Grove City Christian School boys basketball coach Chris Timlin believes his team is prepared for the challenge of playing in the MSL-Cardinal Division even though it has gotten out to a slow start in the league.
The Eagles, who moved from the MOCAL, were 0-3 in the MSL-Cardinal after losing to Fisher Catholic 54-43 on Dec. 21.
Grove City Christian was 1-6 overall after falling to Cincinnati Shroder (81-69 on Dec. 27) and Cincinnati Clark Montessori (66-38 on Dec. 28) in the Cougar Holiday Classic at Clark Montessori.
The Eagles' win came against Granville Christian, 58-45 in the home opener Dec. 10, as 6-foot-2 senior forward Michael Howard led with 23 points. Senior guard Ben Aulick (6-0) scored 11 points and senior guard Tyler Elgin (5-7) added 10.
"The schedule is going to be difficult but at the same time our guys, especially the juniors and seniors, are confident that they can go out and play with anyone," Timlin said. "It just so happens that the (league) alone has some pretty big teams."
Grove City Christian's competition in the MSL-Cardinal is Berne Union, Fairfield Christian, Fisher Catholic, Harvest Prep and Millersport.
The Eagles lost at Fairfield Christian 59-40 on Dec. 7 and at home against Harvest Prep 64-46 on Dec. 13. Fairfield Christian also moved from the MOCAL.
The Eagles opened Dec. 3 by losing at Grandview 71-38.
Howard missed eight games last season after fracturing his right wrist in late December and returned to finish second on the team in points (13.1 points) and rebounds (6.3) per game. He was honorable mention all-MOCAL.
Aulick led in rebounding at 6.7 per game.
Also back are junior forward Alec Poling (5-11) and junior guards Tristan Taylor (5-9) and Aaron Whitaker (6-0).
Freshman Matt Bailey (5-7) is the starting point guard.
"The coaching staff and I knew that by starting a ninth-grader at the point at this level there was going to be some ups and downs," Timlin said.
Other players are senior forward Nate High (5-11), junior guards Tre Roberts (5-11) and Eli Womack (6-0) and freshman guards Brandon Baker (6-0) and Hunter Oda (5-11).
Last season, Grove City Christian finished 9-15 overall and tied Granville Christian for fifth (4-8) in the MOCAL behind champion Fairfield Christian (12-0).
The Eagles lost one player to graduation in forward Derek Vaughn, who averaged a team-best 17 points and was third in rebounding at 5.4 per game. He was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Girls team hopes summer work pays off
Junior Lisa Zeller, a 5-4 guard and three-year starter, again is leading the girls basketball team after she averaged a team-best 12.4 points last season and was second-team all-league.
The Eagles were 3-4 overall after defeating Tree of Life 49-44 on Dec. 21 behind 21 points from Zeller. They are 1-2 in the MSL-Cardinal.
"We definitely have more talent this year than what we've had in the past and the girls worked really hard in the offseason," coach Elizabeth Morris said. "We were in a summer league (Wellington) and we went to team camp (Cedarville University), so that has helped a lot this year."
Grove City Christian defeated Wellington 45-26 on Nov. 26 as 5-3 sophomore guard Olivia Nester scored 18 points and Zeller had 11. Nester and Zeller are captains.
The Eagles opened Nov. 22 by losing 44-30 at Granville Christian as Zeller scored 10 points. They lost at home to Columbus Academy 32-25 on Nov. 25 as Zeller scored 11.
Grove City Christian opened league play by losing at home to Fairfield Christian 46-22 on Nov. 30. The Eagles lost at home to Fisher Catholic 56-34 on Dec. 14 as Zeller scored 21 points and 5-3 junior guard Baily Graves had 12.
Grove City Christian defeated Millersport 41-36 on Dec. 20 as Graves scored 12 points and Zeller had 11.
Other starters are sophomore forwards Olivia Carter (5-7) and Jessica Jablonski (5-6).
Other players are juniors Emma Baker (5-4, guard/forward) and Amber Spencer (5-3, guard), sophomore Mariana Gallion (5-1, guard) and freshman Lane Scott (5-5, guard).
Last season, the Eagles finished 7-14. Graves (9.6 points per game) and Nester were honorable mention all-league.