Coach Erin Woody is battling some of the same problems he had in his first season with the Watkins Memorial High School boys basketball team.

Coach Erin Woody is battling some of the same problems he had in his first season with the Watkins Memorial High School boys basketball team.

The Warriors, who finished 1-20 overall following a 106-27 setback against eventual Division I state-semifinalist Gahanna in a first-round tournament game, don't have a lot of experience.

Two starters and several others opted not to return. Moreover, two key players are hampered by injuries. That means as many as five freshmen might be swinging between the varsity and junior varsity teams.

"We do feel a little like we're back at square one," Woody said. "It's unfortunate, no question. But we're staying positive. Our situation just means some kids are going to get a chance they might not have had otherwise."

The seniors are guard Brady Small and Tyler Lepper, a 6-foot-4 forward/center who is not expected to be in the lineup when the Warriors open Friday at Licking Valley because of a shoulder injury. Woody said Small is one of his best perimeter defenders in man-to-man defense.

The Warriors do have a little more size than last season, however. Junior Brady Coward is a 6-6 post player, and 6-4 sophomore forward/center Kevin Crawford provides another strong defensive presence. Hunter Holton, a 6-2 freshman, is versatile enough to play wing, forward or center, Woody said.

With a bevy of ball handlers of near-equal ability, the Warriors might play the point-guard position by committee.

The candidates include juniors Taylor Fuss and Jake Hopson, sophomores Zac May and Thomas Osickey and freshmen Zach Lescaleet and Ron Kimball.

Hopson also has been slowed by a shoulder injury and just recently was cleared to play, and junior Chase Dupps is expected to miss time early on because of a severe ankle sprain.

"With no proven scorer, we're really stressing our need to play quality defense," Woody said. "We have to box out, rebound and not give up second opportunities. Last year, second-chance points really killed us."

The Warriors, who have won only three games over the past three seasons, went 1-13 in the OCC-Capital Division a year ago to share seventh place with Franklin Heights. Mount Vernon and Olentangy Orange split the title at 12-2 each and were followed by New Albany (11-3), Delaware (8-6), Big Walnut (7-7) and Hilliard Bradley (4-10).

"Right now, we're just looking to show improvement from one day to the next," Woody said. "If we can do that everything else falls into place."