The Whetstone High School girls basketball team has a new look this season.
The Braves have no returning starters, just two players with varsity experience and only one senior on their roster.
"We're about as young as any team can be, so this will be a building year," second-year coach Torrie Ruffin said. "The good news is that all of them are working hard and they're strong, scrappy and energetic. We've got a lot of juniors and I'm excited to see their development this season, and I think we'll be encouraged about next year."
Whetstone finished 11-10 overall last season, but lost three starters to graduation, including forward Whitney Staggs and point guard Haylee Thomas-Speigle.
Staggs averaged 19.7 points and 9.4 rebounds and was named first-team all-league for Whetstone, which went 9-5 in the City League-North Division to place third behind Northland (14-0) and Linden-McKinley (11-3). Thomas-Speigle (3.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists) was honorable mention all-league.
In addition, Macy Staggs, a 6-foot center who averaged 6.9 points and 9.9 rebounds and was honorable mention all-league last season, did not return for her sophomore season. Others who chose not to return include senior Maryianna Lacy and sophomore Amelia Morris, both of whom were guards.
"Macy and Amelia are multi-sport athletes and Macy is concentrating on volleyball and Amelia is focusing on soccer," Ruffin said. "We'll work with what we have. It'll mean a little more teaching, but that's fine.
"We're emphasizing learning and understanding this year. It'll take a little while for these girls to catch up on their fundamentals, but the key will be on learning plays and strategies and understanding why we are doing things and what our opponents are doing."
The returnees are junior forward Lauren Armstrong and sophomore guard Grace Brigle.
"We're working together and want to come together as a team," Brigle said. "It's going to be a challenge, but the goal is for us to improve every day and to be competitive."
The player with the most varsity experience is senior post player Le'Cara Josey, a move-in from Las Vegas.
"I played at Gahanna in middle school and at New Albany two years ago, but moved to live with my mom in Las Vegas and played there last year," Josey said. "This is a new school for me and they basically have a new team this year, so I'm excited. Right now, we're taking time to bond and to find each other's strengths and weaknesses. I'm trying to help the girls who have never played before and the ones who have little experience."
Juniors Rain Jones (guard), Josephine Kabi (forward) and Salamatu Kebe (guard) are expected to be key contributors. Also vying for playing time are juniors Brianna Mabry (forward) and Olivia Mullins (guard) and freshmen Jordyn Borzie (forward) and Ellen Edwards (guard).
"Le'Cara has grown up around basketball, so she's going to be a good role model and leader for our younger girls," Ruffin said. "This is going to be a fun season because the girls we have want to work and improve and we're going to enjoy watching them develop."
Whetstone opened Nov. 26 against Briggs and played Westerville Central on Nov. 28. The Braves will visit Westland on Friday, Nov. 30, before opening league play at home against International on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
Nov. 26 -- vs. Briggs
Nov. 28 -- at Westerville Central
Nov. 30 -- at Westland
*Dec. 4 -- vs. International
Dec. 6 -- at Watterson
*Dec. 7 -- vs. East
*Dec. 11 -- at Linden-McKinley
*Dec. 14 -- at Beechcroft
*Dec. 18 -- vs. Northland
*Dec. 21 -- vs. Mifflin
*Jan. 8 -- at Centennial
*Jan. 11 -- at International
Jan. 12 -- at Independence
*Jan. 15 -- at East
*Jan. 18 -- vs. Linden-McKinley
*Jan. 22 -- vs. Beechcroft
*Jan. 25 -- at Northland
*Jan. 29 -- at Mifflin
*Feb. 1 -- vs. Centennial
Feb. 5 -- vs. Walnut Ridge
Below are the coming schedules for the Whetstone boys basketball, bowling and swimming & diving teams:
Nov. 30 -- At Dublin Scioto
Dec. 1 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington
Dec. 5 -- Home vs. Granville
*Dec. 3 -- Worthington Christian at HP Lanes
*Dec. 4 -- Centennial at Sequoia Pro Bowl
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 3 -- Delaware at Columbus Aquatics Center