Despite the loss of several key players to graduation, the Columbus Academy boys basketball team expects to remain a top contender in Division III.
The Vikings reached a district final last season, losing to eventual state champion Harvest Prep 71-67 to finish 20-5 overall.
The 2019 senior class finished with 76 varsity wins, but eighth-year coach Jeff Warstler still has high expectations.
"This is an entirely different situation," Warstler said. "The mantra that we have used is reload over rebuild. We lost a lot. I wouldn't call us young, but we're really inexperienced. We'll lean on (Carter Warstler) and see what he can do for us. ... It's next man up."
The Vikings opened Nov. 29 with a 55-53 overtime loss at Fredericktown and begin MSL-Ohio Division play Saturday, Dec. 7, against visiting Grandview.
Last season, Academy went 6-2 in the league to finish a game ahead of Worthington Christian and capture its first outright championship since 2008. It figures to be another close race with Buckeye Valley and Wellington joining the league.
"The league is unbelievable," coach Warstler said. "You could play really well and your record wouldn't reflect it. Worthington Christian will be off the charts. Grandview is good. Whitehall is good. Buckeye Valley is good. Wellington is good."
The Vikings return two key players from last season in senior guards Carter Warstler (6-foot) and Mitch Priest (6-1). Warstler, the coach's son, was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
"We lost a lot of guys (from) last year, but we have a bunch of experience this year," Carter Warstler said. "We have some new guys, but I think we have a great chance again this year."
Priest is looking forward to helping his team meet its latest challenges.
"The expectations always stay the same," he said. "Obviously, on paper, last year we had a lot of bigger guys, a lot more experience, but it's been fun getting used to playing with these guys and having another good season."
Also back are seniors David Cooperman (6-1 wing player) and Josh Murry (6-0, guard) and juniors Brady Hess (6-2, guard) and Jared Kass (6-3, forward).
Other players are juniors Vaughn Armour (6-0, forward), Daniel Farber (6-4, post player) and Miles Walter (6-1, forward).
"I think we can shoot it a little bit," coach Warstler said. "We're starting to understand what to do defensively. We're going to have to find ways to make stops and get rebounds. That's what it's going to come down to. ... We're going to have to go to work."
A key loss to graduation was guard Dorrian Moultrie, who averaged 11.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists last season. He was first-team all-league and second-team all-district.
Post player Dalyn DeCree and wing player Chris Boyle were second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, and post player Hayden Compton was honorable mention all-league.
Bowling teams have new coach
After being an assistant coach last season, Gerardina Garita is looking forward to the challenge of leading the boys and girls bowling teams.
The Vikings opened COHSBC-C play Dec. 2 against Centennial.
"My transition has been good overall, in part because I know most of the students on the team," Garita said. "However, it has been a big learning curve for me and my assistant coach, Andy Adu, in terms of paperwork and the many details that coaching requires. I have always had a lot or respect for coaches, but even more now that I am living it."
Returning for the boys team are senior Michael Hoffman, juniors Cole Leis, Gabe Taub and Vincent White and sophomores Ben Anasis and Ryan Reagan.
Other bowlers are senior Donovan Simpson, juniors Brian Comisar, David Narayanan, Jacob Podgurski and Skyler Simpson and freshmen Jacob Mowery, Andrew Shayani and Maxwell Zhang.
Back for the girls team are seniors Gianna Bates and Nikki Turley, juniors Evelyn Olexio and Beatrice Sull and sophomore Tara Hoffman.
Other bowlers are senior Eleanor Jeffers, junior Madeline Rosenberg and sophomores Sarah Albirini and Mallory Smith.
"We have very good bowlers on the team and they are showing good things," Garita said. "We have a good combination of returnees and new kids who are bowling well. That is very exciting for us. It will be a great season."
Below are the coming schedules for the Academy boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 7 -- Home vs. Grandview
*Dec. 10 -- At Wellington
Dec. 7 -- Home vs. Delaware Christian
*Dec. 10 -- Home vs. Columbus School for Girls
*Dec. 5 -- Briggs at Stardust Lanes
*Dec. 9 -- Whetstone at HP Lanes
*Dec. 11 -- Columbus South at HP Lanes
*Dec. 6 -- DeSales at Chiller Easton
*Dec. 8 -- DeSales at Chiller Easton
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 6 -- Home vs. Bexley
Dec. 7 -- Columbus Academy Relays
Dec. 7 -- Granville Invitational
Dec. 11 -- Home vs. Centennial, Linden-McKinley and Marion-Franklin