Experienced lineup back for Orange
Mary Ann Grimes believes she is fortunate to be coaching an Olentangy Orange High School girls basketball team that earned Division I district runner-up finishes in each of her first two seasons.
She also suspects the best is yet to come.
The Pioneers have six seniors back, including Indiana University-signee Taylor Agler at point guard, from the team that was 22-2 overall a year ago.
Orange opens Friday, Nov. 30, with an OCC-Capital Division game at home against Watkins Memorial.
"We're 45-5 in two years, so it's been good," Grimes said. "They were looking for somebody to coach these girls and it's been a great situation. Our experience is huge. These six seniors were sophomores when I took over."
The 5-foot-9 Agler was the OCC-Capital Player of the Year and first-team all-district last season, when she averaged 15.7 points and 6.8 assists. She has made the ThisWeek Super 12 each of the past two years.
Also back are seniors Tori Davis (5-10, forward), Maddy Joseph (5-7, guard), Kierstynn Myers (5-6, guard), Mya Walker (5-7, guard) and Kayla Young (5-7, guard).
Joseph averaged 7.7 points and shot 44 percent from 3-point range and Walker averaged 12.5 points and 5.0 rebounds as both made second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district last winter.
Junior Sarah Sagerer, a 6-1 exchange student from Austria, is expected to be an immediate contributor in the post.
Juniors Lauren Holloway (5-10, forward) and Emilia Martin (5-6, guard) and sophomores Breanna Barron (5-7, guard), Mikaela Lyons (5-10, forward) and Lexi Werling (5-8, forward) are others looking to contribute.
Freshman Lauren Lipscomb (5-8, forward) could help by the postseason if she returns from a knee injury.
Orange lost a 2012 senior class led by Kelsey Lewis and Allison Donatelli. Lewis averaged 9.2 points and 6.8 rebounds to make first-team all-league and third-team all-district, and Donatelli averaged 4.6 points and shot 86 percent from the foul line.
"Our height dynamic has changed," Grimes said. "We'll probably open it up a little because we've got great guards that can shoot the 3. This is probably the first time ... that we'll probably live and die by the 3. They all can shoot it and they're fun to watch."
Last season, Orange went 14-0 to win its second consecutive OCC-Capital title. New Albany (12-2), Hilliard Bradley (9-5), Big Walnut and Delaware (7-7), Watkins Memorial (4-10), Mount Vernon (3-11) and Franklin Heights (0-14) rounded out the standings.
Bradley moved to the OCC-Cardinal and was replaced by Olentangy, which won the OCC-Cardinal each of the last three seasons.
Orange was seeded third for the district tournament last year and beat Whetstone (72-31), Walnut Ridge (77-19) and Newark (61-52) to reach a district final. It then lost to fourth-seeded Northland 51-50 in a rematch of a game the Pioneers won 50-49 during the regular season.
"So far, we're looking really good," Joseph said. "We have six seniors this year. We definitely lost some height and that's going to hurt us, but Sarah, our foreign-exchange student, is going to help us a lot and Mya is a good rebounder. Our guards also have to be able to rebound.
"We're really looking forward to getting back to the district championship this year. That (loss to Northland) was a tough one. It's definitely a sore subject if somebody brings it up."