Grove City Christian School boys basketball coach Chris Timlin called his team's recent stretch of games the most difficult time in his 11-year coaching career.
The Eagles are 3-10 overall and 1-5 in the MSL-Cardinal Division and have lost four of their last five games.
Those setbacks included a 56-55 loss at home to Liberty Union on Jan. 14 and a 73-64 overtime loss at Berne Union in a league game Jan. 11.
Against Liberty Union, the Eagles led 55-52 when Brandon Compton completed a four-point play with 2 seconds remaining to pull out the win for the Lions.
Grove City Christian led Berne Union 39-31 after three quarters.
"We're a lot better than our record shows," Timlin said. "It's probably been the most gut-wrenching week and a half of basketball I've ever coached. Eleven years of basketball and for those games to go back-to-back and finish the way they did, it's been pretty difficult to sleep for myself, coaches and players."
Against Liberty Union, freshman point guard Brandon Baker led Grove City Christian with 23 points.
Ben Aulick scored 24 points and Michael Howard had 11 against Berne Union.
On Jan. 4, Grove City Christian led at Danville 21-5 after one quarter, but lost 58-56. Tristan Taylor led the Eagles with 15 points, while Howard and Aulick each had 14 and Tyler Elgin added 11.
"We have a long ways to go the rest of the season," Timlin said. "I'm hoping that we can learn from some of our mistakes in these close ballgames and move forward."
The Eagles' win in the recent stretch was a 65-33 victory over former MOCAL-rival Madison Christian on Jan. 9 at home. Howard scored 25 points and Aulick added 12.
Grove City Christian's win in the MSL-Cardinal came against Millersport, 92-46 on Jan. 3 at home. Aulick scored 20 points, Baker had 19 and Howard had 12.
Fairfield Christian, which joined Grove City Christian in the move from the MOCAL to the MSL-Cardinal, is second (5-1) in the league behind Harvest Prep (6-0).
The Eagles lost to Fairfield Christian 59-40 on Dec. 7 and 60-46 on Jan. 17.
Leading the Eagles in scoring are Howard (13.8 points per game), Aulick (10.5) and Baker (10.3).
"We've done pretty much everything we can in practice in just getting everybody ready and trying to plan for every situation and being prepared for everything," Howard said.
Girls basketball team wins on buzzer beater
Olivia Nester's layup as time expired lifted the girls basketball team to a 46-44 win at Delaware Christian on Jan. 16.
It was Grove City Christian's first win against Delaware Christian in coach Elizabeth Morris' three seasons.
"We were pretty excited," Morris said. "It was a great win, especially going out there and being able to beat them. We've had some disappointing losses against that team, so for us to go out and get that win was really big for us."
Grove City Christian trailed 37-28 after three quarters. Baily Graves scored 16 points and Lisa Zeller had 12.
The Eagles were 4-8 overall after losing to Vincent Warren 66-26 in the Route 40 Classic on Jan. 20 at Zanesville West Muskingum. They are 1-4 in the MSL-Cardinal, with the league win coming at Millersport 41-36 on Dec. 20.
Grove City Christian lost at Crooksville 55-37 on Jan. 18, as Nester scored 14 points and Zeller had 12.
Through 11 games, Zeller was averaging a team-best 13 points, followed by Graves at 8.5.
"It's really helpful for Lisa to have someone else scoring because she can finally take on that role as a point guard and get everybody involved, and she's been doing a really good job of that," Morris said. "(She has) confidence in her teammates, and all of her teammates have started to have more confidence in themselves. We're playing well as a team."
Fairfield Christian leads the league at 6-0.
"The conference is definitely everything I expected it to be," Morris said. "Going out and beating Millersport on their floor was a starting point for us, just being in this league and getting that first win. Even in the MOCAL last year having such a young team, we didn't win any league games (0-12), so that started us off for our season and we're on our way to having a better record (7-14) than we did last year."