Swank on Sports

 

 
 

News Line

 
 

 

Crestline Bulldog Sports News

 

 
  Test  
   

Crestline Peeking at Right Time

 

          When you looked at the division four district in the Greater Mansfield area and projected a regional representative you would have said Colonel Crawford or Buckeye Central or Lucas or maybe Mansfield Christian, but certainly not Crestline with the way they were playing in the middle of the season.

          Surprise, surprise, it’s regional week and the Crestline Lady Bulldogs (17-13) are playing Akron Our Lady of Elms in the division four regional semi-finals at Kent State University on Thursday afternoon.

          Coach Ron Shumate says a lot of it has to do with the leadership the team has gotten from its seniors, especially late in the season.  “It has a lot to do with the seniors we have on the team.  They are kind of taking control and getting things a little more serious.  We started out at the beginning of the year and we were pretty much on a high.  We started out real well.  We were 8-1 at one point.  The next thing you know we were kind of going .500.  Now we are back on the upswing again,” said Shumate.

          Crestline outlasted fellow North Central Conference foes Lucas (4-3 in the sectional final) and Buckeye Central (3-1 in the district semis) before downing Seneca East (2-1) in last Friday’s district final at Shelby High School.  Shumate says his kids believe.  “Attitude and focus are important.  You have to believe in what your teammates are doing and take care of business yourself,” he said.

          This has been a dry spring with few rain outs and midway through the season the grind started to get to Crestline, but Shumate says over the last couple of weeks things have settled down and that has helped his pitcher.  “Natalie Sayer, she is our junior pitcher.  She injured here ACL and had total reconstructive surgery the second week of November.  When we started out we played seven games one week and six games the next week and seven games another week.  I think that kind of took a toll on her,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “At the end of the season we have had two games and three games and she has been getting quite bit of rest between her starts.  I think that is really kind of helping her out and it’s really showing.  That 16 inning game in the district semis (against Buckeye Central) she pitched a heck of game there.”

          Our Lady of Elms beat Cleveland Villa Angels/St. Joseph (6-1) in a district semi-final and got past Cuyahoga Heights (6-5) in their regional final last week.  Shumate says they are nice team with good players.  “They are real nice team.  We were fortunate they played both of their district semi-final games on the same evening last Thursday.  Myself and my assistant coach went up there.  We got a good look at them.  They belong where they are at just the same as we feel we belong where we are at,” he said.      

 

 
   

Crestline Focused on Tournament

 

          Crestline and Colonel Crawford are playing in a three game series this week, with the most important of the three being played Tuesday at Shelby in the division four sectional finals.

          Monday night, the game in North Robinson was suspended in the second inning with Colonel Crawford leading (1-0) as strong thunderstorms blew through the North Central Ohio area.

          Bulldogs coach Cory Forshaw says the Monday night North Central Conference game was just sort of prelude to the tournament game, which has been their focus for quite a while now.  “We didn’t have our best lineup.  Our pitcher Ryan Armstrong who is going to pitch against them (Tuesday) night we decided to set him down to rest just to make sure.  One of my top players Chris Wise was on college visitation on (Monday).  We knew we weren’t at our best personnel wise.  We wanted to have the opportunity for some our freshmen and sophomores to play anyway.  All of our focus has been on the tournament.  If there was more on the line in the “NCC,” I read somewhere that Buckeye Central already has it clinched in the silver division.  All of our focus is on the tournament and beating them (Tuesday) night,” said Forshaw.

          Colonel Crawford (11-11) was predicted to challenge Buckeye Central for the silver division title in the “NCC,” but that really hasn’t happened this spring.  However, Forshaw says they have to keep the top of the Eagles line-up off of the bases.  “I think Colonel Crawford has improved drastically since the first two or three weeks of the season until now.  I saw them last Thursday against Upper Sandusky and they played a real good ballgame.  They had a scoring opportunity in the seventh that they couldn’t complete otherwise they would have been successful there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “Their top three hitters Austin Adams, Matt Metcalf and Jordan Shell, we need to keep those guys off the bases.  If they get on, they can run, and they can reek havoc for us.  They are not as bad as their record indicates.  Early on they lost some close games, some tough games.  Their kids that were basketball players missed the first week because they were in the News Journal game and what not.  It will be a tough challenge for us.”

          Crestline upset Colonel Crawford (7-3) in the tournament last season and Forshaw says they will be focused to do it again.  “The coaching staff has placed a great emphasis on our tournament run just like we did last year.  We surprised Crawford 7-3 in the sectional opener.  Our focus will definitely be there.  On Saturday against Mansfield Christian in the tournament, even before we got on the bus, they were ready for that baseball game.  The kids have the scouting report in their hands.  They know what’s at stake.  Colonel Crawford is not going to let us sneak up on them like we did last year.  My kids will be focused when they get on the bus, when they ride the bus to Shelby and when they get off the bus.  There is not going to be a concentration problem from the blue and white dugout,” said Forshaw.

 

 
   

Crestline Edges Riverdale

 

          Brian Barnett stuck out 11 and collected two hits as Crestline got past Riverdale 5-4 in a North Central Conference game on Monday night.

          It gave the Bulldogs there third “NCC” win of the season and kept them two games behind Buckeye Central in the silver division standings. 

          Coach Cory Forshaw says they fielded the ball pretty well against the Falcons and that may have been the difference in the game for them.  “Anytime you win it’s good.  It was a great way to start the week.  The kids are starting to hit the ball better.  We got a great performance (Monday) on the mound by Brian Barnett.  Probably the biggest key for us was we made plays defensively and that’s not something we have done consistently throughout the season, but (Monday) we played pretty good defense,” said Forshaw.

          Crestline made two errors on Monday night, but it was one their better defensive efforts of the year.  Forshaw says they don’t need any Omar Vizquels, just guys that can make plays when the ball is hit to them.  “We talk about this on a consistent basis just making the routine plays.  We gave up two runs in the first inning because we didn’t catch a ball form our catcher.  Our second baseman dropped the ball, he is just a freshman.  It was an easy strike him out, throw him out double play.  We would have been out of the inning.  We went on to give up two runs that inning and then it comes down to a 5-4 ballgame.  Those runs are big, you know, (Monday) those runs were big,” Forshaw said.

          The defense was good and Forshaw says Barnett got them out of some jams with the strikeout too.   “Anybody can defend the strikeout, that’s great.  Brian did a nice job.  He stayed ahead in the count and worked the ball around the strike zone.  Riverdale got like 10, 12 hits on us.  Especially the top part of their lineup they have some kids that can really hit the baseball.  Brian got out of a couple jams.  They had runners in scoring position a couple of times and he was able to buckle down and get a strikeout here and there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “We made some routine plays to get out of the jam.  Chris Wise ended the game, they had runners on first and third, we got a grounder to short and that has not been an easy play for us.  He throws the kid out and ends the game.  Typically we are going to extra innings, but (Monday) we made that play.”

          Crestline had only one inning where they gave up more than one run in the win over Riverdale.  Avoiding the big inning is something Forshaw says they need to continue to do if they are going to get better.  “That has been out Achilles heel.  We will have that one inning where we give up five or six runs and especially early in the game we can’t recover from that because we are not a strong offensive team.  We are clearly getting better, but it’s that one inning that is killing us and preventing us from being successful.  (Monday) we were able to avoid that.  We gave up a couple in the first inning, but outside of that we were able to limit the damage when Riverdale got runners on base,” Forshaw said.

          Buckeye Central beat Lucas 20-11 on Monday night and their only “NCC” loses come to black division members Ontario and Galion.  Forshaw says for all intents and purposes they are really preparing for the tournament.  “Anytime Tyler Erwin pitches Buckeye has a great chance of winning.  They are extremely strong offensively.  They still have Lucas and Riverdale, and those are two of the weaker teams in the silver division.  They have beaten Crawford twice and taken care of us twice.  It’s their’s to lose.  Our focus is really on the tournament.  We had a pretty solid tournament run at the end of the year last year.  We are just trying to get as many wins as we can going into the draw on Sunday.  We hope to put ourselves in a position where we can win some tournament games,” said Forshaw.

          Crestline plays Riverdale (4-12,0-6) again on Wednesday and faces Bucyrus, at home, on Friday.  

 

 
   

Crestline Opens “NCC” Win With a Win

 

          Crestline, a baseball team that didn’t get its first win last year until May, won its opener in North Central Conference action on Wednesday when they downed the Lucas Cubs.

          After cold weather forced a cancellation on Tuesday, the Bulldogs (3-8,1-0) beat the Cubs (11-5) on Wednesday.  Crestline coach Cory Forshaw says they really put together a complete game.  “We had a very solid outing (Wednesday) all around.  We hit the ball well.  We got a great performance pitching wise out of Chris Wise.  We had a couple of errors, but we really minimized the big inning that we have been allowing.  We scored six runs in the third and we kept adding to the lead.  We never let Lucas into the game after about the third inning.  So, real pleased with tonight’s performance,” said Forshaw.

          They were able to take the early lead, but Forshaw says a lead is never safe at Lucas because the Cubs home field usually produces high scoring games.  “Especially a field like Lucas where it’s a small ball park.  We kept talking to the kids about one swing of the bat it could be a three run home run or a grand slam.  It completely changes the complexion of the game down there,’ he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We try to avoid the big inning and we were able to do that.  We didn’t do that Monday against Mansfield St. Peter’s.  I really think our kids learned from our loss on Monday and carried that into our first conference win (Wednesday), which was important to us.”

          A difference in the game, according to Forshaw, was once they got the lead they were able to build on that lead and not let Cubs back into the game like that had earlier in the season.  “We had Cardington down early in the season and let that one get away.  (Wednesday) we got that lead early and we didn’t let them back into the game like we did in some of our games earlier.  South Central, even though we won the game, we let them back in it and struggled to win in the seventh.  Seneca East we let off the hook.  (Wednesday) there was that focus and that determination that hey we are going to win this game.  I’m really proud of the effort it was a great all around effort by the kids,” said Forshaw.

          Before the season, no one was talking about the Bulldogs in the silver division race.  Forshaw says if they continue to get better they might be able to surprise some people.  “Buckeye Central has always been at the top of our list because of Tyler Erwin and we know Colonel Crawford has a great team.  Colonel Crawford let slip away in the seventh inning (Wednesday), so they are both evenly matched.  We feel very good about getting off to a 1-0 start in the league.  We have three wins now witch matches our total from last year.  We have a lot of positive things going on and if we can build some confidence we feel like we can be right there in the mix.  We have Buckeye Central early in the week next week Monday and Wednesday.  We don’t see Crawford until the end of the season.  We’d love nothing more than to be in the race to the very end,” said Forshaw.  

 

 
   

Crestline Making Progress

 

          Crestline may not be setting the world on fire this spring, but they are getting better as a baseball team and they have a chance to be competitive in the silver division of the North Central Conference.

          Coach Cory Forshaw says Bulldogs (1-5) are starting to do things that are going to make them winners and that begins with hard work.  “We struggled last year.  The kids have worked extremely hard this year to improve things and it’s been kind of frustrating because we lost to a pretty good Northmor team twice, we thought we could have done a little better against them.  Seneca East just annihilated us the last two years and they beat us 6-5 this year.  We had Cardington down 8-5 going into the seventh and let that one slip a way.  You know, Shelby is division two and they beat us 8-6.  We are very optimistic that we are very close to turning the corner and getting a few wins here,” said Forshaw.

          One of the things that Forshaw is trying to develop at Crestline is a winning attitude.  He says they have to believe they are going to be successful if they do things right.  “We didn’t have success last year and a lot of the kids that we have in the baseball program this year were in football and basketball and they didn’t experience a lot of success, so when we get close to winning we don’t have that swagger to get to the next level and say, okay we are up three and all we need are three outs and we are going to win it.  It’s just a matter of time before we get there.  We are still a young team.  We only have two seniors.  We are junior dominated.  We had success in winter hit leagues and what not and I really feel we are on the brink of getting over the edge,” Forshaw said.

          With a new “NCC” this year, Forshaw believes the Bulldogs have a chance to compete for the silver division title if they continue to improve as a baseball team.  “I think it’s completely wide open, especially with the new bats that we are using.  They are a 100 percent equalizer.  Teams just aren’t going to score the way they used to score.  It comes down to pitching and defense, small ball and strategy, almost like a softball game.  We have worked extremely hard in those areas,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Obviously, Buckeye Central has Tyler Erwin, probably one of the best in the league and Colonel Crawford’s pitching staff is solid as well.  We are kind of fortunate because we play Colonel Crawford toward the end and we have Buckeye kind in the middle there.  If we can pull it together we feel pretty confident that we can be in the mix for that small division title.”

          As far as the “NCC” is concerned, Forshaw says he and some other coaches at Crestline are concerned about the future.  “As far as the baseball program entering the new “N10” I think we will be competitive.  I don’t see a problem with the schools we have added, or rearranged.  I am very disappointed, as are many coaches at Crestline, that the “NCC’ will no longer exist as it does today.  We like the way things are today and we wanted to give it a chance to work and unfortunately that isn’t going to happen,” he said.       

 

 
   

Crestline Feels Good

 

          Crestline had struggled for much of the season to find the right combinations of players, but they seemed to have settled on things just in time for the post season tournament.

          They play Tuesday night against Mansfield St. Peter’s (6-14) in the division four sectional semi-finals at Ontario High School. 

          Coach Randy Endsley believes his players have found their grove and are playing some pretty good basketball heading into the tournament.  “I think we are playing our best basketball of the season right now.  We had a big turning point about midway through the season or little after that.  I think our guys are ready to go.  We have played some good games against teams like Crawford, Buckeye Central, Ridgemont, and I think the guys are ready,” said Endsley.

          This year the Bulldogs (5-15) did not play St. Peter’s during the regular season, but they did work out with them in November.  Endsley describes the Spartans as a solid outside shooting team.  “We scrimmaged them before the season and they are very different team than they were before the season started.  They have a lot of kids that can shoot the three.  They are pretty much a guard oriented team with the dribble drive motion offense.  Not one guy is going to beat you, it’s going to be a team effort for St. Pete’s, and that’s always tough,” he told Swankonsports.com.

          St. Peter’s does not have a player over 6-1 on its varsity and Endsley thinks they can score consistently if they can get the ball inside on the block.  “It’s something we have talked about for the last few days preparing is getting Steven Coffman and Ryan Armstrong a lot of looks early in the paint, so you can look for us to go and be strong early on he ball game inside,” he said.

          The winner of the semi-final advances to play Buckeye Central (11-9) in the sectional final at Ontario on Friday night.

          With the kind of season they have had, Endsley believes they need to get off to a good start in the game against St. Peter’s.  “We definitely want to get off to a good start.  We have been fortunate the last few years to get out to good wins in the first game of the tournament.  We have actually played very well in our first tournament games the last few years.  That is something we have talked to the kids about in building beyond that and continuing to get a good start, a quick start to this game,” Endsley said.

 

 
   

Crestline Playing Better

 

          Just in time for the tournament, the Crestline Bulldogs are starting to play some better basketball and they just might be a dangerous team come the postseason.

          Crestline beat Bucyrus (71-65) in double overtime last Friday and lost to Riverdale (47-33) on Saturday night in a pair of North Central Conference games last weekend.

          Coach Randy Endsley II says they came through a down time in terms of execution in January and with his group of players improving their team play, they have become more competitive.  “We have played some very good basketball.  We have played teams like Colonel Crawford extremely tough, Buckeye Central tough, we got a good overtime win versus Bucyrus, we beat a Ridgemont team in overtime that ended up winning their league, so we have played pretty well here to end the season,” he said.

          Steven Coffman and Ben Hatfield are four year varsity players for the Bulldogs and as the season has progressed, Endsley says they have begun to work more efficiently with the younger players. “I think the kids are maturing a little bit more in a basketball sense.  They are playing together a little better.  We have three seniors, four juniors, and a sophomore, just very different personalities.  I think it was just a matter of getting to know each other and each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  They are starting to learn that and play better team basketball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday.

          In their final regular season game, Crestline (5-14,3-9) plays at Galion (8-11,7-5) in an interdivisional game in the “NCC” on Friday night.  Endsley says Galion has a lot of players that you have to contain.  “The one good thing that Galion has is they have balanced scoring.  Anytime you have a team like Galion that is balanced across the board scoring they are going to be tough any night to beat.  They have had some down nights, but again when you have that balanced scoring you are always going to be in the game with a chance to win,” said Endsley.

          The Crestline coach believes both teams have the ability to stretch the floor with their post guys.  “It’s not just balance whether it be guards or posts.  Their big guys step out, they do it all.  I think we have a couple of similar guys like that.  Stephen Coffman plays post and steps out.  That is kind of what a lot of teams are doing now.  A lot of the posts are able to step out, a European style of basketball,” he said.  

 

 
   

Crestline Ready to Play With Good Teams

 

          Crestline almost pulled the upset on Saturday night.  They took Colonel Crawford to the limit before losing by three points in a silver division game in the North Central Conference.

          The Bulldogs, who had struggled in December, played one of their better games in the loss to the Eagles.  Coach Randy Endsley says they just didn’t make the plays at the very end to win the game.  “It was a great game.  Like I told my guys for 27 minutes of the ball game we executed our game plan the way we wanted to.  We were ahead by 12 at the end of the third quarter,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Crawford turned up the intensity in their full court press that fourth quarter and we kind of made a lot of mistakes.  I think we had 11 turnovers in the fourth quarter.  We played with them.  Crawford is one of the elite teams in the area, so we feel pretty confident going into Tuesday night.”

          It’s not like they got the win in the game, but Endsley feels his team understands what it is going to take to beat the very good teams on their schedule this year.  “We are pretty happy.  We beat them at our place last year so our guys had confidence going in.  Coach Sheldon is an excellent coach and he always has his kids playing 100 percent and ready to go.  We don’t like the moral victory part of it, but I think we took some steps forward as a team,” he said.

          In non-conference play on Tuesday night, Crestline (2-6) plays host to Northmor (5-4) in game between two teams with good players on the perimeter.  Endlsey says the Golden Knights have the potential to light up the scoreboard.  “They started out 5-0 on the season, but they are on a four game slide.  They have Burgraff at the guard position.  He’s a very good player all around.  The Wiseman kid is also a very good shooter and he penetrates to the basket.  They have a couple of guys that have a little bit of size.  They like to do that dribble drive.  They like to attack the basket and they like to kick.  They are a team that is definitely dangerous,” said Endsley.

          The dribble drive offense is a style a lot of teams are going with now.  It has been successful at the college level.  Endsley says they have to be able to keep the Northmor guards out of the paint.   “We have to keep them out the lane because one of the goals for the dribble drive is for the opposite post to pin backside.  That’s one of the areas where Northmor has hurt some teams.  They have some good guys that can stretch the defense so what they will do is they will spread it and stretch the defense out and then that leaves the guy inside.  They have Kartcher and Butler in the post as well as Williams that have been able to do a nice job of pinning down low.  It is not just a three point shooting offense,” said Endsley.  

 

 
   

Crestline Wants to Compete

 

          It’s early, but right now the Crestline Bulldogs share first place in the silver division of the North Central Conference.  However, things are going to get tougher for the Bulldogs this weekend.

          Crestline (2-5,2-1) is in a first place tie with Colonel Crawford and Buckeye Central in the silver division.  Crestline’s two conference wins come over Lucas (0-7) and Riverdale (3-5), Friday night they face Colonel Crawford (7-2), ranked #4 in the small school division of the Swankonsports.com basketball power poll.

          Last week, Crestline beat Riverdale (56-47) in an “NCC” game, it was their second win in their last three starts after an 0-4 start.  Ben Hatfield, a four-year starter, had 19 points for the Bulldogs.  “I thought the guys put in a great effort.  We had a really good week of practice.  Ryan Armstrong really stepped up in the post.  He had 15 points and 16 rebounds.  I thought he did a really nice job offensively and defensively.  As well as Ben Hatfield on both offense and defense.  He is really stepping up and being a senior leader,” said Crestline coach Randy Endlsey.

          The holiday period can be a critical time for basketball teams in Ohio.  Endsley feels his Bulldogs have come through the days when kids aren’t in school in pretty good shape.  “We have done a really nice job the last couple of year of really turning things around Christmas time.  Our schedule doesn’t get any easier.  We have Colonel Crawford coming up and Northmor and Wynford, so we have some real tests in front of us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday.

          Colonel Crawford beat Buckeye Central (69-56) in an “NCC” game played on Tuesday night.  Crawford was the preseason favorite to win the silver division and Endsley says they have great depth.  “They have played extremely well.  They go nine deep.  They are constantly rotating guys in an out so they stay fresh.  They have some real good athletes in Metcalf , McCreary, and Jordan Shell.  They really come at you with the full court pressure, so we are going to have to handle the pressure,” said Endsley.

          Not only does Crawford have a great defensive presence in the full court.  They also have the ability to make the three point shot.  There were shooting 45 percent from behind the three point line.  Endsley knows they have to get out and get hand in the face of those shooters.  “McCreary and with Austin Adams coming back, he really shoots the three ball well.  They have a lot of weapons from outside of that arc.  Not only do they get lay ups from their defense, they shoot the three ball well,” said Endsley.

          Crestline plays Northmor (5-3), one of two teams to beat Colonel Crawford, in a non-conference game on Friday night.

           

 

 
   

Crestline Needs to Make Shots

 

          Crestline is not a team that is going to out athlete most of the teams they play, so they have to shoot the ball well to win.  They haven’t been doing that this year and as a result a win over Lucas is there only one this season. 

          Last Friday night, they were beaten by Buckeye Central (68-47) in a game in the silver division of the North Central Conference.  This week they get another chance as they host the Riverdale Falcons (3-4,0-2) in a silver division game. 

          Bulldogs coach Randy Endsley says Buckeye came out on fire last week and they were never able to slow them down.  “You know Buckeye Central came in and hadn’t had a lot of practices and they shot the ball extremely well.  They were up close to the 70 percent range on two pointers.  Anytime a team can get good shots in close to the basket they are going to have good things happen and they proved that on Friday night,” said Endsley.

          In Endsley’s opinion they have been giving up too many easy chances to score this season by allowing too much penetration into the lane.  He says they have been working on ways to stop the leaking.  “One of the things defensively that we wanted to do coming into this year was get a lot of pressure out on the perimeter and force some turnovers,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “While we have been doing to at the same time it has been exposing some weaknesses down toward the basket.  This week we have really focused on trying to still get that pressure out on the perimeter, but be able to have more help in the paint area to prevent those easy buckets teams have been getting.”

          Riverdale has lost both of its conference games so far, losing to Wynford (57-38) and Colonel Crawford (71-46).  Endsley says the Falcons still have some athletes and they will be a big challenge for them.  “It’s nothing to be ashamed of getting beat by a good Wynford team, and a very, very good Crawford team.  Riverdale is very scrappy.  They have some kids that will get after it pretty hard.  They have the Holderman kid that is a sophomore guard that is very nice player for just being a sophomore.  They have the Bodicat kid back that shoots the three pretty well.  They are going to get after on defense and try and turn that into their offense,” said Endlsey.

          For the Bulldogs to win on Friday night Endsley says the formula is rather simple.  He says they have to make more shots.  “We have been doing a fairly decent job of handling the ball.  With Ben Hatfield at the point, Brian Barnett on the wing, and Steven Coffman handling the ball we have some guys that can handle it.  Friday night, it is going to come down to how many times we can put the ball in the basket.  I think we had 12 more shots than Buckeye on Friday night.  I think we shot 30 percent.  We need to make some shots,” said Endsley.

 

 
   

Crestline Does it

 

          Crestline finally put it all together last week and the Bulldogs won for the first time downing the Lucas Cubs in a North Central Conference game.

          Ben Hatfield had 31 points and Crestline beat Lucas 76-42 last Friday.  Coach Randy Endsley says he thinks this is the way his team can play for the rest of the season.   “We thought we would be able to shoot the ball like we did last Friday night.  Also we have been focusing all season on defense.  We were happy to be able to put a complete game together and play pretty well on offense and also execute our defensive game plan,” said Endsley.

          Crestline (1-4) plays at Buckeye Central on Friday night in an “NCC” game.  Buckeye lost to Carey (64-54) in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.  It was the Bucks first game of the year.  Endsley thinks they are going to be a lot better on Friday.  “Buckeye is coming off a very successful football season.  It’s going to take them a while to get adjusted into basketball conditioning and just into basketball in general.  They played a tough team in Carey on Tuesday night.  It showed that they have not had a lot of time to prepare, their shooting percentage was down,” Endsley told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It’s like I told my team it is Buckeye Central and coach Loy does a nice job with them and I am positive on Friday night it is not going to be easy,”

          If the Bulldogs are to be competitive in the Silver Division of the “NCC” they have to play better and more consistent defense.  Endlsey says the Bucks are going to be a challenge from that standpoint.  “Tyler Erwin is probably one of the top athletes if not the top athlete in our league no matter what the spot is.  He is somebody we definitely have to key on.  Bryce Collins is obviously an opposing force on the football field.  He is also a tough guy to guard down in the post.  We need to box out and really do some things we need to do to counter their strength because they are a very strong team,” said Endley.

 

 
   

Crestline off to Disappointing Start

 

          Crestline returns six players who played a lot of varsity basketball a year ago and they were expecting to be dramatically improved from the 7-15 record they produced last season.  So far, that hasn’t happened for the Bulldogs as they have lost all four of their games.

          Most disappointing is they have lost some games they would have been favored to win, such as Mansfield Christian (48-42) and South Central (59-46) last week.

          Coach Randy Endsley knows they have some outstanding individual players like Ben Hatfield (12.6 PPG a game last year) and Stephen Coffman (15 PPG last season) in the lineup, but they just have not been able to put things together.  “One thing is we have to work better as a team.  We have a lot of talent on our team this year.  Finding that grove where we are working together quarter by quarter is going to be a big part in us improving in the win-loss column,” said Endlsey.

          Basketball is ultimate team game and if you have talented players who are working with their own agenda than it’s going to be difficult to win games.  Endsley says they are constantly working on becoming a better team and taking that action to the floor for games.  “You have to have five guys on the court at one time working together.  When things are going good for us we have had some very good quarters this year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Our problem comes when adversity hits.  When shots aren’t dropping that’s when we really need to come together as a group.  That is something we haven’t done yet this year.  We have been talking about it.  We have been working on it in practice.  Hopefully that is going to improve and improve pretty quickly.”

          Somebody is going to get their first win of the season on Friday night as the Bulldogs play host to the Lucas Cubs (0-3) in a North Central Conference game in the Silver Division.  Endsley says he thinks new Lucas coach Bobby Gossom in doing a good job with his club.  “Bobby Gossom is their new coach and I have known Bobby for a very long time.  Bobby and I are pretty good friends.  Coach Gossom has worked very hard with those kids during the off season.  One thing they will come out and they will work hard and they will play hard.  They have a returning starter in Zach Moffett.  He is a very good player, very streaky, very good outside shooter when he is on.  They also have a decent banger inside in Cruz Step.  A decent guy penetrating to the basket in Jay Baldridge.  So, he’s got some guys that can hurt some people.  We need to play our game, play together, and I think we should be okay.”

 

 
   

Crestline Ready to Compete

 

          With quite a bit of talent back form a year the Crestline Bulldogs boys’ basketball team figures to be a factor in the race in the sliver division of the North Central Conference.

          Randy Endsley, now in his fifth season as the Bulldogs head coach, believes that they have the right kind of experience and talent that could make a good season for Crestline.  “We have an experienced group of guys coming back this year.  We have six returning lettermen.  We have Ben Hatfield that has been a starter since his freshmen year and Steven Kauffman, who was one of the leading scorers in the conference last year.  We feel pretty confident.  We have played a good scrimmage schedule against teams like Orrville, Cardington and Seneca East.  We feel real confident going into the season,” he said.

          Crestline remains one of the smallest schools in the area and numbers can be an issue for the Bulldogs.  Endsley says they will have good talent, but not a lot of it.  “I am pretty demanding with the guys, especially with the experience we have back.  They have been working extremely hard.  Depth is going to be one of our issues this year, so the six returning lettermen have been busting it pretty hard,” he said.

          Bucyrus will be the Bulldogs first opponent this year and they are also members of the “NCC”, but the Saturday night game at Bucyrus will be a non-conference game and will not count in the “NCC” standings.  “I know Bucyrus has one of the better players in the league in Nate Jackson.  We struggled with Bucyrus last year.  They have their core group returning with Purcell, Chandler, Davidson and Jackson.  They are going to be tough again.  They like to penetrate to the basket and get to the hole sand they like to kick it out and look for threes.  Coach Hill always does a good job of scouting and we’ll have to have our “A” game,” said Endlsley.

          This is first season for the divisional set up in the “NCC” with the addition of Upper Sandusky and Galion.  Endsley likes it, but is a little concerned about the likely splintering of the conference.  “I think what we have right now in the “NCC”, with the 10 team, two division split, big and small, I think it gives a good competitive balance for everybody in the league.  I am very happy with where we are right now.  Not as happy about hearing about other things that are possibly going on.  What we have now gives the smaller schools like Lucas, like Crestline, like Buckeye Central a chance to motivate their kids for, in our case, a silver division championship.  In my previous four years here, you always had Ontario and Wynford at the top and it really was hard to motivate the kids, especially for the league championship,” said Endsley.

 

 
 

 

Crestline Feeling Good

 

          After going 0-10 last year in Matt Seid’s first year as their head coach, the Crestline Bulldogs responded with an excellent effort last week in basting Northmor 42-12 in their first game of this year.

          They travel to Ridgeway Ridgemont for another non-conference game on Friday night.  The Golden Gophers lost their opener 20-19 to Vanlue in a game that was played last Saturday night.

          Seid was very pleased by the effort his kids showed in their win over Northmor.  “Our effort was just an accumulation of the effort the guys have put in for us really since I got here last year,” Seid told Swankonsports.com. on Monday, “I was just really proud that they got a little bit of a payday for the efforts they have given to us.”

          Seid believes the Bulldogs can be a pretty balanced team on offense.  “I think we are going to be able to establish a pretty strong passing game. We will be able to balance it out with a running game,” he said.

          Through three quarters against Northmor last week, the Bulldogs allowed only 49 yards of total offense.  “I think the thing that is most impressive is our defense.  Our tackling and just our overall physicality and it’s something we are very proud of,” said Seid.

          This group of Bulldogs have not enjoyed very much success, so confidence is always an issue.  Seid thinks they were nervous at the beginning of the game last week and they have to continue to work on that issue.  “We had some game day jitters in the first quarter.  We will preach in practice this week the need for a strong start.  We are looking for guys not afraid to make plays.  If you have a chance to make a play to stand up and do your part,” said Seid.

          Seid and his staff got a chance to watch Ridgemont on Saturday night.  He says they have some talent, but are still trying to find what they are good at doing.  “They are very athletic,” he said, “It looked a little bit like they are struggling to find an offensive identity.  I think our guys are excited about going down there and having success.”  Ridgemont beat Crestline 25-19 in 2010.      

 

 
   

Crestline Bulldog Sports News can also be heard on the SwankonSports 24/7 Listen Line