With college-caliber veterans leading the way for most of the past seven seasons, the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys basketball team put together a run that few in central Ohio were able to match.

With college-caliber veterans leading the way for most of the past seven seasons, the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys basketball team put together a run that few in central Ohio were able to match.

The Lions made their first Division I state tournament appearance in 2010 and won three other district championships since that time, including last season when they set a program record for victories while going 25-3 overall.

Gahanna, which also had district runner-up finishes in 2014 and 2015, has won a share of three consecutive OCC-Ohio Division championships as well.

The Lions have perhaps central Ohio's best sophomore in Jordan Mitchell, but they don't have nearly the experience that their recent teams have enjoyed.

"I've been a head coach for 18 years, and this is the youngest team I've ever had," said Tony Staib, who is in his 15th season as Gahanna's coach. "We've only got one senior and the rest are underclassmen. It's a very young squad. It's very refreshing because it's new faces at the varsity level. It's been a very senior-dominant team the last few years."

The Lions opened Dec. 3 by beating Chicago Von Steuben 78-37 in the All-Ohio Hoop Showcase and lost to defending Division I state champion Westerville South 58-53 on Dec. 5 in home games.

South ended Gahanna's season last winter, winning a Division I regional final 68-59.

The Lions begin league play Friday, Dec. 9, at Reynoldsburg.

The 6-foot-7 Mitchell, who is the only returning regular, already has shown tremendous upside for his age.

Already with offers from several Division I colleges, including Ohio State, Florida and Iowa, Mitchell averaged 8.8 points and was honorable mention all-league and honorable mention all-district a year ago.

The only other player back who saw action in the regional final is 6-5 senior forward Basit Seidu. He missed most of the offseason recovering from a shoulder injury.

Cameron Carlisle (6-1, wing player), Seth Goodson (5-11, wing player), David Miller (6-1, wing player), Randy Olverson III (5-10, point guard), Chase Rankin (6-0, point guard), Michael Reeves (6-6, post player) and Nate Ward (6-5, post player) comprise the junior class. Those players will be taking on key roles for the first time, although Goodson dressed varsity late last season.

Ward is the younger brother of Nick Ward, a 2016 graduate who now is playing for Michigan State after closing his prep career second on Gahanna's all-time scoring list with 1,405 points, behind 2011 graduate Stevie Taylor (1,464).

Sophomores Josh Corbin (6-2, wing player), Mike Lowery (6-2, wing player), Ezra Manjon (5-10, guard) and Elijah Thomas (6-0, guard) round out the roster.

Thomas scored 15 points and Corbin had 13 against Von Steuben.

"Not only do we have a change in faces but we'll also have a change in our style," Staib said. "The last few years we've thrown it into Nick Ward inside. This year we're getting it up and down the floor more. Our strength is our depth in numbers. If you're going to play up and down, you've got to have a lot of guys. The rotation could change game to game."

In addition to Nick Ward, who averaged 19.3 points last season and was first-team all-district and the OCC-Ohio Player of the Year, the Lions also lost guards Junior Arrey (10.6 points, second-team all-league) and Warren Yates (8.4 points, second-team all-league) to graduation.

Gahanna shared the OCC-Ohio title at 12-2 last season with Pickerington Central, which is projected to be among central Ohio's top teams again this winter.

Newark, which placed third in the league at 10-4, and Groveport, which lost to the Lions 56-46 in a district final, have moved to the OCC- Capital.

One thing hasn't changed. The Lions hope to continue their past success despite a mostly a new cast.

"Things have been getting better and better every time we play on the court with each other and for the guys who are about to start their first year of varsity basketball," Mitchell said. "The hopes of the season are to make it further than we did last year, and also to add another OCC championship under our belts."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

BOYS BASKETBALL

Dec. 3 -- Chicago Von Steuben in All-Ohio Hoop Showcase at home

Dec. 5 -- vs. Westerville South

*Dec. 9 -- at Reynoldsburg

Dec. 10 -- vs. Whitehall

*Dec. 16 -- vs. Pickerington North

Dec. 17 -- Cleveland Heights in LeBron James Classic at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary

Dec. 22 -- at Thomas Worthington

Dec. 28 -- at Zanesville

Dec. 30 -- vs. New Albany

Jan. 3 -- at Olentangy Liberty

*Jan. 6 -- at Grove City

*Jan. 13 -- at Lancaster

Jan. 15 -- Dayton Thurgood Marshall in Flyin' to the Hoop at Kettering Fairmont

*Jan. 20 -- vs. Pickerington Central

Jan. 24 -- at Westerville Central

*Jan. 27 -- vs. Reynoldsburg

Jan. 28 -- Westerville North in Play-by-Play Classic at Ohio Dominican

*Feb. 3 -- at Pickerington North

Feb. 4 -- vs. Dayton Northridge

*Feb. 7 -- vs. Grove City

*Feb. 10 -- vs. Lancaster

*Feb. 17 -- at Pickerington Central

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln girls basketball, bowling, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Dec. 9 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg

Dec. 14 -- At Teays Valley

BOWLING

Dec. 10 -- Holiday Baker Marathon at Columbus Square Bowling Palace

*Dec. 13 -- Olentangy Liberty at Sawmill Lanes

*Dec. 14 -- Westerville Central at Columbus Square Bowling Palace

HOCKEY

*Dec. 10 -- Thomas Worthington at Chiller Easton

*Dec. 11 -- Cincinnati Moeller at Chiller Easton

SWIMMING & DIVING

Dec. 9 -- Lancaster at Gahanna YMCA

Dec. 10 -- Hilliard Darby at Hilliard YMCA

WRESTLING

Dec. 10 -- At Big Walnut

*League contest