Few opponents will be able to match the Pickerington High School Central girls basketball team's size on the baseline.

Few opponents will be able to match the Pickerington High School Central girls basketball team's size on the baseline.

The Tigers return 5-foot-11 senior Jasmine Henshaw as well as 6-1 sophomore Alexis Newsome and 6-2 classmate Marley Hill. Moreover, they're even deeper in the post after adding Lancaster transfer Hillary Jacks, a 5-11 senior.

Henshaw led the team in rebounding (7.6 per game) last season as Central finished 15-7 overall and 10-4 in the OCC-Ohio Division to tie Reynoldsburg for second behind Pickerington North (14-0). She's also the top returning scorer, having averaged 8.9 points last season. Hill averaged 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 points.

"There's no question we have a tremendous frontcourt," third-year coach Wade Brockwell said. "All those girls are 5-10 or better. We'll be solid down in the block area, absolutely, but we still have some holes to fill."

All three of last year's graduates, including 5-11 post player and University of Vermont recruit Jasmine Cooper, are playing in college. Also graduating were guards Shelby Porter (University of Tampa) and Amy Buccilla (Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla.). Buccilla was the team's only double-digit scorer (13.4 points per game) last season and made first-team all-district in Division I.

"We have to play physical," said Brockwell, whose team opens Tuesday at home against Central Crossing. "We have to be patient and control the game. We have to play smart and understand our strengths, and one of those is just making sure we put our post kids in positions where they can score."

The Tigers, who advanced to a district semifinal last season before losing to New Albany 56-46, also return senior guard Katie Stevens and sophomore guard Morgan Tomsic.

Stevens averaged 6.3 points a year ago as the Tigers finished strong, winning 12 of 13 games before falling to New Albany. Still, the loss to the Eagles snapped a string of four consecutive regional appearances, highlighted by a trip to the state tournament in 2006.

In addition to Jacks, newcomers include sophomore guard Phylica Johnson and freshman guard Sky Mullins.

All three Division I district champions came out of the OCC-Ohio last season as North, Reynoldsburg and Gahanna won the titles. Gahanna placed fourth (9-5) in the league, followed by Newark (6-8), Lancaster (4-10), Groveport (2-12) and Grove City (1-13).

Reynoldsburg advanced to state, losing to eventual state champion Canton McKinley 42-39 in a semifinal.

"If Grove City's top three players hadn't went to Harvest Prep (last season following South-Western City Schools levy failures), the league would have been even better," Brockwell said. "This year, North's got the making of a super team. Us and Reynoldsburg lost some kids, but it's going to be a dogfight every night as usual. Gahanna's going to be there, too, I'd imagine."

Central played host to an eight-team preview last Friday. Included in the field were four teams which competed in the state tournament last season - McKinley (Division I), Toledo Start (Division I), Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown (Division II) and Berlin Hiland (Division IV).

Brookhaven and Africentric Early College, the defending Division IV state champion, joined that group for additional scrimmages last Saturday.

"We have some younger kids and that's a great experience for them facing competition like that right off the bat," Brockwell said.

"We put on one of the best previews in the state of Ohio, creating game-like atmospheres that are pretty hard to simulate otherwise. They almost have a district tournament feel to them. Coming out of that, we should be ready to hit the ground running."