The New Albany High School boys basketball team did not begin this season with a completely new cast, but the Eagles are working with as close to a clean slate as they have in recent memory.
Guard Keegan Schaub is the team's only returning starter, and even then the 6-foot junior only started the last several games of last year after splitting time between varsity and junior varsity before that.
Senior point guard Parker Selby (6-0) came off the bench last season and also played junior varsity.
Beyond that, varsity experience was almost nonexistent before New Albany opened Nov. 30 with a 69-59 loss at Olentangy Orange.
"I see a lot of youth, but we have players who get along. We share the ball really well," Selby said. "We need to improve, but nobody is selfish. We've made a lot of crisp passes and we move the ball around the perimeter a lot. We'll get better driving and kicking out for 3-pointers."
The Eagles lost two players who were expected to be key contributors when senior center/forward Will King did not come out and junior guard Jake Warinner moved to Upper Arlington.
King has committed to play football at Akron. Warinner averaged 10.5 points and 5.0 rebounds as a sophomore.
New Albany went 7-16 overall and 5-5 in the OCC-Capital Division last year.
"We have a lot of kids playing who are still learning to understand varsity intensity, but they're getting there," 19th-year coach Sam Davis said. "Our goal is to be better every day. All we are worried about is staying in the process."
At 187 pounds, Schaub anticipates playing both guard spots and small forward. He drew some encouragement from his performance during the team's final scrimmage Nov. 26 at Walnut Ridge.
"Von Cameron Davis is a good player and he took over (Nov. 26) but the one possession I guarded him, I did block a shot," Schaub said of the Scots' junior forward who averaged 22.8 points and 6.9 rebounds last year. "I'm not going to say I'll block shots every time, but it tells me I can defend some pretty good players."
Although senior Lucas Kasper (6-2, forward) and juniors Chris Benseler (6-3, forward), Jayden Lewis (6-1, guard) and Dillon Masters (6-2, forward) were the Eagles' other starters along with Schaub against Walnut Ridge, Davis cautioned that lineups likely will be flexible early in the season.
"Part of it will depend on matchups," he said.
Lewis and Masters each had 17 points against Orange.
Rounding out the roster are seniors Darrick Gray (6-4, forward), Spencer Hill (6-3, forward), Jaxon Hoffman (6-4, forward) and Jack Thunberg (6-5, forward), junior Udai Singh (6-6, forward) and sophomores Braedon Elwer (6-2, forward), Michael Hughton-Berko (5-11, guard) and Brock Tibbitts (6-2, guard).
New Albany's home opener was Dec. 5 against Licking Heights. The Eagles begin OCC-Capital play Friday, Dec. 7, at defending league champion Newark.
New Albany tied Big Walnut and Canal Winchester for second place in the league last year behind the Wildcats (10-0).
"We might not be as talented or athletic as some teams that we play, but I wouldn't want to be in any other gym," Davis said. "This team will be one of those teams that I love coaching because they are getting better. At the end of the year, I think this will be a team that could surprise some people."
District qualifiers to lead wrestling team
With six Division I district tournament qualifiers back, experience and turnout are at their best in wrestling coach Larry Reichard's five seasons.
Senior Jack Wilson, who finished sixth at district at 195 pounds last year and will wrestle in the same class this season, leads a group of returning district qualifiers that also includes seniors Peter Ackley (182/195), Billy Lee (heavyweight) and Daniel Rodriguez (182), junior Michael Zusman (152) and sophomore Colin Swincicki (120).
New Albany opened Dec. 1 with a sixth-place finish (178.5 points) in the 15-team Tony Pizzurro Memorial Tournament at DeSales as Grove City won (295.5).
"These guys have a lot of mat experience," said Reichard, whose program has 28 wrestlers. "Last year fueled them for the offseason. Some of them went to camps. One did spring, summer and fall clubs. Our football guys didn't make the playoffs, but that meant they've been with us the whole preseason. I think that will end up being a plus."
Ackley went a team-best 32-8 last year. Rodriguez was 32-20 and Swincicki went 31-12.
Rounding out the varsity roster are seniors Zach Rutledge (220/heavyweight) and Maverick Spelman (170), junior Brandon Thompson (106), sophomores Brady Conley (132), Jayden Fudge (132), Jack Lee (120) and Gianni Nocera (160) and freshmen Ganan Balakrishna (160/170), Ben Bassik (182), Alex Chattos (160), Payton Galbraith (160), Jadyn Garnes (145), Alex Lopez (145), Alex Nailor-Boussiha (195), Owen Perry (126), Jack Sauter (138), Dominic Vyas (113) and Sebastian Waddle (152).
Ackley, Rutledge and Zusman led the Eagles in the Pizzurro tournament with third-place finishes at 195, heavyweight and 152, respectively.
New Albany's first home competition is Thursday, Dec. 6, when it plays host to the annual Eastside Duals with Licking Heights, Reynoldsburg and Watkins Memorial.
The Eagles begin their OCC-Capital schedule Jan. 10 at home against Franklin Heights. New Albany went 3-2 in the league last year to finish third behind co-champions Groveport and Newark (both 4-1).
The Eagles are seeking their first league championship since 2005.
"How last year ended and the fact that the OCC championship is still something we're shooting for is plenty of motivation," Reichard said. "It's not quite how we wanted to end the year, but the fact that we looked good in the postseason and did some good things means this is a group that wants to go a little farther."
Moore resigns as boys golf coach
After four successful seasons, boys golf coach Andy Moore has stepped down.
"I just have other stuff that I want to do now," Moore said. "Coaching three different sports (baseball, basketball and golf) at various times for close to 30 years is a long time. It is time for me to focus on doing other things for myself and my family."
New Albany won its eighth consecutive OCC-Capital championship this fall before finishing fourth at sectional and eighth at district. The Eagles have not lost in league play since 2013.
Moore will continue as a computer science teacher at New Albany Middle School.
Most of the Eagles' lineup is eligible to return next year, including juniors Jacob Brooks, Jack Curtis and Caleb Delaney.
Nov. 30 -- at Olentangy Orange
Dec. 5 -- vs. Licking Heights
*Dec. 7 -- at Newark
*Dec. 14 -- at Big Walnut
Dec. 15 -- vs. Mount Vernon
Dec. 18 -- vs. Westerville North
*Dec. 21 -- at Groveport
Dec. 28 -- vs. Olentangy Berlin
*Jan. 4 -- vs. Canal Winchester
Jan. 5 -- vs. Mifflin
Jan. 8 -- at Reynoldsburg
*Jan. 11 -- at Franklin Heights
*Jan. 18 -- vs. Newark
Jan. 22 -- at Gahanna
*Jan. 25 -- vs. Big Walnut
Jan. 26 -- vs. Grove City
Jan. 29 -- at Thomas Worthington
*Feb. 1 -- vs. Groveport
Feb. 5 -- at Pickerington Central
*Feb. 8 -- at Canal Winchester
Feb. 12 -- at Westland
*Feb. 15 -- vs. Franklin Heights
Dec. 1 -- Tony Pizzurro Memorial Tournament at DeSales
Dec. 5 -- at Westerville North with St. Charles
Dec. 6 -- vs. Licking Heights, Reynoldsburg and Watkins Memorial in Eastside Duals
Dec. 8 -- Teays Valley Viking Duals
Dec. 12 -- vs. Central Crossing, Whetstone and Whitehall
Dec. 20 -- at Dublin Coffman
Jan. 5 -- Licking Valley Invitational
*Jan. 10 -- vs. Franklin Heights
Jan. 12 -- Central Crossing Invitational
*Jan. 17 -- at Newark
Jan. 19 -- Panther Invitational at Pickerington North
*Jan. 24 -- vs. Canal Winchester
Jan. 26 -- New Albany Invitational
*Feb. 7 -- at Groveport
Feb. 8 -- at Sparta Highland with DeSales
Feb. 12 -- at Columbus Academy with Thomas Worthington and Whetstone
*Feb. 14 -- vs. Big Walnut
Below are the coming schedules for the New Albany girls basketball, bowling, hockey and swimming & diving teams:
*Dec. 7 -- Home vs. Newark
Dec. 11 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin
*Dec. 12 -- Olentangy Berlin at Delaware Lanes
*Dec. 7 -- Watterson at Chiller Easton
*Dec. 8 -- St. Charles in Chiller Easton
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 7-8 -- Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State