Whether it's Sunday mornings at breakfast or a lunch last Saturday after the team photos, the Marysville High School girls basketball team makes an effort to spend time together away from the court.

Whether it's Sunday mornings at breakfast or a lunch last Saturday after the team photos, the Marysville High School girls basketball team makes an effort to spend time together away from the court.

"Both on and off the court we all get along," junior post player Kate Francisco said.

"I know it's an old cliché, but our team chemistry is better this year," said fifth-year coach Aric Tucker, whose team opens Dec. 2 at home against Bellefontaine. "We graduated four seniors, but we have a boatload of juniors. We have 12 in the program right now and we've got cohesion with that group."

Marysville finished 10-12 overall last season after losing to eventual district champion Pickerington Central 59-42 in the second round of the Division I district tournament. In the OCC-Central Division, Marysville tied Thomas Worthington for fourth at 3-7 behind Pickerington North at 10-0, Westerville Central at 8-2 and Delaware at 5-5.

Marysville lost four graduates, all starters. Francisco is the only returning starter. The 6-foot-1 post player was named second-team all-OCC as she averaged 11.1 points per game. She was a first-team all-OCC as a freshman.

"We have a nucleus of seven kids coming back that had extensive playing time," Tucker said. "Six of those seven were letterwinners. They saw playing time and they should have enough experience that we can fill them into those new spots."

Marysville has two seniors guards in Whitney McClain (5-7) and Lauren Tullis (5-9). Tullis suffered an an ankle injury during a preseason scrimmage and is not expected to return until after Christmas.

"Lauren was playing really well until she got injured," Tucker said. "My concern is this team says healthy and away from any more injuries. We should be OK because our chemistry is so good and the girls share the ball well."

McClain is coming off a knee injury that forced her to miss all of last season.

"Last year we had good individual players, but the biggest thing is we need to work as a team," McClain said. "Team chemistry is really big for us. If we incorporate what we had last year, we'll be fine."

Also expected to see a lot of playing time are juniors Elizabeth Lewis (5-6 point guard), Dani Jordan (6-1 post player) and Chelsey Wyman (5-8 guard) and sophomore Jenny Jordan (5-8 guard).

In working with lineup combinations, Tucker has noticed sisters Dani and Jenny Jordan and their step-sister, Francisco, possess a bond that translates to game situations.

"There is something about having them on the floor at the same time that is nice," he said. "They know where each other is and played well together."

Lewis played behind a senior last season, but has prepared for her starting role after another summer of attending a point guard college.

"She's really improved," Tucker said. "We've groomed her to put her in a position of success. My expectations are high for her. She's a good kid and a good player."

Also, Wyman is Marysville's best perimeter shooter according to Tucker. "She came on strong at the end of last year," he said.

Marysville opens league play Dec. 5 at Dublin Scioto. This season, the Monarchs are in the OCC-Cardinal with Dublin Jerome, Olentangy, Olentangy Liberty, Scioto, Westerville Central, Westerville North and Westerville South.

In scrimmages, Tucker has noticed a team that starts games strong, but ends with a whimper.

"That's something that concerns me," he said. "In the last four minutes of the game, how are we going to be? It's not that we aren't conditioned, it's mental and something we're trying to focus on to get us over that hump."

At a glance

•Coach: Aric Tucker, fifth season

•Opener: Dec. 2 vs. Bellefontaine

•Key players: Kate Francisco, Dani Jordan, Whitney McClain and Lauren Tullis