Jeana Weatherspoon has an automatic way to one-up her twin brother, Jejuan, whenever she wants.

The Northland High School seniors acknowledge that their relationship is a close one and that they routinely find ways to build the other up as they've achieved new heights on their respective high school basketball teams.

Not surprisingly, though, Jeana will teasingly remind her brother from time to time that he was born two minutes after she was more than 17 years ago.

"Of course she does, and I hate it," Jejuan said, jokingly.

Their play on the court this winter, particularly for their opponents, has been far from a laughing matter.

With Jeana leading the way, the Northland girls were 11-1 overall and 6-0 in the City League-North Division before playing East on Jan. 9. After losing to Westerville South 56-44 on Dec. 6, the Vikings won their next seven games.

The girls team, which lost in City League title games each of the past two seasons, won all but one of its first six league games by double digits. The exception was a 49-42 win over Linden on Dec. 15.

Jeana helped Northland win a Division I district title as a sophomore and averaged 12.8 points last season when the Vikings finished 19-5. Through 12 games this season, she was averaging 18.8 points.

Entering play Jan. 9, Northland was 46-2 in the league with Jeana in the lineup.

"She's bought into the system and taken on a leadership role," girls coach Jay Bee Bethea said. "She's doing everything I ask of her, and I sure ask a lot. She's averaging a double-double and has taken on responsibility within this new system."

Jeana, a 5-foot-8 guard/forward, believes her offensive game has continued to improve outside of just her ability to drive to the basket.

Some of that has come from insight provided by her younger brother.

"Especially with big games, we'll send each other long paragraphs and tell each other that we can do it," Jeana said. "He inspires me to shoot it more because he's more of a shooter."

Led by Jejuan, the boys team was 5-4 overall and 3-1 in the City-North before playing East on Jan. 9.

In 2014-15, the Vikings were regional runners-up, but Jejuan was a freshman and played sparingly. Northland then went 21-3 in 2015-16 and 20-5 a year ago, having each season end with district semifinal losses to Upper Arlington.

Jejuan, a 6-3 guard, averaged 13.2 points last season but also has upped his scoring this winter, as he was averaging 17.5 points through eight games.

"He's our leader," said boys coach Sean Taylor, whose team lost to Hilliard Bradley 60-40 in The Challenge on Jan. 6 at Pickerington North. "He's the only one with some real game-time experience, so we need him to step up and lead us how a senior is supposed to. He's playing with so much confidence right now."

The one area Jejuan has a distinct advantage over his sister is height, which is more in line with his two other older siblings.

They've got skills on the court, too.

At 6-6, J.D. Weatherspoon, a 2010 Northland graduate, was the biggest of the children born to father James Weatherspoon, a former Walnut Ridge player in the late 1970s and early '80s, and mother Patrice Weatherspoon.

J.D. closed his prep career with 1,052 points and helped Northland win the 2009 Division I state championship before beginning a college career that included stops at Ohio State and Toledo.

Both J.D. and Jasmine Weatherspoon, a 2013 Northland graduate who went on to play for the Ohio University women's team, continued their careers overseas.

According to Taylor, Jejuan's strength is his ball-handling ability while J.D. was most known for his athleticism.

Although the family resides on the east side, Jejuan said he and Jeana wanted to "carry on the tradition" of playing at Northland.

"I was the water boy (for Northland in 2009)," Jejuan said. "I pretty much learned all my basketball from watching them play."

His twin sister has been a positive influence on him, too.

"She's always hard on me about rebounding and I'm always hard on her about being able to create space and get a shot," Jejuan said. "We're real close. We're always messing with each other."

Beechcroft boys set to face East

With its 83-74 victory over Northland on Dec. 22, the Beechcroft boys basketball team took a significant initial step toward making it to the City League championship game for the first time since 1994.

Senior guard Jelani Simmons, a Youngstown State recruit, was averaging 22.4 points through eight games - an increase of more than six points compared to his average a year ago.

Beechcroft fell to 8-1 overall with a 67-55 loss to host Pickerington North on Jan. 6 in The Challenge and was 4-0 in the City-North before playing International on Jan. 9.

On Friday, Jan. 12, the Cougars play host to another team off to a strong start in East, which was 7-1 overall and 4-0 in the league before playing Northland on Jan. 9.

Beechcroft handed Northland just its second league loss since the 2006-07 season as well as the Vikings' first league loss at home since 2006 as Simmons had 23 points and Datrey Long scored 20.

The Cougars followed with a 60-50 victory over Fairfield Union on Dec. 30. The Falcons had won six of their first eight games.

Linden boys team hopes to make push

While Beechcroft and East from the City-North and Eastmoor Academy from the City-South are Division II boys basketball programs that led their respective leagues heading into play Jan. 9, Linden is hoping it can establish itself as one of the area's better teams in Division II.

The Panthers lost consecutive City-North games to Northland (66-56 on Dec. 15), Beechcroft (82-70 on Dec. 19) and East (75-68 on Dec. 22) but opened the 2018 portion of their schedule by blowing out Westland 102-51 on Jan. 2.

Linden dropped to 5-4 overall with a 63-42 loss to Westerville North on Jan. 6 in The Challenge at Pickerington North and was 1-3 in the league before playing Mifflin on Jan. 9.

Through eight games, Faizon Tucker was averaging 14 points and David Brown, Damond Prater, D'Amonte Jones, Chance Groce and Nate Claude all were averaging between nine and 11 points.

"I like how we keep fighting," coach Jeremy Stuhlfauth said. "We returned four out of our five starters from last year and have a senior-heavy bench. The seniors have laid the foundation for the progress we've made and I'm proud of them."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek