Boys Basketball: OCC-Ohio schedule gets Grove City Greyhounds ready for district tourney

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Alex Coffey and Grove City are getting ready for the Division I district tournament. The Greyhounds visit Westerville North in the opening round Feb. 23, with the winner to play at Westerville South on Feb. 26.

Grove City boys basketball coach Eric Saxton hopes another challenging regular-season schedule has helped to prepare his team for the Division I district tournament. 

That difficult schedule in the OCC-Ohio Division was evident during the tournament draw Feb. 7, as Gahanna earned the top seed with Westerville Central second and Pickerington North seventh. 

“We know how good the OCC-Ohio is because it’s old hat with us,” Saxton said. “The OCC-Ohio has been the top (division) in the state of Ohio for going on 13 years now since we’ve been in it. We know we play the best talent around, which helps us come tournament time. We can play these higher-seeded teams that are maybe first or second in their division and we’re a little more equal to them.” 

Seeded 28th, the Greyhounds will visit 22nd-seeded Westerville North in the opening round Feb. 23. The winner will play at 12th-seeded Westerville South on Feb. 26. 

“It’s the 28th seed,” Saxton said. “I was as happy as you could be. We’re in the bottom 50 percent. We go up to Westerville North and they’re obviously a good team. We’ll be the underdog in that game.” 

North was 7-7 before facing Zanesville on Feb. 13. 

The Greyhounds were 8-10 overall after defeating Canal Winchester 71-60 on Feb. 10 and 3-5 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Gahanna on Feb. 12. 

Saxton hopes his team will be at full strength for the postseason after players missed time because of injuries and the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

“Getting to play together and building that chemistry up and timing, knowing where each other are (on the court) is a big deal,” Saxton said. “We need that consistency of playing together in order to get better. As long as everyone stays healthy and we don’t have any other injuries or sickness, we’ll get better as we get closer to the tournament. You have to play your best basketball at the end of the year.” 

Senior guard Alex Coffey missed three games after testing positive for COVID-19. 

“I missed senior night (Jan. 15) because of it,” Coffey said. “It was rough, but I supported them and they got the job done. … I was very happy to be back playing with my brothers.” 

Grove City earned a quality road win by beating Upper Arlington 58-53 on Feb. 9. Brock Waits led the Greyhounds with 16 points, with Coffey and Caleb Schall each adding 15. 

Waits and Schall both scored 11 in a 56-33 win at Central Crossing on Feb. 6. 

“We’re playing a lot better defensively,” Coffey said. “We’ve gotten a lot better since the beginning of the season. We have a bunch of potential to beat anybody.” 

Through 16 games, Waits was averaging a team-best 17.6 points, followed by Coffey at 10.5, while Cole Keplar led in rebounding at 4.6 per game. 

Grove City closes out league play Feb. 18 at Westland after winning the first matchup with the Cougars 73-50 on Jan. 15.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank