As a first-year program, the Hilliard Bradley High School boys basketball team is constantly evolving.

As a first-year program, the Hilliard Bradley High School boys basketball team is constantly evolving.

Some players have moved in and out of the starting lineup, while others have shifted positions as the coaching staff works to find the right combinations. Since most of the players hadn't played together prior to this season, the Jaguars know they have to be flexible.

The recent development of sophomore Jacob Starinsky is a prime example of the Jaguars' willingness to adjust. Starinsky spent most of the first half of the season on junior varsity before coach Michael Limbird elevated him to varsity full-time in mid-January.

Starinsky made an immediate impact, as he became a starter in his first game, an 86-48 win over Watkins Memorial in an OCC-Capital Division contest on Jan. 15. Not only that, but he moved into a new position, switching from small forward to center.

Limbird said the move was more calculated than it might have appeared to those outside the program.

"It was a weird thing," Limbird said. "From the outside looking in, it was probably like, 'Hey, this kid has played a little bit of varsity here or there, and now he's starting.' But he played with us all summer, and he's a really athletic kid who is skilled."

With Starinsky in the lineup, the Jaguars believe they can match up better against taller teams. At 6-foot-3, he provides some much-needed size, but he can also do damage as a spot-up shooter in the Jaguars' pick-and-roll offense.

Between Starinsky and Marquis Copeland, who began the season as a small forward before moving to power forward, the Jaguars have two versatile weapons in the post.

In last Friday's 73-53 loss to league-foe New Albany, Starinsky led the team with 12 points and Copeland scored 11.

"He's a pretty good rebounder and he can shoot the ball pretty good for a big guy," guard Derek Tieman said of Starinsky. "He's got good enough perimeter skills, because on j.v. he really didn't play much (center), he was more of a forward. On varsity, he's trying to play (center), so it's kind of good that he has both skill sets."

With Starinsky starting, Jerry Briggs, who is just 6-1 but had been starting at center, has been providing energetic minutes off the bench at power forward. Anthony Hammond (6-4) remains the backup center.

The transition was eased by the fact that Bradley had only two games in the first two weeks after Starinsky moved to varsity. With time between games, the Jaguars were able to incorporate him into the lineup. Bradley also used that time to diversify its offense and defense for the second round of conference play.

"We did play around with a few different offensive sets," Limbird said. "Our base offense is always going to be the pick-and-roll, but the second time around the league, we'd like to show teams a couple different looks on offense. I would say the Orange game was the first time we broke out more of a full-court man (defense). Not necessarily a 'run and jump,' but something close. We didn't use it against Watkins, but then we worked on it again last week."

Bradley has OCC-Capital games Friday at home against Big Walnut and Tuesday at Mount Vernon.

Big Walnut, which beat the Jaguars 63-59 on Dec. 18, poses matchup problems with 6-7 post player Johnny Cannell and 6-4 forward Jeff Bills. Cannell had 27 points in the first meeting, but Limbird hopes the recent lineup changes will help neutralize the Eagles' post presence in the rematch.

Mount Vernon is probably the most balanced team in the league, with no standout individuals but several players averaging around 10 points. Limbird said the key will be how well his team handles the Yellow Jackets' zone defense, which gave the Jaguars fits in Mount Vernon's 59-34 win on Dec. 22.

"I'm really looking forward to playing both those teams," Limbird said. "I know we've gotten better. The kids have really grown over the last (two weeks), and I'm excited to see what we have."