The Groveport Madison High School boys basketball team is taking a similar approach to the postseason as it did during the regular season.
"I'm really thankful the boys bought into the approach of one game at a time during the season and I think it paid dividends," coach Ryan Grashel said. "Now we won't have to change anything going into the (Division I district tournament). The only numbers they cared about all season were on the scoreboard."
The Cruisers, who were seeking their first league championship since the 2004-05 season, are 18-4 overall and finished 8-2 in the OCC-Capital Division after beating Big Walnut 51-37 on Feb. 17. They placed second in the league behind Newark (10-0) and ahead of New Albany (5-5), Canal Winchester (4-6), Big Walnut (3-7) and Franklin Heights (0-10).
Groveport is seeded seventh of 47 teams in the district tournament and has a first-round bye. The Cruisers will play host to 28th-seeded Lancaster in the second round Tuesday, Feb. 28, with the winner playing third-seeded Hilliard Bradley, 38th-seeded Licking Heights or 40th-seeded Teays Valley in a district semifinal March 8 at a neutral site to be determined.
The district final is March 11 at Ohio Dominican University.
The Cruisers beat Lancaster 55-46 on Jan. 24, outscoring the Golden Gales 23-4 in the fourth quarter. In the fourth period, Lony Francis scored seven of his 16 points, Corey Baker scored eight of his 13 points and Curtis Jacobs scored six of his eight points. Tyreese Cherry finished with 12 points.
Lancaster, which also has a first-round bye, is 8-14.
"Lancaster is a good team and not one to be overlooked," Grashel said. "We will never overlook anyone. They have a lot of seniors and a guard, Jacob Arter, who averages 20 points per game. We will need to keep him from going off.
"I expect it to be a battle for 32 minutes. They're still in the OCC-Ohio, which we know all about, so their record reflects four games against two of the top-ranked teams in the state (Pickerington Central and Newark). The good news is that we're fortunate enough to play them at home."
Against Big Walnut, Francis had 14 points, Cherry scored 13 and Curtis added nine. Baker missed the game because of a sprained ankle.
"Corey will be fine," Grashel said. "We actually held him out due to precautions. If it had been a tournament game, he likely could have played. I thought Tyreese did a good job running the point and Nahki Taylor also did a nice job getting us into our (offense) and creating success on both ends of the floor. We didn't play well overall, but there was little motivation. We won and we're 18-4.
"Nobody knows what the school record is for wins because we had some bad record-keeping back in the 1980s, but it doesn't matter right now. We'll be looking into that after the season. All that matters right now is Lancaster."
Francis is averaging 19.2 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.9 blocks and Baker is averaging 13 points and 4.9 assists. The team's next three scoring leaders are Cherry (9.2), Jared Moman (8.4) and Jacobs (6.4).
OCC title outright
The wrestling team used bonus points to hold off host Newark 33-31 on Feb. 16 and clinch the OCC-Capital title outright.
"The Newark coach told me this was the first time all year they had their full lineup, and it was a real battle," coach Brian Brison said. "We both won seven matches, but we had three pins and they had a pin and a major decision. We forfeited two classes and they forfeited one. I think our guys wrestled smart.
"It's been 25 years since we won our other league championship. I also have been told it's been 10 years since any boys team here has won a league championship. But our guys set out to do that and stuck with us throughout all of our roster bumps. They bought into the team concept."
Clayton Saunders (120 pounds), Kyle Duty (195) and Kalin Duty (220) all won by pin for Groveport, which finished 5-0 in league duals. Jacob Cline (152), Jacob Huffman (160) and Layton Mitchell (heavyweight) all won by decision, while Muhamad Conteh (113) won by forfeit.
The Cruisers took a short roster to compete in the Nye Cardinal Classic on Feb. 18 at St. Charles and finished 10th (88) of 18 teams, behind champion Lancaster (258.5). Saunders (113), Kalin Duty (195) and Mitchell (heavyweight) all placed third, and Kris Davis (170) and Trent Eaton (220) both placed sixth.
Groveport will compete in a 12-team Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 25, at Newark. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament March 3 and 4 at Hilliard Darby.
Bowlers set for
The boys bowling team will compete in the 45-team Division I sectional Saturday, Feb. 25, at Sawmill Lanes, while Leah Deaner is expected to compete as an individual in the girls sectional the day before at the same venue.
The top 20 teams and top 20 individuals not on a qualifying team from both the boys and girls sectionals advance to the district tournament March 3 at Sawmill Lanes.
Deaner had a 174.5 average during the regular season. Chaz Wilson (208.4) leads the boys team in average, followed by Dakota Harmon (197.6), Jordan Bennettt (186.9) and Jarrod Moyer (167.3).
Season ends for
Spencer Keane and three of his teammates on the boys swimming and diving team ended their seasons in the Division I district meet Feb. 18 at Ohio State.
Keane, a sophomore, finished 15th in the 100-yard breaststroke (1 minute, 2.61 seconds) and 30th in the 50 freestyle (23.54). He also anchored the 28th-place 200 free relay (1:43.93) behind seniors Chris Royster and Chris Wagner and junior Mason Miles.
At district, the top two finishers in each swimming event automatically qualified for state meet Friday, Feb. 24, and Saturday, Feb. 25, at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large berths were awarded in each swimming event based on times statewide.
Keane scored two points in the 100 breast to produce the Cruisers' only points. Groveport tied Marion Harding for 29th behind champion St. Charles (302) as 30 teams scored.
In the 12-team sectional Feb. 11 at Upper Arlington, Keane placed sixth in the 100 breast (1:04.09) and ninth in the 50 free (23.33) and the 200 free relay was 10th (1:47.46), as the Cruisers finished 12th (23), behind champion UA (353.5).
In the OCC-Ohio meet Jan. 28, Groveport finished fourth (119) behind host New Albany (427), Big Walnut (285) and Canal Winchester (156) and ahead of Newark (37).
The girls team's season ended at sectional, where it scored four points to finish 15th of 16 teams, behind champion UA (415). Freshman Madison Newman placed ninth in the 500 free (5:48.67) and 16th in the 100 butterfly (1:06.76).
In the OCC-Ohio meet, the Cruisers scored 227 points to finish behind New Albany (946), Canal Winchester (445) and Big Walnut (415) and ahead of Newark (134).
Girls basketball team
falls to Blue Devils
The girls basketball team tested 13th-seeded Zanesville, but lost to the host Blue Devils 38-27 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 18.
The 30th-seeded Cruisers trailed just 26-23 through three quarters before getting outscored 12-4 in the fourth.
Diaba Diane had 11 points and Melia Walder scored 10 for the Cruisers, who finished 10-13.
Zanesville improved to 17-5.
Three senior student-athletes recently committed to play football in college.
Nick Perdue will play for Cincinnati Christian, Rafael Rhone will play for Georgetown College and Tray Stephens-Davis will play for Urbana.