A seasoned backcourt tandem has given coach Chris Kelly reason to be excited about his 10th season leading the Olentangy High School boys basketball team.
Senior guards Erik Brandt (5-foot-9) and Seth Clark (6-1) are the two starters back from last season, when Olentangy finished 11-11 overall after losing to Newark 51-37 in a second-round Division I district tournament game. The Braves opened the postseason with a 53-40 win over Delaware.
"Seth did a very good job running the point last season and he is an excellent defender, which allows him to have a major impact on both ends of the court. I believe he will be one of the top guards in central Ohio," Kelly said. "Erik is a third-year varsity player and is a great all-around guard. He will do whatever it takes to help our team win."
Last season, the Braves finished 6-8 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to tie Dublin Scioto for fifth behind Liberty (12-2), Westerville North (11-3), Westerville South (11-3) and Westerville Central (7-7) and ahead of Dublin Jerome (2-12) and Marysville (1-13).
Olentangy has moved to the OCC-Capital, joining Big Walnut, Delaware, Franklin Heights, Mount Vernon, New Albany, Olentangy Orange and Watkins Memorial.
"Most of us have played together all four years (of high school) and our team chemistry is great," said Clark, who averaged 14 points last season and was honorable mention all-district and first-team all-league. "We like to run this year, and we could be good at it."
The other returnees are seniors Brett Boggs (6-3, forward), Andrew Horstman (6-4, center), Craig Matthews (6-2, forward), Joe Morycz (6-3, forward) and Tyler Sobieray (5-9, guard) and sophomore Jimmy Gundling (5-9, guard).
"We believe that we will be very good offensively," Kelly said. "We will attack throughout the game and force our opponents to work extremely hard for four quarters. We are a very smart and a quick defensive team and will keep teams off-balance by quickly changing defenses."
Also on the roster are senior Trey Augustine (6-2, forward), juniors Michael Delaney (6-1, guard), Noah Durst (6-4, forward) and Donovan McGuire (6-3, center) and sophomore Ryan Sieve (6-1, guard).
"We've been playing really well and we have a strong group of guys who play well together," Kelly said. "That reality came during the summer. No matter who we put in the game, they played well. We have confidence in every player on our roster."
The Braves opened Dec. 1 with a 68-66 loss to Jerome in double overtime. They begin OCC-Capital play Friday, Dec. 7, at Big Walnut.
"We don't have a lot of size, which could lead to some matchup problems on the defensive end and in the rebounding department," Kelly said. "We're good defensively but need to be a great defensive team. We push the ball and move the ball well, but defense could be the difference for us."