The Grove City High School boys basketball team is looking to improve on what it considered to be a disappointing 2010-11 season.

The Grove City High School boys basketball team is looking to improve on what it considered to be a disappointing 2010-11 season.

The Greyhounds finished 7-14 overall after losing to Dresden Tri-Valley 64-49 in the first round of the Division I district tournament. They were 5-9 in the OCC-Ohio Division.

The Greyhounds open Friday, Dec. 2, at Hamilton Township and begin league play Tuesday, Dec. 6, at home against Reynoldsburg.

The top returnee is 6-foot-5 junior guard Brandon Bapst, who averaged 8.6 points last season and was honorable mention all-league.

Another key player is 5-10 senior point guard Jimmy Gravett.

"We're actually tough this year," Gravett said. "We're playing really good right now. We're not soft. We all think we can be better this season. Finishing 7-14 is a really bad season, especially for Grove City. We're all ready to get after it."

Also back are seniors Tyler Kent (5-11, guard), Joey Lehman (6-4, post player), Brad Saxton (6-4, guard), Joey Scott (6-3, guard), Mitch Stephens (6-4, guard) and Deaunta Williams (6-0, guard) and junior Tyler Hale (5-10, point guard).

Also returning is 6-4 junior post player Devonta Thomas, who played in the program as a freshman but opted not to play last season.

Other players are juniors Brenden Mathews (6-4, guard), Christian Meister (6-2, guard) and Bryton Wise (6-5, guard/forward).

"The team is looking outstanding," 11th-year coach Greg Waits said. "We have a good group of kids. We have more experience than we had last year. We were a little inexperienced varsity-wise last year. We have a large majority of those kids back. Everything is going real well so far. We're a little ahead of the ballgame compared to last year."

Waits said his team will need to rely on its defense if it hopes to be successful.

"We've built our program on defense and being tough, hard-nosed defensive people," he said.

Grove City lost four players to graduation, including Jake Green, who led the team in scoring last year at 10.5 points per game and was special mention all-league.

Also gone is Bobby Brown, who averaged a team-best 8.8 rebounds and was second in scoring at 8.9 points per game. He was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.

Derek Cosgray and Zach Layne-Wolfe were the other seniors last year.

The Greyhounds finished sixth in the OCC-Ohio last season, behind co-champions Gahanna and Pickerington North (both 13-1), Newark (8-6) Pickerington Central (8-6) and Reynoldsburg (7-7) and ahead of Lancaster and Groveport (both 1-13).

"Our league is one of the best leagues in central Ohio from top to bottom, and throughout the state," Waits said. "It has very good players, it has great coaches and every night it's a fun event. It's fun for us as coaches and players to get ready for good teams every single night. It's just fun going against good people."

Waits said Gahanna and Central appear to be the preseason favorites, but several other teams could challenge for the league title.

"Anybody in our league can beat anybody on a given night," he said.