Last year's unexpected postseason success is what the Ready High School boys basketball team hopes will propel it back into being one of the area's best in Division III.
The Silver Knights, who won seven of their first nine last year but closed the regular season by losing 11 in a row, beat Northridge 51-32 in their tournament opener and upset third-seeded Mount Gilead 53-42 in a second-round game.
A 70-41 district semifinal loss to second-seeded Columbus Academy aside, the tournament wins provided validation for coach Don Worstell that Ready had turned the corner after winning just six games in 2010-11.
The Silver Knights, who were a state semifinalist in 2010 before enduring back-to-back losing seasons, return 10 players who saw action a year ago.
"I like our team a lot," said Worstell, who is in his fourth season.
Ready opened Nov. 30 by losing to Bexley 48-44 and then defeated London 59-41 on Dec. 1, with both games in the London Tipoff Classic.
The Silver Knights open CCL play Friday, Dec. 7, against visiting Hartley.
Ready was 9-14 overall a year ago and went 1-7 in the CCL to place behind Watterson (7-1), Hartley (6-2), St. Charles (4-4) and DeSales (2-6).
The top returnees are senior guards Doug Strickler (5-foot-9, 8 points per game) and Kyle Wilgus (6-0, 7 ppg), junior forwards Brady Taylor (6-5, 6 ppg) and Josh Gantz (6-6, 5 ppg) and junior guard Matt Yoho (6-4, 4 ppg).
Strickler averaged 13.6 points during the postseason.
Also back are seniors Ross Etgen (5-9, guard), Will Perry (6-1, center) and Austin Vrancken (6-0, guard) and juniors Jimmy Hanley (6-2, guard) and Kelly Culbertson (5-8, guard).
Others on the team are juniors Alec Holt (5-9, guard), Shane Lee (6-0, guard) and Antonio Pulsinelli (6-2, forward).
The only players Ready lost from last season were 2012 graduates Derek Farmer, Bo Hardy and Joey Seipel. Farmer averaged 4.7 points and was one of the team's top outside shooters the last two years but struggled with injuries.
"We've had some trouble maintaining health during the preseason, so we've got to stay healthy just like everybody else," Worstell said. "We're big enough to compete and we're very athletic. I like the athleticism of this team.
"I think the CCL is going to be brutal this year. It's going to be very strong. Watterson is going to be very, very strong, as good as anybody in central Ohio. I think we're going to be decent."
Wrestling team small but talented
New wrestling coach James Yonushonis is expected to have just nine athletes competing when his team begins its season Saturday, Dec. 8, in the Kilted Klassic at Sparta Highland.
Brightening the Silver Knights' hopes is that two of those athletes made the state tournament last season.
Junior Patrik Garren is back at heavyweight after finishing third in the state in Division III and going 41-6 last season. He also was a sectional and district champion and made the ThisWeek Super 12.
Junior Dalton Scott (138 pounds) also returns. He settled for a fourth-place finish at sectional at 120 pounds but won a district title before going 0-2 at state to finish 26-11.
The other returnees are juniors Nick Headlee (132), Will Martello (145), Steven Pozz (120 or 126) and Patrick Stover (152).
Rounding out the roster are freshmen Max Creagh (189 or 220), Austin Russell (170) and Jacob Timley (106 or 113).
"These guys are real excited," Yonushonis said. 'What's great about (Garren and Scott) is that they were at state last year and saw the big day. Patrick was third and I'd imagine he'll be the favorite to win it this year."
Chance Van Gundy, who coached the Silver Knights the last three seasons, left to take over at Dublin Coffman.
Ready also is without junior Bobby Smith, a two-time state qualifier now competing for Hilliard Davidson. Smith was fifth in the state at 103 and made the Super 12 as a freshman and went 38-4 and was Super 12 honorable mention a year ago at 126. He won sectional and district titles but went 1-2 at state last season.
In the CCL tournament last year, Ready finished second (180.5) behind champion and host Hartley (191.5) and ahead of St. Charles (152.5), DeSales (114) and Watterson (16.5). The Silver Knights were fifth (123) in the 15-team Cardington sectional behind champion Newark Catholic (158) as Garren and Smith each went 4-0, Stover was 3-1 at 145 and Scott went 2-2.
Ready was sixth (80) of 48 teams that scored in the district tournament at Heath behind champion Nelsonville-York (129.5).
Stover placed sixth at district to finish 20-9.
Yonushonis is a 2002 Philipsburg (Pa.) graduate who wrestled for Penn State. His wife, Meredith Yonushonis, is an assistant gymnastics coach at Ohio State.
"I spent the last five years training to try to make the Olympic team," coach Yonu-shonis said.
"I was training with (former Ready two-time state-champion Tommy Rowlands) and he thought this would be a great opportunity to get into coaching. It's a Catholic high school and my faith is really the most important thing in my life. I'm pretty excited about it."