With a tough Division III district tournament opener looming, the Grove City Christian School boys basketball team closed the regular season with a strong effort.
The Eagles trailed Newark Catholic 28-20 at halftime before a second-half comeback fell short in a 58-54 loss Feb. 22 at home.
"It was a really good effort," coach Chris Timlin said. "We praised the bunch pretty much the entire game. Although the scoring output wasn't what we would have hoped for, the decision-making was very good. Once again, we just couldn't capitalize on really good opportunities. We couldn't capitalize on the shots around the rim."
Taylor Stauffer led Grove City Christian with 16 points. Brayden Holbrook and Garrett Baker scored 12 apiece, and Baker also had 13 rebounds and four assists.
"It was probably one of Garrett's best games of the season considering the fact that he was playing against one of the better players in Division IV in Heath Jeffries, who is heading to Ohio Northern," Timlin said.
The 24th-seeded Eagles were 5-17 before playing at seventh-seeded Africentric in the first round Feb. 25. The winner plays 23rd-seeded Madison Plains in the second round Saturday, March 2, at the home of the better seed, with that winner playing fourth-seeded Columbus Academy, 12th-seeded Wellington, 20th-seeded Horizon Science or 21st-seeded Marion Elgin in a semifinal Tuesday, March 5, at a neutral site.
Grove City Christian lost to Wellington 81-46 on Dec. 14 and 75-54 on Jan. 22 in MSL-Cardinal Division games.
The district final is March 8 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
Girls team losing Cotter to graduation
With just one senior on the team this season, the future looks bright for the girls basketball program.
The one senior, though, will be a big loss, as forward Naomi Cotter averaged a team-best 11.0 points and 6.5 rebounds and was named first-team all-MSL-Cardinal for the second consecutive season. She added 28 steals and 21 blocks.
"Naomi is a great player," assistant coach Ed Spencer said. "I've known her for many years. She was a gym rat when she was younger. She's always been a solid shooter. She's tough. She's strong. We're going to miss her."
Junior forward Sophia Hoyt was honorable mention all-league.
After a first-round bye in the Division IV district tournament, the 10th-seeded Eagles lost at second-seeded Newark Catholic 75-23 in the second round Feb. 20 to finish 10-13 overall.
Freshman guard Paige Spencer led Grove City Christian with nine points and Cotter added eight.
"We played a good team and that's never going to hurt you. It's going to make you better," coach Spencer said. "We have a really young team. We'll be all right. We learned a lot from getting beat up by Fairfield (Christian) this year and getting beat up by Newark Catholic, and hopefully the girls will come back next year ready to play a little harder and put some more effort into practice."
The Eagles went 6-8 in the MSL-Cardinal to finish fifth behind champion Fairfield Christian (14-0), which has won 65 consecutive league games.
Junior guard Juliana Hunt, who missed the latter part of the season after suffering an ACL injury Feb. 2 at Fisher Catholic, should be another key returnee.
Others eligible to return are juniors Natalie Bankey (guard) and Sarah Frye (guard), sophomores Olivia Carson (guard) and Tara Johnson (center) and freshmen Maddie Anderson (guard), Natalie Holland (forward) and Grace Leffel (forward).