Bill Spencer wouldn't trade the position he's in this season.
A longtime coach in the City League, Spencer landed the Northland High School girls basketball job after Dean Washington stepped down following his ninth season.
"Coaching is in my blood," Spencer said. "I love working with the youth and basketball is a passion of mine. I'm glad for the opportunity and I'm having a bunch of fun."
Spencer, who coached Independence to three City-South Division titles in eight seasons before stepping down at the end of the 2006-07 season, last coached in 2010-11 when he spent his only season leading Columbus South.
He also previously was Eastmoor Academy's coach.
Spencer's first team at Northland doesn't have the district's two-time Player of the Year after Alexis Peterson was lost to graduation, but most of Peterson's supporting cast has returned and the program has added a key newcomer.
Junior Carli Codner-Pinto, a 5-foot-6 guard who averaged a team-best 12.1 points and was first-team all-CCL and second-team all-district for DeSales a year ago, has transferred to Northland. She made ThisWeek Super 12 honorable mention last year.
The top returnees are senior guard Brooklynn Peterson (5-6), senior forward/post player Aliyah Colvin (6-1), junior forward Miesha Howard (6-0) and junior guards Armani Skipper (5-6) and Ariel Skipper (5-6).
Also on the team are senior guards Jelanah Cheatham (5-7) and Gabby Evans (5-7), junior guard Charlana Williams, sophomores Re'Na Bell (5-9, forward) and Alicia Hardman (5-6, guard) and freshman forward Taylor Pearson (5-9).
Brooklynn Peterson averaged 10.5 points last season but sat out both of Northland's tournament games because of a suspension. She and Howard, who averaged 10 points and nine rebounds, each made second-team all-league.
Alexis Peterson is playing for Syracuse after averaging 28.1 points last season to lead Northland to an 18-6 finish. She was the Super 12 captain each of the past two seasons and helped the Vikings earn a City championship as a junior and a City runner-up finish a year ago when they lost to Africentric 83-67.
The Vikings had won 46 consecutive City-North games before opening Nov. 26 against Brookhaven.
Northland lost to Dublin Coffman 64-45 in a Division I district semifinal last year after winning district titles in 2011 and 2012.
"It's going to be a different team, but they seem to play pretty well together right now," Spencer said.
Cougars hope to break out under new coach
With 10 seniors, Beechcroft is hoping to take a step forward under new coach Mike Moncrief.
The Cougars, who improved to 10-12 overall a year ago after winning six games in 2011-12, are deep in athleticism, according to Moncrief.
Moncrief previously served as an assistant under Mike Fleming, who led the program the last seven seasons.
"Our weakness is going to be our height, but I think our athleticism is out of this world," Moncrief said. "We're just trying to develop consistency in shooting the ball. The positive thing is the experience."
The top returnees are junior guard Terika Broady and senior point guard Odyssey Riley. Broady and Riley each averaged 12 points a year ago, and Broady was second-team all-league.
Senior post player Tivia Hylton is the team's tallest player at 5-10, while others playing in the post will be seniors Starlah Germany (5-8), Melvon Cannady (5-8) and Justice Sheppard.
Other seniors are Dale-Lyn Featherstone (guard), Keelah Bohanan (wing player), Jordan Glover (wing player), Lasondra Washington (guard) and Ke'Azia Mosley (guard).
Junior guard Dominique Brown is a transfer from Westerville North. Freshmen guards Candice Marbury and Taneya Vance also are looking to contribute.
Beechcroft placed fourth (6-8) in the City-North last season behind champion Northland (14-0) and lost to Licking Valley 54-33 in the first round of the Division II district tournament.
Bearcats will have new look
A year ago, Brookhaven won two more games and advanced a round further in the postseason than it did in 2011-12.
Continuing that trend upward could be a challenge.
In addition to losing three key players from a year ago to graduation, sophomore guard Ashley Johnson is not currently with the team after making first-team all-league and third-team all-district and seniors Courtland Crego (guard) and Fredtasia Luttery (forward) aren't eligible to begin the season.
Brookhaven went 18-5 and advanced to a Division II district semifinal a year ago before losing to Caledonia River Valley 53-48 in overtime.
"It does change the dynamic of the team not having (Crego and Luttery) because they were both two-year starters," third-year coach Darris Gattis said. "We're trying to think of it as next man up."
Junior guard Nazarae Butler (5-10), who was honorable mention all-league last season, is expected to be the team's top player.
Senior guard Martesha Jenkins (5-6) saw time in the starting lineup a year ago, and senior guard Mikira Roberts (5-8) moves up from junior varsity.
Freshman Sha'Toya Johnson, who is Ashley's sister, also is expected to be a key guard.
Others looking to contribute are juniors Lorraine Danglade (5-8, forward) and Kierra Stradford (5-4, guard), sophomores Charvonna Allison (5-9, forward) and Jalaya Payton (5-6, guard) and freshmen Destiny Culpepper (5-6, guard), Kiara Fleming (6-0, post player), Monouscha Jacques (6-1, post player) and Antonia Williams (6-0, post player).
Myeisha Arnold, Renee Cheeks and Jade' Gattis were lost to graduation. Arnold is playing for Ohio Wesleyan.