Despite returning no starters, no seniors and only two varsity players from last season, 11th-year coach Chris Kelly said his Olentangy High School boys basketball team has a lot of firepower on offense.
The Braves have returned 5-foot-11 junior guard Jimmy Gundling and 6-3 junior guard Ryan Sieve from a team that finished 15-9 overall last year after losing to Gahanna 79-68 in overtime in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
"We believe that we will be very good offensively," said Kelly, whose team finished third (10-4) in the OCC-Capital Division a year ago behind New Albany (14-0) and Delaware (11-3). "We will attack throughout the game and force our opponents to work extremely hard for four quarters.
"We're a smart, quick defensive team and will keep teams off balance by changing defenses very quickly. We're also a deep and unselfish team."
Kelly is optimistic even though the Braves lost eight players from a year ago to graduation, including point guard Seth Clark, who led the team in scoring (17.9 points per game) and steals (3.5 per game) and averaged 3.9 assists. He was honorable mention all-district and first-team all-league.
Also lost to graduation were forward Craig Matthews (11.2 points, 7.6 rebounds; honorable mention all-district, second-team all-league), forward Joe Morycz (7.5 points, 7.8 rebounds; honorable mention all-league) and guard Erik Brandt (6.5 points, 4 assists).
"Last year's seniors provided a great example for our returning and younger players," Kelly said. "We lost some outstanding seniors, but we're hopeful that a strong group of hard-working young players can step up to the challenge of filling their shoes."
Rounding out the roster are juniors Jeff Darfuss (5-11, guard), Matt Forsythe (5-11, guard), Andrew Kaylor (6-0, forward) and Joey McGuinness (6-0, forward) and sophomores Obi Anunike (6-3, forward), Carter Kinnaird (6-0, guard), Brandon Mazzeo (5-10, guard), Christian Mazzeo (5-10, guard), Seth O'Neal (5-10, guard) and Derrick Wyche (6-3, forward).
"We're young with only two guys back from last year," said Gundling, who averaged 8.0 points last season. "Varsity basketball is a lot different than playing j.v. We have a lot of guys who have talent and skill and (Ryan and I) need to help them with that transition."
The Braves opened Dec. 3 against Dublin Scioto and begin OCC-Capital play Friday, Dec. 6, at home against Big Walnut.
"We may be the youngest team in central Ohio, with six juniors and six sophomores, and we don't have a lot of size," Kelly said.
"That could lead to some matchup problems on the defensive end, and in the rebounding department."