The Thomas Worthington High School girls basketball team has returned four letterwinners, including two starters, this season, but the only one player taller than 5-foot-9 on its guard-heavy roster is 6-1 senior post player Jenna Anderson.
The Cardinals, who open Friday, Nov. 29, with an OCC-Central Division game at Olentangy Liberty, finished 7-15 overall last season, losing to New Albany 41-30 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
"We only have two other girls who are not guards," Anderson said. "It can be rough being the only real (tall player) on the team, but we've worked hard on team rebounding and we've focused on getting up and down the floor. Individually, I worked real hard on my post moves over the summer. We're also working well together and making sure we play as a team."
Thomas must fill the void left by 2013 graduate Frannie Frazier, a four-year starter who led the team in scoring (14.8), rebounding (10.0), steals (4.3) and assists (2.8) last season and was named first-team all-league and special mention all-district.
Frazier, a 5-9 guard, is playing at Ball State University.
Laura Gomez, a 5-6 senior guard who averaged 6.9 points, 2.8 assists and 1.2 steals and was honorable mention all-league last season, said she and her teammates must raise their games to make up for the loss of Frazier.
"We all have responsibilities and roles and we'll all have to do our share," Gomez said. "We have to have self-confidence and be confident our teammates will do their share.
"We're young and small, but we'll be quick and try to use the transition game in our favor. We've worked real hard at fundamental rebounding and communication because those will be the keys to our transition. I think we'll come along very well and surprise some people."
Gomez and 5-4 junior point guard Jordan Fischbach are the returning starters for the Cardinals, who went 3-11 in the OCC-Central last season to place seventh behind co-champions Dublin Coffman and Hilliard Davidson (both 12-2).
Also back is 5-4 junior guard Francie Zidonis.
"We are really happy with the work ethic and the abilities of our newcomers to pick up demands," sixth-year coach Laurie Barr said. "Part of our preseason success is the leadership of our upperclassmen. At this point, we don't have a top player.
"We have numerous new faces and we are very young and inexperienced and we also lack the luxury of having (size). We want to utilize our basketball knowledge and our guard-heavy strengths to have offensive success and to stop teams defensively. Once we gain experience, we will be able to take advantage of our guard play."
Rounding out the roster are senior Chelsei Fullerton (5-7, forward), sophomores Carly Coleman (5-7, guard) and Matrina Parks (5-9, forward) and freshmen Hannah Ong (5-4, guard), Jenna Rao (5-7, guard) and Jada Sleet (5-4, guard).