As Westerville Central High School girls basketball coach Doug Etgen begins his third season, he feels defense will be a strength.

As Westerville Central High School girls basketball coach Doug Etgen begins his third season, he feels defense will be a strength.

Etgen's main concern, however, remains at the offensive end.

Last season, the Warhawks finished 6-15 overall and 3-11 in the OCC-Cardinal Division. Central averaged 37 points a game with a season-low effort in a 27-18 loss to Westerville North.

"We have to get better at handling the ball, passing the ball, catching the ball and shooting the ball," said Etgen, whose team opens Tuesday at home against Jonathan Alder. "Our thing this year is going to be the offensive side of the ball, whether we can get consistent production. That is what has been our Achilles' heel the last two years, especially last year."

Etgen hopes a veteran returning nucleus leads to a more effective offense. Leading the way are senior guard Aly Jurcenko and senior wing player Abby King. Jurcenko, who averaged a team-high 8.9 points last season, was named second-team all-league. King was honorable mention all-league.

"We have to bring it every day in practice," King said. "We need to tighten up our defense a lot and we have to get our offense a little bit better. Our goal this year is to make a dramatic increase in the games we win."

Also back are senior guards Bri Pond, Tabbytha Walker and Tiana Overton, and senior post player Rachel Dolby.

"We have a nice nucleus of seniors," Etgen said. "If we know how to push each other and everybody is getting after it every night, there's nobody on our schedule we can't beat, but we could also lose to anybody."

Sophomore wing Megan Mills, who scored a team-high nine points in a 47-23 loss to Newark in a Division I district tournament game last season, also returns.

Senior post player Andrea Thomas, junior guards Hannah Hetterscheidt and Carly Morris, and junior post player Lindsey Bruce played junior varsity last season and hope to contribute on varsity.

The Warhawks will have to battle some early season injuries. Overton (knee surgery), the team's point guard, and Bruce (back surgery) will both miss approximately six weeks.

Pond was expected to return to the team this week after missing action in the preseason with a back injury.

Etgen was pleased with his team's effort in a scrimmage against Dublin Coffman on Nov. 18.

"We have a long way to go this year," he said. "We progressed (against Coffman) in small steps, but we have a lot to do before (Tuesday)."

Etgen hopes his team can improve on its seventh-place finish in the OCC-Cardinal last season, and he expects North and Olentangy to be the teams to beat. Dublin Scioto and Olentangy were co-champions at 11-3, followed by Westerville South (10-4), North (9-5), Marysville (6-8), Dublin Jerome (4-10), Central and Olentangy Liberty (2-12).

"Olentangy and North are the favorites," Etgen said. "They're both pretty deep; they have a lot of talented girls. We can be in that next level right below that or even compete and beat those teams."