Since the graduation of post player Kaleb Wesson in 2017, the Westerville South High School boys basketball team has had to rely more on a smaller lineup.
While the Wildcats again lack height, their objectives remain the same under 32nd-year coach Ed Calo.
South again will focus on playing solid defense and utilizing its quickness as it hopes to contend for an OCC-Buckeye Division title and make a postseason run.
Playing without Wesson, who is a sophomore forward at Ohio State, the Wildcats reached a Division I district final last season, losing to Hilliard Bradley 59-46.
"We've been here 30-something years and in probably only about five years we've had size," Calo said. "This is more of what we're used to. It's a more typical South team. Coming from the big squad we had, we had to make an adjustment last year. We have to make up for it in terms of pressure."
The Wildcats opened Nov. 30 with a 60-56 loss at Newark. Jaiden Guice, a 5-foot-10 sophomore guard, led South with 13 points and Jordan McMillian, a 6-0 senior guard, added 11 points.
"(Our size) doesn't concern me because we push the ball, so that eliminates us having to fight against bigger players because we're pushing the ball more and they're going to have to keep up with us," McMillian said.
Last season, McMillian was named first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district as the Wildcats went 15-9 overall and 5-5 in the OCC-Buckeye.
"We're improving," McMillian said. "We're doing well. We're not too far behind with things and we're all learning. I'm definitely going to have to be more vocal this year and be more of a leader for some of the guys who have never played varsity before."
Senior Manny Sunnyway, a 6-1 guard, was special mention all-league a year ago.
Also back are seniors Devin Caldwell (6-0, guard), Ryan Greggs (6-0, guard) and Jacob Singleton (6-3, guard) and junior Stephen Saint-Cyr (6-1, guard).
Other players are senior Justin Alexander (5-11, guard), junior Keyton Kowalski (6-1, guard) and sophomores Jesse DeVore (5-10, guard), Tabari Howard (6-0, guard) and Peter Pedrozo (5-9, guard).
"It's a blessing that we have the energy to help kids because they only have high school one time," Calo said. "I like how hard they're working. We have a long way to go. Our kids play well together and we're continuing to get them to play well together. As long as that's happening, I feel pretty good about them."
South opens league play Friday, Dec. 7, at Olentangy. Last season, the Wildcats finished third behind champion Westerville North (8-2), and Calo expects a balanced league again this winter.
"(Olentangy) Liberty is good," Calo said. "North won the league last year. They have some athletes back. They should be really good. (Sean) Marks from Olentangy is one of the best players in central Ohio as far as shooting the basketball. Olentangy Orange has some good returnees. Central lost some people, but they have athletes. The whole league is going to be pretty decent."
Morton expected to lead wrestling team
In only his third year in wrestling, junior Aaron Morton hopes to earn a Division I state tournament berth.
Competing in his first district tournament last winter, Morton went 1-2 at 152 pounds to finish 36-12.
"It's more motivation than you can imagine," Morton said of last season's finish. "It's going to happen this year. I've trusted in my training more than ever."
Morton, who was the Wildcats' only district qualifier a year ago, will compete at 160 this season.
"He wants to get to the state tournament," coach George Crooks said. "Last year at district was very disappointing. He's working really hard. He never stops."
Morton had a busy offseason, competing in events in Russia and Fargo, North Dakota.
He finished first at 160 as South opened Dec. 1 by placing fourth (130.5 points) in the 10-team Lee Spitzer Invitational behind champion and host Upper Arlington (255).
The Wildcats begin OCC-Buckeye action Jan. 10 at Olentangy.
Also back are junior Bobby Henderson (152, 17-24 last season) and sophomores Fuanyi Fobellah (106, 14-18) and Nick Ifju (132, 24-18).
Other returnees are seniors Seth Chrisman (145) and Jacob Shalvey (182).
Also looking to contribute are seniors Andrew Flynn (170) and Zach Sicilian (heavyweight), junior Brendan Cleaver (220) and sophomore Brian Tennant (113).
"We have a great amount of wrestlers," said Crooks, who is in his fourth season of his second coaching stint at South. "Our first year back we had 10 total. Now we have about 35."
Crooks also coached the Wildcats from 2003-04 through 2007-08.
Former South wrestler Manju Jabbie is a volunteer assistant. A 2006 graduate, Jabbie was a three-time state qualifier.
"The kids look up to him," Crooks said. "He's old school."
Nov. 30 -- at Newark
Dec. 4 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
*Dec. 7 -- at Olentangy
*Dec. 14 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
Dec. 17 -- at Gahanna
*Dec. 21 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
Dec. 22 -- vs. Dresden Tri-Valley
Dec. 27 -- Toledo Waite in Phil Brown Classic at Otterbein
*Jan. 4 -- at Westerville North
Jan. 8 -- vs. Pickerington Central
*Jan. 11 -- vs. Westerville Central
Jan. 12 -- at Cleveland St. Ignatius
*Jan. 18 -- vs. Olentangy
Jan. 19 -- Canton McKinley in Martin Luther King Classic at North Canton Hoover
Jan. 22 -- vs. Reynoldsburg
*Jan. 25 -- at Olentangy Liberty
*Feb. 1 -- at Olentangy Orange
Feb. 5 -- at Upper Arlington
*Feb. 8 -- vs. Westerville North
Feb. 12 -- at Johnstown
*Feb. 15 -- at Westerville Central
Feb. 19 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
Dec. 1 -- Lee Spitzer Invitational at Upper Arlington
Dec. 6 -- vs. Grove City, Hilliard Bradley and Mount Vernon
Dec. 8 -- Jeremy Ammons Kilted Classic at Sparta Highland
Dec. 19 -- vs. Liberty Union
Dec. 28-29 -- Marion Harding Classic
*Jan. 10 -- at Olentangy
Jan. 12 -- Golden Eagle Duals at Madison Plains
*Jan. 17 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
Jan. 19 -- Pickerington North Invitational
*Jan. 24- at Westerville North
Jan. 26 -- New Albany Invitational
Feb. 4 -- at Mifflin with Buckeye Valley and Liberty Union
*Feb. 7 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
Feb. 9 -- All-North Tournament at Dublin Jerome
*Feb. 14 -- at Westerville Central
Below are the coming schedules for the South girls basketball and bowling teams:
*Dec. 7 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange
Dec. 8 -- Home vs. Lexington
*Dec. 11 -- Marysville at Dragon Lanes