Philip Alston has grown in more ways than one since joining the Westerville North High School boys basketball program.
The 6-foot-6 senior forward entered North as a 5-10 perimeter player. A growth spurt between his freshman and sophomore seasons forced Alston's move into the paint, where he has flourished.
"Philip kind of physically exploded," coach Shan Trusley said. "In middle school and even as a ninth-grader, he was a little guy. When I say little guy, I mean 5-9, 5-10, 5-11, and he took off when he got to high school.
"He had always been a perimeter player, and now he's adjusting to doing some more things around the basket for us. In fact, he has worked really hard to put himself in a position to do that. He really has changed his body, and he loves the weight room."
Alston was a role player as a sophomore and became a starter last season, averaging 10.0 points. Through 18 contests this season, he is averaging 11.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots while shooting 50.3 percent (81-for-160) from the field.
"I knew I was going to grow because I had a lot of knee pains and growing pains when I was a freshman," Alston said. "I was a lanky wing, and I attacked (the basket) a lot. I could shoot, but I was never much of a pull-up guy. I was more of a slasher.
"Now I feel like I do a lot just because I work on everything. I know what to do in the post and I'm still able to play out on the wing. I'm more versatile."
Alston led the way for the Warriors on Feb. 8, scoring 18 points in a 61-55 win over Westerville South in OCC-Buckeye Division play. North is 11-9 overall and 3-6 in the league.
"It's harder playing with your back to the basket, especially if you aren't super-tall," said Alston, who was honorable mention all-district and second-team all-league last season. "As an undersized big (player), I can work a lot on facing up on the attack because I'm faster than most (forwards).
"I'm still a pretty good shooter. All of the coaches have helped me in the transition to a lot of the post work when I started playing varsity as a sophomore. Now (junior forward) Charles (Perkins) has shown that he can play well in the post, and they have started to transition me back out on the wing."
The Warriors are seeded 22nd for the Division I district tournament. They have a first-round bye and play 11th-seeded Logan or 28th-seeded Grove City on March 1 in the second round.
"We started kind of slow because we had a new team from having a lot of good seniors last year," Alston said. "We have a good string going right now because we are learning how to play in close games, and we're getting better at that."
Alston said he wants to play at the next level, but has not made a college selection.
"Philip has some opportunities, a lot of them at the Division II level," Trusley said. "We're going to play out this year and look at everything.
"He definitely has possibilities. His best basketball is ahead of him. He was average height and now he's 6-6. He works hard at his game and he loves it."
Bernsdorf, Mathews help lead swim teams
Andrew Bernsdorf and Janessa Mathews excelled for the boys and girls swimming teams in a Division I sectional Feb. 9 at Kenyon College.
Bernsdorf won the 200-yard individual medley (1 minute, 53.46 seconds) and 500 freestyle (4:39.2) to advance to district Friday, Feb. 15, at Ohio State. He is seeded first in the 200 IM and second in the 500 free.
Bernsdorf also was a member of two district-qualifying relays for the Warriors, who finished fifth (94) behind champion St. Charles (299) as 10 teams scored. Bernsdorf joined Hayden Yeager, Chris Lake and Paul Buckley on the fifth-place 200 medley relay (1:43.85), and he swam on the sixth-place 400 free relay (3:31.36) with Taylor Sanford, Josh Dewey and Lake.
The sixth-place 200 free relay (1:38.77) featured Buckley, Dewey, Sanford and Yeager.
For the girls, Mathews finished third in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.66) and 200 IM (2:10.61). She is seeded third in both at district.
Mathews also swam on a pair of relays that qualified for district. She was on the third-place 200 medley relay (1:50.37) with Christy Harper, Alaina Bernsdorf and Allie Thompson and the fourth-place 400 free relay (3:48.53) with Thompson, Gwyneth Payton and Emma Bolen.
The 200 free relay (1:45.86) of Bolen, Payton, Abigail Bosler and Ariana Sanabria was sixth.
North finished fifth (134) of nine teams at sectional behind champion Dublin Coffman (266).
At district, the top two finishers in each swimming event advance to state Feb. 22 and 23 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded in each event based on district times statewide.
Megan Bouton, Emily Rich-ards, Lauren Richards and Emma Weisgerber will compete in diving. The top five girls qualify for state Feb. 21.
Wrestlers to battle for OCC-Buckeye title
The wrestling team will take on Olentangy Liberty on Thursday, Feb. 14, at home with the OCC-Buckeye championship on the line.
Both teams are 4-0 in the league and will meet for the title for the third consecutive season. Liberty won 35-25 last season and 56-9 in 2017.
The Warriors defeated Olentangy 51-13 in a league dual Feb. 7 as Nico Candido (170 pounds) and Eli Williams (160) won by pin. Sylvester Bockarie (138), Caden Crist (152), Connor Euton (132), Jacob Grant (145) and Gabe Ohle (113) all won by decision.
Below are the coming schedules for the North boys basketball and girls basketball teams:
*Feb. 15 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange. The Warriors defeated the Pioneers 69-65 in overtime Jan. 11.
Feb. 19 -- At Dublin Jerome
Feb. 16 -- At 13th-seeded Hilliard Darby in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays 16th-seeded Hartley in second round Feb. 22 at home of better seed. The Warriors are seeded 24th.