Kilbourne embarking on OCC learning process
Worthington Kilbourne High School girls basketball coach Steve Palmer admits that he is still gathering information about the league opponents that his team will face this season.
Next season he will have to go through the learning process again.
The Wolves spent the past four seasons in the OCC-Central Division but moved to the OCC-Cardinal this season as part of OCC realignment last summer. Next summer, they will move to the OCC-Capital.
Kilbourne, which opened with a 51-44 win over Ready on Nov. 23 and played Logan on Nov. 27, begins OCC-Cardinal play Friday, Nov. 30, at Dublin Scioto.
"We are unfamiliar with the teams in the Cardinal, so we have no clue how things will work out there," said Palmer, who is in his sixth season leading the program.
"Our goal usually includes a certain placement in the league, but I think we just need to concentrate on improving and playing our best this year. We'll see what happens from there."
The Wolves return three starters in seniors Lauren Barnhart (5-foot-5, guard) and Maria Calvert (5-10, post player) and junior Kayla Pack (5-7, guard).
A third-year starter, Pack averaged 12.6 points last season and was named honorable mention all-league, as Kilbourne finished 5-16 overall and placed eighth in the OCC-Central.
"Pack plays at a high level in AAU and she's a hard-nosed player," Palmer said. "She's only (5-7), but she sticks her nose in there. She's aggressive. Even as a freshman, she was like that. She led the team in free-throw attempts. That mentality probably comes from her father, Craig Pack, who was the starting center on the Ohio State football team (in 1982)."
Also back is senior Mackenzie Wilson (5-8, guard).
Rounding out the team are seniors Sienna Haslup (5-9, post player) and Alex Malone (5-5, guard), junior Brianna Bell (5-8, guard) and freshmen Annie Mosca (5-5, guard), Carli Taute (6-0, wing player), Julia Tout (5-9, guard) and Sydney Warinner (6-0, post player/wing player).
Bell is a transfer from Cincinnati Sycamore.
Against Ready, Pack had 16 points and Bell scored 13.
"I don't think chemistry will be an issue at all," Pack said. "We're jelling well already. We're all working and trying to put a winning season together."
According to Palmer, how quickly the freshmen adjust to the varsity level and how productive the Wolves are offensively will go a long way in determining whether Kilbourne improves on last season.
"We have very talented freshmen who went 29-4 combined in the seventh and eighth grades and they have a winning mentality and expect to win," he said. "That's good, but how will they adjust to the more physical brand of play?
"We also need to stay healthy and we need to average at least 45 points a game. I think we'll be strong on defense and that should keep us in the games and we won't have to score tons of points. I think Kayla will be helped in scoring by Bell and Taute. Bell is a good athlete, quick, and has long arms and a good basketball IQ."
Last season, Kilbourne went 1-13 in the OCC-Central to finish behind Dublin Coffman (13-1), Upper Arlington (12-2), Central Crossing (11-3), Hilliard Davidson (7-7), Thomas Worthington (6-8), Hilliard Darby (4-10) and Westland (2-12).
The OCC-Cardinal includes Darby, Scioto, Dublin Jerome, Hilliard Bradley, Westerville Central, Westerville North and Westerville South.
Kilbourne lost to 11th-seeded New Albany 37-34 in the first round of the Division I district tournament last season.