The Groveport Madison High School boys basketball team is preparing for the start of the postseason.
Seeded 31st of 42 teams in the Division I district tournament, the Cruisers will play at 12th-seeded Westerville South at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, in the first round. The winner will face 20th-seeded Walnut Ridge or 25th-seeded Pickerington North in the second round at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the home of the higher seed.
Groveport has not played South or Walnut Ridge this season but split two OCC-Ohio Division games against North, winning 62-47 on Jan. 4 and losing 54-36 on Feb. 5.
"We don't know a whole lot about South yet, other than traditionally they're well-coached and are a strong program," coach Ryan Grashel said. "We know they have a go-to player (Marcus Ball) who can score 20-plus every game. We've heard they're extremely athletic and not very big, although everyone is bigger than we are."
South was 14-7 before playing Buckeye Valley on Feb. 19.
Ball, who has signed to play football at Arizona State, set a program record with 43 points in a 65-59 loss to Westerville Central on Feb. 5. The 6-foot-3 senior had been playing forward but has moved to point guard as the Wildcats recently lost its starting point guard, Anthony Dixon, and his backup, Jelani Rogers, to injuries.
Other key players for the Wildcats are forwards Trent Slade and Matt Chellis and guards Jalen Bell and Kyran McClure.
Walnut Ridge enters the postseason 12-8. The Scots are led by guards Ty Pack, Dymiere Finch and Rob Wheelright, who has signed to play football at Wisconsin, and forwards Jesean Johnson and Robert Bowers.
North enters the postseason 10-12. The Panthers are led by guards Devon Price and Jamie Hence, forward Desmond Palmer and point guard Dajon Moore.
Groveport, which was 6-15 overall before closing the regular season Feb. 19 against St. Charles, lost to Reynoldsburg 64-54 on Feb. 15 to finish 2-12 in the OCC-Ohio.
Grove City, Newark, Pickerington Central and Reynoldsburg all finished 10-4 in the OCC-Ohio to share the league title. Gahanna was fifth at 9-5, followed by North (4-10), Groveport and Lancaster (1-13).
"That was a big improvement from the first time we played them," Grashel said, referring to his team's 85-35 loss to Reynoldsburg on Jan. 11. "You always want a 'W' but we were very pleased with the way we competed for four quarters. It was the first time in about two weeks we competed for an entire game, and that should be a good propeller into the tournament.
"We are getting better and I believe that's pretty evident. Rome wasn't built in a day and we knew it would take time to change things. On the other hand, we need to see the results, get some wins, to show it to the kids that they're making progress. They're buying into the system and the program and that's a testament to their desire. They're sticking to the process."
Against Reynoldsburg, point guard Tyus Ferguson and guard Tyrone Cherry both had 14 points, guard C.J. Crowder scored 13 and forward Markel Davis scored nine.
"I don't think we played awful the past two weeks, but we didn't shoot well and that tends to make it look like you played poorly," Grashel said. "We shot pretty well against Reynoldsburg. "Then when you have guys like (forward) DeShawn Sowell come off the bench and provide screens and rebounds, well, that's what it takes. He's an effort guy and it's guys like him who have the program headed in the right direction. He'll do whatever we ask him to do. Having players like him is why we could possibly turn this thing around next year."
Klentz wins sectional title in bowling
Sophomore Brandon Klentz of the boys bowling team won a sectional championship Feb. 16 at Columbus Western Bowl.
Klentz rolled a 674 series (222-164-288) to finish first of 166 competitors. He will compete in the district tournament Friday, Feb. 22, at HP Lanes, where the top three individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the state tournament March 2 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Klentz was 18 pins better than runner-up Jaron Miller (656) of Jonathan Alder, which earned one of nine team district berths.
The boys team finished 21st (3,145) of 30 teams, behind champion Newark (4,030). Hilliard Davidson (3,438) earned the ninth and final district-qualifying spot.
Senior Tyler Brown (527) was next for the Cruisers, tying for 33rd and falling 18 pins shy of joining Klentz as an individual district qualifier.
Also competing were freshmen Billy DeMatteo (479), Austin Harmon (353) and Connor Lindsay (349).
Senior Alizabeth Clements and sophomore Elizabeth Moore of the girls team will compete at district Saturday, Feb. 23, at HP Lanes.
Clements rolled a 506 series with games of 161, 162 and 183 in the sectional Feb. 15 at Columbus Western Bowl to tie for 10th of 161 competitors, and Moore rolled a 467 (137-168-166) to finish 17th.
Also competing at sectional were freshmen Anna Barndollar (348) and Callie Smith (304). The Cruisers did not have enough competitors for a team score.
At district, the top three individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the state tournament March 1 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Girls basketball team falls in tourney opener
The girls basketball team lost to second-seeded Gahanna 67-11 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 15 to finish 4-19.
Guard Brittany Morgan had seven points to lead Groveport, which trailed 20-7 after one quarter and 41-9 at halftime. The Cruisers, who were outscored 15-0 in the third quarter, have not won a tournament game since the 2004-05 season.
Two wrestlers advance to district
Two members of the wrestling team qualified for the Division I district tournament Friday, Feb. 22, and Saturday, Feb. 23, at Hilliard Darby.
Sophomores Malcolm Solack placed second at 195 pounds in a sectional Feb. 16 at Pickerington North and Shakur Laney finished fourth at 106, as the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to district.
Solack, who is 10-4 on the season, lost to Mount Vernon's Matthew Lybarger 22-9 in the final and Laney, who is 26-6, lost to Olentangy Liberty's Jonathan Furnas 5-3 in the third-place match.
The top four finishers in each weight class at district advance to the state tournament Feb. 28-March 2 at Ohio State.
"I think all four sectional placers at 106 from Pickerington North will place at district," coach Mark Niemann said. "It was a tough sectional at 106. I thought Malcolm wrestled pretty well, too. That Lybarger is a stud and should finish in the top eight at state."
Also competing at sectional were sophomore Kyle Stover, who finished sixth at 145, and freshmen Eli Schleret (113), Marshall Buck (160) and Nate Brookman (182), each of whom went 0-2.
Senior Sam Lovings (138) and juniors Zander Wright (132) and Thomas Thornton (152) failed to make weight.
"Stover wrestled absolutely fantastic and he has a lot of talent," Niemann said. "We had three guys place and all three were sophomores. We also had a number of freshmen who really improved this season, so the future is bright. I was disappointed to have three guys not make weight because they knew when sectional was a while ago and didn't take care of their business. As a coach, it's tough to do anything about it, so it's tough to take."
The Cruisers finished eighth (37) in the 10-team sectional, behind Darby (212.5), North (202), Teays Valley (198.5), Mount Vernon (181), Liberty (163), Westerville South (103) and Logan (72) and ahead of Westerville Central (36) and Newark (34).
Schoonover named football coach
Bryan Schoonover has been named football coach.
It will be the first head coaching position for the 1998 Groveport graduate, who replaces Tim Brown. Schoon-over spent the past three seasons as co-offensive coordinator at Lancaster.
"I am very excited to see what we can accomplish," said Schoonover, who played offensive guard and nose guard for the Cruisers. "The kids seem excited, too, and they've said they want to see change in the direction of our program. I also am happy about the staff we have and some of the guys coming in on staff."
The Cruisers finished 1-9 overall last season, including 0-7 in the OCC-Ohio Division. Their win was 21-20 over Walnut Ridge on Sept. 7.
Brown coached Groveport for 10 seasons, compiling a 38-64 record, including a 1-1 mark in the postseason. The Cruisers qualified for the Division I, Region 3 playoffs in 2007, defeating Brookhaven 41-27 in the first round before losing to Hilliard Darby 16-3 in a regional semifinal to finish 8-4.
"We had a dozen or so applications and Bryan graded out high in one of the areas where we feel the program needs improvement and that's strength and conditioning," athletics director Steve Petros said. "He accepted the position on a Friday night (Feb. 8) and was at the weight room by 7:30 a.m. the next day.
"The committee recognized that he's very invested in our school and involved in our community and we feel he'll be a good leader for us as we move forward."
Schoonover, who was an assistant coach in the Groveport program from 1998 to 2010, teaches social studies at the high school.
"I don't know precisely what schemes we're going to run yet because I've got to evaluate players," he said. "We have to see what we've got and adjust. I know we're going to run the football as a priority, whether that's from the triple option, wing-T or power-I, whether it's under center or in the gun."