After struggling in a 65-47 season-opening loss to Mifflin on Dec. 1, Grove City High School boys basketball coach Greg Waits had a simple message for his team.
Waits stressed that it's a long season and he was confident his team would bounce back.
The Greyhounds responded the next day, defeating Dela-ware 72-59 in the third-place game of the Grove City Tipoff Classic.
Against Mifflin, Grove City was outscored 20-8 in the third quarter and could not recover.
"We played like deer in the headlights," said Waits, who is in his 15th season. "We didn't compete and you have to because those guys just maul you. They pressure you and if you don't compete against them, that's what's going to happen. We'll get better. We have a bunch of good kids. They're great to be around, but we have to compete a little harder."
Senior Nick Erwin (6-foot-1, guard) and sophomore Cole Crager (6-0, guard) each scored 12 points against Mifflin.
Erwin has returned to the program after sitting out the last two seasons to concentrate on baseball. He has committed to play baseball at Ohio State.
"Nick Erwin is a competitor. He competes every day in practice," Waits said. "We love him."
Erwin is confident the Greyhounds will have a good season.
"We just want to shock a lot of people," he said. "We have a lot of talented guys. We're not very big and not very athletic, but we can really play and we can work harder than a lot of people."
Against Delaware, senior P.J. Jones (6-2, guard) scored 16 points, Erwin had 13, freshman Brock Waits (5-9, guard) scored 12 and senior Nolen Hawkins (6-4, guard) added 10. Brock Waits is the coach's son.
Last season, Jones averaged 11.2 points and was named second-team all-OCC-Ohio Division.
Also back are seniors Jason Meggyesy (6-0, guard) and Dominic Reiner (6-0, guard) and junior Sam Stoll (5-8, guard).
Other players are juniors Chase Allmon (5-11, guard) and William Morrison (5-9, guard) and sophomore twins Ben Wilhelm (6-3, guard) and Josh Wilhelm (6-3, guard).
Grove City opens OCC-Ohio play Friday, Dec. 8, against visiting Lancaster. Last season, the Greyhounds went 12-12 overall and 4-6 in the league to finish fourth behind champion Pickerington Central (10-0).
Waits said Central and Pickerington North should be the top contenders for the league title. A year ago, Central beat North 75-58 for the Division I regional title.
"It's the best league from top to bottom in the state and I will argue that until the day I die," Waits said. "We look forward to those games. Our kids enjoy competing against them. It's a great league to play in because the kids are so athletic and talented."
A key loss to graduation was forward Anthony Tyree, who was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district last season after averaging 14.5 points and 6.4 rebounds.
Wrestling team wins opener at DeSales
The wrestling team opened the season by winning the 12-team Tony Pizzurro Memorial Tournament on Dec. 2 at DeSales.
The Greyhounds finished with 310 points, well ahead of runner-up Olentangy Liberty (224).
Winning titles were senior Tanner Stevens (220 pounds), juniors Justin Swavely (138) and Hunter Barker (152), sophomore James Scalf (132) and freshman Taryn Martin (106).
Barker (23-12 last season), Stevens (33-9), Swavely (34-11) and sophomore Blake Stevens (29-13) were district qualifiers last season. Stevens will compete at 132 or 138.
Also back are senior Chase Jones (145) and sophomore Schuyler Marinelli (160).
Other key wrestlers are senior Tristin Siemer (195), sophomores Jackson Kuhn (120) and Joey Woodland (heavyweight) and freshmen Nick Getz (182), Caden Gordon (126), Carlin Hamilton (171) and A.J. Stoll (113).
Siemer and Stoll finished second and Kuhn and Marinelli were third at DeSales.
Siemer, who transferred to Grove City after attending Hilliard Davidson in his junior year, qualified for the Division III state tournament in his freshman and sophomore seasons at Ready. He went 0-2 at 160 as a freshman and was forced to withdraw at 170 as a sophomore because of an illness. He did not wrestle at Davidson.
"It looks like a pretty good core group of kids and we're pretty happy with that," said coach Jay DiMasso, who is in his 11th season.
Grove City is looking to replace 2017 graduate Dane Whittier, who capped his prep career by going 0-2 at heavyweight in the Division I state tournament to finish the season 42-9.
The Greyhounds went 2-3 in the OCC-Ohio last season to tie Pickerington North for fourth behind champion Lancaster (5-0). They open league action against Lancaster on Jan. 11 at home.
"Our division is going to be tough," DiMasso said. "Lancaster is ranked in the district. We see them in a home dual meet. We battled them pretty well last year (48-27 loss) and I feel like we have a stronger team this year."
Dec. 1 -- Mifflin in Grove City Tipoff Classic
Dec. 2 -- Delaware in Grove City Tipoff Classic
*Dec. 8 -- vs. Lancaster
Dec. 12 -- vs. Groveport
*Dec. 15 -- at Reynoldsburg
Dec. 16 -- at Hilliard Darby
Dec. 19 -- vs. Franklin Heights
*Dec. 22 -- at Gahanna
Dec. 27 -- at Dublin Scioto
Dec. 30 -- vs. Teays Valley
*Jan. 5 -- vs. Pickerington Central
Jan. 9 -- at Newark
*Jan. 12 -- at Pickerington North
Jan. 16 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
Jan. 23 -- vs. Central Crossing
*Jan. 26 -- vs. Reynoldsburg
Jan. 30 -- vs. Watterson
*Feb. 2 -- vs. Gahanna
Feb. 6 -- at Westland
*Feb. 9 -- at Pickerington Central
*Feb. 16 -- vs. Pickerington North
Dec. 2 -- Tony Pizzurro Memorial Tournament at DeSales
Dec. 6 -- at Hilliard Darby
Dec. 9 -- Dan Gartner Duals at Whitehall
Dec. 14 -- vs. Westerville South
Dec. 20 -- at Westland with Central Crossing
Jan. 6 -- Grandview Invitational
*Jan. 11 -- vs. Lancaster
Jan. 13 -- Porter Memorial Tournament at Hilliard Bradley
Jan. 20 -- Comet Classic at Central Crossing
*Jan. 25 -- Pickerington Central and Pickerington North at Lancaster
*Feb. 8 -- at Reynoldsburg with Gahanna
Feb. 10 -- All-North Tournament at Dublin Jerome
Below are the coming schedules for the Grove City girls basketball, gymnastics and swimming & diving teams:
*Dec. 8 -- At Lancaster
Dec. 9 -- Home vs. Marysville
Dec. 11 -- At Hilliard Davidson with Central Crossing, Franklin Heights, Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Darby and Westland
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 11 -- Whetstone Invitational at Columbus Aquatics Center