Big Walnut High School girls basketball coach Jason Crawford had a sense of deja vu during the preseason.
As was the case last year in his first season, there was little time for preparation as he waited on many of his players to complete the soccer season.
The girls soccer team reached a Division II state semifinal before falling to Cincinnati Indian Hill 2-1 on Nov. 6, leaving little practice time before the basketball team's opener.
It showed in the Golden Eagles' 48-36 loss to Teays Valley on Nov. 23 in the Gary West Memorial Tip-Off Classic at Reynoldsburg.
"Before that game, we had like five practices with everybody there," Crawford said. "We're still just trying to get the system in place and get the girls used to playing with each other and get some chemistry and cohesion on the floor."
Big Walnut looked like a much-improved team in its second game, turning in a dominating defensive effort in a 52-25 victory over Mount Vernon on Nov. 28.
Senior point guard Erin Boehm, who was the Golden Eagles' second-leading scorer last season behind 2018 graduate Katie Cochran, had 19 points, including three 3-pointers, against the Yellow Jackets.
The 5-foot-6 Boehm averaged 10.3 points, five rebounds, 3.7 assists and three steals last season and was named second-team all-OCC-Capital Division and honorable mention all-district. Cochran, a 5-11 forward, averaged 12.9 points.
"We used our (opening game) as a lesson learned," Boehm said. "We went through the film, and I don't think we will ever have a game like that again. We learn from our mistakes and we work hard, no matter what."
Big Walnut finished 17-7 overall last season, marking its highest win total since 2008-09 when it went 19-5.
While much of their lineup has returned, the Golden Eagles must find a replacement for 5-11 junior post player Abby Facemyer, who will miss the entire season because of a torn ACL. Senior forward Emily Neff (5-10) and juniors Brooke Stooksbury (5-9, forward) and Payton Carter (5-8, forward/center) will try to fill that void.
Junior guards Avery Schone (5-4, honorable mention all-district) and Alexis Schone (5-5) are other key returnees, as is junior guard/forward Alyssa Tarney (5-6).
Also on the team are sophomore guards Abby Brown and Avery Maxeiner.
The Golden Eagles, who went 6-4 in the OCC-Capital last season to tie Canal Winchester and New Albany for second behind Newark (10-0), are 1-1 entering their league opener Tuesday, Dec. 4, at Groveport.
"I think, again, everybody is going to be trying to chase down Newark," Crawford said. "I think the goal for us would be to finish in the top two of the league. But it's going to be difficult. A lot of teams are returning a lot of players from last year."
Boys team has 'bigger aspirations'
Having returned its top four scorers, the boys basketball team is looking to improve on last season, when it finished 10-13 overall.
Among the returnees are senior guards Jordan Koebel (6-1), Brody Lawhun (6-0) and Nathan Montgomery (5-10), senior forward Carson Becker (6-3) and junior post player Kegan Hienton (6-4).
All five are expected to start.
Last season, Lawhun averaged a team-high 10.2 points, followed by Hienton (9.7), Koebel (9.4) and Montgomery (9.3).
Montgomery was named honorable mention all-district and first-team all-league, Hienton was second-team all-league, Koebel was special mention all-league and Becker was honorable mention all-league.
"We want more than just a winning season," Koebel said. "While a winning season would be great ... we're kind of looking for bigger goals, and we have bigger aspirations."
Big Walnut opened Nov. 30 at Hamilton Township under fourth-year coach Brett Bartlett, who likes his team's unselfishness and balanced-scoring capability.
"We have pretty much everyone back," Bartlett said. "We got to 10 wins last year and hopefully we can build off that. Guys have gotten better and physically they're more mature and have more experience coming into this year."
Also expected to be key contributors are senior forwards Sam Elliott (6-1) and Jackson Podraza (6-2), junior guard Lincoln Bullock (5-9) and sophomore guard Jagger Barnett (6-1).
"I think different guys are going to lead us in scoring each night, which is a good thing," Bartlett said. "I think it's tough to game plan for (us) and know who to stop. We just have to be more consistent. We had quarters last year when we'd score only four, five or six points."
The Golden Eagles went 5-5 in the OCC-Capital last season to tie Canal Winchester and New Albany for second behind Newark (10-0). A 64-61 loss at Groveport in their league finale prevented them from finishing second outright.
Big Walnut opens its league schedule Friday, Dec. 7, at home against Canal Winchester.
"Since they've been in this league, Newark hasn't lost," Bartlett said. "They're definitely going to be the team to beat. ... The league is going to go through them until somebody knocks them off."
Athletes announce college decisions
Five student-athletes recently announced their college decisions.
Sammi Bickley will play women's volleyball at Appa-lachian State, Grace Bodker will play women's soccer at Murray State, Rylee Bussen will play women's soccer at Cleveland State, Machaela Podraza will play women's volleyball at Ohio State and Kaley Rammelsberg will play women's volleyball at High Point.
Nov. 30 -- at Hamilton Township
Dec. 4 -- at Watkins Memorial
*Dec. 7 -- vs. Canal Winchester
Dec. 8 -- at Mifflin
*Dec. 14 -- vs. New Albany
*Dec. 21 -- vs. Newark
Dec. 22 -- vs. Caledonia River Valley
*Jan. 4 -- vs. Franklin Heights
Jan. 5 -- vs. Mansfield Madison
Jan. 8 -- vs. Westerville Central
*Jan. 11 -- at Groveport
Jan. 15 -- at Olentangy Orange
*Jan. 18 -- at Canal Winchester
Jan. 22 -- vs. Olentangy
*Jan. 25 -- at New Albany
Jan. 26 -- at Marion Harding
Jan. 29 -- vs. Lancaster
*Feb. 1 -- at Newark
Feb. 5 -- at Marysville
*Feb. 8 -- at Franklin Heights
*Feb. 15 -- vs. Groveport
Feb. 16 -- at Mount Vernon
Nov. 23 -- Teays Valley in Gary West Memorial Tip-Off Classic at Reynoldsburg
Nov. 28 -- vs. Mount Vernon
*Dec. 4 -- at Groveport
*Dec. 7 -- at Canal Winchester
Dec. 11 -- vs. Loudonville
*Dec. 14 -- vs. New Albany
*Dec. 21 -- at Newark
Dec. 27 -- at Marion Harding
Dec. 29 -- vs. Benjamin Logan
*Jan. 4 -- at Franklin Heights
Jan. 8 -- at Westerville Central
*Jan. 11 -- vs. Groveport
Jan. 12 -- vs. Chillicothe Unioto
Jan. 15 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
*Jan. 18 -- vs. Canal Winchester
Jan. 22 -- at Olentangy
*Jan. 25 -- at New Albany
*Feb. 1 -- vs. Newark
Feb. 2 -- at Mansfield Madison
Feb. 5 -- vs. Marysville
*Feb. 8 -- vs. Franklin Heights
Feb. 9 -- at Massillon Perry
Below are the coming schedules for the Big Walnut bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 6 -- Delaware at Colony Lanes
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 7-8 -- Ned Reeb Memorial Invitational at Ohio State
Dec. 8 -- Diving meet at Kenyon College
Dec. 8 -- Big Walnut Classic