A new league has produced a new attitude for a more experienced Groveport Madison High School girls basketball team.

A new league has produced a new attitude for a more experienced Groveport Madison High School girls basketball team.

"Moving to (the OCC-Capital Division) is really big for our girls," third-year coach Chris Vail said. "It's going to allow us to be more competitive and the girls can move on mentally from the grind of (the OCC-Ohio). The girls never felt they could win against Pickerington North, Pickerington Central, Reynoldsburg or Gahanna, so that's eight games right there and that doesn't include Newark."

As part of OCC realignment, Groveport and Newark moved to the OCC-Capital with Big Walnut, Canal Winchester, Franklin Heights and New Albany.

The Cruisers went 0-14 in the OCC-Ohio last season to finish eighth, behind Central (14-0), Reynoldsburg (12-2), Newark (9-5), Gahanna (8-6), North (6-8), Grove City (4-10) and Lancaster (3-11). They lost their last 74 OCC-Ohio contests dating to Jan. 25, 2011, when they beat Grove City 85-83.

"We've got two major goals this season," Vail said. "The first is to end the league losing streak, preferably as early as possible so we can put that behind us quickly. The second is to win a (Division I district) tournament game."

Groveport's last district tournament win came in 2005 when it defeated Northland 56-34 in the first round.

Last season, the Cruisers lost to top-seeded Central 60-19 in the second round after having a first-round bye. They lost their final 21 games to finish 2-21 overall.

Groveport, which will begin OCC-Capital play at home against Big Walnut on Tuesday, Dec. 6, opened Nov. 25 with a 44-42 win at Bloom-Carroll.

The Cruisers have returned six letterwinners, including four starters in seniors Diaba Diane (5-foot-6, guard) and Imani Johnson (5-11, forward), junior Melia Walder (5-7, forward) and sophomore Aulana Wilburn (5-6, guard).

Diane averaged 11.4 points through the first 12 games last season before missing the final 11 with an ankle injury and a disciplinary issue, according to Vail.

Johnson averaged 8.2 points and was named second-team all-league, and Wilburn was honorable mention all-league.

Also back are sophomores Reina Rhone (5-6, guard) and Toni Woods (5-4, guard).

Groveport lost one starter in point guard Kobie Burnside, who transferred to Independence for her junior season.

"Imani and Diaba are both four-year players who we're expecting to lead the way for us," Vail said. "Imani led the entire OCC in rebounds last year at 11.7 per game. Prior to her injury last year, Diaba was one of the top 3-point shooters in central Ohio, making 40 percent of her attempts.

"I also think Aulana is going to have a good year. She's a scorer."

Rhone and sophomores Brooke Reese (5-8) and Madi Young (5-6) are vying to start at a guard position.

Rounding out the roster are senior Katelyn Young (5-9, forward), juniors Breanna Lagore (5-5, guard) and Diariyetou Seck (5-10, forward) and sophomore Lanie White (5-6, guard).

Diane had 16 points and Wilburn scored 14 against Bloom-Carroll to lead Groveport, which closed the game on a 12-2 run. Johnson made two free throws with 15 seconds left to break a 42-all tie and had 10 rebounds.

"We've got several sophomores vying for playing time and much better depth than last year," Vail said. "We still don't have much size, but we've got good team speed. We'll need to limit our turnovers despite running as often as possible. We've got to maximize our rebounds."

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Nov. 25 -- at Bloom-Carroll

Nov. 29 -- at Columbus Academy

Dec. 3 -- at Westland

*Dec. 6 -- vs. Big Walnut

*Dec. 9 -- at Franklin Heights

Dec. 10 -- vs. Hilliard Darby

*Dec. 16 -- vs. Canal Winchester

Dec. 20 -- vs. Pickerington Central

Dec. 30 -- vs. Delaware

Jan. 3 -- at Central Crossing

*Jan. 6 -- at New Albany

Jan. 7 -- vs. Whitehall

Jan. 10 -- at Pickerington North

*Jan. 13 -- vs. Newark

Jan. 16 -- vs. Watkins Memorial

*Jan. 20 -- at Big Walnut

Jan. 24 -- vs. Lancaster

*Jan. 27 -- vs. Franklin Heights

*Feb. 3 -- at Canal Winchester

*Feb. 7 -- vs. New Albany

*Feb. 9 -- at Newark

Feb. 13 -- vs. Lakewood

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Groveport Madison boys basketball, bowling and wrestling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

Dec. 1 -- At Westerville Central

Dec. 3 -- Hamilton Township at Groveport Central Middle School

BOWLING

*Dec. 5 -- Delaware at Colony Lanes

*Dec. 6 -- Independence at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl

WRESTLING

Dec. 3 -- Granville Invitational

*League contest