BELLAIRE - St. John Central comes into the season with big expectations as it looks to improve under Coach Kevin Lahna, who took over early last season when Jim Miller stepped away.
With a couple unexpected components and a fresh start down, the Irish look to erase the previous season.
Lahna, who has coached at several schools, sports, and levels across Ohio, takes the opportunity to restore this two-victory team into a winning squad, which lost seniors Michael Gregorcic and Travis Ogden, both of whom saw substantial playing time.
''We have a good mix of guys we are going to be able to match up with some bigger teams, but get out and moving on the floor when we have the chance. It's nice to be able to do that,'' Lahna said.
"We're not the youngest team, but we are fundamentally young in some aspects, so we are trying to correct that.
"We also want to press and force turnovers when we go with the smaller lineup. We can even shoot the 3 when we need to. There are a lot of things we can do, and I'm very excited.''
The Irish bring six seniors to the hardwood this year, four of whom saw playing time. John Alvey (5-foot-10) will be running offense primarily.
''We'll look to Alvey to keep everything in order on both ends of the floor. He's a hard-working kid who makes good decisions,'' Lahna said.
In addition, newcomer Alex Francis (5-10) looks to man another one of the guard spots. Francis adds athleticism and a nice shot into the offense.
Down low, there are will be three seniors seeing playing time, all who stand taller than 6 feet.
D.J. Shoemaker (6-3), who took on versatile roles including linebacker and quarterback this fall, will bring that physical presence to the gym.
''Just D.J. being down there, opens up our shooters, and allows us to work and inside out game,'' Lahna said.
Returning letterman Kyle Imer (6-0), Darren Palmer (6-0) and Kollin Melko (6-0) complement a roster. All should be able to hang with teams on the boards.
Junior Jonathan Bossell (5-11), Garrett Holubeck (5-10) and Jacob Jones (5-11) make up junior class. Lahna will look toward Holubeck and Palmer, who will be vying as first man off the bench.
Sophomores Sean Clemons (5-10) and Malik Ford (5-9) add depth as second-year players. Both saw playing time last season and hold promising futures.
St. John has a slew of freshmen, which shows the program's strengthening. Guards at his disposal are Zac Schnegg (5-0), Anthony Busack (5-0), and Austin Morris (5-4). Forwards Brycen Murray (6-1), Brian Bossell (5-8), Kyle Ogden (5-6), Bryce Zonkoski (5-8) and Nick Petho (5-9) will all hope to establish a working game down low for the years ahead.
Helping out the first year coach will be Doug Raticzak, who is handling the reserves, Duane Gulla, and Tim Blue.