The Wellington School girls basketball team is short on varsity experience this season, as freshmen comprise more than half of its roster.
But that isn't necessarily a negative, according to second-year coach Bill Mitchin.
The Jaguars opened Nov. 27 with a 48-43 loss to Columbus International and lost to Grove City Christian 49-28 on Nov. 30.
Wellington finished 7-14 last season, losing to sixth-seeded Fairfield Christian 46-28 in its Division IV district tournament opener.
"The major difference between this year's team and last year's team is we had a reasonably good mix of experienced and new players last year," Mitchin said.
"This year, through attrition, we have only five players back and the rest are freshmen. But the strength of this team is that our kids are so young that they just play their hearts out every game and they don't have any expectations for how well they should do based on who we're playing. What our younger kids lack in experience, skill and maturity, they make up for in effort and enthusiasm."
The five returnees are senior Helen Fite (5-foot-4, guard), juniors Donnette Cox (5-11, post player) and Mallory Tannous (5-7, forward) and sophomores Molly Anderson (5-7, forward) and Sydney Snow (5-5, guard).
Cox and Fite both averaged five points last season.
"Donnette has made a tremendous amount of progress and become a strong post player this year," Mitchin said. "Helen is doing a nice job of running the point, and Mallory has a nice outside shot and drives well to the basket."
Also on the roster are sophomore Jane Borgemenke (5-3, guard) and freshmen Derin Atekoja (5-7, wing player), Paige Harper (5-6, post player), Gwen Hughes (5-6, forward), Halle Jefferson (5-9, forward), Madison JoHyzdo (5-4, forward), Abbey Mayne (5-6, guard) and Annie Steele (5-3, guard).
Against Columbus International, Cox had nine points, nine blocks and 21 rebounds and Mayne had nine points. Cox had 11 points against Grove City Christian.
"We're playing a nice mix of teams to get ready for the district tournament," Mitchin said.
"We'd like to get through the season with a .500 or better record. We'll need to control the tempo in games given our experience."
Boys team aiming for district title
The boys basketball team opened Nov. 30 with a 49-46 victory over Harvest Prep before losing to Columbus Academy 59-29 on Dec. 1.
Wellington, which finished 12-9 last season, returns four key players in seniors Billy Brisk (6-3, center), Jahi Dial (6-3, forward), Jonathan Robinson (6-1, guard) and Tyler Sharp (6-1, guard).
Last season, Robinson averaged 9.5 points and 4.9 rebounds and Sharp averaged 12.2 points and 5.4 rebounds. Both were honorable mention all-district. Dial averaged 7.6 points and four rebounds.
Against Harvest Prep, Brisk had 16 points and Dial scored 14. Brisk had 11 points and Robinson scored eight against Academy.
Also back are seniors Christian Braddy (forward) and Vishal Sharoff (guard), junior Mason McIntyre (guard) and sophomores Elliott Fite (guard), Zach Kauffman (forward) and Ben Sloneker (center).
Rounding out the roster are sophomore Ben Brisk (forward) and freshman Lorenze Gordon-Haynes (guard).
"I stuck around for this team because I know it can be special," 11th-year coach Brian McCants said. "We have four seniors who can average 15 points apiece and we have a nice supporting cast behind them. We have two 6-3 starters (Billy Brisk and Dial) who can bring the ball up the court, and our center (Billy Brisk) is capable of leading us in assists."
Seeded seventh in the Division IV district tournament last season, Wellington had a first-round bye and defeated third-seeded Fairfield Christian 52-46 in the second round before losing to fifth-seeded Shekinah Christian 63-61 in a semifinal.
"We're taking on teams like Ready, Hartley, Columbus Academy and Centennial because if we can hang with bigger schools like them, we should be able to come back down to the Division IV tournament and run the table," McCants said. "For this team, anything less than a district championship would be a disappointment."