hilliard Darby High School girls basketball team.

The Panthers had one returning starter and no seniors last season, but now they are a year older and seemingly a year wiser and ready to put their experience to use on the court.

Darby finished 4-17 overall last season, losing to eighth-seeded Newark 44-32 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.

"All of our starters and leading scorers are back and the kids know what to expect this year," said third-year coach Liz VanWinkle, whose surname was Lehman before being married to Darby boys basketball coach Jim VanWinkle in June. "Last year was their first varsity experience as a group and now they know the level of competition and what to expect from varsity teams."

Junior Emily Krumpe was the only player with significant varsity experience entering last season. The 5-foot-11 post player led the Panthers in scoring, averaging 6.8 points, to go along with 3.9 rebounds. Krumpe made 62 of 150 field-goal attempts (41.3 percent).

Senior guard Annie Hilditch (5-6) averaged 6.3 points and was 30-for-99 on 3-point attempts (30.3 percent).

"It's a little easier this year because last year we were focused on the fundamentals of playing the game," Hilditch said. "This year we are working more on offense and being more aggressive on defense than just the basics of varsity basketball."

Bri Rispress, a 5-10 senior forward, averaged 5.4 points and led the team in rebounding, averaging 6.2. She was 44-for-109 from the field (40.4 percent).

"The strength of this team is its post play with Emily and Bri," VanWinkle said. "Emily is more of a back-to-the-basket kind of post player and Bri is a long player who is a good rebounder and gets a lot of her rebounds on the offensive end.

"Annie hit 30 (3-pointers) last year, so she really became a threat for us on the perimeter."

Sydney Palsgrove, a 5-7 junior guard, averaged 3.2 rebounds and led the team in free-throw percentage, making 34 of 54 (63 percent).

Senior guard Alex Hoferkamp (5-6) and junior guard are Katie Esposito (5-6) also saw time as starters with senior wing player Molly Bretz (5-7) and junior forward Aaris Sheets (5-10) also seeing significant playing time.

"The core group is five juniors and five seniors," VanWinkle said. "We're working on confidence and working out some of the kinks offensively. We're taking things one day at a time and working to get better every day."

Darby went 3-11 in the OCC-Central Division last year to finish seventh, behind Upper Arlington (13-1), Dublin Coffman (11-3), Davidson (10-4), Thomas Worthington (9-5), Central Crossing (5-9) and Worthington Kilbourne (5-9) and ahead of Westland (0-14).

"The biggest thing is that the kids on the court want to be here and want to improve what happened last year," VanWinkle said. "We went through a lot as a group last year and now these kids are doing what they can to turn that around."