Ann Tiefenthaler has an advantage in her first season coaching the Central Crossing girls basketball team.

She's already familiar with the program and the players.

Tiefenthaler was an assistant last winter under Michal Cheney, who left after three seasons, and she also coached this group of seniors in middle school.

"Coaching varsity (basketball) always has been a dream of mine and I didn't think the opportunity would come around," said Tiefenthaler, a Cleveland native who teaches English at the high school. "I have always played basketball and loved to coach it. I love being with the girls."

The Comets return two starters from last year's team, which finished 5-18 overall and 2-8 in the OCC-Central Division. They are senior guard Haley Cox and sophomore guard Georgia Lakso.

"(Tiefenthaler) was my coach in middle school as well as now in my senior year so everything has come full circle," said Cox, who was honorable mention all-district and first-team all-league last winter. "She has come in working to change the culture and has done a good job. She wants us to get the ball up the court as much as we can."

Tiefenthaler said having the likes of Cox and Lakso has made her job a little easier.

"Haley probably has the highest basketball IQ on the team," said Tiefenthaler, whose team opened Nov. 22 against Delaware and begins league play Tuesday, Dec. 3, at Westland. "This year, she has been asked to take on a larger leadership role, and she has the team on her shoulders. She needs to know all of the positions on the court, and she has worked to make herself way stronger (physically) than she has been in the past.

"Georgia is one of the strongest girls on the team, and she's a gamer. She has the drive and motivation to compete, and she wants to be out there in the fight. She has a presence and we need that on the team."

Senior Araceli Rosado and freshman Lydia Kimmel also will see time at point guard. Junior Kamaree Little is expected to contribute in the front court, and junior Sydney McCullough will play in the backcourt.

"Kamaree Little can play small forward or center for us," Tiefenthaler said. "Her play has improved from last year, and she is feisty and scrappy. She has the heart and drive we are looking for.

"Sydney McCullough is one of our players that has gotten stronger in the offseason. She has a great shot and will be a perimeter threat for us."

Rounding out the roster are seniors Alaysia Gordon (guard/forward) and Aliana Washington (forward), juniors Nevaeha Adu (guard) and Amanda Kumfer (guard), sophomore forward Zoe King and freshman forward Taylynne Springs.

King, Little and Springs are the tallest varsity players at 5-foot-8.

"I am going with the team philosophy of 'five strong,' " Tiefenthaler said. "Everyone has a role and has to be accountable for that role. ...We're a small team (in height). We're going to be a defensive team, so we need to be strong, scrappy and fast."

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Central Crossing boys basketball, girls basketball, gymnastics and swimming & diving teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

Nov. 29 -- At Bascom Hopewell-Loudon

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Dec. 3 -- At Westland

GYMNASTICS

Dec. 4 -- At Hilliard Darby with Franklin Heights, *Grove City, Hilliard Bradley, *Hilliard Davidson and Westland

SWIMMING & DIVING

Nov. 30 -- Bradley, Davidson, Grove City and Westland at Hilliard YMCA

Dec. 2 -- DeSales, Grandview, Hamilton Township, Westland and Whetstone at Columbus Aquatics Center

*League contest