John Wheeler did everything he could to keep his Northridge High School boys basketball team interested in practice.

John Wheeler did everything he could to keep his Northridge High School boys basketball team interested in practice.

After four weeks of preseason workouts, the Vikings opened with a 45-42 loss to Heath on Dec. 3. Then they had 11 days between games before getting a chance to play East Knox last Tuesday.

"We postponed the Fredericktown game (from Dec. 10 to Feb. 2 because of the length of the Freddies' football season), giving us 11 days without a game and it was one of the toughest stretches I've had as a coach," said Wheeler, whose team beat East Knox 67-59. "The guys were really itching to get back out there and play."

The Vikings trailed 22-21 at halftime, but scored 24 points in the third quarter to take control. Connor Burke and Justin Howard both scored 14 points and Aaron Estep had 11. Caleb Higgins added 10 points.

"I felt at times we were a little rusty, especially in the first half," Wheeler said. "We had been playing against each other so long that I think it took a while to get back into rhythm."

The Vikings were 1-1 overall and 1-0 in the MBC before playing league champion Centerburg last Friday.

"I think, defensively, the guys really have been pressuring the ball and speeding teams up," Wheeler said. "Against East Knox, we were speeding them up and forcing them to turn the ball over.

"Our guys were moving on defense and talking well to each other on the court."

Wheeler said his team was starting to click in practice and that should help the players as they enter the meat of the schedule.

"We're definitely trying to find our rhythm, but we had a great practice (last Wednesday)," said Wheeler, whose team plays Tuesday at home against Johnstown-Monroe. "We followed up a good win with one of our strongest practices of the season. These guys have high expectations and want to get better."

Northridge plays Dec. 29-30 in the Grandview Bobcat Holiday Classic. The Vikings open at 6 p.m. Dec. 29 against Hartley with Grandview and Wellington meeting in the second game. On Dec. 30, the losing teams play at 6 p.m. followed by winning teams.

•The Johnstown boys basketball team was 1-3 overall and 1-1 in the MBC before playing East Knox last Friday.

"Right now, we're very inconsistent in both games and practice and that's something that concerns me," coach Kevin Martin said. "We've had four weeks of practice and we're four games into the season and we can be so inconsistent at times. We haven't been able to get more good plays in than bad. We're not getting the good stretch of plays we need right now."

The Johnnies picked up their first win Dec. 10, a 65-45 victory over Danville in their league opener. Harley O'Flaherty scored 14 points and Matt Smith had 12 points. Taylor Atwood scored nine points, Sam Scovell had seven points and both Chad Fuller and Patrick Wilson added six points.

Last Tuesday, they lost to Utica 56-43. Fuller scored 21 points with five 3-pointers and Smith added seven points.

"We have shot the ball well from 2-point range, so we're getting good shots," Martin said. "Overall in the grand scheme of things we're shooting 46 percent through four games, so I'm happy with where we are at offensively."

On Tuesday, Johnstown plays at Northridge in an MBC game. It will play Dec. 29 at Watkins Memorial in a non-league game.

"We getting good shots with our offense, but we're giving up 60 points per game," Martin said.

"We can't do that and expect to win. We have to get better on the defensive end. We don't play at a high enough level right now. We've been relaxing on the defensive end."