Junior Anthony Alexander of the Northland High School wrestling team struggled at times last weekend to take his mind off task.

Junior Anthony Alexander of the Northland High School wrestling team struggled at times last weekend to take his mind off task.

After opening the Division I district tournament Feb. 24 at Hilliard Darby, Alexander found that his body instinctively wouldn't relax enough, particularly when he tried to lie on his back, to get the proper amount of rest for the final rounds the next day.

That proved to be only a minor inconvenience for the 138-pounder, as he earned a runner-up finish to advance to the state tournament.

According to coach Toby Hawk, Alexander is the first Northland wrestler to reach state since 1991.

"It feels awesome," Alexander said. "I couldn't sleep on my back because the only thing I kept thinking about was bridging. (Last) week I was just really excited the whole time and was ready to wrestle."

The state tournament runs Thursday, March 1, through Saturday, March 3, at Ohio State. Alexander is 38-3 and opens against Cuyahoga Falls' Colin Taylor (36-7), who was third in the Mentor district tournament.

Seeded second at district, Alexander opened with a 14-4 win over Pickerington Central's Jordan Piecynski. He then pinned Watkins Memorial's Nick Lancia in 2 minutes, 41 seconds and edged Gahanna's Kasee McDougle 8-6 in a semifinal before losing to Marysville's Noah Forrider 6-1 in the championship match.

In the days leading up to district, Alexander trained with wrestlers from Dublin Coffman, where he formerly attended before transferring to Northland during the offseason.

Hawk is a former Ready assistant who will be coaching at state for the first time since 1999.

"He's very explosive and usually gets guys out of position by using his athleticism," Hawk said of Alexander. "We're hoping to win a couple matches (at state). Who knows? Maybe he can catch fire and win the whole thing."

Alexander was Northland's only district qualifier. His performance scored 21 points, enabling the Vikings to tie Dublin Jerome and Upper Arlington for 23rd behind champion Marysville (174) as 37 teams scored.

Brookhaven scored eight points in the Division II district tournament at Uhrichsville Claymont to place 37th behind champion Steubenville (202.5) as 44 teams scored.

Senior Devin Williams went 2-2 at 160 and finished the season 45-8 and sophomore Righteous Bridges went 1-2 at 106 and finished 29-16. Junior Jalen Bonner (145) went 0-2 to finish 27-22 and sophomore Devonte Lewis (120) went 0-2 to finish 26-23.

The four district qualifiers were the most for the Bearcats since coach Steve Ayers took over the program six seasons ago.

"They all worked their butts off," Ayers said. "I kind of figured that Devin Williams would make it (to district) and I thought Righteous could because there's not a lot of great (wrestlers at 106), but Lewis was a surprise and Bonner was in a tough weight class. I'm pleased for all of these guys just getting to make it."

Also in Division II, Beechcroft senior Amos Gweh went 0-2 at 160 to finish 18-9.

•The initial attempts of learning to play without senior Symone Denham went off without a hitch for the Northland girls basketball team.

Whether that continues rests on the shoulders of a group of players who are attempting to fill the role of the talented University of Michigan recruit who went down with a season-ending knee injury during a 45-37 win over Africentric in the City League title game Feb. 11.

The early results of giving increased playing time to senior Raven Bryant-Williams, sophomore Brooklyn Peterson and freshmen Armani Skipper and Ariel Skipper included wins over Briggs (92-14 on Feb. 18) and Teays Valley (50-28 on Feb. 22) in the first two rounds of the Division I district tournament.

The fourth-seeded Vikings next must get past 12th-seeded Zanesville in a district semifinal at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at Pickerington Central to have a shot at their second consecutive district championship.

The semifinal winner will play for a district title at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at Pickerington Central against third-seeded Olentangy Orange or Newark.

The district champion plays second-seeded Pickerington North, fifth-seeded Dublin Coffman, sixth-seeded Gahanna or 11th-seeded New Albany in a regional semifinal at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, at Otterbein University. The regional final is at 1 p.m. March 10 at Otterbein.

The Vikings are 20-1, with their only loss coming to Orange 50-49 on Dec. 12.

"(Briggs) was our first game to figure out how to play without Symone Denham," coach Dean Washington said. "Teays Valley was a little better of a team and we got the job done and won by 22. We'll have a tough challenge against Zanesville. We might be a little bigger than them, so hopefully we can use that to our advantage."

Zanesville is 18-4 after beating Hilliard Davidson 45-40 in the second round of the tournament Feb. 22 at Pickerington Central. Kenzie Howe scored 11 of her team-high 15 points, including the Blue Devils' only 3-pointer, during a 17-0 run early in the second half. Howe's sister, Kailee, also is a key player for Zanesville.

Orange is 21-1 and enters its matchup against Newark on a 10-game winning streak. The Wildcats are 13-9.

Last season, Northland beat Gahanna 51-35 for a district title while Orange lost to Pickerington North 46-39 in a district final. The Vikings then fell to North 58-50 in a regional semifinal.

Against Teays Valley, Alexis Peterson had 13 points, Brooklyn Peterson scored nine and Bryant-Williams scored eight.

Both Alexis Peterson and Bryant-Williams had 12 points and Armani Skipper, Brandie Curd-Watson and Cortland Mullins all scored 11 against Briggs.

"What I told them was that no one filling in for Symone has to score 15 points a game," Washington said. "We're not quite there yet, but we've got some people stepping up and playing. We're not the only team around that's lost some girls (to injuries). We'll just have to really handle the basketball."

Brookhaven, the fourth seed in Division II, also opened the district tournament with a victory, as it beat London 53-48 in the first round Feb. 18 at Delaware. However, the Bearcats lost to 12th-seeded Big Walnut 47-28 in the second round Feb. 25 at Delaware to finish 13-8.

•The Beechcroft, Brookhaven and Northland boys basketball teams all won their district tournament openers.

The Cougars opened the Division II tournament with a 54-53 win over Independence on Feb. 21 to improve to 7-14 and advance to play ninth-seeded Marion-Franklin in the second round at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at Dublin Scioto.

Khaleed Franklin had 22 points and Arthur Thomas scored 11 as the Cougars overcome a rough shooting night against the 76ers. Beechcroft shot just 3-for-17 from the free-throw line, including making only one of its last 14, and made only three of 18 shots from 3-point range.

Maurice Hale scored the winning basket with 0.1 seconds left.

Marion-Franklin is 10-8 under first-year coach Scott Williams entering its matchup against the Cougars. The Red Devils tied Eastmoor Academy for third at 9-5 in the City League-South Division behind Walnut Ridge (14-0) and Africentric (12-2).

Top players for Marion-Franklin include Marquiez Lawrence, Anthony Anderson and Domonique Cartier.

"It wasn't real pretty (against Independence), but I always think that if you shoot well you look good and we just didn't shoot very well," Cougars coach Scott Davis said. "We know (Marion-Franklin will be) a tough game. They've got some size, but we've played some people with size and had some success. We've been undersized all year. It'll be a good, exciting game."

Brookhaven improved to 15-5 with an 82-22 victory over Hamilton Township in the first round of the Division II tournament on Feb. 23 at Scioto.

The Bearcats play Bexley in the second round at 7:45 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at Scioto. The winner plays Beechcroft or Marion-Franklin in a district semifinal at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, at Scioto.

The district final is at 6 p.m. March 9 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum, where third-seeded Hartley, fourth-seeded Watterson, 11th-seeded Big Walnut or Lakewood would be the opponent.

Khalid King had 25 points, including five 3-pointers, and Randal Clarkson scored 14 against Hamilton Township. The Bearcats led 33-10 after the first quarter.

Top-seeded Northland opened the Division I tournament with an 87-31 win over Central Crossing on Feb. 23 at Marysville. The Vikings played Columbus West in the second round on Feb. 29 at Marysville.

The winner plays St. Charles, Zanesville, Dresden Tri-Valley or Pickerington North in a district semifinal at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, at Marysville. The district final is at noon March 10 at the Fairgrounds.

Devon Scott had 21 points, Jordan Potts scored 17, Jalen Robinson scored 16 and Ty Hairston scored 10 against Central Crossing.