The Grove City Christian School boys basketball team has aspirations of improving on last season's 9-15 finish.
That followed the Eagles winning their first district title in 2016-17 while going 22-5.
"Although we're a bit young and inexperienced, we have a lot of energy," ninth-year coach Chris Timlin said. "They come to the gym, they talk, they work hard. It's a good group. We're really excited. ... We could sneak up on someone. We're not the biggest team, but we're pretty athletic and we have some depth."
Grove City Christian opened Dec. 1 with a 77-64 loss at Danville and begins MSL-Cardinal Division play Saturday, Dec. 8, against visiting Zanesville Rosecrans.
The Eagles should face a more challenging postseason, as they have moved from Division IV to Division III.
"We don't even talk about it," Timlin said. "We found out in May or June and we didn't make a big deal about it the entire summer (or) the entire fall. It's something that we don't focus on."
Timlin is expecting a big season from 6-foot-2 junior guard Brayden Holbrook, who averaged 10.3 points last season and was honorable mention all-league.
"He's our go-to guy," Timlin said. "He's had a great scrimmage slate. He's done some really good things."
Senior Taylor Stauffer, a 5-10 guard, should be another key contributor.
"I've been playing here four years and this is the best chemistry I've seen on our team," Stauffer said. "We're a lot faster this year, too. We can get out in transition better and we just play well together."
Junior Garrett Baker, a 6-3 forward who was promoted from the junior varsity late last season, is another key returnee.
Also back are juniors Koby Brunney (5-8, guard), Cameron Donohoe (5-6, guard) and Tim Sullivan (6-2, forward).
"If we're going to have the success that I believe we could have, Garrett Baker and Tim Sullivan are going to have to step in offensively," Timlin said.
Other players are juniors Jake Spegal (5-10, guard) and Gage Yanke (5-9, guard) and sophomores Evan Bowen (6-3, forward), Lukas Hamilton (5-11, guard) and Christian Lautenschleger (5-8, guard).
"We had a really good summer. That's why I was excited to get in here because our summer program went really well," Timlin said. "I thought June was fantastic. We're really young. We only have one senior, but we have a lot of talented sophomores and juniors."
Last season, Grove City Christian went 5-9 in the MSL-Cardinal to tie Berne Union for fifth behind champion Harvest Prep (14-0).
"I believe this year's Harvest Prep team is going to be the best Harvest Prep team that I've ever had to coach against," Timlin said. "Wellington will have great guard play. The next tier is where things are going to get interesting."
A key loss to graduation was forward Noah Tomlinson, who averaged a team-high 12.7 points and 8.6 rebounds last season and was first-team all-league, second-team all-district and honorable mention all-state. Tomlinson is playing at Muskingum.
Girls basketball team expects 'good things'
Looking to improve on last season's 6-17 record, the girls basketball team is out to a 3-0 start.
The Eagles won the Grove City Christian Tip-Off Classic after opening with a 46-13 win at KIPP Columbus on Nov. 27.
"I have a good rapport with these girls," second-year coach Mindy Bankey said. "It's definitely a great group of girls. I do expect to see a lot of good things to happen this year. They work hard and bring it in practice, so it's going to be fun to watch."
Senior forward Naomi Cotter (5-9) averaged a team-high 10 points and seven rebounds last season and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. She scored 17 points against KIPP Columbus.
The Eagles defeated New Hope Christian 33-25 on Dec. 1 to win their home tournament. Cotter and 5-6 junior forward Sophia Hoyt each scored 11 points.
Grove City Christian defeated Madison Christian 43-20 in the first round Nov. 30.
Another top returnee is 5-7 junior forward/guard Madeline Lewis, who averaged six points, three steals and three blocked shots last season and was honorable mention all-league.
Also back are juniors Natalie Bankey (5-4, guard), Sarah Frye (5-4, guard) and Juliana Hunt (5-7, guard) and sophomores Olivia Carson (5-4, guard) and Tara Johnson (5-8, center).
Other players are freshmen Madeline Anderson (5-5, guard), Natalie Howard (5-8, forward), Grace Leffel (5-8, forward) and Paige Spencer (5-2, guard).
"Our biggest challenge is having some of the new girls coming in, they're going to be thrown into the fire immediately and see a lot of minutes," Bankey said. "Building confidence is key, and we're trying to get that in practice."
The Eagles open MSL-Cardinal play Friday, Dec. 7, at Wellington. Last season, they went 3-11 in the league to finish sixth behind champion Fairfield Christian (14-0).
Dec. 1 -- at Danville
Dec. 4 -- vs. Cardington
*Dec. 8 -- vs. Zanesville Rosecrans
*Dec. 14 -- vs. Wellington
*Dec. 18 -- at Fairfield Christian
*Dec. 22 -- vs. Berne Union
Dec. 28-29 -- Bobcat Classic at Grandview
Jan. 5 -- vs. Corning Miller
*Jan. 8 -- at Fisher Catholic
*Jan. 12 -- vs. Millersport
*Jan. 18 -- at Zanesville Rosecrans
Jan. 19 -- vs. Newark Catholic
*Jan. 22 -- at Wellington
*Jan. 26 -- vs. Fairfield Christian
Jan. 28 -- at Hartley
*Feb. 1 -- at Berne Union
Feb. 2 -- vs. Worthington Christian
*Feb. 5 -- vs. Harvest Prep
*Feb. 9 -- vs. Fisher Catholic
*Feb. 12 -- at Harvest Prep
*Feb. 15 -- at Millersport
Nov. 27 -- at KIPP Columbus
Nov. 30 -- Madison Christian in Grove City Christian Tip-Off Classic
Dec. 1 -- New Hope Christian in Grove City Christian Tip-Off Classic
*Dec. 7 -- at Wellington
*Dec. 8 -- vs. Zanesville Rosecrans
*Dec. 11- vs. Fairfield Christian
*Dec. 15 -- at Berne Union
Dec. 18 -- vs. Shekinah Christian
*Dec. 21 -- vs. Harvest Prep
Dec. 22 -- at Tree of Life
*Jan. 3 -- vs. Fisher Catholic
*Jan. 5 -- at Millersport
*Jan. 11 -- at Zanesville Rosecrans
*Jan. 15 -- vs. Wellington
Jan. 17 -- at Worthington Christian
*Jan. 19 -- at Fairfield Christian
*Jan. 25 -- vs. Berne Union
Jan. 26 -- at New Hope Christian
*Jan. 29 -- at Harvest Prep
*Feb. 2 -- at Fisher Catholic
Feb. 7 -- vs. Tree of Life
*Feb. 8 -- vs. Millersport
Feb. 12 -- vs. Corning Miller