After participating in a summer camp in Wilmington that included programs such as defending Division III state champion Anna, the Beechcroft High School girls basketball team expected to be prepared for a league schedule that first-year coach Mike Moncrief called a "meat grinder."
A 10-member senior class is helping the Cougars keep their resolve after they lost five in a row following a 4-1 start.
"This summer we played some pretty talented teams, and this team has gotten so much better than the summer," Moncrief said. "We've got 10 seniors and all of the seniors have been rallying around each other, and one of the things they've been working on is consistency."
Beechcroft was 4-6 overall and 3-3 in the City League-North Division before playing Columbus East on Jan. 7. It will play Whetstone on Friday, Jan. 10, looking to avenge a 58-40 loss Nov. 26 and will look for a season sweep of Mifflin on Tuesday, Jan. 14, after it beat the Punchers 57-40 on Dec. 9.
The Cougars lost to Brook-haven 58-57 on Dec. 17 and to Northland 64-32 on Dec. 20 to close the 2013 portion of their league schedule. They then lost to Cincinnati North College Hill 56-42 on Dec. 27 and Johnstown 79-54 on Dec. 30.
Those four teams were a combined 30-8 before Jan. 6.
Before the Cougars played East, senior point guard Odyssey Riley was averaging 14 points, junior guard Terika Broady was averaging 11 and junior guard Dominique Brown was averaging seven.
"We've shot the ball pretty well," Moncrief said. "In (a 55-45 loss to Grove City on Dec. 12) I told them that if they apply themselves on defense that the shots are going to fall, and in the third quarter we outscored them 22-7 and actually tied the score. Our starting guards -- Terika Broady, Odyssey Riley and Dominique Brown -- all have shot it real well, and our bigs are stepping up defensively. Hopefully we can keep our shooting going for the rest of the year."
Northland bowlers eye strong finishes
With three of its top competitors back from a squad that was City runner-up last season, the Northland girls bowling team is hoping for big things over the coming weeks.
The Vikings were 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-Central Division before facing Centennial on Jan. 6.
Senior Bradishia Foster was averaging 183.9 per game, followed by juniors Leah Spencer (147.0) and Aleah Holley (146.1).
Other key performers have included sophomores Deanna Coles and Alyssa Hiell.
"We lost seven players from last year and we've got six brand new girls," coach Peggy Holley said. "We have some returning varsity players and I think we should have a really good season. Our goal is to go against Briggs again for the City championship. We (beat Briggs for the City title in 2011) and the last two years they defeated us, but Briggs went to state last year."
The Northland boys team won just five matches last season but was 6-2 overall and 2-1 in the league before facing Centennial.
Freshman Jefferson Young was leading the Vikings in average at 171.6, followed by senior Mark Murray (152.7) and junior Gary Miller (151.2). Junior Zach Jordan and sophomores Jeff Marple and Solomon Beaufort are other key bowlers.
"(Young) has been a regular bowler for several years," coach Robert Pea said. "I think he's one of the top 15 bowlers in the City this year."
Brookhaven bowlers have high hopes
The Brookhaven boys bowling team has returned two of its top competitors after it beat Walnut Ridge 2,182-2,007 to win its first City championship last season.
Senior Ne'Tronne Backus was among the COHSBC's leaders in average at 205.8 entering the week. Junior Brian Brockman, who was averaging 187.3, also is a returnee.
Other competitors are seniors Bruce Foster and Devonte Hill, juniors Tyran Greenhow and Troy Kidder, sophomore Justin Whithem and freshmen Jacob Webb, Kirt Withem and Kylan Yarbrough.
The Bearcats were 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the COHSBC-Central before facing Watterson on Jan. 7.
"(Backus and Brockman) are our best two and the younger guys are rotating in," coach Joe Krabill said. "(Backus) is averaging better than a 200, which makes him one of the 10 best bowlers in central Ohio."
The girls were 1-4 overall and 1-2 in the COHSBC-Central before facing Watterson.
Senior D'Ache Rankin and sophomores Darlene Artrip and Naomi Baker all have been averaging about 100. Senior Jatia Green, junior Kaleia Haggans and Essence Jones and sophomore Tasha Charles are other key performers.
The biggest loss from last season was Kylie Matthews, a 2013 graduate who was 27th (422) at sectional and tied for 44th (451) at district.
"We lost our top four bowlers, so we're very young this year," girls coach Chuck Andrick said.
Beechcroft bowlers looking to improve
The Beechcroft boys and girls bowling teams both have two seniors as they look to improve on last season.
Back to lead the girls team, which went 1-9 a year ago, is senior Liz Ramos, while senior Mary Stewart has been among the team's best bowlers despite being in her first year with the program.
Robert Smoot and Jordan Nalls are the seniors on the boys squad, which went 3-12 a year ago.
The girls team is co-coached by Matt Bell and Larry Bromagen, who have coached baseball and girls track at the school, respectively.
The girls were 1-1 overall and in the COHSBC-Central before facing Columbus International on Jan. 7. They beat Watterson 1,298-1,234 on Dec. 19.
"We've got nine girls and they're doing a good job," Bell said.
Also on the girls team are juniors Jobita Masariegos and Allexis Weaver, sophomore Izali Robles and freshmen Eja Burden, Dominique Davis, Niyana Norah and Alexis Rohas.
The boys team was 1-6 overall and 0-2 in the COHSBC-Central before facing International.
Sophomore Javonie Anderson has been the top scorer. Also contributing have been seniors Brandon Duncan and Myke Love, junior Daniel Bishoff and freshmen DeJuan Collins and Dairon Edwards.
"We haven't started out as strong as I'd hoped, but we're getting better," coach Joe Begeny said. "We're trying to get the right chemistry and the experience for the younger players."
•Coaches: Boys -- Joe Begeny, sixth season; Girls -- Matt Bell and Larry Bromagen, first season
•Top athletes: Boys -- Javonie Anderson, Jordan Nalls and Robert Smoot; Girls -- Jobita Masariegos, Niyana Norah and Liz Ramos
•Key losses: Boys -- Raymone Lane, Kobe Printiss and Brandon Sink; Girls -- Haylee Adams, Sidney Black, Ambyr Coleman, Lynnae Stanley
•Last season: Boys -- 3-12 overall; Girls -- 1-9 overall
•2013 finishes: Boys -- 13th in COHSBC-Central, 25th at sectional; Girls -- 10th in COHSBC-Central, 24th at sectional
•Coaches: Boys -- Joe Krabill, first season; Girls -- Chuck Andrick, sixth season
•Top athletes: Boys -- Ne'Tronne Backus, Brian Brockman and Bruce Foster; Girls -- Darlene Artrip, Naomi Baker and D'Ache Rankin
•Key losses: Boys -- Lei'Tonn Backus, Nathan Baker and Clevis Towns; Girls -- Sanetria Cain, Kylie Matthews and Kristina Tweedy
•Last season: Boys -- 11-5 overall; Girls -- 4-6 overall
•2013 finishes: Boys -- Fourth in COHSBC-Central, 21st at sectional; Girls -- Seventh in COHSBC-Central, 16th at sectional
•Coaches: Boys -- Robert Pea, fifth season; Girls -- Peggy Holley, fifth season
•Top athletes: Boys -- Gary Miller, Mark Murray and Bryant Young; Girls -- Bradishia Foster, Aleah Holley and Leah Spencer
•Key losses: Boys -- Jeff Davis, Clayton Pea and Trent Ranson; Girls -- Angela Holley and Cherie Wright
•Last season: Boys -- 5-14 overall; Girls -- 11-4 overall
•2013 finishes: Boys -- 11th in the COHSBC-Central, 27th at sectional; Girls -- Second in COHSBC-Central, seventh at sectional, ninth at district