The Centennial High School boys basketball team has been led by all-state point guards each of the past four seasons.
Now that those three players have graduated, the Stars are working to develop a successor.
Senior point guard Octavius Luke (6-foot) and sophomore point guard Jeremiah Fair-Harris (5-9) both are in the starting lineup, and 11th-year coach Roosevelt Osborne said both have the potential to blossom into an all-state player.
Luke scored 39 points in the opener, a 73-70 overtime loss to DeSales on Nov. 29 in the Grove City Tip-Off Classic. The next night in the event, Luke had a team-high 16 points and Fair-Harris had 10 in a 54-49 win over Westland.
"We've had experienced ball-handlers running the point for us the past four seasons to the point where other teams stopped trying to press us because we kept scoring against their press," Osborne said. "We need to find another ball-handler who can have that same effect on games. Octavius and Jeremiah both have a lot of talent and we're working to develop them into the best players they can be.
"A lot of people think we're going to fall off because we lost my son (to graduation), but I think we have guys who can help replace his numbers, even if they need to do it collectively."
Last season, 2013 graduate Elias "Boo" Osborne averaged 19.5 points, 8.4 assists, 7.3 rebounds and 3.6 steals while receiving third-team all-state honors in Division II and leading the Stars to a 14-8 overall record.
He also was special mention all-state in 2012, after Wesley Russell was third-team all-state in 2011 and Darrell Chenault was second-team all-state in 2010.
Two starters have returned for Centennial in 5-11 senior guard Gyai Gyamerah and 6-4 junior forward Joe Thomas. Gyamerah averaged 10.7 points and Thomas averaged 5.7 points last season. Junior forward Jeremy Johnson (6-5) completes the starting lineup.
"Gyai has been one of the best 3-point shooters in the area the past two seasons," coach Osborne said. "Joe really came on strong last season and he's going to surprise a lot of people with his scoring and rebounding."
Rounding out the roster are 5-10 senior guard Alex Heer, 6-3 junior forward Gabe Elder and sophomores Corey Cesaro (5-8, guard) and Jemmy Martinez (6-3, forward).
"We've been working hard on our fitness and we're going to outrun teams and do well on rebounds," Thomas said. "We want to show people we can still win without (Boo Osborne)."
Centennial plays host to Northland on Friday, Dec. 6, in their City League-North Division opener. The Stars went 10-4 in the league a year ago to finish third behind Northland (14-0) and Brookhaven (11-3).
"Northland has all but one guy back, so they've got to be the favorite to win our league again," coach Osborne said. "If we stay healthy, I think we'll be right up there at the top of our league. I think we're going to be better defensively and that's the key to having a good season."
Seeded eighth in last year's district tournament, Centennial routed 22nd-seeded Hamilton Township 87-55 and upset sixth-seeded Columbus South 69-67 when Boo Osborne made the winning basket with under a second remaining.
The Stars then fell to 13th-seeded DeSales 55-52 in a semifinal as Osborne missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
"We're shooting for a district championship and I think we've got the talent to win one if we play well," Thomas said.