The Canal Winchester High School girls basketball team does not expect to look its best when it begins the season Tuesday, Dec. 4, at home against defending OCC-Capital Division champion Newark.

The Indians will be without 5-foot-6 senior point guard Markyia McCormick, a Detroit Mercy commit who will be sidelined until at least January because of a torn ligament in her right foot. In addition, 6-1 senior center Kyiah Welch is battling an ankle injury and 5-11 junior forward Shalea Byrd said she is putting off surgery to replace missing cartilage in her left femur bone as long as she can.

Nonetheless, fifth-year coach Willie Jordan is less concerned with appearances now than results later as his team tries to build on last year’s run to a Division I district semifinal.

“We’re going to figure it out. We’ll have to. We have enough experience that I think we’ll be OK,” Jordan said. “Last year let them see that if they play their game, names on (jerseys) don’t mean anything. Nobody is guaranteed a spot. If we play our game, we can beat those teams or at the very least play with them. This year coming in, all of their expectations are just as high as mine.

“We expect to get to (a) district championship game. Then, we’re playing with house money.”

Last season, Canal Winchester finished 18-7 overall and 6-4 in the OCC-Capital, losing to Westerville South 48-28 in a district semifinal to cap the program’s deepest postseason run since 2006.

The Indians return four starters in Byrd, McCormick, senior forward/center Kynadee Anthony (6-0) and junior forward Natalie Rarick (5-10).

Junior Amanda Rarick (5-9) will assume point-guard duties in McCormick’s absence, although senior Ariana Coleman (5-6), Byrd and Natalie Rarick occasionally will run the point. Amanda Rarick will move back to shooting guard when McCormick returns.

“I can’t do it by myself,” Amanda Rarick said. “Sometimes Kynadee brings the ball down. I feel like that’s going to help us as we go on through the season.

“We’re seeing better passes, moving quicker up the floor and playing really well on defense. I feel like we’re getting even more comfortable with each other.”

McCormick averaged a team-high 15.8 points last season. Amanda Rarick added 11.8 points, followed by Byrd (11.2) and Natalie Rarick (8.4).

“The plan is for a lot of ball movement. We’re really working on jelling together and I feel like we are,” Byrd said. “We get the ball and we go fast. We cut, we pass. We just know each other to the point that we know Natalie likes to take corner shots, Amanda likes to shoot up top, things like that. We’re better at reading defenses.”

Rounding out the roster are senior Camryn Woodrow (5-11, forward/center), junior Anaya Edwards (5-8, guard), sophomores Kaylee Deshong (5-8, guard/forward) and Ally Hawkins (5-7, guard) and freshman Kennedy Ratliff (6-0, center).

The Indians tied Big Walnut and New Albany for second place in the OCC-Capital last season behind Newark (10-0).

Jordan said his trust in his team was exemplified by the fact that in the Indians’ first four scrimmages, he estimated that he called just two set plays.

“With their experience, they just know where to make that next pass,” Jordan said. “They are playing smart, instinctive basketball. I don’t have to call plays if we are moving on the floor and moving our bodies. They are all pretty smart kids. They are putting that intelligence together with their basketball abilities.”

Athletes announce college choices

In addition to McCormick, four other student-athletes announced their college decisions Nov. 14.

Ella Cressy will play women’s soccer at Ohio Wesleyan, Morgan Reeb will play women’s soccer at Ohio Dominican, Grace Riddle will swim at Ohio University and McKenna Sullivan will play women’s soccer at the University of Charleston.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Dec. 4 – vs. Newark

*Dec. 7 – vs. Big Walnut

Dec. 11 – at Reynoldsburg

*Dec. 14 – at Groveport

Dec. 15 – at Hartley

Dec. 18 – vs. Central Crossing

*Dec. 21 – at Franklin Heights

Dec. 28 – vs. Gahanna

Dec. 29 – Solon in Rocks Holiday Classic at Dublin Coffman

*Jan. 4 – vs. New Albany

Jan. 8 – at Lancaster

*Jan. 11 – at Newark

Jan. 14 – vs. Eastmoor Academy

Jan. 15 – at Watterson

*Jan. 18 – at Big Walnut

Jan. 22 – at Westland

Jan. 23 – vs. Bloom-Carroll

*Jan. 25 – vs. Groveport

Jan. 26 – Northland in Lady Nubian Classic at Africentric

*Feb. 1 – vs. Franklin Heights

Feb. 5 – vs. Pickerington North

*Feb. 8 – at New Albany

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Canal Winchester boys basketball, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

Nov. 30 – Home vs. Independence

SWIMMING & DIVING

Dec. 1 – Athens Invitational at Ohio University

Dec. 4 – Grove City and Lancaster at Grove City YMCA

WRESTLING

Dec. 1 – American Legion Post 81 Invitational at Jackson