Trish Kruse is familiar with holiday basketball in Pickerington.

Trish Kruse is familiar with holiday basketball in Pickerington.

The first-year Solon High School girls basketball coach brings her Comets to the Key Bank Holiday Classic on Monday through Wednesday at Pickerington North.

Kruse, a 1998 graduate of Chagrin Falls, played in the tournament in her senior season, when the event was at Pickerington High School.

"I remember the competition being really tough and we went on to win a (Division III) state title that year," Kruse said.

Solon was 5-3 before playing Elyria on Dec. 19. Kruse said she inherited an inexperienced team at the suburban Cleveland school.

"We're a young team and we don't have a lot of varsity experience," said Kruse, who coached the two previous seasons at Lyndhurst Brush, also in suburban Cleveland. "We're learning how to play hard and how to compete every game."

Last season, Solon finished 19-5 after losing in a Division I regional semifinal to Perrysburg 47-38.

The Comets lost six players from that team, but have two returning starters in 5-foot-10 senior guard Darnesha Tomlinson and 5-11 sophomore guard Jaime Gluesing. According to Kruse, Gluesing averages 15 points per game and Tomlinson averages 12.

"You have to have more patience as a coach," said Kruse of working with an inexperienced team. "(These players) want to win and they work hard every day so they can get better. It's expected that you will have challenging moments, that's for sure, but we teach the basics and go from there."

The Comets open at 8:15 p.m. Monday against New Albany.

Other starters for the Comets are 5-11 junior Rebecca Caprini, 5-8 junior Skylar Cumberlander and 5-6 sophomore Kristen Low.