As Kevin Martin begins his third season as coach of the Johnstown-Monroe High School boys basketball team, he wants to make sure the Johnnies won't repeat the past.

As Kevin Martin begins his third season as coach of the Johnstown-Monroe High School boys basketball team, he wants to make sure the Johnnies won't repeat the past.

The Johnnies finished 15-7 overall last season, but were soundly beaten by Worthington Christian 52-32 in a Division III district semifinal. Martin wants to make sure his team won't be taken out behind the barn the next time it reaches FairgroundsColiseum.

"I made sure our schedule was tough," said Martin, whose team opens Friday at home against Westerville North. "Once we were beaten by Worthington Christian the way we were, I made the decision to upgrade our schedule. When we get down the road in the tournament, we want to make sure the competition won't be night and day from what we have seen."

The Johnnies open with North, which has been a Division I district finalist for the past two seasons. Then they will play at Heath, which reached a Division III district semifinal last year. Other non-league games include Division I Watkins Memorial and Division II teams in Whitehall and Lakewood as well as Worthington Christian.

Johnstown will be facing the improved schedule with a young lineup that offers a lot of depth. The only returning starter for the Johnnies is 6-foot-1 junior shooting guard Matt Smith, who averaged 5.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. Other returning letterwinners include 6-4 senior post player Taylor Atwood (2.7 points, 2.6 rebounds per game), 6-0 forward Patrick Benton and 6-0 senior guard Chad Fuller (2.9 points).

"We have four letterwinners back, one being starter Matt Smith," Martin said. "The other three guys played, but not as much. We're more inexperienced than anything else. We'll have a lot of guys who will be seeing their first big varsity minutes."

Atwood probably played the most minutes other than Smith, but the post player fractured his fibula in September during football season and has been working his way back onto the court.

"Right now, Taylor's rehabbing. He started the first week (of practice) with us and then we shut him down so he could work on rehabbing instead of going back and forth on the hard floor," Martin said. "He's still making the transition from football to basketball and we don't want to have an undo stress on his leg and ankle than we have to. We shut him down for a couple of weeks and he should be back early (this) week."

Smith will play at shooting guard and the point guard will be either senior Bobby Morrison (5-8) or junior Patrick Wilson (5-9). Fuller will play small forward.

"Chad played good minutes for us last year and hopefully he can get going earlier than he did last season," Martin said. "He can shoot the ball and scored some big points for us later in the season. He also really played well defensively."

The power forward spot will be manned by Benton or senior Harley O'Flaherty (6-3) with Atwood at center. He will be backed up in the middle by sophomores Corbin Grassman (6-3) and Tim Sayer (6-4).

Also expected to see time are junior guard Nick Cote (6-1) and sophomore forward Sam Scovell (6-1).

Johnstown finished tied with Fredericktown for second in the MBC at 10-4 behind champion Centerburg at 12-2. Utica was fourth at 9-5 followed by Loudonville at 7-7, East Knox at 4-10, Northridge at 3-11 and Danville at 1-13.

"We lost most of our scoring from last year, but we can play more full-court than we have in the past couple of years," Martin said. "I didn't think we had the depth to do that before, but now I think we have the subs to be able to get the guys more blows during the game."

Martin said he prefers to run an up-tempo game when possible.

"This is kind of the way I have wanted to play since I got the job," Martin said. "We have the depth and some kids who can fly around the court defensively.

"I really like our depth. We can play a lot of guys, we have a lot of quickness and we can do a lot on defense. We have had a better mix of offense and defense in practice and, hopefully, things can go as planned."