In his 11 seasons as Grove City High School boys basketball coach, Greg Waits always has asserted that the OCC-Ohio Division is the most competitive of the four OCC leagues.
He hopes another tight league race this season has given the Greyhounds added confidence heading into the Division I district tournament.
Gahanna, Newark and Pickerington Central shared the league title at 11-3, ahead of Grove City at 9-5. Last season, Grove City went 10-4 in the league to tie Newark, Central and Reynoldsburg for the title.
"Our league is awesome from top to bottom," said Waits, whose team closed league play by defeating Pickerington North 67-50 on Feb. 14 at home.
"A lot of people say they would hate to be in our league, but our division makes you a better coach and better players because you have to prepare to be ready every single night or you're going to get beat, and it makes our league so much fun."
The Greyhounds are seeded 12th in the district tournament and play host to 23rd-seeded Franklin Heights or 31st-seeded Mount Vernon in the second round Feb. 28.
Grove City defeated Franklin Heights 72-67 on Dec. 27 at home.
The winner plays in a district semifinal March 5 at Marysville, with the likely opponent being third-seeded Upper Arlington.
The district final is March 8 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.
"We're going to have to be a great defensive team to get to the (Fairgrounds)," Waits said.
The Greyhounds were 15-6 overall before playing Central Crossing on Feb. 18 in their regular-season finale.
Gahanna, Newark, Central and Grove City finished ahead of Reynoldsburg (8-6), Groveport (4-10), North (2-12) and Lancaster (0-14) in the OCC-Ohio.
Gahanna is seeded second, Newark is fifth and Central is sixth in the district tournament.
The Greyhounds helped cost Newark the outright league title by sweeping the Wildcats, winning 60-51 on Dec. 17 and 50-49 on Feb. 11.
Nick Bapst led the Greyhounds in the rematch with 16 points, followed by Tyler Dunn with 14.
Against North, Bapst scored a game-high 27 points and Dunn added 13.
Central Crossing boys win first league game
Central Crossing earned its first OCC-Central victory in its league finale, winning 57-53 at Westland on Feb. 14.
The Comets finished eighth (1-13) in the league behind UA (13-1), Olentangy Liberty (11-3), Dublin Coffman (10-4), Thomas Worthington (8-6), Marysville (7-7), Westland (3-11) and Hilliard Davidson (3-11).
"Perseverance and persistence were the two keys that we started saying back in December when the injuries started hitting and we had to change the chemistry of the team," coach Anthony Mangette said.
"We just had to persevere and persist and it's starting to pay off, and the boys really feel good about it."
Seniors Luke Duncan (hand) and Dwight Diggs (knee) and sophomore Noah Stephens (back) were lost for the season with injuries.
Central Crossing, which was 4-17 overall before playing Grove City, is seeded 43rd in the Division I district tournament and plays at Newark in the first round Friday, Feb. 21. The Wildcats are 17-4.
The winner plays 37th-seeded Westland in the second round Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the home of the better seed, and that winner plays 15th-seeded Reynoldsburg, 20th-seeded Briggs or 28th-seeded Chillicothe in a district semifinal March 4 at Liberty.
The Comets opened play last week by defeating Jonathan Alder 49-39 on Feb. 11 at home. Marc Russell scored 15 points.
Russell scored a game-high 24 points against Westland, while Anthony Thompson had eight points and 12 rebounds and Isaiah Napper connected on consecutive 3-pointers in the third quarter to help the Comets maintain the lead. Napper finished with eight points.
"The Westland one is always one that you want to get," Russell said.
"It's always a big game. It was definitely a good last full week of the (regular) season for us."
Grove City girls lose at Bradley
The Grove City girls team lost at 12th-seeded Hilliard Bradley 51-46 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 17.
The Greyhounds, who were seeded 28th, finished 11-12.
Jen Draper scored a game-high 24 points for the Greyhounds, who trailed 25-18 at halftime.
Central Crossing girls fall at UA
The Central Crossing girls team lost at second-seeded Upper Arlington 49-27 in the first round of the district tournament Feb. 17.
The Golden Bears led 19-13 at halftime before taking command in the third quarter, outscoring the Comets 17-2.
Central Crossing, which was seeded 38th, finished 5-18.
Michaela Dorsey led the Comets with 14 points.