The Pickerington High School Central boys basketball team's Tuesday game at Delaware marks the end of a scheduling anomaly. The Tigers' first six games this season and seven of their first eight are on the road.

The Pickerington High School Central boys basketball team's Tuesday game at Delaware marks the end of a scheduling anomaly. The Tigers' first six games this season and seven of their first eight are on the road.

It has made coach Jerry Groves' job of adapting his young team to varsity play much more difficult.

"I don't care what sport you're talking about, when you're at home, it's easier to play," Groves said. "You've got the crowd behind you and you're comfortable playing in a gym you're in all the time. Being on the road like we have been is not easy."

Central's first home game is Jan. 5 when the Tigers play host to Newark. Three days later, Central is back on the road at Grove City before playing seven consecutive home games. The Tigers finish the regular season with nine of its final 12 games at home.

"We had a couple of games that originally looked like they'd be home games, but a couple things happened and we had to make some changes," Groves said. "We had at least one, if not two, of our initial six games at home.

"We're not using it as an excuse and instead we're challenging our kids."

With games being played outside Central's friendly confines, the Tigers' offense has struggled. The Tigers shot 32 percent from the field in their first three games. Last Friday's 66-39 loss to Gahanna dropped Central's average points per game to 42.5 before last Tuesday's game against Groveport.

"I'd like to score as much as anybody," Groves said. "I'd like to score in the 70s, but we're struggling to make shots. Partly because our shot selection is not the greatest and partly because the guys are not used to playing varsity basketball as we have only two guys with varsity experience."

To compound the inexperience issue, Central's young lineup is playing its games on the road where the objective of scoring becomes even more difficult.

In a 58-43 loss to Pickerington North on Dec. 11, Groves remembered looking out onto the floor to see his lineup consisting of a senior, a junior, two sophomores and a freshman.

Groves is counting on seniors Anthony McGarrah and Dominique Royal, and sophomore Chad Nelson to pick up Central on the offensive end.

"Anthony is a guy who needs to score the ball for us. We feel Dominique can be a double-figure scorer and Chad is almost in double figures as a sophomore," Groves said. "We're confident all three of those guys can and will average double figures by the end of the season."

McGarrah scored 19 points in a 42-41 loss to Brookhaven on Dec. 4. Nelson had 10 in a 47-33 win over Lancaster on Dec. 8 and Royal had 13 last Friday. Before last Tuesday, Central has yet to have all three score in double figures in a single game.

"We need to be more aggressive and look for the open guys," Royal said. "Sometimes we force up bad shots. We have to practice hard, stay focused and get each other involved."

Offensively, Groves' goal is for the Tigers to average 55 points because defensively, he's been pleased with his team's effort. In the Tigers' first four games, they allowed an average of 46 points.

"We're taking big strides on the defensive end," Groves said. "If our practices last an hour and a half, 45 to 50 minutes is spent on the defensive end. We feel defense is something we can count on every night. For us to be in games this season, we have to play good defense."