The Groveport Madison High School boys basketball program appears to be headed in the right direction.
The Cruisers were 6-12 overall and 2-8 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing Pickerington North on Feb. 5. That represents their most wins overall and in the league since finishing 8-13 and 5-9 in the 2008-09 season.
Groveport, which had a combined four victories the past three seasons, defeated Lancaster 57-50 on Jan. 29. The Cruisers trailed 28-18 at halftime but outscored the Golden Gales 20-10 in the third quarter and 19-12 in the fourth quarter.
"We shot 23 percent from the floor in the first half and trailed by 10 (at halftime)," coach Ryan Grashel said. "But the kids stuck with it and we executed and made shots in the second half to get a good home win."
Senior forward Dareyl Hamlet had 14 points to lead Groveport, which lost to Lancaster 59-57 on Dec. 18. Senior guard Mark Reed and freshman point guard Tyus Ferguson added 13 and 12 points, respectively.
"Dareyl averages one point per game but really stepped it up when others were struggling," Grashel said. "That's a testament to him. He's a first-year varsity player as a senior who sees limited minutes, but he showed leadership and provided us a spark because he was ready to help in any way.
"He has done whatever we've asked him to do and dedicated himself to the team. His work and patience paid off in the highlight of his career, and that enabled us to get an OCC win."
According to Grashel, Ferguson and guards C.J. Crowder and Tyrone Cherry all were averaging just over 10 points through 18 games. Grashel also has been impressed with the rebounding of forward Markel Davis.
"He is about 6-foot-1 and he's averaging 10 rebounds against the bigs in our conference," Grashel said. "About eight of those are on the defensive end. He is extremely athletic and has a nose for the ball. He works very hard defensively in every single possession. He has great desire and just brings it every game."
Crowder had seven points in a 59-24 loss to Newark on Feb. 1. Groveport led 11-9 after the first quarter before being outscored 32-3 in the middle two quarters, including 18-2 in the second.
Cherry had nine points and Crowder scored eight in a 67-35 loss to Grove City on Feb. 2, as the Cruisers were outscored 44-16 in the second half.
Wrestlers set for final OCC dual
The wrestling team closes the regular season Thursday, Feb. 7, with an OCC-Ohio dual at Lancaster.
The Cruisers lost to Reynoldsburg 46-30 on Jan. 31 to fall to 1-5 in the league.
"We won five of the nine matches that were contested," coach Mark Niemann said. "Unfortunately, you're not going to win duals when you forfeit four weight classes. With injuries and (academic) ineligibilities, we're down to 12 guys in the wrestling room."
Sophomores Shakur Laney (106 pounds) and Malcolm Solack (220) have winning records. Laney, a Division I district qualifier last season, is 25-4 and Solack is 8-4.
Niemann also was pleased with the efforts of seniors Joey Jewel (132) and Sam Lovings (138) against Reynoldsburg.
"Joey is a kid who is back with us after a two-year layoff and his record is just under .500," Niemann said. "We targeted five or six things we wanted him to do in his final home match and he did all of them. He did everything we worked on and earned a major decision.
"Sam finally reached his goal of getting down to 138 and he won a dramatic match, 5-4. For those two seniors to perform like that on our senior night was outstanding. I'm very happy for them."
Groveport will compete in the Division I sectional Feb. 16 at Pickerington North.
The Cruisers are seeded 33rd of the 40 teams in the district. Also competing at North will be second-seeded Mount Vernon, fifth-seeded Hilliard Darby, ninth-seeded Olentangy Liberty, 12th-seeded Teays Valley, Logan, Newark, Pickerington North, Westerville Central and Westerville South.
The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament Feb. 22 and 23 at Darby.
Girls basketball team getting set for Tigers
The girls basketball team will close the regular season Friday, Feb. 8, at Pickerington Central.
The Cruisers, who lost to the Tigers 71-20 on Jan. 8, were 3-15 overall and 0-11 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Pickerington North on Feb. 5 and Grove City on Feb. 6.
Groveport lost league games to Lancaster (74-40 on Jan. 29) and Newark (48-35 on Feb. 1) last week. Senior guard Brittany Morgan led the Cruisers with 14 points against the Golden Gales and 12 against the Wildcats.
Groveport opens the Division I district tournament Feb. 16 against second-seeded Gahanna at home.