Chiara Paradiso of the Upper Arlington High School girls basketball team remembers the pain of a 62-19 loss to Reynoldsburg in a Division I district final last season.

Chiara Paradiso of the Upper Arlington High School girls basketball team remembers the pain of a 62-19 loss to Reynoldsburg in a Division I district final last season.

But the 6-foot senior forward believes the experience the Golden Bears gained during their improbable postseason run -- not to mention all five starters have returned -- could help them have an even better season this winter.

"We saw how Reynoldsburg played and we want to be that good," said Paradiso, who has signed to play soccer at the University of Toledo. "We all experienced what it took to get to the district finals. That's what the whole offseason and all the work has been all about. We took it upon ourselves to go to the next step."

With Paradiso and 6-2 forward Andi Norman leading an experienced five-member senior class, coach Chris Savage is excited about the potential of his team, which went 14-12 overall and 8-6 in the OCC-Central Division last season and earned the program's first district final appearance since 2004.

Seeded 23rd, UA upset 10th-seeded Pickerington Central and 14th-seeded Newark before falling to top-seeded Reynoldsburg.

"We've accelerated our progress," said Savage, whose team opened Nov. 25 at Centennial and has its home and league opener Friday, Nov. 29, against Dublin Coffman.

"We have great anchors in Andi and Chiara who have played varsity since their freshman year. They know exactly what I want and what we're trying to do. I'm not a big fan of reinventing ourselves every year. There are certain core concepts that I believe in and that we're going to do defensively and offensively."

The other returning starters are 6-3 sophomore forward Kortney Eisenman, 5-6 junior point guard Taylor McGlade and 5-6 senior guard Annika Wachtman.

Wachtman replaced 2013 graduate Macauley Mikes in the starting lineup late last season after Mikes sustained a season-ending shoulder injury.

Norman averaged 12.5 points last season and was named first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.

She has committed to play for Dartmouth College, choosing the Ivy League school in Hanover, N.H., largely because of its film and media programs.

"Over the summer, I worked a lot on my ball-handling," Norman said.

"I spent a lot of time in the gym doing two-ball dribbling ... so that we can relieve the pressure on Taylor and to make me more effective on the offensive end so that I'm not just a jump-shooter and I have more options."

Wachtman averaged 8.4 points last season and Paradiso, who was 5-9 and played shooting guard last season but has moved inside after a three-inch growth spurt, averaged 5.7.

According to Savage, 5-4 senior guard Kyle Croxton typically will be the first player off the bench but could start occasionally.

Also on the roster are senior Kellye McGlumphy (5-4, guard), juniors Nikki Blevins (5-9, forward), Abigail Crum (6-1, forward), Caroline Mead (5-7, guard), Megan Sengelmann (5-6, guard) and Alyssa Tedesco (5-6, guard), sophomore Elli Wachtman (5-11, forward) and freshman Giavanna Paradiso (5-8, forward).