Grove City High School boys basketball coach Greg Waits and his players said their success and numerous victories were the result of intense practices.

Grove City High School boys basketball coach Greg Waits and his players said their success and numerous victories were the result of intense practices.

Waits stayed on message after the Greyhounds lost to Northland 70-64 in a Division I regional semifinal March 19 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.

"We love our kids," said Waits, who has won 94 games in six seasons at Grove City.

"They showed up every day and go hard in practice. We love the up-and-down style and they bought into it. Sometimes they thought we were nuts in practice, but it's paid off."

Grove City, which finished 22-3, was seeded third in the district. It beat fifth-seeded Dublin Coffman 81-52 in a district final March 14 to earn its first district title in 10 years.

Jon Smith had 26 points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocked shots.

Grove City, which earned its previous district titles in 1944, 1964 and 1999, won its four district tournament games by an average of 27.5 points.

Grove City also earned a share of its fourth OCC title in five years as the Greyhounds tied Newark at 12-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division, ahead of Gahanna (10-4), Reynoldsburg (8-6), Groveport (5-9), Pickerington Central (5-9), Lancaster (2-12) and Pickerington North (2-12).

Grove City was 7-for-10 from 3-point range in the first 16 minutes and had a 44-38 halftime lead in the regional semifinal.

Northland rallied in the second half behind Jared Sullinger, who scored eight consecutive points in the fourth quarter as part of a 12-2 run that gave his team a 62-55 lead with 3 minutes, 46 seconds remaining.

Grove City went cold from the field after the first half and didn't make another 3-pointer until 2:24 remained.

"At the beginning of the game, legs are fresh and shooters are going to shoot," Northland coach Satch Sullinger said.

"They had to guard us and get up and down the floor and those jumpers disappeared. We started rebounding the ball and inched our way back in the game by going inside with our muscle."

Smith, who had 13 points and 10 rebounds, was one of 10 seniors on the roster.

"We had an outstanding year," Waits said.

"We're proud of these kids. We had 10 seniors on this team and those seniors stepped up all year long."

The other seniors were Ryan Cosgray, Alex Fraley, Cody Funk, Aaron Murfin, Joe Poole, Brad Pullins, Joey Rasor, Brandon Robinson and Brenden Robinson.

Smith, who averaged 18.6 points and will play at Saint Louis next season, was named OCC-Ohio Player of the Year.

"I heard coach Sullinger call him a warrior and he his," Waits said.

"He proved (against Northland) that he could bang inside. When he does go to the next level, it'll help him step right in and he'll be battling."

Cosgray (17.5 points) was first-team all-OCC, Funk was second-team all-OCC and Heath Jones received honorable mention. Smith also was first-team all-district and Cosgray was second-team all-district.

Among those expected to return are juniors Jones, Kyler Ferguson and Mike Mayers. Jones, a 6-0 starting guard, scored 14 points against Northland.

At a glance

•Record: 22-3 overall, 12-2 (tied for first) in OCC-Ohio

•Seniors lost: Ryan Cosgray, Alex Fraley, Cody Funk, Aaron Murfin, Joe Poole, Brad Pullins, Joey Rasor, Brandon Robinson, Brenden Robinson and Jon Smith

•Key returnees: Kyler Ferguson, Heath Jones and Mike Mayers