The Ready boys basketball team got a glimpse of what it could become this winter when it showed competitiveness over the summer against a series of larger schools.
Things could be challenging to start the season, particularly Tuesday, Dec. 3, when the Silver Knights open at Fairfield Union, because three key players aren't expected to be in uniform. But the Knights believe any early struggles could be temporary.
Three of the team's top contributors from last season, when Ready went 11-13 overall, have returned. Among them is 6-foot-3 junior forward Darius Parham, who averaged 15 points and made honorable mention all-district in Division III.
"The hope (is) that we're going to challenge for the league and be good at tournament time, and hopefully we'll stay healthy along the way," second-year coach Tony Bisutti said. "We've got some experience back definitely with our first five. We've got to develop some guys off the bench. That's kind of the thing right now. The first thing we've got to do is learn how to practice the way I want them to practice. They don't know what to expect right now and they're learning that. They'll be fine."
The only senior is Brock Baker, a 6-1 guard who averaged 7.0 points last season.
Juniors Azzan Daniels (6-1, guard), P.J. Daniels (6-1, guard) and Garrison Budd (6-1, guard) also have returned.
Budd averaged 8.9 points last year, and Azzan Daniels was a contributor off the bench. P.J. Daniels transferred at midseason from Hartley and sat out the final 10 games but also must sit out the Fairfield Union contest to fulfill the OHSAA transfer rule.
Also expected to be unavailable for the opener are junior Keenan Johnston, a 5-10 guard who is serving a two-game suspension for getting a red card while playing for the boys soccer team, and junior Kyle Gramlich, a 6-3 wing player who is battling an injury.
The other juniors are Cael Dent (6-2, post player) and Andy Schulze (5-9, guard).
Rounding out the roster are sophomores Austin Burgoon (6-3, forward) and Troy Hixon (5-11, guard) and freshmen Charlie Russell (6-3, wing player), Kaleb Shaffer (6-4, post player) and Luke Ruth (5-11, guard).
Ready opens CCL action Friday, Dec. 6, at Hartley after going 1-7 in the league last season.
There were four players lost to graduation, including Cade Canter (7.1 points), Cade Dent (5.0 points) and Jaishan Norris (8.7 points).
"We've been playing well together," Baker said. "We've been making the extra pass and playing team defense. This season, our hopes are to continue to grow as a team and peak during playoff time."
Girls basketball team builds with youth
With sophomores and freshmen expected to fill key roles, the girls basketball team believes there should be plenty of positives coming over the next couple seasons.
There could be some growing pains this winter as the Knights adjust to having a new point guard and as they look for ways to score following the graduation of Derricka Bramwell. She is playing at Bluefield State after averaging 16 points and making second-team all-district last season.
After three players expected to provide depth elected to not return this season, there are 11 players in the program.
"We were young last year and we're younger this year," said Joe Lang, who is in his 39th season as coach. "The biggest problem is we don't have a pure point guard. Ariyhana (Marshall, a 2019 graduate), wasn't last year, but she did a great job of making herself into one. We're just really struggling right now because the young kids don't know our offensive sets. They don't know our inbounds plays. It's such a difference from eighth grade and what they're used to."
Ready, which went 9-14 overall and 3-4 in the CCL last season, opened Nov. 22 with a 59-32 win over Franklin Heights and lost 84-26 on Nov. 26 at Jonathan Alder. The Knights don't open the league schedule until Jan. 9 against Watterson.
Senior Bre Hejduk (5-6), who averaged 6.8 points last season as the second-leading scorer, is expected to see time at point guard early in the season.
The only other senior is Dani Brown, a 5-7 post player.
Sophomores Abby Grundei (5-6, guard), Sierra Schlosser (5-9, post player) and Reagan Wheatley (5-7, guard) each contributed last season. Wheatley is recovering from a broken bone in her right arm but isn't expected to miss any games.
Sophomores Elizabeth Augustino (5-6, post player) and Claire Larger (5-6, guard) have moved up from the junior varsity.
Rounding out the roster are freshmen Ava Baker (5-8, guard/forward), Cailey Cheatham (5-6, wing player/guard), Lyla Hurd (5-6, guard) and Hope Orders (5-4, guard).
Baker is expected to fill a key role, with Orders also a likely contributor.
"We scrimmaged four teams, three of them were Division III, and we did not do well in our scrimmages, but typical us, I hope by tournament time we'll be a lot better," Lang said. "We've got to go down the floor and try to score before the defense gets set. Then if we can't do that, we've got to have some patience to take a good shot. That's almost like going from fifth gear to first gear, so our shot selection has to be superior."
Below are the coming schedules for the Ready boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling and swimming & diving teams:
Dec. 3 -- At Fairfield Union
*Dec. 6 -- At Hartley
Dec. 3 -- Home vs. Marion Pleasant
*Dec. 3 -- Linden-McKinley at HP Lanes
*Dec. 4 -- Walnut Ridge at Game of Western Columbus
*Dec. 5 -- Watterson at Sawmill Lanes
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 3 -- Grove City at Grove City YMCA