The Thomas Worthington High School girls basketball team underwent a coaching change during the offseason and lost its leading scorer to graduation in Jazzlynn Gaiters.
However, the Cardinals return four letterwinners, including a pair of starters in guards Breanne Beatty and Brooke Ackley.
"I'm excited and the girls are excited to see what we can do this season," said first-year coach Bill Sperlazza, who is a head coach for the first time after spending the past three seasons as an assistant at Hartley and Linden-McKinley. "The outside expectations may not be as great as they may have been the past couple of seasons, but within the program we do have some high expectations."
Sperlazza replaced Laurie Barr, who stepped down after 10 seasons. The Cardinals finished 11-9 overall last season and were a combined 42-22 the past three seasons.
Beatty is one of four seniors for Thomas, which opened Nov. 27 against Watterson and begins OCC-Cardinal Division play Dec. 7 against Hilliard Bradley.
Last season, Beatty averaged 15.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists and was named first-team all-league, as the Cardinals went 9-3 in the OCC-Cardinal to share the league title with Dublin Scioto.
Gaiters, a 5-foot-7 guard, was named league Player of the Year after averaging 19.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals. Also as a senior, she set single-game program records in points (35), steals (11) and rebounds (23) and single-season records in points (391) and rebounds (232). She also holds the program's career record for rebounds (804) and ranks third in program history in career points (1,099).
"We obviously will miss Jazz, but I really believe that overall, we have a more athletic team this year," said Beatty, who has committed to play for Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. "We're planning on getting up and down the floor quickly and scoring in transition a lot more. I really like the makeup of this team. We have a good core group and we're all really close."
Ackley, a junior, averaged 4.3 points last season and was honorable mention all-league.
Also returning are seniors Amia Samuels (guard) and Haley Byrnes (post player).
Rounding out the team are senior Sarah Charley (guard/forward), juniors Sofia Bonilla (guard/forward) and Emma Wince (guard/forward), sophomores Kaniya Boyer (guard/forward), Jayla Carr (guard/forward), Reid Dunbar (guard/forward) and Lauren Gerber (forward) and freshman Jocelyn Ramos-Chears (guard/forward).
"Amia Samuels, Sarah Charley and Lauren Gerber will be vying to be starters with Bre, Brooke and Haley," Sperlazza said. "Emma Wince and Reid Dunbar also will be expected to play heavy minutes.
"I think we have a good composition. Bre can score from anywhere and can drive it well. She's a dynamic team leader who can do it all. Brooke and Sarah are multi-sport athletes who can provide a scoring punch and defensive versatility. Samuels and Gerber can provide long-range shooting and Haley can give us some inside buckets and rebounding."
Young hockey team showing promise
With only three seniors on the roster, the hockey team will be seeking consistency this season.
Last season, the Cardinals finished 4-19 overall and 2-14 in the Capital Hockey Conference-Blue Division.
"We've got some good ability in the upper classes, but not a lot of numbers, and we have some good, young talent, but with most of our 22 players being freshmen or sophomores, we could struggle with consistency," fourth-year coach Bill McGill said. "We have nine players new to the team and I think we'll show a lot of improvement throughout the season."
Thomas is 1-3-1 overall and 0-0-1 in the CHC entering a game against Columbus Academy on Saturday, Dec. 1, at Chiller North. The Cardinals opened Nov. 18 with a 7-all tie against Olentangy Berlin in a league contest before going 1-3 in the Chiller Thanksgiving Classic held Nov. 23-25 at Chiller North. Their win came against Chagrin Falls Kenston, 4-3 in a shootout Nov. 23.
Among the returnees are senior Nick Schriner (forward), juniors Jorge Bare (goaltender), Sam Hartwick (forward) and Will Pischel (forward) and sophomores Sebastian Edvardsen (defenseman) and Evan Kendall (forward).
Last season, Schriner had a team-high 18 goals and five assists and was named first-team all-league. Pischel had 15 goals and 12 assists, Kendall had seven goals and 12 assists and Hartwick had six goals and nine assists.
Bare was 3-18 with 606 saves and an .857 save percentage.
Schriner is the team captain, with Hartwick and Pischel serving as alternates.
Rounding out the team are seniors Charlotte Kline (defenseman) and Matt Sowa (forward), juniors Trevor Law (forward) and Alex Seitz (defenseman), sophomores Riley Bootes (forward), Austin Cable (forward), Jack Coe (forward), Carson Smith (defenseman) and Chance Young (forward) and freshmen Nick Borin (forward), Hayden Carrier (forward), David Gams (forward), Michael Geiger (forward), Alex Piero (defenseman), Colin Stegemiller (forward) and Anthony Walker (forward).
"We also need some consistency on defense," McGill said. "When Jorge is on, he's as good as anyone, but he's still trying to become a better goalie every day. Will and Nick should lead us in scoring, and overall we have a lot of enthusiastic players who are willing to work hard to get better. We have a lot more depth this year, but we're still on a learning curve."
Among the five players Thomas lost to graduation was leading scorer David LaLonde (11 goals, 18 assists).
Athletes announce college decisions
Eleven student-athletes, including Beatty, announced their college decisions Nov. 14.
Charley will play field hockey at Ohio State, Tori Banks will play women's lacrosse at Liberty, Charlie Mamlin will play men's basketball at Haverford, Samantha Mazza will compete in women's crew at Virginia, Gia Napoleon will compete in women's track and field at Ohio State, Kenzie Peeke will play women's soccer at Tiffin, Isabelle Perese will play field hockey for Miami University, Madison Simeone will play women's lacrosse at Walsh, Ben Wight will play men's basketball at Ohio University and Brie Wight will play women's volleyball at Tiffin.
Nov. 27 -- at Watterson
Nov. 30 -- at Licking Heights
Dec. 1 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
*Dec. 7 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
*Dec. 11 -- vs. Kilbourne
*Dec. 14 -- at Dublin Jerome
*Dec. 17 -- vs. Delaware
*Dec. 21 -- at Dublin Scioto
*Jan. 4 -- at Olentangy Berlin
*Jan. 8 -- at Hilliard Darby
*Jan. 11 -- at Kilbourne
Jan. 15 -- at Lancaster
*Jan. 18 -- at Hilliard Bradley
*Jan. 22 -- at Delaware
*Jan. 25 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
Jan. 30 -- vs. New Albany
*Feb. 1 -- vs. Olentangy Berlin
*Feb. 5 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
*Feb. 8 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
Feb. 9 -- at Central Crossing
Feb. 12 -- vs. DeSales
*Nov. 18 -- Olentangy Berlin at Chiller North
Nov. 23 -- Chagrin Falls Kenston in Chiller Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller North
Nov. 24 -- Westerville and Cincinnati St. Xavier in Chiller Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller North
Nov. 25 -- Dayton in Chiller Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller North
*Dec. 1 -- Columbus Academy at Chiller North
*Dec. 8 -- Olentangy Berlin at Chiller North
*Dec. 15 -- Springboro at South Metro Ice
*Dec. 16 -- Dublin Scioto at Chiller North
*Dec. 28 -- Dublin Scioto at Chiller Dublin
*Dec. 29 -- DeSales at Chiller North
*Dec. 30 -- DeSales at Chiller Easton
*Jan. 5 -- Gahanna at Chiller Easton
*Jan. 6 -- Dublin Coffman at Chiller North
Jan. 11 -- Centerville at Chiller North
*Jan. 13 -- Columbus Academy at Chiller Easton
Jan. 18-21 -- Toledo Walleye Winterfest Tournament at TBA
*Jan. 25 -- Olentangy at Chiller North
*Jan. 26 -- Watterson at Chiller Dublin
*Feb. 1 -- Olentangy Berlin at Chiller North
*Feb. 3 -- Gahanna at Chiller North
Feb. 7-10 -- Blue Jackets Cup
Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas boys basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
Dec. 1 -- At Whetstone
Dec. 4 -- Home vs. Westland
*Dec. 3 -- Reynoldsburg at Holiday Lanes
*Dec. 5 -- Pickerington North at Rule 3 Lanes
SWIMMING & DIVING
Nov. 30 -- Worthington/Westerville Invitational at Thomas
Dec. 1 -- Dublin Scioto at Thomas
Dec. 5 -- DeSales at Thomas
Dec. 1 -- Tony Pizzurro Memorial Tournament at DeSales