A new coach has brought a new attitude to the Columbus School for Girls basketball team, and it has the Unicorns thinking big.

A new coach has brought a new attitude to the Columbus School for Girls basketball team, and it has the Unicorns thinking big.

Stephanie Jones replaces Shannon Wallace, who coached CSG for the previous three years. Jones, a former assistant with Hilliard Davidson, is implementing a more aggressive style of play on both ends of the court to take advantage of the athleticism and strong group of returning players.

Last year CSG finished 6-12 overall after a 59-35 loss to Ready in the first round of the Division III district tournament. The Unicorns were fifth (2-8) in the CCL, behind Watterson (10-0), DeSales (8-2), Ready (6-4) and Hartley (4-6), and ahead of Worthington Christian (0-10).

"It's a new program so there is some transition there in learning my terminology and offensive and defensive philosophies," Jones said. "But the girls are improving every day."

CSG is led by the senior guard tandem of Imani Caldwell and Enri Small. Both players are capable of pushing the tempo on a fast break or in transition and shoot well from the perimeter.

"I call them my coaches on the floor," Jones said. "They help lead their teammates on both ends of the floor. Every good program needs players like that."

Other key players include senior Ellen Haenszel (post player), junior Rosie Connor (guard), junior JaMilla Holland (guard) and sophomore Jordan Nielsen (post player). Haenszel joins Caldwell and Small in the starting rotation, but Jones said the other positions are still to be determined.

"A lot of us have been playing together for a while now, so we know each other's strengths and weaknesses," Small said.

Jones' high-tempo offense is expected to take advantage of fast breaks, transition opportunities and defensive mismatches. Both Caldwell and Small are experienced and athletic enough to make the new system work, but the guards behind them, Connor and Holland, are better at setting up their shots than running through traffic.

To make it work, Jones has the Unicorns playing tighter and tougher defense to force turnovers and bad shots so the offense can start is run. Defense is still a work in progress, but Jones expects to improve throughout the season.

"Their goal is a district title and it's my goal to get them there," Jones said. "We have some strong players, so I don't think a district title is out of reach."

The hopes are high, but CSG must overcome a lack of depth and a tough schedule. There are only 12 players in the program right now. Plus, of the 20 regular-season games, 17 are after the winter break, which means the Unicorns will often play three times a week during.

"I am a little concerned about that stretch of our schedule," Jones said. "Hopefully we don't have any injuries."

A high finish in the league and a district title are big goals for a team coming off a losing season. However, Jones has the Unicorns thinking positive and thinking big, and they're ready for the challenges ahead of them.

"I think the new coach is a move in the right direction," Small said. "Right now it's a slow process because it's something new, but coach Jones brings intensity and fire.

"We're thinking about possibly going further than we have before in our history. We definitely want a banner in our gym."

Schedule

Nov. 27 - vs. Wellington

Dec. 7 - at Grandview

*Dec. 9 - at DeSales

Jan. 4 - vs. North Union

*Jan. 5 - at Watterson

*Jan. 8 - vs. Ready

Jan. 10 - vs. Fairfield Union

Jan. 11 - vs. Shekinah Christian

*Jan. 15 - vs. Hartley

*Jan. 19 - vs. DeSales

Jan. 21 - at Wellington Tournament

Jan. 21 - at Wellington Tournament

Jan. 25 - vs. Berne Union

Jan. 27 - at Tree of Life

*Jan. 29 - vs. Watterson

Feb. 1 - at Worthington Christian

Feb. 3 - at Amanda-Clearcreek

*Feb. 5 - at Ready

Feb. 8 - vs. Columbus Academy

*Feb. 9 - at Hartley

*CCL game