The Olentangy Liberty High School girls basketball team's opener against Delaware in the Delaware County Classic at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Ohio Wesleyan University could provide third-year coach Jennifer Clark some insight as to how the Patriots will fare this season.

The Olentangy Liberty High School girls basketball team's opener against Delaware in the Delaware County Classic at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Ohio Wesleyan University could provide third-year coach Jennifer Clark some insight as to how the Patriots will fare this season.

Lacking much experience and size, the Patriots should be tested by the Pacers, who finished 22-1 last season.

Even though Delaware lost 6-foot-1 post players Makeda Matthews and Anasa Matthews -- who combined to average nearly 29 points and 20 rebounds last season -- to graduation, the Patriots view the game as a measuring stick.

"It's a good game for us to start the season out with," 5-10 junior forward Allyson VanGundy said. "It's important to kick off the season strong and show people we're a growing program."

VanGundy, who averaged 11.2 points and was honorable mention all-district and second-team all-OCC-Cardinal Division, is one of three returning letterwinners. The others are seniors Michelle Voss (5-9 forward) and Brittany Wex (6-2 post player).

"Brittany is going to be a pretty strong player and Voss does a lot of things for us," Clark said. "The key to our offense is going to be getting some scoring out of Allyson."

Juniors Brooke Lenkey (5-5 guard) and Natalie Lyndes (5-6 guard), sophomore Erin Pfeifer (5-11 post) and freshman Maddie Redwine (5-8 point guard) also are expected to contribute.

Liberty finished 10-11 overall and fourth at 8-6 in the OCC-Cardinal behind Dublin Scioto (14-0), Westerville South (11-3) and Dublin Jerome (9-5) and ahead of Olentangy (5-9), Westerville North (5-9), Marysville (3-11) and Westerville Central (1-13).

The Patriots lost to 10th-seeded Northland 66-54 in the second round of the Division I district tournament after having a first-round bye.

Liberty, which never won more than two games in a row, lost six players to graduation, including post/forward Cassie Swafford and guard Nikki Kontely. Swafford averaged 14.3 points and 10.8 rebounds and was first-team all-league and Kontely averaged 6.0 points and was honorable mention all-league.

"Last year we had a much more experienced team," Clark said. "We have only three returning players, so it will be a whole different experience. We'll be using the experience of those three players while we try to rebuild.

"I'll definitely have to do a lot more coaching and teaching. It'll be fresh for everyone, but at the same time, it's taken extra time to get our team together. It'll be interesting to see what we can do."

The Patriots believe they can contend for the OCC-Cardinal title despite their inexperience.

"Things in the OCC-Cardinal will be up in the air," VanGundy said.

"It's going to be pretty competitive," Clark said. "Scioto's still going to be there, but I think Westerville South, Jerome and Olentangy are going to be pretty tough. I think we're going to play hard, compete and surprise some teams."

VanGundy said the Patriots will try to make up for what they may lack in experience and size with their speed and solid defense.

"We're a developing program, but I feel like we'll do a lot of good things this year," she said. "We don't have a lot of returnees, but we have a lot of dedicated girls. That will help us out in the long run."

At a glance

•Coach: Jennifer Clark, third season

•Opener: Friday vs. Delaware in Delaware County Classic (Ohio Wesleyan)

•Key players: Allyson VanGundy, Michelle Voss and Brittany Wex

Schedule

Nov. 27 vs. Delaware in Delaware County Classic (Ohio Wesleyan)

Dec. 1 at Orange

*Dec. 4 at Westerville South

*Dec. 8 vs. Marysville

*Dec. 11 at Dublin Jerome

*Dec. 19 vs. Olentangy

*Dec. 22 vs. Westerville North

Dec. 30 vs. Central Crossing

*Jan. 5 at Dublin Scioto

*Jan. 8 at Westerville Central

*Jan. 15 at Westerville South

Jan. 18 vs. Pickerington Central at Prep Shootout

*Jan. 22 at Marysville

*Jan. 26 vs. Dublin Jerome

*Jan. 30 at Olentangy

*Feb. 2 at Westerville North

*Feb. 5 vs. Dublin Scioto

Feb. 9 at Hilliard Davidson

*Feb. 12 vs. Westerville Central

Feb. 13 at Ready

*OCC-Cardinal game