Quentin Taylor entered his first season as Whitehall-Yearling girls basketball coach with high expectations.
His optimism is based on the return of several key players along with the addition of a highly regarded sophomore transfer.
Taylor replaced Darrin Green, who stepped down after two seasons. After going 1-22 in Green's first season, the Rams finished 14-10 overall last year, and Taylor is hoping to build on that success.
"I'm very optimistic," he said. "The girls were a little hesitant for my demands because I've been pushing them a lot more than they've been pushed in previous years. That is paying dividends for us."
Whitehall opened Nov. 25 against Licking Valley and begins MSL-Ohio Division play Saturday, Nov. 30, against visiting Wellington, which has joined the league along with Buckeye Valley and Columbus School for Girls.
Last season, the Rams went 5-3 in the league to finish third behind champion Worthington Christian (7-1). Taylor expects his team to contend for the league title and advance far in the postseason.
"These girls want to do something," he said. "They've never had a banner hung up in the school. They've never really been part of the conversation and now in the preseason there's a lot of attention. My whole thing is not to let these girls get complacent with just getting attention because that can kill the whole season."
Junior Jewel Watkins, a 5-foot-9 wing player and guard, was named first-team all-league last season. Senior Kiara Bagley, a 5-8 guard, was second-team all-league and third-team all-district in Division II.
"What's so special about our team is how hard we work and how much better we are working as a team," Bagley said. "We're all connecting even better as being sisters. I'm looking forward to playing with them."
The Rams should be boosted by the addition of sophomore Alexia Mobley, a 6-2 forward and transfer from Reynoldsburg who already has received interest from Division I college programs. She was second-team all-OCC-Ohio and honorable mention all-district in Division I last season after averaging 9.5 points.
"The transition (from Reynoldsburg) was pretty smooth," Mobley said. "Coach Q has been a part of that. I know that he wants the best for us. Everything that he is doing is amazing for all of us."
Other returnees are seniors Liana Betts (6-0, forward), Kari Gullick (5-8, wing play-er/guard), Sahlena Harvey (5-6, guard), A'Nyah Jones (5-8, wing player/forward) and Izzy Simmons (5-6, guard), junior Desira Henderson (5-6, guard) and sophomores Kayla Bagley (5-8, forward) and Brooklynn Greer (5-2, guard).
Senior Londen Coleman, who transferred from Reynoldsburg before her junior year, has returned to Reynoldsburg. She was second-team all-league last season.
Taylor served as the freshman boys basketball coach at Whitehall the past three seasons. He was the boys coach at Johnson Park Middle School in Columbus from 2012-16 and has coached at the AAU level the last five years.
"The transition is good overall," Kiara Bagley said. "He's teaching us so we can be the best that we can be. We're all buying in and I believe in what he is doing for all of us."
Below are the coming schedules for the Whitehall-Yearling boys basketball and bowling teams:
Nov. 30 -- Northland in All-Ohio Nike Showcase at Gahanna
*Dec. 3 -- Thomas Worthington at Capri Lanes
*Dec. 4 -- Pickerington North at Holiday Lanes