With a strong core group returning, fifth-year coach Brian O'Mara wants to make sure to challenge his Grandview Heights High School girls basketball team.

The Bobcats return three 5-foot-9 starters -- junior forward Emma Hall and sophomore guards Tayler Pierce and Hannah Yochem -- as they work to improve on last season's 13-9 finish.

"I want to push the young group so they can be more seasoned," said O'Mara, whose team placed fourth (5-5) in the MSL-Ohio Division behind champion Bexley (9-1). "I'm trying to play a tough non-league schedule to prepare the team for the tournament and future seasons."

That started Nov. 23 at home against perennial power Ready, the team that knocked the Bobcats out of the Division III district tournament last winter. The Silver Knights defeated Grandview 59-44 in the opening round.

This time, the Bobcats defeated Ready 36-30 as Yochem scored 18 points and Pierce had 11.

Pierce had a standout freshman season, averaging 14.2 points to earn honorable mention all-state, second-team all-district and first-team all-league honors. Yochem, a point guard, averaged 9.9 points and was named honorable mention all-district and second-team all-league.

"I'm really seeing the floor a lot better than I did last season," Yochem said. "Coach helped me with that a lot and with our having a young team, seeing the floor better will help us a lot."

Hall expects to be a presence in the post, while 5-10 sophomore guard Rachel Hartman also saw varsity time last season. O'Mara also expects to see contributions from 5-8 freshman post player Sasha Pomerants.

"We have three starters back in Hannah, Emma and Tayler, and Rachel saw some varsity time periodically," O'Mara said. "Freshman Sasha Pomerants is a banger and not afraid to go to the basket.

"I think defense is going to be our strength. This is a pretty mobile team, and we will constantly be mixing up looks on defense to keep (opponents) off-balance. Offensively, we can get the ball out and go, go, go."

The Bobcats have only one senior after Makenzie Bush suffered a knee injury last spring in track and field. Nina Amicon is a senior forward who has not played the sport since middle school.

Also on the roster are junior guards Hallie Georskey and Marissa Tose, junior post players Pelar Price and Janey Coplan, freshman guard Sophie Andrew and freshman post player Olivia Feast.

"I want to work on our bench and having some bench strength," O'Mara said. "We're looking comfortable at one (through) five, but we need the bench to continue to grow more. We need to be able to give the starters a breather because we can't have it all on the starting five. We need to see how much six (through) 12 can improve."

The program does not have enough players for a j.v. team, plus the preseason started late because of the girls soccer team reaching a Division III regional semifinal. The Bobcats lost to Zanesville Rosecrans 2-1 (3-1 shootout) on Oct. 30.

"We're a really young team this year, and we were set back a couple weeks because (the) soccer (team) did so well," Yochem said. "Coach is there to help us out with all of our new players. We should have good team chemistry and coaching as well."

Grandview opens league play Saturday, Dec. 1, at home against Worthington Christian.

Sanzo leaves girls volleyball program

Coach Shelli Sanzo has left the girls volleyball program after two seasons in which the Bobcats went 8-37 overall and 2-16 in the MSL-Ohio.

"Shelli has a daughter, freshman Taylor Sanzo, but she also has a younger daughter and she was missing some of her matches and wanted to be able to see some of those," athletics director Brad Bertani said.

The Bobcats netted four more victories this fall, going 6-17 after finishing 2-20 in 2017.

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen

Schedules

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Nov. 23 -- vs. Ready

Nov. 27 -- vs. Berne Union

Nov. 29 -- at New Albany

*Dec. 1 -- vs. Worthington Christian

Dec. 4 -- vs. Madison Plains

*Dec. 7 -- at Bexley

Dec. 10 -- at Columbus School for Girls

*Dec. 15 -- at Whitehall

Dec. 19 -- at Newark Catholic

*Dec. 21 -- vs. Columbus Academy

Dec. 27 -- Hilliard Bradley at Watterson Christmas Classic

Dec. 28 -- Hilliard Darby at Watterson Christmas Classic

Jan. 5 -- at Olentangy Berlin

*Jan. 11 -- at Worthington Christian

Jan. 14 -- vs. Fairbanks

*Jan. 19 -- vs. Bexley

Jan. 23 -- vs. Zanesville Rosecrans

*Jan. 25 -- vs. Whitehall

Jan. 29 -- vs. Olentangy

*Feb. 2 -- at Columbus Academy

Feb. 7 -- vs. Licking Valley

Feb. 9 -- at Centerburg

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Grandview Heights boys basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

Nov. 29 -- At Patriot Prep

Dec. 1 -- Africentric in All-Ohio Classic at Pickerington North

BOWLING

*Dec. 4 -- Marysville at Marysville Lanes

SWIMMING & DIVING

Dec. 1 -- St. Charles Catholic Showdown

WRESTLING

Dec. 1 -- Lee Spitzer Invitational at Upper Arlington

*League contest