The New Albany High School boys basketball coach Sam Davis won't be alarmed if his team experiences some ups and downs during the first half of the season.

The New Albany High School boys basketball coach Sam Davis won't be alarmed if his team experiences some ups and downs during the first half of the season.

After all, the Eagles lost their top seven players to graduation, including forward Nick Sosh and guard Ryan Mayle, who were first-team all-OCC-Capital Division last season, as well as center Scott McDonald and point guard Travon Bodrick, who were second-team all-league. Sosh, Mayle and McDonald also were honorable mention all-district.

Yet, that doesn't mean Davis is writing this off as a rebuilding season.

The Eagles, who finished 18-5 last season, open Saturday, Dec. 3, at Olentangy Liberty and begin league play Tuesday, Dec. 6, at Hilliard Bradley.

"Our (2010-11) seniors were our top seven players, so we're as green as green can be," said Davis, who is in his 12th season. "We're not an experienced team and four of our guys missed some practices because they were a part of our football team, so we're not timed up yet either.

"Fortunately, since everyone knows that making our varsity lineup is wide open, a lot of kids worked really hard this summer and made a lot of progress. It may take some time, but I think we'll be a competitive team."

Junior guard Jalen Rhea (6-foot-2), who averaged 2.1 points last season, is New Albany's most experienced player.

Senior Jay Marshall (5-8) and junior Jonathan Tolber (6-1) are competing for the starting point-guard position.

Seniors Zak Lambert (6-3) and Chris Scott (6-1), juniors Devon Pitts (6-1) and Jack Serbin (6-6) and sophomores Tanner Cline (6-3) and Trey Quillin (6-1) are vying for playing time as forwards.

Senior Evan Schneider (6-4) is listed as New Albany's lone post player. Sophomore guards Darrell Miller (5-10) and Avery Schneider (6-3) round out the roster.

"Jalen is athletic and he really shoots it well," Davis said. "He wasn't called on to score much last year, but he'll be our go-to guy."

Last season, the Eagles went 13-1 to win the OCC-Capital title ahead of Delaware (11-3), Mount Vernon (10-4), Olentangy Orange (9-5), Bradley (7-7), Big Walnut (4-10) and Franklin Heights and Watkins Memorial (1-13). It was their first league championship since winning the MSL-Ohio in 2005-06. They joined the OCC the following year.

New Albany, seeded eighth, opened the Division I district tournament with a 65-58, four-overtime win over Newark, before upsetting fifth-seeded Pickerington North 52-50 in a semifinal and losing to top-seeded Westerville South 69-54 in a final.

"Olentangy Orange is going to be really good because they have three guards back who shoot lights out," Davis said. "Mount Vernon has a three-year starter at point guard and they look to be right behind Olentangy Orange (in the OCC-Capital). Delaware's probably next in line and Hilliard Bradley's no slouch either. The next four teams are probably a step behind, but we'll all compete.

"Our work ethic is really good. We just have to learn to play at the intensity level that varsity games require. I think we'll be competitive by January."