Point guard Lauren Bates believes the Hilliard Davidson High School girls basketball team has better chemistry this season than it did a year ago, which should help the Wildcats as they look to improve on last season.
Davidson, which finished 11-11 overall last season, opened Nov. 27 against Hilliard Bradley and begins OCC-Central Division play Friday, Nov. 30 at Marysville.
"Our chemistry wasn't very good at times last year, but this year is definitely different," said Bates, a 5-foot-10 senior. "What's going to help us is our team unity. A lot of us are best friends and we're all really close outside of basketball. That makes practicing and playing together a lot more enjoyable."
Davidson returns four players who started multiple games last season in Bates, 6-0 senior center Bri Ekanem, 5-10 senior guard Ashley Hurt and 5-5 junior guard Lea Edler.
An Ohio Dominican University recruit, Bates averaged 12 points last season and was named first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Ekanem averaged 7.3 points and was special mention all-league, and Hurt averaged 8.1 points before missing the final six games with a foot injury.
Also expected to be key contributors this season according to third-year coach Joy Taylor are junior guards Michaela Cunningham (5-5) and Ellen Onders (5-5), sophomore forward Faryn Buchanan (5-10) and sophomore guard Hannah Fecht (5-9).
"We have a lot of key players back and some of our freshmen should contribute before the season is over," Taylor said. "We're not an overly large team, so we have to box out and use our quickness. We're good at running and scoring in transition, but that all starts on the defensive end, so we need to play good defense."
The Wildcats went 3-0 against the other Hilliard teams last season, beating Bradley 60-53 and defeating Darby 56-42 and 47-32 in league play.
Davidson also avenged two losses during the second half of the season.
It lost to Thomas Worthington 45-40 in the first round of league play but won 62-46 in the second round. The Wildcats played New Albany in two non-league games, losing 63-52 in overtime in the first matchup before winning 47-39 in the second.
Davidson went 7-7 in the OCC-Central a year ago to place fourth, behind Dublin Coffman (13-1), Upper Arlington (12-2) and Central Crossing (11-3) and ahead of Thomas (6-8), Darby (4-10), Westland (2-12) and Worthington Kilbourne (1-13).
As part of OCC realignment last summer, Darby and Kilbourne moved to the OCC-Cardinal and were replaced by Marysville and Olentangy Liberty.
Davidson defeated Westerville South 51-38 in the first round of the Division I district tournament last season before losing to 12th-seeded Zanes-ville 45-40 in the second round.
"We want to be OCC champs, for sure, but we'll need to beat Dublin Coffman and Central Crossing to do it, and they both have good teams," Bates said.