The Thomas Worthington High School girls basketball team has returned five letterwinners, including three starters, after finishing 15-6 overall and reaching a Division I district semifinal last season.

The Thomas Worthington High School girls basketball team has returned five letterwinners, including three starters, after finishing 15-6 overall and reaching a Division I district semifinal last season.

"We have eight (full-time varsity) players, so all are vying to start," ninth-year coach Laurie Barr said. "Due to the success of our fall sports, we (got a late start) and our starting rotations are still being determined. The exciting part is that all of the players bring such a unique part of their skill set to our team and, as a result, the players are interchangeable and provide various different combinations.

"We have average height, but our players are quick and athletic, so we want to attack on offense and push teams into mistakes with our aggressive defense. We need to communicate constantly, set a quick pace and rebound as a team to eliminate secondary shots."

The returning starters are 5-foot-5 senior guard Jada Sleet and 5-9 junior guards Jazzlynn Gaiters and Moreina Moore. Also back are 5-6 senior guard Erin Baumann and 5-9 sophomore guard Breanne Beatty.

"Jada is a fourth-year varsity player looking to help lead us to a successful season," Barr said. "She is a hard player to guard and also is difficult to score on. She hustles, has speed, has great vision on the court and leads the team by example. She also has worked on her outside shooting, adding the 3-point shot to her resume.

"Jazzlynn is a third-year varsity player who will bring a more controlled and consistent version of her athletic self this year. She worked on her strength, ball-handling and shooting in the offseason and is able to add depth in the guard positions. She is stronger and faster and is able to hit the outside shot."

Thomas, which had finished 8-15 in 2014-15, opened Nov. 29 against Marion Pleasant and will play at Kilbourne on Saturday, Dec. 3, in the Battle of Worthington. The contest against the Wolves also represents the Cardinals' OCC-Cardinal Division opener and is a Coaches vs. Cancer event.

The Cardinals went 9-5 in the OCC-Central last season to place fourth behind co-champions Dublin Coffman and Olentangy Liberty (both 12-2).

Seeded 14th in the district tournament, Thomas upset seventh-seeded Watterson 51-41 in the second round before losing to 16th-seeded New Albany 53-52.

Earning all-league honors last season were Sleet (first team), Gaiters (second team), Moore (special mention) and 2016 graduate Martrina Parks (honorable mention). Sleet and Gaiters also made honorable mention all-district.

"(Moore) is a third-year varsity player and she has grown in height and confidence," Barr said. "She is looking to help this team from the guard position. She is making good team decisions and she is getting her teammates involved in every play.

"(Beatty) is only a sophomore, but she is making big contributions already. She worked hard in the offseason and it is paying off. She is a versatile player. We can count on her to play whatever position we need."

Also on the team are 5-10 senior forward Abby Girard and 5-8 junior guards Maddy Miles and Asia Settles.

"Our goals are to drive the communication, trust, collective responsibility, care and pride in order to build a great basketball tradition here," Barr said.

Young hockey team has 'a lot of potential'

The hockey team has just three seniors after having nine last season.

A year ago in coach Bill McGill's first season as coach, the Cardinals finished 9-17-0-1 overall and went 2-12-0-1 (5 points) in the four-team Capital Hockey Conference-Blue Division to place third behind New Albany (15, 7-7-1) and Olentangy (12, 5-8-2) and ahead of Watterson (4, 1-12-2).

This season, Cincinnati Moeller has replaced New Albany in the CHC-Blue.

"We are obviously young, but I think we have a lot of potential," said senior forward Joey Pischel, who led the Cardinals in scoring last season with 74 points (52 goals, 22 assists). "We won two of our first three scrimmages and we've got a ton of freshmen who will make their marks this year."

The Cardinals opened last weekend, going 3-1 in the Midwest Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin. They placed second in the Red Division, defeating Dublin Scioto 5-2 on Nov. 25 and Whitehouse Anthony Wayne 5-2 and Strongsville B 5-2 on Nov. 26. They then lost to New Albany 6-0 in the final Nov. 27.

Thomas opens league play against Moeller on Friday, Dec. 2, at Chiller North.

Joining Pischel in the senior class are defenseman Isaac Short and forward Bradlee Tilton. Short had 20 points (8 goals, 12 assists) last season.

Other returnees are juniors Kyle Kocheran (defenseman), David LaLonde (defenseman), Logan Rutland (defenseman) and Carter St. Pierre (goaltender) and sophomore Matt Sowa (forward).

Completing the roster are junior Spencer Steele (forward), sophomore Nick Schriner (forward) and freshmen Jorge Bare (goalie), Sam Hartwig (forward), Trevor Law (forward), Will Pischel (forward) and Alex Steitz (defenseman).

"We've gotten a lot of contributions from the young guys early on," Joey Pischel said. "I think Sam Hartwig, Will Pischel and Nick Schriner have looked good at forwards, and Jorge Bare is going to be strong in net. We're getting a good balance between the forward lines and solid, physical play from our defensemen."

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Nov. 29 -- at Marion Pleasant

*Dec. 3 -- at Kilbourne

*Dec. 9 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley

*Dec. 12 -- vs. Chillicothe

*Dec. 16 -- at Dublin Jerome

*Dec. 20 -- vs. Delaware

Dec. 21 -- vs. Hartley

Dec. 23 -- vs. Gahanna

Dec. 30 -- vs. Olmsted Falls

*Jan. 3 -- vs. Dublin Scioto

Jan. 7 -- at Centennial

*Jan. 10 -- at Hilliard Darby

*Jan. 13 -- vs. Kilbourne

Jan. 17 -- at Lancaster

*Jan. 20 -- at Hilliard Bradley

*Jan. 24 -- at Delaware

*Jan. 26 -- vs. Dublin Coffman

*Jan. 27 -- vs. Dublin Jerome

Jan. 31 -- at Westerville North

Feb. 2 -- at Mifflin

*Feb. 7 -- at Dublin Scioto

*Feb. 10 -- vs. Hilliard Darby

HOCKEY

Nov. 25 -- Dublin Scioto in Midwest Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin

Nov. 26 -- Whitehouse Anthony Wayne and Strongsville B in Midwest Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin

Nov. 27 -- New Albany in Midwest Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin

*Dec. 2 -- Cincinnati Moeller at Chiller North

*Dec. 4 -- New Albany at Chiller North

*Dec. 9 -- DeSales at Chiller Easton

*Dec. 10 -- Gahanna at Chiller Easton

*Dec. 11 -- St. Charles at Chiller North

*Dec. 16 -- Olentangy at Chiller North

*Dec. 18 -- Springboro at South Metro Ice

*Dec. 26 -- Olentangy Liberty at Chiller North

*Jan. 7 -- Olentangy Orange at Chiller North

*Jan. 8 -- Cincinnati Moeller at Northland Ice Center

Jan. 13-16 -- Walter F. Ehrnfelt Tournament at OBM Arena in Strongsville

*Jan. 20 -- Watterson at Chiller Easton

*Jan. 21 -- Olentangy at Chiller North

*Jan. 24 -- Olentangy at Chiller North

*Jan. 28 -- Dublin Jerome at Chiller North

*Jan. 29 -- Watterson at Chiller North

Feb. 3 -- Kettering Alter at NTRPD Chiller

*Feb. 4 -- Dublin Coffman at Chiller Dublin

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas boys basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

Dec. 3 -- At Whetstone

BOWLING

*Dec. 6 -- Olentangy at Capri Lanes

SWIIMMING & DIVING

Dec. 2 -- Worthington/Westerville Invitational at home

Dec. 6 -- At New Albany

WRESTLING

Dec. 3 -- Olentangy Invitational

*League contest