The DeSales High School girls basketball team might find its personality in a hurry.
Fourth-year coach Brian Cromwell hopes his team parlays its athleticism into an effective transition game in its bid to win its second consecutive CCL championship.
The Stallions, who opened Nov. 26 at Westerville North, finished 17-9 overall last season and reached a Division II district final before losing to Hartley 53-44.
"We feel like we have a deep group," Cromwell said. "We should be able to get up and down the floor, use our defense to create some offense and get to the (foul) line. We want to be able to get out quick and run."
Maggie Simon, a 5-foot-6 guard, is one of three seniors on the roster. She averaged 7.7 points last year to rank third on the team and likely will be an integral part of the offense this season given that DeSales lost its top two scorers from a year ago.
Carli Codner-Pinto, a guard who averaged a team-high 12.1 points and was named first-team all-league and second-team all-district last year, transferred to Northland for her junior season, and point guard Miranda Johnson, who averaged 8.5 points and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, graduated.
"(Simon) is going to do a bit of everything for us," Cromwell said. "She can play some point guard and get the post players involved, and she can shoot and get to the rim. She's a good, unselfish player. We're going to need her to do all that and be a leader."
The other seniors are guard Tessa Mulligan (5-6) and center/forward Coley Tuel (5-10).
Rounding out the team are seven juniors in guards Jori Arnold (5-6), Simone Douglas (5-7), Khalyn Draper (5-7), Taylor Freeman (5-6) and Andrea Grassbaugh (5-3) and forwards Joenyia Herd-Middlebrooks (5-8) and Morgan Madigan (5-11) and 6-0 sophomore center/forward Monica Billings.
According to Cromwell, Arnold, Mulligan and Simon will split time at point guard.
DeSales, which went 6-2 in the CCL last season to share the league title with Hartley and Watterson, has its home opener Wednesday, Dec. 4, against Jonathan Alder and begins league play Dec. 5 at Columbus School for Girls.
The Stallions have moved up to Division I for the postseason.
"(The district tournament is) going to be extremely competitive and we have some work to do to get in the mix (for a district title), but I like this team," Cromwell said. "We have a pretty athletic group and a lot of players with similar skills. We'll be able to be interchangeable with who is on the court without losing a lot."
Hockey team loaded with experience
Having returned all but one player, hockey coach Bob Heine fully expects his team to improve on last season when it finished 19-14-1-1 overall and reached the third round of the district tournament before losing to Dublin Jerome 5-0.
"Eight of these guys have been with me for four years," said Heine, whose team opened with Capital Hockey Conference games Nov. 23 against Watterson and Nov. 24 against Cincinnati Moeller. "It's their senior year and their games have developed to the point where we expect great things. Everybody on the ice can play."
The only player DeSales lost to graduation was forward Joe Gray, who had team-highs in goals (42) and points (62) and was third in assists (20) last season.
Among the key returnees are senior forwards Tyler Klutch (19 goals, 28 assists, 47 points) and Danny Helin (15 goals, 22 assists, 37 points) and senior goaltenders Roberto Bahensky and Ben Risinger.
Other key returnees include sophomore defenseman Justin Antoncic (21 goals, 13 assists, 34 points) and sophomore forward Sam Gray (12 goals, 14 assists, 26 points).
Rounding out the eight-member senior class are defensemen Hunter Chapman, Kyle Ghiloni and Josh Van Cuyk and forward Thomas Gorman.
Also on the team are juniors Tyler Barrett (forward), Holden Chapman (forward) and Austin Unnone (goalie), sophomores Alex Graver, Mike Malinowski, Nick McClary and Nick Musci and freshmen Dimitri Bergoes and Zach Bosco.
Malinowski is a transfer from St. Charles.
DeSales went 7-7-1-1 (16 points) in the four-team CHC-White Division last season, finishing third behind Olentangy Orange (28, 14-2) and St. Charles (21, 10-5-0-1) and ahead of Thomas Worthington (9, 4-11-1).
The Stallions are joined in the CHC-White this season by Gahanna, St. Charles and Upper Arlington. Orange moved to the CHC-Red and Thomas switched to the CHC-Blue.
Heine expected to tinker with his lineup in the early part of the season.
"The puzzle pieces are all there, and now we'll be figuring out where everyone fits," he said. "The lines could change a few times the first few weeks."