Grove City Christian School boys basketball player Matt Bailey is not concerned with personal achievements.

Grove City Christian School boys basketball player Matt Bailey is not concerned with personal achievements.

Instead, the senior would rather see the Eagles succeed as a team.

Bailey (5-foot-10, point guard) and classmate Brandon Baker (6-2, guard) both are closing in on 1,000 career points, but Bailey said winning the MSL-Cardinal Division title and advancing in the Division IV district tournament are more important goals.

"I am more focused on winning than primarily myself," Bailey said. "If we get the win that's all that matters to me."

Grove City Christian was 4-0 overall before playing Zanesville Rosecrans on Dec. 20. The team also is 3-0 in the MSL-Cardinal.

Baker had 981 points and Bailey had 957 heading into the game against Rosecrans.

The Eagles reached 100 points in two of their first three games, defeating Fredericktown 101-48 on Dec. 6 and Millersport 115-44 on Dec. 10.

They then made an early statement in the league, rallying past Harvest Prep 79-77 on Dec. 16 behind 24 points from Baker and 15 from Bailey. The Eagles trailed 26-12 after one quarter.

"We're real happy with our start, but like I tell the boys in every practice, that's all it is, it's just a start," said coach Chris Timlin, who is in his seventh season. "High school basketball is a long season. Our goal right now is to maintain focus and go at it one game at a time. If we go at it one game at a time, we'll be happy with the outcome at the end of the season."

Last season, the Eagles and Harvest Prep shared the league title at 8-2.

The teams meet again Jan. 27 at Grove City Christian.

Bailey averaged 19.9 points a year ago and was named league Player of the Year, first-team all-district and second-team all-state. Baker averaged 14.3 points and was first-team all-league, second-team all-district and honorable mention all-state.

Timlin was named district Coach of the Year, and he shared league honors with Harvest Prep's David Dennis Sr.

The Eagles finished 16-8 overall.

Senior Hunter Oda (6-1, guard) averaged 8.7 points last season, and junior Noah Tomlinson (6-5, forward) was honorable mention all-league.

Bailey, Baker and Oda have played on varsity since they were freshmen.

Other returnees are seniors Benjamin Lehman (6-2, forward), Clayton Shoemaker (6-2, forward), Alec Sliemers (5-9, guard) and Stevie Whinham (6-1, guard).

"We've worked very hard," Bailey said. "Throughout the summer we were always in the gym and we have great team chemistry. That's what is benefiting us right now. We have played so long together. We know where each other are at on the floor."

Senior Brandon Balnoschan (6-4, forward) is a move-in from Texas who is sitting out the first 11 games because of Ohio High School Athletic Association transfer rules.

Junior Caleb Sullivan (6-4, forward) also is looking to contribute.

Timlin said the team's unselfishness has been a key to its early success.

"It's so easy to coach a group of kids that are willing to make the extra pass and watch their teammates score," he said. "I have a group of kids that realize that the assist is just as valuable as the basket itself and that's really creating a lot of offensive opportunities for us."

Girls basketball team showing improvement

After watching his team get out to a slow start, second-year girls basketball coach Bob Williams has been pleased with the Eagles' improvement.

The Eagles have won three of their last five games and are 3-4 overall and 2-2 in the MSL-Cardinal. They finished 10-14 overall and 6-4 in the league a year ago.

"We beat Delaware Christian (39-27 on Dec. 12) and you could see that they were applying some of the things that we had started last year," Williams said. "It makes it a lot easier because kids know many of the plays and how we want to play. They know what their position is and they seem pretty confident. Each game we look to get a little bit better."

Senior guard Lauren Bankey (5-7) was honorable mention all-league last season.

Other returnees are seniors Leah Baker (5-7, post player), Lane Scott (5-7, guard/forward) and Sarah Sterling (5-6, guard) and sophomore Naomi Cotter (5-8, forward).

Also looking to contribute are juniors Jessalyn Hoyt (5-11, forward/guard) and Dalina Phomphengchane (5-4, guard) and freshmen Kaitlyn Driftmyer (5-4, guard), Sophia Hoyt (5-11, post player), Juliana Hunt (5-6, guard), Madeline Lewis (5-8, forward/guard) and Damaris Vanecko (5-6, post player/guard).

The four seniors and Cotter have been starting.

"We have a lot of freshmen that are playing, contributing a lot coming off the bench, so that's been a good thing," Williams said.

Williams said junior forward Savannah Carter (5-9) will miss the season with a knee injury.

The Eagles lost two key players to graduation in Olivia Nester (first-team all-league) and Olivia Carter (second-team all-league).

Williams said because of a lack of players in the program, there is no junior varsity team.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Dec. 2 -- vs. Fisher Catholic

Dec. 6 -- vs. Fredericktown

*Dec. 10 -- at Millersport

*Dec. 16 -- at Harvest Prep

Dec. 20 -- at Zanesville Rosecrans

Dec. 22 -- vs. Fairbanks

Dec. 28 -- Landover (Md.) Capitol Christian in Buccaneer Christmas Classic at Buckhannon (W.Va.) Buckhannon-Upshur

Dec. 29 -- Kingwood (W.Va.) Preston or Buckhannon-Upshur in Buccaneer Christmas Classic

Jan. 3 -- vs. Madison Plains

*Jan. 7 -- vs. Berne Union

Jan. 9 -- at DeSales

*Jan. 13 -- vs. Fairfield Christian

*Jan. 17 -- at Fisher Catholic

Jan. 19 -- at Columbus International

*Jan. 21 -- vs. Millersport

Jan. 24 -- at Patriot Prep

*Jan. 27 -- vs. Harvest Prep

Jan. 31 -- vs. Wellington

*Feb. 4 -- at Berne Union

Feb. 7 -- vs. Newark Catholic

*Feb. 10 -- at Fairfield Christian

Feb. 18 -- at West Jefferson

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Nov. 29 -- at Fisher Catholic

Dec. 1 -- at Grove City

*Dec. 3 -- vs. Millersport

Dec. 8 -- vs. Chillicothe Huntington

*Dec. 9 -- vs. Harvest Prep

Dec. 12 -- at Delaware Christian

*Dec. 17 -- vs. Berne Union

Dec. 27 -- at West Jefferson

Jan. 5 -- at Wellington

*Jan. 6 -- at Fairfield Christian

*Jan. 10 -- vs. Fisher Catholic

Jan. 12 -- vs. Linden-McKinley

*Jan. 14 -- at Millersport

Jan. 19 -- at Tree of Life

Jan. 21 -- at Patriot Prep

*Jan. 24 -- at Harvest Prep

Jan. 26 -- at Madison Plains

*Jan. 28 -- vs. Berne Union

Jan. 30 -- vs. Patriot Prep

*Feb. 3 -- vs. Fairfield Christian

Feb. 4 -- at Glouster Trimble

Feb. 11 -- vs. Crooksville

*League contest