The Newark Catholic High School boys basketball team doesn't play its opener until Saturday, Dec. 17, at home against Heath because of the football team's run to a Division VI state semifinal.

The Newark Catholic High School boys basketball team doesn't play its opener until Saturday, Dec. 17, at home against Heath because of the football team's run to a Division VI state semifinal.

Although the Green Wave lost five players to graduation, including one of the program's all-time leading scorers in Max Hogue, several role players are ready to step up, according to coach Eric Sheck.

Newark Catholic, which has gone 95-33 under Sheck with one district title in seven seasons, went 16-9 overall last winter but settled for its fourth consecutive Division IV district runner-up finish.

"With Newark Catholic's football success this fall, we'll be off to a late start, but it's the same old, same old with us," Sheck said. "We will have to rely on our defensive toughness and our ability to simply outwork people on a nightly basis, even if the other team is simply bigger than we are. The strength of our team is that we simply hustle our butts off."

The Green Wave finished third (7-6) in the LCL-Cardinal Division last season behind Johnstown (13-0) and Heath (9-4).

The only returning starter is senior Kyle Simi, a 6-foot-4 forward who averaged 4.0 points and 3.9 rebounds a year ago and will be limited early this season because of a knee injury.

The other seniors are Mason Peddicord (6-3, forward), Jake Priest (6-0, guard), Jody Mummey (5-10, guard) and Tanner Lake (6-0, guard). Peddicord and Priest both averaged 3.0 points last season.

Juniors Tate Roesink (5-9, guard), Peyton Walker (6-0, guard), Hunter Chapman (6-5, forward) and Sam Wendt (6-3, forward) are others who should contribute.

Hogue averaged 17 points last season and was second-team all-state. His 1,159 career points ranks third in program history.

"We need those five seniors to use that experience from last year to lead our younger guys as they make the transition to the varsity level this year," Sheck said.

Sheck expects Johnstown and Heath to again have strong teams.

The Bulldogs return seven of their top eight players from a year ago, including senior guards Denton Jacob (6-2) and Aaron Latiolais (5-11).

Heath, which went 16-7 overall a year ago, opened with a 48-37 win over Columbus East on Dec. 2 and beat Mount Gilead 92-46 on Dec. 6 before opening league play Dec. 10 against Granville.

"When you have an upperclassman-dominated team, I think that expectations are always going to be high," coach Devin Fulk said. "We're really just focusing on improving from last year. If we're going to compete for a league title, we're going to have to beat some really good teams, especially Johnstown."

Jacob averaged 18 points and 4.0 rebounds while making first-team all-league last season. Latiolais averaged 12 points and 4.5 assists and was second-team all-league.

Also back are seniors Gunner Babcock (6-3, forward), Colton Huber (6-3, forward), Mason Johnson (6-0, guard), Adryn McCoy (5-10, guard) and Luke Sawyers (6-4, forward).

Newark boys team again thinking big

With seven seniors, including Kent State recruit B.J. Duling leading the way, the Newark boys basketball team has its sights on a strong season.

The Wildcats went 18-7 overall a year ago and were off to a 2-0 start before opening OCC-Capital play Dec. 9 against New Albany.

Newark went 10-4 to place third in the OCC-Ohio last season but has moved along with Groveport to the OCC-Capital, where New Albany won a share of the title last year at 12-2.

Duling (6-8, forward) averaged 19.3 points and 8.8 rebounds and shot 50 percent from the floor last season after playing his first two seasons at New Albany.

The other seniors are Justin Carter (6-2, guard), Hunter Dennison (5-10, guard), Kaleb Jarrett (6-2, guard/forward), Jakim Murphy (6-3, guard/forward), Kobe Long-Weber (5-10, guard) and Jed Quackenbush (6-2, guard).

Junior J.T. Shumate (6-6, forward) and sophomore KeShawn Heard (6-7, forward) are other key players.

"We definitely have some kids that have been through the process before," coach Jeff Quackenbush said.

Granville boys have new look

Coming off a sixth consecutive winning season, the Granville boys basketball team has no returning starters and just one senior who was on varsity last winter in 6-3 forward Will Sharp.

Players like sophomore Cam Crouch (6-0, forward) and juniors Jack Lonzo (5-11, guard) and Elijah Smith (6-2, forward) are stepping into key roles for the first time.

"Last year we were kind of in the same situation where we only had one returning starter and it took us some time to find out what life is all about," coach Adam Teeters said.

The other seniors are Teddy Parsley (6-2, forward) and Justin Thompson (6-1, forward).

Nick Windley (5-11) is at point guard and joins Lonzo, Smith, Justin Carson (6-1, forward), Courey Rogers (6-0, guard) and Matt Rosinski (5-10, guard) in the junior class.

Sophomore Ben Blanchard (6-4, forward) rounds out the roster.

The Blue Aces opened by beating Franklin Heights 40-39 on Dec. 2 and lost to Beechcroft 72-35 on Dec. 6 before opening LCL play Dec. 10 against Heath.

The Aces won the LCL-Buckeye last season at 10-3.

Heath girls team expects to progress

The Heath girls basketball team believes it is much improved after going 2-20 a year ago.

Before playing Newark Catholic on Dec. 9, the Bulldogs were 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the LCL-Cardinal. They beat Horizon Science 69-33 on Nov. 25.

Junior Daisha Shackleford, a 5-4 guard, scored 24 points in a 64-53 loss to Wellington on Dec. 3.

Seniors Alanna Boyette (5-7, forward) and Shelby Robbins (5-7, forward) and junior Emily Brown (5-4, guard) are other key returnees.

Juniors Emily Brown (5-4, guard) and Madelyn Dawson (5-5, guard) and sophomores Rylee Parkinson (5-9, forward) and Lauren Balo (5-9, center) are taking on bigger roles.

"We expect to get a lot of growth out of our younger players this season," coach Brett Green said. "Hopefully good experience this season will allow them to make a quality impact in seasons to come."