The only thing senior Chelsea Damron could do for the Grove City High School girls basketball team at the end of practice Nov. 18 was help collect rebounds as her teammates practiced free throws.

The only thing senior Chelsea Damron could do for the Grove City High School girls basketball team at the end of practice Nov. 18 was help collect rebounds as her teammates practiced free throws.

Damron, a 5-foot-6 guard, was ill and couldn't practice, but she's not going to be the type of player that is going to stay away from the team and rest, not after missing last season with an injury. She was expected to be the starting point guard a year ago and as it turned out, she missed a season in which the Greyhounds appeared to have turned the corner in the building process.

Grove City, which opens Saturday at Westland and plays Tuesday at Ready, was 14-8 overall and 3-7 in the OCC-Buckeye Division last year. The Greyhounds finished second in the OCC-Buckeye to Dublin Coffman (10-0). The season ended in the second round of the Division I tournament, as Grove City lost to Gahanna 58-42. The Greyhounds defeated Newark 61-39 in the first round, the program's first tournament win since 2001.

Damron could only watch as an infusion of freshmen helped give the Greyhounds an added punch they didn't have during a 7-14 season in 2006-07.

Sophomores Ayrealle Beavers (5-7), Ellen Conti (6-0), Chelsea McKnight (5-6) and Shicole Watts (5-11) are expected to provide a foundation after going through their first varsity season last year.

Damron hasn't played since her sophomore year when she split time between the varsity and junior varsity. The year off gave her the opportunity to watch the freshmen and get a better understanding of the game.

"I saw every aspect," Damron said.

"I saw how someone would make a mistake and what that did to their confidence. Sometimes when you're out there, you don't notice that someone might not have confidence. I notice now how important it is to have that confidence."

Beavers is playing the point guard spot Damron was learning last summer. She proved last year to be a credible ball-handler and scoring threat. Damron will be used more on the wing along with McKnight. The game will look a little different to Grove City's wing players than it has in recent seasons.

Grove City now has players in the post who have size and they will look to exploit that edge. Damron and McKnight will be expected to work the post-entry pass.

Down low the Greyhounds have 6-0 Courtney Swart, a fourth-year varsity player whose strength the last two seasons has been defense. Until last season she was the Greyhounds' best option in the post. But Watts emerged as a consistent post scorer last year. What Swart has been able to do defensively, Watts does on the offensive end.

With those two in the lineup, along with the fact that the Greyhounds' primary ball-handler is a sophomore, Grove City won't be afraid to slow the ball down and run more half-court sets.

"I'm calling plays a lot more than I did before," coach Dale Corbett said.

"Last year it was more of a senior-dominated team and the guards were older."

The Greyhounds will still look to run first Corbett said, but if the game slows, they'll use a number system to make everyone is moving in the right direction. That will be especially important in the post where Swart has had to get used to having two players occupy the paint.

"We're a lot better this year compared to where we were last year," Swart said. "We're more used to each other and what each other is doing."

The rest of the team includes senior Deanna Rucker (5-10) and juniors Maci Haughn (5-5), Ashley McSheffery (5-10) and Paige Myers (5-9). Freshman Brooke Espenschied (5-7) is also on the team.

The Greyhounds will play in the OCC-Ohio this season along with Gahanna, Groveport, Lancaster, Newark, Pickerington Central, Pickerington North and Reynoldsburg.

At a glance

•Coach: Dale Corbett, 22nd season

•Opener: Saturday at Westland

•Key players: Ayrealle Beavers, Chelsea Damron, Chelsea McKnight, Courtney Swart and Shicole Watts