Eric Saxton witnessed numerous positive moments during his first season as Grove City High School boys basketball coach.
Saxton replaced Greg Waits after serving as an assistant the previous 19 seasons. Waits stepped down after 15 seasons to become the school's athletics supervisor but remained with the program as an assistant coach.
"We had a great time," Saxton said. "Our kids are great to be around. We had no problems. Our chemistry was fantastic. We had great support from our parents. No matter win or lose, they were right there after the game, all smiles, happy with our kids, proud of our kids, so that made it a really good first year."
Grove City lost at 22nd-seeded Westerville North 78-66 in the second round of the Division I district tournament March 1 to finish 10-14 overall.
Senior guard Sam Stoll made seven 3-pointers and finished with 23 points to lead the 28th-seeded Greyhounds.
"Everything that I was shooting felt like it was going in," Stoll said. "The seniors were upset about the game because it was our last game playing (in) high school, but Saxton was trying to bring us up a little bit. It made us feel better after a tough loss."
Sophomore guard Brock Waits had 16 points and senior guard William Morrison added 10.
A highlight of the season came Feb. 23 when Grove City rallied for 60-58 win in overtime at 11th-seeded Logan in the first round of the district tournament.
"Coach did an outstanding job," Stoll said. "He got a playoff win his first year, that's tough, and we were the 28th seed and we beat an 11th seed. He game-planned great against Logan. He did a great job this year."
Waits averaged a team-high 13.7 points and had a team-high 63 3-pointers and 30 steals. He was second-team all-OCC-Ohio Division and honorable mention all-district.
Junior guard Cole Crager averaged 10.1 points and a team-best 5.2 rebounds and was special mention all-league.
Sophomore guard Alex Coffey was honorable mention all-league.
Senior guard William Morrison led in assists with 67 and Stoll had 45 3-pointers and 27 steals.
Grove City went 1-9 in the OCC-Ohio to tie Lancaster for fifth behind co-champions Pickerington Central and Pickerington North (both 9-1).
Saxton credited the six seniors for contributing to a smooth coaching transition.
"It's always tough (to lose seniors)," Saxton said. "I try to keep it that it's not a life-ending situation and recap the season. We tell them everything that they should feel good about. There's only one team that ends the season with a win. The rest of us all walk out with a loss to end the year."
Others eligible to return are junior guards Trevor Goss, Jason Grimm, Luke Smith and Damien Weatherspoon and sophomore guard Michael Hooffstetter.
Wrestling team closes season at district
The wrestling team saw its season end in the Division I district tournament March 1 and 2 at Hilliard Darby.
The Greyhounds qualified four wrestlers for district, but did not have anyone finish in the top four to advance to state.
At 120 pounds, freshman David Jordan bounced back after being pinned by Pickerington Central's Bo Branson in the first round (3 minutes, 10 seconds) to win a pair of consolation matches. He then lost to Olentangy Orange's Cole Jackson 9-2 to finish 2-2 at district and 20-9 for the season.
Senior Hunter Barker, who won a sectional championship at Newark, went 1-2 at 152 to finish 33-4.
Freshman Triston Beane went 1-2 at 106 to finish 21-11, and classmate Brayden Benson went 0-2 at 220 to finish 22-12.
"This isn't what I expected," coach Jay DiMasso said. "Jordan wrestled well, so I was glad to see that. The younger guys coming in and getting a win is always good at the district level. We had three freshmen in. It's not what we were hoping for with Hunter."
Barker qualified for his first state tournament last season, going 0-2 at 152 to finish 38-14.
Grove City finished 30th (7 points) at district behind champion Dublin Coffman (170) as 36 teams scored.