Not much seems to change from year to year for the Watterson boys basketball team.

The expectations usually include contending for the CCL championship and making a run in the district tournament.

The Eagles always seem to have physical inside players and veterans who fit into the system of 27th-year coach Vince Lombardo.

This season likely won't be an exception, even though the roster is a bit younger than it was last season when the Eagles had six seniors and went 15-10 overall, shared the CCL title with DeSales at 6-2 and reached a Division II district final.

Watterson opened Dec. 3 against Worthington Kilbourne and begins league action Friday, Dec. 6, at DeSales. The Eagles then will play Westerville North on Saturday, Dec. 7, at Hoosier Gym in Knightstown, Indiana, which is the site of the movie "Hoosiers."

"Things are coming along very well," 6-foot-4 senior forward Mason Graney said. "We have new guys playing varsity this year and we're jelling as a team. We're learning how to play together and have seen some good things. We're excited to start our season and are well-prepared. Our hopes are to outright win the CCL and make a run in the playoffs. I think we'll be very successful this season."

Seniors Mike Bruzzese (6-2, wing player) and Chris Crane (6-2, wing player) and juniors Davis Boone (6-2, forward) and Sam Intihar (6-1, guard) are the top returnees.

Boone missed several games last season because of injury but averaged eight points. Crane averaged six points and Bruzzese averaged 5.5.

Graney and junior Noah Grayem (6-0, forward) are other key returnees.

Juniors Jake Hoying (6-1, guard), Gavin Greene (6-0, guard), Noah Gruver (6-2, guard) and Nick Malagreca (6-1, guard) and sophomore Gilbert Oduro (6-5, post player) also are battling for playing time.

"We've got a great group of guys, good program guys and we've got kids that buy into what we need to do to be successful on the court and who are good athletes," Lombardo said. "We've got five football players in the mix and some other guys like Mason Graney, who is a three-sport athlete, and others who we need to make into good basketball players this winter."

Last winter, Columbus South ended Watterson's season for the fourth consecutive year, but the Bulldogs have moved up to Division I.

The biggest losses from a year ago were 2019 graduates Zach Sawyer (15 points per game; first-team all-district), Jimmy Patton (10 ppg; honorable mention all-district), Stephen Garrett (6.5 ppg) and Drew Davis (4.5 ppg).

In addition to the trip to Indiana, Watterson's schedule includes a game against Proctorville Fairland in the Russ Gregg Holiday Classic on Dec. 27 at Whitehall and a trip to Springfield Shawnee on Feb. 1.

"We're working hard at it and ... we just try to talk about getting a little better each day," Lombardo said. "We always want to be in position to battle for the league championship and hopefully we'll be playing our best basketball in February."

Girls bowlers look to defend titles

The girls bowling team returns most of its lineup from last season, when it went 14-2 overall and won titles in the COHSBC-D Division (11-0) and CCL (6-0).

The Eagles, who placed 11th in the Division I district tournament last year, should be led by senior Isabelle Payton, juniors Rachel Reuter, Christina Rose and Madison Shaw and sophomore Joy Packard.

Also looking to contribute is junior Chloe Forrest, a newcomer.

Watterson opened Nov. 26 with a 1,585-1,089 win over Olentangy Liberty at Sawmill Lanes and competed against Hamilton Township on Dec. 2 at Sawmill Lanes and Columbus East on Dec. 3 at HP Lanes. Its CCL opener is Thursday, Dec. 5, against Ready at Sawmill Lanes.

"(Payton) should be the best player on the team," 20th-year coach Jerry Wagner said. "Over summer, we had a practice period and she threw several 200-plus games and over (the) last five weeks of practice (had) several 200 games. (We're) expecting to be better this year than last year."

The Eagles lost two of their top bowlers from a year ago in 2019 graduates Mary Pulsinelli and Anna Rose. Pulsinelli was 21st in the COHSBC with a 169.9 average and tied for 17th (533) at district.

Boys bowlers look to take step up

The boys bowling team has three returnees in senior Jacob Garland and sophomores Peter Assaf and Jack Kish.

The Eagles opened Nov. 26 with a 1,981-1,527 loss to Liberty at Sawmill Lanes and competed against Hamilton Township on Dec. 2 at Sawmill Lanes and East on Dec. 3 at HP Lanes. Their CCL opener is Thursday, Dec. 5, against Ready at Sawmill Lanes.

Last season, Watterson went 5-11 overall, 5-7 in the COHSBC-D and 0-8 in the CCL.

Sophomores Quinn Brown and Gavin Lewis and freshman James McMonagle are others looking to contribute.

The biggest loss from last season was 2019 graduate Seth Payton, who averaged 162.9 in the COHSBC.

"This will be a better year than last year, though it's still a rebuilding year as last year," Wagner said. "It will be an exciting year, though."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Watterson boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, hockey and swimming & diving teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Dec. 6 -- At DeSales

Dec. 7 -- Westerville North at Hoosier Gym in Knightstown, Ind.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Dec. 7 -- Westerville North at Hoosier Gym in Knightstown, Ind.

Dec. 9 -- At Hilliard Davidson

BOWLING

*Dec. 5 -- Ready at Sawmill Lanes

*Dec. 11 -- Hartley at Holiday Lanes

HOCKEY

Dec. 6 -- Troy at Chiller North

Dec. 7 -- Gahanna at Chiller Easton

Dec. 8 -- St. Charles at Chiller Easton

SWIMMING & DIVING

Dec. 7 -- St. Charles Showdown

*League contest