Joe Rucker thought there would be a transition period with the Northridge High School girls basketball team as it adjusted to his coaching philosophies and strategies, but the Vikings have caught on quicker than expected.

Joe Rucker thought there would be a transition period with the Northridge High School girls basketball team as it adjusted to his coaching philosophies and strategies, but the Vikings have caught on quicker than expected.

After winning only two games last season, Northridge was 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the LCL before playing unbeaten Newark Catholic on Dec. 19.

"I think when I first took over our goal was to establish the program from the ground up," Rucker said. "We wanted to come in and get better every day and the girls really are coming along faster than we had expected."

Northridge defeated Heath 46-30 on Dec. 14 in LCL play. Sara Pribonic led with 16 points, Belinda Marcum had 12 points and Mikaela Pankuch added eight.

"We have been playing good team ball," Rucker said. "Every game we have someone different step up for us."

Pribonic was averaging a team-best 15.2 points through five games, followed by Marcum (10.4), Pankuch (7.2), Summer Prevost (6.4) and Jamie Swickard (5.8).

"Sara Pribonic is key in how we play," Rucker said. "Whether she is scoring 20 points or distributing the ball well, everyone feeds off of her energy."

The Vikings play Friday, Dec. 27, and Saturday, Dec. 28, in the Fairfield Christian Academy Holiday Classic, opening against the host team. They play the following day against Crooksville or West Jefferson.

"With our league schedule (taking 18 of 22 regular-season games), we have four total non-league games and this will be two of them," Rucker said. "It will be good to break away from that (league schedule) because it can be a bit of a grind. We're happy to go down there and play some different competition."

Fairfield Christian improved to 6-1 by defeating Horizon Science 67-21 on Dec. 16. West Jefferson was 4-1 before playing Columbus Academy on Dec. 21. Crooksville was 2-3 before playing McConnelsville Morgan on Dec. 18.

Bunstine winstwo swim events

Josie Bunstine won a pair of events for the girls swimming and diving team Dec. 14 in a six-team meet at Kenyon College.

Bunstine won the 100-yard butterfly (1 minute, 5.32 seconds) and the 100 breaststroke (1:15.93) as the Vikings finished fifth (26 points) behind champion Mount Vernon (117).

Riley Love placed fifth in the 100 freestyle (1:03.56).

The boys team finished third (75) behind Mount Vernon (117) and Mansfield Christian (116) as the 200 medley relay of Chris Lindsay, Bryce Curtis, Brandon Eckstein and Mat Scott placed second (2:06.68).

The 200 free relay of Scott, Lindsay, Nathan Castle and Eckstein was third (1:52.07), and the 400 free relay of Steven Wickham, Mason Alexander, Curtis and Paul Haught was fifth (4:54).

Eckstein was third in the 200 individual medley (2:33.01) and 100 fly (1:04.32). Adam

Eckstein was fourth in the 100 breast (1:22.17), and Scott was fourth in the 100 free (1:02.09) and fifth in the 100 backstroke (1:15.7).

Jasen Dean was sixth in the 200 IM (3:01.21) and 100 back (1:17), while Wickham was sixth in the 200 free (2:33.48) and Lindsay was sixth in the 50 free (27.27).

"We didn't break any records, but we had a lot of personal bests," coach Rachel Furr said. "We had a good practice (Dec. 13) and they were ready to go the next day.

"We have really seen a big improvement early in the season and you usually don't see those kinds of drops this early. It should only get better from here."

Boys team playinghost to tournament

The boys basketball team was 2-3 overall and in the LCL before playing Newark Catholic on Dec. 20.

The Vikings venture outside of their league Dec. 30 and 31 as the host team in the Viking Challenge. They open Dec. 30 against Northside Christian and play Columbus Academy or Columbus South the next day.

Northside Christian was 1-4 before playing Gahanna Christian on Dec. 20. South was 4-2 before playing Walnut Ridge on Dec. 20. Academy was 0-4 before playing Grandview on Dec. 21.

The Vikings picked up their first two victories by defeating Utica 62-56 on Dec. 14 and Heath 66-55 on Dec. 17

Chad Campbell and Gavin Shank led a balanced attack with 14 points apiece against Heath. Matt Grindle scored 12 points, Bryant Garee had 10 and Skyler Pritts added nine.

Campbell scored 18 points against Utica, while Grindle had 16 and Shank added 10.

Grindle scored 15 points and Campbell added 13 in a 62-53 loss to Lakewood on Dec. 13.

Wrestling teamadds Sheridan meet

The wrestling team lost a pair of duals Dec. 14 at Washington Court House, falling to the host Blue Lions 41-18 and to Parkersburg (W.Va.) 55-9.

"We have (106-pounder and state-placer) Jake Adkins out with a minor foot injury and we hope he will be back soon," coach Eric Potts said. "Jacob Maynard (132/138) has been wrestling well, as have Steele Strout (120/126) and Rob Mickley (160)."

Northridge recently entered the Thornville Sheridan Cancellation Classic, which was held Dec. 21 for teams that had their Dec. 7 meets canceled because of bad weather. The Vikings did not attend the King of the Hill meet Dec. 7 at East Liverpool because of the weather.