Although the Groveport Madison High School girls basketball team finished 4-19 overall last year, it won three more games than it had the previous season.

Although the Groveport Madison High School girls basketball team finished 4-19 overall last year, it won three more games than it had the previous season.

Third-year coach Tirrell Sturdivant believes the Cruisers can improve on last season despite not returning any starters and having little varsity experience.

"This is probably the best attitudes I've seen here," said Sturdivant, whose team opened Nov. 22 against Bloom-Carroll and played Amanda-Clearcreek on Nov. 25. "The team camaraderie is through the roof. That will keep us in some games and put us over the top in some others."

Groveport, which begins OCC-Ohio Division play Friday, Nov. 29 at defending champion Reynoldsburg after going 0-14 in the league last season, has only two returning letterwinners in 5-foot-6 senior guard Zaria Brinkley and 5-11 senior center Hayley McKinley.

"Hayley McKinley has improved her game dramatically," Sturdivant said. "She's a hard-working, crafty, undersized post player who can knock down a mid-range jumper as well as finish at the basket."

Sturdivant was impressed with what he saw from junior Cassidy Brinkley (5-6, guard) and sophomore Carlisa Hayes (5-5, guard) during the preseason.

"They both are learning the game at an accelerated pace," Sturdivant said. "With time, they will both be phenomenal players who will help turn this program around."

Also on the team are senior Dominy Hodge (5-6, guard), juniors Cheyanne Bowman (5-5, guard), Anisha Lane (5-7, forward) and Kiarah McClellan (5-8, forward), sophomore Ashley Davidson (5-11, forward) and freshmen Diane Diaba (5-5, guard) and Imani Johnson (6-0, center).

"We've got a lot of new players. A lot of the seniors we expected to be here didn't come back," Zaria Brinkley said. "I think it's going to be a learning experience. What we want to do is grow as a team and improve and hopefully put more wins up than last year to help move the program forward."

Groveport, which lost to Gahanna 67-11 in the first round of the Division I district tournament last season, will play only nine of its 22 regular-season games at home, including just three of its first 13.

Last season, the Cruisers picked up their victories against Bloom-Carroll, Briggs, Frank-lin Heights and Horizon Science Academy. In addition to Bloom-Carroll, they will play Franklin Heights again this season and could face Briggs in the Whetstone Winter Classic being held Jan. 27 and 28.

Groveport does not have Horizon Science Academy on its schedule this season.

"To have team success, we must play for one another and stay positive," Sturdivant said. "We want to play an aggressive style of defense in the passing lanes. Our goal is not only to play, but to understand the game of basketball. We will take it one possession, one quarter and one half of one game at a time."