After a three-game losing streak, Grove City High School boys basketball coach Greg Waits re-emphasized his team's basic philosophy -- toughness.
The Greyhounds responded by winning two consecutive games before playing Newark in an OCC-Ohio Division contest Dec. 18.
"We had to work on toughness and just doing those little things that's going to make a difference in games like going down and setting solid screens, coming off screens effectively (and) using your screens," Waits said. "That's what we really worked on because we did not do a good job with that our first four games of the year."
Grove City visits defending Division I state champion Pickerington Central on Friday, Dec. 21. Last season, the Tigers won the OCC-Ohio at 13-1, and Waits said the game would be a good test for his team.
"None of our league games are easy," he said. "When we win one of our league games we're proud of our kids and happy because we think our league, top to bottom, is the best one in the state."
Central was 4-1 before playing Pickerington North on Dec. 18, with the loss coming against Reynoldsburg 53-52 on Dec. 14.
After losing to Reynoldsburg 50-46 on Dec. 7, Grove City defeated Groveport 72-44 on Dec. 14 and non-league Teays Valley 70-45 on Dec. 15.
Against Groveport, senior Brandon Bapst scored 15 points. Senior Christian Meister scored 14 points against Teays Valley.
"We played some tough teams to start out," Bapst said. "Those games will help us down the line. To get two road wins was a big confidence-booster for us. We got to prove to ourselves that we're a good team and we're going to do well this year."
Waits said a key to the turnaround was returning to a regular practice schedule after playing four games in eight days.
"We really didn't have a chance to work on our things," he said. "We were always preparing for that next opponent. We had a chance to practice (last week) and worry about us and get better at what we need to be getting better at. We had a great week of practice."
The Greyhounds' depth took a hit with the loss of senior guard Dominic Moreno, who had season-ending surgery after injuring the labrum in his right shoulder during a scrimmage against Mount Vernon. Last season, Moreno missed action after injuring his left shoulder.
"Dominic was a shooter (and) he could score," Waits said. "That really hurt our shooting because he was one of our better scorers coming back from last year off the j.v. team."
Central Crossing ends losing streak
Central Crossing snapped a 31-game losing streak by defeating Hilliard Bradley 45-44 in the opener Nov. 30.
Matt Dwane scored 17 points.
It was the team's first win since Jan. 7, 2011, when the Comets beat Thomas Worthington 53-51.
Central Crossing went 0-21 last season.
"The kids felt a sigh of relief, a weight off their backs," first-year coach Anthony Mangette said. "They really enjoyed it, to remember how fun it is to win."
Since then, Central Crossing has lost four consecutive games while being outscored by an average margin of more than 28 points.
The Comets play host Friday, Dec. 21, to Dublin Coffman, which was 3-0 before playing Thomas on Dec. 18 and last season tied Thomas for second (9-5) in the OCC-Central behind Upper Arlington (12-2).
"It's not fun losing, but it's fun being with the boys and the coaches," Mangette said. "We're very enthusiastic. We're very encouraging. The effort is there. The three 'Es' that I stressed in May -- the effort, energy and enthusiasm -- are there. The execution, the fourth one, that is a little frustrating, but I know we're going to get it. It's just going to take time."