The Newark Catholic High School boys basketball team has been given a little more freedom this season.

The Newark Catholic High School boys basketball team has been given a little more freedom this season.

With half of the 12 roster spots filled by seniors, an improved transition game is fueling another fast start. The Green Wave was 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the MSL-Ohio Division entering last Friday's game at Licking Valley.

"I am letting the guys get out and run a little more," said coach Drew Meister, whose team won its first 10 games last year and eventually advanced to a Division IV regional final. "I'm kind of a control freak, and in the past I've wanted things to slow down at times so we could dictate more from the sideline. But with this group and the experience they've got, we're more confident in the decisions they make so we're letting them operate a little more on their own."

Hence, Tuesday's MSL-Ohio game at defending-champion Lakewood might resemble a track meet at times.

The up-tempo Lancers, who played Granville last Friday, averaged 69.7 points while starting 2-1 and 1-0. Senior guard Bryan Large was averaging 27 points and junior guard Ross Watts was averaging 19.7. Newark Catholic averaged 71.5 points over its first three games.

"It's definitely going to be a challenge to guard them," Meister said. "With a kid like Large, he just drives it down your throat, and they're very good at getting to the free-throw line."

Offensively, Matt Dawson averaged 21.7 points and point guard James Moerman averaged 10 for the Green Wave. Kevin Cox was averaging 9.3 points and 8.5 rebounds. But senior forward Nate Adams has been a key in the transition game, Meister said.

"We're kind of forcing teams to play with us," Adams said. "We're trying to get out and run as much as possible."

The Lancers and Green Wave split their season series a year ago. Lakewood won the second game 60-52 on its home court. Newark Catholic also lost 59-56 in overtime at Lakewood two years ago and 71-68 in double overtime there in 2006-07.

Of course, Newark Catholic has slayed many other dragons in four seasons under Meister, and that includes the first win over Zanesville Rosecrans in school history in 2007-08, even though the two used to play together in the CCL. A 70-52 league victory over Columbus Academy on Dec. 12 was its second over the Vikings in the past seven meetings.

"That's a place we've had trouble playing," Meister said of Lakewood, which lost last year's first-round game 62-42. "Their students stand the whole game waving their towels. We struggled there last year, so we have our work cut out for us."