As has been the case the last few seasons, the Olentangy Liberty High School hockey team should have options regarding who will provide its scoring punch.
Figuring out who will step into those roles after the Patriots lost most of their top scorers to graduation is their biggest question mark.
"We're young," second-year coach Kevin Alexander said. "If you're looking for the weakness, we've got to find where we're going to score goals. We're not worried about our defense and we're not worried about our goaltending."
The Patriots opened Nov. 23 with a 2-1 victory over Aurora (Ontario) St. Andrews in the Sylvania Northview Turkey Tournament. Also in the event, they tied Northview at 2 and lost to Lakewood St. Edward 3-1 on Nov. 24 before beating Findlay 2-1 on Nov. 25.
Alexander began last season as co-coach with Jack Hoogeveen before assuming head-coaching duties for Liberty's 4-1 loss to Dublin Jerome in the district final. Liberty finished 28-7-3.
The Patriots had gone 259-113-21 with three state tournament appearances in 11 seasons under Hoogeveen, who is now serving as an assistant at Upper Arlington.
Seniors Grant Bertges (defenseman), Jack Bowden (forward), Craig Lutwen (defenseman) and Kevin Springfield (forward) and juniors Aidan King (forward), Keegan Pullins (defenseman), Korey Raymond (forward) and Andrew Vidrick (goaltender) are the top returnees.
Vidrick went 12-2-3 last season while sharing goaltender duties with 2018 graduate David Dew.
Bertges had seven goals and 17 assists, Lutwen had five goals and six assists, Pullins had six goals and 12 assists, Raymond had 13 goals and 10 assists, Bowden had five goals and 11 assists, Springfield had five goals and seven assists and King had six goals and 11 assists.
Junior Colin Watts (defenseman) and sophomores Ben Brown (forward) and Nick Josefiak (forward/defenseman) are newcomers who should contribute.
Junior defenseman Max Turner also should contribute. His brother, Sam Turner, is a 2018 graduate who had 32 goals and 44 assists last season while making first-team all-state.
Max Turner and Josefiak are overcoming injuries that could keep them out until mid-December.
Also on the team are seniors Grant Hollingsworth (forward) and Brock Pittroff (forward), juniors Tim Casey (defenseman), Jake DiMantova (forward) and Dane Hatfield (forward), sophomores Andy Keeler (goalie), Max Lundquist (forward), Andrew Minardi (defenseman) and Isaac Moe (forward) and freshman Gage Schlotterbeck (forward).
Girls basketball team again has high hopes
Despite being without two of its top players because of injury, the girls basketball team ended last season with a Division I district runner-up finish.
The Patriots will have a considerably younger cast after losing six players to graduation, but a nucleus led by juniors Kelly Levering (5-foot-10, wing player) and Teegan Pifher (6-1, forward) figures to keep Liberty among the area's stronger teams this winter.
Liberty opened Nov. 23 by losing 67-58 to Mason in the Journey to the Tourney at West Chester Lakota West.
"We're kind of building a brand new team because we lost two seniors and Teegan only got to play two games last year," fifth-year coach Sam Krafty said. "We've got a lot of really new roles for some kids and building that chemistry is the challenge right now. It's a talented group. I really like the skill level of this team."
Pifher was a first-team all-OCC-Buckeye Division selection as a freshman and averaged 17 points in the Patriots' first two games last winter before suffering a season-ending injury. She has committed to Miami University.
Levering averaged 8.3 points and was honorable mention all-district and honorable mention all-league.
Junior Gina Santangelo (5-6) is at shooting guard, with freshman Trinity Ramos (5-4) expected to see significant action at point guard.
Seniors Jessie Barna (5-9, guard/wing player), Abby Erickson (6-2, post player), Kiera McCloskey (5-6, guard) and Betsy Merritt (5-6, guard) are other key returnees. Merritt missed much of last season with an ankle injury.
Junior Tatum Perkins (5-10, forward) and sophomores Sarah Balliett (5-2, guard) and Caitlin Splain (5-7, guard) are others looking to contribute.
Liberty was seeded 23rd for last year's district tournament but upset 10th-seeded Eastmoor Academy 55-51 in overtime in a district semifinal before falling to eventual state champion Pickerington Central 54-12 in a district final to finish 14-12.
Emma Humenay, who was first-team all-league and averaged 11.5 points while also tying the program record for 3-pointers in a season with 122, led a 2018 senior class that also included Kennedy Kashmiry (10.9 points, second-team all-league). Kashmiry didn't play the final three tournament games because of injury.
"Honestly I love the potential," Krafty said. "It could potentially be as good a team as any we've had talent-wise."
Liberty athletes select colleges
Eleven Liberty athletes announced their college decisions Nov. 14.
In softball, Arica Flaugher will play for Ashland and Katelyn Wilhelm will play for Walsh.
In women's volleyball, Grace Clark will play for Jacksonville, Abby Erickson will play for Toledo and Taylor Karlo will compete for St. Francis.
Hannah Beavers will compete in women's swimming and diving for Toledo. Molly Bursinger will compete in women's lacrosse for Grand Valley State and Andrew Guagenti will play men's lacrosse for Ohio State.
Carson Kharchla will wrestle at Ohio State and Mitchell Okuley will play baseball for Ohio State.
Gracie Sprankle will compete in women's cross country for Indiana.
Nov. 23 -- Mason in Journey to the Tourney at West Chester Lakota West
Nov. 27 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
*Dec. 4 -- vs. Olentangy
*Dec. 7 -- at Olentangy Orange
Dec. 8 -- Dublin Coffman at Quicken Loans Arena
*Dec. 13 -- vs. Westerville South
Dec. 18 -- vs. Marysville
*Dec. 21 -- at Westerville North
Dec. 28-30 -- Innisfree Hotels Pensacola Beach (Fla.) Classic
*Jan. 4 -- vs. Westerville Central
Jan. 8 -- at Gahanna
*Jan. 11 -- at Olentangy
Jan. 16 -- at Dublin Scioto
*Jan. 18 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
Jan. 22 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
*Jan. 25 -- at Westerville South
*Feb. 1 -- vs. Westerville North
Feb. 5 -- at Newark
Feb. 6 -- vs. Teays Valley
*Feb. 8 -- at Westerville Central
Nov. 23 -- Aurora (Ontario) St. Andrews at Sylvania Northview Turkey Tournament at Tam-O-Shanter in Sylvania
Nov. 24 -- Sylvania Northview and Lakewood St. Edward at Sylvania Northview Turkey Tournament at Tam-O-Shanter
Nov. 25 -- Findlay at Sylvania Northview Turkey Tournament at Tam-O-Shanter
Nov. 29 -- Olentangy Orange in Adam Allgeyer Memorial Showcase at Chiller Dublin
Nov. 30 -- New Albany in Adam Allgeyer Memorial Showcase at Chiller Dublin
Dec. 1 -- Parma Padua in Adam Allgeyer Memorial Showcase at Chiller Dublin
Dec. 2 -- TBA in Adam Allgeyer Memorial Showcase at Chiller Dublin
*Dec. 9 -- Upper Arlington at Chiller North
Dec. 14 -- Lakewood St. Edward at OBM Arena in Strongsville
Dec. 15 -- Parma Padua and Parma Heights Holy Name at OBM Arena
Dec. 16 -- TBA at OBM Arena
*Dec. 17 -- Dublin Coffman at Chiller Dublin
*Dec. 21 -- Watterson at Chiller North
Dec. 22 -- at Gates Mills Gilmour Academy
*Dec. 23 -- St. Charles at OhioHealth Ice Haus
*Dec. 28 -- Upper Arlington at OhioHealth Ice Haus
*Dec. 29 -- Springboro at South Metro Ice
*Jan. 2 -- Dublin Jerome at Chiller Dublin
*Jan. 5 -- New Albany at Chiller Easton
*Jan. 6 -- St. Charles at Chiller North
*Jan. 11 -- Olentangy Orange at Chiller North
*Jan. 12 -- Dublin Jerome at Chiller North
*Jan. 13 -- Olentangy at Nationwide Arena
Jan. 18-20 -- Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit Tournament at Kent State
*Jan. 25 -- New Albany at Chiller North
*Jan. 27 -- Cincinnati Moeller at Northland Ice Center
*Feb. 3 -- Cincinnati Moeller at Chiller Springfield
Below are the coming schedules for the Liberty boys basketball and bowling teams:
Dec. 2 -- Home vs. Mentor
*Dec. 4 -- Olentangy Berlin at Sawmill Lanes