Despite having just one senior on its roster a year ago, the Delaware Christian girls basketball team went 18-6 overall and won its first league championship since 2003, sharing the title with Shekinah Christian.
The return of key players such as 5-foot-10 senior forward Lyssi Snouffer and 5-8 senior guard Abby Maurer has the Eagles wondering if an even better season awaits them this winter.
Delaware Christian, which improved by six wins over the 2017-18 season, opened Nov. 22 with a 60-43 win over Centerburg and defeated Fairbanks 47-33 on Nov. 26. The Eagles play Monday, Dec. 2, at Centennial and begin MOCAL play Dec. 10 at Shekinah Christian.
Delaware Christian and Shekinah Christian both went 9-1 in the league last season.
"Our goal is to get to the (Division IV) district final game," 15th-year coach Jackie Boggs said. "We've never been there for basketball and if we're going to do it, this would be a great year to do it. We want to win the league without losing a game. It depends on how healthy we are and if we can stay out of foul trouble."
A lack of depth is one of the few concerns for the Eagles, as they have only nine players.
Snouffer, a Cedarville commit for volleyball and track and field, averaged 25.3 points and 20 rebounds and was named district co-Player of the Year last season. She entered this season as the program's career leader in points (1,335) and rebounds (1,060).
Maurer averaged nine points, five rebounds and four assists last season and was honorable mention all-district.
Sophomore forward Katie Neuhart (5-8), who had 12 points and 12 rebounds during the Eagles' 62-34 victory over Wellington in the first round of the district tournament a year ago, and sophomore guard Rachel Fisher (5-5) also are key returnees.
Elizabeth Ringley, a 5-5 junior guard, also should be a key player, while sophomore guards Abby McKee (5-5) and Emma Rindfuss (5-5) are other returnees.
Rounding out the roster are freshmen Rebecca Rajesh (5-7, guard) and Hannah Thilbrook (5-4, guard).
The Eagles lost only player from last season to graduation in guard Hannah Maurer, but juniors Nikki Snedden and Erin Bauslaugh are not expected to play this season because of injury.
"It's going to be a fun season," Boggs said. "We have eight girls that have all played before, so (hopefully) we can stay injury-free. We're doing a ton of stuff to prevent injuries. Everyone's matured a lot."
Boys basketball team building with defense
The boys basketball team returns three of its top five scorers from last season, when it went 9-14 overall and tied Shekinah Christian for second in the MOCAL at 7-3 behind Tree of Life (9-1).
Defense, though, could be the backbone to the Eagles' success.
"Right now, our defense is really far ahead of our offense in a positive way," sixth-year coach Jon Landrum said. "Offensively, we've got a lot of work to do."
Nathan Stewart, a 5-7 junior guard, averaged a team-high 11 points last season, while 6-2 senior forward Pryce Johnson averaged nine points and six rebounds and 5-10 sophomore guard Dayne Johnson averaged 8.5 points and 4.5 rebounds.
Stewart and Pryce Johnson both were honorable mention all-district.
James Vasek, a 5-11 junior forward, and 5-10 sophomore guard Conner Bean are other key returnees, while 5-10 senior guard Tim Snedden should fill a key role after being on junior varsity the past three seasons.
Also on the team are seniors Jayden Crane (5-9, guard) and Caleb Hrynkow (6-5, center) and sophomore Jonah Short (6-0, forward).
The Eagles opened Nov. 30 at home against Marion Elgin and play host to Lakewood on Tuesday, Dec. 3. They open MOCAL play Dec. 13 at Shekinah Christian.
Delaware Christian lost three players from a year ago to graduation in guard Jon Walter and forward Curtis Bean, both of whom were honorable mention all-district, as well as guard Ike Hedges. Bean averaged 8.5 points.
"Tree of Life won (the MOCAL title) last year and Shekinah won the year before that," Landrum said. "We've been at least second each of the past four years, so we've been there. It could be pretty interesting."
Eagles not fielding wrestling team
After having four competitors a year ago, there won't be a wrestling team this season, coach Jamie Marquis said.
Josh Proper, who was a Division III state qualifier two seasons ago at 106 pounds and suffered an injury during the championship match at 113 in the 12-team sectional last season at Madison Plains and was forced to withdraw from the district tournament, is expected to compete for Jonathan Alder this winter, according to Marquis.
Proper still attends Delaware Christian but lives in Plain City.