After a breakthrough season last year, the Olentangy High School girls basketball team appears to be starting over.

After a breakthrough season last year, the Olentangy High School girls basketball team appears to be starting over.

The Braves, who finished 13-9 overall last year after losing to Brookhaven 36-32 in the second round of the Division I district tournament, will face New Albany in their opener Saturday at the Orange Tipoff Classic and will visit Big Walnut on Tuesday.

The 13 wins last year were five fewer than the Braves had in Feasel's first four seasons combined. But Olentangy lost eight graduates, including honorable-mention all-district picks Daniela Echeverria, Christina Tirpak and Nikki Grandominico. Echeverria led the team in points (10.2 points) and rebounds (6.3). Tirpak, who had 49 steals last season, is the program's career leader in free-throw percentage (71). Grandominico is second in career 3-pointers with 56.

The Braves also lost junior T.J. Williams to Orange.

"I hate to say we're back to square one, but we're going to be learning as we go along," Feasel said.

"We're kind of short-handed this season with only one senior and three upperclassmen," said junior Christine Delaney, who averaged 7.6 points and 2.3 assists last year. "It's been kind of strange. We had eight seniors last year and now we're the polar opposite of what we were a year ago."

The Braves return senior Morgan Dieck (5-foot-7 guard), junior Delaney (6-0 forward) and sophomore Emily Raiff (6-0 point guard).

Junior Jordan Sanders (5-7 forward), sophomores Olivia Zwayer (5-9 post player), Jamie Richardson (5-5 guard) and Embrye Cheek (5-7 forward) and freshman Nicole Payne (5-7 guard) also are expected to play key roles.

"We're smallish as teams go, but this might be one of the better shooting teams I've had," Feasel said. "We have parts and pieces, but we have an awfully long way to go. A lot of the girls were playing on the junior varsity and freshman levels last year, where you get wide-open looks. Once we get acclimated to the varsity speed, we're going to be a good shooting team."

Last year, Olentangy finished second in the OCC-Cardinal Division at 7-3 behind Pickerington Central (10-0) and ahead of Westerville South (6-4), Mount Vernon (4-6), Worthington Kilbourne (2-8) and Dublin Jerome (0-10). The Braves still are in the OCC-Cardinal, but their league opponents now are Jerome, Dublin Scioto, Marysville, Liberty, Westerville Central, Westerville North and Westerville South.

Last year, Olentangy beat Jerome 50-43 and 49-25 and South 36-28 and lost to Liberty 40-38, South 47-44 and Marysville 35-33.

"It's a tough league," Feasel said. "Scioto has everyone back and should be the favorites to win the league. In the OCC, there are no nights where you can just show up and win. If you don't come ready to play, you're going to learn that lesson the hard way."

At a glance

•Coach: John Feasel, sixth season

•Opener: Saturday vs. New Albany at Orange Tipoff Classic

•Key players: Christine Delaney, Morgan Dieck and Emily Raiff