After a season in which Dominic Facciolla instilled confidence into a young girls basketball team at Columbus Academy, he handed the coaching position to Mike Belcher.

After a season in which Dominic Facciolla instilled confidence into a young girls basketball team at Columbus Academy, he handed the coaching position to Mike Belcher.

Belcher was an assistant with Facciolla last season as the Vikings finished 2-18 overall after a 49-25 loss to Fisher Catholic in the second round of the Division IV district tournament. In the MSL-Ohio Division, Academy was last at 0-14 behind champion Bexley at 12-2.

"Dominic loved coaching and I think he would have enjoyed to continue, but his job is too busy," said Belcher of Facciolla who is also the school's athletics director. "He can't put in the time he wanted to and I was happy to take it over."

Two years ago, Belcher was the principal of the upper school at Academy and last season he returned to the classroom, allowing him the opportunity to coach. Belcher jumped at the chance to join Facciolla.

"We were conservative in our approach last year," said Belcher, whose team opens Tuesday at Heath.

"The group of girls we had we felt we needed to work on fundamentals. We didn't get too sophisticated or complicated."

Academy had one senior last season in Alex Marchetti. A team comprised mostly of freshmen and sophomores struggled as the wins came against Berne Union (62-35) and Village Academy (29-25 in overtime).

"We really feel like we can do a lot more this year," said junior Molly Belcher, coach Belcher's daughter.

"We all know each other on the court and we know how each other reacts to certain things and what we can do. We're more determined."

Molly Belcher (forward) is one of four returning starters for Academy with juniors Sarah Burley (forward) and Audrey Young (post player) and sophomore Ali Roehrenbeck (guard/forward). Molly Belcher was honorable mention all-MSL-Ohio as she led Academy in scoring in eight games.

Also expected to see playing time are seniors Jasmine Bounds (guard) and Kelsey Ratcliff (post player), juniors Alex Rife (guard/forward) and Merideth Turner (guard/forward) and freshmen LaShaun Ransom (guard), Erin Simmons (point guard) and Dina Sinno (guard). Simmons is expected to start at point guard.

"This year we're putting in a motion offense and a pressure defense," coach Belcher said. "With four of five starters returning that will help us out a lot."

"They're catching on pretty quickly. By the end of last year, they were looking to do something like that and they were anticipating this season to playing more of an up-tempo game."

The Vikings are experiencing a seamless transition to coach Belcher.

"He's trying to fine-tune all the things we learned last year," Molly Belcher said.

"We're working on a new offense that will expand everyone's game and gives us more options on the court. Everyone gets along with him and responds well to him."

With a new offensive scheme, a new defensive scheme and new coach, Molly Belcher is aware of an easy fix that can help the Vikings stay competitive.

"We need to cut down on our turnovers," she said.

"We did a little last year, but we still had a lot."

"Our league is very tough for us," coach Belcher said. "It is year after year. Our goal is to come in and compete and play hard. We haven't talked much about wins and losses, that's not our focus. We need to focus on getting 150 percent on the court. If we can do that we'll deem the season a success."

At a glance

•Coach: Mike Belcher, first season

•Opener: Tuesday at Heath

•Key players: Sarah Burley, Molly Belcher, Ali Roehrenbeck and Audrey Young