Without senior post player Jasmine Weatherspoon for the season's first half because of an injury and with several players contributing for the first time, senior Alexis Peterson has taken on an even bigger role for the Northland High School girls basketball team.
Peterson, a four-year starter who was the district's Division I Player of the Year and the ThisWeek Super 12 captain last year, averaged an area-best 28 points through seven games.
Still, the Vikings haven't entirely been a one-player show.
Peterson's junior sister, Brooklynn, had 16 points in a 69-59 win Dec. 10 over Olentangy Orange in a rematch of a pair of games last season that the teams split.
Junior Aliyah Colvin scored 17 and Brooklynn Peterson had 11 to complement a 20-point performance from Alexis Peterson in a 69-44 win over Centennial on Dec. 4.
In a 70-34 win over Columbus East on Dec. 11, sophomore Miesha Howard scored 14 points to complement Alexis Peterson's 33.
"They're pretty resilient and they always play hard," coach Dean Washington said. "When you've got a player like Alexis who's unselfish, she makes everybody better."
The Vikings should have one of their toughest tests of the season when they compete Dec. 27-29 in the Pickerington North Holiday Classic.
If Northland beats Pittsburgh Seton-LaSalle Catholic in its opening game of the eight-team tournament Dec. 27, it will play Centerville or Olentangy on Dec. 28.
Olentangy was a Division I district runner-up a year ago and was 5-1 before playing Franklin Heights on Dec. 17. The Braves lost to Orange 57-52 on Dec. 15.
The Vikings likely won't have Weatherspoon back until sometime in January.
Against Orange, sophomore guard Armani Skipper suffered a right knee injury and left the floor on crutches.
"I feel like we're working more as a team because we're smaller," Brooklynn Peterson said. "I feel like coach Washington got me prepared for things last year in the (postseason) and my teammates are helping."
Brookhaven returns strong wrestling cast
The four Division II district wrestling qualifiers Brookhaven had last season represented its most since coach Steve Ayers took over in 2005.
Three of those athletes are back.
A year ago, senior Jalen Bonner (152 pounds) and juniors Righteous Bridges (106/113) and Devonte Lewis (132) each had a winning record and qualified for district.
Other key athletes for the Bearcats include senior Daniel Avila (220), junior Keandre Powell (138) and sophomores Giovaughni Bonner (106) and Steven Pelletier (195).
"It's all about getting matches right now," Ayers said. "I'm not looking at who's doing well. If we can get through December, we'll be all right. We're moving in the right direction."
Brookhaven finished sixth (95) in the City League tournament behind champion Marion-Franklin (227) last season as 2012 graduate Devin Williams (160) was first and Jalen Bonner (third at 145), Bridges (fourth at 113), Lewis (fourth at 120), Pelletier (sixth at 170) and Powell (sixth at 138) all placed.
Swimming programs excited for seasons
The Northland and Beechcroft swimming and diving teams both will compete one additional time in the 2012 portion of their respective schedules.
Northland will face Whetstone on Saturday, Dec. 22, at the North YMCA in what the schools are calling the "Dual at Daybreak" because it will take place at 7 a.m.
On Dec. 10 in the Whetstone Invitational at the Columbus Aquatics Center, the Northland boys tied Marysville for second (90) of six teams behind champion Grove City (130) and its girls team was fifth (55) behind champion Centennial (160).
The top swimmers for the Northland boys are senior Viet Nguyen and junior Clay Siens, who have been key swimmers since their freshman seasons. Seniors Bradley Diede and Martine Montero and freshman Christopher Asebrook also are contributing.
The girls team is led by seniors Karla Garcia, Katherine Lowman and Cari Torres and juniors Emilee Aldridge and Madelyn Smith.
"We'd like to take a girls relay or two to district as well as some boys relays to district," said Aaron MacCaughey, who is in his eighth season as coach. "Clay Siens broke the school record in the (100-yard breaststroke) when he swam (1 minute, 2.71 seconds) at the Ned Reeb (Invitational on Dec. 8 at Ohio State), and his goal is to make it to district and possibly go on to state."
Beechcroft competes Dec. 29 in the Bellefontaine Invitational.
The girls team is led by seniors Yasmine Barnes-Nutter, Iesha Jolla and Charlotte Wolff, junior Stephanie Ibarra and freshmen Erin Baggs and Jasmine Ibarra. Top boys in the Cougars' program include senior Armando Salgado, juniors Victor Guerrero, Tamani Moore and Brian Quijada, sophomores Robert Cephas and Spencer Stewart and freshman Lavonna Harrison.
"I think it's been going great," said Dan Zedeker, who is in his ninth season as coach. "Swim season brings out the best in a lot of kids."