The Hartley High School girls basketball team had a new coach for the third consecutive season last winter, but the success the program has enjoyed in recent years continued for the most part.

The Hartley High School girls basketball team had a new coach for the third consecutive season last winter, but the success the program has enjoyed in recent years continued for the most part.

That's why coach Donald Dennis and the Hawks believe last season's Division II district runner-up finish only scratched the surface of the team's potential now that the same coaching staff has returned.

After winning district titles in 2013 under former coach Mike Lanza and 2015 in Jill White's only season as coach, the Hawks went 13-12 overall a season ago despite having just two seniors.

"There are always high expectations at Hartley," Dennis said. "We don't hide from that. I always tell the kids that it's our turn to be a steward of the program. This is my second year (as Hartley's coach) ... and that continuity is important. I think it's especially important this year because we have most of our team returning intact. We have kids who understand how we like to do things."

Hartley opened Nov. 26 with a 65-50 victory over Zanesville Maysville in the Spartan Tipoff Classic at Albany Alexander.

The Hawks' top two scorers a year ago, 5-foot-10 junior point guard Kennedy Taylor and 5-9 sophomore post player Hailey Jordan, return after averaging nine points. Taylor was first-team all-league.

Seniors include Molly Van Horn, a 5-8 guard who was a key player a year ago, and Kristen Chatman, a 5-10 forward. Van Horn has committed to play soccer for Ball State and Chatman will play volleyball at North Carolina State.

Senior wing player Kate Hennessey likely will miss the season after being injured while playing for the soccer team in the fall.

Other key returnees from a team that finished fourth (2-5) in the CCL behind champion Watterson (6-1) are 5-8 junior guard Amaiah Jones and 5-4 sophomore guard Israel Strickland.

Junior Jordan Kaylor (5-11, forward) and sophomore Chiamaka Nwokolo (6-0, forward) are the team's tallest players.

Also on the roster are sophomore Lindsay Dunlap (5-6, guard) and freshmen Azure' Lewis (5-9, forward) and Sakima Walker (6-1, forward). Walker is the daughter of Samaki Walker, who led Whitehall to a 1993 state runner-up finish and played parts of 10 seasons in the NBA.

"We need to stay more consistent as a team," Taylor said. "This year we definitely know what our coaches want from us and how to come out and play hard all four quarters, just basically pushing through and staying consistent."

According to Dennis, the Hawks are focusing on free-throw shooting after making just 48 percent last season, when they lost five games by four points or fewer. He said they have made defense a high priority as well.

Hartley was seeded ninth for the district tournament and upset second-seeded London 58-50 and third-seeded Johnstown 47-23 to reach a district final, which it lost to sixth-seeded Caledonia River Valley 55-43.

Hartley plays River Valley on Monday, Dec. 5, at home.

"This year we're hoping to become closer as a team on and off the court," Kaylor said.

"I think we're going to try to play faster this year."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Nov. 26 -- Zanesville Maysville in Spartan Tipoff Classic at Albany Alexander

Nov. 30 -- vs. Bexley

Dec. 2 -- vs. Independence

Dec. 5 -- vs. Caledonia River Valley

Dec. 8 -- vs. Patriot Prep

Dec. 17 -- at Upper Arlington

Dec. 19 -- at Walnut Ridge

Dec. 21 -- at Thomas Worthington

Dec. 28 -- at Liberty Union in Yule Classic

Dec. 29 -- Buckeye Valley in Yule Classic at Liberty Union

Jan. 3 -- at Watkins Memorial

*Jan. 5 -- at Watterson

*Jan. 12 -- vs. Ready

Jan. 14 -- at Nelsonville-York

Jan. 17 -- at Hilliard Bradley

*Jan. 19 -- vs. DeSales

*Jan. 21 -- at Columbus School for Girls

*Jan. 26 -- vs. Watterson

Jan. 28 -- at Westerville North

*Feb. 2 -- at Ready

Feb. 4 -- vs. West Jefferson

*Feb. 9 -- at DeSales

*League contest

Below is the coming schedule for the Hartley swimming & diving team:

Dec. 2 -- Columbus School for Girls diving invitiational

Dec. 3 -- St. Charles Showdown