Grove City boys basketball coach Eric Saxton always has considered the OCC-Ohio Division to be one of the toughest leagues in the state.
Correction: An earlier version of this story in print and online misidentified the Grove City boys basketball player in the photo. The player is Zach Combs.
The Greyhounds began the season with success in their non-league contests, but entered 2020 still in search of their first league win. They were 6-4 overall before playing Newark on Jan. 7 and are 0-4 in the league.
Although Saxton likes the challenge of facing OCC-Ohio competition, he also is looking forward to next year's OCC realignment in which Grove City will compete with Gahanna, New Albany, Pickerington North, Westerville Central and Westland. Gahanna and North currently play in the OCC-Ohio.
"I love being in the competitiveness of the OCC-Ohio and love playing against what I think are the best players around," Saxton said. "It's exciting to prep for those guys and the following years watch them play on TV and some of them in the NBA, but 12 years of traveling east for every single game geographically just doesn't make a lot of sense to Grove City."
The Greyhounds' early season success included winning a pair of tournaments: the Grove City Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 27 and 28 and the Best of the South-West tournament Dec. 27 and 28 at Westland.
Grove City defeated Westland 56-41 on Dec. 27 and beat Central Crossing 65-56 in the title game Dec. 28. Cole Crager scored 18 points and Brock Waits added 17 against the Cougars, and Alex Coffey had 17 points and Crager scored 13 against the Comets.
"I'm happy with the season," Saxton said. "There's probably one game that slipped through our fingers (58-49 loss to Lancaster on Dec. 6), but we got outplayed. We didn't lose too much sleep over it."
Grove City visits Lancaster on Jan. 17.
Waits scored 20 points in a 65-42 loss to visiting Pickerington Central on Jan. 3.
"We should have a few wins in the league right now, but it's a tough league," Waits said.
Waits, who was averaging a team-high 19.9 points through 10 games, scored a career-high 41 with seven 3-pointers in an 85-72 win over visiting Groveport on Dec. 17.
"Brock is doing fantastic," Saxton said. "His work habits are going to dictate that kind of success. That kid works hard on his body and every single skill. He's a great shooter, but it's not like he just works on shooting. He can dribble. He can screen. He can defend. He's does an awful lot of things well, so I'm not surprised by his success."
Crager was averaging 11.2 points.
"We preach to the kids that we need to be playing our best basketball by the end of the year," Saxton said. "A big goal is to improve. Defensively, we've been pretty sound, but offensively we need to get better. We have too many guys not consistent with their performance, so we just have to get guys getting a little more consistent."
Wrestlers finish eighth at Scioto
The wrestling team turned in a strong performance Jan. 4, finishing eighth (97) of 21 teams behind champion Oregon Clay (248) in the Kevin Cleveland Memorial Tournament at Dublin Scioto.
David Jordan (132 pounds) and Joey Woolard (heavyweight) finished second, and Braxton Sheets (113) and Brayden Benson (195) placed fourth.
"This was a good tournament," first-year coach Ryan Mitchell said. "It was good competition. I liked it a lot. ... I love doing this. The kids have been great. We have 40 kids in the (practice) room. A lot of coaches would (love) to have those kinds of numbers. We took a step (Jan. 4) because this is a tough tournament. We've had nothing but tough tournaments."
Girls basketball team tries to snap skid
The girls basketball team was looking to end a six-game losing streak when it played Newark on Jan. 7.
The Greyhounds were 3-8 overall. They are 1-4 in the OCC-Ohio.
Ellie Pollock-Ballard scored 10 points in a 71-30 league loss at Pickerington Central on Jan. 3.
Madison Grube scored 11 points in a 75-32 loss to visiting Watkins Memorial on Dec. 30.
Below are the coming schedules for the Grove City boys basketball, girls basketball, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 10 -- At Pickerington North
*Jan. 10 -- Home vs. North. The Greyhounds defeated the Panthers 40-35 on Dec. 3.
Jan. 11 -- Home vs. Watterson
Jan. 14 -- At Olentangy Orange
Jan. 15 -- At *Marysville with Olentangy Berlin and Westerville Central
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 10 -- Westerville North at Westerville Community Center
Jan. 13 -- Grandview at Columbus Aquatics Center
Jan. 14 -- Wellington and Whetstone at Grove City YMCA
Jan. 9 -- Home vs. Lancaster
Jan. 11 -- Comet Classic at Central Crossing