When the Grove City High School boys basketball team met for the first day of practice Nov. 2, 11th-year coach Greg Waits directed his players' attention to the banners in the gym that signify the program's success.
Waits emphasized the OCC banner that included last season's co-championship in the OCC-Ohio Division.
He believes the Greyhounds again will challenge for the league title.
"We looked at the banner the first day of practice and showed them," Waits said. "We want to get 2014 up there. We do (this) every year. We want numbers up there. We have a great conference. A lot of teams in our conference are outstanding with great players, but we won't back down from anybody."
Last season, the Greyhounds finished 15-9 overall and went 10-4 in the league to tie Newark, Pickerington Central and Reynoldsburg for the title.
Grove City visits Reynoldsburg in its league opener Friday, Dec. 6.
The Greyhounds began the season on a high note, winning the second annual Grove City Tip-Off Classic held Nov. 29 and 30 at home. Grove City opened with a 107-48 win over Westland on Nov. 29 and defeated DeSales 71-60 in the title game Nov. 30.
Against Westland, 6-foot-4 junior guard Nick Bapst led the Greyhounds with a career-high 30 points.
"We definitely have a chance to win a league title," Bapst said. "We just play together, which helps us a lot. Teams can't stop our running. ... We work hard every day at practice."
Senior guard Tyler Dunn (6-2) and junior guard Joey Mahoney (6-3) each scored 13 points, junior guard Ryan Grooms (6-3) had 12 and junior guard Kyle Laffin (6-3) had 11 against Westland.
"That's what we expect out of our kids every night to go up and down the floor 100 miles an hour," Waits said. "That's the way we practice. I'm proud of our kids because we play hard and we play fast. We have that reputation and people know that they have to get back on defense when they're playing us. If they don't, we're going to shoot layups."
Against DeSales, Bapst led the way with 20 points. Dunn and junior guard Drew Bapst (6-4) each scored 13.
Nick Bapst, Dunn and senior guards Tyler Cowles (6-1) and Scottie Luchini (5-9) are the top returning players. Dunn was honorable mention all-league last season.
Other players are juniors Robbie Jobe (6-4, guard), Delane Streeter (6-3, guard) and Chris Such (6-4, guard) and sophomores Brandon Chapman (6-5, guard), Mark Rader (6-2, guard) and Sam Saxton (6-2, guard).
Grove City lost eight players from last season to graduation, including Brandon Bapst, who led the team in scoring at 13.5 points per game and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. He is playing at Malone University.
Other losses were Christian Meister, who averaged 10.1 points and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, and Tyler Hale, who was special mention all-league.
"You have to move on," Waits said. "We lost a great group, but we love our kids this year. They're great kids, great teammates. They all get along and we're going to play 10 or 11 kids every game. We have to the way we play."