The Westerville North High School boys basketball team returns four starters from last season, but 5-foot-10 senior guard Zach Glenn believes the team's family atmosphere will be the key to the Warriors' success.

The Westerville North High School boys basketball team returns four starters from last season, but 5-foot-10 senior guard Zach Glenn believes the team's family atmosphere will be the key to the Warriors' success.

"We need to build on what we have right now," said Glenn, who was a key player off the bench for the Warriors last season. "We are coming together and becoming more than a team. We're becoming a family. We respect each other on and off the court and we need to continue that as the season goes along."

North finished 17-6 overall last season, losing to Gahanna 65-63 in overtime in a Division I district semifinal.

Back in the starting lineup are 6-5 senior wing player Matt Rhodes and 6-5 senior post player Taivion Thomas and a pair of 5-10 junior guards in Jack Gibbs and Adrian Cook.

Gibbs was second-team all-district and first-team all-OCC-Cardinal Division last season, leading the team in scoring (18.1 points per game), assists (4.5) and steals (3.7). Rhodes was third-team all-district and first-team all-league, averaging 15.8 points and 4.4 rebounds while making a team-high 52 3-pointers.

Thomas was second-team all-league and averaged 12 points, a team-high 7.0 rebounds and 2.2 steals. Cook was honorable mention all-league, averaging 9.7 points with 3.4 assists and 1.3 steals.

"I feel more like a leader and I try to be a leader," Thomas said of being a senior. "We have a lot of talent back and we worked hard to get better over the summer."

Also back is senior guard Darren Nettles (5-11). The Warriors have added a pair of transfers in 6-2 junior guard Jaylen Benton from Northland and 6-0 junior guard Brett Durden from DeSales.

"We have more experience with four returning starters and Zach, Jaylen and some others add a lot more talent," Cook said. "We have to make sure to come together as a team on the court."

Rounding out the team are juniors Dan Funk (5-10, guard), Davon Harris (5-10, guard), Caleb Ledford (5-11, guard) and Joe Sanda (6-5, post player) and sophomore Alex Stewart (6-4, forward). Sanda will graduate next spring after three school years.

"I like that this group of guys is a hard-working group and basketball is a very high priority in their lives," said 17th-year coach Kevin Thuman, whose team opens Friday, Dec. 2, at home against Hilliard Bradley. "I like that our practices are very competitive and depth is really one of our strengths. I'd like to think everyone here will give their own varsity contribution. We probably can't play a 12-man rotation, but we have been using eight to nine guys in practice and things have been very competitive."

The Warriors are looking for their first OCC title since 1998. Last season, they finished 10-4 in the OCC-Cardinal to tie Olentangy Liberty and Westerville Central for second, behind Westerville South (13-1) and ahead of Dublin Jerome (4-10), Dublin Scioto (4-10), Olentangy (3-11) and Marysville (2-12).

North opens league play Tuesday, Dec. 6, at Jerome.

"I think we have good team speed and skilled guards and we have the ability to score points and put pressure on people," Thuman said. "We need to work on our half-court defense and rebounding.

"Whether we will be able to develop roles and chemistry will be important to our success. It's a long trip from preseason to postseason, and there will be some bumps in the road and some detours taking us off the path from where we want to go."