The Hartley High School girls basketball team isn't planning to be afraid to open things up this winter in regards to its style.

The Hartley High School girls basketball team isn't planning to be afraid to open things up this winter in regards to its style.

Since Mike Lanza took over as coach prior to the 2007-08 season, the Hawks have focused much of their efforts on working the ball into the post and playing halfcourt defense.

The group of athletes Lanza has to work with this winter has encouraged him to amend that philosophy in favor of a more fast-paced approach.

Having a trio of returning starters with the talent that juniors Jyla Hicks (6-foot-1), Jaana Motton (5-10) and Anna Kirk (5-6) possess has made it seem like a natural progression thus far.

Hartley, which opens Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Bexley, finished 16-5 overall last season.

"We're really a unique blend, and that's what we're trying to figure out - what kind of a team are we exactly?" Lanza said. "We can run, but we have a tendency to turn it over when we do so. We can play in the halfcourt, but we have some issues when we do. We've been typically very much a halfcourt team, but we're turning into more of a transition team.

"We're not just trying to run the floor, but we're trying to run the floor smart. It just started because of the different kinds of players we have. We're a little faster than we've been, so we're trying to push the ball a little more."

Motton is the top returnee after averaging 9.2 points and eight rebounds a year ago while making honorable mention all-district. She should be joined in the frontcourt by Hicks, while Kirk will be at shooting guard.

Senior Michelle Summers, junior Laquana Hodge, sophomore Alexis Britford and freshman Ariel Packer are others looking to see time in the backcourt.

Senior Jackie Russell, junior Nina Thompson, sophomore Taylor Kilgore and freshman Marissa Brown (6-2) also are looking to contribute.

"It's definitely been different, but it's for the better that we're trying to get out and run more," Russell said.

"We have a lot of great athletes and it's to our advantage to push the ball. It's crazy how much different the court looks when you're running compared to the way it used to look at a slower tempo. Our bench is more into the game and no play ever looks the same."

Last season, the Hawks finished second in the CCL at 6-2, behind Watterson (7-1) and ahead of DeSales (4-4), Ready (2-6) and Columbus School for Girls (1-7). They open league play Dec. 7 at home against Watterson.

Hartley was the sixth seed in the Division II district tournament but opened with a 47-39 loss to Lakewood 47-39 in a second-round game. The Hawks had won 10 consecutive games before the tournament loss.

Robin Kraus, who averaged 6.5 points, and Amanda Setser, who made honorable mention all-district, were lost to graduation. Megan Feeney, who also was a key player last season, did not return for her senior season.

"We got beat in the second round last season, which was disappointing," Lanza said. "We've added (some) Division I teams to our schedule because we thought it would be a good idea to see if we can compete better once we get into the tournament."