The way Beechcroft High School boys basketball coach Scott Davis sees it, the holiday break is a time when teams have an opportunity to grow as they experience lighter game schedules and balance practice time with the enjoyment of the season.

The way Beechcroft High School boys basketball coach Scott Davis sees it, the holiday break is a time when teams have an opportunity to grow as they experience lighter game schedules and balance practice time with the enjoyment of the season.

It's also a time when identities can be forged by the work ethic that's shown — in either a positive or negative direction.

While Beechcroft and Brookhaven have games this week and Northland is off for almost two more weeks, all three teams are figuring out ways to keep things, as Davis puts it, "exciting" during practices.

"I think the holiday period is an important time," Davis said. "As a team, you can make an effort to get better or you'll take some steps backward."

Like Davis, Vikings coach Satch Sullinger and Bearcats coach Hali Robinson each believe they've pinpointed areas of improvement for their respective teams over the season's first few weeks.

The Vikings opened with an 86-48 victory over Mansfield Senior on Dec. 4 and then beat Beechcroft 81-62 on Dec. 14 on the opening night of City League-North Division action.

Senior guard Trey Burke scored 25 and 32 points, respectively, during Northland's first two games.

Burke is heading an attack that has centered on a fast-paced style. Junior guard Jordan Potts remains one of the team's top outside shooters and had back-to-back games scoring in double figures to begin the season.

Juniors Jalen Robinson and Devon Scott are 6-foot-8 post players who have settled into prominent roles in the frontcourt alongside junior Ke'Chaun Lewis. Sophomore guard Jaylen Benton, junior guard Lavante Justice and senior forwards Roberto Pierre and Jakyl Cornley are others seeing regular minutes.

"They're giving me some things to coach right now, but I can't question their effort," Sullinger said. "Our bigs are posting up and scoring more inside, and we've been getting more inside-outs."

Brookhaven competes in the Northridge Veterans Holiday Tournament on Wednesday and Dec. 30 at Dayton Northridge. The Bearcats play Cincinnati Wyoming at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the first game of the event, which also includes Whetstone.

The Bearcats opened with wins over Pickerington Central (75-54 on Dec. 3) and Hilliard Darby (59-41 on Dec. 11) before beating Whetstone 69-55 on Dec. 14 in their league opener.

Sophomore point guard Randal Clarkson, senior DeVon Montgomery and junior Khalid King have been the key ball-handlers in an approach that Robinson said is predicated on "getting good shots and being able to defend."

In the win over Whetstone, Montgomery and King both had 17 points and Clarkson scored 14.

"A lot of our success is tied to our field-goal percentage and whether or not they're playing at a level of intensity on defense that allows us to maintain some of the good things we're doing on the court," Robinson said. "We have to be error-free on both ends of the court, especially in rebounding."

Davis believes Beechcroft showed signs of solid play despite losing two of its first three, particularly during the first half against Northland.

The Cougars trailed 49-38 at halftime and scored the first basket of the third quarter before the Vikings went on a 24-7 run to close the period.

Sophomore Khaleed Franklin led Beechcroft with 19 points against Northland. Senior Austin Davenport entered the season as the team's only returnee with significant varsity experience and has remained a key player. Senior Martise McLaurin also is taking on a more prominent role after seeing limited action last year.

"I don't think we have anybody who's going to dominate off the dribble, so we're trying to talk a lot about having togetherness on offense and defense," Davis said. "I've got a young starting lineup. We still want to try to figure out who can play with who."

•The Beechcroft and Northland boys and girls swimming teams will compete Wednesday at the North YMCA.

The Vikings have 33 athletes, with senior Chloe Siens leading the girls team and sophomore Viet Nguyen and freshman Clay Siens heading the boys squad.

"This is by far the largest team I've had in my six years, but it's probably the most inexperienced as well," coach Aaron MacCaughey said. "I run the spectrum of potential college swimmers to ones who are completely inexperienced."

Nguyen and Clay Siens have been swimming on the 200-yard freestyle relay along with senior Daniel Smith and junior Alejandro Nunez. Also competing on the girls 200 free relay along with Chloe Siens have been senior Erin McClary, sophomore Katy Lowman and freshman Madelyn Smith.

The other seniors for Northland are Dulce Garcia for the girls team and Vinny Chanthavong, Eric Crabtree, Nguyen Huynh, Cory Johnson, Ron Johnson and Matt Thompson for the boys.

Beechcroft has 17 girls and five boys.

The girls team is led by seniors Cherelle Johnson, Shyresa King and Shayla Lackey, sophomores Yasemin Barnes-Nutter, Carley Johns, Giovanna Quintina and Charlotte Wolf, and freshman Carley Johns.

Competing for the Beechcroft boys squad are juniors David Beyene and De'Von Jennings, sophomore Joseph Pleasant and freshmen Jason Rojas and Maujavrah Solomon.

"They've been working harder this year than ever before," coach Dan Zedeker said. "It's about these kids doing better, and we're going to get there."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Beechcroft, Brookhaven and Northland boys basketball, girls basketball, boys and girls bowling, boys and girls swimming and diving, and wrestling teams:

BEECHCROFT

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Dec. 14 — Lost to Northland 81-62

*Last Friday — Lost to Centennial 66-62

Tuesday — Home vs. Watterson

*Jan. 4 — At Mifflin

Of note: The Cougars are 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the City-North.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Dec. 14 — Lost to Northland 71-32

*Last Friday — Defeated Centennial 61-43

Last Monday — Def. Watkins Memorial 93-90 (5OT)

Last Wednesday — Played Bexley

Tuesday — At Independence

*Jan. 4 — Home vs. Mifflin

Of note: The Cougars were 3-2 overall before last Monday and are 2-1 in the City-North.

BOWLING

*Dec. 14 — Boys: Lost to Centennial 1,946-1,606; Girls: Lost to Centennial 1,269-1,247

*Jan. 4 — Boys: St. Charles at HP Lanes

Of note: The boys are 1-2 overall and in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-Central Division and the girls are 0-3 overall and in the COHSBC-Central.

SWIMMING

Dec. 14 — Boys: Finished third (33) behind Eastmoor Academy (118) and Columbus South (93) and ahead of Columbus East (20); Girls: Finished third (38) behind Eastmoor (150) and South (60) and ahead of East (14). Shayla Lackey won the 200-yard freestyle (3:10).

Last Monday — Boys: Finished third (20) behind Centennial (137) and Bloom-Carroll (87); Girls: Finished second (28) behind Centennial (146) and ahead of Bloom-Carroll (20)

Wednesday — Boys, girls: Northland at North YMCA

WRESTLING

Dec. 15 — Def. Africentric 42-24; lost to Mifflin 49-15

Jan. 5 — At City quad

BROOKHAVEN

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Dec. 14 — Def. Whetstone 69-55

*Last Friday — Def. Mifflin 83-67

Wednesday-Dec. 30 — At Northridge Veterans Holiday Tournament. Brook-haven plays Cincinnati Wyoming at 6 p.m. Wednesday, with the consolation (6 p.m.) and championship (7:45 p.m.) being played Dec. 30 against Whetstone or Dayton Northridge.

*Jan. 4 — At Linden-McKinley

Of note: The Bearcats are 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the City-North.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Dec. 14 — Def. Whetstone 63-28

*Last Friday — Def. Mifflin 64-27

*Jan. 4 — Home vs. Linden

Of note: The Bearcats are 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the City-North.

BOWLING

*Dec. 28 — Boys, girls: Eastmoor at HP Lanes

*Jan. 3 — Boys, girls: Grandview at HP Lanes

Of note: The boys and girls both are 1-1 overall and in the COHSBC-Central.

WRESTLING

Dec. 15 — Def. Whetstone 44-36

Last Saturday — Finished last (89) at 10-team Wolfpack Invitational at Worthington Kilbourne, behind champion and host Wolves (239)

Tuesday-Wednesday — At West Jefferson Invitational

Jan. 5 — At City quad

NORTHLAND

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Dec. 14 — Def. Beechcroft 81-62

*Last Friday — Def. Whetstone 67-38

*Jan. 4 — At Centennial

Of note: The Vikings are 3-0 overall and in the City-North.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Dec. 14 — Def. Beechcroft 71-32

*Last Friday — Def. Whetstone 87-19

Tuesday-Wednesday — At Viking Holiday Classic at Teays Valley. Northland plays Jonathan Alder at 6 p.m. Tuesday, with the consolation (6 p.m.) and championship (7:45 p.m.) being played Wednesday against Grove City or Teays Valley.

*Jan. 4 — Home vs. Centennial

Of note: The Vikings are 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the City-North.

BOWLING

Jan. 3 — Boys, girls: Hartley at Sequoia

Of note: The boys are 1-2 overall and in the COHSBC-Central and the girls are 1-1 overall and in the COHSBC-Central.

SWIMMING

Last Tuesday — Boys, girls: Competed at North YMCA

Wednesday — Boys, girls: Beechcroft at North YMCA

Jan. 5 — Boys, girls: At North YMCA

WRESTLING

Dec. 15 — Lost to South 54-18; lost to Centennial 84-0

Wednesday-Dec. 30 — At Ready Winter Classic

Jan. 5 — At City quad

*League contest