Four former Brookhaven players joined a strong group of holdovers to help the Beechcroft High School boys basketball team double its win total and reach a Division II district semifinal a season ago.

Four former Brookhaven players joined a strong group of holdovers to help the Beechcroft High School boys basketball team double its win total and reach a Division II district semifinal a season ago.

The Cougars won't rival that team in terms of experience, but there's nothing gloomy about their forecast for this season.

Beechcroft again hopes to be an upper-echelon finisher in the City League-North Division and competitive in the postseason.

"Everything's been going well," fourth-year coach Humphrey Simmons said. "This year is all about building."

The Cougars opened by winning the L-Town Tipoff Classic at London. They beat the host Red Raiders 83-44 on Nov. 27 and defeated Jonathan Alder 36-30 on Nov. 28 for the title.

Beechcroft improved from 7-16 in 2013-14 to go 14-8 overall last season and tie Centennial for third (9-5) in the City-North behind Northland (14-0) and Mifflin (11-3).

The Cougars will attempt to approach that finish with just three seniors in 6-foot-4 guard/forward Macyah Fleming, 5-8 guard Javon Forrester and 5-7 guard Malik Jackson.

Junior Dai-Shau Cottrell, a 6-2 forward, and sophomore Jelani Simmons, a 6-3 guard who is the coach's son, are other expected key players.

Sophomores Keon Jennings (6-3, forward) and Therron Jennings (6-3, forward), who are two of a set of triplets, sophomore Datrey Long (6-3, forward) and freshman Na'elle Simmons (6-6, forward) are others looking for playing time. Na'elle Simmons is the coach's nephew.

Beechcroft was the seventh seed for the district tournament last season and lost 58-47 in a district semifinal to fourth-seeded Johnstown, which would lose in a district final.

Although Walnut Ridge has moved up to Division I after reaching the Division II state tournament a year ago, two Division III district champions, Hartley and Eastmoor Academy, now are competing in Division II.

Beechcroft lost nine players to graduation, including two players who averaged 15 points in Joshua Chellers and Anthony McClendon.

"We're a little young, but the future is bright," coach Simmons said. "Staying near the top of the (City-North) would be great, but we're also hoping to get a good seed in the tournament."

Towns back to lead Vikings

Some of its complementary pieces are gone, but the Northland boys basketball team might have central Ohio's top go-to player in senior Seth Towns.

A 6-7 forward who has committed to Harvard, Towns averaged 21.3 points and 11.5 rebounds a year ago. He was the ThisWeek Super 12 captain and a district co-Player of the Year in Division I.

"We have a lot to work on, but when we need a bucket, (Towns) can get it," fifth-year coach Sean Taylor said. "He's looking real good."

Northland, which went 22-6 overall last year and had its season end in a regional final for the second consecutive season, opens Saturday, Dec. 5, against Indianapolis Cathedral in the Clark Kellogg Classic at Ohio Dominican.

The other senior returnees are 5-10 guard Andrew Breckenridge, 6-4 forward Naquon Haynes and 5-10 guard Jordan Kinchen, who averaged 4.9 points last season.

Rounding out the senior class is 6-2 guard/forward Jalen Stevens, a move-in from Charleston, W.Va.

Also back are juniors Quentin Jones (6-6, center) and Brandon Waugh (6-0, guard) and sophomores Gabe Towns (6-6, forward) and Jejuan Weatherspoon (6-4, guard).

Others looking to contribute include juniors DeAndre Powers (5-9, guard) and Ricardo Robinson (6-0, guard), sophomore Jonathan Kelly (6-5, forward) and freshman William Mfum (6-1, guard).

In addition to the Clark Kellogg Classic, Northland will compete in the King James Classic on Dec. 19 against Cleveland East Tech at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, in the Flyin' to the Hoop on Jan. 16 against Greenville at Kettering Fairmont and in the Jared Sullinger Ohio Scholastic Play-by-Play Classic on Jan. 23 against Dublin Jerome at Ohio Dominican.

In last year's postseason, Northland rallied from a 14-point deficit with 2 minutes, 28 seconds remaining to beat Gahanna 66-65 in a district final and then beat Jerome 64-47 in a regional semifinal before losing to Westerville South 70-63 in a regional final.

"Hopefully by February we'll be pretty good," Taylor said. "We don't have a lot coming back as far as experience inside so we're going to have to get tough, but we're going to be all right. We've just got to play defense."