For a team that was averaging more than 60 points per game, last season's ending in the Division I tournament didn't make a whole lot of sense for the Dublin Scioto High School girls basketball team.

For a team that was averaging more than 60 points per game, last season's ending in the Division I tournament didn't make a whole lot of sense for the Dublin Scioto High School girls basketball team.

The Irish shot just 27 percent from the field and failed to score in the final four minutes of a 40-37 loss to Reynoldsburg in a district semifinal.

During the offseason, coach Todd Hardesty realized it might be something he'll have to cope with more often this year following the departures of Kesi Hess and Brandi Gorniak, co-Players of the Year in the OCC-Cardinal Division.

Gorniak average 16.7 points, 3.9 assists and 3.6 steals. Hess, who's at Tennessee State, added 15.8 points, 3.8 assists and 3.0 steals.

The duo led the Irish to a finish of 22-2 overall last season and an undefeated run (14-0) in the OCC-Cardinal, ahead of Westerville South (11-3), Dublin Jerome (9-5), Olentangy Liberty (8-6), Westerville North (5-9), Olentangy (5-9), Marysville (3-11) and Westerville Central (1-13).

"We've obviously been a high-scoring team the last couple of years and that ability to score is something we may or may not be able to do," said Hardesty, whose team plays host to Watterson on Saturday in the opener. "We really worked to sell our kids on defense and stay consistent at that end of the floor."

In five seasons, Scioto has compiled a record of 105-15, won four league championships and a district title.

The Irish reached the Division I regional final in 2007 when it finished the regular season at 20-0.

"We may not be the most talented team, but we want to keep that tradition going," senior guard Katie Papesh (5-foot-8) said. "We lost two really good guards from last year. We can't replace them, but we're working hard to keep the program where it's at."

Papesh is among a class of five seniors with returning starters Jamie O'Connell (5-8, forward) and Lindsey Kell (6-0, forward) as well as Shelley Diewald (5-6, point guard) and Devon Chappell (6-1, post player).

The five are 60-6 as a group and guided a junior varsity squad to a 19-0 finish.

Papesh averaged 10 points per game and Kell averaged 8.7 points. Both were honorable mention all-district and honorable mention all-league a year ago.

Rounding out the roster is junior guard Kelly Flood (5-6) and sophomores Emily Jones (5-10 post player), who was the leading JV scorer last season, and Savannah Saul (5-6 point guard).

For Hardesty, the starting lineup is far from set.

"We work pretty well together and we get the ball to each other," Papesh said. "I think most people will think we're going to be weak offensively this year, but it's always been our strong point. We have to have confidence in one another."

The Irish certainly enter the season as contenders in the OCC-Cardinal, but Hardesty is expecting the schedule to present a number of challenges.

Westerville South returns a number of starters and Marysville, following last season's struggles, could be ready for a breakout year.


Schedule

Nov. 28 vs. Watterson

*Dec. 5 at Marysville

*Dec. 8 at Olentangy

*Dec. 11 vs. Westerville South

*Dec. 18 at Westerville North

Dec. 19 vs. Delaware

*Dec. 22 at Westerville Central

Dec. 30 vs. Hilliard Darby

Jan. 2 at New Albany

*Jan. 5 vs. Olentangy Liberty

*Jan. 8 at Dublin Jerome

*Jan. 15 vs. Marysville

Jan. 16 at All-Prep Shootout

*Jan. 22 vs. Olentangy

*Jan. 26 at Westerville South

*Jan. 29 vs. Westerville North

*Feb. 2 vs. Westerville Central

*Feb. 5 at Olentangy Liberty

Feb. 9 at Upper Arlington

*Feb. 12 vs. Dublin Jerome

*OCC-Cardinal game

At a glance

•Coach: Todd Hardesty, 13th season

•Opener: Saturday vs. Watterson

•Key players: Lindsey Kell, Jamie O'Connell and Katie Papesh