Given its quickness and ball-handling skills, the Centennial High School boys basketball team plans to play up-tempo at both ends of the court this season.
The Stars opened Dec. 1 with a 61-59 loss to Dublin Coffman and begin City League-North Division play Friday, Dec. 7, at home against Brookhaven.
Last season, Centennial finished 15-8 overall and went 9-5 in the City-North to finish third.
"We're like a track team because we have a bunch of fast athletes and we like to run," 6-foot-3 senior point guard Elias "Boo" Osborne said. "Our motto is to get the ball up the floor in three seconds or less, and we're making strides in pushing the ball faster and faster."
Last season, Osborne averaged 17.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 4.1 steals and was named special mention all-state in Division II and first-team all-district and all-league.
Osborne played in a tournament in Italy last summer with his club team, and he is being recruited by a handful of Division I colleges, according to his father, Roosevelt, who coaches the Stars.
"My son is one of the top assist players in the area," said Roosevelt Osborne, who is in his 10th season leading the program. "Originally, he was being recruited for his defense and then college coaches saw that he can handle the ball well, and he's starting to get more offers."
Also expected to be a key ball-handler for the Stars is 6-5 senior guard Christian Cumberlander, a newcomer to the program.
Against Coffman, Osborne had 19 points and Cumberlander scored 16.
"Christian transferred in from St. Charles and he handles the ball well, too," coach Osborne said. "Even our tallest players can handle the ball and that's going to cause some matchup problems for our opponents."
Gyai Gyamerah, a 5-10 junior guard and 3-point specialist who was honorable mention all-league last season, is another key returnee. Against Coffman, he made three 3-pointers and had 11 points.
Also back are seniors Eric Cofer-Wilson (6-1, point guard), Conrad Stephens (6-4, forward) and Tim Williams (6-0, point guard), junior Jirequez Fair-Harris (6-0, guard) and sophomore Jamal Slappy (6-2, forward).
Slappy had 10 points against Coffman.
Rounding out the team are sophomores Jeremy Johnson (6-5, forward) and Avontae Moore (6-0, guard).
"This team has more depth than last year's team and I feel like I've got eight or nine starters on my roster," coach Osborne said.
"We'll score a lot, but it's going to be a matter of stopping other teams from scoring. We play up-tempo both ways and change our defenses a lot. We're going to trap and press all over."
Last season in the City-North, Centennial finished behind Northland (14-0) and Brookhaven (12-2) and ahead of Beechcroft (6-8), Mifflin (6-8), Columbus East (5-9), Whetstone (3-11) and Linden-McKinley (1-13).
Seeded sixth in the Division II district tournament, the Stars defeated London 66-46 in the first round and 10th-seeded Newark Catholic 43-37 in the second round before losing to top-seeded Jonathan Alder 63-49 in a semifinal.
"We want the City League championship first, and we want the No. 1 seed in the district tournament so we can play our first two tournament games at home," Boo Osborne said. "We have enough talent to explode. You can't sleep on any of us."