Including the pair of key guards back from last year's Division I district championship team, speed might be the biggest asset for the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls basketball team entering the 2010-11 season.

Including the pair of key guards back from last year's Division I district championship team, speed might be the biggest asset for the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls basketball team entering the 2010-11 season.

Whether that is enough to compensate for what will be among coach Rick Hauser's youngest teams is something that will get sorted out over the coming weeks.

Seven players who saw at least 1 minute of action during Gahanna's 44-31 loss to Reynoldsburg in a Division I regional semifinal last March are among those expected to be regulars this season.

Despite that fact, five of the Lions' top players are sophomores, with senior Tiyona Marshall representing the only player on the roster with multiple years of varsity experience.

The Lions open Friday at Westerville South, which they beat 59-36 to begin last season on the way to a 17-7 finish.

"This team is going to have to grow up, unfortunately," Hauser said. "We're going to have to figure out what we can and can't do. We're limited because we're young, so we're going to have to take our time a lot more than in the last couple years."

Marshall gives Gahanna a good place to start. A 5-foot-6 guard who signed a letter of intent this month to play softball for Miami University, Marshall averaged 10.9 points and made honorable mention all-district last season. She scored a season-high 26 points during a 53-51 victory over Northland in a district semifinal.

Sophomore Zenobia Bess, a 6-0 post player, started all of last season in the post and averaged 5.1 points. Sophomore guard Reyna Montgomery averaged 3.7 points off the bench and should be another quick ball-handler.

Sophomore Quiera Lampkins was part of the regular rotation by the postseason because of her defense and athletic ability and also should be a key ball-handler. Sophomore Chrishna Butler saw limited action last year but is expected to have a bigger role in the backcourt.

The only other senior is Tiana Thompson, a 6-1 post player who scored seven points last season but should join Bess inside.

Also back after seeing limited action are junior Mi'Eshia Parker and sophomore T'Awnna Morris. New to the roster are juniors Morgan Sheets and Te-Asia Smith and sophomore Nikki Campbell.

Marshall considered not coming back for her senior season after receiving her softball scholarship, but did so because "I still enjoy the game of basketball."

"I feel like we're working well as a team, although it's not something that's going to come so easily," Marshall said. "It's not just with Reyna and I, but I think we have a fast-paced team when you also add in Chrishna Butler and (Quiera) Lampkins. Our halfcourt game is what we're working on."

Haley Schmitt, who made the ThisWeek Super 12 last year and is playing for Cleveland State, was the biggest loss during the offseason. She averaged 14.2 points and eight rebounds last year and finished with 961 career points. She led a five-member senior class that also included starters Jill O'Donnell (4.0 ppg) and Casey Salopek (5.5 ppg).

Junior Ashley Gogolin, who scored 39 points and had been with the program the last two seasons, is not back with the team this season.

Last season, the Lions finished fourth at 9-5 in the OCC-Ohio Division behind Pickerington North (14-0) and Reynoldsburg and Pickerington Central (10-4). Newark (6-8), Lancaster (4-10), Groveport (2-12) and Grove City (1-13) rounded out the standings.

Gahanna beat Independence (89-29), Worthington Kilbourne (59-20), Northland and Dresden Tri-Valley (45-39) to win a district title.

The Lions, who lost to Marion Harding 57-42 in the championship of the Gahanna Cage Classic, will try to win its home tournament title Dec. 29-30 against a field that includes Hilliard Davidson, Mifflin and New Albany.

"We're going to need to rebound and we're going to need our bigs to improve around the basket," Hauser said.

"With Reyna, (Marshall), Chrishna and (Lampkins), those four can get to the basket and have improved their outside shooting."