No one knew what to expect from the Olentangy Orange High School girls basketball team in its inaugural season last year.

No one knew what to expect from the Olentangy Orange High School girls basketball team in its inaugural season last year.

Coach Amber Ellison herself is not sure what to expect this season.

"We feel like we're starting over again," said Ellison, whose team finished 8-13 overall after losing to Mifflin 51-36 in the first round of the Division II district tournament. "We have a different set of girls, but we're expecting big things. I think we're going to surprise a lot of people."

The Pioneers will find out where they stand when they face Ready on Friday in the Delaware Tipoff Classic at Ohio Wesleyan University.

"We have the numbers now and we're going to be able to do more positive things," said senior T.J. Williams, a 5-foot-10 forward. "Last year we started the tradition. This year we're continuing it."

Williams, one of three returning seniors this year, had an uneven season last year after suffering a stress fracture in a 60-40 loss to Big Walnut in the third game. She averaged 7.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in the eight games she played.

"(Sitting on the bench) was probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with, but there's always good that comes with the bad. It helped me progress as a captain," Williams said. "I didn't get to enjoy last season because I was injured, so this is a really big season for me."

Williams joins classmates Megan Walker (5-5 guard) and Chelsea Mayweather (5-7 forward/guard). Walker led the team in scoring at 9.4 points per game. She made 31 percent of her 3-pointers (37 of 127), but in the last seven games shot 42 percent. Mayweather, the team's Defensive Most Valuable Player last year, will draw the team's most difficult defensive assignments.

Orange also returns junior Taylr Thompson (5-7 guard) and sophomores Allison Donatelli (5-5 guard) and Kelsey Lewis (6-1 forward). Donatelli, who has the ability to slash inside, averaged 8.6 ppg and 3.0 assists. Lewis often creates mismatches inside and averaged 8.5 ppg and 7.8 rebounds last year.

Ellison also is excited about what her team added. Orange picked up sophomore Ashley Bassett-Smith, a 6-2 forward who transferred from New Albany. Freshmen Taylor Agler (5-5, point guard) and guards Maddie Joseph (5-4), Mya Walker (5-7) and Kierstynn Myers (5-4) could give the Pioneers a savvy backcourt. Agler is the daughter of Seattle Storm coach and former Columbus Quest coach Brian Agler.

"It's been a smooth transition. The girls who are coming back know my style," Ellison said. "They've shown great leadership to the freshmen coming in. We have a core group of very talented (newcomers) coming in. They're doing a good job of meshing with the team we already have."

Ellison expects her team to be tested in the OCC-Capital Division. Last year, Orange finished fifth at 4-8 behind Delaware (12-0), New Albany (9-3), Big Walnut (8-4) and Mount Vernon (7-5) and ahead of Franklin Heights (1-11) and Watkins Memorial (1-11).

Last year, Big Walnut defeated New Albany 46-44 in a Division II district final and lost to West Holmes 46-40 in a regional semifinal.

The Pacers were sixth in the final Division I state poll and finished 22-1 overall after losing to Pickerington North 56-48 in a district semifinal.

"I think our division of the OCC is one of the toughest divisions in the state," Ellison said. "We have to establish from the beginning that we can play with anyone in our conference on any given night. We have to earn respect."

At a glance

•Coach: Amber Ellison, second season

•Opener: vs. Ready (Ohio Wesleyan University)

•Key players: Allison Donatelli, Chelsea Mayweather, Taylr Thompson, Megan Walker and T.J. Williams

Schedule

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

Dec. 1 vs. Liberty

*Dec. 4 at Delaware

*Dec. 8 at Mount Vernon

*Dec. 11 vs. Big Walnut

Dec. 15 at Jonathan Alder

*Dec. 18 at New Albany

*Dec. 22 at Watkins Memorial

*Jan. 5 vs. Franklin Heights

*Jan. 8 at Hilliard Bradley

*Jan. 15 vs. Delaware

Jan. 16 at Beechcroft

Jan. 19 vs. Hilliard Darby

*Jan. 22 vs. Mount Vernon

*Jan. 26 at Big Walnut

*Jan. 29 vs. New Albany

*Feb. 2 vs. Watkins Memorial

*Feb. 5 at Franklin Heights

Feb. 8 vs. Worthington Kilbourne

*Feb. 12 vs. Hilliard Bradley

*OCC-Capital game