Ben Patrick wants to bring excitement to the Northridge High School boys basketball program in his first season as coach.
The former Marion Catholic coach will look to a fast-paced pressure defense and an up-tempo, fast-break offense to help the Vikings improve on last season's 9-12 overall record. Northridge lost to Ready 51-32 in the opening round of the Division III district tournament.
"We want to press for the whole 32 minutes," said Patrick, who replaced four-year coach John Wheeler. "We like to play the whole game like we're 10 points down with minutes left. We want to get after it pretty quickly."
The returning starters are 5-foot-10 senior guard Hayden Warner (7.4 points per game), 6-1 junior guard Matt Grindle (5.1 ppg) and 6-4 junior post player Eli Ketron.
Also back are seniors Brady Charles (6-3, post player) and Sean Higgins (6-1, guard).
Rounding out the roster are senior Caleb Crump (6-0, guard), juniors Ryan Trimble (5-11 guard) and Chris Wil-koski (6-4, forward) and sophomores Chad Campbell (5-10, point guard) and Gavin Shank (5-10, guard).
"This is the deepest group I have had as a coach. All 10 will play, and play significantly," said Patrick, whose team opened Nov. 30 against Heath. "That (depth) is a good thing with the press and the run-and-gun style that we play. Plus, they have been picking things up pretty quickly and they have been working hard on our system."
Last season, Northridge finished fifth (6-8) in the MBC behind Loudonville (13-1), Fredericktown (10-4), Johnstown (10-4) and Utica (9-5) and ahead of Centerburg (4-10), Danville (4-10) and East Knox (0-14).
The Vikings open league play Friday, Dec. 7, at home against Danville.
"On any given night, it could be a different set of guys leading us," said Patrick, who entered the season with a career record of 43-27 at Delaware Christian (1997-98) and Marion Catholic (1999-2001). "If one of our players is struggling, another can step up. I could go through each guy (on the roster) and talk about something that makes them integral to the team.
"We have guys who can score, now we have to take care of the other end of the court. We need to understand the importance of getting a body on someone and getting them out of there, which will help us improve our rebounding."
Girls basketball team opens with win
The girls basketball team opened with a 47-34 win Nov. 27 over host Millersport.
Junior Sara Pribonic, a 5-7 point guard, led the Vikings with 20 points and six rebounds and 5-8 junior forward Summer Prevost had seven rebounds and five points. Freshman Savannah Legg, a 6-0 post player, scored six points and 5-8 sophomore guard Mikaela Pankuch had five points.
Last season, Northridge finished 7-15 overall, losing to Centerburg 68-28 in a Division III district semifinal. The Vikings were playing in their first district semifinal since 2002, when they lost to North Union 54-53.
Northridge had a first-round bye and beat Marion Elgin 34-31 in the second round.
The Vikings finished eighth (2-12) in the MBC behind champion Centerburg (12-2). Johnstown and Utica tied for second at 11-3, followed by Fredericktown (7-7), East Knox (5-9) and Danville and Loudonville (both 4-10).
"Because of injuries, some of our older leadership is disappearing," said first-year coach Fred Davis, who also led the program in the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons and replaced two-year coach Ashley Holmberg. "We're looking pretty young now, but we're making a lot of progress. The kids have a great attitude and we're pleased with the effort they are putting forth to get better."
According to Davis, the team's only senior, 5-10 forward Lydia George, has been sidelined with a knee injury and junior Heidi Wolfe, a 5-3 guard, also has knee problems.
That has left Pribonic and Prevost as the most experienced players.
Rounding out the roster are sophomores Sarah George (5-7, point guard) and Belinda Marcum (5-10, post player) and freshmen Jillian Choberka (5-8, guard/forward), Jamie Swickard (5-8, forward), Haley Trimble (5-6, guard/forward) and Emily Wilson (5-5, guard).
"We get a lot of leadership from Sara Pribonic and Summer Prevost," said Davis, whose team opened MBC play Dec. 1 at Danville. "Youth can bring uncertainty, but one thing is that young players always get better. We'll be a different team once Christmas rolls around."