Last winter, the Flames were loaded with talent, most notably coming from a trio of Seibert brothers who averaged close to a combined 50 points per game. Shane Seibert was at the top of that list, a skilled player who was known for his accurate 3-point shooting that helped him average close to 28 points per game.
Twin brothers Devin and Heath Seibert were also forces offensively, with Heath scoring at a 12-points-per-game clip and Devin chipping in nearly double figures each game.
But that three-headed attack has graduated after helping New Covenant to a 16-5 campaign a season ago. But that's not the only change the Flames are experiencing this year.
The school joined the PIAA this summer and is in its first season as a Class A school. While it is playing an independent schedule and is not affiliated with a league this year, it will get a test of Lebanon County basketball when the Flames take on Northern Lebanon in late January.
While the fall soccer program experienced the first taste of PIAA athletics by qualifying for the district playoffs, this season that anticipation will continue to grow.
"There's a different kind of excitement," head coach Troy Williams said when asked how the switch to the PIAA has affected the school. "Basketball, traditionally, county-wide, is more hyped. (In the fall), football is
Williams undoubtedly wishes he had the Seiberts for one more season, especially this one in what is the school's initial dive into the PIAA pool. But it's much more than that experience that he wishes he had back.
"The basketball team is a whole lot different," Williams said. "Three graduates made up 70 percent of our offense and one (Shane Seibert) was a 1,000-point scorer.
"One thing we're gonna miss is the 3-point shooting. All three knew how to shoot the 3-point shot."
Reserve Martin Ha is the fourth member of the 2011 graduation class that took players from the basketball team, but there is some "big" talent coming back. Most notably is 6-foot-9 junior Nate Dawson, who a season ago averaged 15 rebounds and 10 points per game.
Classmate Josh Meese is another 6-footer who is returning, while the third player back with experience is the Flames' lone senior - small forward Jake Embich.
The rest of the players are new to the varsity team and will need to grow up fast. That group includes sophomore guard Sam Embich, freshmen C.J. Kornhaus, a guard, and 6-2 forward Tristen Ralph, plus 10th-graders Aaron Litman and Nathaniel Litman.
Aside from graduation,
But despite having a young team, Williams is confident his squad will be ready when the ball goes up in the air.
"Our middle school program has been good," he said. "A lot of these freshmen and sophomores have been playing."
With the size of Dawson and the inside presence of Meese, Aaron Litman and Ralph, the Flames should be solid down low this winter.
"Last year, we had the shooters," Williams said. "This year, we'll have the good post play, and we'll be waiting for our guards to develop."
Replacing the scoring of Shane Seibert will be New Covenant's biggest need as the season unfolds.
"Shane was our go-to guy," Williams said. "We don't have that right now. Hopefully as the season goes on we'll have someone develop into that."
Duplicating last season's 16 wins will be difficult, and Williams isn't asking his troops to do that. For the coach, just getting better from game to game will be satisfactory.
"For me as a coach, initially seeing our team improve (is the goal)," Williams said. "We'd like to make districts, but ultimately, we just want to see improvement.
"If we can win 10 games and be over .500, it would be a great year."
The coach admitted that his team's Jan. 21 date with Northern Lebanon in Fredericksburg is one game he is excited about playing.
"It's good," he said, referring to playing a Class AAA school. "That's how teams get better. ... I'm looking forward to the Northern Lebanon game just to see where we're at."