The biggest positive of the early season for the Olentangy High School girls basketball team might be its offensive output.
The Braves were averaging 66 points through four games, all of which were victories, and, according to coach John Feasel, they have multiple players who are capable of scoring in double figures.
One of those players is 6-foot senior forward Megan Beidelman, who had 23 points and 14 rebounds in a 79-52 win over Granville on Dec. 4.
"Megan Beidelman had probably one of the best games any girl has had in the history of our school, but Katie Heath also has been great, Kelly Meade has been making shots and Courtney Hale has been hitting some shots," Feasel said. "We've won (a) league (title) the last three years and have had two to three different girls that could put the ball in the hole. This year we've got seven."
While Feasel likes what he has seen from his team offensively, he knows there is room for improvement defensively. Olentangy was allowing an average of 41.8 points through four games and had given up more than 50 points twice, against Granville and in an 80-51 win over Delaware on Nov. 30.
Feasel said the Braves would be tested defensively against Olentangy Liberty on Dec. 11 and will be again when they play Saturday, Dec. 15, at Olentangy Orange in the first meeting between the programs.
"When we play teams like Orange and Liberty, we're going to have to play defense better," he said. "You don't see a lot of girls basketball teams scoring 70 or 80 points when it's not a blowout. Against Delaware, we scored 80 but they scored 51."
Olentangy previously competed in the OCC-Cardinal Division with Liberty but moved to the OCC-Capital with Orange this season as part of the OCC's latest realignment.
Feasel coached some of the Pioneers' key players when they were in elementary school.
The game against Orange is among a series of matchups that Feasel expects to test his team before the end of 2012.
The Braves play host to New Albany on Dec. 21 in an OCC-Capital game and then will compete in the eight-team Pickerington North Holiday Classic from Dec. 27-29.
"It's nice to go out and see where you are," Feasel said. "I've tried to keep (Orange) off the schedule as (long) as I could. It's just going to be a hard game for all of us because we're all from the same Olentangy family."
Orange opened with wins over Watkins Memorial (75-19 on Nov. 30), Hilliard Davidson (55-41 on Dec. 3) and New Albany (49-24 on Dec. 7).
The Pioneers then lost to Northland 69-59 on Dec. 10 in a rematch of a Division I district final last season that Orange lost 51-50. The Pioneers had beaten the Vikings 50-49 in the regular season last year.
Taylor Agler made three 3-pointers and scored 21 points against Davidson.
Coach Mary Ann Grimes also has been pleased with the inside play of Tori Davis and Sarah Sagerer.
Orange will travel to Cincinnati Walnut Hills on Dec. 27 and 28 for two games in the Braggin' Rights Classic.
"Our kids are excited (about playing Olentangy)," Grimes said. "Feasel coached them when they were little and it'll be a great rivalry. It's exciting, and it's exciting for our (school) district. We all respect each other and work hard.
"We've had some good senior leadership and we've gotten some good, balanced scoring. I think our defense is starting to click a little better. Our transition game is still a work in progress. Against Davidson, Tori Davis did a great job coming in and shutting down their post play. Taylor Agler has been putting great ball pressure on."
Liberty girls coach pleased with start
According to Feasel, Liberty became the first girls basketball team from the school district to beat a Pickerington team when the Patriots defeated Pickerington Central 43-35 on Dec. 4.
Liberty, which finished 10-12 last season, was 4-0 before playing Olentangy.
Kennedy Wilke led the way for the Patriots in a 51-32 victory over Delaware on Nov. 27, as she made two 3-pointers and finished with 16 points. Kristen Levering led with 11 points and five rebounds in a 48-40 win over Thomas Worthington on Nov. 30, and Karla Levering led with 11 points and 10 rebounds against Pickerington Central.
Sparking the offense has been freshman point guard Alexa Fisher.
"We're very pleased with where we're at right now," coach Ron Florey said. "We've had a lot of balance and that's what we need to have a winning team. I think defense has been kind of our cornerstone and just our ability to push the ball.
"Our freshman point guard makes us go. The last two years we didn't truly have a true point guard, so that was one of the things I was worried about. We're doing a little better than I thought we'd do this early."
Liberty will travel to Orlando, Fla., for the KSA Holiday Tournament being held Dec. 28, 29 and 31 at the Wide World of Sports Complex.
According to Florey, the program was able to raise $34,000 for the trip that also will include its junior varsity players.
"It's a big undertaking," Florey said. "I think it will be a pretty good experience for them."