Grove City boys basketball coach Eric Saxton hopes a challenging schedule in what he considers the best league in the state has prepared his team for the Division I district tournament.
The 23rd-seeded Greyhounds, who are 11-11 overall, play host to 24th-seeded Watkins Memorial in the first round Saturday, Feb. 22. The winner visits 13th-seeded Westerville Central on Feb. 28.
"We were seeded right about where I thought we'd be," Saxton said. "My goal was to play that first weekend and I thought it would be extra special if we got a home game that weekend, which we did. We match up pretty well with Watkins Memorial."
Watkins Memorial, which plays in the Licking County League, is 17-5.
"They have a really good post player (in Marcus Peaks) and they have a really good guard (in Reece McNeely)," Saxton said. "We played them at Otterbein last summer. The post kid is a real athletic, strong kid, but no different than anything else we've seen in the OCC-Ohio (Division)."
The Greyhounds closed league play by losing their final four games to finish fifth at 2-8, behind champion Gahanna (9-1). The Lions earned the top seed in the tournament.
"Pick North, Pick Central and Gahanna are three of the top teams in the state of Ohio," Saxton said. "It wouldn't shock me if any one of those three were playing for at the Schottenstein Center (in the state tournament) at the end of the year."
Grove City wrapped up league play with a 72-40 loss to visiting North on Feb. 14. The Greyhounds trailed just 23-17 before being outscored 19-3 in the second quarter.
Brock Waits led Grove City with 12 points.
Saxton hopes the return of senior guard Cole Crager gives his team a boost heading into the postseason. Crager missed games against Westland on Feb. 4 and Pickerington Central on Feb. 7 with an illness.
"It killed me missing a whole week of basketball," Crager said. "I couldn't stand not being there with how sick I was. I tried to get better as fast as I could to get back."
He scored nine points in a 49-43 loss to visiting New Albany on Feb. 11. Waits led with 15 points, followed by Alex Coffey with 14.
Through 20 games, Waits was averaging a team-high 19.6 points, followed by Coffey (10.8) and Crager (10.6). Crager was averaging a team-high 5.3 rebounds.
"I'm looking forward to the tournament," Crager said. "We got a good draw and I think we can make it pretty far if we stick together as a team and play like we know how to play. ... Even with our lack of success, I still feel like we're a pretty good team because we're in the best (league) in the state."
Grove City closed the regular season with a 70-59 win over visiting Teays Valley on Feb. 15. Waits scored 31 points and Crager added 19.
Gymnasts finish third in league
The gymnastics team finished third (125.2) behind first-place Upper Arlington (131.875) in the OCC-Central meet Feb. 12 at Marysville.
Grove City also finished third in the overall standings with 24 points (10-4), behind champion UA (32, 14-0).
Anna Stoll led the Greyhounds in the league meet by placing fifth in the all-around (32.525). She tied for fourth on vault (8.2) and finished fifth on floor exercise (8.625).
Gena Kuhn was fifth on uneven bars (8.15).
The Greyhounds will compete in the district meet Saturday, Feb. 22, at Worthington Kilbourne. The top three teams advance to state Feb. 28 at Hilliard Bradley, and the top eight individuals in each event and the all-around advance to state Feb. 29 at Bradley.
Routh leads swim teams at district
Hannah Routh led the girls swimming and diving team in the Division I district meet Feb. 13 at Ohio State, finishing seventh in the 100-yard butterfly (57.35 seconds) and ninth in the 100 backstroke (57.66).
Routh, Madelyn Holcomb, Audrey Bueter and Mya Holcomb were 17th in the 400 freestyle relay (3:55.01) and 22nd in the 200 medley relay (1:59.61).
Grove City finished 20th (21) behind champion New Albany (378) as 26 teams scored.
For the boys, who did not score, Gregory Kingsbury, Joseph Martin, Jacob Antonelli and Gunnar Byas were 17th in the 400 free relay (3:32.74) and 20th in the 200 medley relay (1:47.92).
"Everybody had (their) best times, so you can't complain," coach Amy Miller said.
The top two finishers in each swimming event automatically advanced to state Friday, Feb. 21, and Saturday, Feb. 22, at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each swimming event based on district times statewide.
Here's a list of state qualifiers.