With several players back from last season, including a pair of 6-foot-7 senior forwards, the Hilliard Davidson High School boys basketball team expects to build on last season's 13-10 overall finish.
"These guys have high expectations," second-year coach Tim Congrove said. "They want to win our division in the OCC. They also understand it's more than a game. A lot of our team goals are coming closer as a family and working together, playing together and developing those lifelong friendships."
The Wildcats opened Dec. 1 by defeating host Chillicothe Zane Trace 74-45 in the Zane Trace Tip-Off Classic.
Senior Christian Gillian, one of the returning 6-7 forwards, led Davidson with 22 points. Senior Jacob Drees, the other 6-7 returnee, had 18 points and another returnee, 6-2 senior guard Joey Maynard, scored 12.
Last season, Drees was named first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
"I really like this team," said Drees, a Cedarville University commit. "... We've been playing together since we were in third and fourth grade. We have really good team chemistry already and that's going to help us be a really good team this year."
Gage Keys, a 6-5 junior center, is expected to miss the early part of the season as he recovers from a right knee injury sustained during football season. Last season, he was special mention all-league.
Also back are seniors Austin Conrad (6-2, guard), Carson Felicetty (6-2, guard), Cole Kazmerzak (6-3, forward), Zach Mayer (6-4, forward), Ethan Royer (6-3, guard) and Caleb Stimmel (6-3, guard).
Rounding out the team are seniors Josiah Ezirim (6-7, center) and DeSean Stokes (6-2, guard) and junior Evan Tekancic (6-2, guard).
"They've really been focusing on committing to the process, creating good habits every day and we've been focusing on the fundamentals," Congrove said. "We've seen a lot of progress. They understand that there's a lot of guys who are going to see the floor and that keeps it competitive. I've been proud with the way they come to practice ready to go."
Davidson lost 6-3 forward Patrick Preece, who transferred to Dublin Coffman for his senior year. He was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district last season.
The Wildcats will see Preece on Friday, Dec. 7, when they open OCC-Central Division play at Coffman. Last season, they went 6-4 in the league to finish third behind Upper Arlington (10-0) and Coffman (8-2).
"Coffman, UA, Marysville, they're always tough," Drees said. "We have a chance to win our OCC this year, but we're really going to have to put in a lot of extra work after practice and before practice."
Wrestling team has new leadership
The wrestling program has begun a new era as Chris Kline replaced Dominic DiSabato as coach during the offseason.
DiSabato stepped down in March after 19 seasons.
Kline, a 2008 Westerville North graduate, was a three-time Division I state qualifier with the Warriors. He won the state title at 160 pounds as a senior after placing fourth at 152 as a junior and finishing 1-2 at 130 as a freshman.
Kline went on to be a two-year starter at Ohio University, missing his senior season after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder.
"I'm feeling right at home," Kline said. "We're back doing what we love to do. I'm just really thankful to be here. We have a great program. Everybody is definitely responding to me really well. They enjoy that I'm young and it's something new for them."
Key returnees include seniors Luke DeWeese (152) and Zak Hughey (195) and juniors Teraun Dunseth (113) and Jackson Sowers (138).
All four were district qualifiers last season.
"Coach is awesome," DeWeese said. "He's keeping us in nice condition. Everything is just as it should be. I definitely have some big shoes to fill. I want to be there for everybody on the team."
Kline's tenure at Davidson kicked off Dec. 1 as the Wildcats finished seventh (115 points) in the Olentangy Invitational as the host Braves won (197.5).
Hughey finished first at 220 to lead the Wildcats, while Dunseth, Sowers, senior Keith Deleon (160) and juniors Dylan Evans (170) and Nick Lingaman (182) all placed second.
Other key wrestlers include senior Joey Dembinski (heavyweight), juniors Braden Eaton (220) and Nick Lutz (145), sophomore Alan Morales (120) and freshmen Quin Hopping (132), Dominic Martinez (120), Marquis Shaw (106) and Jake Smith (132).
Davidson lost several key wrestlers to graduation, led by Gio DiSabato, who was a four-time state qualifier.
DiSabato, who is wrestling at OU, capped his prep career by finishing sixth at state last season at 126 despite competing for most of the tournament with a collarbone injury. He finished 39-6 last season and left the program with the most career wins at 189-20.
Dec. 1 -- at Chillicothe Zane Trace in Zane Trace Tip-Off Classic
*Dec. 7 -- at Dublin Coffman
*Dec. 14 -- vs. Upper Arlington
Dec. 18 -- at Lancaster
*Dec. 21 -- vs. Central Crossing
Dec. 22 -- Logan in Capital City Coaches for a Cure Classic at Capital
Dec. 28 -- at Darby
*Jan. 4 -- at Westland
Jan. 8 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
*Jan. 11 -- vs. Marysville
*Jan. 18 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
Jan. 22 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
*Jan. 25 -- at Upper Arlington
Jan. 26 -- vs. Centennial
*Feb. 1 -- at Central Crossing
Feb. 2 -- vs. Springfield
Feb. 5 -- at Olentangy
*Feb. 8 -- vs. Westland
Feb. 9 -- at Bradley
Feb. 12 -- at Walnut Ridge
*Feb. 15 -- at Marysville
Dec. 1 -- Olentangy Invitational
Dec. 8 -- at Cincinnati Moeller
Dec. 28-29 -- West Jefferson Invitational
*Jan. 10 -- vs. Upper Arlington
Jan. 12 -- Porter Memorial Invitational at Bradley
*Jan. 17 -- at Westland
Jan. 19 -- Hamilton Township Wrestling Classic
*Jan. 24 -- at Central Crossing
Jan. 26 -- Rieman Invitational at Delaware
*Feb. 7 -- vs. Marysville
*Feb. 14 -- at Dublin Coffman
Below are the coming schedules for the Davidson girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics and swimming & diving teams:
*Dec. 10 -- At Dublin Coffman
*Dec. 6 -- Lancaster at Tiki Lanes
Dec. 12 -- Home vs. *Central Crossing, *Franklin Heights, Bradley, Darby and *Westland
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 7-8 -- Ned Reeb Memorial Invitational at Ohio State