Coming off its third Division I district championship, the Reynoldsburg High School boys basketball team will get a chance this winter to show how much depth it possesses.
The Raiders have just one returning starter in 6-foot-5 senior guard Ben Fort, who averaged 11 points last season while earning second-team all-OCC-Ohio Division and honorable mention all-district honors.
They also return 5-11 junior guard Nick Wallace, but he finished with just the seventh-most points among Reynoldsburg players last season with 28.
Beyond that are players who have enjoyed success at younger levels but remain unproven under the varsity lights.
"We have one starter back, one other significant varsity player back and that's it," seventh-year coach Scott Davis said. "Some of the rest of them saw spot minutes. We're just trying to kind of basically have a whole new team that's trying to make a transition from (junior varsity) to varsity, and obviously the game's played at a whole different speed and is faster and harder."
Reynoldsburg opened Dec. 1 by blowing out Xenia Legacy Christian 71-37 in the All-Ohio Nike Showcase at Pickerington North and begins league play Friday, Dec. 7, at home against Gahanna.
The Raiders tied Gahanna for third (5-5) in the OCC-Ohio last year behind North (9-1) and Pickerington Central (8-2) and made it to a regional semifinal, where they lost to Hilliard Bradley 56-44 to finish 19-8 overall.
Senior Sahmi Willoughby, a 6-4 forward, figures to take on a key role after seeing increased action as last season progressed. He missed the opener because of an ankle injury but is expected to play in the league opener.
The other senior is 6-3 guard Xavier Prince.
Eldon Boateng (6-1, forward), James Dean (5-10, guard), Andree' Mock (6-0, guard), Sean Moore (6-4, forward) and Shon Strickland (6-2, guard) comprise the junior class.
Josiah Mobley (5-10, guard) and Zaveon Croff (5-11, guard) are sophomores who should make an impact.
Also on the roster is 6-2 freshman guard Cooper Davis, who is the coach's son.
Against Legacy Christian, Moore had 22 points and Fort scored 16.
The biggest losses from last year's team, which won its first district title under coach Davis, were Tre Williams (17.5 points per game, first-team all-district and all-league), Jamiel Goliday (11 ppg, second-team all-league, honorable mention all-district), Elijah Thurston (8.5 ppg, honorable mention all-league), Cole Crosby (3.5 ppg) and Malcolm Murphy (3.5 ppg). Williams is competing for Woodstock (Connecticut) Academy this winter and has committed to Indiana State.
"We expect to compete every night that's for sure," coach Davis said. "We play very hard. We're just trying to piece it together. We had a good offseason. We had a good summer and we were successful, but that doesn't mean anything. We're just learning about our guys and seeing who can maybe provide some consistency."
Large group of wrestlers returns
The wrestling team next competes Thursday, Dec. 6, in the Eastside Duals at New Albany.
The Raiders have 28 competitors this winter, including 14 who were with the program a season ago when they went 1-4 in the OCC-Ohio and had four Division I district qualifiers.
A 45-34 victory over Pickerington North last season gave the program its first league win since the 2014-15 season.
"We only had three seniors last year, so we knew we'd have a good core coming back," third-year coach Jon Forgy said. "We have a very young, raw team. I really think with our group coming back and with the people we have coming in that we have an opportunity to have a really good season."
The top returnees are senior Kyle Copas (145 pounds) and junior Noah Ratliff (152). Each won one district match last season. Copas finished 38-12 and Ratliff was 36-13.
Another top returnee is junior Luke Goeschl (120/126), who was sixth at sectional at 120 and finished 26-17.
Other returnees include seniors Jonathan Axel Balmeo (195) and Gary McCreary (145), juniors Isaiah Boateng (132), Colin Harvey (220), Peighton Irish-Arnett (113) and Trayton Waite (182/195) and sophomores Dalton Hall (heavyweight) and Gaven Miller (170).
Waite won one match at last year's sectional at 182.
Senior Adrian Autullo (182/195) was hurt at the end of last season but could contribute along with junior newcomer Aaron Reynolds (132).
The other district qualifiers a year ago were 2018 graduates Cameron Simpson (160) and Thomas Baire (heavyweight), who went 40-14 and 23-8, respectively.
Junior Gage Chapman, who was sixth at sectional at 138 and finished 28-17, did not return and sophomore Tyler DiFilippo (126) moved out of the district.
On Dec. 1 in the season-opening Lee Spitzer Golden Bear Invitational at Upper Arlington, Copas finished first at 152, Ratliff was third at 160, Goeschl was third at 126 and Hall was fourth at heavyweight.
"We want to build off our OCC win last year over North and keep concentrating on building over the year," Forgy said. "A good test for us will be (the Chagrin Falls) Kenston (Invitational on Dec. 28 and 29), which is a really good holiday tournament (near) Cleveland. Obviously we've got a few duals and tournaments that I think will be good tests for us."
Dec. 1 – Xenia Legacy Christian in All-Ohio Nike Showcase at Pickerington North
*Dec. 7 – vs. Gahanna
Dec. 10 – vs. Watkins Memorial
*Dec. 14 – at Grove City
Dec. 18 – at Newark
*Dec. 21 – vs. Pickerington Central
Dec. 28 – Brunswick in Stephen Gussler Invitational at Thomas Worthington
Dec. 29 – TBA in Stephen Gussler Invitational at Thomas Worthington
*Jan. 4 – at Pickerington North
Jan. 5 – vs. Zanesville
Jan. 8 – vs. New Albany
*Jan. 11 – vs. Lancaster
*Jan. 18 – at Gahanna
Jan. 22 – at Westerville South
*Jan. 25 – vs. Grove City
Jan. 29 – vs. Whitehall
*Feb. 1 – at Pickerington Central
*Feb. 8 – vs. Pickerington North
Feb. 9 – at Eastmoor Academy
*Feb. 15 – at Lancaster
Dec. 1 – Lee Spitzer Golden Bear Invitational at Upper Arlington
Dec. 6 – Eastside Duals at New Albany
Dec. 15 – Xenia Invitational
Dec. 20 – at Dublin Coffman with New Albany and Olentangy Orange
Dec. 28-29 – Chagrin Falls Kenston Invitational
Jan. 5 – Circleville Logan Elm Invitational
*Jan. 10 – Pickerington Central and Pickerington North at Gahanna
Jan. 19 – Hamilton Township Classic
*Jan. 24 – vs. Gahanna
Jan. 26 – Watkins Memorial Invitational
Jan. 30 – vs. Granville
*Feb. 7 – at Grove City with Lancaster
Feb. 9 – All-North Tournament at Dublin Jerome
Below are the coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg girls basketball, bowling and swimming & diving teams:
*Dec. 7 – At Gahanna
Dec. 11 – Home vs. Canal Winchester
*Dec. 6 – Olentangy at Delaware Lanes
Dec. 7 – Hilliard Bradley at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl
Dec. 12 – Marysville at Holiday Lanes
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 8 – Ned Reeb Memorial at Ohio State