Over the past 10 seasons, the Reynoldsburg High School girls basketball team has won seven Division I district championships and made it to state semifinals three times.
Considering the Raiders have been in at least a district final in each of those seasons, including last winter when they lost to Gahanna 54-52, their expectations remain understandably high.
With four starters back, combined with what looks to be a strong group of newcomers, count senior Destiny Fields among those wondering how high of a ceiling the Raiders will have this winter.
"Hopes for the team is to win states," Fields said. "We have some competition just like every year, but when we play with each other, you can see the chemistry we all have with each other. We know the roles that each of us have to play to get where we want to be at the end of the season.
"Some keys that will get us back to districts and beyond is not listening to the negative energy that people have to say. We have to keep being positive towards each other and cheering each other. We're each other's biggest fans."
Reynoldsburg, which went 20-6 overall last season and shared the OCC-Ohio Division title at 9-1 with eventual state champion Pickerington Central, opened Nov. 23 by losing to Dublin Coffman 71-64 in the Gary West Tipoff Classic at home. Coffman also was a district runner-up last season.
Seniors Uju Ezeudu (6-foot, wing player/post player), Bre Johnson (5-7, guard) and Fields (5-9, guard/wing player) and junior Kyria Walker (5-6, guard) are the top returnees.
Ezeudu, who averaged 15.2 points and made first-team all-district and all-league last season, has committed to Denver.
Walker averaged 13.1 points and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Johnson averaged 5.4 points, was honorable mention all-league and has committed to Indiana Tech.
Fields averaged 6.2 points.
Senior Leah Goodwin (6-0, post player) and juniors Malaysia Miller (5-8, guard) and Jazmyn Fields (5-5, guard) also should contribute, and Alexia Mobley (6-2, wing player/post player) and Makiya Miller (5-7, guard) are freshmen who could play immediately.
Sophomores Cassidy Collins (5-6) and Taylor Starks (5-3) and freshman Jamiona Ross (5-6) are other guards who should see time.
The biggest losses to graduation were point guard Mackenzie Davis and post player Jalynda Salley. Davis averaged 5.8 points and is playing for Stetson, while Salley averaged 9.5 points, closed her prep career with 1,141 points and is playing for Coppin State.
"I feel like we have a long way to go, but I like the way the kids are working right now," 17th-year coach Jack Purtell said.
"Every year is a little bit different and you'll get some different personalities. We have to keep improving our shooting and our guard play. We need to make some layups. But I really like this group of kids. They're really hard-working."
Reynoldsburg athletes announce colleges
Five Reynoldsburg athletes announced their college decisions Nov. 14.
In addition to Ezeudu committing to Denver and Johnson committing to Indiana Tech,
Harvey Culbert will compete in men's swimming and diving at West Virginia.
Committing to Ohio Dominican were Caitlyn McKean in women's soccer and Olivia Rettke in softball.
Raiders seek two coaches
After five seasons leading the girls soccer program, Jimmy Stevens recently stepped down as coach.
The Raiders are coming off their best season under Stevens, going 10-7-1. They lost to Olentangy Liberty 2-0 in the second round of the Division I district tournament after beating Teays Valley 4-3 in the first round.
Reynoldsburg opened the season by winning its first six games.
Stevens, who went 39-47-4 with the Raiders, was Canal Winchester's coach from 2004-12 and served for one season as the junior varsity B coach at Upper Arlington before taking over at Reynoldsburg in 2014.
"I had a great time and I know the program's better," Stevens said.
The Raiders also have a vacancy in boys tennis after Les Somogyi recently stepped down after four seasons. He remains the girls tennis coach, a position he has held for 15 seasons.
Nov. 23 -- Dublin Coffman in Gary West Tipoff Classic at home
Nov. 28 -- Eastmoor Academy
*Dec. 4 -- vs. Lancaster
*Dec. 7 -- at Gahanna
Dec. 11 -- vs. Canal Winchester
*Dec. 14 -- vs. Grove City
Dec. 18 -- at Newark
*Dec. 21 -- vs. Pickerington Central
Dec. 28-30 -- Diamond State Classic in Wilmington, Del.
*Jan. 4 -- at Pickerington North
Jan. 8 -- at New Albany
*Jan. 11 -- at Lancaster
*Jan. 17 -- vs. Gahanna
Jan. 19 -- Solon in Classic in the Country at Berlin Hiland
Jan. 22 -- vs. Westerville South
*Jan. 25 -- at Grove City
*Feb. 1 -- at Pickerington Central
Feb. 5 -- at Central Crossing
*Feb. 8 -- vs. Pickerington North
Feb. 11 -- vs. Dresden Tri-Valley
Below are the coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg boys basketball, bowling and wrestling teams:
Dec. 1 -- All-Ohio Nike Showcase at Whitehall
*Dec. 3 -- Thomas Worthington at Holiday Lanes
Dec. 1 -- Lee Spitzer Golden Bear Invitational at Upper Arlington