After reaching a Division I district final last season, the Hilliard Davidson boys basketball team has a new look.
The Wildcats lost 10 players to graduation and another who will graduate after the first semester of this school year from a team that went 20-6 overall, 7-3 in the OCC-Central Division and won three postseason games before losing to Olentangy Liberty 72-65 in a district final.
Davidson opened Dec. 2 with a 68-58 loss to Centennial and begins league play Friday, Dec. 6, at home against defending champion Dublin Coffman.
"We have high expectations," third-year coach Tim Congrove said. "I'm not going to say I'm going to be content with anything. We don't care about last year, it's the past. I know we have very little experience and we're young, but our standards are the same."
Davidson returns just one player who saw varsity playing time last season in 6-foot-3 senior guard Evan Tekancic, who will be looked upon to provide leadership.
"As good a year as we had last year, we have to move on and hope to have an even better year this year," Tekancic said.
Congrove also is looking for leadership from 6-5 senior center Paul Koppenhoefer.
"It's a lot of guys with not a lot of experience, but they work hard and they're excited guys who are getting a chance to play," Congrove said. "... It's going to be a big change from last year, especially with all the seniors (from last year's team) gone, but somebody has to step into that (leadership) role."
Junior Jayden Humphrey (6-0) will play point guard, while 5-10 sophomore guard Jonathan Weir, a transfer from Upper Arlington, also should be a key contributor.
"He's a very good athlete," Congrove said of Weir. "He gets to the rim well. He can guard. He's tough."
Rounding out the roster are seniors Evan Goins (6-2, forward) and Kyle Grolle (6-4, forward), juniors Jack Fantin (6-3, forward), Graham McClellan (6-3, guard) and Jack Simon (6-3, center) and sophomore Ryan Paris (6-1, guard).
"We're trying to find our identity," Congrove said. "It's not fair to compare this group to last year's group. We have a lot of skilled guys out here. We have to get a lot better. We know that, but these guys are working their butts off. They're very coachable. They're a good group of kids."
A key loss to graduation was Jacob Drees, who averaged a team-high 12.6 points and 9.2 rebounds and was named first-team all-league and second-team all-district last season. He now plays for Cedarville University.
Two other key losses were 2019 graduate Christian Gillilan, who averaged 11.3 points and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, and senior Gage Keys, who averaged 11.2 points and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. Keys will be graduating early to enroll at Minnesota to begin preparing for the 2020 football season.
"I didn't foresee Gage not coming back, but that happens," Congrove said.
Last season, the Wildcats placed third in the OCC-Central behind Coffman (9-1) and Upper Arlington (8-2).
"A lot of teams lost a lot of guys," Congrove said of the league. "It will be competitive across the board. There's not really one team that stands out. The last few years, it's been UA and Coffman up there."
Bowling teams to open season
The bowling teams will open the season Tuesday, Dec. 10, against Lancaster in a COHSBC-B match at Tiki Lanes.
The boys team expects to be led by seniors Nate Shugart and Dominic Williams and junior Ben Curry.
Last season, Williams averaged 159.8 pins in league play.
Davidson is looking to replace 2019 graduates Grayson Holloway and Chase Miles, who finished 26th (581 three-game series) and 63rd (529), respectively, of 106 bowlers in last year's Division I district tournament.
The girls team should be led by seniors Lauren Domer, Laurel King, Ariel Meach and Reilly Wolfinger and junior Liesel Kehrle.
King represented the team at district last season, finishing 39th (479) of 104 bowlers.
After competing as club teams in previous seasons, Davidson, Bradley and Darby now have varsity status.
"I'm probably going to have decent teams," 11th-year coach Adrian Jasinski said.
Below are the coming schedules for the Davidson boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 6 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman
Dec. 10 -- Home vs. Lancaster
*Dec. 6 -- At Coffman
Dec. 9 -- Home vs. Watterson
Dec. 10 -- At Lancaster
*Dec. 10 -- Lancaster at Tiki Lanes
Dec. 9 -- At *Coffman with Dublin Jerome, Dublin Scioto, Bradley, Darby and Olentangy Orange
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 6 -- Watterson and Westerville Central at Westerville Community Center
Dec. 7 -- Jerome at Dublin Recreation Center
Dec. 7 -- Olentangy Invitational