Kate Francisco had some trust issues the last two seasons as a member of the Marysville High School girls basketball team.

Kate Francisco had some trust issues the last two seasons as a member of the Marysville High School girls basketball team.

If points were to be scored, if a key defensive stop was to be made and if the Monarchs were to be competitive, it was up to Francisco.

Before her senior season tipped off last November, Francisco signed a letter of intent with Kent State.

With the signing behind her, she said she wanted to relax and have fun in her final season at Marysville.

Yet, her mindset remained the same. Francisco thought she needed to do it all to give the Monarchs a chance to win. Francisco was pressing and her production was below expectations.

As the season continued, teammates Jenny Jordan and Chelsey Wyman provided consistent output on the offensive end.

Finally, Francisco was able to relax.

"She's realized she didn't have to do it all," coach Aric Tucker said. "Coming into the season, she knew Jenny was good and Chelsey can shoot, but they hadn't proven it game in and game out they can do it. Once they started to do that, it's allowed Kate to relax."

Midway into the season, Francisco found her comfort level. Once she did, she had a message to Tucker.

"If you want to win, give me the ball," she said.

Francisco averaged 10.8 points in the Monarchs' first 10 games. Beginning Jan. 9 to last Friday, Francisco averaged 19.5 points in six games including a season-high 30 in a 67-44 win over Westland on Jan. 16.

Francisco was 20 points shy of reaching the 1,000-career points milestone entering last Friday's game against Westerville Central.

"I can trust Jenny and Chelsey to get me the ball," Francisco said. "In previous years, I felt I had to pick up all the slack. It's helpful to now know I have someone else on the team helping me pick it up."

In addition, Francisco's final season has been her most complete, according to Tucker. As a freshman, Francisco was asked to be a role player in the post. The last two years, a perimeter game was incorporated in an effort to prepare her for the next level. Now, it has all come together and Francisco's game has provided a headache for opposing coaches.

When preparing for Marysville, opposing coaches must ask themselves: How do I stop Kate Francisco?

"You can put a smaller player on Kate, but she's so good at posting up," Tucker said. "You can put a bigger player on Kate and in our up tempo system, she can run the floor and step out and bury the 3-pointer. Not many kids can move like her. She's one of the most athletics kids I've ever been around."

Francisco also is one of the most decorated basketball players from Marysville. Tucker learned Francisco was one of 885 players in the country nominated for the McDonald's All-American high school basketball game March 31 at Ohio State. The 24 finalists will be announced Feb. 11.

According to Marysville athletics director Cal Adams, Francisco is the first basketball player from the school to be nominated.

For all the individual successes and achievements Francisco has experienced, the strong bond with her teammates and the Monarchs' winning record has her all smiles.

"We have a lot more team chemistry this year and we all get along," she said. "There is no drama on the team like last year and the year before. We're winning, we're having a good season and the games we lost we should have won. I'm having fun playing with these girls. They're making my senior season fun."

•LEARNING FROM LOSSES -- Before last Friday, Marysville had six losses by an average margin of six points. Tucker hopes those games are lessons learned for the Monarchs once the postseason begins.

"We hope it helps us somewhere down the road," Tucker said. "You keep your fingers crossed and hopefully we can learn from these situations and get better."

Five of the six losses were against OCC-Cardinal Division opponents. As a result, Marysville was fifth at 5-5 in the conference before last Friday behind Olentangy (7-2), Dublin Scioto (7-3), Westerville North (7-3) and Westerville South (6-4), and ahead of Westerville Central (3-6), Dublin Jerome (3-7) and Olentangy Liberty (1-9).