One of central Ohio's top guard tandems returns for the Granville High School boys basketball team, and that has some believing the Blue Aces are the team to beat in the MSL-Ohio Division.

One of central Ohio's top guard tandems returns for the Granville High School boys basketball team, and that has some believing the Blue Aces are the team to beat in the MSL-Ohio Division.

"It's nice people feel that way about us, but we're expecting a battle every night in this league," said fifth-year coach Scott Carpenter, who has a 52-35 record. His team will open Friday at Fairfield Union, with the first league game Dec. 9 at home against Whitehall.

Senior guards Miles Clark and Cory Becher anchor the list of returnees, which also includes classmates Cody Hall and Jameson Kirk in the backcourt. Clark led the team in scoring (12.7 points) a year ago and was third-team all-district honors as the Blue Aces finished 16-6 overall after a 56-47 loss to Buckeye Valley in a Division II district semifinal.

Becher (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) runs the point and presents matchup problems on the perimeter. A third-year starter, he made honorable mention all-district as the Blue Aces went 11-3 to finish third in the MSL-Ohio won by Columbus Academy (13-1), and he helped the team in splitting the season series with league runner-up Bexley (12-2).

Junior Graham Rucker and sophomore Jim Bennett add depth on the perimeter.

"We have six guards in our mix, and we could play four together at a time," Carpenter said.

Junior Michael Hofer, a 6-3 center, provides an inside presence as will classmate David Hettler, a 6-6 forward and center. Freshman Michael Steensen, a 6-2 forward, looks promising, Carpenter said. The seven seniors also include Zach McDonie, Nicholas Lozier and Zach Lewis, another guard. McDonie is a 6-4 power forward.

"Like last year, our scoring should be spread out pretty evenly," Carpenter said. "But we still have to rebound and play defense."

The Blue Aces lost twice last year to Academy, 75-71 and 81-71. But Academy graduated leading scorer David Schmelzer (32.9 points), who was first-team all-district in Division IV. Bexley is big on the baseline and also returns guard Seth White, who is expected to play at least into January before graduating early and participating in spring football at Ball State.

"The league is even tougher top to bottom," said Carpenter, whose teams have won 32 games overall the past two seasons and also reached a district semifinal two seasons ago. "Lakewood is big, too, and Heath and Newark Catholic are really improved. It's going to be interesting."

ĽOf note: Granville will play host Tuesday to Utica in a Foundation Game. Granville's share of the proceeds will benefit the Clayton Manos Scholarship Fund. Manos, a junior at the time, was killed in a car accident last December. Utica's split will benefit the Utica Community Center, and fans attending the scrimmage receive $1 off admission by bringing a canned item for donation.