The Groveport Madison High School wrestling team will face its biggest obstacle to winning its third consecutive OCC-Capital Division title when it plays host to New Albany on Thursday, Feb. 7.
Both teams are 3-0 in league duals. The Cruisers will close league action Feb. 14 at Newark.
"Sometimes you can get a good feel for what is going to happen by looking at both lineups," coach Brian Brison said. "But this one looks to be very evenly matched. A lot of our top wrestlers will be matched with their top wrestlers and a lot of our medium wrestlers will be matched against their medium guys. We are strongest where they are strongest."
Brison expects a good crowd and fun environment for the match.
"It's our senior night, our last home match of the season," he said. "With that and the league championship on the line, I'm hoping we have a great turnout. The winner will clinch at least a share of the championship and I'm anticipating it being a very good dual."
The Cruisers have not competed since the Miami Trace McDonald's Invitational on Jan. 26 in Washington Court House.
"I'm sure a lot of teams haven't competed in a while because of the poor weather and had some time off before the (team) dual tournament," Brison said. "But we didn't compete in the dual tournament, so it's just been a long time for us. We only practiced three times last week because of the weather, so we're going to work hard in practices leading into the New Albany match.
"We've got to regroup and be really focused going in. Our top team goal this year was to continue winning our league championship, and if we're not ready to go, that won't happen."
New Albany was seeded ninth of 13 teams in the Division I, Region 5 team dual tournament Feb. 2 at Marysville and lost to eighth-seeded Big Walnut 35-34 in the first round. The Cruisers beat Big Walnut 45-30 in a league dual Jan. 23.
Groveport has been led by Jake Nelson, who is 27-1 at 195 pounds, and Muhamad Conteh, who is 27-2 at 120. Other key wrestlers include Jason Pinkston (19-5 at 113), A.J. Joyce (19-7 at 220), Johnathan Thompson (17-6 at 170), Josh Aguon (17-8 at 126), Marshaun Armstrong (18-10 at 160) and Jacob Cline (15-7 at 152).
Boys basketball team splits tight contests
Entering the week, more than half of the boys basketball team's games had been decided by six points or fewer.
The Cruisers played two such games last weekend, losing at New Albany 56-55 on Feb. 1 before beating host St. Charles 56-54 the following day in a makeup game from Jan. 19.
Groveport was 11-8 overall before playing at Lancaster on Feb. 5, including 7-3 in games decided by six points or fewer.
The Cruisers are 4-4 in the OCC-Capital with two league games remaining. They will play host to Newark on Friday, Feb. 8, before closing the regular season Feb. 15 at Big Walnut.
Nakhi Taylor had 17 points, Elijah Monroe scored 10 and Javon Miller scored nine against New Albany, but the Cruisers were unable to get off a potential winning shot in the final 30 seconds.
Groveport led St. Charles 34-21 at halftime and held off the Cardinals in the fourth quarter, as Taylor had 22 points, Terrence Kee scored 10 and Martez Knight scored nine.
The Division I district tournament drawing is Sunday, Feb. 10.
Girls team to face two tough opponents
The girls basketball team will close the regular season Friday, Feb. 8, at OCC-Capital champion Newark before turning its focus to the postseason.
The Wildcats are 18-1 overall and 9-0 in the OCC-Capital and are seeded second in the Division I district tournament behind Pickerington Central.
Groveport, which was 5-15 overall before playing Lancaster on Feb. 5 and is 2-7 in the league, will play at Central in the first round of the district tournament Feb. 16. The Cruisers are seeded 38th of 45 teams in the tournament.
Groveport posted its highest scoring output of the season in an 80-22 win over Horizon Science Academy on Jan. 29. Laney White and Brooke Reese both had 17 points, Casey Humphrey scored 16, Reina Rhone scored 14 and Aulana Wilburn added 10.
The Cruisers then lost to New Albany 62-43 in a league game Feb. 1 despite 22 points from Humphrey. Reese added 10 points.
Bowlers to wrap regular season
The bowling teams will conclude the regular season Thursday, Feb. 7, against Newark at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
The girls team entered the week 8-2 overall, 7-2 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-B Division and 2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal.
Leah Deaner ranked second in the entire COHSBC with a 195.7 average, behind Briggs' Dakota Fink (201.4). Suzie Francis (125.9) and Jessica Clayton (125.1) had the next two best averages for the Cruisers.
The boys team was 5-5 overall, 4-5 in the COHSBC-B and 2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal entering the week.
Jeremiah DeLong had a team-best 166.9 average, followed by William Lawson (166.4) and Jeremiah Slonaker (159.4).
Below are the coming schedules for the Groveport Madison boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 8 -- Home vs. Newark. The Cruisers lost to the Wildcats 52-33 on Jan. 4.
*Feb. 8 -- At Newark. The Cruisers lost to the Wildcats 67-25 on Jan. 4.
*Feb. 7 -- Newark at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 9 -- Division I sectional at Upper Arlington. The winner of each event automatically qualifies for district Feb. 15 at Ohio State. In addition, 27 at-large district berths will be awarded in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites. There is no diving at sectional.
*Feb. 7 -- Home vs. New Albany
Feb. 9 -- Canal Winchester Invitational