Second-year coach Tim Chugh will look to a limited number of veterans to lead the Olentangy Orange High School hockey team through a maturation process.

Second-year coach Tim Chugh will look to a limited number of veterans to lead the Olentangy Orange High School hockey team through a maturation process.

The Pioneers return only six players after finishing 16-13-3-2 overall a year ago.

"We have a young team and we'll see what we can do," Chugh said. "We have guys coming up from j.v. who we expect big things from. We had so many seniors (nine) last year that several players were on the cusp of varsity, but couldn't break through. Now is their chance."

Orange started by finishing fourth in the Gray Division of the Midwest Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin. They shut out both Dublin Coffman (1-0 shootout Nov. 25) and Springboro (5-0 on Nov. 26) before losing to North Olmsted 4-1 on Nov. 26 and Dublin Jerome 5-1 on Nov. 27 in the third-place game.

"We have a young team, but I think we're doing well," said senior forward Mark Murley, who is the top returning scorer with 24 goals and 36 assists last season. "Because we're young, people may underestimate us, but we have good chemistry and good attitudes in the locker room."

Murley joins senior defenseman Nick Brandt, senior forward Josh Rochon (20 goals, 22 assists), junior defenseman Chase Dye and junior goaltender Ryan Surowiec (.859 save percentage) as returning starters. Junior forward Jack Wander also played varsity.

"These six players have all taken a leadership role for us," Chugh said. "They're working to get the younger players up to the speed of varsity hockey. We need strong leadership from this group and we look to have that."

The Pioneers finished fifth (20 points, 9-5-0-2) in the Capital Hockey Conference-Red Division last season behind champion St. Charles (28, 14-2). They have moved down a rung to the CHC-White, in which they will compete with DeSales, Gahanna, New Albany and Springboro.

"The big thing we need is to get the kids varsity experience," Chugh said. "That will come with time, but we have great talent."

Murley and Rochon will be on the first line along with junior forward Bobby Golias. Surowiec is the starter in goal, and Brandt and sophomore Josh Gutkoski are the first-line defensemen.

"Ryan being back in goal will help because we can rely on him to steal a couple games for us," Chugh said.

Rounding out the roster are seniors Nate Murphy (forward) and Connor Shriver (forward), junior Kevin Jones (defenseman) and sophomores Jacob Lipperman (defenseman), Danny McHugh (forward), Zachary Miller (forward) and Nathan Thompson (goalie).

Girls basketball team looks to get defensive

Third-year coach Bob Scott is looking for the defense to lead the girls basketball team until the offense can get its bearings.

The Pioneers were 10-13 overall last season and finished fifth (7-7) in the OCC-Capital behind champion Olentangy (13-1). They have moved to the OCC-Buckeye.

"I think we're OK defensively and we're better rebounding-wise," said Scott, whose team opens Saturday, Dec. 3, at Big Walnut. "We want to be able to score in the 40s in order to have a chance to win."

Senior guard Schae Lilley averaged a team-best 9.7 points last season, ahead of junior guard/forward McKenna Ford (5.9 points) and senior forward Hannah Sargent (5.2 points).

"We're close both on and off the court, which helps a ton," Lilley said. "We 'get' each other and don't have a lot of drama. That always helps."

Sargent said a team effort will be necessary for the Pioneers to be successful.

"We're the closest we have been since I have been here," she said. "We know we have to work together to produce the results we want."

Senior forward Nia Lee (5-7) averaged 5.0 points before suffering a season-ending injury last January, and senior guard Megan Erickson (5-6) also returns.

Rounding out the roster are juniors Alyssa Feeley (5-9, forward), Katie Priest (5-4, guard), Alex Ronk (5-6, guard) and Natalie Simpson (5-4, guard) and sophomores Aurelia Johnson (6-0, post player) and Taylor Myers (5-6, forward).

"I think we're more skilled than we have been in the past, we understand the game a little better and we may have a deeper bench," Scott said. "We have a little more size this year, and we're making progress, but so are the other teams. We'll wait and see how we match up."

The Pioneers begin OCC-Buckeye play Tuesday, Dec. 6, at home against Westerville North.

"It's hard to put a number up in terms of what we expect with wins and losses," Scott said.

"We're in a tough league with the Westerville and Olentangy schools, and some of them have two, three or four Division I (college) players. Our non-league games are winnable, and we want to get over .500, but we have to play well."

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen

Schedules

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Dec. 3 -- at Big Walnut

*Dec. 6 -- vs. Westerville North

*Dec. 8 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty

Dec. 13 -- vs. Hilliard Darby

*Dec. 16 -- at Westerville Central

Dec. 17 -- vs. DeSales

Dec. 23 -- vs. Watterson

Dec. 27 -- at Teays Valley

Dec. 28 -- at Lancaster

Jan. 3 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson

*Jan. 6 -- vs. Westerville South

Jan. 10 -- vs. Dublin Coffman

Jan. 12 -- at New Albany

*Jan. 16 -- vs. Olentangy

Jan. 17 -- at Dublin Jerome

*Jan. 20 -- at Westerville North

Jan. 24 -- at Franklin Heights

*Jan. 27 -- at Olentangy Liberty

Jan. 31 -- vs. Marion Harding

*Feb. 3 -- vs. Westerville Central

*Feb. 7 -- at Westerville South

*Feb. 9 -- at Olentangy

HOCKEY

Nov. 25 -- Dublin Coffman in Midwest Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin

Nov. 26 -- Springboro and North Olmsted in Midwest Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin

Nov. 27 -- Dublin Jerome in Midwest Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin

*Dec. 2 -- New Albany at Chiller Easton

*Dec. 4 -- DeSales at Chiller Easton

Dec. 8 -- Dublin Coffman in Adam Allgeyer Memorial Showcase at Chiller Dublin

Dec. 9 -- New Albany in Adam Allgeyer Memorial Showcase at Chiller Dublin

Dec. 10 -- Dublin Jerome and Olentangy Liberty in Adam Allgeyer Memorial Showcase

Dec. 11 -- TBA in Adam Allgeyer Memorial Showcase at Chiller Dublin

*Dec. 16 -- Springboro at South Metro Ice Complex

*Dec. 17 -- Dublin Coffman at Chiller North

*Dec. 18 -- Upper Arlington at Chiller North

*Dec. 23 -- Springboro at Chiller North

Dec. 26 -- Findlay in Northwest Ohio Holly-Daze Tournament at The Cube in Findlay

Dec. 27 -- Cincinnati Moeller and Troy in Northwest Ohio Holly-Daze Tournament at The Cube

Dec. 28 -- Bowling Green at Bowling Green Arena

*Jan. 6 -- Olentangy Liberty at Chiller North

*Jan. 7 -- Thomas Worthington at Chiller North

*Jan. 8 -- Olentangy at Chiller North

Jan. 13-15 -- Orange Pioneer Classic at Chiller North

*Jan. 20 -- DeSales at Chiller Dublin

*Jan. 21 -- Gahanna at Chiller North

*Jan. 22 -- New Albany at Chiller North

*Jan. 27 -- Watterson at Chiller Easton

*Jan. 29 -- Gahanna at Chiller Easton

*Feb. 3 -- Cincinnati Moeller at Chiller North

*Feb. 5 -- St. Charles at Chiller North

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Orange boys basketball, bowling, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

Dec. 2 -- At Marion Harding in opener

BOWLING

Dec. 3 -- Kickoff Invitational at Columbus Square Bowling Palace

GYMNASTICS

Dec. 8 -- At Worthington Kilbourne with Thornville Sheridan and Westerville Central

SWIMMING & DIVING

Dec. 2 -- At Upper Arlington in opener

Dec. 3 -- Westerville South at Westerville Community Center

WRESTLING

Dec. 3 -- Lee Spitzer Invitational at Upper Arlington in opener