Sixth-year coach Lamont Tillman likes what he has seen from his Westerville North girls basketball team early in the season.
The Warriors return four starters from last year, when they finished 9-14 overall and 4-6 in the OCC-Buckeye Division.
Senior guard Alyssa Wright (second-team all-league), junior point guard Imari Martin (honorable mention all-league) and sophomore forward Charia Smith (honorable mention all-district, second-team all-league) all started last season along with 6-foot junior center Sidney Beverly, who started before breaking a finger midway through the season.
After seeing some varsity minutes last season, 6-0 sophomore forward Lauren Hilderbrand should be a key cog in the Warriors' rotation.
"Top to bottom, we're more athletic and that will allow us to play faster on both ends of the court," Tillman said. "We have good length and some depth with that height. We don't get really small once we sub in players. We can maintain our size and length with our lineup changes."
Martin said it was clear in the preseason that North would have a more productive offense.
"We're working together well on offense," she said. "We're moving around, screening and cutting and not standing around too much. We're getting open shots and we're not forcing it too much. We have been scoring a lot more points in scrimmages and getting to the basket more."
Rounding out the roster are senior guards Jalyse Cornley, Nia Hassey and Emylee Preston, junior guard Candice Talmadge, sophomore center Ashley Kisor, sophomore guard Alison Rothmann and freshman guards Kayla Curry-Brown and Emoni Finch.
"I really like our athleticism and our depth," Tillman said. "We'll be able to comfortably play nine players on any given night. I can foresee the good problem of being able to play our (10th and 11th) players. We really have a good mix."
The Warriors opened Nov. 25 against Pickerington North and begin OCC-Buckeye play Tuesday, Dec. 3 at home against Olentangy Orange.
"We have a good mix of experience and youth," Tillman said. "The biggest thing we need to work on is maintaining a fast pace and working to improve our rebounding, and that hurt us last year. We need to make headway on controlling the boards, especially defensively.
"We're scoring more and that's a testament to playing faster. We're playing faster on both ends, and we have had some defensive pressure to create easy offensive opportunities."
Below are the coming schedules for the North girls basketball, bowling and swimming & diving teams:
*Dec. 3 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange
*Dec. 3 -- Westerville Central at Sequoia Pro Bowl
*Dec. 4 -- Orange at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 3 -- At New Albany