December hasn't been very kind to the Wellington School boys basketball team in recent years.

December hasn't been very kind to the Wellington School boys basketball team in recent years.

The Jaguars are 4-17 in games played in December the past three seasons. Last season, they lost their first three games by an average margin of 21.6 points and started 2-6 en route to finishing 8-14.

Seeded eighth in the Division IV district tournament, Wellington lost to sixth-seeded Fairfield Christian Academy 45-40 in the second round after defeating seventh-seeded Gahanna Christian 65-60 in overtime in the first round.

Coach Brian McCants, in his 11th season leading the program, is confident his team will get out to a stronger start this season.

"This year (the players) have grown up. I don't think they are going to start out 0-5," said McCants, whose team opens Friday, Dec. 2, at Columbus Academy. "They took their bumps the last couple of years and now they're ready."

"The slow start (last season) was discouraging, but at the same time, it was very helpful," 6-foot-3 junior forward Jahi Dial said. "Basketball teaches you to learn what you are doing wrong and correct it in the season and in the offseason. We're coming into this season thinking, 'I'm ready for this. I am going to do it better this time.'"

After facing Academy, Wellington plays road games against Hartley on Monday, Dec. 5, and Madison Christian on Dec. 8. The Jaguars then play host to Bexley on Dec. 13 and Worthington Christian on Dec. 16.

At the end of practice on Nov. 22, McCants encouraged his players to remember what it felt like it to endure the lopsided losses last season.

"That's what I remind them all the time: Remember how people liked to punish you and put you away," McCants said. "We have to have that killer instinct and put people away like they put us away."

McCants believes while many of the faces on the team are the same as last season, the team is different.

In addition to Dial, expected to be key contributors are senior C.J. Hansen (6-0), junior forward Billy Brisk (6-3), senior guard/forward Tarren Taylor (6-3), senior guards Trent Davis (6-0) and Sam Zacher (5-10) and junior guards Jonathan Robinson (6-0), Tyler Sharp (6-0) and Vishal Sharoff (5-10).

Taylor was the team's leading scorer last season, averaging 12 points. Sharp averaged 9.6 points, 3.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds. Zacher averaged 7.7 points and made 38 of 77 3-point attempts (49 percent). Brisk averaged 5.4 points and 5.0 rebounds, and Robinson averaged 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds.

"It's been a long time since I've seen a team with this kind of height," McCants said. "I can put five guards out there or I can put up two 6-3 post (players) and not miss a beat."

"The last couple of years we had a lot of raw talent and we didn't know what to do with it," Taylor said. "We've made great, great strides and it's really going to pay dividends this year."