Competing in the MSL-Cardinal Division for the first time, Grove City Christian School boys basketball coach Chris Timlin was pleased that his team remained competitive despite a challenging schedule.
The Eagles went 4-6 in the league to finish fourth behind champion Harvest Prep (10-0), which reached a Division IV state semifinal. The Eagles previously competed in the MOCAL.
Grove City Christian finished 9-14 overall, losing to 13th-seeded Morral Ridgedale 83-81 in the first round of the Division IV district tournament Feb. 21 at home. The Eagles were seeded 10th.
Grove City Christian was led by senior forward Michael Howard, who was named first-team all-league and second-team all-district after averaging team highs of 18.1 points and 11.7 rebounds.
At 6-foot-2, Howard was the tallest player on the team.
"We were a very small basketball team," Timlin said. "We asked Michael Howard to come from the point (guard) to the forward position and we play a heck of a tough schedule. We were on the short side of a couple close games against good opponents."
Senior guard Ben Aulick was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. He averaged 12.2 points and 5.9 rebounds.
Senior guard Tyler Elgin was honorable mention all-league after averaging 5.9 points.
Forward Nate High was the other senior.
"I love the seniors," Timlin said. "They're fantastic kids. We had a real difficult time in the locker room after the (Ridgedale) game. We were very close and we still are, and we always will be."
Freshman guard Brandon Baker averaged 9.1 points and freshman point guard Matt Bailey led the team in assists with 73.
Others eligible to return are juniors Alec Poling (forward), Tre Roberts (guard), Tristan Taylor (guard), Aaron Whit-aker (guard) and Eli Womack (guard) and freshman Hunter Oda (guard).
"We played a really tough schedule and we grew as a team," Howard said. "A lot of younger guys got to get in there and play some. It was a good year even though the results didn't turn out the way we wanted. I'm satisfied with it."
In the MSL-Cardinal, the Eagles finished behind Harvest Prep, Fairfield Christian (8-2) and Berne Union (5-5) and ahead of Fisher Catholic (3-7) and Millersport (0-10).
"I couldn't have asked our guys to do anything more, especially without a true post player and our schedule being what it was," Timlin said. "I'm very proud of our guys. I thought that they played as hard as they could."
Morris expects bright future for girls team
Girls coach Elizabeth Morris foresees a bright future for her team, which had no seniors this season.
The Eagles finished 9-14 overall, losing at fifth-seeded Granville Christian 57-42 in the first round of the district tournament Feb. 15. Grove City Christian was seeded 14th.
"Overall, I'm happy," said Morris, who completed her third season. "Since I became the head of the program, this is our best record so far at 9-14. Next year is going to be our best season yet with having four seniors that I will have had the privilege of coaching all four years. I'm looking forward to that."
Junior guard Lisa Zeller was first-team all-league and third-team all-district after averaging a team-best 14.3 points. She needs 174 points to reach 1,000 for her career.
Sophomore guard Olivia Nester was honorable mention all-district and all-league.
Junior guard Baily Graves averaged 8.9 points and sophomore forward Olivia Carter led in rebounding at 6.1 per game.
Others eligible to return are juniors Emma Baker (guard/forward) and Amber Spencer (guard), sophomores Mariana Gallion (guard) and Jessica Jablonski (forward) and freshmen Leah Baker (post player), Lauren Bankey (guard) and Lane Scott (guard).
The Eagles went 3-5 in the MSL-Cardinal to tie Fisher Catholic for third, behind Fairfield Christian (8-0) and Berne Union (6-2) and ahead of Millersport (0-8).
"It was definitely a good switch for us," said Morris, whose team moved from the MOCAL.
"We went from not having any wins in our league (0-12) to having three wins in our new league. ... We got better and better as the season went on. Overall, I'm happy with the switch and the girls have addressed it very well, and they're pushing themselves to play even better."