Experience should be a strength for the Westerville North High School girls basketball team this season.

Experience should be a strength for the Westerville North High School girls basketball team this season.

The Warriors return five players who started at one time or another for a team that finished 14-8 overall after losing to second-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley 65-38 in a Division I district semifinal. Two of the players - 5-foot-3 senior Monique Jones and 5-2 sophomore Breyonia Hearn - can play the point.

North also returns its leading scorer and rebounder in 5-10 senior post player Caitlyn Kusan. She averaged 13.5 points and 11.7 rebounds as well as 3.2 steals, 2.3 assists and 2.0 blocks.

"Experience would be one of our strong points," said coach Jim Kloepfer, who begins his eighth season leading the program. "Monique was a leader for us as far back as when she started at point guard in her freshman and sophomore seasons. Then Breyonia stepped in at the point when Monique had knee problems last year. Then we have Caitlin Kusan in the post and her overall game has improved for us."

Also back are Bri Clegg, a 5-7 senior guard/forward who has played since she was a freshman and averaged 7.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists and had 29 3-pointers last season, and senior Danielle Johnson, a 5-9 forward who is a defensive presence for the Warriors.

Hearn averaged 4.1 points, 1.9 steals and 1.6 assists last year. Two years ago, Jones led the team with 10.8 points and 3.5 assists per contest.

"Monique looks good right now," Kloepfer said. "It's been almost 10 months since her surgery and she looks healthy and is playing well. She loves basketball and can't wait to get back playing in games."

Rounding out the roster are four juniors in forward Kayla Angermeier (5-10), post player Alex Brooker (5-10), guard/forward Madeline Roseberry (5-8) and guard/forward Ellie Vosler (5-7).

"We're not very big physically inside," Kloepfer said. "We have good guard play, but we don't have a lot of bulk inside."

Last year in the OCC-Cardinal Division, the Warriors were fourth at 9-5, behind co-champions Dublin Scioto and Olentangy, both at 11-3. Westerville South was third at 10-4. Marysville finished fifth at 6-8, followed by Dublin Jerome (4-1), Westerville Central (3-11) and Olentangy Liberty (2-12).

"I would think Olentangy would be the league favorite with the girls they have coming back," Kloepfer said. "(The Braves) tied Scioto for the league title and (the Irish) should be pretty solid. Westerville South always has good tradition and Westerville Central could be a team to watch. They have a lot back from a team that lost a lot of close games. With a year of experience, those losses could turn into wins."

North opens Friday as the host team for the Thanksgiving Hoops Classic. The Warriors play Whetstone at 7:30 p.m. Friday with Columbus East and Columbus West playing at 6 p.m.

The consolation game will be played at 6 p.m. Saturday, followed by the championship game at 7:30 p.m.