After being part of a successful Dublin Coffman girls basketball program over the past 10 years, Randy Patton is hoping to produce similar results in his new role as coach of the Westerville Central girls team.
Patton replaced Jim Morgan, who stepped down after two seasons. Last year, the Warhawks finished 10-14 overall and 3-7 in the OCC-Buckeye Division.
"I've been doing this for a long time and you have to be ready for challenges," Patton said. "With the time I've spent in girls basketball, the time that I've coached in my lifetime, I know there are challenges and this is a challenge."
Central opened Nov. 22 against Grove City and begins OCC-Buckeye play Dec. 6 against Westerville North.
The Warhawks return just one player with significant varsity experience in 5-foot-8 guard Mabinty Kebe, who is the only senior in the program. She averaged 9.7 points and a team-best 7.8 rebounds last season and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
"I love this time of the year," Kebe said. "There's a great atmosphere. Coach is working us a lot using our athleticism as our strongest point of the team. ... We want to play to the best of our ability. We have a really young team, but we're all very athletic."
Juniors Sydney Bell (5-1, guard) and Erin Hundley (5-9, wing player) and sophomores Taytum Albanese (5-7, guard), Taylor Hickman (5-9, wing player), Rugie Kabia (5-10, post player) and Ashley Kerscher (5-9, wing player/post player) played junior varsity last season.
Other players are sophomore Leah Albrecht (5-4, guard) and freshmen Maddie Maxwell (5-7, post player) and Alexis Shea (5-6, guard/wing player).
"They come to practice every day and they're good kids, but there isn't a lot of varsity experience," Patton said. "We have Mabinty as a returner. I've been trying to stay positive. We have to work hard, we have to support each other and we have to keep our heads up."
Central lost eight players to graduation, including forward Najayah Shepherd, who averaged 9.3 points and 6.7 rebounds and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Another graduate, point guard Michayla Brenning, was honorable mention all-league.
Senior forward/guard Karmen Long, who averaged a team-best 10.1 points along with 7.6 rebounds, transferred to Olentangy. She was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Patton was the junior varsity coach at Coffman, but he also served as interim varsity coach during the 2015-16 season when his son, Bryan, took a leave of absence after the birth of one of his daughters. That season, the Shamrocks went 23-4 and reached a Division I district final.
Before coaching at Coffman, Patton served as the junior varsity boys coach at Central for four seasons. He also coached boys and girls middle school teams during a 23-year coaching career with Westerville City Schools.
Below are the coming schedules for the Central boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling and gymnastics teams:
Nov. 30 -- Grove City or Hamilton Township in Grove City Tip-Off Tournament
Dec. 3 -- Home vs. DeSales
Dec. 4 -- At DeSales
*Dec. 3 -- Westerville North at Sequoia Pro Bowl
Dec. 4 - At Marysville with Olentangy Orange and Worthington Kilbourne