The Reynoldsburg High School girls basketball team enjoyed the most successful season in school history last season.

The Reynoldsburg High School girls basketball team enjoyed the most successful season in school history last season.

The Raiders finished 21-6, won their first district title since 1991 and won their first regional title. The season ended with a 42-39 overtime loss in a Division I state semifinal to eventual champion Canton McKinley.

Two starters return, but Reynoldsburg must replace the trio of Aryelle Covington, Kenyell Goodson and T'Shera Lucas, who combined for 272 career starts and 2,684 points. Lucas is the school's all-time leading scorer and all three are playing in college.

Lucas (first-team all-OCC-Ohio Division, second-team all-state) is at Kent State, Covington (first-team, all-OCC) is at California University of Pennsylvania, and Goodson (second-team all-OCC) is at Glenville State.

Senior point guard Kacia Grant returns for the Raiders. She is a three-year starter and averaged 4.6 points last season and also played the role of defensive stopper.

Sophomore Destini Cooper averaged seven points and six rebounds last season, starting every game as a freshman post player.

Returning from last season's rotation and likely to start this season are sophomore Yamonie Jenkins (3.7 points) and junior wing Aliyah Zantt (4.1 points).

Freshman Alyssa Rice is the likely candidate to round out the starting five.

Sophomore Shiloh Murphy, a transfer from Zanesville, and junior Adesuwa Aideyman will come in off the bench.

"With so many young players starting, it will be a process," coach Jack Purtell said. "These girls will have to have some time to grow up and learn how to compete at this level with older girls."

Purtell feels his players have the talent to succeed, but knows the team might not reach the top level right away.

"We always point to the tournament and February and March," he said. "By that time of the year, we will have grown up a little bit.

The Raiders will be learning against top-notch competition. They open the season Friday against Middletown Madison at Kettering Fairmont High School. Middletown Madison, a Division III team, went 27-1 last season and lost in the state final to Findlay Liberty Benton 66-44. Friday's winner plays Saturday, most likely against host Kettering Fairmont, which finished 22-3 last season and lost in a Division I semifinal to Toledo Waite 61-44.

Reynoldsburg opens OCC-Ohio Division play December 3 against visiting Pickerington Central. Pickerington North won the OCC-Ohio with a 14-0 record. Reynoldsburg and Pickerington Central tied for second place at 10-4, followed by Gahanna (9-5), Newark (6-8), Lancaster (3-11), Grove City (1-13) and Groveport (1-13).

Gahanna, North and Reynoldsburg all won district titles last season.

"Our league is unbelievable, I feel honored to coach in this league," Purtell said. "North has four starters back, Newark improves every year, Central is outstanding, Gahanna will be tremendous, and Grove City, Lancaster and Groveport will also be improved. There will be no nights off in this league."

Grant is the lone senior on the roster.

"We're younger, but we will be faster, taller and quicker than last year's team," Grant said. "All of the girls on this year's team will score, too."

Cooper knows she's one of the young players, but also one of the most experienced players on the roster as well.

"I'm used to things and know what to expect, but I'm also just a sophomore and it's a lot to take in," she said. "We've got a lot of new people, but as the team learns the plays and gets experienced, we'll be fine."