Liberty looking to build on last season
One of the things Olentangy Liberty High School girls basketball coach Ron Florey is most proud of regarding last season occurred off the court.
The Patriots, according to Florey, led central Ohio and were among the top 10 in the state with a team GPA of 3.9.
On the court, Liberty went 10-12 overall to double its win total from 2010-11.
Surpassing that record is among the biggest goals for the Patriots in Florey's fourth year with the program and third as head coach.
Liberty opened Nov. 27 against Delaware. It begins OCC-Central Division play Friday, Nov. 30, at Thomas Worthington.
"If our basketball IQ matches our classroom IQ, we could be pretty good," Florey said.
One thing that could help Liberty in that pursuit is better health.
Last season, 2012 graduate Jalynn Guice, Rebekah Hiltz and Maddie Redwine all missed action with injuries.
In addition, Emily Perry missed the season with a knee injury and Karla Levering suffered a season-ending leg injury seven games into last year.
Redwine (5-foot-7, guard), Levering (5-11, post player) and Hiltz (5-11, post player) are joined in the senior class by Molly McPheron (5-5, guard) and Kennedy Wilke (5-10, forward). Perry (6-1, guard/forward) is part of a junior class that also includes Melissa Veerman (6-0, post player).
Also looking to contribute are sophomores Hayley Hickman (5-9, forward) and Kristen Levering (6-1, post player) and freshman Alexa Fisher (5-8, forward).
Liberty gave up a program-best 38.4 points per game last season.
"We have five seniors and we've all been working hard in the offseason," Karla Levering said. "We've got a lot of help coming up from the younger groups as well. We're focusing on pushing the ball more this year. We're in a new division (of the OCC) so we don't know what to expect, but we're hoping to keep increasing our wins.
"This is probably one of the first years we haven't gone into it with someone hurt. We have a lot more depth this year and right now we're ready to go."
Last season, Liberty was sixth in the OCC-Cardinal at 5-9, behind Olentangy (13-1), Dublin Scioto (11-3), Westerville North (9-5) and Dublin Jerome and Westerville South (8-6 each). Marysville (2-12) and Westerville Central (0-14) rounded out the standings.
The Patriots and Marysville have moved to the OCC-Central, which was won by Dublin Coffman (13-1), while Upper Arlington (12-2), Central Crossing (11-3), Hilliard Davidson (7-7), Thomas (6-8), Hilliard Darby (4-10), Westland (2-12) and Worthington Kilbourne (1-13) rounded out the standings. Darby and Kilbourne now are in the OCC-Cardinal.
Last season, Liberty beat Logan 31-27 in the first round of the Division I district tournament but lost to sixth-seeded and eventual district champion Gahanna 40-28 in a second-round game.
Gabriela Martin, a sophomore who scored nine points against Gahanna and averaged 5.5 points and 8.0 rebounds, moved out of state in the offseason.
Wilke is the leading returning scorer after averaging 10.1 points along with two steals a year ago. She made first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Martin was special mention all-league and Redwine (5.3 points per game) was honorable mention all-league.
"We're really kind of interchangeable," Florey said. "Our size is really excellent and our depth is the best it's been (since) I've been with the program. I think we're going to be a lot better offensively.
"Our goal is to have a winning season. These seniors have not had a winning season from their seventh grade on. The school record for the program is 15 wins."