The first drill coach Jamie Puryear guided the New Albany High School basketball team through at practice Nov. 18 was one that spread five players along the 3-point line. He passed the ball to the player closest to the baseline, and that player passed to the next player along the perimeter, who passed it to the next.

The first drill coach Jamie Puryear guided the New Albany High School basketball team through at practice Nov. 18 was one that spread five players along the 3-point line. He passed the ball to the player closest to the baseline, and that player passed to the next player along the perimeter, who passed it to the next.

The ball swung around the 3-point line until it reached the person on the opposite baseline, and that player shot it.

The drill stressed ball reversal, and the Eagles plan on doing a lot of that to try to counteract the fact that they don't have a player dominating post player who will force the defense to collapse.

"We're going to play a lot of five-out this year," said Puryear, whose team opens Saturday at Olentangy Orange against Olentangy. "We're small and very perimeter-oriented, but we're very athletic."

Juniors Haley Robertson (5-foot-8) and Hannah Robertson (5-8) return to lead a group of mostly players who split time between the varsity and junior varsity a year ago as the Eagles finished 17-6 overall after losing to Eastmoor 61-54 in a Division II district final. They were 7-3 in the OCC-Capital Division.

Both Robertson sisters are in their third seasons as varsity players. Hannah started as a freshman. She made a big transition last year moving to point guard. She's going to be expected to provide a lot of dribble penetration to help create shots.

Hannah was the Eagles' second-leading scorer last season at 15.3 points per game. Haley will join her in the starting lineup as a wing player. She was considered the Eagles' best on-ball defender last year, but struggled through injuries most of the season. Now that she's back and healthy Puryear expects a "breakout" year from her.

Several players were fighting for the final three starting spots going into the final week of the preseason. One of the probable starters for the shooting guard spot is sophomore Madi Miller (5-7), a volleyball player whom Puryear called the most improved player last summer.

Senior Alyson Mott (5-5) and junior Victoria Coleman (5-0) are being looked at for time in that spot.

The frontcourt players will be at a size disadvantage in most games. Sophomore Ayana Colvin-Jones (5-8) is a probable starter at power forward and sophomore Elyse Naddaff (6-0) is the probable starter at center. Also getting a look in the frontcourt are sophomore Abby Barwig (6-0) and junior Taneal Randall (5-9).

The Eagles will also dress two freshmen in Emily Newman (5-5) and Ashley Bassett-Smith (6-2). Newman will be learning the point guard spot and Bassett-Smith is expected to provide the size the Eagles have lacked in recent years. But until then the offense will try to beat opponents with quickness and ball movement.

"We have a lot of shooter plays and drive plays," Naddaff said. "We move the ball and reverse it so that the shooters get open."

The fact that the Eagles have just one senior and since the two most experienced players in terms of on-court participation are expected to be around for at least the next two seasons, New Albany is in a position to build while maintaining a win-now approach.

The Eagles are seeking their first OCC title and they also want to take the next step in the postseason, which means a district championship. Puryear said the key will be getting the role players confident in what they can do to help the team. Miller said that having a year to learn Puryear's style has already helped.

"Last year we had no idea about anything," Miller said. "Now that we've already learned the offense, we were able to move a lot faster with it this year."

A year ago they finished second in the OCC-Capital behind Dublin Scioto (8-2).

This year's league will include Big Walnut, Delaware, Franklin Heights, Mount Vernon, Orange and Watkins Memorial.

At a glance

•Coach: Jamie Puryear, second season

•Opener: Saturday at Tip Off Classic at Olentangy Orange vs. Olentangy

•Key players: Haley Robertson and Hannah Robertson