With three key players back and a core that has developed within the program, the Westerville Central High School boys basketball team is looking to improve on last season's 8-15 record.

With three key players back and a core that has developed within the program, the Westerville Central High School boys basketball team is looking to improve on last season's 8-15 record.

"The core of the team being juniors, nine out of 12 (players) are juniors, they have had success coming up through the program and over the years," fourth-year coach Donovon Barrett said. "Their expectations are pretty high, but they haven't all played at the varsity level. Experience is invaluable."

The Warhawks opened Dec. 2 by losing to visiting Groveport 70-68 in two overtimes. Senior Gage Minney, a 6-foot-3 forward, made four 3-pointers and finished with 15 points.

Junior Thomas Hickman, a 6-2 point guard and one of the three returnees who saw significant playing time a year ago, added 14 points. He averaged 8.2 points last season and was named honorable mention all-league.

"Our chemistry is good because we've been playing since the seventh grade, so we have that chemistry and that bond," Hickman said. "Our goal is to go deep in the district tournament."

Junior forward Solomon Wells (6-4), another returnee, scored 13 in the opener.

Junior forward Josh McDaniel (6-4) is the other returnee who saw significant playing time, and senior Terrance Lang (6-3, forward) also returns.

Other players are senior DeWaine Davis (5-9, guard) and juniors Dylan Edens (6-0, guard), Nick Fields (6-0, guard), Jacoby Maze (6-4, forward), Sean Roberts (6-3, forward), Cam Schroeder (6-6, forward) and Elijah Yates (5-8, guard).

"We have a lot of flexibility in our lineup," Barrett said. "There's a lot of different skill sets, which offer the opportunity for a lot of flexibility."

The Warhawks open OCC-Buckeye Division play Friday, Dec. 9, at home against Westerville North. Joining Central and North in the league are Olentangy, Olentangy Liberty, Olentangy Orange and Westerville South.

Last season, the Warhawks went 5-9 in the OCC-Cardinal to tie for fifth behind champion South (13-1). The Wildcats went on to win the Division I state title.

"I like the alignment for our division in the sense that we don't have to get on the freeway," Barrett said. "It will impact the crowds in a positive way, home and away. ... South is the team to beat because they have the best player (Kaleb Wesson)."

Central lost four players to graduation, including Erron James, who averaged a team-best 15.4 points and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. He now is playing at Lake Erie College.

Will Maynus averaged 12.2 points and was special mention all-league.

Four wrestlers expected to lead way

The wrestling team should be led by seniors Tre' Bogetich (132 pounds), James Schneider (160/170) and Adam Snively (120/126) and junior Cody Mayes (145).

The Warhawks opened Dec. 3 by going 0-5 in the Marysville Duals. Central gave up 24 points in each match because of forfeits, but fourth-year coach Phil Carney expects to build the lineup as the season continues.

Bogetich, who was 4-1 in the opener, went 3-3 at district a year ago. He placed sixth at 132 and finished 44-11 for the season.

Mayes went 1-2 at district at 138 and finished 22-14. Schneider went 36-16 at 160, and Snively went 27-22 at 113.

"The sky is the limit for all four of those guys," Carney said. "James has put in the work lifting and with football. Tre' has put in the work wrestling. Cody has gotten bigger and stronger. All of them have improved vastly. We have high hopes for them."

Also back are junior Ian Manahan (220) and sophomores Nick DeRose (220) and Justin Fry (120/126)

Other wrestlers are seniors Christopher Dean (195) and Gavin Rodriguez (195), juniors Marcus Jacobsen (160), Austin Miller (160) and Devin Stevko (182), sophomores Nate Hampton (220) and Victor Pineda (138) and freshmen Allison Edwards (126), C.J. Jefferson (145), Owen Roberts (152), Hope Snively (106) and Justin Wade (170).

Jacobsen is an exchange student from Denmark.

"I like being at Central and the kids are great," Carney said. "I wish we had more numbers. The new people we have this year are at least encouraging. We have six people who have never wrestled and they're all nice kids."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

BOYS BASKETBALL

Dec. 2 -- vs. Groveport

*Dec. 9 -- vs. Westerville North

Dec. 12 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne

*Dec. 16 -- at Olentangy Orange

Dec. 21 -- vs. Upper Arlington

Dec. 28 -- vs. St. Charles

Dec. 30 -- at Johnstown

Jan. 3 -- at Big Walnut

*Jan. 6 -- at Olentangy

Jan. 10 -- at Pickerington Central

*Jan. 13 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty

Jan. 17 -- at Dublin Scioto

*Jan. 20 -- at Westerville South

Jan. 21 -- vs. Mifflin

Jan. 24 -- vs. Gahanna

*Jan. 27 -- at Westerville North

Jan. 31 -- vs. Thomas Worthington

*Feb. 3 -- vs. Olentangy Orange

*Feb. 7 -- vs. Olentangy

*Feb. 10 -- at Olentangy Liberty

*Feb. 17 -- vs. Westerville South

Feb. 21 -- at New Albany

WRESTLING

Dec. 3 -- Marysville Duals

Dec. 8 -- vs. Hamilton Township and Johnstown

Dec. 22 -- vs. Bloom-Carroll

Dec. 29-30 -- West Jefferson Invitational

*Jan. 10 -- at Westerville North

Jan. 13-14 -- Napoleon Tournament

*Jan. 18 -- vs. Olentangy

*Jan. 26 -- at Olentangy Orange

*Feb. 9 -- at Olentangy Liberty

*Feb. 16 -- vs. Westerville South

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Central girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics and swimming & diving teams:

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Dec. 9 -- Home vs. Westerville North

Dec. 14 -- At Licking Heights

BOWLING

*Dec. 9 -- Thomas Worthington at Capri Lanes

Dec. 10 -- Holiday Baker Marathon at Columbus Square Bowling Palace

*Dec. 13 -- Marysville at Marysville Lanes

*Dec. 14 -- Gahanna at Columbus Square Bowling Palace

GYMNASTICS

Dec. 8 -- At Worthington Kilbourne

SWIMMING & DIVING

Dec. 10 -- Watterson at Westerville Community Center

*League contest