When coach Neil Hohman took over the Central Crossing High School boys basketball program before this season, his goals included guiding the Comets to their first Division I district tournament win.

When coach Neil Hohman took over the Central Crossing High School boys basketball program before this season, his goals included guiding the Comets to their first Division I district tournament win.

With the tournament draw set for Sunday, Feb. 7, Hohman is hoping for a favorable first-round game.

Central Crossing was 5-12 overall and 3-8 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Thomas Worthington on Feb. 2. The Comets were looking to end a five-game losing streak.

Despite the recent struggles, Hohman said he has been pleased with the team's improvement in the second half of the season.

The effort displayed in a 57-45 loss to visiting Dublin Coffman on Jan. 29 left Hohman optimistic the Comets can win their tournament opener.

"We're hoping to get a little bit better and hopefully at the tournament draw we can get a game where we can compete and give ourselves a chance to get the first tournament win in school history," he said.

Central Crossing and Coffman were tied at 9 after one quarter before the Shamrocks opened a 28-18 lead at halftime. In several games this season, opponents pulled away in the second half after a competitive first half, but against Coffman, the Comets rallied to take a one-point lead late the third quarter before the Shamrocks regained control in the fourth.

Central Crossing showed its improved play against a Coffman team that was 16-3 overall and 9-2 in the OCC-Central before playing Westland on Feb. 2. Also, the Shamrocks had won the first-round league matchup against the Comets in a rout, 81-58 on Dec. 18.

"The big difference between the last few weeks and (Jan. 29) is we did a great job gang rebounding," Hohman said. "We had all five guys going after it and getting boards."

Antwon Hampton, who has emerged as the Comets' leading scorer, had a game-high 25 points in the rematch against Coffman. Keason Lowe added 11.

The Comets fell behind OCC-Central leader Upper Arlington 17-3 after one quarter in a 53-37 loss Jan. 26. Hampton led Central Crossing with 14 points.

UA was 15-2 overall and 11-0 in the league before playing Marysville on Feb. 2.

Through 17 games, Hampton was averaging 16.1 points, followed by Mike Woods (10.1) and Lowe (7.5).

"We're improving every game," Lowe said. "We're starting to play as a team. We're not just playing a half of a game; we're playing hard the whole game."

The Comets are without their top rebounder, senior Noah Stephens, who was lost for the season after he injured his right knee in a 38-36 loss to Thomas on Dec. 22. Stephens, who had ACL surgery last month, averaged 10.6 rebounds in seven games.

Hohman said the Comets still are recovering from that loss.

"We've gotten better the last few weeks," Hohman said. "Since Noah went down with his injury and we had a lull over the break, we started over in January with our team and we're finally getting back to where we were before break as far as playing and getting comfortable with each other again."

Grove City preparing for tournament

Grove City coach Greg Waits hopes his team can gain some momentum heading into the district tournament, which begins Feb. 20.

The Greyhounds were 7-11 overall and 2-9 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Gahanna on Feb. 2.

Grove City lost at Pickerington Central 64-49 on Jan. 29 as Sam Saxton scored 20 points and Paul Jones added 10.

"Our league is really good," Waits said. "I thought our kids hung in there. With two-and-a-half minutes to go we cut it to the six points and had the ball and just didn't finish them off. We had to start fouling at the end and the score got away from us."

The Greyhounds earned a 57-56 win at Groveport on Jan. 22, avenging a 64-54 loss to the Cruisers on Dec. 11. Jones had 13 points and Saxton added 11 in the rematch.

Through 18 games, Saxton was averaging a team-high 13.1 points. Jones was averaging 10.7, and Jarrett Poole and Zach Sammeth both were averaging 7.7.

Anthony Tyree was averaging a team-high 4.8 rebounds.

"Our kids show up every night and our kids are battling and we're doing everything we can, so we're proud of our kids," Waits said. "We've just come up short so far this season, but our goal as always is to be playing our best basketball by the end of the year, and we are playing pretty well right now."