Grove City High School boys basketball coach Greg Waits challenged junior Brandon Bapst when the Greyhounds trailed Westland 32-29 at halftime in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 25 at Marysville.

Grove City High School boys basketball coach Greg Waits challenged junior Brandon Bapst when the Greyhounds trailed Westland 32-29 at halftime in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 25 at Marysville.

Bapst and his teammates responded by rallying to defeat the Cougars 83-79 to advance to the second round, where they play Hilliard Davidson at 7:45 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at Marysville.

Davidson defeated Thomas Worthington 54-47 in the other first-round game Feb. 25 at Marysville.

"We're a close team, we're all really good friends and we knew we all had each other's backs, and we were not going to lose this game," Bapst said. "If we're going to go far in this tournament, we're going to play hard together."

Bapst scored 18 of his game-high 24 points in the second half. He made three 3-pointers in the second half after Waits suggested at halftime that he take more 3s to help pull Westland center Kris Carius away from the basket.

Brad Saxton had 19 points and Deaunta Williams added 11 for the 10th-seeded Greyhounds.

Kersey Long led Westland with 20 points, followed by Carius (17), J.J. Smith (12) and Devan Williamson (10).

Trailing 40-31 early in the third quarter, Bapst and Saxton led Grove City's comeback, with Bapst connecting on two 3-pointers and Saxton completing a three-point play. Williams' driving basket gave Grove City a 52-51 lead after three quarters.

After Westland's KyJuan Grace opened the fourth with two baskets, Bapst hit another 3-pointer and Saxton scored on a drive to give Grove City the lead for good at 57-55 with 6 minutes, 30 seconds remaining.

Saxton's 3-pointer pushed the lead to 64-55 before the Cougars made a final comeback attempt. Long hit two 3-pointers and Smith and Carius combined for 10 points as Westland closed to 75-72 with 1:45 left.

Cory Beesler's 3-pointer cut the Cougars' deficit to 81-79 with seven seconds remaining, but Bapst and Jimmy Gravett each hit a free throw to seal the win.

"We didn't execute very well at all," Waits said. "We like to come up and do some different things in our secondary (fast) break. We really didn't do a good job and I guess you can credit Westland with that, and we have to do much better against Davidson."

Waits expects another challenge from the 17th-seeded Wildcats.

"Davidson has a bunch of tough, tough kids," Waits said. "They run their offenses extremely well. They play great man-to-man defense. Coach (Kevin) Logsdon does a great job with them."

Against Thomas, Davonte Peterson scored all of his 11 points from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to help the Wildcats improve to 12-9.

Cole Lawson led Davidson with 13 points. Brandon Gleim and Michael Simon also scored 11 each.

Chris Logsdon is another key player for Davidson.

"We're pretty familiar with the fact that Grove City likes to run, they play a lot of defenses and they prefer an up-tempo game," coach Logsdon said. "We don't have any objection getting up and down and getting some easy baskets, but obviously we're going to have to try to do a good job of not letting their guys get open shots in transition. They have a lot of guys that can score, so it's going to be a challenge."

The winner plays ninth-seeded Olentangy Orange or 15th-seeded Reynoldsburg in a district semifinal at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, at Marysville.

Orange improved to 16-5 by defeating Canal Winchester 53-46 in the first round Feb. 23.

Reynoldsburg, which had a first-round bye, is 11-9.

The semifinal winner plays top-seeded Northland, Columbus West, Pickerington North or Zanesville in a district final at noon March 10 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.

•Central Crossing finished 0-21 after losing to Northland 87-31 in the first round of the district tournament Feb. 23 at Marysville.

The Vikings are the top-ranked team in the state.

Monte McBride led Central Crossing with 10 points.

Devon Scott, a University of Dayton recruit, led four players in double figures for Northland with 21 points.

"I hope we learned something," coach Mike Cavey said of playing Northland. "We can't become superior athletes like that, but we can work hard and try to be stronger in the weight room."

The Comets finished eighth in the OCC-Central Division at 0-14, behind Upper Arlington (12-2), Dublin Coffman (9-5), Thomas Worthington (9-5), Westland (8-6), Worthington Kilbourne (8-6), Davidson (7-7) and Hilliard Darby (3-11).

Central Crossing lost close games to Darby 45-42 on Dec. 9 and 55-49 on Jan. 24, and to Westland 52-46 on Feb. 17.

Sophomore Marc Russell was honorable mention all-league and senior Devin Doudna was the scholar athlete. The team's other seniors are McBride, Mohammed Mohammed, Ricky Morgan, Maurice Reed and Will Schoen.

"Sometimes we'll play hard for a certain amount of time in the game and then just not play as hard as we did," Reed said.

Other players expected to contribute next season are juniors Tory Clark and Cody and Kyle Hall, who are twins, sophomore Mario Melucci and freshman Matt Dwane.

"We tried to stay positive and it's hard when you're 0-21 to try to stay positive, but when you have a young group, you just have to keep fighting," Cavey said.