The Grove City High School boys basketball team entered last Friday losers of three of its last four games. The culprit was a sharp, mid-season decline by the offense.

The Grove City High School boys basketball team entered last Friday losers of three of its last four games. The culprit was a sharp, mid-season decline by the offense.

In Grove City's first six games this season, the offense averaged 82 points, which is a total that has been associated with the Greyhounds in recent seasons. Yet in Grove City's last four games, the offensive output fell to an uncharacteristic 51.5 points per game.

Confidence was lacking. Coach Greg Waits had a week of practice between games to help return Grove City to its old self. Last Friday, an 82-72 win over Reynoldsburg did wonders for regaining that lost confidence.

"That was huge," Waits said. "Reynoldsburg is a really good basketball team and we hadn't been playing with a lot of confidence the last four games. We played hard and with a lot of energy. After the game was over the kids were thinking that they're a good team after all."

Beginning last Tuesday, Grove City had nine regular-season games remaining, six of which were against OCC-Ohio Division opponents. Gahanna led the conference at 8-0, ahead of Reynoldsburg at 5-3, Newark, Grove City and Pickerington Central at 4-4, Lancaster at 1-7 and Groveport at 0-8.

Grove City played Groveport last Tuesday and plays at Lancaster on Friday, followed by home games against Newark on Tuesday and Gahanna on Feb. 5.

Grove City and Newark have battled in recent seasons. Last year, the two teams tied for first in the conference after splitting the regular season meetings. The Wildcats won the first meeting 56-51 and the Greyhounds won the rematch 59-56. Earlier this season on Dec. 22, Newark won 56-48.

Newark is in the midst of a nine-game January. The Wildcats opened with three consecutive weekends of back-to-back games. Newark lost to Gahanna 79-63 last Friday and beat Briggs 92-87 last Saturday to improve to 6-8 overall.

"We're going to keep stressing effort," said Newark coach Jeff Quackenbush, whose team opened losers of six of its first eight games. "That's something we can control. Put it this way; I don't think anybody's going to be excited to play us in the tournament."

Waits has the same sentiments about his team especially after Grove City's offense returned to form last Friday.

"We weren't playing with confidence, we weren't shooting with confidence and we weren't guarding with confidence," Waits said. "We talk to our kids every day about wanting to get a little better every single time out. We're trying to do that."

Grove City plans to rely heavily on its trio of seniors in Kyler Ferguson, Heath Jones and Mike Mayers. Through 11 games, Ferguson and Mayers averaged 14.5 points and Jones averaged 12.8.

Against Reynoldsburg, Jones scored 22 points, Ferguson scored 19 and Mayers added 13.

"We have three go-to guys," Waits said. "They played on the team last year and were our three returning guys. Those three have to play well for us to win."