In his 31st season coaching the Ready High School girls basketball team, Joe Lang still gets a kick out of piecing together what typically is a lineup of small but scrappy players.

In his 31st season coaching the Ready High School girls basketball team, Joe Lang still gets a kick out of piecing together what typically is a lineup of small but scrappy players.

His latest challenge won't be minor, considering the Silver Knights are coming off an 8-14 season and have just 18 players in their program.

The biggest reason for optimism for Lang, who has more than 400 career victories, stems from Ready's overall speed and athleticism.

"I'm losing kids to other sports because now they can play whatever sport they pick during the winter," Lang said. "It's hard to be good in basketball. I really like our quickness. We're going to try to push it, and I think we have to be a pressure, defensive team, but with this group we'll do a little more of picking our spots because we're just not going to have that kind of depth."

The top returnees are seniors Nikki Brown (5-foot-10), Caitlin McAndrew (5-6) and Ciara Carr (5-6) and juniors Carly Culbertson (5-7) and Kim Lloyd (5-6).

Brown averaged 2.5 points and will be back in the post, while McAndrew was the third-leading scorer at 4.5 per game and should be at shooting guard. McAndrew made 21 3-pointers.

The top offensive threat should be Lloyd, who averaged 8.8 points. Culbertson averaged 3.5 points and is the team's best athlete, according to Lang.

Carr should be at point guard after scoring 33 points last season.

Also looking to contribute are sophomores Margi Berkemeyer (5-10) and Caroline Riewe (5-6) and freshman Lauren Ruth (5-9). Berkemeyer is a good shooter for her size, according to Lang, while Riewe should provide depth in the backcourt. Ruth will be at forward.

"I actually think we've been doing well in our scrimmages," said Brown, whose team opens Friday, Nov. 25, against visiting Worthington Kilbourne. "We have a lot of speed and a lot of really quick girls with a couple good shooters."

Last season, Ready split its first six games but fell to Cincinnati Mother of Mercy 40-26 and Dublin Jerome 39-27 in the Watterson Classic to begin a skid in which it lost 11 of 12.

The Silver Knights closed the regular season with wins over DeSales (42-39), Grove City (51-36) and Olentangy Liberty (41-38) and opened the Division III district tournament with a 55-49 victory over Centerburg. Ready's season ended with a 46-36 loss to third-seeded Bloom-Carroll in the second round.

Dani Pugh, who is playing softball for Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne, led the team with a scoring average of 11.4 points per game and made honorable mention all-district. Also lost to graduation was backup Kelly Veeley.

Junior Alexis Mayle, who averaged 7.3 points and made honorable mention all-district, has transferred to Watterson.

Ready finished fourth (2-6) in the CCL behind Watterson (7-1), Hartley (6-2) and DeSales (4-4) and ahead of Columbus School for Girls (1-7).

"I think DeSales is going to be very, very good because they pressure you relentlessly up and down the floor," Lang said. "Watterson would probably be the favorite right now to win the league, and I think Hartley's going to be much improved. I still get excited about competing with the teams like DeSales and Watterson."