The Olentangy boys basketball team doesn’t have any returning starters back from last year’s 15-9 team which won 10 games in its division … not one.
Coach Chris Kelly, entering his 11th season at the helm, isn’t worried about the lack of experience hampering his Braves’ ability to light up the scoreboard, though — something they’ve done with regularity in recent years.
“We lost some outstanding seniors, but are hopeful that a strong group of young players, who have worked very hard, can step up to the challenge of filling their shoes,” Kelly said. “We believe we will be very good offensively. We will attack all game and force our opponents to work extremely hard for four quarters.”
Defensively, the squad’s key is in its versatility.
“We are a smart and quick defensive team,” the coach said. “We will keep teams off-balance by changing defenses very quickly … we are also a deep and unselfish team.”
Olentangy has plenty of speed, too, which it will have to use to offset the inexperience and a lack of size — two of the team’s most noticeable weaknesses.
“We may be the youngest team in Central Ohio, with six juniors and six sophomores,” Kelly said. “And we don’t have a lot of size, which could lead to some matchup problems on the defensive end and in the rebounding department.”
Key returners include junior point guard Jimmy Gundling and junior guard Ryan Sieve.
“Jimmy averaged eight points per game last season and played a big role for our team as a sixth man,” Kelly said. “He is an explosive offensive player and has great work ethic … I believe he will be one of the top guards in Central Ohio.
“Ryan played some key minutes last year, and is an excellent shooter. He has grown and gained a great deal of strength, which will really help us on the boards and guarding bigger players.”
Newcomers who could see significant action include a strong crop of sophomores in Seth O’Neal, Derrick Wyche, Obi Anunike and Christian and Brandon Mazzeo. Juniors Jeff Darfus, Matt Forsythe, Andrew Kaylor and Joey McGuinness could also play key minutes for Kelly and company.
Kelly said his team will need to grow up fast to compete in the always-competitive OCC-Capital Division, but likes what his kids bring to the table.
“I believe New Albany and Delaware would have to be considered the favorites, but we expect to make it as tough as possible for them,” Kelly said.