Cruisers ready to compete for OCC titles this winter

By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Winter is here and that means Groveport Madison High School’s winter varsity sports teams are heating up.

Boys basketball

Groveport Madison’s Tyreke Ruffin going straight to the hoop during a game last season.

The Groveport Madison High School Cruiser boys basketball team is seeking the Ohio Capital Conference Buckeye Division title.

“Here at Groveport, our goal will always be to win a league title, said head coach Lamont Hampton. “The OCC has proven over the years that it’s one of the strongest conferences in central Ohio. With that being said, I respect all the teams in the Buckeye Division and every team will be competitive.”

When asked what the strengths of this year’s team are, Hampton said, “Our strengths will be our transition offense and constant pressure on defense. We are young and have a lot of depth, which helps us tremendously on defense playing a lot of full court pressure.”

Two notable players on this year’s team are sophomore Tyreke Ruffin (first team All-OCC as a freshman); and junior Josh Moore (second team All-OCC as a sophomore).

The Cruisers will employ an aggressive playing style this year, both on offense and defense.

“We will push the ball in transition,” said Hampton. “Offensively we will play a 5 Out Motion, 4-1 Motion. Defensively we will pressure the ball hard, full court and half court, and 1-3-1 half court trap.”

Girls basketball

The 2023-24 Groveport Madison girls varsity basketball team.

The Groveport Madison girls varsity basketball team is ready for success.

“We are expecting to finish in the top 3 of the Ohio Capital Conference Buckeye Division,” said Groveport Madison High Schoolgirls head varsity basketball coach Aryelle Covington. “The two opponents that will be our toughest competition are Pickerington Central and Reynoldsburg.

Covington said the team’s strengths are its transition offense and athleticism, its defensive pressure, the ability to guard full court, and the size in the Cruisers’ starting line-up.

“All of our players are notable in their roles and each player contributes to our success in some way,” said Covington. “The entire team is notable in my opinion, led by our leading scorer Zay Shepherd.”

Covington said the team plays a spread offense with quick ball movement and lots of attacking of the basket.

“Our goal is to spend a lot of time at the free throw line due to our aggressive penetration,” said Covington. “Defensively, we believe that we can match up with any opponent that we play, playing high pressure man-to-man defense with full court pressure.”

A highlight on the schedule this year is the Jeff Sheets Holiday Classic at Teays Valley High School where the Cruisers will take on DeSales on Dec. 23. Other teams participating in the Classic are: Watkins Memorial, Westfall, Grove City, and Teays Valley.

“Playing in a mid-season tournament is special to our players because it gives an opportunity during the holiday season to be grateful for the opportunities that playing basketball gives these student-athletes,” said Covington.

Cruiser head wrestling coach Matt Miller said the team’s goals are to compete and improve individually and as a team as season goes on.

When asked what are the strengths of this year’s team, Miller said, “A good size roster and kids who really do want to learn and improve.”

He said a couple of notable wrestlers on this year’s team are Josh Morrison (a district qualifier from last year), “hard working senior” Joel Melendez, and “a sneaky good freshman” Rhode Kuntshiakula.

“For me, being a first year head coach at the school I graduated from, to have the opportunity to coach against Licking Heights and Lancaster, places where my coaches are at currently, will be a really cool moment,” said Miller. “For our team I think the Marion-Franklin tournament is always a good tournament with it being local and also having younger teams for our team, which is also quite young with lots of freshman and first year wrestlers, to get quality matches.”

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