There's no secret to what the Calvary Lutheran boys basketball team has been spending its time on in practice.
"We've got a lot of kids back from last year and our main emphasis is to get things going on the offensive end of the floor," Calvary coach Mark Buffington said as the Lions prepared for today's season opener at New Bloomfield. "We played pretty good defense, we just had a lot of trouble scoring."
The good thing is, the Lions return a veteran squad that's seen a ton of playing time at the varsity level.
"We won't be very big, but we have a lot of experience," Buffington said. "Those kids played quite a bit and we're looking forward to them getting another year under their belts."
About the only height of note in the lineup will come from a pair of 6-3 sophomores, Tristan Clementich and Ross Schlichting. After that, it's a lot of guys around the same size.
"We've got eight or nine with experience," Buffington said. "They're working hard and we'll be competitive."
The Lions return three scoring threats in senior Trevor Dusheke and juniors Beau Monson and Bradley MacLaughlin. Two other key contributors back from last season are senior Caleb Propst and junior Hance Sommerer.
Others expected to see playing time are senior Emmet Spradlin, junior Tucker Ulveling and sophomore Cole Duenckel.
"We're ready to go, as ready as we can be," Buffington said. "You know how early season games are - let's get them going."
The Lions have one of their biggest squads in recent memory, with 18 kids spanning the JV and varsity levels, including seven freshmen.
"It's a good group of kids ... and it just helps having more kids out. The freshmen have given us good competition in practice," Buffington said. "We ended up with 11 last year, so this is good. It's nice to have those kids out - we'll be able to play two full schedules, varsity and JV."
While the Lions will be road warriors early on, playing two regular games and two tournaments on the road, they'll eventually get to play in their new on-campus gym near the first of the year. But they got a sneak preview not too long ago.
"The guys are very excited about it, and we were able to get on the floor once already," Buffington said. "They got on it to break it in before they did the sanding and painting. You always have it do some moving around and shifting, so you have to do some of what I call breaking it in. They were excited about that. Now, it's a good-sized court, so I think it was a little bigger than what they're used to."
As a result, there are a few subtle differences to this year's schedule, and will likely be some more in the future.
"We had to move a few games around (with the gym not being ready right away), and we'll probably shift a few more over the next year or two," Buffington said. "With Trinity's availability, we had to schedule home games on Friday or Saturday nights, so now we'll be able to play at any time."