It appears the Columbus Academy boys basketball team hasn't missed a beat under first-year coach Jeff Warstler.
Last season, the Vikings finished 20-5 overall and tied Newark Catholic for the MSL-Ohio Division title at 12-2. The Vikings lost to St. Bernard Roger Bacon 58-52 in a Division III regional semifinal.
Midway through this season, Academy again is in position to win a league title and has goals of advancing far into the postseason.
Warstler has promoted solid defense and teamwork, and he said the players have bought in.
"All the credit goes to the kids," he said. "The kids have worked extremely hard. The cupboard was really full. I'm just fortunate to have these guys and they're real coachable kids. They're sold on defense. They really want to try to hold teams to single-digit quarters as much as we can and take a lot of pride. They're doing the best they can."
The Vikings entered their game against Bloom-Carroll on Jan. 16 at 9-1 overall. The Bulldogs were sixth in last week's Division III state poll, behind top-ranked Cincinnati Summit Country Day.
Academy's first loss came Jan. 3 at Newark Catholic, 60-51 in overtime. The Vikings will play host to the Green Wave on Friday, Jan. 18.
Newark Catholic entered the week 5-0 in the league, followed by Academy at 6-1, Granville at 5-1 and Bexley at 4-2.
Newark Catholic was second in the Division IV state poll last week behind St. Henry. Last season, the Green Wave lost to Africentric 54-38 in a regional semifinal.
"We know what's ahead of us," Warstler said. "The kids are fired up."
Academy took control early in a 54-38 win over Bexley on Jan. 12.
The Vikings led 25-15 at halftime and were ahead by as many as 23 points in the second half.
Senior post player Aakaash Paladugu had 17 points and senior forward Daniel Aronowitz scored 16.
"We've done a good job so far," Aronowitz said. "We've established a new identity. We're now more of a defensive-oriented team, which really fits our personnel. They're doing a great job. We're a pretty unselfish group. Everyone is team first, which makes it fun to play."
After losing to Newark Catholic, the Vikings defeated league foes Whitehall (67-50 on Jan. 4), Granville (55-37 on Jan. 8) and Bexley.
Bowling teams return to action
After the holiday break, the boys bowling team resumed play looking to remain in contention for the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-Central Division title.
The Vikings were 6-1 in the league before facing Linden-McKinley and Mifflin on Jan. 14. Ready was first at 10-1.
Academy defeated Ready 1,873-1,836 on Jan. 9 at HP Lanes as senior Victor Liu had a 401 series. Whetstone was third with a 1,733.
The Vikings defeated Columbus West 1,744-1,566 on Jan. 10 at HP Lanes as sophomore Max Smith had a 378 series.
"Things are going great," coach Dan Olexio said. "We've rebounded from our season-opening loss (to Grandview 1,857-1,540 on Dec. 3). I've been very impressed with the energy and attitude of the team. During (the West match), we started poorly (with a 635 total through five games). Instead of getting down, the team rebounded with a five-game score of 825. I think our bowlers are having fun while improving and being competitive. It's a perfect combination."
The girls team was 2-3 in the league before facing Linden and Mifflin.
Academy defeated West 1,474-1,230 as senior Alyssa Rock had a 294 series.
"We had a much-needed win (against West) since we were on a three-match losing streak," Olexio said. "Throughout the season, our girls team has lacked consistency. The majority of this is coming from some equipment changes for several of the girls. Overall, the team's total scores are improving and I believe we will be ready for the league and district tournaments when needed."
Girls basketball team earns first win
The girls basketball team was 1-11 overall and 0-8 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Licking Valley on Jan. 15.
The Vikings earned their first win by defeating host Columbus School for Girls 48-31 on Jan. 8 as freshman post player Zaria McBride scored 22 points and freshman guard Neve Alder scored 13.