Coming off a 7-16 season, Westerville North High School boys basketball coach Shan Trusley thought a good start could key a turnaround for his team this year.

Coming off a 7-16 season, Westerville North High School boys basketball coach Shan Trusley thought a good start could key a turnaround for his team this year.

The Warriors are 3-2 overall and 1-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division as they prepare to play host to Westerville Central on Friday, Dec. 18.

Central should provide a good measuring stick for North, as the Warhawks are 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Cardinal.

"It's been a good start to the season," Trusley said. "I'm really proud of the kids' efforts. We've played five games, 20 quarters, and I'd say we've been really good in probably 17 of those quarters. I'm happy with the kids. We're doing some good things."

The teams split two meetings last season, with North winning at Central 67-58 and Central winning at North 69-63.

"It's going to be a great game," Trusley said. "The gym is going to be full. It's a great environment for the kids. It's the way high school basketball should be. It will be a lot of fun. It's a nice night for the community."

North has been boosted by the return of senior center Nick Meyer, who missed about 10 games last season with a broken right hand.

Meyer scored a career-high 17 points in a 74-58 league win over visiting Dublin Scioto on Dec. 11.

"It was super tough watching my team struggle last year and not being able to do anything about it, but we're going to be good this year," Meyer said.

Senior guard Corey Benton, who is the returnee with the most varsity experience, had 14 points and sophomore guard Julius Brown added 13.

The win helped the Warriors bounce back from a 68-57 league loss at Dublin Jerome on Dec. 8. They led 32-28 at halftime, but were outscored 40-25 in the second half.

Jeremiah Keene scored 12 points, Benton had 11 and Meyer added 10.

On Dec. 5, North won 63-53 at Olentangy Liberty. Brown scored 14 points, Benton scored 12, Julian Malone had 11 and Keane added 10.

Keane, who is a freshman, earned a spot in the starting lineup to start the season.

"Our kids are really confident," Trusley said. "Even though our league is really strong, our kids feel like we can compete every night with the other seven teams in our league. Our kids don't fear anybody."

Trusley said his team let a win slip away in a 69-64 league loss at Hilliard Darby on Dec. 4. The Warriors led 54-40 entering the fourth quarter.

Central players show 'coachability'

Central also is out to a strong start as it looks to bounce back from a 4-19 season.

Central rebounded from a 63-45 league loss at Hilliard Bradley on Dec. 8 to win at home against league-foe Canal Winchester 44-43 in overtime Dec. 11 and at Licking Heights 71-30 on Dec. 12.

"I like our team chemistry, I like our focus and I like our coachability," coach Donovon Barrett said. "It's a good group to be around."

Against Canal Winchester, Will Maynus hit four free throws in overtime and finished with 20 points. Thomas Hickman added 10 points.

Maynus scored 24 points and Ryan Menapace had 10 against Licking Heights.

Barrett and his team are looking forward to the matchup against North.

"Everybody is excited for a Westerville game," Barrett said. "The crowd is great, the student sections are great and there's a lot of enthusiasm. Both teams are improved and no matter what it's usually an exciting atmosphere and environment."

South to play in Florida tourney

South will play in the invitation-only City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla., from Saturday, Dec. 19, through Wednesday, Dec. 23.

The Wildcats will open Dec. 19 against the winner of Lehigh Acres (Fla.) and Columbia (Mo.) Tolton Catholic.

Tolton Catholic features 6-foot-9 junior Michael Porter Jr., who is considered to be one of the top players in the country by many college-recruiting services.

"I've never taken them out of the state before," coach Ed Calo said. "We've played in tournaments or classics, but we've never gone out of state. ... It's a special thing for the kids. I really wanted to do it for them."

South will tune up for the trip by visiting Darby on Thursday, Dec. 17.

The Wildcats are 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Cardinal. They have won their four games by an average margin of 35.5 points.

South's closest game was a 72-51 win against visiting Bradley on Dec. 11. The Wildcats led 43-38 late in the third quarter before pulling away.

Andre Wesson scored 21 points, Jordan Humphrey had 18 and Daylan Haynie and Kaleb Wesson each scored 11.

South played without senior point guard Jelani Rogers, who injured a knee in an 81-46 win against Reynoldsburg on Nov. 27. Calo said Rogers would be re-evaluated later this month, but Calo didn't expect Rogers to be available for the Florida trip.

North playing host to middle school event

North will play host to the Cardinal and Gold Showcase on Saturday, Dec. 19, beginning at 10 a.m.

The event will feature middle school teams from throughout central Ohio, including Blendon, Genoa, Heritage and Walnut Springs from Westerville.