First-year Whetstone High School girls basketball coach Rickie McClanahan is hoping his team's IQ on the court matches its GPA to help offset what he thinks might be a lack of athleticism and quickness.

First-year Whetstone High School girls basketball coach Rickie McClanahan is hoping his team's IQ on the court matches its GPA to help offset what he thinks might be a lack of athleticism and quickness.

"While we're not an overly athletic team, we make up for our lack of athleticism at certain positions with intelligence," said McClanahan, whose team opened Nov. 29 at Westland. "Our overall team GPA is over 3.0, so I'm hoping their intelligence can translate to the court in the form of precision execution on offense and smart team defense."

The Braves have returned just one starter, 5-foot-10 junior Whitney Staggs, from last season when they finished 12-11 overall, went 9-5 in the City League-North Division and lost to DeSales 58-29 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.

Staggs can play in the post or on the wing. Last season, she averaged 13 points and 12.8 rebounds and was named first-team all-league, as Whetstone placed third in the City-North behind co-champions Centennial and Northland (both 13-1) and ahead of Linden-McKinley (8-6), Mifflin (7-7), Beechcroft (4-10), East (2-12) and International (0-14).

The Braves open league play Tuesday, Dec. 6, at Mifflin.

Other returning letterwinners are senior Gwyn Armstrong (6-0, post player) and junior Ella Davies (5-4, guard).

McClanahan replaced Paren Fisher, who guided the Braves for two seasons and had a 23-23 record.

This is McClanahan's first time coaching on the varsity level after spending 13 years in the school district coaching boys at the middle school level.

"It's not only a bit of an adjustment in grade level, but also between coaching boys and girls," he said. "It has gone pretty smooth, though. The main thing I want the girls to know is that if they learn and understand what we're doing offensively and defensively and put forth the effort, they'll get playing time. I'm not asking them to do or be anything extraordinary. Understanding and effort are the keys."

Juniors Hannah Reed (5-4, point guard) and Hannah Rizzi (5-7, small forward) and freshman Hannah Scott (5-6, forward) are expected to join Armstrong and Staggs in the starting lineup.

"We need to play good, smart team defense, contest every shot and cut off penetration," McClanahan said. "Of course, we then have to box out and rebound. We'll probably play a lot of zone defense with man-to-man principles because we are so inexperienced."

McClanahan plans to use the full 10-player roster as the Braves continue to learn and progress.

Also on the roster are senior Eden Hagen (5-5, forward), juniors Ava Kowalski (5-6, forward) and Haylee Thomas-Speigle (5-7, guard) and sophomore Mariyanna Lacy (5-4, guard).

Whetstone lost five players from last season to graduation, including starters Cecilia Bulgrin, Lily Morris, Emily Morrison and Sophia Rizzi. Morris averaged 14.2 points, 5.4 assists and 3.2 steals and was honorable mention all-district. Bulgrin averaged 9.1 points, 10.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists, and Morrison averaged 5.7 steals.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Nov. 29 -- at Westland

Dec. 2 -- vs. Walnut Ridge

*Dec. 6 -- at Mifflin

*Dec. 9 -- at Beechcroft

*Dec. 13 -- at International

*Dec. 16 -- vs. Northland

Dec. 19 -- at Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph

*Dec. 20 -- vs. East

Dec. 27 -- at Centerburg

*Jan. 6 -- at Centennial

Jan. 7 -- at Wellington

*Jan. 10 -- at Linden-McKinley

*Jan. 13 -- vs. Mifflin

*Jan. 17 -- vs. Beechcroft

Jan. 18 -- at South

*Jan. 20 -- vs. International

*Jan. 24 -- at Northland

*Jan. 27 -- at East

Jan. 28 -- at Independence

*Jan. 31 -- vs. Centennial

*Feb. 3 -- vs. Linden-McKinley

Feb. 4 -- at Lexington

*League contest

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

BOYS BASKETBALL

Dec. 3 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington

BOWLING

*Dec. 7 -- Columbus Academy and Worthington Christian at HP Lanes

SWIMMING & DIVING

Dec. 3 -- Centennial at Columbus Aquatics Center

Dec. 5 -- Delaware and Eastmoor Academy at Columbus Aquatics Center

WRESTLING

Dec. 3 -- Granville Invitational

*League contest