The Columbus Academy boys basketball team will rely on a staple of its philosophy as it looks to remain in the MSL-Ohio Division title chase while also preparing for the Division III district tournament.

The Vikings will need to play strong defense during what coach Jeff Warstler considers the crux of their schedule.

Academy was 4-4 overall and 1-2 in the league before playing Whitehall on Jan. 7.

"I like how hard we play," Warstler said. "With a lot of teams when you're not getting a lot of points, you think you're going to deflate them, (but) you don't see that with us. We're super active at the defensive end. They're just waiting to be coached."

The Vikings visit Buckeye Valley on Saturday, Jan. 11, and play host to Worthington Christian on Jan. 17 in league games.

Academy used solid defense in back-to-back wins in preparation of the game against Whitehall, defeating Centennial 73-46 in the consolation game of the Bruin Holiday Tournament on Dec. 28 at Briggs and Central Crossing 39-31 on Jan. 4 at home.

Against Centennial, Carter Warstler scored 24 points, followed by Mitch Priest with 15, Tanner Compton with 13 and Kevin Reeves with 11.

Reeves scored nine points against Central Crossing, a Division I program.

"That's a good old D-I basketball game," coach Warstler said. "We'll certainly take the high end of it. I'm proud of the guys. We're coming into a real tough stretch."

Academy suffered a key loss against Central Crossing when Priest broke his right hand during the first half. Coach Warstler said Priest's hand will be in a cast for three to four weeks.

Brady Hess also has missed time with a back injury.

"It's next man up," coach Warstler said. "You have to keep stepping up."

Academy also used solid defense in its first league win, 58-45 at Bexley on Dec. 13.

"We started off slow (and) we have new guys, but after this winter break, we've really picked it up a lot," Carter Warstler said. "This month of January is going to be our toughest. It's the longest streak of good teams. ... The league is tough as always, but we just have to keep working at it and hopefully we can win some games."

Through eight games, Warstler led the team in scoring (19.0), assists (4.3) and steals (4.0) and Reeves led in rebounding (6.8) and blocked shots (1.5).

Girls basketball team earns third victory

The girls basketball team earned its third win under first-year coach Heather Rakosik, defeating Tree of Life 54-24 on Jan. 2.

The Vikings were 3-5 overall before playing Madison Christian on Jan. 6. They are 1-5 in the MSL-Ohio.

Sophie Spolter and Kayla McClendon each scored 19 points against Tree of Life.

Academy lost 60-44 at Worthington Christian on Jan. 4.

Wrestlers compete at Cruiser Invitational

The wrestling team finished eighth (76) in the eight-team Cruiser Invitational on Jan. 4 behind champion and host Groveport (230).

Ethan Stahl (182 pounds) and Gyvnn Mendenhall (195) finished second. Max Nanda (126), Keir Gorospe (138) and Chris Sugar (145) placed third.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Academy boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 11 -- At Buckeye Valley

Jan. 14 -- Home vs. Johnstown

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 10 -- Home vs. Grandview. The Vikings lost to the Bobcats 39-29 on Nov. 26.

*Jan. 14 -- At Bexley

BOWLING

*Jan. 13 -- Columbus West at HP Lanes

HOCKEY

*Jan. 10 -- Gahanna at Chiller Easton

Jan. 11 -- Beavercreek at Chiller Easton

*Jan. 12 -- Olentangy Berlin at Chiller Easton

SWIMMING & DIVING

Jan. 9 -- Home vs. Hartley, Madison Christian and Wellington

WRESTLING

Jan. 9 -- Home vs. Centerburg, Columbus South and Zanesville

Jan. 11 -- Kevin Michael Invitational at home

*League contest