Olentangy Valley News

Girls Basketball

Young Braves hope to surprise

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Now one of the few experienced players on a team that lost seven to graduation, junior guard Morgan Horvath is aware of the perception regarding the Olentangy High School girls basketball program this season.

Many might think the Braves, who have won at least 20 games each of the past three seasons, are in for a rebuilding year.

Horvath disagrees.

"I feel like we're going to surprise a lot of people," she said. "Even though we're young, I think we're going to do really well this year."

Olentangy, which went 20-4 overall a year ago, opened Nov. 24 by losing 47-38 to Teays Valley in the Gary West Tipoff Classic at Reynoldsburg.

The biggest reason for optimism is the return of 5-foot-9 sophomore wing player Kelly Meade along with Horvath (5-9).

Even though they were surrounded by a veteran cast last season, Meade was the second-leading scorer at 9.5 points per game and Horvath averaged 6.5 points.

The only other players who saw time on varsity last season are seniors Emma Huffman (6-0, post player), Haley Ballmer (6-1, post player) and Rachel Hyburg (5-5, guard) and junior Rachel Womeldorf (6-0, post player), although they weren't key contributors.

Also on the roster are juniors Rachel Beidelman (5-10, wing player), Lauren Scott (5-6, guard) and Jessica Stafford (5-11, post player), sophomores Christina Baumann (5-5, guard), Chelsea Moore (5-9, guard), Lydia Sanders (5-3, guard) and Emily Stephens (5-10, forward) and freshman Allison Raiff (5-6, guard).

Baumann and Raiff are expected to play point guard, with much of the offense built around Horvath and Meade.

"We've got a lot of girls that know how to play basketball," 11th-year coach John Feasel said. "They just haven't played meaningful minutes yet. They don't know what it takes all the time, but we've had some very good scrimmages."

Olentangy went 12-2 in the OCC-Capital Division last season to place second behind Olentangy Orange (14-0) after winning three consecutive league titles. The Braves lost to Pickerington North 54-53 in a Division I district semifinal.

Leading the senior class a year ago were Megan Beidelman (12.2 points per game), Lydia Hyburg (7.7 ppg), Brooke Zwayer (9.1 ppg), Katie Heath (8.1 ppg) and Courtney Hale (6.2 ppg).

Beidelman made first-team all-league and second-team all-district, Lydia Hyburg was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, Heath was honorable mention all-league and Zwayer was honorable mention all-district.

Zwayer (Malone), Lydia Hyburg (Wheeling Jesuit), Beidelman (Mount Vernon Nazarene), Heath (Otterbein) and 2013 graduate Gina Miccinilli (Heidelberg) are playing collegiately.

"We lost seven seniors who won 79 games in four years, but 10 years ago when our staff came in, one of the things we wanted to do was to build something where we're not going to be bad for a year or two," Feasel said. "We have expectations to win the league and compete for a district championship. We put on the back of our shirts this summer that 'Tradition Never Graduates.' "

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