With most of his players back, second-year Marysville High School boys basketball coach Ryan Grose expects his team to improve on last season's finishes of 5-16 overall and 2-12 in the OCC-Cardinal Division.

With most of his players back, second-year Marysville High School boys basketball coach Ryan Grose expects his team to improve on last season's finishes of 5-16 overall and 2-12 in the OCC-Cardinal Division.

The Monarchs lost to league rival Westerville North 62-35 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.

They open this season Friday, Dec. 2, at home against Delaware and begin league play the next night at Westerville Central.

"We have a lot of kids with some starting experience," Grose said. "Those kids, combined with a couple new kids, we hope that we can continue to improve on what we started last year."

A key returning player is junior guard Kody Davisson, who averaged 5.3 points last season and was the lone Monarchs player to receive postseason recognition. He was honorable mention all-league.

Davisson has been limited in practice as he recovers from a high-ankle sprain (left ankle) sustained during the football team's 14-13, triple-overtime win over Olentangy on Sept. 23.

Also back is senior center Craig Runyan, who averaged 8.7 points but was lost for the season in early February after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder. The injury occurred during the 2010 football season.

Runyan broke his right hand this fall during the football team's 20-14 loss to Dublin Jerome on Oct. 14, but he has been participating in the basketball preseason.

"Craig has started back with us; he has scrimmaged," Grose said. "It's full-go ahead for him. He seems to be fully recovered and right now he's just trying to shake the rust off and get back in the swing of things."

Also back are seniors Connor Devine (guard/forward) and Zach LaRoche (forward) and juniors Corey Gould (point guard), Kyle Poling (center) and Steven Romesburg (forward).
"We've had a couple of scrimmages and we've seen the things we've done wrong, and I think we're going to be pretty good this year," LaRoche said. "We have quite a few guys coming back and all of the guys have a lot of experience playing last year, so that will help a lot."
Junior Kyle Hites (guard) sustained a broken left hand during the second day of practice and is expected to miss about four weeks. He missed the 2010-11 season after breaking his left arm during football season.

Sophomore Billy Kidd is expected to share point-guard duties with Gould.
Sophomore Logan Roston (guard) played varsity and junior varsity last season and is expected to contribute.

Other players are juniors Jonathan Merklin (guard) and Dillon Wilson (forward) and sophomore Alec Draughon (forward).

"We're definitely looking for improvement," Grose said. "I've had a full year now to work with these guys. We had a full summer. We had a fall where we had the gym open. All of those things combined with having a good, solid core back with experience should give us a better chance to be successful in our games this season."

Marysville lost its leading scorer from last season in 2011 graduate Kyle Nelson, who averaged 10.7 points per game.

Last year, the Monarchs were eighth in the league behind Westerville South (13-1), Olentangy Liberty, Westerville North and Westerville Central (10-4), Dublin Scioto and Dublin Jerome (4-10) and Olentangy (3-11).

"Until somebody knocks South off, they're always going to be tough," Grose said. "You have to look at North as one of the top teams."