The regular season has been a roller-coaster ride for the Northridge High School boys basketball team.

The regular season has been a roller-coaster ride for the Northridge High School boys basketball team.

The Vikings won their first five games before the bottom fell out. They lost senior starters Chad Campbell and Brad Wilson to season-ending injuries and then had to forfeit six wins because sophomore point guard Brandon Estep was playing despite being ineligible.

With Estep set to return after sitting out 11 games -- the OHSAA requirement after he transferred from Johnstown-Monroe -- coach Brian Blume now turns his attention to a possible upswing in the Division III district tournament. The tournament draw is Sunday, Feb. 15.

"It's hard to say (how people will vote in the seeding)," said Blume, whose team was 3-16 overall and 3-12 in the LCL before playing Watkins Memorial on Feb. 13. "Many coaches seed on records and don't always know the whole story in a situation. We play a great schedule against Division I and Division II teams and we played well, but they will only see that we have (three) wins.

"But I told the kids that we could (get a good draw). An opposing coach told me that no one would like us showing up on their doorstep in the first couple of rounds. We're a small school playing in a league with bigger schools. And the Division IV teams we played like Newark Catholic, Fairfield Christian and (Zanesville) Rosecrans are good teams. Our schedule should prepare us for the postseason."

Estep returns Tuesday, Feb. 17, in a league game at Division II Licking Valley. Northridge defeated the Panthers 65-61 in overtime Jan. 16.

The Vikings close the regular season Friday, Feb. 20, at home against Division I Licking Heights, a team they lost to 53-47 on Jan. 20.

On Feb. 6, Northridge officially forfeited six wins after the OHSAA denied the school's eligibility appeal on behalf of Estep.

That evening, the Vikings picked up a victory with a 44-35 win over Heath in LCL play. Gavin Shank scored 11 points and Daniel Hatfield added 10.

Shank had 22 points with three 3-points in a 65-52 loss to Rosecrans on Feb. 7.

Clay Nicks scored 17 points with three 3s and Shank had 16 points in a 57-43 LCL loss to Newark Catholic on Feb. 9.

"(Heath) was a good win for us, especially with losing another starter," Blume said. "Greg Wilson went down with an ankle injury and also missed the Rosecrans game. Gavin Shank has been our lone starter from the beginning of the season and he stepped up big for us.

"Greg played about 50 percent of the game against Newark Catholic and we (expected) him to be back to 100 percent against Watkins (Memorial)."

Girls basketball teamto play third seed

The girls basketball team will have a 13-day layoff before opening the Division III district tournament.

The Vikings are seeded 20th of 22 teams and play at third-seeded Liberty Union on Feb. 24 in the first round. They lost to the Lions 41-18 last season in a Division III district semifinal.

The winner faces 17th-seeded Mount Gilead on Feb. 28 at the home of the better seed.

"We put ourselves in a situation where we were going to go up against a team that we knew would be good," coach Joe Rucker, whose team is 1-21 overall. "We played Liberty Union last year in the tournament, but we don't know much about them this year. We'll know more after we scout them."

Northridge finished 0-18 in the LCL after losing to Licking Heights 63-50 on Feb. 11. Jenna DeNune scored 16 points, Belinda Marcum had 13 and Mikaela Pankuch added nine.

DeNune scored 15 points in a 63-47 league loss to Licking Valley on Feb. 7. Marcum had 14 points and Pankuch added eight.

Postseason underwayfor swimming teams

The boys and girls swimming teams competed in a Division II sectional Feb. 14 at Columbus Academy.

The winner of each event qualified for district Friday, Feb. 20, at Ohio University. In addition, 27 at-large district berths were awarded in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites.

At district, the top two placers in each event advance to state Feb. 26 and 27 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded for each event based on times statewide. Northridge has no divers.

The Vikings competed in the Southeastern Ohio Swim League meet Feb. 7 at Kenyon. The girls finished fifth (112 points) of 15 teams behind champion Dresden Tri-Valley (264) and the boys were sixth (96) of 12 teams behind champion Coshocton (234).

For the girls, Katelyn Darby finished second in the 200-yard freestyle (2 minutes, 14.2 seconds) and 100 backstroke (1:09.9), and Josie Bunstine was second in the 50 free (27.23) and third in the 100 free (1:01.77).

Bunstine and Darby were joined by Maddi Giffin and Alex Rahde on the third-place 400 free relay (4:28.45) and fourth-place 200 free relay (2:02.02).

Mason Alexander lowered his 500 free program record for the boys while finishing second in 6:00.65. He also was sixth in the 200 free (2:13.97).

Jasen Dean, Bryce Curtis, Paul Haught and Mat Scott swam on the sixth-place 200 free relay (1:49.68) and Alexander, Steven Wickham, Haught and Scott comprised the sixth-place 400 free relay (4:12.3).

The 200 medley relay of Dean, Curtis, Alexander and Haught was seventh (2:06.67).