Coach Ray Corbett saw something during practice Jan. 22 that he had not seen all season from his Grandview Heights High School boys basketball team: a full complement of players.
For the first time, the Bobcats had a healthy lineup as they prepared for their MSL-Ohio Division contest against Bexley four days later.
"I made the comment to one of my assistants during practice, 'So this is what it's like,' " Corbett said. "Here we are in late January and we finally have everyone back. We have all 13 kids back."
Senior guard Aaron Cincione missed the first 12 games with a back injury and junior forward Luke Lachey missed three weeks with mononucleosis. Cincione, who shares point-guard duties with junior Brian Collier, returned for a 43-32 league loss to Worthington Christian on Jan. 18.
However, following a 58-45 league win at Bexley on Jan. 26, the Bobcats have played themselves back into the MSL-Ohio title chase.
"I was thrown in last time (against Worthington Christian)," Cincione said. "I was tired and out of shape, and it was weird playing a real game. This (win at Bexley) was fun."
The Bobcats had eight days to prepare for the Lions, and Cincione said having everyone back allowed the players to focus on what was ahead.
"When (the Lions) called a play, we knew what they were doing," said Cincione, who scored four points. "We ran all of their plays in practice so we were ready."
The Bobcats are 9-5 overall and 3-3 in the MSL-Ohio heading into their game Friday, Feb. 1, at Whitehall. They are tied with Worthington Christian, one-half game behind co-leaders Whitehall and Columbus Academy (both 3-2).
Grandview defeated Whitehall 60-52 on Dec. 22. It closes its eight-game league schedule Feb. 8 at home against Academy, which defeated the Bobcats 61-39 on Jan. 4.
"We need to win out in the league, and we can at least have a share of the title," said Collier, whose team shared the title with Whitehall last season. "It's good having everybody back so we can go out and execute the way we did (against Bexley)."
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Bobcats demonstrated how the added backcourt experience could be beneficial. Cincione passed to Collier and they worked the ball around to senior guard Manny Day, Lachey and junior forward Lance Trares for 1 minute, 6 seconds before Day hit a short jumper with 2:37 to play.
The defense quickly forced a Bexley pass directly to Day, who took the ball in for a layup with 2:20 left and a 55-41 lead.
Lachey led the way with 20 points. Collier had 17 with three 3-pointers and Day scored 11.
"It was fun watching them play (against Bexley)," Corbett said. "We guarded well and moved the ball extremely well. I thought a lot of kids contributed for us, which allowed us to have a great night.
"We think we have certain lineups where all of the kids can catch, pass, dribble and go to the bucket. Good teams are able to do that, and they are able to attack creases and make teams pay."
Girls swimmers finish second in MSL meet
Phoebe Ferguson and Annie Volker helped lead the girls swimming and diving team to a second-place finish in the MSL meet Jan. 26 at Academy.
Volker won the 100-yard backstroke (1:01.98) and was second in the 200 freestyle (2:04.43). Ferguson won the 500 free (5:28.55) and was runner-up in the 200 individual medley (2:15.32).
The two also were on a pair of second-place relays for the Bobcats, who totaled 218 points to finish behind Academy (353) as 13 teams scored. They joined Martina Moncolova and Adelle Bechtel on the 200 free relay (1:45.63) and 400 free relay (3:50.93).
Placing third were Bechtel in the 50 free (26.84) and the 200 medley relay (2:11.82) of Sam Schaefer, Katherine Taylor, Nina Burchfield and Meghan Watters.
Charlie Ferguson won the 100 butterfly (54.45) and 200 IM (2:04.07) to lead the boys team, which finished fifth (99) behind champion Academy (313) as 12 teams scored.
He joined Patrick Rowland, Sam Speaks and Bryan Gilleland on the third-place 200 free relay (1:42.38).
"I was excited to see the kids swim close to their best times as we near the postseason," said coach Susan Ferguson, whose teams compete in a Division II sectional Feb. 9 at Upper Arlington.
Injury-ridden girls team picks up win
The girls basketball team defeated Zanesville Rosecrans 31-29 on Jan. 23 despite a roster limited by injuries.
The already small roster of 12 has been whittled down. The Bobcats lost junior Janey Coplan to a leg injury early in the season. They then lost junior Hallie Georskey to injuries to both ankles and, most recently, lost sophomores Hannah Yochem and Rachel Hartman to season-ending wrist injuries.
The limited numbers forced Grandview to cancel games Jan. 29 against Olentangy and Feb. 7 against Licking Valley.
"Those games will not be played because we have two players out with fractured wrists and another player left with bad ankles and she didn't want to risk further injury for soccer," said coach Brian O'Mara, whose team is 6-10 overall and 1-4 in the MSL-Ohio. "We're down to eight players, but despite that we defeated a Rosecrans team that was 12-1 entering the game. We held them to 29 points and they were averaging 58 points per game."
Hartman was injured making the winning basket against Rosecrans, finishing with 11 points after scoring on an inbound pass with 10 seconds left. Tayler Pierce added 10 points.
Jump earns top honor at Pleasant
Hudson Jump won the 220-pound weight class in the Sally George Invitational on Jan. 25 and 26 at Marion Pleasant and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Wrestler.
Jump defeated London's Thad Huff by a 22-7 technical fall in the championship match. He went 4-0 with two pins and two technical falls to improve to 17-0.
Jack Wallace was fourth at heavyweight, going 2-2 and losing to Millbury Lake's Hunter Dotson by pin in 3:29 in the final.
Gab Downer (195) and Derek Tullis (120) both went 1-2 for the Bobcats, who finished 11th (51) in the 21-team event behind champion London (226.5).
Below are the coming schedules for the Grandview Heights boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 1 -- At Whitehall. The Bobcats defeated the Rams 60-52 on Dec. 22.
Feb. 2 -- At Galion Northmor
Feb. 5 -- At Caledonia River Valley
*Jan. 31 -- Home vs. Whitehall. The Bobcats lost to the Rams 51-44 on Dec. 15.
*Feb. 2 -- At Columbus Academy. The Bobcats defeated the Vikings 33-27 on Dec. 21.
*Jan. 31 -- Olentangy at Sawmill Lanes
Feb. 2 -- MSL-Ohio tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
*Feb. 5 -- Westerville South at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 2 -- Upper Arlington Invitational
Feb. 6 -- At Academy with Bloom-Carroll and Marion-Franklin