With the regular season winding down, C.J. Crowder made a last-second shot that could provide the Groveport Madison High School boys basketball team with momentum heading into the postseason.
The senior guard hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with .7 of a second remaining to lift the Cruisers to a 55-52 win over visiting Licking Heights on Feb. 8.
Groveport, which is fighting for its first winning season in six years, was 11-9 overall before playing Thomas Worthington on Feb. 11 and is 4-9 in the OCC-Ohio Division. It concludes the regular season with a league game Friday, Feb. 14, at home against Reynoldsburg.
The Cruisers lost to the Raiders 59-57 on Jan. 10.
"(Licking Heights) tied it at 52 with around 48 seconds left and we slowed it down, called timeout and ran a set," said coach Ryan Grashel, whose team's last winning season was 2007-08 when it finished 14-7. "Unfortunately, we didn't execute it, but Ty Ferguson got the ball to Crowder and he made a 22- or 23-footer. It was our senior night, so it was a special win for us and one of our seniors got a lifetime memory."
It wasn't Crowder's first winning shot. Last season, he made a 3-pointer at the buzzer in a 51-48 win over Central Crossing.
"It was the same situation as last year," he said. "It was a 3-pointer when the game was tied and it was close to the same spot on the floor. But this one was crazy because it was like a dream. I was just hoping I could get the shot off in time and it was like the ball was in the air forever. It was (in) slow motion and I was just praying it would go in."
Grashel was pleased with how his team played defensively, particularly the defensive effort turned in by Crowder and Tre Charles-Martin, who combined to limit Licking Heights standout Babe Murphy to six points. Murphy had entered the game averaging 20.3 points.
"We had a tremendous defensive effort overall, especially the job those two did on (Murphy)," Grashel said. "We face-guarded him and just tried to deny him the ball. We did get hurt on the offensive boards. They kept the game tight with second- and third-chance points."
Ferguson led the Cruisers with 15 points, with Tyrone Cherry scoring 14 and Crowder adding 10.
Groveport also had three players score in doubles figures in a 73-65 loss to Pickerington Central on Feb. 7 in OCC-Ohio play. Crowder had 16 points, followed by Cherry (13) and Raymond Rhone (11).
"We trailed Central by eight (36-28) at halftime and got into a 14-point hole in the third quarter," Grashel said. "We pulled within 60-57 midway through the fourth quarter, but couldn't get over the hump and that drained us some and we had to foul some."
The Cruisers are likely to see Thomas Worthington in the postseason. Groveport is seeded 19th and has a first-round bye before playing Feb. 28 at 14th-seeded Thomas or as host to 27th-seeded St. Charles.
"(Beating Licking Heights) was important because we just finished a brutal stretch of games against Newark, Grove City, Pickerington North and Pickerington Central," Grashel said. "The last few weeks should have prepared us for the (district) tournament."
Girls basketball team ends losing streak
The girls basketball team posted its first win Feb. 8, beating Franklin Heights 63-59 in overtime at home.
Freshman center Imani Johnson had 14 points to lead the Cruisers.
"The girls were ecstatic," coach Tirrell Sturdivant said. "They needed this."
Groveport was 1-20 overall and 0-13 in the OCC-Ohio before concluding the regular season with a makeup game against Grove City on Feb. 12.
Seeded last of 47 teams, the Cruisers will open the Division I district tournament at top-seeded Reynoldsburg on Monday, Feb. 17. The winner will play 45th-seeded Columbus West in the second round Feb. 20 at the home of the higher seed.
The Cruisers lost to Reynoldsburg twice in league play, falling 78-16 on Nov. 29 and 90-18 on Jan. 10.
Wrestlers getting set for sectional tourney
Members of the wrestling team will compete in the 11-team Division I sectional tournament Saturday, Feb. 15, at Marysville.
The top four finishers in each weight class advance to district Feb. 21 and 22 at Hilliard Darby.
Groveport has two wrestlers who competed at district last season, including Shakur Laney, who placed fourth at state a year ago at 106 pounds after winning a district championship. The junior is competing at 113 this season.
Malcolm Solack was a district qualifier last year at 195 and has moved up to 220 this season, but a knee injury could keep the junior from competing at sectional.
Also expected to compete at sectional are Ryan Smith (120), Blake Fawley (132), Victor Haynes (138), Dayrel Billingsley (145), Marshall Buck (160), Kyle Duty (170) and Brendan Finneran (195).
Joining Groveport and host Marysville at the sectional site are Central Crossing, Darby, Jerome, Hamilton Township, Northland, Olentangy, Olentangy Liberty, Westerville Central and Worthington Kilbourne.
The Cruisers finished 1-6 in the OCC-Ohio after losing to Lancaster 57-8 in a home dual Feb. 6.
Boys bowlers place eighth in COHSBC
The boys bowling team finished eighth of 11 teams in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference championships held Feb. 8 at Holiday Lanes.
The event includes the top teams from each of the COHSBC's three divisions.
Groveport, which finished 16-3 overall and 13-2 in the 16-team COHSBC-South to tie Briggs for second behind Teays Valley (13-1), totaled 3,093 pins as Teays Valley won with 3,581. The format for the event was a three-game series and three Baker games, as opposed to a two-game series and three Baker games in regular-season dual matches.
The Cruisers were the only team to beat Teays Valley in the regular season, winning 2,401 to 2,386 on Jan. 30.
Groveport went 4-1 in the six-team OCC-Ohio to share the title with Lancaster and Newark.
The girls team did not qualify for the COHSBC championships. The Cruisers entered the week 7-8 overall and 6-6 in the 14-team COHSBC-South and went 2-2 in the five-team OCC-Ohio to finish second behind Lancaster (4-0).
Groveport has to make up a COHSBC match against West.
The boys and girls teams both will compete in the 41-team Division I sectional tournament Feb. 21 at Eastland Lanes, where the top 20 teams and top 20 individuals not on a qualifying team in the boys and girls competitions advance to district March 1 at Eastland Lanes.