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Lexington Has to Learn From Loss

Lexington lost to its biggest rival last week in the final seconds and they need to get back on track this weekend.

They play at Clyde in a non-conference game on Saturday night.

Last Friday, Mansfield Senior’s DaQuan Hilory made two free throws with four seconds left to beat the Minutemen (54-53) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game. Lexington had a chance to send it to overtime, but Mason Kearns missed the second half of a two shot opportunity with one second left.

Lexington coach Scott Hamilton predicts there are going be a lot of close games in the league this winter. “It was kind of what we expected. I think it kind of set the tone for us for the “OCC,” at least what I believe the “OCC” is going to be like. I think every night is going to be a tough game looking at the teams we are going to have to match up against. Mansfield has a new coach in place and they kind of came in with a little bit different playing style is you will. Very disciplined in what they were trying to accomplish. We had some mistakes, but you give them credit they came in and played very well and took it right at us and they walked away with a win,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton says they did a lot of good things in the game and they have to learn from the result. “If you would have told me that we held B.J. Patrick and Daquan Hilory to the points that they had and that we would have only had 10, maybe 11 turnovers in that game I would felt really good about that. What it came down to is who was going to make the last play of the game. In a tight game, they put the ball in Hilory’s hands and he did a nice job of getting to the line and knocked them both down and we had opportunities and we had a very good player of our own step up to the line and we felt really good about it and it just didn’t go our way,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It doesn’t fall on the shoulders of that one play there were a couple of things throughout the game that cost us a point here, a point there. We just have to get better, that’s the bottom line, we just have to get better as a team and I believe we will.”

Lexington (2-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, is at Clyde (1-1) on Saturday night. The Fliers, now coached by Ryan Fretz, lost in double overtime to Sandusky Perkins (72-71) last Friday in a Lake Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference. They then beat Margaretta (65-59) in a cross over game.

Hamilton says the Fliers will provide a challenge. “We have played Clyde the last couple of years in the tournament, but they never really have been on their schedule. When we had an opening we looked up at some of those “SBC” teams as opportunities to play some good basketball games and potentially down the road could be a tournament game. So, we scheduled Clyde and then replaced their coach. They have a guy on staff and it appears he has brought a different kind of life into the program. We can’t take anybody lightly we have to make sure we are prepared for them,” he said.

Published 12/12/17

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Lexington Hosts Mansfield Senior

Lexington has played some excellent basketball so far this year, but they face their biggest challenge Friday against their biggest rival when they host Mansfield Senior in the Ohio Cardinal Conference opener for both.

The Minutemen (2-0) beat Clear Fork (73-63) last Friday and stomped on Willard (80-39) on Saturday.

Coach Scott Hamilton says it was good to get the season under way. “Playing Clear Fork it was always a tough rivalry. We knew that was going to be a battle and that didn’t disappoint I don’t believe. They return a lot of quality guys from last year’s district tournament team. Then we went up to Willard and we really built the kids up as far as tradition and everything of Willard. I think we were kind of the benefactor of Willard having a tough game on Friday night,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We got in there and we were all excited to play in their gym and hit a couple of shots. Those guys just didn’t seem to have the energy that we did. I turned out to be a real good night for us.”

Good teams, and Lexington is one, always have good athletes, but Hamilton says this team has a special chemistry too. “The one thing that is exciting for me and I don’t think it is too much of a surprise is the chemistry that we have this year. It is much further ahead at this point than what it was at this point last year. The guys are learning, they are eager to play, they want to be in the gym, but they are really excited about being on the floor together. It seems like they have got a history and a knowledge of playing with each other that is hard to teach. That has probably been when of the more exciting things about this group,” said Hamilton.

Mansfield Senior (1-1) is even after two under new head coach Marquis Sykes. They lost (71-57) to Mansfield St. Peter’s on Saturday and beat St. Michael College (67-51) on Sunday at home.

Sykes is getting his first opportunity as a head coach, but he is not new to the program. Hamilton believes he will get the Tygers back on the right track. “New head coach, but not new to the program, long time player there, JV coach, assistant coach, now he is in charge. He is a long time Tyger guy, he has some history there. I believe his expectations are at a certain level. We are looking forward to the challenge. The last couple of years Lexington games have been a little bit more of a rivalry than when Marquis was a player and Mansfield was just dominating the area. We are excited about the challenge. I have no doubt that Marquis is going to have those guys ready to go,” said Hamilton.

Mansfield Senior has some athletes that can make plays and Hamilton says they can get to the glass. “When it comes to the size you have to look at (Dontavious) Burtin first, then (Terrell) Johnson is a big, long kid that they have, Brylon Mills is another post guy that they play. Then after that it is more of a guard roster, but those guards are pretty tough. (DaQuan) Hillary can really spread the floor out, (B.J.) Patrick can spread the floor out. They can all put it on the floor and get to the rim and all rebound very well no matter what their size is. It is going to be a tough matchup for some of my guys,” he said.

Published 12/08/17

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Big Second Half Leads Lexington Past Clear Fork

Lexington outscored Clear Fork (26-8) in the second half and they beat the Lady Colts (48-28) in a non-conference girls’ basketball game on Tuesday night at Les Hauenstein Gym.

Leading (22-20) at the half Lady Lex (2-0) limited Clear Fork to just one field goal in the critical third quarter. They went to a zone defense and co-coach Connie Doutt says they were a little more aggressive too. “I think this environment was part of it. I think the student section got into their heads and maybe were a little timid, but I thought in the second half they relaxed a little bit and got used to it. I think we were able to get up and put a little more pressure on them,” she said.

Clear Fork shot just 21% form the field on the night and just 5% in the second half. Coach Chuck Schmitt says they did not run their offense the way they can. “We didn’t execute our offense and get shots. If you don’t have good shots you are not going to score. We have to get better at that. Their defense was good, they are quick,” he said.

Abigail Adams scored five her team high 14 points for Lexington during a 30 second stretch late in the third quarter to give Lady Lex a (34-22) advantage with 1:38 to play in the quarter. Clear Fork (2-1) could get no closer than 10 the rest of the way.

Lexington seemed to score repeatedly off the Clear Fork press, but Doutt believes 20 turnovers are too much and “that is something we are going to have to work on and become better at handling the ball as they season goes on,” she told Swankonsports.com after the game.

Macy Wade led Clear Fork with 11, nobody else had more than five.

The Lady Colts made three, three pointers, all in the first half and had trouble get the ball into the post much at all. “They were in a zone and we have to get better at that. That is on me because we haven’t practiced a lot against zones. We have to get better at recognizing that a little better,” said Schmitt.

Published 12/06/17

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Lexington Tangles with Clear Fork

It just the third week of the season and they aren’t in the same league anymore, but there will still be some emotion as Lexington travels to Clear Fork for a girls’ basketball game on Tuesday night.

Lexington (1-0) has won its only game this season, beating Shelby (43-31) last Tuesday in non-conference.

Coach Heidi Roush says she thought they play pretty well after getting over some early nervousness. “Definitely at the beginning of the game everybody was maybe a little tight,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We had some turnovers that were to result of nerves, but once the third quarter came around I thought the girls sort of relaxed and we hit more shots and found their teammates. Hopefully, we can pick up Tuesday without that first quarter jittery type of stuff.”

Clear Fork is (2-0) after going (1-22) last season. They have beaten Highland (61-34) and Mapleton (56-23) in two games thus far.

Roush likes how hard they play and knows Lady Lex will need to match that intensity. “I just think they play very hard. That is something we have tried to stress to the girls on both ends of the floor they really work hard. They play well together, they hit the boards well. We are going to have to play a complete game in order to come out on top,” she said.

This will be an interesting game for Roush, she played for Clear Fork and coached the Lady Colts too, successfully in both regards. She says this is an important game for both sides. “The two schools are just a few miles away from each other. We play each other in just about everything. Even though we may not be in the same league anymore I definitely think both teams want to come away from this the winner. It is a big game to us and I am sure it is a big game to Clear Fork, so I am looking forward to it,” said Roush.

Published 12/05/17

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Lexington Building for the Weekend

If history proves us right Lexington is going to find a way to become a very good basketball team.

One thing is for sure they have Cade Stover, one of the more athletic big guys in the area.

They play Clear Fork and Willard on Friday and Saturday and coach Scott Hamilton says they are making the final adjustments to make sure they are ready to play. “We are going to have to be. Whether I think we are or not Friday is going to be here regardless. We are doing our best to get everything done. Just like every coach, we know that we are not going to be at the peak or be where we want to be, but we are just trying to make sure we cover all of the bases and we are as well prepared as we can be by Friday,” he said.

For the first time this season Lexington had all of its players on Monday and Hamilton says that feels pretty good. “Last year our football team had an extended run in the playoffs, so we had to deal with a couple of guys not being with us early on and we did not look to do anything different at the beginning of our schedule. Well, this year we had all of the guys at the start of the season, but we were dealing with a couple of just nagging injuries and a little bit of sickness and thing like that. Luckily for us we have not had a great deal of interference. It was nice coming into practice on Monday and having every varsity guy on the floor ready to go,” said Hamilton.

Clear Fork finished last year strong and advanced to the division three district semis. Hamilton says they have a lot of that talent back and he looks for a very good game. “They finished the season last year with a nice run in the tournament and actually got beat at the buzzer or they would have been going to the district finals. They bring back a lot of kids some of them are fairly young, but a lot of them have experience. When you look at a young roster to me it makes a difference on whether they have played or whether they are just stepping on the varsity floor for the first time and these guys have played and they have played together well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have got to make sure that we match our assignments and we stick to our keys for what it is going to take to win and make sure we study our scouting report for the next couple of days before we get on the floor with them.”

Willard is more of an unknown quantity with a new head coach in Joe Bedingfield. Hamilton says the Flashes have some height on the roster. “One of the things no matter how much the roster changes from year to year if the coach is still there you know that the backbone of what that coach wants to do and it is always going to be fairly similar from year to year even if it is a large turnover in his roster. With Willard having a new guy at the reins up there. They have some size on their roster getting up to 6’8” and 6’5”, things like that. We are going to have a tough task on Saturday night too,” he said.

Published 11/30/17

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Lexington Girls With Another Fresh Start

The Lexington girls’ basketball team has its fourth head coach in as many seasons as former Clear Fork coach Heidi Roush is now on the bench for Lady Lex.

Roush says the team clearly has the skills that give them some potential this year. “We have a lot of good speed, we have some height, if we can all stay healthy I think we can have a pretty positive season. The girls have been very receptive to coach Doutt and I stepping in. We are there fourth coaches in four years, so for them to still want to learn more things and keep trying new things is a really good sign,” she said.

There is going to be a learning curve this season no question, but Roush says the players continue to work hard and that is going to be a positive in the long run. “Even new drills you get used to doing the same things each year, so here we are bringing in another set of drills. We might do a similar drill, but we call it a different name, so there has been a little bit of a learning curve, but the girls are working hard. We just want to keep working toward that next step, that first game. We are looking forward to what we are capable of,” said Roush.

Lexington opens the season November 28 against the Shelby Lady Whippets in non-conference play.

When it comes to improvement, Roush says they must play better team defense if they are going to start winning games. “I think our overall team defense. We have kids that will give good defensive effort individually, but we have to get all five girls on the same page and understanding the importance of the things that they are doing,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They might not be the one with the steal, but they might be the one that gets the help side and alters a shot or they might not be the one getting the rebound, but need all five of those kids committed to defensive rebound and boxing out. Just everybody buying in a little bit more to that team defense concept.”

Published 11/16/17

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Lexington Boys’ and Girls’ Teams to Compete in State

Lexington will field both a full boys’ and girls’ team in the state cross country meet, which will be contested on Saturday at National Trail Raceway in Hebron in southern Licking County with a chance of winning individual or team titles. In both genders.

The boys’ team won the regional last week at Tiffin and coach Denise Benson says they are very good at the top end and have been improving their depth this fall. “On the boys’ side with the upperclassmen we have a one, two, three punch with Johnston, Johnston, and Volz. They rest of the team we have been working on closing the gap between number three and number four and have some younger runners that have been dropping in time. Throughout the season we have been solid, but trying to prefect that gap. In the postseason we are finally coming around. It is exciting, we had a great showing at regionals. We had our best performance 1-7 and everyone is healthy. So, we are just going to go see what we can take of on Saturday,” said Benson.

Ryan Johnstown won the regional last week in 15:38,78, Kyle Johnston was fourth in 15:52.22 and Forest Volz took sixth in 16:19.13, to give the Minutemen three in the top six placers.

However, Benson says you can not win big meets without depth. “Number five runner is critical. You can have a front pack and that number five is back, when you are talking about trying to get on the podium, winning the meet, those points are just critical. We can not win a state meet, or be state runner up, if you don’t have depth,” she said.

Lady Lex also won at the regional level with junior Carina Weaver taking first place individually in 19:15.44 and Lady Lex added two more top ten finishes with freshmen Halle Hamilton fourth and senior Olivia Wolfe in ninth.

Benson says the girls’ squad in young, but it is very talented. “On the girls side we have a very young team with only one senior in the top seven. With that there is some excitement that when you have underclassmen they don’t really know what they are in for, so on a positive note they just go and race. There is the other side that they don’t have the experience at the state meet. We have a lot of talent, so we will go see if they can run under the pressure,” she told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “There is (Gates Mills) Hawken and they are extremely talented young team. I think it is going to be a head to head match runner for runner. That is what it is all about when you are going for a state title let the best one win on that day.”

Benson says the course isn’t that physically challenging, but it is very tough mentally. “It is definitely a flat course, but it is not known to be excessively fast because it has so many turns and there are many spots on the course where there are no spectators and coaches can’t even get to. So, I would say there is at least a mile of the course where athletes are just out there on their own with no one cheering them on, so you have to be extremely mentally tough back in the woods and the windy part after the mile. You can’t just back down because no one is there yelling for you and cheering you on. It is more mentally challenging than it is physically challenging. So, that is my take on it. Those that can really push through mentally those are the ones that are going to concur the course. There is nothing about it physically that is grueling it is just that mental aspect,” said Benson.

Published 11/03/17

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Lexington Plays Toledo Central Catholic in Sweet 16

Lexington plays at home in the regional volleyball tournament on Thursday night.

They host Toledo Central Catholic in the division two regional semifinals.

Coach Jennifer Moore says it is great to be at this level, but they don’t want to be done. “There is work to be done, but we have had a good three days of practice and we are hoping we can get that work done (Thursday) night,” she said.

Lexington (23-3) beat Norwalk 25-19, 25-23, 20-25, 20-25, and 15-12 in the district final and Perkins 25-22, 25-18, and 27-25 in the semis. They were second in the Ohio Cardinal Conference losing only to conference champion Ashland twice.

Moore says she believes they are ready for what the regional brings. “I feel like we are prepared. The district is tough. The last two games have been really, really strong,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Just playing those games and having Norwalk take us to five sets and getting all that volleyball in was definitely good experience for the girls at this level and the more volleyball you can play the better you get.”

Toledo Central Catholic (12-10) beat Oak Harbor, the Bay Division champion of the Sandusky Bay Conference, 15-18, 25-11, 19-25, 25-15, in the district final, handing the Lady Rockets their only loss of the season.

Moore says Lady Irish are good on both sides of the net. “They have a really strong defense. They have some amazing setters that can move the ball around. So, we are prepared to stay where we need to and watch the setter and react as quickly as we can. They have a strong outside hitter and a strong middle. If we can get our block on them I think we are going to be okay,” said Moore.

The Lexington coach says it is going to take a real team effort if they are going to advance to Saturday’s regional final. “We rely on about four people to put balls down, but we also rely heavily on our defense. I think at this level you don’t necessarily rely on just one or two girls. You have to rely on five or six. You have to have everybody to be focused, intense and involved to move forward,” said Moore.

Published 11/02/17

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Lexington Plays Thomas Worthington

There will not be a post season this year for the Lexington Minutemen.

They will finish their season on Friday night by entertaining Thomas Worthington in a non-conference game.

The Minutemen broke a five game losing streak with a (14-6) win at Mansfield Madison in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game last week.

Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they had to play a good four quarters to earn the win and they were able to do that. “We knew that going into the game that coach Masi and his team. It is a rivalry game and Madison always plays tough, especially at home. We knew that we were going to have to play four quarters of football to be able to get it done and that’s what it came down to,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We shot ourselves in the foot early in the first half. We missed out on some red zone opportunities. We really went back to our basics and our line kind of took over. Devon Stroud had a big, tough running, game for us. Defensively we played well to come away with a victory.”

Lexington (2-7) hosts Thomas Worthington (3-6) on Friday night. The Cardinals have lost their last six games, including (20-7) to Dublin Scioto last week.

Gerhardt says the Cardinals play a very tough schedule and they are better than a normal three win team. “They are a division one football program. They are 3-6 and they are much better than their record. They have a big, bruising, running back that has definite talent. They throw a lot of formations at you. They play tough defense. On film they look like a very good football team, so we definitely have our work cut out for us,” he said.

With a seven team league somebody always has to play a non-conference game late in the season. Gerhardt says this will be a fun game for the Minutemen to play. “It is always nice to have your last game be a big conference game. We talked to the kids this week that this is a great opportunity. Here is a team that doesn’t know us and we don’t know them and we are going into this last week preparing for something that we haven’t done and that is pretty exciting. To have a big school come down to play us at our place is just a great opportunity,” said Gerhardt.

Published 10/25/17

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Lexington Tangles With Perkins in Districts

Lexington, the top seed in the district, meets Sandusky Perkins, in the volleyball division two district semi-finals on Tuesday night at Seneca East High School.

Lexington (21-3) beat Clear Fork 15-14, 25-11, 25-12 and Mansfield Senior 25-6, 25-1, 25-6 in sectional play last week in matches that were played on their home floor.

Coach Jennifer Moore says those were matches they were expected to win. “We had Clear Fork and Mansfield and they had some down seasons. It seems like Mansfield just can’t get their volleyball going. So, it was fairly easy to get into the district semi finals for us,” she said.

Lady Lex was the runner up this fall to Ashland in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

Norwalk, the defending district winner, plays Bellevue in Tuesday night’s other semi-final.

Perkins (17-6) is a team that has gotten better this year, they beat Norwalk in their second meeting this season. The Lady Pirates downed Vermilion 15-18, 25-21, 25-20 on Saturday.

Moore says it should be a good match-up. “They are a good team they have really come on strong later in the season. When we played them earlier in the season we beat them in four sets,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “So, we know we have to play our “A” game in order to win. They have a really strong outside hitter that we have to put a block on.”

Moore adds they are going to need to be efficient on offense if they are going to score points on Perkins. “Their defense is really feisty and they work well together and they are really scrappy. We have to make sure we can put balls down on the offensive end,” she said.

Published 10/24/17

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Rivals Lexington and Madison Meet

It hasn’t been the kind of season that either Lexington or Madison were hoping for, but there will be some fire in their bellies when they meet Friday night at Ram Field in Ohio Cardinal Conference action,

These are longtime rivals and pride is on the line.

Ashland throttled Lexington (40-0) last week in an “OCC” game.

The Minutemen got behind early and when that happens against Ashland it is tough to come back. Plus, Lexington coach Taylor Gerhardt says they have had their share of injuries. “Ashland is a good team. They are a good team year in and year out. Coach Valentine does a fantastic job over there. We were banged up and down to a sophomore quarterback and a sophomore trading in and out at running back. So, we were banged up skill wise and that put us at more of a disadvantage. It was a tough night, but the kids fought,” he said.

Cade Stover, a top college prospect, has been out the last two weeks, reports say with a shoulder injury. Gerhardt says quarterback is a difficult position to learn quickly. “It is a difficult position to play, even in high school. The football talking gurus talk about of that being the toughest position in all of sports and I would have to agree with that. In high school we have gotten more and more complex in our offenses even at this level,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Without the reps and the time it is tough for a kid to come in and have a lot of success if he hasn’t been with that team and creating a relationship and understanding where the reads are and understanding where to go. He has to orchestrate everything at that position.”

Lexington (1-7,0-5) is at Madison (0-8,0-5) on Friday night. The Rams lost (62-20) to Mt. Vernon last week. Their problems have been mostly on defense.

Gerhardt says he expects both teams to play hard in this one. “It is always a big rivalry what Madison and Lexington play. They are better than their record. You always know that Madison is going to come out swinging and come out tough and aggressive. They have some playmakers. They have some kids that have been there and some kids that have stepped up. Coach Masi will have them ready to go. It is going to be a challenge. You can throw the records out the window, good or bad, because this is always a great rival game,” said Gerhardt.

Published 10/19/17

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Lexington the Top Seed

Lexington, the Ohio Cardinal Conference runner-up, is the top seed in what is a pretty deep division two district volleyball, tournament.

They play Clear Fork, of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, in a first round match at home of Wednesday. The Lady Colts are the number 10 seed.
They finished (19-3) and second behind division one Ashland in the “OCC” this fall. Coach Jennifer Moore says they have formed a good unit. “They have worked hard all season and come together and we have great senior leadership, so it just kind of filtered into that and we have played well,” she said.

Moore adds they have been very good at handing the ball on offense this year and that has given them the advantage on a lot of teams. “I would say that our offense is still pretty strong. Our defense is coming along, but we gave some really big hitters and great block, so that really helps too,” she said.

Hitters get the publicity in volleyball, but Moore says the real key for them this year has been their setters, led by senior Oliva Kearns. “We do have some quick stuff that we do run, but we also have some big right side and middle hitters. We can move the ball around and our setter is really fantastic at looking across the net and see where the block is and strategically setting the right players at the right time. While the quick set is very affective having a great setter that can read the court before she sets is an advantage,” said Moore.

Lexington the top seed, followed by Norwalk, Willard and Sandusky Perkins. Shelby and Ontario are numbers five and six.

Moore says there is a lot of depth this year. “It is a very competitive district. As a first seed I think we will be okay getting to the districts, but then we are going to have to work very hard to be in the finals and then and hopefully beyond. It has always been a strong district and it hasn’t changed,” she told Swankonsports.com this weekend, “Norwalk is down a little bit, but their coach does a nice job and running her system and they will be competitive for sure. We played them earlier this season in an invitational and we went three with them. We beat them a set, but they got us in the end, so they are definitely somebody we have to prepare for.”

Published 10/17/17

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Lexington Has to Play Much Better

Lexington has not played the kind of football their fans are used to the last couple of weeks and that has to change this week as they host Ohio Cardinal Conference co-leader Ashland.

The Minutemen were overwhelmed (55-21) by West Holmes in a “OCC” game last week.

Coach Taylor Gerhardt says honestly they just didn’t execute the way they need to and he takes the blame. “We didn’t play well at all. We didn’t come out and play Minuteman football. We were not focused and ready to go and whenever that happens ultimately that is on the head coach’s shoulders. I need to find a better way of getting kids ready and focused for the contest on Friday night,” he said.

Ashland (6-1,3-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat a good Mansfield Senior team (46-20) in league play, pulling away in the second half.

Gerhardt says he has great respect for the Ashland program. “I have the highest respect for coach Valentine. He has been there for a while and he has put together a formidable program. You know what you are going to get from Ashland, but it doesn’t change the fact that you still have to be ready to play them. He has kids that play hard, physical football,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They do spread you out and go with empty sets, but they will run the ball just as much as they throw the ball. They play good defense. There is a reason why year in and year out he is challenging for the conference title and looking to go play in week 11 in the playoffs. We certainly have our hands full this Friday.”

Ashland beat Lexington (24-21) on the final week of the regular season last year to get a piece of the conference title.

With the Ashland offense they want to get you in one on one situations and Gerhardt says you have to play fundamental team and individual defense to slow them down. “When you have a spread offense one of the things you have to be able to do well is open field tackle. That is one of the more difficult things to do defensively and Ashland kids take advantage of that. They get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quick. They quarterback they have is a great scrambler and has shown he can run just as well as he can throw the ball. So, we have to be ready to play, ready to play sound, physical defense, of which we have not the last couple of weeks. We have been struggling with some key injuries on our team and some young kids have to step up, but that is part of the game too. Ashland is coming to town and we are going to ready for them and hope to give them everything they want and come out with the big upset,” said Gerhardt.

Published 10/13/17

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Lexington has to Execute Better

Lexington’s defense had been its cornerstone over the first half of the season, but they weren’t very good last week in a loss to rival Mansfield Senior.

In fact, coach Taylor Gerhardt says they didn’t execute very well anywhere on the field in the (54-17) loss to the Tygers. “We weren’t expecting them to score that many points. We didn’t play well in any of the three phases of the game. When you don’t do that and you are not disciplined in executing you are going to pay and pay a lot against a team that is as talented as Mansfield Senior,” he said.

There are four more games for the Minutemen (1-5,0-3) beginning this week with West Holmes and Gerhardt says he told his players what a great opportunity they had. “I just talked with the boys (Monday) every morning you wake up and open your eyes and take a breath you have been given a gift and the gift we have been given is we have another week of life and another week of football. So, we need to understand what that gift is and take advantage of it. Put your work boots on, lace them up, and it is time to go back to work,” said Gerhardt.

West Holmes (1-5,1-2) lost (55-20) to Wooster last week in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.

There is a new direction at West Holmes and the Knights are throwing the ball much more than they have in the past. What hasn’t changed, according to Gerhardt, is the talent of the West Holmes offensive line. “They have thrown the ball quite a bit. They want to spread you out offensively and try to move the ball a little bit. One thing that is still very consistent at West Holmes is they have a solid, well coached, disciplined offensive line,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Once those boys get on you they don’t seem to leave their blocks. So, we have to be good with our hands defensively. We have to read our keys and get to the ball and be excellent about getting off those tough blocks that the West Holmes offensive line gives you.”

Published 10/03/17

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Lexington Needs to be Aggressive

Lexington plays what stands as maybe its biggest rival now when they play host the Mansfield Senior Tygers on Friday night in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.

They lost to Wooster (21-7) in “OCC” action last week.

Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they still lacking in consistency on the offensive side of the ball. “We have been playing pretty good defense. Our defense is on the field too long. It all comes down to consistency. We have been struggling with injuries up front. If there is any position where you need the consistency of the same guys and in the same position it is the offensive line. So, we have been struggling a little bit with that. As I tell the boys the team across the field? They don’t care and neither does the game of football,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have to find a way to get consistent. We have flashes of what we know we can do and we point that out and show the kids. For us it is just a matter of time until we get comfortable playing together and we get consistent on offense. I am pretty happy defensively with how we have played.”

Mansfield Senior (4-1,1-0) beat Maple Heights (35-29) in a non-conference game last week. They beat West Holmes (41-27) in their only conference game so far.

The Tygers always have great athletes and Gerhardt says the Tygers coaching staff have made them into an aggressive team. “Mansfield has always had the reputation of having speed and athleticism and that goes without saying. What coach Bradley has brought over there is some consistent aggression of how they play the game. You can’t for a play let up and take a play off because they will hurt you and make you pay for that. Coach Bradley has them playing very fast and aggressive. They have a big time talent over there in number 11 (Jornell Manns) and we have to contain him, but he is not the only one that can hurt you. We have to be disciplined. We have to have our own aggression. We have to get consistent on offense and if we do those things we will have a shot of competing against those guys,” said Gerhardt.

When in comes to the rivalry, Gerhardt certainly feels it. “They are seven miles down the road and our kids see their kids all of time. The communities are constantly mixing together. It’s a rivalry. It is one that we enjoy. I have always said if you can’t get yourself up to play Mansfield Senior High you need to check your pulse. It is a fun game to play in. It is always a little more revved up and we look forward to it every single year,” he said.

Published 9/28/17

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Lexington Working on Teamwork

Lexington got stopped at the goal line in attempt to tie the game last Friday and they are still trying to work better as a unit on offense.

Cade Stover scored with about a minute and half left Friday night, but Mt. Vernon stopped the Minutemen on a two point conversion and beat Lexington (15-13) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.

Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they didn’t execute the way they can when they have the ball. “Anytime you don’t come out on top it is tough. We didn’t play offensively the way we know we can play. So, when that happens it shouldn’t a surprise when you don’t come out victorious and unfortunately that is what happened for us,” he said.

Lexington scored more than 40 in a (48-35) win over Orrville on week three, but in their other three games they have struggled to score much at all. Gerhardt says they are still trying to work together as a unit better than they have been so far. “I have talked this season that our biggest challenge was learning how to play together and offensively that is a very tough task because defensively you react, you certainly have responsibilities and checks and understand what you job is, but offensively you have to work in concert with 10 other guys,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “It is actually a lot tougher than anybody actually understands until they have done it. These kids haven’t been together very long and we are struggling a little bit with that. We have struggled a little bit with injuries up front. So, we haven’t had a lot of consistency with the same players in positions and it has shown. Saying all of that Mt. Vernon has a heck of a defense. They play defense over at Mt. Vernon. No matter is we have struggles or not Mt. Vernon was able to do things against us that whether we were clicking or not was going to give us troubles.”

Lexington (1-3,0-1) plays at Wooster (1-3,1-0) in an “OCC” game on Friday night. The Generals won their first game of the year in outscoring Madison (45-26) last week.

They have not shown the kind of explosiveness they have in the past few years, and running back Trev Mathis is out for the year with a broken foot. However, Gerhardt says they still have some kids that can make plays. “Wooster has some talent. They always have talent. They have kids that can hurt you on any play. They have started slow before and then rolled. So, this is a football team that is full of very good football players as always. They have staff over there that puts their kids in positions to be successful. This league that we play in you can’t sleep at all because there are a lot of hardnosed players and tremendous coaches all around the league and Wooster is no different. They have kids that can play ball and if you are not ready to go it is going to be a long night for you,” said Gerhardt.

Published 9/18/17

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Lexington Starts “OCC” Play With Mt. Vernon

Lexington got a piece of the Ohio Cardinal Conference football title last season, sharing it with Ashland, and play their first game in defense of that title on Friday night at Mt. Vernon.

Quarterback Cade Stover, a junior in his first year at the position, scored on five touchdown runs last week as the Minutemen outscored Orrville (48-35) to claim their first win of the season.

Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they really found a rhythm when they had the ball for this first time this year. “We finally clicked offensively like I had been expecting to,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It took them a while for us to find our footing and then Friday night, especially in the second half, the boys really started trusting in themselves and in each other and thinks started clicking and we were able to get some explosive plays.”

Coaches tend to use the word trust a lot. Gerhardt explains what they mean as it relates to football. “We preach all of the time to do your job. You do your job and you trust that man next to you is going to do his job and when that happens you can get all 11 moving parts headed in the same direction and that’s when good things happen,” he said.

Mt. Vernon (1-2,) in its first year in the “OCC” in football, has played some improved football this season. They lost at the horn to Marion Harding (14-10) on week one, buried Newark (31-0) on week two, and lost a tough one (17-9) to Buckeye Valley last week.

Gerhardt says the Yellow Jackets are physical. “They are a good football team. They could very easily be 3-0 right now. They have a tough defense. They look physical on film. So, we will have our work cut out for us on Friday,” Gerhardt said.

Mt. Vernon has allowed no more than three scores in any game this year. Gerhardt says their defense has all you want in terms of personnel on that side of the ball. “They are aggressive, they get off blocks very well and they run to the ball. When you have those three things clicking for you on defense you can be a really tough team to move the ball on,” he said.

Published 9/12/17

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Lexington Getting Ready for Balanced Orrville

Lexington plays host to former “OCC” rival Orrville in a non-conference football game on Friday night looking for its first win of the season.

The Minutemen lost to Ontario (21-20) in week one and then they were hammered by Shelby (41-7) last Friday.

Lex coach Taylor Gerhardt says Shelby is just really good. “Shelby is a really good football team. Not only do they have talent over there, but coach Will has them going in the right direction. They are a well disciplined well coached football team. We came up on the short end. We couldn’t get our offense going at all and they have a superb defense. We made too many mistakes against the caliber of a team like that and didn’t have a good night,” he said.

In his opinion, Gerhardt says the biggest thing they need to do is believe they are going to be successful. “We have to believe in ourselves. I have said this since last spring and this summer this team has the talent to compete. We have the pieces it is just the matter of clicking and playing together in all three phases of the football game and we have not yet,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Once we are able to believe in ourselves as players, believe in our coaching, believe in the schemes, and believe in each other, once that clicks I am excited about what we can do.”

Orrville (1-1) beat arch rival Wooster (20-16) in their opener and then lost (27-20) to Norwayne last Friday.

Gerhardt expects another tough game. “I expect a hardnosed, talented football team. Orrville has great history of football and when you have that kind of tradition you now the competition you are going to get. They have talent on that team. The staff over there does a tremendous job. So, we have our hands full with the Red Riders,” he said.

Orrville has opened its offense up a little, they were very run based the last several years, and Gerhardt says they are very balanced this year between the run and the pass. “The scary thing about Orrville is they really are a truly balanced team. They are 50-50 on the run and pass. They are comfortable going with what they need too to be successful. So, defensively we have to be ready for that and to prepare equally for the run and the pass is not common. They do a tremendous job of having that truly balanced offensive attack,” said Gerhardt.

Published 9/08/17

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Lexington Faces Very talented Shelby

Lexington fell just one point short in their opener against rival Ontario and this week they hit the road to play one of the top teams in the area in the Shelby Whippets in non-conference play.

Last Friday, they spotted Ontario a (14-0) lead and battled back in the second half before losing (21-20) to the Warriors.

Coach Taylor Gerhardt says he was concerned about how his young team would react to the Friday night lights and that inexperience hurt them a little bit early in the game. “Going out one of my concerns was how fast we were going to be able to start the game. An inexperienced team, a team that really hasn’t had any time playing together. Scrimmages are great, but they are not a real game and there is a difference. It took us a while to get started. Unfortunately Ontario did enough to hold onto the win. We had to go back to the drawing board and go back to work,” said Gerhardt.

Junior Cade Stover, in his first start at quarterback, scored on a couple of short touchdown runs for the Minutemen.

Shelby is starting sophomore McGwire Albert at quarterback in replacing senior Brennan Armstrong and freshmen Owen Fisher at running back instead of senior “Shorty” Brooks. They didn’t seem to miss a beat in a (48-10) win at Mansfield Madison last Thursday.

Gerhardt says his counterpart Shelby’s Erik Will and his staff do an excellent job preparing their kids and that showed against Madison. “First and foremost coach Will has a tremendous staff over there and their success last Thursday night is a testament to that. They have a lot of talent over there it is not just those two kids that unfortunately find themselves not able to play,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have talent that is young talent and they displayed that on Thursday. To have kids that young to be able to preform the way they did really speaks to the discipline that coach has instilled in his team.”

Shelby beat Lexington (17-14) last year in one of the better regular season games of 2016. One of only two regular season losses for the Minutemen.

Gerhardt says he expects the same kind of approach to the game that they saw last year from Shelby. “I think coach Will is smart he is not going to create an entirely new offense for a few weeks. They just coach those kids up and they are doing what they always do,” he said.

Published 8/30/17

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Lexington Has to Play with Intensity

Rivals Lexington and Ontario tangle in the high school football opener for both schools on Friday night at Lexington.

The Minutemen are coming off maybe the best season in school history when they shared the Ohio Cardinal Conference title and made it to the third round of the playoffs. Ontario is hoping to come out of a rebuilding process.

This season they are going to be less experienced, but still talented. Lexington coach Taylor Gerhardt says they have made the needed improvements during the preseason now it is time to see what they can do in a real game. “I am definitely happy with our progression. I certainly feel like we have room to grow as always. As far as being ready for game one, a big cross town rival game, kids coming in fired up with that rivalry hype I think we are in a good spot right now,” he said.

Cade Stover, who has been a game breaker, especially on defense, his freshman and sophomore years for Lexington, is expected to move from receiver to quarterback this year.

Lexington broke an 18 game losing streak with a (24-6) win last year and then caught fire for what was an excellent season. Gerhardt says this is a rival game and they have to play like it. “Once the first couple of hits go through it is a matter of focus, intensity and hustle. We talk about all of the time that each one of us has a coal in the core of our belly and individually we have to get that thing stoked. In the pregame everybody has it white hot and it is up to every individual to keep that steady coal burning throughout the game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “There still has to be a certain level of enthusiasm. You have to enjoy what you do. You have to celebrate when you can and enjoy the moment. We talk about living in the now all of the time. Everybody is white hot right at the beginning, but you have to keep that coal burning through out.”

Ontario expects to be better than the (4-6) record they had in Chris Hawkins’ first year at the helm. Gerhardt knows the Warriors are going to be ready and it will be a tough challenge. “I expect to see a tough football team. Coach Hawkins has a reputation of going places and getting teams, I wouldn’t say turn it around, but improve quickly. We know they are going to be well coached. With it being a cross town rivalry they are going to be ready to go. I expect to see a very tough football team (Friday) night,” he said.

Published 8/25/17

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Lexington on a Learning Curve

Last season, Lexington was a talented and experienced football team. This season they don’t have as much experience.

Coach Taylor Gerhardt says he likes the way his players are responding to the coaching they are getting this month. “I like where we are right now. We are a talented, but inexperienced team. It was a really important scrimmage for us last Saturday (against Clear Fork and Loudonville) to see how our kids would react to another team and see how fast they can play with that inexperience. We got a lot of good looks out of that scrimmage,” he said.

With new kids in a lot of positions, Gerhardt says they this is very important preseason for the Minutemen, which has about 12 days left before the opener against their non-conference rivals in the Ontario Warriors. “Last year we had a very veteran team as far as playing time and we are looking at how far ahead we can be and get through it healthy. You always want to try and get through scrimmages healthy, but this is much more about evaluation and having kids in the right places, do we need to slow down, can we speed up with our installation and all of those things. It is very important when you have an inexperienced group,” said Gerhardt.

When it comes to football it is not about thinking it about reacting and Gerhardt says with inexperienced players there is a lot for them to learn over a pretty short period of time. “It is pretty amazing what we can do on the high school level when you have the kids for as short a time as you do. It is not just knowing where to line up, it is not just know knowing what you responsibility is, it is also understanding when you are an offensive player the defense my throw something, a different look at you or move with a stunt or blitz at some place that it is not expected,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “The hardest part is being able to play, which means split second decisions that you have to make that you have been taught whether on the offensive or defensive side of the ball that you are going to have to execute. That is where most young as far as experience wise teams I think struggle the most is being able to play fast.”

Published 8/15/17

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Lexington Celebrates First Day

Lexington is coming off maybe the finest year in its football program’s history, but they don’t want to be looking in the rear view mirror they want to be staring straight ahead at what is facing them in 2017.

Lexington faces longtime rival Ontario at home in their first game in about a month on August 25. They play Shelby on week two in a key early season game and then Orrville, a former “OCC” foe, on week three. They open “OCC” play against Mt. Vernon.

Last season, the Minutemen shared the Ohio Cardinal Conference title with Ashland and advanced to the third round of the division three playoffs with wins over Clyde and Sandusky before losing to Toledo Central Catholic in the regional final.

Coach Taylor Gerhardt says Monday was like opening up all of the presents under the tree, well almost. “It is the first day of the 2017 season. It is almost like Christmas… almost… hitting day is Christmas, so kids have been working hard all through July camp days and they are just excited to start the count down to suit up and play some real American football,” he said.

Last year’s team was senior laden for the Minutemen and they counted on that experience. This year they don’t have as much of that, but Gerhardt says they have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. “We are an inexperienced group. We have talent. We lost a large amount of seniors that played, but they are picking things up. They are getting their noses in their playbooks and studying. The great thing about this group is I never have to worry about effort,” he told Swankonsports.com during a break in practice on Monday, “They give me that 100 percent effort every time. As long as we are that we are well. Our motto is get one day better, one rep better, and one practice better and they have been doing that.”

Last year was special for the Minutemen there is no doubt about it. Gerhardt believes they can take some momentum from last fall and take it into this season, but this is a team that has to sort of make itself too. He thinks they can do just that staring on the last Friday this month. “The big thing is this is their team this year and that was great and that is where we wanted to take the program. Now it is this group’s job, our job, to build on that. Last year absolutely gives us momentum,” he said.

Published 8/01/17

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Lexington Gets Past Jonathan Alder

  

          Lexington scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and beat Jonathan Alder (5-2) in a division two regional semi-final played at Carter Park in Bowling Green on Thursday afternoon.

          They meet Maumee for a regional title on Friday.

          Jonathan Alder (21-6) won the red division of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference this spring and earlier in the year the Pioneers were ranked as the number one team in Ohio by the voters in the state baseball coaches association.

          Coach Kevin Morrow knew his team would have to play very well and that is exactly what they did.  “We knew coming into this game you play anybody in the regionals they are going to be good.  The word out on them was they make very, very few mistakes, they will bunt and put pressure on you, and their pitchers are very smart.  That is exactly what we got.  But, we have a pretty good group of Minutemen over here that can do the same thing, pitch, and get out of jams, and make plays when we need to.  It was a fun and exciting time,” said Morrow.

          Hunter Biddle got an infield hit and Ben Vore was intentionally walked in the fifth.  Biddle scored on a throwing error and two more runs scored on RBI hits by Jacob Reichle and Jacob Odson.  “It was 2-2 and I think both teams had opportunities to really kind of blow it open.  Both of the teams made the plays when they needed to or got the strikeout when they needed to.  It was a 2-2 game there in the bottom of fifth and I’ll tell you the bottom of our lineup was just rock solid.  Jacob Reichle and Jacob Odson especially were really clutch there in that fifth inning,” said Morrow.

          Sophomores Vore and Jake Depperscmidt did the job on the mound for the Minutemen.  Vore went the first six allowing three hits, striking out five and walking five to earn the win.  Depperscmidt got the save by pitching the seventh.

          Lexington (19-9) lost to Parma Padua in the regionals last season and they bring back a lot of experience from a year ago and Morrow thought that was a big factor in their favor on Thursday.  “We talked about that.  Alder wasn’t there last year and we were.  We were a little shell socked there in that first inning last year with Padua.  This year it felt different, felt different for me, felt different for a lot of the kids that were there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “This was a tournament game, but it wasn’t something that was way over our heads and it showed (Thursday) night.  We played with poise and were loose in the dugout.  The kids were really talking and having fun.  There was a difference in this game for sure and that helped.”

          Maumee beat Parma Padua (7-1) in the nightcap on Thursday.  Morrow describes them as a team that really can hit the ball through their lineup.  “They are giant killers.  They have knocked off I believe Defiance and Wapakoneta and now Padua.  We have seen them twice now and they too are a rock solid team.  They make very, very few mistakes.  The biggest thing we have seen is they can hit.  They will bunt and they can drive a double in the gap.  They put pressure on you and run and take extra bases.  So, I have really been impressed with their offense.  We are going to have to play great on defense, make smart pitches and limit them from a big inning,” said Morrow.

 

Published 5/26/17

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Lexington Beats Kenton in Extra Innings

  

          Ben Vore drove in Austin Eifrid with the winning run in the bottom half of the 11th inning and Lexington edged Kenton (4-3) in the division two district semi-finals on Thursday at Heidelberg College.

          They will be back in Tiffin on Saturday to face the Clyde Fliers, (12-11) winners over Bellevue on Thursday, in the district final.

          Coach Kevin Morrow says it was a game that he will likely never forget.  “It was so much fun,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We watched that game in front of us Bellevue and Clyde.  Bellevue has a miraculous comeback in the seventh and that kind of set the tone going into our game.  Boy Kenton was tough.  They hit the ball hard everywhere.  Our kids didn’t break.  We didn’t allow them to get too many crooked numbers up.  Our pitchers kept it right there and gave us a chance.  We fought through some dangerous times there with the bases loaded and one out and played the infield in.  Things bounced the right way and we pulled it out with an exciting win.”

          Vore is a player that has been steadily improving as the season has gone on.  Morrow says he was a big factor all day Thursday, not just with the game winner.  “He is one of those sophomores I was talking about earlier in the season that I was really excited about.  He had a big double there in the first or second inning for our first run.  He about hit another one out.  He has really been swinging the bat as the season has gone on.  He has all the tools in the world.  He is big.  He has power.  He can run.  (Thursday) he clutched up and came through and we brought Eifrid in with the game winner,” he said.

          Lexington won the district title last year at Heidelberg and has a chance to do it again.  Morrow says he reminded his players of that fact before the first pitch.  “I keep telling them that Heidelberg field has been good luck.  We have won some big games over there regular season and tournament.  We haven’t lost yet on that field.  I brought that up before the game started.  I said you guys have a lot experience.  We have a lot of seniors.  We have three seniors that have been here three years with us.  We have an advantage.  This is one the best teams that Kenton has ever had.  I don’t think they have been there in that position.  I mean I don’t know that much about them.  I said you guys have the advantage you have been here before.  They played like (Thursday) night.  They kept their cool.  The kids kind of played rock solid.  They didn’t get too excited.  We came through and it was pretty awesome,” said Morrow.

          Clyde beat Lexington (2-1) in a game that was played at Bellevue back on April 15.  Morrow says they know what they are up against.  “We played them earlier in the year and they threw that lefty that threw (Thursday) against Bellevue.  The good thing was he threw (Thursday.)  Clyde is tough they are well coached.  We have a long history with them back when our core group of seniors were sophomores and they had a really good sophomore class.  We have played each other every year.  I could tell those Clyde kids were going to get better and better.  They put the bats on the balls against Bellevue.  We are going to have our work cut out for us on Saturday,” said Morrow.

 

Published 5/19/17

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Lexington Handles Upper

  

          Lexington got an outstanding effort from Austin Eifrid and they beat Upper Sandusky (8-1) in the first round of the division two district tournament on Wednesday.

          They host Sandusky Perkins in the next round of Friday.

          At this time of year you have to have great pitching and coach Kevin Morrow says they got a very good effort on Wednesday.  “Austin Eifrid pitched a great game.  The only run they scored was off walks and little infield bunts and stuff, so he was doing really well.  Then we also had a few nice plays.  We had three, four nice double plays that got us out of some jams.  Then we got to the third, fourth inning and we started to time them up and got some line drives and runs on the board.  It is a good feeling you never want to lose that first game in the tournament.  We were happy (Wednesday) night Austin Eifrid pitched an outstanding game,” said Morrow.

          With 16 teams in the district there were no byes this year and Morrow says it is good to get out on the field and play right away in the tournament. “You want to get out there and play, especially when the sun is shining and that advantage of it.  Unfortunately the way the tournament is lined up it starts the same week that you are trying to finish up games.  That can really throw you off.  We lost two Clear Fork games.  It was kind of tough because we couldn’t quite go to our top tier pitchers because the tournament is more important, but we also got some games in there and got some at bats and played against a really well coached team in the Clear Fork Colts,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win over Upper, “We got our feet wet in the sectional tournament and we got to feel that tournament feeling and that competition and that pressure that you know it is one and done.  You have to get a win and move on.  We are off to a good start, but we know that Perkins is pretty darn good and we have to be ready to go on Friday.”

          Lexington (15-9) plays host to the Perkins Pirates, who beat Norwalk (8-0) in their first game in the tournament at Norwalk on Wednesday.  Being the ninth seed that win would be seen as an upset, but Morrow knows Perkins has good players.  “Perkins and Kenton were kind of my two dark horses, or just kind of unknowns.  You look at their record and it’s not too bad, but they were just kind of mysterious.  We didn’t get to scout them, we didn’t get to see them, we didn’t get to play them.  I just kept hearing things about Perkins, especially with their number one pitcher on the mound they could beat anybody.  I am surprised as good as Norwalk is.  We had a scout up there to watch the game.  He just said that Perkins put the ball in play and there was a mixture of some errors and some things.  It is a concern for us that Perkins beat such a quality to team as the Truckers, so we have to be ready to go on Friday there is no doubt,” said Morrow.

 

Published 5/11/17

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Lexington Thinking Defense

  

          Lexington is trying to get healthy as they get ready to host Upper Sandusky in a division two tournament game next Wednesday.

          They won a couple of games with week over West Holmes in Ohio Cardinal Conference action (6-1) on Tuesday and (4-2) on Wednesday.

          Coach Kevin Morrow says they have started to get a little more healthy and they have to play really good defense if they are going to be able to have success in the postseason.  “Over the last week and a half we have hit a rough skid with just injuries and sore arms and people playing out of position.  Back towards the begin of the season we lost our All-Ohio third baseman Hunter Biddle, but he has played the last two games at third base and it is good to see him out there.  I think it changes him as a total player.  It helps him at bat and in a leadership role,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “To make sure our full arsenal is healthy is a big thing.  Of course, offense is always a premium, but I think we have started to hit the ball a little better here the last two, two and half weeks.  We just have to get back to where we were last year the second half of the season when we played lights out defense.  We made all of the routine plays and threw people out and kept people off the bases.  That is probably one of the biggest things that we want to see going into the tournament is that good, solid defense.”

          The Minutemen won the district title last year.

          Lexington (14-7,8-4) will play Clear Fork (11-11,6-6) in their two “OCC” games on Monday and Tuesday.  Morrow says he will kind of miss Clear Fork being in the league.  “It is going to be weird not having them in there.  I have grown to be pretty good friends with coach Staab.  It is going to be different not having them on the schedule, but we are going to make sure that every year we are going to get at least one game or two non-conference games being that they are our next door neighbor.  They are pretty good this year and they should be pretty good again next year,” he said.

          As far the games next week he says they are going to have to save some things for the tournament.  “Coming up next week it is going to be tough both of us really don’t have anything on the line as far as the conference.  We are just looking at bigger and better things here.  Obviously, we want to try and win every game and be completive, especially Tuesday being senior night we want to put on a good show for the kids to remember.  Wednesday is the tournament and we have Upper Sandusky.  These two games with Clear Fork we want to play well and get some good at bats so we are nice and loose on Wednesday,” said Morrow.

          Upper Sandusky (11-12) is in third place in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference and haven’t played the same level of competition that the Minutemen have this year.  However, Morrow says they aren’t going to take anything for granted.  “They are kind of in a procurer situation with them being a bigger school with a lot of D-3 like schools, but you can’t take anybody lightly.  If you get the right pitcher on the mound and if he is dialed in that’s all they need.  Then you end up losing 2-1 or 1-0.  So, we have to get these kids ready to play.  We want to represent the “OCC” well.  We have kind of a chip on our shoulder when (Madison coach Doug) Rickert and I when we go up north to the seeding and stuff and a lot of schools tend to vote the “NOL” schools heavy and certain schools get a lot of rankings for whatever reason.  I am not sure those teams up north know what it is like to play in the “OCC” and have the type of competition we have on a daily basis is our league, especially with all of the D-one schools.  I don’t think the “NOL” or “SBC” has any D-one schools.  So, we want to represent the “OCC” well and be ready to play against Upper Sandusky.  We haven’t played them in years, so it is going to be kind of a mystery.  We just have to be ready to play and make sure we advance,” said Morrow.

 

Published 5/05/17

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Lexington With Tough Week

  

          Lexington must be playing one of the toughest schedules in North Central Ohio this week.

          They lost twice to Ohio Cardinal Conference leader Mt. Vernon (6-4) on Tuesday and (7-5) on Wednesday and now the play Shelby (17-3), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, on Friday in a non-conference game.

          Coach Kevin Morrow says he wants to play as many good teams as he can each spring.  “Playing good teams is the only way you are going to find out if you are legit or not.  I have learned that from some other coaches I have talked to.  Coach Rastetter, the former wrestling coach at Lex.  He always said go after the big ones.  It so happens that this year we had a big one enter our conference so we play them automatically.  It just worked out that we also play Shelby that also has an outstanding record the same week.  We are looking forward to the challenge.  It is also a possible preview to things down the road in the tournament.  Shelby is going to be one of those teams you are going to have to go through to advance,” said Morrow.

          The Minutemen (12-6,6-4), #3 in our poll, lost to Mt. Vernon, #2 in the poll, on Wednesday after giving up a seven spot in the second inning.  Morrow want proud of how they kept fighting to come back.  “One thing that we talk about is the mental toughness and being able to bounce back and hang in there to the end.  I was real proud of them for that to come back from seven runs down.  Austin Eifrid has just been lights out for us all year.  He developed some soreness in that second inning and just didn’t have his usual stuff.  He couldn’t put the ball where he wanted to.  You knew with a team like Mt. Vernon that just hits and hits some more.  So, it got out of hand quick,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Jake Depperschmidt came in there, he is a sophomore that we have been excited about, and stopped the bleeding.  We started to chip away at the end.  We had a chance to tie it up and actually had the winning run at the plate.  So, we weren’t quitting against a really good team.  Hopefully, against Shelby we can stop that big inning.  We had two big innings against Mt. Vernon that cost us that got away from us.  We had some errors and a walk and a big hit, so hopefully that doesn’t happen against Shelby on (Friday.)”

          Lexington won the division two district title last season and is going to be a factor this spring too.  Morrow says they have a good chance to get a home game, but repeating that district title is going to be tough.  “We have some success since they have started that home team higher seed deal.  That is always fun to start out on your own field.  It is going to be another meat grinder.  Shelby and Vermilion are up there, of course, Bellevue.  I tell people a lot don’t sleep on Madison they are sneaky good.  They spit with us and they just swept Clear Fork and that is a team you don’t want to run into in the tournament.  I think we are in the upper half of the bracket, so we should get that higher seed advantage.  We just have to get ready to play some good baseball as May comes around because it is one and done with the tournament, so we want to make sure we are playing at our best and finally get healthy by then,” said Morrow.

 

Published 4/28/17

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Lexington Gets Closer

  

          Lexington rallied Tuesday to beat Ashland (5-2) and climb to within a game Ohio Cardinal Conference leading Mt. Vernon.

          After surrendering two runs in the first inning, Lexington shutout the Arrows over the final six innings to come up with the win.

          Coach Kevin Morrow says they were able to settle down and start to do the things they have been doing all season.  “That is how we have been winning, mostly on pitching and usually some pretty solid defense.  We had a little bit of a meltdown the first inning and Ashland made us pay for it.  They pushed two across, but we kept it there.  After that we didn’t really let too many opportunities happen for Ashland and that kept us in the game and we were able to tie it back up.  In the sixth we pushed three across to beat a tough Ashland team that is very well coached,” said Morrow.

          Morrow says any win over Ashland (6-6,2-5) is a good one.  He says they were able to gain confidence as the game went along on Tuesday and get the win.  “We were a little disappointed in that first inning.  I just felt welt we were a little bit flat.  We just weren’t ready to go.  I don’t think Ashland even hit it out of the infield, but they just kept putting pressure on us with some small ball.  My message was hey don’t let that get you down, don’t let it get you frustrated, just have confidence and keep playing.  Our pitchers have just done an outstanding job this year at usually keeping it to one or two runs to give us a chance.  We just have to get these hits rolling and try to put up five, six, seven runs a game instead of just trying to squeak by.  In the sixth inning we were able to get a big inning put together and push some runs across,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “It is a tough Ashland team that we have spilt with every single year that I have been coaching because they are well coached.  They are just going to make you make mistakes and they are going to push you and they are going to do some small ball and they are going to come through with a clutch hit.  It feels good to win this first one against Ashland, that’s for sure.”

          Lexington (9-3,5-2), #2 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, plays at Ashland on Wednesday.  Wooster’s (8-0) win over Mt. Vernon on Tuesday gave the Yellow Jackets their first “OCC” lost of the season.

          Morrow says they are right in the race for the conference title.  “Every one of these games is so important.  You can’t look past anybody.  You are going to be in a dogfight with everyone, especially with Ashland.  It sounds like good news with Mt. Vernon getting a loss.  It gives us some hope that this thing is still very much wide open.  We just have to keep playing game by game and hanging these “OCC” wins to give ourselves a chance,” he said.

 

Published 4/19/17

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Lexington Blanks Wooster

  

          Lexington got a win on Thursday that they absolutely had to have.

          They beat Wooster (4-0) to remain two games behind Ohio Cardinal Conference leader Mt. Vernon.  The Yellow Jackets downed Mansfield Senior (10-0) on Thursday to remain unbeaten in the league.

          The Minutemen (7-2,4-2), #4 in the first Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, had lost to Wooster (11-2) on Wednesday and coach Kevin Morrow says they had to play better in all areas of the game and they were able to do that.  “I challenged the kids after the kind of debacle we had over there.  I said I know you guys can play better than that, but we need to step it up and have a nice bounce back and we did,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Thursday, “What a tale between two days how different can they be?  Over there we kind of looked like boarder line “Bad News Bears” with just errors everywhere and hanging our heads.  (Thursday) night we started out with good energy.  Austin Eifrid just pitched an outstanding game.  We had a couple of clutch run scoring hits and bunts and played good defense and we bounced back.”

          Eifrid, who went six and two-thirds innings of shutout ball on Thursday, was brilliant.  Morrow says he gets ahead in counts and has a great assortment of pitches.  “Austin Eifrid has just been spectacular this year.  We gave him a week off last week to give him some rest.  He said his arm was a little bit sore, so we gave him a week off and set him up here for the Wooster Generals.  He gets strike one a lot of times.  Even when he gets down he will throw a change up or and off speed pitch to get an out.  We made some plays (Thursday) night where we didn’t make them over there.  We made them and held Wooster, who is very good with all of those bats they have.  To hold them to zero runs that is a heck of a night,” said Morrow.

          Lexington was able to scratch across a couple of runs early in the game to take the lead and Morrow says that takes a little of the pressure off of the kids.  “It helps the pitching, it helps Austin.  It just gives the kids a little bit of a boost.  We got a couple of opportunities with some kids at the bottom of the lineup.  We played a little small ball and ran a little bit and where able to push some runs across.  Jacob Reichle has just been on fire the last couple of games.  We have moved him up to the five hole.  He had another clutch two out, two RBI hit (Thursday) night.  Four runs was all Austin needed and he was just spectacular,” said Morrow.

 

Published 4/14/17

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Lexington Hammers Mansfield Senior

  

          Lexington got on the playing field for the first time since Saturday and they overwhelmed a young Mansfield Senior team (26-0) in Ohio Cardinal Conference play on Wednesday.

          With their game against the Tygers postponed on Tuesday, the Minutemen (5-1,2-1) were eager to get back on the diamond.  Coach Kevin Morrow says with Ohio weather you can’t turn down chances to play games if at all possible.  “You have to get out as much as possible with this crazy weather.  It is very limiting and keeps throwing you off.  So, if you can get outside whether it is a scrimmage of a practice and (Wednesday) with Mansfield get out in the sunshine against live pitching.  You have to get out there it is the only way you are going to get used to this regular season.  Whenever you can you have to grab those days.  When your field is remotely close to playable you have to get outside,” said Morrow.

          Lexington has some offensive weapons and Morrow says they were able to get in some good swings on Wednesday.  “We put up 11 runs on Highland and that is a quality program and 11 runs on Norwalk, so we can do it.  Madison pitched us really well.  We couldn’t do much there that was kind of disappointing.  We got some good at bats (Wednesday) and we got plenty of at bats the way that game went against Mansfield,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We have to get ready if the weather allows us to play Sandusky on Friday.  I think there might be some snow on the ground.  We might be staring at Wooster next week.  We definitely want to get the bats going if we want to compete against Wooster.”

          The Minutemen are due to play at Arlin Field on Thursday in the makeup from Tuesday, but that doesn’t look like that is going to happen.

          Morrow says likely their next game in “OCC” might be Tuesday against defending league champ Wooster, who blasted Clear Fork handily the last two nights.

          Morrow says they were able to get some of their younger kids into the lineup on Wednesday and were able to see what they can do.  “You look for opportunities whenever you can.  We have some question marks still on who we are as a team.  We do have a core group we know are probably going to start.  We are still looking for some pieces in the lineup.  We are also thinking about next year.  We are carrying three, four sophomores and a couple of juniors.  When you get games like this you are fortunate they go the way they do you can get some kids some at bats.  Maybe a kid just needs and opportunity to swing it a little bit to show you he has some confidence and can do some things.  You might find some of those key players down the road,” said Morrow.

 

Published 4/06/17

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Lexington Edges Madison

   

          It was a standoff on the first week of the season as Lexington and Madison each won at the other’s field on the first week of Ohio Cardinal Conference play.

          Lexington’s Austin Eifrid and Madison’s Layne Berrier locked horns in an old fashion pitcher’s dual at Ram Field on Thursday with the Minutemen scoring on unearned run in the top of first inning and winning (1-0) in a game that took less than 90 minutes to play.

          Eifrid struck out nine.  He fanned Chase Jessie with Rams on first and second to end the bottom of the sixth and struck out Doug Shenberger to end the game.

          Coach Kevin Morrow says he had command of all of his pitches on Thursday.  “He did an excellent job.  He had a great scrimmage down a Delaware Hayes.  He took on a division one school and pretty much held them hitless, maybe one hit.  (Thursday) he was super efficient and had a few plays behind him.  It was like one of the fastest games I have been apart of.  I know coach Rickert said the same thing.  Both pitchers just looked great.  It is early and the bats aren’t quite getting there yet.  To win a game with pitching and defense you have got to here in the early season,” said Morrow.

          Madison’s best chance to score came in the fourth inning when Jaycob Stone walked and advanced to second on a ground ball by Cal Rickert.  Stone tried score from second when Jessie layed down a good bunt and was thrown out at first, but Stone was tagged out at home.  “That is a fast kid in Stone.  I like that play too.  Stuff like that in a 1-0 game you have got to do it.  You have to try and manufacture a run.  It was close.  We had a good relay to Odson and he got the tag in there, thank God,” said Morrow.

          Lexington’s run came in the first when Jacob Odson and Jared Strickler singled and that put runners at first and second.  Ian Moore hit a ball to Stone at short and he threw it high to second and the umpire said Cal Rickert pulled is foot in what would have been the third out.  Odson scored on the play.

          “You have to know where you are going with the ball before it is hit.  We made a little mistake there.  It ends up being a big one.  Even with the mistake I thought we got him at second base.  For the most part we made some nice plays.  We made a nice double play and made some nice catches in the outfield.  We only gave up one run, so we are not going to hang our heads,” said Madison coach Doug Rickert.  The Madison coach came out of his dugout to argue the call, but to no avail.

          Madison (1-2,1-1) has less than 10 hits total in three games this week, but coach Rickert believes they will start to hit.  “I told the kids it’s tough to hit early.  You don’t ever get out of box just ripping the baseball.  The conditions the wind has been blowing in every game that we played.  It’s a little chilly.  The umpire had a little bigger strike zone (Thursday) night and it makes it a little tougher sometimes.  It will come around.  I told them we haven’t hit the ball real well yet and we have had some loud outs at times.  When you look at the other team they aren’t hitting the ball much either,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “They had one hit against us (Wednesday) night and three or for (Thursday).  I saw Clear Fork against River Valley the other night went 10 innings and only had three hits.  It will all come once guys get to see more curveballs and change ups.  You can’t simulate that very well in practice.  We didn’t get outside until last week.  Usually we are outside a little more than that.  It will get better.”

          Fundamentals are big in baseball and Morrow says they were able to execute them on Thursday.  “Both teams are well coached on the defensive end.  We spend a ton of time handling all of the situations.  I give them credit we didn’t have any mistakes or any meltdown innings.  We played good defense for Austin and they played great defense for their pitcher.  It was a crazy win and we will take 1-0,” he said.

 

Published 3/31/17

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Lexington Plays Madison This Week

  

          Lexington and Madison are two of the favorites to claim the Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball title and they will clash twice on the opening week of conference play.

          After being rained out at Madison on Tuesday they meet at Lexington on Wednesday and then at Madison on Thursday.  If one of them could sweep the series it would put them in command early in the conference race.

          The Minutemen (2-0) beat Buckeye Valley (2-0) and Highland (11-1) in a doubleheader on Saturday to start the season.

          Coach Kevin Morrow says the wins gave them some confidence.  “It was exactly how you want to get in started because we didn’t get very many scrimmages in and you are always wondering where you really stand against in the real deal.  We had two quality opponents coming in and we pulled off two wins.  It never hurts to go 2-0.  It gives you some confidence that in the early part of the season that you are already a competitive team.  Now we are going to start getting into the “OCC” and it is going to be pretty brutal this year in the “OCC.”  At least you know from Saturday’s performance that we have a lot of positive things, especially on the defensive end,” said Morrow.

          Lexington and Madison (0-1) have developed a rivalry in a lot of sports, especially in baseball.   A Lexington win over Madison last year cost the Rams a share of the “OCC” title with Wooster. 

          Morrow says it’s a rivalry built on respect.  “Since I have taken over I have tried to get through the kids about the rivalry there.  It is not out of disrespect it is out total respect.  I have a lot respect of coach (Doug) Rickert and his staff and their tradition and their culture over there and the years of winning.  You kind of get it up a little more when you get into these rivalry games.  A lot of it has to do with just how good that program has been for years,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “When you can play well against Madison that is always a good deal because you know especially over the last few years the “OCC” is probably going to go through them.  It can go through any school, but Madison is going to have a say in it.  We have to be ready to go for sure this week.”

          There could be a blowout this week, but probably not.  It is likely going to come down to a run or two.  Morrow says you have to make the fundamental plays.  “Cutting down on walks.  Saturday we hardly walked anybody.  Pitchers threw strikes.  Making sure you don’t give them the extra outs and make the routine plays.  Don’t let them take and easy base or an extra base.  On the offensive end you want to be doing those things.  You want to be the aggressor.  You want to capitalize on a mistake because you know just how fast the table can be turned on you.  We have take advantage of our opportunities and just not let a big inning get away from us.  Do the little things and I think we will be in good shape,” he said.

 

Published 3/29/17

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Lexington Looking for Really Good Season

  

          Lexington advanced to the regional tournament last year and they return a good number of players from that baseball team and expect some good results this spring.

          Coach Kevin Morrow says they have a solid group back, plus they have some kids that are new to varsity baseball that have looked pretty good so far.  “Going into this season we have a lot to look forward too.  I think we have most of the offensive weapons back and we definitely have the majority of our solid pitchers back and we also have a group of incoming sophomores that looked really promising on the JV that should have an impact on the varsity this year.  So, all things on paper look pretty good.  We just need some good weather and get some kids out there against live competition and try to get some scrimmages in and go from there,” he said.

          Lexington is due to start the season Saturday, weather permitting, against both Highland and Buckeye Valley, and then has a very important Ohio Cardinal Conference series next week against arch rival Madison.

          Morrow says they would like to get some innings in against other teams before the season starts.  “You have to put them in those competitive situations.  We tried to do that with the good weather we had in February we did a lot of inter squads outside.  We are fortunate enough to have some full length cages within our fieldhouse, so we can throw live against each other.  We would like to see some other schools, someone other than ourselves, and get into some competitive situations, especially against some live pitching,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I know most of the kids play down at “Hitsville” when they can, down at Bellville, to see some live pitching.  The other aspect of it is you have to get outside and play competitively on the defensive end too to see the ball off the bat and make plays.”

          Lexington is supposed to scrimmage Delaware Hayes on Tuesday and Galion on Thursday.

          There has been good competition in camp for the Minutemen and Morrow says that is going to help them get better this year and in the future too.   “These sophomores are definitely looking to be the future, but I see them making an impact this year and they are going to push those older kids, but we have a great group of seniors returning.  Some of the more decorated kids we have had go through the program are all back.  We have a small group of juniors on the varsity, but these sophomores and looking to push these older kids and having an impact this year and we are looking forward to it,” he said.

 

Published 3/21/17

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Sandusky Wins Ticket to the Regional

   

          Northwest district player of the year Jayreese Williams scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half and Sandusky rallied to beat Lexington (42-33) in the division two district final on Saturday afternoon at Mansfield Senior High School.

          There were some offensive highlights in the game, but Sandusky head coach Colin Irish says it came down to them getting stops.  “It wasn’t really about the offense to be honest with you.  What an effort we gave defensively.  Brent Hanson, I haven’t seen a young man dominate the paint at his size.  He did a great job with (Conner) Roesch the other day with Perkins and he did a great job with (Cade) Stover (Saturday.)  I am sure Stover had decent numbers, but he made him work so hard.  It was about the defense,” said Irish.

          Lexington (17-8) scored only 12 points in the third and four quarters.  Irish says the players knew what they had to do.  “It was defensive effort.  The kids kept saying it is about the defense.  In the huddle when we took a time out to just regroup defensively.  It was coming form the kids we have to get stops all of the way down to the bitter end and fortunately we managed to do that,” he said.

          Jayresse Williams went to the bench with 4:38 left in the first quarter with two fouls and Lexington led by four (12-8) after the first quarter.  Williams returned with less than five minutes to go in the half, but the Minutemen still led (21-18) at the break.

          Lexington coach Scott Hamilton says they were aggressive early and were able to get through the Sandusky pressure, but as they game went on they made more mistakes.  “We were executing a little, but we were being aggressive.  We were attacking their pressure.  With Jayreese being on the bench that gave us a little bit of a spark too.  They were right there with their best guy on the bench.  They were giving us everything they had.  I think we handled their pressure, but the second half was a totally different story,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “Their pressure just kind of rattled us.  We didn’t handle it well.  We had a couple of turnovers.  Our body language really changed.  We started settling for some not so good shots.  I didn’t have guys crashing the boards.  It is one of those things you hope doesn’t happen at this point in the season.  When you only score 12 points in the second half you are not going to win too many games.”

          Cade Stover led Lexington with 16, 10 of those were in the first half, and they didn’t get much of anything from the perimeter.  Hamilton says they couldn’t get into a rhythm.  “It was one of those that just wasn’t meant to be I guess.  We could not find a rhythm.  We didn’t feel comfortable I guess.  It was because of their defense, I credit that.  We did get a couple of offensive boards, put backs.  We had a couple of sparks, we just couldn’t get two or three possessions.  It was just one possession and we were right back trying to catch up,” he said.

          Keith Williams, who finished with 10 points, gave Sandusky its first lead of the second half (24-23) on a layup with 4:32 left in the third.  Jayreese Williams’ field goal gave the Streaks a lead (27-25) they would never relinquish and he canned a three with 1:36 left in the quarter to stretch the lead to (30-25) to five.  “I knew we were going to get it somewhere.  “Reece” stepped up and hit some big shots.  We missed some layups as well.  I think we can play better, but at the end of the day we are moving on and that is what it is all about,” said Irish.

          Hamilton says they are well aware of the talents of Jayreese, but he is hard to contain.  Really he thought they did a good job overall on defense.  “We have seen him for four years now.  We knew that going in.  We knew we weren’t going to stop him.  We didn’t have that capability.  We thought we could contain him and we thought we could and shut down a couple of their other guys.  I thought we did a nice job, they only scored 42 points on us.  Our problem was we just couldn’t get into an offensive flow,” he said.

          Lexington would close it to one (30-29) on a Mason Kearns basket with 6:18 to play, but they only made one field goal there after. 

          Sandusky (21-4) and Lexington have met three straight years in the district tournament.  The Minutemen advanced to the regional last year (74-52) and the Streaks beat them in a semi final game (58-55) two years ago and went on to beat Ontario for the district title.

          Irish likes the experience they bring to the table and he says their pressure took the Minutemen out of the some of the things they wanted to do.  “I think it is a factor, but they have a lot of experience too.  This was a rubber match.  We played them the last couple of years.  I have much respect for coach Hamilton and what he does with those guys.  I think we managed to make them unconformable down the stretch.  I’m not sure if conditioning had something to do with it our kids are such good shape,” he said.

 

Published 3/11/17

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Lexington and Sandusky Again

  

          Lexington has a vastly different lineup this season, but they face Sandusky for the second straight March in the division two district final on Saturday afternoon this time at Mansfield Senior High School.

          The Minutemen advanced with a (52-45) win over Ontario Wednesday night, meanwhile Sandusky downed Perkins (57-42) in the second game Wednesday.

          Anytime you play Sandusky you must deal with the enormous talents of Jayreese Williams, the district six coaches association player of the year.  Lexington coach Scott Hamilton says that has been keeping him up at night.  “It seems like he is a fifth or sixth year senior he has just make that kind of impact since his freshman year.  He is definitely one of those guys that as soon as he steps on the court he seems like he is in range.  Whether he is driving it to the hoop or whether he is pulling up for a long three you just figure it is going to go in, he is just that type of scorer.  He is definitely going to be a focal point with what we try to do on Saturday,” he said.

          A tough decision has to be made on how much extra attention to give Jayreese.  Hamilton says you can’t let him just light up the scoreboard, yet the Blue Streaks (20-4) also have other guys, such as Keith Williams and Cavon Croom, headed to Ball State on a football scholarship and the two time defending state champion in the long jump.  “There have been some games in his career up there at Sandusky when he has gotten 50 in a game, so we definitely don’t want to get in a situation where they score 52, he gets 50, and we score 48.  So, he definitely has got to be a focus for us to try and contain him might be the best way to put it because you are not going to shut him down.  We have got to contain him, but you can’t let other guys have career nights on you,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have multiple guys that can score, so we have to be aware that he is not a one man show that’s for sure.  We saw that (Thursday) night in the district semi when they had three guys in double figures.  It is one those things when he is going to get a lot of attention, but you can’t leave other guys wide open.”

          Lexington (17-7) has enjoyed some pretty good success in basketball the last several years and their kids are used to winning.  Hamilton says when the game is on the line he believes they are going to make the big plays.  “One of the things that we think with our guys is we have a certain level of confidence right now.  We went through some struggles late in the season and went through it with some different things.  We have a little bit of confidence if the game is tight or if it is close at the end we are in position where we can win we are never in that thought process that we are out of it.  Right now, we are playing a good team.  We aren’t playing anymore give mes.  We know good teams are going to make runs at any given time.  (Wednesday) night Ontario made a couple of runs and made some big shots, and crowd was really into it.  My guys didn’t get rattled and stuck with it.  That is one of the things that hopefully will help us.  They are team that turns one turnover into eight points really quick,” said Hamilton.

          These two schools also met in the football playoffs last fall with Lexington winning (30-19) in a mild upset.  Is there revenge involved Saturday?  Well, Hamilton thinks a bigger factor might be the (74-52) Lexington win a year ago in this very same district final game.  “That may factor into it and maybe on the minds of players, but even more so what I look at is they basically return, not exactly, but basically return a good portion of their roster from last year’s basketball team that we met in the district finals.  I think that may be weighing a little heavier on their minds we were all here last year with the same place, same team.  Where I have a different squad, I have a couple of guys that were involved in that game, but my big time contributors all moved on with graduation, so I have a new crew and we are trying to cut our own path.  That district final basketball game last year may weight a little bit heavier than that football game,” said Hamilton.

 

Published 3/10/17

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Lexington Gets Past Ontario

   

          After trailing the whole game Ontario tied the score with just over five minutes left on a Tre Jordan three pointer, but Lexington’s Ben Vore responded with a three of his own less than 10 seconds later to ignite a (7-0) run over the next three minutes.

          Lexington (17-7) beat Ontario (52-45) in a division two district semi-final at Mansfield Senior High School on Wednesday night.  The Minutemen return to play Sandusky (20-4) on Saturday afternoon in a rematch of last year’s district final.

          Lexington coach Scott Hamilton says Vore, a sophomore, isn’t shy when comes to putting it up.  “Well, Benny expects it all of the time.  He is one of those guys that has that mentality that he is open and he can score.  He is so confident as a shooter.  Honestly for me it was one of those deals where what the heck?  Oh, good job.  That happens quite a bit.  We have a couple of guys that really are very confident and ready to score,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “Mason Kearns is another one.  He started off the game really well and hit a couple of big shots for us.  Last year he was not shooting the ball at all.  He was scoring at them rim or he wasn’t scoring at all.  We have tried to tell him you have to be a threat no matter where you are on the floor.  A lot of it was confidence for him.  We has been very confident this year and done a nice job.  Benny has been one of those sophomores that has been big for us coming down this tournament run.”

          Ontario coach Joe Balogh thinks they missed some opportunities, but he credits the Lexington bench for having a big night.  “We missed some easy shots in transition at the rim.  They had some guys come off the bench and really step up.  You tell me we hold Stover to eight, I think he had four till the last couple of minutes and we had three guys in double figures I would probably like that.  You have to give them credit they had some young kids I mean Vore both of his threes were huge.  Johnson hits one in the first quarter that is big.  A lot times in the tournament that is what happens you have guys that aren’t so called star guys step up and make shots and they did that and you have to give them a lot of credit for that,” said Balogh.

          Lexington held the lead all night, but Hamilton says they knew Ontario wasn’t going to make it easy.  It was (31-21) Lex with 4:24 left in the third after a Dana Shoulders Jr. basket.  Then back game the Warriors to tie it at 38 with 5:22 left to play.  Hamilton says the players didn’t get rattled.  “They kids didn’t, but I did.  I have known Joe Balogh since I was in the seventh grade.  I know the guy and I respect him a ton.  So, I knew they were going to make a run.  I was reminding my kids at halftime and in every huddle that they were going to make a run this thing wasn’t over.  I think that helped them.  They didn’t get rattled they stayed with the game plan and we got the shots we wanted.  A couple of times they sped us up a little bit and we took a couple of poor shots.  They got a couple extra rebounds.  I was really unhappy with some of the rebounds that they were able to get off the free throw line.  I told the guys before the game started that this game is going to won on the boards.  Whoever wins the rebounds is going to win the game.  Lucky we won the boards 29-28,” said Hamilton.

          Ontario’s defense as able to stop Cade Stover, a 15 PPG scorer, from getting his hand on the ball and they kept him off the offensive glass.  Hamilton says they had some others step up.  “That is one of the things that we tried to tell the guys too.  Stover gets a little frustrated with it when he is drawing the double and triple team we have to make sure the other guys are capable of doing some things and scoring without him.  He is just one of those guys that is tickled to death that we are moving on to Saturday.  Obviously he would like to get his touches as well.  He is not a selfish kid in any way.  If it is not him that is up on the board and we get a “W” he is fine,” he said.

          Traevin Harrison led Lexington with 14.  Logan Jones had 15 and Tre Jordan 14 for the Warriors.

          Ontario was 6-23 from behind the three point arc.  Hamilton says they were able to get out and get some pressure on their shooters.  “They are good three point shooters.  We knew that with Quan (Jackson) and Jackson (Todd) an hit.  Logan Jones can step out.  Tre Jordan just picks up off the dribble.  We knew we had to be out there to contest those guys all night long.  We mixed it up a little bit with some zone.  We were trying to mix it up to throw them off a little bit.  We knew that if they got into a rhythm, especially with three seniors on the perimeter, they were going to be tough to stop,” he said.

 

Published 3/09/17

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Lexington Centering on Match-Ups

  

          Lexington tangles with Ontario in the division two district semi finals on Wednesday night at Pete Henry Gym at Mansfield Senior High School.

          It is one the best long standing basketball rivalries in North Central Ohio.

          Ontario (19-5) has one 17 of its last 18 games since Lexington beat them (54-49) on December 17.

          The Warriors have three senior guards in Tre Jordan, Quan Jackson and Jackson Todd and Lexington coach Scott Hamilton says they all do a lot good things.  “They are all three seniors.  That is kind of what you would expect out of your senior leadership and a couple of them have been playing varsity since their sophomore year.  There are tough match-ups there is no doubt about it both on the offensive and defensive end.  I think that has been their staple if you will the entire season.  Their guard play has been the consistent part of their game,” he said.

          The Ontario guards are scorers, but Hamilton says they are especially good on defense.  “You try to convince kids that you are going to have an off night shooting the ball.  There are going to be times when there is a little bit of a lid on the rim, if you will, but defensively, consistently, you can be out there giving that effort.  That is what wins games for you is consistency.  Those guys have definitely gone in knowing if they can put defensive pressure on their opponents no matter what their shooting percentages are.  We have seen it.  They have won games in the 40’s, 50’s and also been in the 70’s.  It is just one of those things where you try and convince the kids to buy in and they definitely have,” said Hamilton.

          Ontario’s post players Logan Jones and Owen Zeiter are different kinds of players and Hamilton says they complement each other well.  “Jones can really stretch the floor.  He is a capable three point shooter.  He will get it outside and he will put it on the floor when he gets maybe a little bit of a slower opponent.  The Zeiter kid just kind of runs around and you forget about him every now and then he will make you pay,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have a little bit difference styles, but they complement each other.  The when you have got the guard play they are smart enough to know to get in the right position for those dribble drives or get a quick bucket off a missed shot or they are going to get a quick dish if their man helps off on the dribble drive.  They have a few nice guys they bring off the bench as well that complement the posts and the guards.”

          Hamilton says both teams have a lot skill and this game is going to boil down to match-ups on both ends.  “When it gets into the tournament time you really focus on the games a little bit more because you have more time to focus.  If you are playing a double weekend you have to work on things that are key for you and your opponent.  At this point in the season we just focus on the opponent and that is about it.  Right now it is going to come down to match ups.  What can we take away from them?  What are their strengths that we can limit?  What are our strengths?  What weaknesses can we expose?  Things like that.  You really get a good solid look at you opponent.  Hopefully there are some areas that we can take advantage of and be in the game and at the end of the night walk away victorious,” said Hamilton.

 

Published 3/08/17

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Lexington Has to be Ready For a lot

  

          Lexington won the division two district title last season and they embark on defense of that title on Friday night when they take on Norwalk in a sectional final game at Galion High School.

          The Minutemen (14-8) broke a four game losing streak with a (75-54) win over Clear Fork in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says it was good to get back on track.  “You really want to be going into the tournament under good conditions and feeling confident because if there is anything questionable about what you are doing and what you are trying to do it makes it tough in that first game.  Of course, we took the bye, so now we are facing a team that has already played on that floor.  So, we are really wanting to make sure that we ended our regular season on a good note,” he said.

          Norwalk (8-15) has had a season tortured by injuries, but they came up big in the second half on Tuesday night in erasing a 13 point deficit and beating Shelby (61-53) in their tournament opener.  Jacob Roth scored all 16 of his points in the third and fourth quarters to lead the charge.

          Hamilton says the injuries have really stacked up for the Truckers, but their coaching staff knows how to work them through that and keep them motivated.  “They have had a really tough season.  They lost a kid before the season even started.  They lost Haraway in football season.  Then George Friend, their scorer, he missed five or six games towards the middle of the season, and now they have lost a post player right at the end,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It has been kind of a roller coaster season for them as far as injuries, players, and roster, but they are well coached.  They have a veteran staff, coach Gray does a great job.”

          Lexington beat Norwalk (48-39) on December 28, so Hamilton says they have gotten a look at what the Truckers are about, but that was a game that point guard Brandon Haraway didn’t play.  “We played them during the regular season up at their place, so we are a little familiar with them.  The expectation might have been on Shelby in that first tournament game, but I tell you what you never count out a Steve Gray coached team in the tournament,” he said.

          Gray throws a lot of different looks at opponents defensively and they run a lot of sets on offense.  Hamilton says you must be very well prepared when you play them.  “He is one of those coaches that likes to know where the shot is coming from and who is taking it and where at on the floor.  To be able to switch up as many things as he does and work so hard every time out there on the floor is pretty impressive.  That’s what you get with a veteran coach like Steve,” he said.

 

Published 3/02/17

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Playing Well Important For Lexington

  

          Lexington has lost its last four games and it is going to be important that they play well when they host Clear Fork in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.

          The Minutemen have lost to good teams for the most part, but coach Scott Hamilton says they have to figure out a way to get back to the way they were playing in January.  “I wish I had a straight answer there are just a lot of things we are working on right now.  We are dealing with some injuries and some sickness, typical things that teams go through.  We are just not closing things out.  We play a pretty tough schedule and two of those four games were against state ranked opponents in division one Wooster and division two Ottawa Glandorf.  We just need to be able to put those solid four quarters together.  In three of the four games we did have some leads at sometimes we just need to make sure we put four quarters together as a team and close things out,” said Hamilton.

          Lexington (14-7,8-5) is the number two seed in the division two district tournament, which starts next week.  They will play either Shelby or Norwalk on March 3 at Galion.

          Hamilton says they want to take some momentum into the post season.  “You are going into your second season and it is kind of a fresh start, but at the same time you want to end your regular season on a good note just to know you are headed in the right direction.  We have some things we have been working on and try and correct some problems that we have,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We want to make sure we come out of our last regular season game on a positive note and feeling good about what we are doing.  Once you get into the tournament you are one and done, so you don’t have a great deal of time to be working on stuff because you are always working on the opponent that you only find out about a couple of days before.”

          There has been some off the court news surrounding the Clear Fork (5-15,2-11) program over the last week.  Coach Steven Bechtel was told last Friday by Superintendent Janice Wyckoff that his contact would not be renewed after this season.  Bechtel is expected to coach the team Friday and during the postseason.

          Hamilton says from their perspective they have to be ready for the Colts to be at their very best.  “You look at Clear Fork and they can shoot the ball pretty well from the perimeter, they are a good foul shooting team and they get after it.  It is one of those deals when they play well they are a pretty good team and when they don’t play well they struggle to accomplish things.  We have to be prepared to play our best game, it’s a conference team, it’s a rivalry game, it is their last game in the “OCC.”  Lexington-Clear Fork it is always a good contest.  For us it is senior night.  We want to send our seniors off on a good note.  There is no doubt about it we are going to expect them to play their best game of the year against us and we have to be ready for that,” he said.

 

Published 2/23/17

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Lexington Thinking Improvement

  

          Lexington has lost its last three, two of them against state ranked opponents, and they need to know what it feels like to win again.

          They get that chance on Friday night at Mansfield Senior in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.

          After playing poorly and losing to Mt. Vernon (59-35) in an “OCC” game last Friday, the Minutemen traveled to Ottawa-Glandorf and put in a outstanding effort in losing (58-57) to the once beaten Titans.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says they did a lot of good things on Saturday.  “We did put some pretty good effort out on the floor, but it didn’t turn out our way in the end.  I was pleased with how we played after a poor showing on Friday night and the long road trip and everything against a very quality opponent, so I was pleased with that,” he said.

          Hamilton says hopefully they gained some momentum from the game on Saturday.  “I thought we were playing well.  We took on a tough opponent on the road up at Wooster and then we had a home game with Mt. Vernon and I really thought we played so poorly and I was really concerned, but we came right back and played so well up at Ottawa-Glandorf.  We are just trying to make sure that consistency becomes part of what we do as well go down the final stretch,” said Hamilton.

          Lexington (14-6,8-4), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays at Pete Henry Gym against the Tygers on Friday night.  Lex beat Mansfield (58-48) at home in January, but Hamilton says the Tygers are doing things better.   enheeee

“They are a much improved team since the first time we played them watching them a little bit and seeing some of the things they do.  If there is one word that would describe them they are definitely more organized than what they were earlier in the season,” he said.

          Winning is the name of the game and Hamilton says they need that confidence going into the postseason, which starts in 10 days.  “You don’t want to be hitting your stride early in the season.  There are always things you can work on and improve,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “Confidence and chemistry are two of those things along with skill and x’s and o’s.  You really want to try and get everything together when you go down that final stretch to make a decent little tournament run.  We have two games left in the regular season and we need to have a strong showing in those two games.”

 

Published 2/17/17

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Lexington Will be Tested

  

          Lexington lost to “OCC” champ Wooster last Friday and this week they will be playing the team that beat them in the division two regional tournament last year.

          They also host Mt. Vernon in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.

          Wooster, who has earned no less than a conference co-title, beat the Minutemen (67-44) last Friday.  The Minutemen got off to a good start leading after first quarter, but coach Scott Hamilton says they couldn’t keep it up and Wooster is just really good.  “We thought we were prepared to go in there and give them a pretty good battle.  We started off well we hit a couple of shots.  Then we got into the second quarter and the same shots we were hitting in the first quarter we kind tightened up a bit and they came out and imposed their will a little bit.  To start the third quarter we came out and were doing alright then we suffered a little by of an injury toward the end of the third quarter and had a player that wasn’t able to go at all in the fourth quarter,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “One of our starters and that really affected us a little bit with the kind of pressure that they throw.  That being said though I give them all of the credit for the win.  They are a very good team.  They are just on a different level when it comes to the “OCC”.  They have been wanting to put this together for a while.  It was just one of those deals where we gave them what we had for as long as we could go and their shooting ability, their athleticism, their defense, their rebounding, just all put together just kind of wore on us a little bit an they put it away in the fourth quarter.”

          Lexington (14-4,8-3), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays at home against Mt. Vernon (8-9,6-5) on Friday night.  Lex won the first game (56-40) between the two.

          Hamilton says you can’t allow the Yellow Jackets to get on a roll from the perimeter, something they are very good at doing.  “They are a confident bunch and they go into the game knowing they don’t have a post presence if you will.  So, everything that they do is geared around the perimeter.  For them scoring is more of a process and they will make seven, eight, nine, 10 passes to get the shot they want where they want on the floor and by who.  They do a very good job of being unselfish and sharing the ball and then as a three point shooting team they are one of the better ones that we will see this year.  They are very consistent.  They play about 10 guys in their rotation, so we have to be ready for that when they come to our place Friday,” said Hamilton.

          Ottawa-Glandorf (16-2,) the team that eliminated the Minutemen in the regional tournament last year will host them on Saturday night.  The Titans are enjoying an outstanding season and Hamilton says they know it will be tremendous challenge.  “Tradition is definitely the word you use when you talk about Ottawa-Glandorf.  There was an opportunity for us to play them last year in the regionals.  After that game I was really interested in having them on our schedule in the regular season and we were able to do that.  I wanted to play over at their place to have our kids see the excitement.  We knew they were going to be ranked.  They had a lot of sophomores playing last year, so we wanted to go over there.  It is an opportunity for my guys, just like Wooster, it is an opportunity to be on the floor with a state ranked team and the tradition that they have.  I went and watched them play a little bit over the weekend and they have a very nice team together.  They have only one senior, so we are looking forward to playing them not only this Saturday, but again next year,” said Hamilton.

 

Published 2/07/17

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Shot Selection is Key For Lexington

  

          Lexington tries to keep its Ohio Cardinal Conference hopes alive with a win at conference leader Wooster on Friday night.

          It won’t be easy.  The Generals are unbeaten and downed Lexington by more than 20 in their first meeting.

          The Minutemen (14-3,8-2), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, beat a solid Ashland team (59-45) on the road last Friday night in “OCC” play.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says they handled the ball well against the Arrows pressure and they got the best of the rebounding.  “A couple of things that we really focused on were rebounding, we wanted to make sure we had a good rebounding game against them because of their length, and taking care of the ball, again because of their length.  We were able to execute against the pressure coming up the floor, and that goes along with a couple of games we have coming up at that time.  That is a tough place to play for us.  Historically we have not had a lot of success up there.  We wanted to make sure the kids were ready.  Fortunately for us we hit the ground running and we came away with a huge win in our favor,” he said.

          Wooster (15-0,10-0), #1 in our poll, beat Lexington (63-41) on December 30 to at that time take sole position of the conference lead.

          Looking back, Hamilton says, especially in the second half, they didn’t take smart shots and that hurt them.  “What we noticed from watching film is we really thought we did a decent job of taking care of the ball in the first game, even though it was a 20-point loss.  We realized we didn’t do to bad in the first half of taking care of the ball, but then in the second half we didn’t have the turnovers so to speak, but our poor shot selection really led them to some outlets and some transition buckets.  Because we were shooting the ball so quick and not customarily shots we would look for inside of our offense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Wooster is just one of the teams that could score 12 points just really quick.  So, you can be in the ball game down less than 10 and the next thing you know you have a couple of bad choices you are down 20.  So, that is something we really have to worry about.  Making sure we are making the right decisions, executing, getting the shots we want when we want them.  They are going to have solid quarters, but can’t let them have a blowout quarter.”

          Hamilton says bad shots hurt as much as turnovers because Wooster turns those into quick hoops, even three pointers in transition and they can’t have that Friday night.  “They blend their defense to just make you take long shots and they are so athletic.  If you take a long shot and let’s say the rebound is actually gathered up at 15 feet they are going to get that and they already have two guys that are running down the floor and it’s a quick outlet and it is going to be a layup.  Even if you do get back they are extremely good at shooting transition threes.  They will have a guy standing underneath the rim ready for the layup and they will pull up from 22 feet and unfortunately percentage wise that is a good shot for them.  We have to make sure when we get the ball in our hands that we get are getting the shot we want where we want and from who we want taking that shot.  That is one the key things for us,” said Hamilton.

 

Published 2/02/17

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Lexington and Ashland Collide in the “OCC”

  

          It is an elimination game in the Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night as Lexington visits Ashland.

          Both trail conference leader Wooster by two games and the loser is likely out of the conference race.

          On Tuesday night, the Minutemen ran the floor pretty well and they whipped West Holmes (86-52) in a league game to keep themselves in the race.

          Coach Scott Hamilton feels they put together a pretty good game.  “We are really kind of focused on some things right now.  We are in the second half of the season and we are starting to play everybody for the second time.  We know our opponents and they know us pretty well.  We are really trying to come together, the chemistry is going pretty well.  All of the sudden we get hit by a little bit of an injury, but they guys are coming together and playing pretty well, so hopefully we can do the same Friday night against Ashland,” he said.

          After not scoring more than 56 points for 11 games in row, the Minutemen have scored more than 70 in two of their last three.  Hamilton says they feel more comfortable running the floor now.  “We are at a point I guess where we feel comfortable with what we are doing.  I’ve got some guys that are kind of on the same page now.  We are little bit different than we were at the beginning of the season when we were growing a little bit. We are getting up and down the floor and taking advantage of that when we can.  When we don’t get transition we feel pretty good about the execution in our half court offense.  We have guys that are stepping up and knocking down shots. We have got our go to guys, there is no doubt about it, but some guys are coming off the bench and putting up some points and that is an exciting thing,” said Hamilton.

          Lexington (13-3,7-2), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays at Ashland on Friday night,  Hamilton says the Arrows height makes them tough to score against.  “Their length is just something you don’t see across the board at the position they have their guys,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It is something we have to deal with we have been talking about it what we can and can’t do.  The advantage that they have with that length is just on the defensive side because they have guards that are 6’5”, 6’5” and even the Denbow kid, who would be considered traditionally as a post guy is athletic, Grant can get out there are 6’4” defend probably all five positions.  Their defense is what we really have to be able to handle on Friday night.”

          The first time the teams played Lexington won (46-45) back in December and this one might be as close.

          Ashland (12-3,7-2) is coming off a (48-44) win over Mt. Vernon on Tuesday night.  They can run or play in the half court and Hamilton says this game is going to boil down to execution.  “It is going to be who ever can execute and force their will onto the other team.  They like to get up and down the floor in transition and then you have their length.  They run the floor so well, but if you put them in the half court they can shoot right over the top of you.  It is a big game for us, both of us are in second place.  It is going to be an exciting game,” he said.

 

Published 1/26/17

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Lexington Ready For Clear Fork

  

          Lexington will attempt to bounce back from a loss to Madison on Tuesday night as they visit Clear Fork for an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night and travel to Olentangy Liberty for a non-conference match-up on Saturday night.

          The Minutemen (11-2,5-2), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, lost for just the second time this year on Tuesday night with Tyrell Ajian threw in a three pointer with two seconds left and Madison beat Lexington (56-53) in a league game.

          Clear Fork lost on Tuesday to Ashland (52-31) in a game when they didn’t shoot it very well.

          Lexington coach Scott Hamilton believes the Colts (5-6,2-5) are a team that works very hard and does some good things on the floor.  “They are a young basketball team, but they get after it on defense, which is kind of impressive with coach Bechtel getting those guys to buy in with the lack of experience with a lot of freshmen, sophomores, juniors.  One of the things that really sticks out is their lack of size when you see their roster, but when you start really digging in and looking into who they are and what they do and what they are capable of you learn really quickly that they are a tough rebounding team for being undersized and they shoot the ball extremely well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “That has been something that we have tried to focus on this week in preparing for them.  We have to be able to defend the three point line.  They have a couple of guys with a really quick release.  They can get off that ball in a snap.  We have to make sure we are ready for that and of course once they get that shot up we have to keep them off the glass.”

          Chance Barnett is Clear Fork’s leading scorer and it seems when he is able to get around 20 points they are in most of those games.  However, Hamilton says they have a lot of other guys that contribute.  “When it comes to points there is no doubt he is leading the way for them, but they have some other kids that are valuable in what they do.  I don’t doubt that Barnett is the one that leads them when it comes to playing well, but they have a nice little point guard that really gets them rolling.  When he needs to he can make a couple of shots and can take it to the rim and does a nice job of distributing.  The Swainhart kid and the Endicott kid are nice three point shooters.  Beer and Redmen are nice complementing post players that they like to rotate.  They have a nice roster.  Their only downfall is they are undersized, but they get the most out of what they have got,” said Hamilton.

          Lexington plays down at Olentangy Liberty (9-4) on Saturday night.  They are coached by former Willard coach Greg Nassaman.  Hamilton says they are going to have to execute.  “We have three games this week and that will be the third one and it is on their home court.  Coach Nassaman, my experience with him when he was at Willard, I’m am sure his kids are going to be really well coached, very well prepared, very patient in their offense.  He will put a floor general out there on the floor to run his system.  You can definitely expect them to be very patient and disciplined group.  We are expected a very good game on Saturday night,” he said.

 

Published 1/20/17

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Ajian’s Three Beats Lexington

  

          Tyrell Ajian’s 25 foot three pointer with 2.3 seconds left gave the Madison Rams a trilling (56-53) win at Lexington in Ohio Cardinal Conference action on Tuesday night.

          Ajian made four of Madison’s last five field goals and scored 19 of his team high 23 points in the second half.  “I’ll tell you it starts in the first half.  Tyrell is a great kid and knows how to conserve energy because he plays a ton of minutes for us.  He knows when he has it and when doesn’t and that has been a process for us trying to get him to understand that.  He conserved enough energy (Tuesday) night and he knows when he has to take over.  That is what a four year kid does,” said Madison coach Tim Mergel.

          Shamir Brown’s three pointer out of the right corner gave the Rams a (51-48) lead with 2:31 to play.  Ben Vore tied the game with 18 seconds left when he made the front end of a one and one, but he missed the second.  After Ajian’s three, the Minutemen were unable to get off a shot before the buzzer sounded.

          Lexington coach Scott Hamilton felt they defended to play well, but sometimes great players made big shots.  “I was just hoping we could keep up with him a couple of times.  He is a great athlete and he has the capability of taking over a game at any point.  We have known that for four years.  You try to make sure you are matched up with everybody.  The thing he is so good at is if you do lock him down, if you are capable of doing that, he just finds an open guy.  We pick and choose what we can and can’t do,” said Hamilton.

          Lexington led for most of the first three quarters of the game.  Holding a seven point lead in at the half (31-24) and two point lead (41-39) after three.

          The first half featured a lot of fast break action by both teams, while the second half was cauterized by more half court play.  Mergel thought they were able to make Lexington a little tired.  “The first half we wanted to be aggressive and we wanted to get out and run with them.  Our kids are tough kids.  There is no question they are tough kids.  We knew that if we could get them up and down and get them a little tired and put them is some uncomfortable situations we could have some success,” he said,

          Jaycob Stone gave Madison a (43-41) lead on a three with 6:32 left, but Lexington’s Cade Stover tired it at 43 with a layin.  Again it was Ajian with a three from the wing that gave the Rams a five point lead (48-43) with 4:40 remaining.  However, Lexington battled back to tie it when Stover muscled one in from the lane and added a free throw with 3:07 on the clock.

          Hamilton says they let the Rams have too many opportunities in the second half.  “It is like I told the guys the game was not won or lost on that very last play.  It was done way before that.  If you is going to make that shot from that range that reminds me of Naridin James hitting that shot from a similar spot a couple of years ago.  That is a tough shot to make.  That was just a good player making a good shot,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “Actually we thought he was going to try and get into the paint and maybe get to the line because he shoots free throws extremely well.  Give them credit they played really hard.  They took care of the ball, we did not.  18 turnovers for us, that is extremely high.  It was all my guards turning the ball over.  We have to regroup and come back strong.”

          Stover led everybody with 25 points for the Minutemen, but two of their starters went scoreless.  Mergel says Stover is almost impossible to stop and they knew that going in.  “We went in saying with Stover is as good as he is for a reason.  We know he is going to get his 22 and 15, but we couldn’t let him have 35 and 20.  So, we knew that going in.  So, we knew going in he is not a kid you can just shut down.  He reminds me a lot of Justin Larrick when I played with him.  Let him get his, don’t let other guys have career nights,” he said.

          Hamilton says they are looking for the right mix in their lineup and he thinks they had the right kids on the floor at the right time Tuesday night.  “You like to find the reason for that, but the bottom line you are dealing with 16, 17, 18-year-old kids.  You are just trying to find that mixture out on the floor on any given night on who is hot and who is not.  We had a couple of guys with conditioning issues and we are trying to get them up and down the floor as much as we can and get them rest knowing we have three games this week.  Coming down to it we thought we had the right line up in.  They took 22 threes, but it seems like the ones they hit were at key moments and really kept their emotion,” said Hamilton.

 

Published 1/18/17

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Lexington Expects Test From Tygers

  

          Lexington plays host to Mansfield Senior in Ohio Cardinal Conference action on Friday night and they are wary that Tygers are much better than their record indicates.

          After losing for the first time all year to Wooster (63-41) two weeks ago, and with all of the histrionics after the game, the Minutemen responded with two road wins last weekend over Mt. Vernon (56-40) in “OCC” play on Friday and (48-44) at Shelby in non-conference action on Saturday.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says things were not 100 percent perfect, but they did a good job in getting those wins.  “I was really pleased with the weekend and the turnaround after our first loss.  In those games unfortunately we were unable to put together four solid quarters in either one of those games last weekend.  The kids responded and we were able to get “w’s” in both of those games,” he said.

          Lexington (10-1,4-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays host to the Mansfield Senior High Tygers (1-8,1-4,) a loser of their last seven games, including (53-50) at rival Madison, in “OCC” action on Friday night.

          Mansfield Senior still shows stretches of the play we are used to seeing from the Tygers and Hamilton says if you are not playing at your level best Mansfield Senior is going to make you pay.  “Even though the wins have not been totaling up for them they have been in a lot of games.  They have been in those games late that have turned out to be losses for them, a triple overtime loss (to Ontario) and a loss on the road to Madison most recently.  They have gone through some changes in their personnel with their starting lineups.  They have added a new post player that is a new dynamic in the way that they can play.  Their record is really misleading.  In preparation for them if you base everything off of their then you are going to be in trouble,” said Hamilton.

          When it comes to their approach to the game, Hamilton says the Tygers are going to go at it the same way and they have to be ready.  “They like to get after it.  They like to generate some offense from their defensive pressure.  They are shooting the ball a little bit more from the three point line.  They have a couple of kids that are very accurate from the three point line,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Even with the lack of size they have this year they are still a strong rebounding team.  When you have good athletes that want to play the game and they believe in themselves and believe in each other that is a tough combination to play.  We have to stay focused on what we are doing and definitely be prepared for them on Friday night.”

 

Published 1/11/17

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Lexington Ready to Fight Back

  

          Lexington suffered its first loss of the season last Friday when they were beaten by Wooster in a battle between first place teams in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          Wooster won (63-41) at Lexington in game in which the Generals were able to pull away in the second half.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says they learned a lot about where they need to get better as the season goes on.  “There were a couple of things that we were trying to figure out as far as chemistry and what we can do and what can’t do defensively.  There were just some things we needed to work on.  I think we went into that game fairly confident that we had the right people on the floor at the right times.  So, I think the biggest thing that we found out that we might have to rely on some different things from different people.  It kind of let us all know that we are still not where we want to be even though we were undefeated at the time I thought as a coach that we had a lot of work to do.  We need the kids to buckle up a little bit and work harder,” said Hamilton.

          This Friday, the Minutemen (8-1,3-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school divison, play at Mt. Vernon (4-5,2-2,) a (67-33) winner over Clear Fork in their conference game last week.

          The Yellow Jackets are new to the league, but they are not new to Lexington.  Hamilton says they are well aware Mt. Vernon’s perimeter shooting.  “They are a team that is new to the “OCC” but, we have had them on our schedule regularly for years.  Having them in the conference now we are excited about and everything.  Once again it is a team of guards.  They don’t have a true post player.  They have a bunch of guys that can shoot the ball and share the ball very well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Defensively they get after you.  So, it is going to be a game for us where we are going to have to work on some match-up situations defending five perimeter players and at the same time we are going to have to be able to take advantage of situations knowing that they are going to have to put a perimeter guy on some of our post players.  It is an interesting match-up, but not one we haven’t had to deal with before.”

          Then on Saturday night, Lexington travels to Shelby (4-4) to face the Whippets in a non-conference game.  Another team Hamilton says is loaded with players that can make three point baskets.  “When you shoot the three ball as much as some of teams do today, and Shelby is one of them, you almost have to live with a little inconsistency because sometimes that long range shot is falling some nights better than others.  These two teams we play this weekend, Mt. Vernon and Shelby, that are dangerous opponents that on any given night if they are hitting those shots and they get those open looks and a couple of defensive stops on you they are going to be able to put you away.  The fact that we are playing both of these games on the road just adds that extra element in their favor,” said Hamilton.

 

Published 1/03/17

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It’s an Opportunity for Lexington

  

          Lexington hosts Wooster in a battle of unbeatens on Friday night to determine who takes the lead in the Ohio Cardinal Conference during the first round of the conference round robin.

          If you compare scores it appears Wooster has the better team, but don’t count out Lexington.

          The Minutemen outlasted Norwalk (48-39) on Wednesday night in its final prep for Friday’s showdown.  Coach Scott Hamilton says that result indicates the improvement they still need to make.  “The best thing I can say about us is we are still growing.  We are still coming together.  We have got a lot to learn and that is exciting as a coach being eight games in and the record we have right now.  We tell the guys regularly that we have so much we can get better at.  It is a good opportunity for us to be in the situation that we are.  We don’t want to take it for granted.  We don’t want to be over the top in thinking that we have already arrived because we know that we haven’t.  We are excited to be where we are at and with an opportunity to play a very strong Wooster team Friday,” he said.

          Wooster (7-0,3-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, has won their conference games by at least 20 points.  Hamilton says they are big and athletic.  “First you have to look at their size.  They are six-foot plus all of the way across the board and they are all good athletes.  Typically you see a guy 6’5”, 6’4” he is going to be inside the post battling in there.  They have a 6’5” point guard.  They have a 6’3” shooting guard.  They have a 6’3” total utility guy that runs the floor like a deer, he jumps and rebounds extremely well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “So, you look at their size first off, but then you look at their hunger, their aggressiveness and the way that they play.  It is just very impressive.  They have the total package and a lot of guys.  It is not one guy, two guys, three guys, it is them as a group, as a unit, they are really are really an awesome team.”

          This would seem to be a tempo game.  Wooster is the highest scoring team we cover.  Lexington (8-0,3-0), #2 in our poll, has won a number of games in the 40’s and 50’s this year.  Hamilton says they have to find a way to slow down the Generals and that won’t be easy.  “I think they are a tempo team and they have been able to control that in their games, at least the ones that we have seen and indicated by the scores we see.  I think they would like to see this game be 70 and above and if it is below a 50 game I think that would help us a little bit more.  The problem is how do you take a team like that that is averaging almost 80 points a night how do you keep them below 50?  That is not an easy task for us,” he said.

          Maybe the best thing that can be said about Lexington is they are winners.  Hamilton says this is a great opportunity for his team to prove how good they are.  “We talked about in our practice on (Thursday) morning about being excited, the challenge, the opportunity.  When I put the non-conference schedule together I am bringing in these teams like Olentangy Liberty and Ottawa-Glandorf, we have played Berlin Hiland, high caliber opponents in non-conference that really challenge us.  When we have an opportunity like this against a potentially state ranked division one school in your own conference that is just an exciting opportunity.  We are in the first half of our season and we are going to see a very tough opponent that will tell us a little bit about where we are and where we need to improve after Friday night.  Where we stand if you will and what we are capable of doing,” said Hamilton.

 

Published 12/30/16

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Lexington Doing it With Different Kids

  

          Every year is a different identity.  Last year, the Lexington Minutemen won the Ohio Cardinal Conference title and advanced to the regional tournament and this year they are unbeaten through six games, but they have been doing it with different kids.

          Guys like Cade Stover, A.J. Nickoli, Dana Shoulders Jr. and Traevin Harrison all were on the varsity, but coach Scott Hamilton says they have been given different roles this season.  “The kids have done an outstanding job of keeping their heads up based on conditions and situations in the games that we have played so far.  With the lack of experience is the way that I would put it that we have this year we have a lot of young guys from the JV team even some of the guys that were varsity uniform holders last year that have little varsity experience the way they have just battled and done what we have asked them to do in tough situations has got us to where we are today,” he said.

          Last week, the Minutemen beat Ashland (46-45) in an “OCC” game and Ontario (54-49) in the “OCC/NOL” Challenge.

          One thing that hasn’t changed with is the reliance on defense.  Hamilton says that is something that is the foundation of what they are about at Lexington.  “It is something that we have really tried to pride ourselves is the defensive end because we feel that can be a constant for us.  It is one of those things when not a lot people like to do it, but we just felt if there was something that if we just put our mind to it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I am a firm believer that you might have those nights that you might be able to 65 or 70 points, but you are also going to have those nights where you are struggling to score 50.  So, if we can be a solid defensive team that will carry us though those struggles when the layups don’t fall the way you want them to or the three point shot is not going down the way you want it to.  It has been started a couple of years back and the kids are really buying what we are selling.”

          Lexington (6-0,2-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays at West Holmes (0-5,0-2) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.  The Knights have been close in all of their games accept a (87-50) loss to unbeaten Wooster.  Hamilton says they are not taking a win for granted.  “I think that Wooster game shows more about Wooster than it does anything else.  We have had some games where we have come out on the winning side, but they have been close battles and the end result is not a wide margin.  They have just been on the other side of that where they have been in some close games and their margin of their loss is not huge.  They just have not been able to put it together to get on that top side of it.  We aren’t looking at the record we are looking at an “OCC” opponent and coach Troyer over there does an outstanding job.  He keeps the kids disciplined in the way that they play.  We are going to go into this game Friday with the attitude that it is another top notch “OCC” opponent that we have to face,” said Hamilton.

 

Published 12/21/16

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Lexington Faces Tough Back to Back

  

          Lexington has shown they are one of the better boys’ basketball teams in North Central Ohio again this season, but they likely face their toughest weekend yet playing both Ashland and Ontario.

          After outlasting Madison in overtime (51-49) on Friday night in “OCC” play, the Minutemen got past Marion Pleasant (50-45) in a similar game on Saturday night.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says they were tired, but they were able to make the plays in the end.  “We knew what we put Marion Pleasant on the schedule what they were capable of last year they went to the regional finals.  What became apparent to us very quickly was they had Friday night off and we had been in a dogfight that went overtime and our legs were a little bit tired, so there were some conditions there.  The kids found a way in the end to get it done.  The kids played their hearts out and we came away with a win,” he said.

          They host Ashland (2-0,1-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, on Friday night in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.  Ashland beat them there last year.

          Hamilton says the Arrows have a nice combination of height and athleticism.  “You look at their roster and the first thing you notice is the size that they have from top to bottom and then you start breaking them down individually player to player they have a bunch of guys that can play a multitude of positions,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have a guys that is 6’6” that can bring the ball up the floor.  They have a guy that is 6’4” that can defend your quickest guard.  It is a huge advantage for them with their size and athleticism and everything, so it is going to be a challenge for us to try and deal with what they will throw at us, but hopefully we are ready Friday night.”

          The Arrows want to get down the floor and attack offensively.  Hamilton says they might do it in a different way, but they are going to force you to defend them.  “They are very aggressive.  I don’t know that they are doing the same things that they have been doing the last couple of years by shooting the threes in transition, but they are extremely athletic and they move the ball well and get it going in transition and they will exploit you wherever they can.  It is going to be a test for to see if we can contain them, especially in transition and then hold them in the half court and of course the pressure they can apply to us.  It should be an exciting game for anybody buying a ticket,” said Hamilton.

          Lexington (4-0,1-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays Ontario (2-2,0-1) in the “OCC/NOL” challenge at Ontario on Saturday.  Hamilton says they know what to expect.  “When it comes to Joe’s teams you know they are going to be fundamentally sound and do the things that they need to do in order to win.  If they are within four or five points in the fourth quarter they are right where they want to be.  They are never normally out of a game.  I have said it before, and I think coach Balogh agrees, anytime you put Lexington together with Ontario, doesn’t matter if it is baseball, football, checkers, it doesn’t matter it is going to be a rivalry,” he said.

 

Published 12/14/16

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Lexington Plays Well, Hungry for More

  

          Lexington, the best boys’ basketball team in North Central Ohio last year, is off to a fast start this year eager to prove they can be very good again,

          They blasted Northmor (68-48) last Friday and dominated Willard (70-37) on Saturday night, both in front of the home fans.

          Coach Scott Hamilton was pleased with the way his team came together last week.  “I was happy.  I was a developmental weekend for us.  We have some guys in some new roles going from JV to varsity.  Of course, we have our successful football players coming in that didn’t get all of the scrimmage contests that they other guys did.  I was kind of a bounding weekend with nice live action against solid opponents.  It was good, but it is one of those things where we just have to keep moving forward,” he said.

          Lexington advanced to the regional semi final last year, but a lot of the players on this year’s squad have new and expanded roles.  Hamilton says they have to embrace those.  “First and foremost A.J. Nickoli has been with the varsity team now this is his third year, but his role with us this year as a senior is much more of a leader and things like that.  You look at Cade Stover, who was also a starter last year, who played a lot with and was mentored greatly by Jonna Yaussey, another strong post player for us last year.  Now he is the guy when it comes to inside the paint,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “So, he has adjusted these first two games to really see a lot of double teams and a lot of pressure.  We have a lot of guys that have basketball experience, maybe not at the varsity level.  Those guys are our only two returning starters.”

          The Minutemen (2-0) open Ohio Cardinal Conference play at Mansfield Madison on Friday night and then host Marion Pleasant, of the red division of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, a team that advanced to the division three regional final last year, on Saturday.

          Madison (1-0) downed Shelby (61-49) last Friday in their first game behind 22 from Kyle Jackson and 14 from Tyrell Ajian.  Hamilton says the Rams have a lot of guys that can play.  “Ajian has been special for years, but when we start putting a scouting report together on Madison we start seeing just glimpses of special things with players and this year is no different.  Last year, you had Billy Buckley, but this year you have Kyle Jackson that I think is just going to explode into the conference just with his size and his skill set.  I know Cal Rickert has been working very, very hard on his ball handling.  They have another player in Brown that is a very athletic perimeter player.  Then they have a very athletic player inside in Koehler that has been around for quite a long time.  They return quite a bit from a team that went the district tournament last year.  So, it is not going to be an easy test for us,” said Hamilton.

          The Lexington coach says it has been a challenging schedule so far and that is the way they like it.  “We have tried to set ourselves up with Northmor this first game, they have three players that started as sophomores and led the team.  Willard was a sectional champion last year.  Madison made it to districts last year.  Marion Pleasant made it to regional finals.  Our first four games this season we have sort of stacked ourselves up with some teams with tournament experience,” he said.

 

Published 12/06/16

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Lexington Ready to Find Out

  

          Lexington is only going to have about 10 days with their full squad when they tip off the boys’ basketball season on Friday night against the Northmor Golden Knights.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says the team in rounding into shape.  “We are progressing the way that we feel we should.  Getting those guys in the gym was really a key for us.  The other guys had really been working their tails off.  Now that we have a full roster putting their time in we are going to re ready December 2 the best we can.  Hopefully we will have enough on the plate to be able to handle and deal with Northmor and Willard,” he said.

          What has probably impressed Hamilton the most this preseason is the desire he has seen from the kids in the gym.  “You would like to think that success breeds success.  When you have kids that have already worked in other sports for a championship or a conference title or a sectional time or something along that line,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They already understand the work that has to be put in to be able to be successful.  It might be week one, but you need week one to be a good thing to move on to week two and so on and so forth.  That is probably one of the things we have been most pleased with is the kids are in the gym and have been working very hard and with the success that we had last year with the basketball program these kids are a little bit hungry.  They want to establish themselves as the kids that have done this and continue to do that and taking the program even further.”

          Northmor, of the blue division of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, will have a pretty veteran line-up when they come to Lexington.  Hamilton says they are a team that can do some things.  “A lot of what we have on Northmor is what we had on them last year.  That first game is always a little bit tough without scouting and all of that stuff.  We know they return a very strong nucleus of what they had last year.  They had three sophomores, very good sophomores last year, so those guys are now a year older and a year stronger.  The progression that a guy can make between his sophomore and junior year is very substantial.  We are preparing for those three to really be the leaders for the Northmor squad, the point guard and the shooting guard and the big guy inside.  That doesn’t mean you can leave anybody open because they have a strong group over there.  They are going to come into our gym wanting to establish themselves as well,” said Hamilton.

          Willard, of the Northern Ohio League, invades Lexington on Saturday night.  Hamilton says the Flashes are a big team.  “They seem to be towering over when I see their roster.  We have been used to having some 6’8” guys and a couple of 6’5” guys on the roster and now I look at theirs and we are going to be looking up at those guys Saturday night, so hopefully that is something we can deal with.  I am happy we don’t have to deal with Conner Robinson,” he said.

 

Published 11/30/16

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Lexington Excited to Get Going

  

          This fall, Lexington enjoyed its finest football season in school history, at least in this reporters judgment, and now it is time for basketball season.

          Last March, the Minutemen claimed a division two district title, and they were last year’s Ohio Cardinal Conference champions.

          When it comes to the long football season, basketball coach Scott Hamilton believes it can be a positive for his program.  “I am a firm believer that success breads success, so when you are successful in any sport or another sport and you come into my sport you almost have that mentality of what it takes, the work ethic, so we are excited.  We are excited to finally have our first practice (Wednesday) with everybody here,” he told Swankonsports.com while coaching during practice on Wednesday, “At the same time while that football season was extended we were still moving forward.  Our guys were working hard, the ones we had to in the gym.  Up until the last game they did play we were dead set that we were not going to chance the schedule.  We knew we had a full scrimmage schedule and we knew we had our first game on December 2 and we had to be ready for it.”

          Lexington plays at home against Northmor on December 2 and Willard on December 3.

          Lexington has been a consistent program over the year, but Hamilton admits that this year they will have to do at least a little rebuilding.  “I always like to think at Lexington we are kind of in a reloading situation in the way that you do things with the way you teach your JV’s and stuff.  This year there is a little bit of rebuilding for us because we had so much experience on the varsity team last year.  We had three guys that were three year varsity players in Zahn, Yaussey and Vore and you just don’t replace those guys over night.  It is a little bit of reloading, but fortunately for us the guys know the stuff they just have not been in positions to be able to execute the stuff and that is what we are working on,” said Hamilton.

          Three of the football guys in Cade Stover, A.J. Nickoli and Dana Shoulders Jr. are expected to be starters for the Minutemen.  Hamilton says those guys are very familiar with what they are running.  “The three football guys that have a good shot at being starters for us this year they were heavily involved last year on the varsity, so that does make it a little bit easier, but at the same time (Wednesday) is our first full practice and we have six contact days left, so we have a lot to do in a short amount of time.  We are excited about it and we look forward to game one,” he said.

          Hamilton says they really aren’t scaling back what they do so much because early in the season you really don’t have everything in place in most years.  “Some of things we do we have done every year since I have been here, so a lot of it can be a refresher, critiquing the precision of it, the execution of it, so that helps a little bit.  It wouldn’t matter if we had an extended football season or not we wouldn’t have the entire playbook in the first week.  Like I said we have a lot to do and hopefully these guys will catch on quick.  I know the excitement is here and having everybody here (Wednesday) is really good,” said Hamilton.

 

Published 11/24/16

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Lexington Not Backing Down

  

          Toledo Central Catholic was state runner-up last year, they won it two years ago, as well as two other times, but that is all in the past.

          When Lexington plays them on Saturday night in the division three regional final at Tiffin Columbian High School they won’t be playing those teams.  However, it will still be a huge challenge as Fighting Irish are unbeaten this year and were seeded number one in the region.  Their last loss coming to Akron Hoban in last year’s state title game.

          Central Catholic is making its 17th playoff appearance.  This is the first time ever the Minutemen have played in a regional final.

          Lexington (9-3) is pretty good too and they seem like they are getting better every week.  They beat Northern Ohio League champ Sandusky (30-19) last week.  Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they were able to rebound from a slow start.  “That is always the goal to get better as the season goes on.  I always talk about you either get better or you get worse you never stay the same.  I don’t know if that was our best game we have played, but we certainly did all we could with all of the turnovers early on made it difficult, but we are certainly playing good football right now,” he said.

          A team that relied on its defense early in the season, the Minutemen have been vastly improved on offense.  Gerhardt says once they have jelled they have been able to make some big plays.  “As a coaching staff we planed with our offense that once kids got comfortable in their roles.  We allowed some time with our quarterback Logan Pfizenmayer, a first year starter, sometime to jell and get comfortable in his skin and inside his scheme and that has happened.  Our offensive line has continued to get better.  Offensively we are playing some good football right now,” he said.

          Defense has been the cornerstone for the Minutemen all season.  They limited Sandusky’s high powered offense to on touchdown on offense last week.  Gerhardt says his kids understand what they are doing and have been very good at making adjustments.  “We love to play defense and I have always been a defensive guy and it is important to me to have a strong defense.  The kids have played well since the beginning of the year, but even now they continue to grow.  We are very, very lucky with the high I.Q. of those kids as far as football I.Q. goes,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Our defensive coordinator Tim Schied does an outstanding job of breaking down film and finding tendencies and making adjustments and that takes smart football players that trust each other, are intelligent, and communicate.  Those are things that this group has continued to get better at.”

          Central Catholic has scored over 40 points in 10 of its 12 games this season.  Gerhardt says they have a disciplined offense that is led by an outstanding running back in Michael Warren.  “They look like their record that is first off.  They are big, strong football team.  They have a lot of kids on the sideline.  They are very well coached and disciplined.  They aren’t fancy.  They know what they are doing and they are going to do it and they execute.  The offense goes through number 40, he is a tremendous running back.  They are big up front, they are fast out on the edge, and that quarterback is pretty dog gone good,” said Gerhardt.

          The Fighting Irish have three shutouts and beat University School (56-13) last week in regional semi-final play.  Gerhardt says they are just as good on defense.  “When you look over at the other side of the ball they are big, strong and fast on the defense.  I feel like we match up well in some areas.  I feel like the thing we have to do is weather the storm.  They have been, they have done that.  They are going to look to come out and assert their dominance.  We have to be able to weather the storm and settle in and play our football.  If we can manage to do that I feel like we have a shot,” he said.

          Gerhardt says they know Central Catholic is very good, but they are good too.  “That’s what our kids have done the last two weeks.  Clyde was a very good football team.  Sandusky was a darn good football team.  Our kids didn’t panic.  They didn’t shy away.  They settled in, settled down, and realized you know what we can play with these guys.  I feel like we can play with anybody.  That’s what I tell the kids and I think they are starting to believe that,” he said.

 

Published 11/17/16

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Lexington Faces Northern Ohio League Champs

  

          Lexington, the Ohio Cardinal Conference co-champ, plays Sandusky, the outright Northern Ohio League winner in the second round of the division three playoffs at the First National Bank Bellevue Athletic Field on Saturday night.

          It is the first meeting between the two schools, at least in a long time on the gridiron.  Lexington did beat Sandusky in the basketball district final last March.

          The Minutemen (8-3) beat Clyde (29-28) in overtime in a regional quarterfinal game last Saturday at Clyde.  After quarterback Logan Pfizenmayer ran it in for a TD in overtime, the Minutemen went for the win on a two point play. 

          Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they had only one thing in mind in the overtime period.  “You are there to win, you are not there to tie.  We blew a coverage on the first play when Clyde had the ball in the overtime.  They went in to score on the first play.  A testament to our kid’s resilience and the fight they have in them they went out and took the field.  We ran a jet sweep and it didn’t go anywhere and then we get down inside of the 10 for a first down.  We called a quarterback “iso” and we get into the end zone.  Before we had even snapped the ball in overtime I told my offensive coordinator Greg Nickoli have a two point play ready and once we went in I let the boys know we are going for the win and they were all for it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “The interesting thing was when coach Nickoli and I were talking over the phones about what play and we were thinking maybe an option.  You have your two best ball carriers out on the edge with Logan (Pfizenmaye) and Hunter (Biddle) and as soon as the kids head me talk about option they all at one, all 11 of them, said no, no coach we want to ram it in there.  So, I said okay this is your team, this is your game, you go get it.  I said let’s run “Colts” that is our “iso” play.  By God they went in and did the job and I am just really, really proud of them.”

          Pfizenmayer scored on the two point play for the win.  He had four touchdown runs and 124 yards rushing on the day and also threw a TD pass to Cade Stover.

          Sandusky (10-1) thrashed Ashland (42-7) in their opening playoff game.  The Arrows had shared the “OCC” title with Lex.

          Gerhardt says the Blue Streaks on a very good football team that is led by a multi talented quarterback in Ja’vez Alexander.  “They are a good dog gone football team.  They have a quarterback that is pretty special.  He can certainly run the ball, but he can throw the ball too.  He is a complete package.  They have a pretty talented running back in #4 that motions into the backfield to give a “Jet” look too.  They have a pretty decent linebacker on defense.  On both sides of the ball they are very fast and they are aggressive.  You put those two things together with the amount of talent they have they are a dangerous football team,” said Gerhardt.

          Sandusky has made a lot big plays this year and that has got them big leads, including (28-0) at the half over Shelby, a team alive in the division four playoffs. Gerhardt says they have to make them drive the ball to score against them.  “Any team that finds themselves behind the eight ball early against Sandusky I don’t think there has been anybody that have been able to come back.  Lorain played with them pretty much toe to toe.  They are very dangerous.  You want to make them earn every step of the way and hopefully they make a mistake or you get the stop by just playing good defense and get a chance to get your offense on the field,” he said.

          Gerhardt repeats the same thing he said last week heading into the win against Clyde.  He says they have to remain consistent to what has gotten them to this point.  “We are going to play Minuteman football.  I don’t believe there is any need to change what we do.  As soon as you start changing things because of somebody else you are playing their game.  This isn’t the first time we have played against athletic teams.  We are confident that we can play with anybody.  We just have to make sure we can do our job and concentrate and focus on making sure we are playing Minuteman football and not worrying too much about our opponent.  We want to certainly make sure we are following the scouting report and executing the game plan, but if you starting thinking more about that opponent you think less about yourself it gets you in trouble.  We are just focused on doing what we do,” said Gerhardt.

 

Published 11/10/16

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Lexington Doesn’t Want to Change

 
 

          Conference co-champions meet in the division three regional quarterfinals on Saturday night as Lexington, the “OCC” co-champ, visits Clyde, the “SBC” bay division co-champ.

          Lexington (7-3) is making its fourth playoff appearance, but its first since 2008.  Coach Taylor Gerhardt says it was not their goal to just make the postseason, but do more.  “Our goal specifically for this season was to win the “OCC” and play past week 10 and the reason why I worded it as play past week 10 is it is remarkable to make the playoffs, but it certainly isn’t good enough.  That is not the reason you shoot to make the playoffs, you shoot to make the playoffs to make a run and win it all.  So, as far as we are concerned this is just an opportunity to play,” he said.

          A playoff game is going to be new to all of the kids on the Lexington roster.  Gerhardt says they need to have focus this week so they can get prepared for what will be a very tough game.  “I have purposely scheduled our time and what we do the only difference is we have an extra day.  Certainly there are all kinds of distractions and those things.  What I tell the kids is, you know, enjoy that because you deserve the attention.  With a heavy group of seniors we set and talk about when it is time to get focused and get to work we need to be able to leave all of that other stuff behind,” he said.

          Clyde (8-2) beat Vermilion (48-20) to get a piece of the bay division title last Friday.  Their losses come to Bellevue (66-22) and Port Clinton (27-21) this season.  They had a combined 10 turnovers in those games.  They are making their fourth straight playoff appearance.  They have qualified for the postseason in six of the last seven and 10 of the last 13 years, making the state semi finals in 2013.

          Gerhardt says the Fliers play hard on every down, all of them.  “We are going to get a tough football game is what we are going to get.  They are a very balanced team.  They excel defensively and they excel offensively.  Clyde traditionally has always had tough, hard nosed kids and they have a very successful program.  The kids play hard and fast, which is what our motto is, and what I have wanted to do since I got here at Lexington three years ago.  It is not that they do things super special and different,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “The biggest thing that jumps off the tape to me is the relentlessness with which each of those kids play every snap of the ball and we have to match that.”

          Turnovers are momentum shifters in a game and Gerhardt says they can not have them on Saturday night.  He says they must remain consistent to who there are and what go them here.  “Turnovers are always key in big games and also taking advantage of situations.  If you are in the red zone you have to come away with points.  Big games and games that are playoff games are always down to making the least amount of mistakes, but also sticking with who you are.  I know Clyde well, they have been there before, they have been in the peak of competitive games and situations.  That is our biggest goal and to remain who we are and play Lexington Minuteman football,” said Gerhardt.

 

Published 11/01/16

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Lexington Wants it Outright

  

          Lexington has only won one outright Ohio Cardinal Conference football title in the history of the league, that coming in 2008.  They have an opportunity to win a second on Friday night.

          It won’t be easy they have to win at Ashland, who has won more of those titles than any other school, and if the Arrows win Friday they will share the title with the Minutemen (7-2,5-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll.

          “That is the reason why you compete.  You compete in things that you love.  If you are not ready to play a game like this you are doing the wrong things.  We are certainly excited about our opportunity (Friday) night,” said Lexington coach Taylor Gerhardt.

          Ashland (6-3,4-1) was one of the first schools in this area to go to the spread offense and Gerhardt says their kids know how to run it efficiently.  “It is evident in the kind of quarterbacks that they find.  It is evident in how polished their receivers are.  Overall as a coach it is most evident in how efficient they are with their offense.  People think a lot of times with a spread offense you are looking to hit the long ball all of the time, but the real impressive thing about Ashland’s offense is how patient they are,” said Gerhardt.

          Tackling is always big against Ashland because they get you in one on one situations.  Gerhardt says when you get to the ball carrier you have to at least slow him down until others arrive.  “We have always talked about here at Lexington about first contact tackles.  You are a better defense the more first contact tackles you have,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “If you are there to make the first contact on a runner or the ball carrier or after the reception and you fall off and miss the tackle hopefully you slowed it down enough that that when we rally to the ball that we can help, but it is much, much better to be able to get the runner on the ground with the first guy that gets there.  That is something we have emphasized since I have gotten here.  It is going to be a key, especially against a team like Ashland that likes to spread the ball around.”

          Gerhardt says when they are facing the improving Ashland defense they have to be able to adapt.  “They do some different things.  They will get in a three man odd front and they will jump into an even front.  Just as their kids are disciplined on offense they are disciplined on defense.  Ashland has some athletes.  Their secondary, they fly to the football.  They are ball hawks and take advantage of some of the zone concepts that they use.  We have to be pretty on target against them to make sure they don’t take advantage of mistakes, which they do very well,” he said.

          When it comes to the title, Gerhardt says they don’t want to be in a sharing mood.  “This is in the only time I told the kids it is okay to be greedy.  This is the time that you want to be greedy.  Nobody is going to give them anything and if they want the outright title, which we certainly do, we have to go over and get it because Ashland isn’t going to hand us anything,” he said.

 

Published 10/28/16

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Norwalk and Lexington Play for District Title

  

          Norwalk and Lexington, the number one and three seeds in the district, have advanced to the division two volleyball district final on Thursday evening at Seneca East High School.

          The winner advances to the regional semi-final next week at Ontario High School against either Celina or Lima Shawnee.

          Norwalk (17-5,) the Northern Ohio League champion, needed five sets to subdue Oak Harbor 23-25, 25-13, 26-28, 25-16 and 15-5 in Tuesday night’s semi finals.  Coach Angie Kalizewski says they went out and followed the game plan petty well.  “We had a very good match.  Our kids met a lot of our goals we had set for the night.  We stayed focused and they were able to control their emotions.  Once you hit the tournament the emotions kind of take over.  Sometimes it is hard to control those and we have some veterans on the floor and that always plays a factor in it and they all did a good job of staying focused, controlling the ball, controlling the outcome and that is what we were looking for,” said Kalizewski.

          Lexington (19-4,) the Ohio Cardinal Conference champ, took out the number two seed in Vermilion, who had beaten Norwalk in a regular season match, in three sets 25-23, 25-18, 27-25 in the semis.  Lady Lex coach Jennifer Moore was impressed with their play.  “Our second set was probably our best set.  We started out a little slow and had to catch up.  The third set was were actually down 22-15 and came back to win 27-25, so they played really well,” she said.

          Kalizewski calls Lexington a team that hustles well all over the court and she says in order to win they will have to stick with the same strategy that has made them successful all year.  “Lexington is a very scrappy team.  They work very hard to keep the ball off the floor.  They have some experience after going to the state last year.  We are going to have to work very hard,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We are going to have to make sure we run a very quick offense, stay focused, run our game plan, we have to make sure we stay aggressive.  All of those things play a big roll in letting us be the ones that control the ball.  I preach control a lot with my kids.  We want to control the offense and in order to do that we have to keep the ball off the ground, communicate with each other and control the defense just as much as we do the offense.”

          Moore says the Lady Truckers play fast and they need to take them out of their rhythm.  “Norwalk as a really fast tempo offense and what it will take to beat them is a good defense.  We have to make sure we move to block and pass the ball up.  I think if we do that and keep them out of their system by hitting hard at the net I think we can take them,” she said.

 

Published 10/27/16

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Beating Tygers Means a Piece of “OCC” for Lexington

  

          Lexington is just one win away from a piece of the Ohio Cardinal Conference title.

          Their only other was an outright title they won in 2009.

          It won’t be easy though as the Minutemen must play at Mansfield Senior against the second place Tygers, who trail by just a game.

          Last week, the Minutemen (6-2,4-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, survived a sluggish start to beat West Holmes (48-13) in an “OCC” game.

          Coach Taylor Gerhardt says once they gained their focus they were okay.  “We fought distractions all week.  The biggest part of that is West Holmes is a good football team and they were ready to play and we were not.  Once the boys settled down and concentrated on doing their job things started to turn around for us,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior (5-3,3-1) fell out a share of first place when they lost to Wooster (35-21) last week at Arlin Field.

          They are paced by the incredible play of senior running back Brian Benson, who holds about every rushing record in the Tygers book.  Gerhardt says you have to get a lot of guys to the ball if you are going to contain him.  “You have to get off blocks and swarm to the ball.  You can’t expect to stop a kid of that caliber of a running back with one on one tackles.  So, you have to defeat the blocks and you have to swarm to the ball because other wise he is too quick and too strong and will break through arm tackles or single tackles.  He will hurt you and then with his speed it is a dangerous combination,” said Gerhardt.

          The Lexington coach says you can not forget about the Tygers pass offense or they will burn you with it.  “They have a more balanced attack than you would think at first glance because of the success number 9 has had.  They have some vertical threats on the outside to throw the ball to with Manns and some others,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “There are things that if you don’t pay attention to, you don’t scheme for, if you are not aware of, they can take advantage of you falling into the old traditional run on first down and those kinds of things because they have the ability to strike you anywhere on the field.”

          On defense, the Tygers have allowed some points this season.  Gerhardt says they are going to try and plug up your run game and make you beat their athletes on the outside.  “They run to the ball.  They crowd the line.  They like to put a lot of kids inside the box and trust their athletes on the edge to clamp down on your receivers on the perimeter.  So, they do a tremendous job of using their assets inside of their defense to crash the gaps, get penetration and get a lot of kids to the ball.  They are a tough team all of the way around.  Anybody who thinks that Mansfield Senior isn’t a team to be reckoned with this year is wrong,” he said.

 

Published 10/20/16

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Focus is a Must For Lexington

  

          Lexington shares the Ohio Cardinal Conference lead with Mansfield Senior and they play the Tygers next week, but coach Taylor Gerhardt doesn’t want to hear any talk about that game this week.

          They host West Holmes in an “OCC” game on Friday and he says that is where their focus has to be.

          What makes focus an even bigger issue is the Minutemen are coming off one of the bigger wins in recent memory for the program when then downed Wooster (14-3) last week.

          Coach Taylor Gerhardt says his players did an outstanding job.  “It was certainly a big challenge for us.  Wooster has a prolific offense.  They are as balanced as they come with the run and pass.  They are well coached and they have athletes.  We challenged the kids, the kids knew they were challenged without even us as coaches having to say anything.  The really stepped up and did a tremendous job,” he said.

          Yes it was a big win, but Gerhardt says that was last week and they can only look forward.  “The kids make fun of me when I pull our one of my 80’s references when I ask them to make sure think of Janet Jackson and “What Have You Done For Me Lately.”  That is the kind of attitude we have to have that we are only playing what is in front of us” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Once it’s done, it’s done, and there is nothing you can do about it to improve it or anything.  That has been our motto in the program since I have gotten here that we have to play in the now and maintain extraordinary focus.  Up to this point they have.  However, it is always a week to week exercise.”

          West Holmes (1-6,1-2) lost to Mansfield Senior (63-28) last week in “OCC” play and they have had some issues, mainly on defense this season.  Gerhardt says he knows the Knights are going to come in ready to play.  “We have seen they have gotten in the gun a little bit this year and started to do some different things, but they do run that wing-T and they run it well.  The thing about West Holmes is you know those kids are never going to quit.  They are always hard nosed and you can’t sleep on them at all because they continue to be well coached.  Those kids there at West Holmes for whatever reason don’t know the word quit,” he said.

          With record of West Holmes and with Mansfield Senior, and Ashland, on the horizon, this could be a trap game for the Minutemen.  Gerhardt says they have addressed that.  “That is exactly what we talked about on Saturday and every day since then.  I believe in being up front with the kids.  I talked about there are a lot of distractions.  We came off a big win, it’s homecoming, there is media attention coming towards them, it’s their last home game of the season.  There are all kinds of the things that can draw away from the task at hand.  West Holmes is a good football team.  They have to make sure they are on top of their game if they are going to compete,” said Gerhardt.

 

Published 10/14/16

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Lexington and Wooster Tangle in Key “OCC” Game

  

          Lexington holds a share of the Ohio Cardinal Conference lead, but they must travel to Wooster to lock horns with the once beaten Generals in a huge league game on Friday night.

          The Minutemen (4-2,2-0) share first place in the “OCC” with Mansfield Senior with Wooster and Ashland a game back.

          They scored 22 points in the first quarter and the Minutemen went on to drill Mansfield Madison (49-6) last week in conference action.  Coach Taylor Gerhardt says it was a second straight complete game for his team.  “I would say that we have started to put together a full game.  Our offense has started to click.  We feel comfortable with the schemes and playmakers are making plays.  That all came to fusion on Friday night and obviously we were pleased with that,” he said.

          They are just six points from being unbeaten this season and Gerhardt says the players have worked hard to improve.  “I challenge the boys each week.  With our Saturday film session we talk about we are going to close the book on this week and get ready for next week.  I tell them there is no such thing as staying the same.  You either get better or you get worse.  It is the biggest challenge for good teams to continuously get better once they have good performances and we were able to do that last week and certainly are looking forward to doing that again here this upcoming Friday,” said Gerhardt.

          Wooster (5-1,2-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat Clear Fork (42-20) last week.  Their only loss comes to Ashland (43-36) in overtime two weeks ago.

          With running back Trey Mathis and quarterback Peyton Bennington, Gerhardt says the Generals have great offensive balance.  “They have a balanced distribution between the pass and the run.  They have a very good running back he runs hard and low to the ground.  He is quick too.  The quarterback he can sling the ball, but he can also run the ball when he needs to.  That makes them much more dangerous when they have an affective balanced attack,” he said.

          Defense has been the backbone of both teams this year.  Gerhardt says Wooster has all of the elements of a great defense.  “They tackle well and one of the things that is common in all good defenses is they swarm to the football.  They don’t have breakdowns in assignments.  They don’t try to play each other’s position, they play their position,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “When the ball is snapped there is a relentlessness that you see on good defenses and you certainly see that with Wooster.  They have talent.  They have kids that can play football, so you put those things together you are bound to have a good defense.”

 

Published 10/05/16

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Lexington Expects the Best From Madison

  

          Lexington plays host to probably its biggest rival on Friday night as they host the Madison Rams in Ohio Cardinal Conference play.

          The Minutemen (3-2,1-0) whipped Mt. Vernon (34-15) in a non-league game on Friday night.  Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they were up to the challenge and played well across the board.  “Our kids stepped up and played tough football.  Mt. Vernon is well coached and we knew that going in and we knew they had some hard nosed kids and our kids met that challenge,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We finally put together a game that was more complete earlier this season.  We put together three phases of the game.  We have a little work to do on our kickoff, but other than that I was very pleased with how we played in all three phases.”

          They have played well on defense all year and Gerhardt says they have been getting more comfortable with what the game plan is on offense too.  “The kids have taken the challenges that we as a coaching staff have placed upon them.  We are starting to get a little more comfortable in what it is that we are trying to do and how to react to the changes in fronts and the different looks that defenses will give us and still be able to carry our assignments.  They last two weeks we have taken two, big, positive steps,” he said.

          Madison (2-3,0-2) were wiped out (48-24) by the West Holmes Knights in “OCC” action last week.  However, they have twice scored more than 40 points in a game this season.  Gerhardt says they have some weapons.  “We know how explosive they can be first hand.  They will throw that ball up and come down with a big play.  They will run a split screen and the next thing you know they are racing down the sidelines.  They definitely have the athletes to create sudden, big plays.  We have to be cognoscente of that,” said Gerhardt.

          The Rams beat Lexington (59-10) last season at Ram Field.

          It has been on defense that the Rams have struggled this year.  In four of their five games they have given up more than 35 points.  However, Gerhardt expects a better Madison on Friday.  “What we know is we are going to get Madison’s best on Friday night.  We expect them to have things settled and turned around by the time they walk on the field on Friday night.  We know we are going to get their best,” he said.

 

Published 9/28/16

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Strong Lexington Defense to be Challenged

  

          Lexington plays host to the Mt. Vernon Yellow Jackets in a football game that becomes an Ohio Cardinal Conference game next year on Friday night at their place.

          A week ago, the Minutemen (2-2) blanked Clear Fork (21-0) in their “OCC” opener.  “We like how our defense is playing.  We have stressed for a long time here that we want to play hard and fast.  We fly to the ball the kids have really taken that to heart.  They have been doing a great job playing defense thus far,” he said.

          The Lexington defense is starting to get a lot of people’s attention.  Gerhardt says they have kids that really pursue well and then are good tacklers too.  “We have a lot of kids, luckily for us, that have a real nose for the football.  That is something you can’t coach.  It is something that is there or it isn’t,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We have guys that have ways of finding the football and once they do their coaching and their training kicks in where we emphasize first contact tackles.  We are doing a good job at tackling the football.  We have quite a few kids on that defense that have a great nose for the ball.”

          Mt. Vernon (1-3) comes in off a (20-3) loss to Uniontown Lake last week.  They have a new coach this year in Mike Kerr.  Gerhardt says they will feature a power running game.  “They run the ball.  They have a real big back.  He is a bruiser.  He likes to run downhill.  They are going to try and lineup and run the football.  They have athletes.  Their record is deceptive because they have played some good football teams.  We are expecting a very talented, physical team coming into Lexington field on Friday,” said Gerhardt.

          When you play this kind of team you think about the line of scrimmage being very important, but Gerhardt says really that is the case any week of the season.  “That is true for any game.  I don’t care if it spread, wing-T, in an “I” or anything if you don’t win the battle up front it is going to be a very difficult night for you to win the football game.  Our big boys up front have had a good week of practice and they are up for the challenge,” he said.

 

Published 9/23/16

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Lexington Has to Avoid Turnovers

  

          Lexington has lost two of its three games, but really they are a touchdown, six points, away from being unbeaten on the season.

          Their offense has just made mistakes at the wrong time, but they seem ready for a breakout.  They play at Clear Fork on Friday night in their Ohio Cardinal Conference opener.

          Last week, they couldn’t get anything going and lost (9-7) to Norwalk in non-conference play.

          On defense, the Minutemen have been as good as anyone in North Central Ohio this year, allowing only 32 points in three games.  Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they have been very aggressive on that side of the ball. 

“I am happy with the progress we have made defensively.  The kids play fast and are a veteran group and they love to get to the football.  We are definitely happy with the progress of that unit,” he said.

          On the other hand, offensively, the Minutemen have struggled the past couple of weeks.  Gerhardt says it is a matter of inconsistency.  “We have to increase our focus when we are on that side of the ball.  We are very inconsistent when it comes to making sure we are getting to our assignments.  We will have big plays on the same kind of play call and then we won’t have big plays.  The biggest thing for our offense is to refocus on what we are doing and know our assignments and get consistent with our performance,” said Gerhardt.

          This will be the last meeting between Clear Fork and Lexington in football, one that dates back to the days of the Johnny Appleseed Conference. 

          Gerhardt says Colts (2-1) have some talented players, especially quarterback Thomas Staab and they are going to play physical.  “They are a good football team.  They are very well coached and they are going to be pumped for the game as we are.  They have a quarterback that is one of the fastest kids in the area.  I think he is one of the more talented offensive players,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “When you play Clear Fork you have to be ready to play a physical game.  We are going to get their best.  We are going to be going to their house.  It is a very, very big test for us.”

          Turnovers are going to be key in the game and Gerhardt says they have been giving it away too much and that can’t happen on Friday night.  “We are at plus two right now for the season, but it should be much higher.  The defense is doing a great job as far as not only tackling the football, but tacking the ball away.  We have given it up too much and that has to stop.  When you turn the ball over in the red zone, when you back is to the wall that creates a very big problem,” said Gerhardt.

 

Published 9/16/16

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Lexington Must Play Four Quarters

  

          Lexington fell just short of improving to 2-0 last week. They were stopped twice inside the opponent’s ten yard line and lost to Shelby (17-14) in a battle between two very good teams.

          They host Norwalk of the Northern Ohio League in non-conference play on Friday night.

          Shelby scored two touchdowns on short drives after Lexington first half turnovers last week.  Coach Taylor Gerhardt says you can’t have those kinds of mistakes against good teams.  “We got beat by a good team.  You can’t turn the ball over four times and expect to come out on top against a team the caliper that Shelby is,” he said.

          Lexington (1-1) was able to fight back in the game and Gerhardt says they have players that will never quit.  “Since I have been here we have always talked about fighting to the finish.  I have never really questioned that about this group.  The thing we need to get a lot better at is how we start football games,” he said.

          Norwalk (1-1) beat Cleveland John Hay (40-20) to even their record last week.  Gerhardt says the Truckers have some athletes on offense that can make big plays.  “They have some athletes.  Their quarterback, he runs around and has a good arm.  They are going to be a well coached team.  They have some receivers that can run and have very, very good hands.  They have a couple of good sized backs that run downhill real well,” said Gerhardt.

          Lexington has talent on both sides of the football, but Gerhardt says they have to starting playing to their potential for the entire 48 minutes of the game.  “Overall we need to play Minuteman football from the first snap of the game to the last snap,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We have to start a lot quicker than we have this season.  We basically have to stay true to what we do and trusting each other to do the job that they are assigned to do.  Once we do that I think good things are going to start happening for us.”

 

Published 9/06/16

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Big One at Lex

  

          Lexington and Shelby are two football programs with big plans for the 2016 season and they meet on Friday night at Lexington in non-conference play.

          League titles for both are on what is a long list of goals.

          Both were very good last week as Lexington grounded Ontario (24-6) and the Whippets pounded Madison (49-7) in a game that was played in front of a big crowd on Thursday night in Shelby.

          The Minutemen allowed Ontario to score on the first play from scrimmage, but not after.  Coach Taylor Gerhardt says he was very happy with how the players responded to that first play.  “We had a breakdown there that first play and the executed well and capitalized.  I was proud of the kids that we didn’t panic.  We have talked about we have to play in the present, play in the know, play the next play and they did just that and buckled down and did a really nice job,” said Gerhardt.

          A very good performance by the Minutemen clearly, but Gerhardt says they stubbed their toe too many times.  “One thing is we have to be a lot more disciplined.  We played a sloppy game with too many penalties.  It was week one, but as many penalties as we drew is unacceptable,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We need a lot of tightening up on things in all three phases of the game offense, defense and special teams.  We need to be a much more disciplined football team.”

          Shelby made big play after big play last week against Madison and Gerhardt says they have the weapons to do that against anybody they play this year.  “When I look at them on film everything is good about the Whippets.  They have a good, solid football team.  They are well coached.  They can throw it and run it.  They have a physical defense.  They are going to be quite a challenge,” he said.

          One might have expected the Whippets to feature a high octane offense, but Gerhardt says they are a physical team too that likes to hit people.  “They have some big physical kids up front.  Kids from Shelby they like contact.  They will come up and hit you.  Shelby has a really well balanced team.  Like I said they are very well coached.  They are going to have a lot of success.  We will see what happens on Friday night,” he said.

 

Published 9/01/16

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Lexington Excited to Play Ontario

  

          Lexington, expecting to have their best football season in quite a while, kicks off the campaign on Friday at one of their biggest rivals the Ontario Warriors.

          Are the Minutemen in mid-season form?  Probably not, but coach Taylor Gerhardt says they about as ready as can be for the game.  “Like I was taught by my dad when he was a coach, the hay is in the barn.  I believe that we are ready to go as much as we can be on week one.  Week one football is always week one football.  Things aren’t necessarily as smooth and as quick and crisp as mid season, but having said that we are where we want to be and ready to go,” he said.

          We talk a lot about offense and defense, but many times special teams can tell the story.  Gerhardt says they are particularly important on week one of the season.  “You don’t necessarily go live during scrimmage games, maybe a little bit on a preview, but everybody usually wants to hold on to that in order to get though the preseason as healthy as possible.  There are three phases to the game and they are all equally important.  Week one will tell how well you have practiced your special teams,” he said.

          Ontario has a new coach in Chris Hawkins, probably the biggest move among area football coaches in the off season, after successful tours at Wynford, Willard, and Galion.

          In terms of game plans, Gerhardt says they have and idea of what they are going to see and they are sure Warriors are going to come out on fire.  “We will see what they put on the field.  We have the notes from scrimmages that we prepared for,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “What I do know is coach Hawkins has the reputation of rekindling programs and turning them around and getting them ready to go.  I don’t know if I would say that Ontario needed turned around, but I do know that those boys over there will ready to go and primed for us to walk into the stadium.”

          Lexington and Ontario are next door neighbors and their football rivalry goes back to the 1960’s.  Gerhardt says it is a game that is important to their players and their communities.  “Our communities are very, very close together.  They see each other a lot and, heck, a lot of them play sports together.  It is an important game.  It is a great week one match-up and we love it.  We love the Ontario-Lexington rivalry and we are excited to kick off (Friday) night,” he said.

 

Published 8/26/16

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Lexington With High Expectations

 

          Lexington has been pointing toward this season as one where they can enjoy some football success and they clearly have the talent to do just that this fall.

          However, they have to keeping hard to reach that level.

          So far, coach Taylor Gerhardt says they have been putting out the effort in practice, but they know they have a long way to go.  “They are continuing to work hard.  I never have to worry about this group and the effort that they give.  We had our first scrimmage against Loudonville and the coach over there has the young kids playing hard.  I wasn’t unpleased with our scrimmage, but I certainly wasn’t pleased with some things we need to work on,” he said.

          When it comes what needs to be better, Gerhardt says they are execution sorts of things that can definitely be sharpened before they open the season next Friday against the non-conference rival Ontario Warriors.  “The things that we say that concern us are all fixable.  On practice on Monday, once we had our film sessions, the kids had responded already about where they had made mistakes.  I am blessed with that kind of group of kids.  They are kids and you deal with a lot of people at once.  You have to make sure that you are all on the same page as far as what needs to happen when you have 11 men on the field at one time,” said Gerhardt.

          Lexington put together an improved football season last fall, an “OCC” champion basketball season and a very good track season.  Gerhardt says they have the right kind of personnel to go farther this fall on the gridiron.  “I have known this group since they have been in junior high.  It’s a great group of kids.  It is one of those groups that coaches talk about all of the time,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “This is one of those groups that you get really close to.  It is because they are great kids, they are smart.  They are great athletes and they are hard workers.  We do expect success this year.  Expecting it and getting it are two very, very different things.  I do believe they have the hard work in them to achieve that.”

 

Published 8/16/16

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Lexington no Longer an Underdog

 

          Lexington enjoyed an improved football season last year and the Minutemen are one of the favorites this year for the Ohio Cardinal Conference title.

          No more underdogs role for the Minutemen.

          Coach Taylor Gerhardt says because of what week one is like it was hard to evaluate things.  “It was a hot one, that’s for sure.  It seems the last few years the weather wasn’t hammering at us.  So, the kids really had to fight the heat.  It’s a tough week because you have to start out with just helmets, then you move into shoulder pads and the full pads without contact.  Then Saturday we got a chance to play what we call real football,” he said.

          In 2015, Lexington won their first five games, including “OCC” games against Orrville and Clear Fork, but then lost their last five.  Gerhardt says that left a bad taste in their mouths.  “We were really disappointed in how the season ended last year.  We were very happy with the progression we made.  I can’t even tell you the hunger that these kids had in the off season, whether they were involved in another sport or in weight room conditioning with us.  They knew there was work left undone out on the field.  They have been dedicated to taking that next step.  I am right there with them and we are pushing in that direction all together,” said Gerhardt.

          Joey Vore was an electric quarterback for the Minutemen the last couple of years, but Gerhardt believes they have a pretty good replacement lined up and ready to go.  “We have a kid named Logan Pfizenmayer was our backup last year and was our starting outside linebacker and had a heck of a year.  Logan is one of the smartest football players you will come across.  The kid has a 33 ACT and he has turned into a monster of a physical presence.  He is about 6’2” and 220 pounds.  He has a good arm and we are really looking for some really good things from Logan.  I am really proud the leadership he has stepped into that you have to have when you play the position of quarterback,” he said.

          Lexington has not been a real threat in the “OCC” for about a decade, but this year will be different.  Gerhardt says they understand there are expectations and they are ready for them.  “We expect ourselves to be pretty good and that is a different kind of pressure. We talk all of time that you walk around with a target on your chest.  If you have some success then people start noticing you, so it is a different kind of motivation to go in when people are thinking you are going to do well, and you think you are going to do well, than when you are always playing the underdog role,” he told Swankonsports.com, “The underdog role was a fun role to play, but it an easier role to play.  We talk about that all of the time.  I have no doubt these kids are level headed, they are mature for a group of high school kids, and they know what’s coming.”

 

Published 8/09/16

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Lexington and Padua Similar Teams

 

          Lexington plays Parma Padua Franciscan in the division two regional semi finals on Thursday afternoon at Carter Park in Bowling Green.

          Defending state champion Defiance and traditional power Columbus Watterson play in the other semi.

          The Minutemen (20-7) beat Huron (10-0) in the district final on Saturday at Heidelberg University.  Morrow says they were willing to wait out the rain drops.  He says they were able to take advantage of their opportunities.  "Obviously we didn't want to have to face the Kovach kid, so it worked out that he couldn't pitch that day and that was definitely a bonus for us.  We did scrimmage Huron early on and we did notice that once Kovach was done pitching that we could have some success with the rest of the pitchers.  You never know we you get into these district tournaments or any tournament a team can show up.  Even in the first couple of innings when we didn't score a lot of runs, we were hitting it hard and we were putting it play right away.  We had a good feeling right from the start.  That big exclamation mark when Jacob Ogson hit that base clearing double you could just sort of see the wind go out of Huron a little bit and our kids just started to build off of it," said Morrow.

          On the other hand, Padua got past Bay Village (1-0) last Friday night to advance.  Morrow says Padua is a very fundamental team that is not going to give you wins.  "We scouted them Friday before our district game.  We got to see them play Bay Village, but that was only one game.  Obviously any team at this point has got to be good.  We didn't see a whole lot of offense that day on either side, but we did notice that they play solid defense and the pitching was very solid.  Doing research with other teams that has played them or had a history with them they kind of say the same thing.  They don't make mistakes and they play solid air tight defense and they are going to scrape across three or four runs to beat you," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, "That is what they are about.  That is kind of what we have been about all year long.  Although we scored 10 runs against Huron, we are not the kind of team that is going to do that typically, especially against good pitching.  We are going to find a way to play good defense against you and maybe score two, three runs, just like in the Norwalk game.  We have a had a lot of games like that, close games with good teams were we are hanging in there winning 4-2, 4-3."

          When asked to compare Padua to an opponent, Morrow says it is kind of like looking in a mirror.  "They are very solid defensively.  I think that is how they beat you.  They don't have what I would call overwhelming pitching.  They don't have the kind of pitching that we would see with Michael Penney from Madison or Kovach from Huron or Brewer from Ashland.  Those type of dominate power pitchers.  They are going to throw low 80's, but they are going to pitch smart and they are going to play great defense.  I guess if anything they kind of resemble the way we play if you are going to compare to anybody.  That is the style they win with.  They are not going to hit the three run homer.  They are going to win 1-0, 2-0.  For the most part that has been our identity all year.  Play good defense and try and steal a few bases and scrape across a few runs in these close games to win," said Morrow.

 

Published 5/25/16

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Lexington Breaks Norwalk streak; Advances to District Final

 

          Hunter Biddle won his third tournament game this spring and Lexington broke a 12 game Norwalk winning streak with a (3-2) win in Thursday's division two district semi-final at Heidelberg University in Tiffin.

          Biddle gave up a triple to Norwalk pitcher Blake Obringer to open the game.  Travis Clang later drove him in with the game's first run.  He also surrendered an RBI hit to Brandon Hafner in the third, but he retired the last 10 hitters he faced.  Coach Kevin Morrow says he just gets stronger as the game goes on.  "He is that way.  It takes him forever to warm up even when we have used him to close before.  It takes him like 30 pitches before he starts throwing strikes.  He has been that way and he will tell you in the later innings just leave me in I am fine.  He went toe to toe with a great "NOL" pitcher and came out ahead," said Morrow.

          The last six Norwalk outs came on ground balls.  Morrow says Biddle keeps batters off balance.  "Hunter has won three tournament games for us and he never breaks.  He will pitch to contact.  He will get a key strikeout when he needs it.  He doesn't give up a big inning and if he does it will only be one or two," he said.

          Norwalk beat Shelby (6-2) last week in a sectional game and hadn't lost in the month of May.  Coach Wes Douglas says it was a game that could have gone either way.  "Obviously disappointed with the outcome," he told Swankonsports.com after the game, "Our coaches and our players have worked extremely hard this year.  I think it was two evenly matched teams.  If we play 10 times it might be five to five.  Two very athletic teams.  They hit the ball a little harder than we did a couple of times.  They found a way to win it.  Our bats got kind of quiet there the last three, four innings after a good start.  I am really proud of this group of seniors.  There are seven of them.  Really proud of my staff.  We'll be back."

          Lexington took the lead for good with when Austin Eifrid scored on an error in the bottom of the third.  The play was set up when Eifrid and Jared Strickler executed a double steal for the Minutemen.  Morrow says they like to be aggressive.  "We try to do a lot of stuff when we get kids on second base and we try to pressure them a little bit.  Sometimes stealing third base can be your easiest one.  So, that's what we did and we scraped a run across that proved to be the winner," he said.

          Eifrid was a big part of the story for Lexington.  He had an RBI double in the first recorded the last three assists in the Norwalk seventh from his shortstop position, the final one on a bad hop.  "Austin Eifrid has just been one of our anchors all year.  He was kind of disappointed he didn't make first team in the district.  So, I used that has a little bit of fuel for him.  I said go out right away and show these guys you should have been a first teammer, so some psychological prepping.  He makes big plays and he come up with that big double there in the first inning to answer them.  He is huge, he is a great player," said Morrow.

          Either Eifrid or Matt Frazier are expected to take the mound when Lexington (19-7) plays Huron (16-7) for the district title on Saturday afternoon.  Huron beat Mansfield Madison (4-0) in the second semi-final on Thursday.

 

Published 5/20/16

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Lexington Upends Top Seeded Vermilion

 

          It was a risk, but one that worked in their favor.

          Lexington coach Kevin Morrow placed his team on the division two district bracket right underneath the number one seed Vermilion and that gamble paid dividends on Thursday as the Minutemen beat the Sailors (8-4) and earned a ticket to the district tournament next week.

          Lexington (18-7) began by scoring twice in the first inning on a two-run single by second baseman Jared Strickler and never trailed.  "We jumped right out in that first inning and got a couple of base hits.  Jared Strickler got up in that five hole with runners on second and third and came through with a nice opposite field single.  One of the things we try and do is run the bases well and try and force the issue.  The right fielder was a little slow picking the ball up, so we sent the second runner and got that in there.  It was nice to get a little 2-0 start and get a little cushion.  It kind of quieted the Vermilion side down a little bit," said Lexington coach Kevin Morrow.

          Vermilion would tally a run in the fourth, but Lexington limited the damage by ending the inning with a double play.  Morrow says they were able to keep their heads.  "That is important.  You always want to answer back.  It is one of our slogans to answer back.  Even more important was in those innings when they did score.  Those innings when we just started to melt down a little bit I went out to the mound and talked a little bit.  I said everything is fine.  Just take a deep breath and make sure of the first out.  That inning that they scored could have been an ugly inning.  We were also blessed with some line drives that were caught by infielders to double up people.  We were able to hold the damage down and keep afloat," said Morrow.

          Holding that (2-1) lead going to the top of the fifth, the Minutemen would score four times aided by two Vermilion throwing errors and a passed ball.  Morrow says with their speed they like to force the issue.   "Again we are aggressive on the bases and try to force throws and I think people know it.  The Vermilion pitcher was a really nice pitcher, Barkdull.  He had a couple of missed throws over to first base trying to pick people off and they got away.  We just tried to keep the pressure on a little bit and survived to the end," he said.

          There were two more Lexington runs in the top of the sixth, highlighted by Brady Kunkle's RBI single.

          Lexington starter Hunter Biddle went the first six plus innings, permitting 10 hits, but only one earned run.  Austin Eifrid struck out the final to Sailor hitters with the bases loaded to get the save.

          Morrow could have placed his team in a lot of other places on the bracket, but he says there was a method to his madness.  "We had scouted them after the draw, but going into the draw I had some advice about them.  Wisdom says stay away from a one seed, but I am one of those guys that kind of fears the backyard team that knows you really well.  Shelby and definitely Madison, they know us.  We didn't play Shelby this year, but we are close and people watch games.  That was one of the things when I decided to go under Vermilion was I wanted to stay away from Shelby and Bellevue and Madison because they know us so well," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, "It was a little bit of a gamble.  It looks smart know with what we did.  I am just proud of the kids for going up there on the road and taking on the number five team in the state and getting an outstanding win for our program."

 

Published 5/13/16

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Lexington Warms up for Tournament with win over Mansfield

 

          Lexington played a lot kids and kept the bats warm for the tournament with a (14-4) win in six innings over Mansfield Senior in Ohio Cardinal Conference play on Tuesday.

          Coach Kevin Morrow says they were able to dodge the rain drops and get some good work in against the Tygers.  "The big thing was to get the game in.  (Tuesday) night was our senior night, and of course we wanted to honor our seniors.  We wanted to get these games in before the tournament games.  We were fortunate enough to kind of fight through the rain.  It turned out pretty nice here toward the end of the game.  We got to have the seniors play a lot.  We got some runs and got everybody an at bat.  You want to make sure everybody gets some quality reps regardless of how the game goes.  We have to be ready for Thursday," said Morrow.

          The Minutemen (16-7,8-5), #5 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, is scheduled to play Mansfield Senior (1-16,1-12) again on Wednesday, weather permitting.  Morrow says they want to play games to keep sharp.  "You need to see live action from mound.  You need to see that pitcher come right at you.  You need to see breaking balls, curve balls and change ups, come out of the hand.  You don't always gets that in practice, it is hard to simulate that unless you throw live.  It kind of helps playing these games.  That way Thursday we should be coming off two straight games when we have seen lives pitching and had ground balls hit at us at full distance and full speed.  We are hoping we are ready for Thursday," he said.

          On Thursday, Lexington heads for Vermilion to face to face the Sailors (21-2,) the number one seed in the sectional championship game.  Morrow says they good, but he thinks they can be competitive with the Sailors.  "Throughout the year you try to do the best you can with those teams that you know are in our district and you know are good.  You just try to get a feel and try to do your research.  We have done a lot on line because it is hard to get up there and see them play.  In the last couple of days we have gotten up there and gotten a look at them.  They are a 20 game winner, they are a top ten team in the state.  Not being in a league they are going up against a lot of team's threes and fours, but it still takes enough runs to win the game.  I like our chances," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, "All year when we have thrown our three and our four in non league games we have come out ahead.  We have won a lot of district games with Sandusky, Tiffin, we beat Bellevue, we beat Madison, we beat Clyde.  We have beaten a lot of good district teams, so I like our chances.  We are going to have to play our best game, there is no doubt.  I think we have a good chance with Hunter Biddle on the mound and the speed that we have.  If we can beat teams like Madison and Bellevue, I think we can be in the game with Vermilion."

 

Published 5/11/16

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Lexington Shuts Out Sandusky for Tournament Win

 

          Hunter Biddle went the distance allowing no runs on eight hits and Lexington advanced to the sectional final with a (10-0) win in six innings over Sandusky in semi-final play on Saturday at Lexington.

          In four of the six innings the Blue Streaks (9-9) had runners in scoring position, but Biddle got out of the jam each time, with two ground balls and two pop ups.  "He has kind of been like that since he started.  He is not going to power pitch you and strike a ton of them out.  He just seems to be able to get people to pop out or hit a ground ball and we play good defense behind him.  That is kind of some ingredients to a win," Lexington coach Kevin Morrow.

          Plus, the Minutemen had no errors in recoding the 18 outs needed.  Morrow says this is a team that has been able to make plays with the gloves on.  "It always seems like we are trying to balance between hitting and getting some defensive athletes out on the field.  It has kind of been a struggle trying to figure that out.  For the most part we have kids out there that can go get it and make the throw, especially from the outfield," he said.

          Lexington (15-7) scored three times in the first inning when after Biddle was caught stealing, Joey Vore doubled and scored when Sandusky made two wide throws on an Austin Eifried bunt attempt and Eifried ended up on third.  Jared Strickler and Matt Frazier followed with RBI hits.

          "We kind of load the top of our lineup up with not only good hitters, but lots of speed and aggressive kids and they kind of take advantage of extra bases.  They are very good at taking the extra base on an over throw and reading the baseball and knowing where it is at," said Morrow.

          There was no scoring until the bottom of the fourth when Frazier singled and scored on another Sandusky throwing error.

          The Minutemen added four in the fifth on a two run single by Strickler, an RBI double by Frazier and sacrifice fly by Jacob Ogden.

          The game was ended in the sixth when the Minutemen scored two more on a force play and an infield hit.

          Frazier, Strickler and Biddle each had three hits as Lexington collected 12 hits on the day.  Morrow says it was nice to finally be able to get into the gaps a little bit.  "Coming off of trying to go up against Madison's pitchers we didn't do to hot, so it was good (Saturday) to see some kids drive the ball and be aggressive and move some runners around.  I am really happy," he said.

          Lexington will play at Vermilion (21-2,) the top seed, on Thursday.  The Sailors demolished Sandusky Perkins (12-0) on Saturday.

 

Published 5/07/16

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Lexington Knocks Madison From the Lead

 

          Matt Frazier out dueled Michael Penney and Lexington edged Madison (2-0) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball game on Tuesday.

          The loss knocked Madison out of a share of first place in the "OCC" with Wooster, who beat West Holmes (12-3) on Tuesday.

          Both Lexington (14-6,7-4), #1 in our Twitter fan poll among big schools, and Madison (14-9,9-2), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, have first round division two tournament games on Saturday, Lexington hosts Sandusky and Madison plays at home against Port Clinton, and Lexington coach Kevin Morrow says that forced some difficult decisions when it comes to who to give the ball to.  "It was a pretty interesting game because we are both in that situation where we have Saturday looming with the tournament.  Pitching match-ups are quite frustrating to figure out, especially for Madison, since they were tied for first.  Obviously you want to win that too.  So, they went with number one, Penney, and he did outstanding (Tuesday) night.  We found a way to scrape across a couple of runs.  We played good defense behind Matt Frazier and he went the distance.  He just got them to miss hit it a little bit and kept them in the yard and we end up pulling it off," said Morrow.

          Frazier was penciled in to be an infielder in "OCC" games, but Morrow says his performance on the mound this spring has been outstanding and has turned some heads.  "He has really been coming on this year. We have been counting on him to kind of be our number three this year and he has kind of worked into being our number two and leave Austin Eifrid, our best shortstop, at short.  Matt is just one of those kids that throws four or five pitches for strikes and he just gets kids to miss hit the baseball," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday after the win, "He has beaten Bellevue, he has beaten Madison now, he has beaten Tiffin on the road, Ashland, I think he has a couple of other victories.  He is just throwing really well right now.  He is hitting his spots.  When we talk before the game we give him a lot.  This is how we want to approach this hitter or that hitter.  He is a very coachable young man.  He gets kids to pop out a lot and it is working for him."

          The only runs in the game came in the bottom of the forth inning when the Minutemen scored on a sacrifice bunt by Joey Vore and an infield single by Hunter Biddle.

          Morrow says playing small ball is their game this year.  "That is how we have won some of these bigger games we have won is we have had to play our game.  We knew going into the season we had a lot of team speed.  We can bunt the ball a little bit and we can steal some bases.  That is what we kind of live off of.  We lost three, big, solid hitters from a year ago.  We really haven't replaced our four, five, six hole, so we do they best we can.  We get on base, we steal, we hit and run, we bunt and run, we try and suicide squeeze here and there and get enough runs to give our pitching and our defense a chance to win the game for us," he said.

 

Published 5/04/16

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Lexington Bounces Back

 

          After a loss to Ashland at home on Tuesday, Lexington got a measure of revenge on Wednesday with a (9-2) win over the Arrows in Ohio Cardinal Conference play.

          Coach Kevin Morrow thinks it was very important for them to come back and play well at Ashland.  "I told the kids it would be a test to see if we could bounce back and go on the road and play in a tough environment.  It's kind of a crazy story.  I the years I have coached Lexington I had never won a game, JV or varsity, over there on that field.  They are just really good and they are always tough.  We were able to go over there and get things going our way and get some people healthy and get us to bounce back.  We have Ontario and Madison coming up here in the near future.  So, hopefully we play well there too," he said.

          Matt Frazier picked up an "OCC" win on the mound for the Minutemen.  Austin Eifrid and Joey Vore both had two hits and two RBI for the Lex.

          Morrow says if you are to be a contender in the "OCC" you can't have sweeps and they were able to avoid that.  "The "OCC" is just tough.  You can project yourself and plan and we have fared fairly well, but anybody is capable of beating you.  Everybody has got one or two pitchers that can give you a run.  You might stack up some losses.  We tied for a conference championship last year with three losses," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, "You are never out of if, but if you do lose that first one it is critical that you at least earn a split and bounce back and get a win.  We did that.  We are not completely out of it.  There is a chance we could play spoiler if we play Madison really well.  The "OCC" is a battle and it is a lot of fun."

          Lexington plays at always good Ontario (8-4) on Friday and a non-league contest.  Morrow says that is a big game too, especially with the tournament draw on Sunday.  "We play a lot of the "NOL" and "SBC" teams just so they see us and see our kids.  If you are fortunate enough to earn some victories that will speak for you when we set down for the tournament draw.  We got win at Tiffin, we got a win at Bellevue, we got a win with Clyde, and if we could add Ontario to the list that would really help us.  That is a tall order, Ontario is always good even when they are down, they are still good.  Coach Gorbett does a nice job over there.  We are going to have to go over there and play our best game, no doubt," said Morrow.

          Lexington (12-6,6-4) trails "OCC" co-leaders Madison and Wooster by three games, but they play Madison twice next week.  Morrow says it will be fun to see what they can do against the Rams.  "I tell the kids all of the time that you want to have rivalries, but we still want to play them with class.  Madison and coach Rickert is one of those premier "OCC" teams.  He has a long history of winning.  Those games are fun.  You want to go over there and play with an edge.  You want to have that rivalry going on, but at the same time I told the kids this is a lot of fun.  They are all meaningful, but you always fun to play these games against Madison.  They are really good, they always are.  Hopefully we can chance future of the "OCC" here as far as the standings," said Morrow.

 

Published 4/28/16

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Lexington Uses Big Inning to Down Colts

 

          Cory Swartzmiller's three run double keyed a nine run fourth inning and Lexington outscored Clear Fork (12-7) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game at American Legion Field at Clear Fork on Tuesday.

          Lexington coach Kevin Morrow says anytime you can get an inning like that it boosts your confidence.  "Whenever you can have a big inning it just give you momentum, some confidence, and it make you feel somewhat comfortable.  Those are things on defense that you obviously try to stop and try to limit them to one or two runs," he said.

          Clear Fork (8-6,4-3) didn't help itself in the fourth with two errors, they had six on the night, two walks, and a hit batter. 

          An upset Colts coach Rusty Staab believes his team lacked focus, leadership, and desire on Tuesday.  "We just had a talk after the game our seniors need to step up or they are going to be pulling pines out of their back britches.  There was no intensity, no effort.  We had a senior pitcher and I told him this is the last time you are ever going to pitch against Lexington, and you are pitching at home, what a great feeling to have.  That inning he gets upset and he can't pick up a bunt.  Austin (Eifrid) pitched a great game and you just can't afford to give up runs.  We throw a 1-2 change up in the wheelhouse of a guy can do nothing but hit home runs and we don't deserve to win," said Staab.

          Lexington (8-3,4-3), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, has played well over the last week, with wins over West Holmes, Bellevue and Clyde.

          Morrow says they are finally starting to get some big hits.  "That was the big thing coming into the year, could we replace the big bats that were in the middle of the lineup?  W e are starting to see that," he told Swankonsports.com after the win, "Matt Frazier is starting to see the ball and we have activated a kid that has been waiting for a chance to play in Jacob Reichie and he has come through the last three or four games and is just hitting nice RBI hits.  Cory Swartzmiller started to hit the ball really hard (Tuesday,) so that is a good feeling.  The weather is probably helping.  Hopefully we keep it going."

          Frazier had a solo home run off Clear Fork starter Lane Belcher in third inning and stared the nine run uprising with an RBI hit.  Reichie had two hits and an RBI.

          Lexington starter Austin Eifrid worked into the seventh inning for the Minutemen and Morrow was pleased they could finally get him some runs.  "He is definitely a quality pitcher.  We have just been struggling to play quality defense behind him and give him some run support.  We got good enough defense (Tuesday) night and definitely got the run support to get him a win," he said.

          Clear Fork made it a game be scoring three times in their half of the fourth on an RBI double by Jarrod Smith and two RBI ground outs.  Hunter Auck and Luke Clark had RBI hits in a three run seventh for the Colts.

 

Published 4/20/16

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Lexington Starting to Build Some Things

 

          Lexington, the defending "OCC" co-champion, won its third straight league game on Tuesday in beating West Holmes (9-3) in Millersburg.

          Coach Kevin Morrow says he is pleased to see them start to hit the ball a little more consistently.  "That is the one things that we have been really missing is the ability to get those runners in.  (Tuesday) night we got some kids swinging the bat and feeling a little more comfortable.  Matt Frazier had a nice break out game and Jared Strickler had one to the fence.  Andrew Eichman has been struggling a little bit, but he had some good contact and had a couple of sac flies.  I was really happy to put nine runs up on the board on the road," said Morrow.

          Lexington is replacing the middle part of their lineup for a year ago and Morrow says they are starting to get some leadership, some focus, and that is what they need most.  "The one thing that we have been missing in the season is to have some big, well known, thumpers in the middle of the line up and we have been looking for that.  We have also been looking for a lot of leadership," he told Swankonsports.com after the win Tuesday, "Just some kids that were talking and into the game and things like that and we had the (Tuesday) night.  We are starting to get it the last three or four games.  So, that is a good sign to have the kids focused.  Just wanting to compete in all games, but definitely in the "OCC" games,"

          Lexington (5-2,3-2) plays host to West Holmes (3-4,2-1) in the re-match in Ohio Cardinal Conference play on Wednesday.  Morrow says they need to keep those bats hot.  "We will be on our home field.  We have yet to really hit the ball well on our home field.  Having some sunshine and having a good game on (Tuesday) hopefully will result in some good offense for us (Wednesday," he said.

 

Published 4/13/16

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Lexington Gets First League Win

 

          Lexington, the defending co-champion in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, picked up its first conference win of the season on Tuesday afternoon in downing Orrville (3-2) in conference play.

          It was a much needed win for the Minutemen after they lost both games to Wooster last week.

          Coach Kevin Morrow says they got a big effort from starting pitcher Hunter Biddle and played solid defense behind him.  "Orrville is always scary.  You hate to point teams out, but you look at your schedule and you say to yourself we have to have a win there, but I'll tell you what the Volmer kid from Orrville was just dealing (Tuesday) night.  Once again we struggled with the bats, but we found some great pitching Hunter Biddle.  He had 11 strikeouts.  We scrapped across some runs," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, "We manufactured them.  We played solid defense behind him.  The biggest thing we were looking for is we had some enthusiasm in the dugout.  We had some kids talking.  We have been really lacking that at the beginning of the year, but (Tuesday) night we saw a lot of enthusiasm.  The kids were really sticking with us and it was much better."

          The Lexington offense has only produced seven runs in three league game so far and Morrow says right now they are relying on their pitching to carry them.  "We were going into the season thinking that we could compete with people.  We lost the heart and soul of our offense.  We knew with guys like Hunter and Austin Eifrid and Frazier and Kunkle and the younger kids coming up like Skrickly and Ian Moore and Ben Vore and Cory Swanrtzmiller we thought we have a solid pitching staff that we can keep ourselves in games.  In these "OCC" games we have to have our one and two really on.  (Tuesday) Hunter went all seven and stuck out 11, kept it under 100 pitches and looked solid," said Morrow.

          If the rain stays away, Lexington (4-3,1-2) plays at Orrville (2-2,1-2) on Wednesday and Morrow says it won't be easy to come up with another win.  "You have to be able to defend your home territory, but you have to go on the road and win.  Even though Hunter pitched great, but Orrville still put the ball in play and had nine solid hits.  We are going to have to go over there and play our best game," he said.

 

Published 4/06/16

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Lex Must Respond

 

          Lexington, the defending co-champion in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, lost both of their conference baseball games this week to Wooster and they have to get back on track right away.

          Wooster beat the Minutemen (6-3) and (7-1) this week and coach Kevin Morrow says they didn't pitch well enough and they didn't hit well enough either.  "It was one of my worries when I saw Wooster as the opening games of the "OCC."  I know they have graduated a lot, but they have a great tradition over there.  Coach Boyd just has one after another.  They seem to find excellent pitching.  I was concerned about our bats being up to that level of competition," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We just couldn't quite put it together.  Our pitching wasn't quite where we wanted it yet.  It's early and there is plenty of baseball left.  We have to get better in a hurry and we have a tough set here with Mt. Vernon on Saturday.  We have to start finding some offense quickly."

         Lexington has a lot of its pitching back, but they are trying to replace the middle of their lineup.  Morrow says they need to find some confidence when they get into the batter's box.  "We opened up with a doubleheader with North Union and Highland.  Usually Highland is a very competitive program.  We seemed to find enough offense there and string together some RBIs, so if we can get some of that going again and get some of these kids believing and making hard contact we can score some runs," said Morrow.

          Lexington (2-2) plays Mt. Vernon in a doubleheader on Saturday and Morrow says that is going to be another big challenge for them.  "For as many years as I have been with Lexington Mt Vernon has been an outstanding program.  I don't remember too many wins in my career in freshmen, JV, or varsity against those guys.  It's quality competition for us.  Then they are going to be in our "OCC" and it is going to force everybody to get better and there are going to be some great games for sure," he said.

          Next week, Lexington plays Orrville (2-1,1-1,) who spilt there "OCC" games this week with Mansfield Senior.

 

Published 4/01/16

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Lexington in the Mix

 

          Lexington feels a little pressure to perform on the baseball field, but they have the talent to do just that.

          Big Lex has won cross country, tennis and boys' basketball titles.  They have were competitive in volleyball, and well just about every sport.  Coach Kevin Morrow says now the baton has been passed to them.  "We have got a big show to follow.  The Lexington Schools athletics have kind of had a banner year in almost every sport.  So, there is a little bit of pressure on us to have a successful spring, but we are very positive.  We are coming off our shared "OCC" title and we have a lot of players back and we have a good feeling about this year," he said.

          Pitching is expected to be pretty solid at Lexington this year, Morrow says the key is can they string some hits together.  "We have been fortunate to get a couple of scrimmages in.  Pitching we knew we would be pretty well rounded in that area.  The big thing is can we get the bats going and replace some of the best hitters we have ever had like Evan Lee and Nick Adams that were the heart and soul of our lineup and we graduated those kids.  Our challenge this year is can we get that kind of offensive production.  (Tuesday) at Galion we started to make a little bit of contact and we are hoping we see more quality at bats," said Morrow.

          Getting outside and seeing live pitching has been a plus for the Minutemen this season.  Morrow says they have seen the bats gets better as they get closer to their opener with Highland and North Union on Saturday.  "Back a couple of weeks ago we were able to get out on the field.  We have had a few inter squads and we have had kind of an inter squad inside the batting cages with live pitching.  But, there is something to be said about full go going against somebody else and going for real against some of the other team's best pitchers.  It will take a little time to develop that depth perception and timing and things like that.  We started to see some of that (Tuesday) in our scrimmage, so that was a good sign," he said.

          Their first "OCC" games on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Wooster Generals.

          Last spring, Lexington shared the "OCC" baseball title with Madison.  Morrow believes they can win it again this year, but he knows that is going to be very, very tough.  "I would lying if I didn't say that last year's emergence wasn't a surprise, it was.  I kind of figured that Madison and Wooster would kind of run away with the league last year with what they had returning, but somehow the ball bounced our way literally and figuratively.  We found our way to the top.  We thought we were a year or two away before we started to be competitive in the "OCC" and that is just going to add to the momentum this year," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "I like our chances, but then again Madison is going to be really good and Rusty (Staab) down at Clear Fork just has a quality young team and they are capable of beating us and they did beat us last year.  There are going to be a lot of good teams.  Coach Lavengood will get them going again.  He has a really nice pitcher over there at Ashland.  West Holmes is always really good and they put us to the wall twice last year and we pulled off some miracle wins.  I think Wooster will just reload.  They always seem to find kids that can throw year in and year out.  It is going to be a tough one."

 

Published 3/24/16

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Lexington's Season Ends With Loss in Regionals

 

          Jordan Verhoff made five free throws in the final 44 seconds and Ottawa-Glandorf held off Lexington 52-46 in the division two regional semi-finals Thursday night at Bowling Green State University's Stroh Center.

          Lexington (24-3) built a (24-13) lead with 4:03 to play in the second quarter on a three point basket by A.J. Nickoli, but with Jonah Yaussy on the bench with two fouls the Titans were able to cut into the lead and the game was tied at 27 after the first half.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says lead or not they knew they were in for a battle.  "I think anyone that has watched us play or watched them play 10 points is not really a great deal when you have some guys that can hit some threes.  Ten points is only a couple of possessions.  We knew that.  Trust me we weren't celebrating when we were up 10," he said.

          Ottawa-Glandorf (21-5) out rebounded Lexington 39-30 and coach Tyson McGlaughlin says they thought the glass was going to be key in the game.  "It was a heck of a ballgame.  Lexington is a phenomenal team.  We knew going into it for us to be successful we were going to have to battle for 32 minutes, especially on the offensive and defensive glass.  We thought the key to the game was going to be rebounding and to make sure limited the touches of Zahn.  He is a tremendous player.  He has a quick release and we wanted to make sure we got out to him.  Obviously their big guys are phenomenal players.  There were a lot of match-up problems for us.  We had to mix up our defenses, but our guys did a great job of adjusting," he said.

          Lexington's staring guards were just 4-26 from the field in the game and 3 of 15 on three pointers.

          Yaussy led the Minutemen with 18 points on the night and Hamilton says without him in there for more than three minutes in the second quarter they had to make some adjustments.  "Anytime you have to take one of your key guys out there are adjustments that have to be made.  We went into the locker room at halftime with three guys with two fouls.  That was something we were trying to manage in the first half the best that we could.  We have been in those situations before.  Give credit to Ottawa-Glandorf they came down and made some plays," said Hamilton.

          Lexington had to go zone, even when Yaussy returned with 2:22 left in the first half.  The played mostly zone in the second quarter and the Titans were able to three three pointers in the quarter.

          Lexington was able to cut the Ottawa-Glandorf lead to two, three times in the fourth quarter, the last coming on two free throws by Joey Zahn with (46-44) 26 seconds left in the game. 

          Hamilton says the Titans are tough on defense and they missed some shots they normally would make.  "We knew what they were.  We knew they were a good physical defensive team.  Inside the arc we were 5 for 17 in the second half.  A lot of those were easy shots that and when you look back we would normally make those.  We just didn't finish once we got the ball inside the paint.  I think we gave up a few too many rebounds to them.  They got some second chances.  It was a hard fought game for four quarters.  Unfortunately for us we just didn't finish," said Hamilton.

          The coach says he has lost games before, but the thing he will miss the most is not being able to be with his six seniors in the gym anymore.

 

Published 3/11/16

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Lexington Takes on O-G in Regionals

 

          Two schools with a deep tradition in boys basketball play Thursday night as Lexington faces Ottawa-Glandorf in the division two regional semifinals at the Stroh Center at Bowling Green State University.

          Lexington (24-2) played one of its best games in what has been an outstanding season in drilling Sandusky (74-52) in Saturday's district final.  However, coach Scott Hamilton admits being at the regional is a new experience for these kids.  "With this group of seniors that we have, we were talking about it in the coaches office the other day, we have been sectional champs every year they have been in the program, this being my fourth year as head coach.  We have been at the district level, but this is the only year winning the district title.  So, for us to be in the regionals is a little different.  The kids are excited about it," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We feel confident enough to be playing at that level.  Trying to show them in practice, show them on film, and just show them what kind of talent and what kind of programs make it to this level has been a new experience for us.  We are really excited about it.  It's a fun time and you have to enjoy it, but at the same time we don't want the run to stop.  We want to keep rolling and that is what we are trying to do right now."

          Lexington features six seniors and quality players on the perimeter and in the paint.  Hamilton feels their approach so far has worked pretty well and they aren't going to change much Thursday.  "You can't change who you are at this point in the season.  When you look at your opponent you try to figure out what you can, what can't do, what you want to try and do and things like that.  The bottom line is who you are and what you have done has gotten you to where you are at today.  We are not going to try and change a whole lot of what we do, so we want to keep our routine the same.  We want to try and make sure everybody is comfortable in what we are trying to do.  The bottom line is you can do all of the planning that you want, but come Thursday at 6:15 the ball is going to get tossed in the air and then it is going to be who wants it more and which one is better prepared," said Hamilton.

          The Titans beat previously unbeaten Upper Sandusky (79-67) in the district semis and then defending state champion Defiance (46-43) in their district final.  Hamilton says they are a team that just knows how to get things done.  "With all due respect they are a blue collar, farming community and their program is community driven.  The support they have over there is unmatched.  They are a very good team.  You can't say it us this kid or it is that kid.  They really work well together.  They hustle for every lose ball.  They crash the boards as well as any team we have played this year.  They are solid from the perimeter.  They are solid in the post.  It is one of those teams where we are going to have to be ready for every part of the game," said Hamilton.

          Like Lexington, Hamilton says Ottawa Glandorf (20-5) can execute no matter what the tempo is. "Against Upper they went up and down the floor and they like to get after it.  They don't have a deep bench, so they are very well conditioned top be able to do that.  At the same time in the very next game against Defiance it was more of a half court game, only taking very limited shots, very disciplined.  In a lot of ways they were like us in that they are able to play both of those types of games," he said.

          This game likely is not going to be a blowout.  Hamilton thinks it is gong to come down to a couple of plays.  "I think you are going to see two disciplined teams that like to take care of the ball, execute their offense, strong rebounding clubs.  It is just going to come down to who makes the final play or better yet who gets the defensive stop that is needed," he said.

 

Published 3/10/16

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Lexington Dominates Sandusky

 

          Jonah Yaussy scored 33 points and Cade Stover added 17 as Lexington belted Sandusky (74-52) in the division two district final on Saturday afternoon at Galion High School.

          Lexington's first four baskets all came in the paint and that was a sign of things to come.  Coach Scott Hamilton says it was a goal to throw the ball inside.  "We knew we had an advantage inside the paint, but I never thought we would have that much of an advantage.  Yaussy was just a beast (Saturday.)  Then as he kept scoring, scoring, and scoring he draws attention and Stover starts to pick it up.  When they draw double teams they start looking for each other and feeding off passing to each other.  That is just a huge afternoon and well deserved they have worked so hard," he told Swankonsports.com after the win, "I have to give credit to the other guys too.  Zahn did a nice job every time we called that play.  He just went right back to it.  Conner Baughman, Joey Vore defending Jayrese.  Going into halftime he had five points and coming out he has 16 on the night.  Not very often are your going to be able to hold Jayrese to 16.  Defensively I thought our guys did an outstanding job."

          Lexington was up by 15 (24-9) after the first quarter and consistently built the lead in the second stanza, leading (39-20) at halftime. 

          Yaussy and Stover both had 14 rebounds as the Minutemen were the most physical team on the floor Saturday.  "We told the guys that we have to adjust to way the officials are calling the game.  We knew some of the officials so we kind of had an idea of what we would be seeing as far as the officials.  We told the guys once you get that whistle you have to back it down a little bit.  We were really concerned about their dribble penetration and getting in foul trouble by putting our hands on them.  Of course late they are trying to score from the three point line instead of getting to the rim, so that took away some of our concerns.  Zahn has his fourth foul and he drives and misses a layup and then he tries to go up and grab it and I am thinking it's his fifth foul and there is still four minutes to go in the game.  It worked out well and we are just tickled to death that we are moving on the regional," said Hamilton.

          The Minutemen (24-3) held district player of the year Jayrese Williams to 16 points, five in the first half.  Hamilton says they told the players to be always be aware of where he was on the floor.  "In practice we just told the guys once he is in the front court he is in range.  We knew he cold get to the rim with the right or left hand.  He is really good at creating some space and getting that three pointer off.  He hit a couple of big ones in the second half.  Of his 16 points, he probably scored 10, 12 of them with hand right in his face.  We ran a couple of guys at him too to try and mix it up a little bit," he said.

          Lexington was also pretty good at limiting the Blue Streaks fast break opportunities.  Hamilton says they knew they had to get back on defense.  "We told the guys that is something you are not going to stop, but we have to contain it.  We talked about points in the paint off transition.  Points off turnovers we told the guys we had to limit.  We didn't play any full court defense on a change of possession we were sprinting back to protect the rim," he said.

          The Minutemen were outright champions of the Ohio Cardinal Conference and Hamilton feels that prepared them well for the postseason.  "That is one of the things where our conference really prepares us.  When you play Clear Fork, Orrville, West Holmes then you play a Mansfield and a Wooster and a Ashland you get see a lot of different styles.  We relied a little on our memory of the Wooster game and the Mansfield game and the defense and the pressure and the up and down tempo.  Clear Fork when we played them the first time they had 11 threes.  We used that to say, hey, we have to get out on these guys.  We think our schedule really prepares us to take on any kind of team we see," said Hamilton.

 

Published 3/05/16

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Lexington Downs Madison; Plays Sandusky

 

          Senior guard Joey Zahn scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half and Lexington beat "OCC" rival Madison (58-46) in the division two district semi-finals on Wednesday night at Galion High School.

          The Minutemen (23-2) never trailed in the game, but coach Scott Hamilton says the Rams gave them all they wanted.  "Timmy always has his guys prepared and they always play so stinkin' tough.  We knew it was going to be 32 minutes of a battle.  We got started and we were pounding it inside and that got us a lead early.  We got a way from that ins the second quarter and I'm not really sure why," he told Swankonsports.com after the win, "The guys were believing the game plan that they couldn't defend us.  The pressure did ramp up a little bit in the second quarter.  We weren't getting back and our transition was a little slow.  We were really focusing on a couple of guys and we left some guys open and they got easy buckets in their half court.  They didn't shoot the ball really well, but they were getting to the rim way too easy.  At halftime we remind the guys of the game plan that we had and that we wanted to keep pounding it inside."

          Madison (15-10) didn't shoot it real well and coach Tim Mergel says they made some defensive mistakes that allowed the Minutemen to get some easy shots.  "I thought our kids played hard.  There were just some really fundamental mistakes.  We lost Zahn a couple of times, which hurt us.  There were some inopportune turnovers at some times.  I thought we battled.  I didn't think they beat us up on the glass too bad.  There were a couple of times we let them get some easy post entries that kind of got us," he said.

          Jonah Yaussy scored on three straight possessions in the first quarter, all on lay ins close to the hoop to give his team a 11 point lead (17-6) with 37 seconds left.

          Madison cut the Lexington lead to seven at the half (28-21,) but Big Lex outscored them (8-4) in the first four minutes of the third quarter.  "I thought we were okay coming in at half down seven.  I told the kids that first three minutes of the third were important and we couldn't quite string possessions together.  Things were flowing pretty good in the second.  They are a good team.  Joey Zahn kind of runs that club.  The progression he has made from his junior to his senior year and his ability to lead I think was the difference in the game.  He gets them in their offense, he runs the floor for them, he doesn't panic.  He doesn't force shots.  I think that is the difference," said Mergel.

          Zahn, in his fourth year for the varsity, added seven assists on the night.  Hamilton aggress that his leadership was key.  "He went through a district semi as a freshman, as a sophomore, and a junior last year, which we were in control of all of the way to the end.  I don't think there was any way possible that Joey Zahn was going to let us lose this game.  He did the things that we need him to do.  When he was open he was taking advantage of it.  When he was being well defended he was finding the open man to shoot the ball.  That is our leader right there.  Him and Yaussy have been our two big guys all year long.  We have a such a great supporting cast," said Hamilton.

          Yaussy added 16 for the Minutemen.  Tyrell Ajian had 15 and Billy Buckley 14 for Madison.

          Lexington plays Northern Ohio League co-leader Sandusky (19-3) for the district title on Saturday afternoon at Galion.  Hamilton knows they will have to play better.  "I told the guys after the game that I'm sure we played our best game over the last two, so we have that going for us.  The problem is we have to start playing our best basketball.  We are just tickled right now that we are playing on Saturday," he said.

 

Published 3/02/16

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Lexington Expects the Same Madison

 

          Lexington and Mansfield Madison lock horns for the third time this season.  This time in the division two district semi-final on Wednesday night at Galion High School.

          The Minutemen (22-2), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Port Clinton (69-50) in the sectional final last Friday at Ashland High School.  Coach Scott Hamilton says they made a key adjustment.  "When we started that game there was one player on their team that we were unfamiliar with.  He had been out with some injuries.  We were trying to prepare for him the best we could, but we were unsure what kind of player he was.  We knew he was the best player coming back from last year's squad for Port Clinton, so we knew he would be a factor.  He comes out and has 17 points in the first half against us and basically kept them in the game.  We made some adjustments at halftime and kind of focused on him a little bit.  He had 17 in the first half and he finishes the game with 17, so he doesn't score in the second half.  They only had two guys score at all in the first half, so that was one of the adjustments we made at halftime to change some things," said Hamilton.

          Madison (15-9) played one of their better games of the year in beating Sandusky Perkins (59-44) last Friday.  Hamilton says they got a lot of guys involved.  "Everything revolves around Ajian and Buckley.  They get a lot of attention, no matter who they are playing.  What happened last week is those guys played well and then they had some other guys step up and hit some big shots.  Kyle Jackson hit some big shots against Perkins.  Nick Smith got open and got a couple of steals in the open court and made some layups.  They left some guys open," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "Hallabrin had a wide open look.  They made some layups after scrambles for some balls.  They were wide open on the block and stuff.  You always have to count on Ajian and Buckley having solid performances, but you can't let those other guys get out of control and having really good games and that is what we are focusing on their two best players, but you can't lose any of their other guys that can put points on the board."

          Madison forced a lot of turnovers against Perkins and Hamilton fully expects them to be aggressive defensively on Wednesday night.  "They have some really good defenders.  Cal Rickert really comes to mind.  He is a solid on ball defender.  Ajian and Buckley with their athleticism they can get out and defend.  They have Kohler, who is a big guy and very athletic and is a solid defender.  Then you have Hallabrin and Nick Smith.  Kyle Jackson is a long defender.  They will get after us," he said.

          Lexington won both of the Ohio Cardinal Conference match-ups, winning (66-41) at Lex and (54-42) at Madison.  Hamilton does not expect big changes from the Rams in terms of their approach.  "As a coach I don't think you want to try and be someone that you are not.  Whatever you are and whatever your team has become that is the kind of plan that you have to stick to.  At the same time you constantly have to evolve in certain ways to try and off set any strengths or weaknesses that you or your opponent may have.  I am sure they are going to get after us in the same way they did.  They may try and make some changes.  I could see them playing some different kind of defenses against us.  I don't think they are going to change who they are and that's what we are preparing for," said Hamilton.

 

Published 3/02/16

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Lexington Meets Port Clinton

 

          Lexington, the top seed in the district, plays Port Clinton in the division two sectional final Friday night at Ashland High School.

          The Minutemen (21-2), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, hammered Clyde (66-35) on Tuesday in semi-final play.

          They limited the Fliers to just six points in the first half and coach Scott Hamilton says it was a solid team effort on defense.  "We were pretty happy with how the overall game went.  You always try and break it down and see how you can get a little bit better.  We thought we had the guys well prepared for Clyde and for what their strengths were and to take advantage of their weaknesses.  In the first half once we started defending the ball really well and they couldn't knock a couple of shots down that stuff kind of gets a little contagious and everybody picks is up a little bit on the defensive end," he said.

          Port Clinton (10-12) beat Oak Harbor (57-39) in their final regular season game in the Sandusky Bay Conference last Friday.  Hamilton says the Redskins like to get the ball inside to score.  "They are a little bit different team.  When we prepared for Clyde they were a guard oriented club so we really had to focus on the perimeter and the shooting and the dribble drive to where Port Clinton is more of a post oriented team where their better players are inside the paint, but they do have some solid guards.  They have a couple of guys that can shoot the three, but their first option is to look inside to their bigs," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We have been working on some things to get ready for them. Overall it is another tough opponent come tournament time.  So, you have to kind of throw everything out there and hope things go the way you want them to go."

          Lexington is versatile team, that's what makes them good, with quality big kids and really good guards.  Hamilton says that makes them ready for about anything.  "Having played the type of schedule that we have played and see the teams that we have seen it allows you to prepare for some things come tournament time.  I know other coaches feel the same way sometimes your toughest games are you first three or four games of the tournament run because you have that local information that you can get from everybody. Once you get outside of your district there is limited information you can collect and the same can be said for your opponent.  We are excited to be playing another game in the tournament and hopefully it will work out well for us," said Hamilton.

 

Published 2/26/16

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Lexington Must Keep Focus

 

          During the regular season Lexington was likely the best high school basketball team in North Central Ohio, but that really matters little right now.

          25 years ago a Willard team that had lost only one regular season game lost their first tournament game to a sub .500 team.

          Lexington (20-2), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball poll of the year in the large school division, plays Clyde (8-14) in the first round of the division two tournament at Ashland High School on Tuesday night.

          The Minutemen beat Mansfield Senior (74-63) to earn an outright Ohio Cardinal Conference title last Friday.  Coach Scott Hamilton calls that a special win for them.  "You always want to end your regular season on a good note and get yourself ready for the tournament.  We had a little extra special game to end our season playing for the outright conference title on the line.  It worked out well for us and the kids played well.  It is now the second season if you will and we are switching our focus to tournament time and we are really excited about that," he said.

          Clyde beat Oak Harbor (51-36) and Margaretta (64-47) in their last two Sandusky Bay Conference games last week.  Hamilton says they must respect them.  "One of things that we reminded our kids when we did our scouting report on them is they are a team that you just can't look at their record.  You actually have to look at their schedule a little bit.  They are a strong football school, so a lot times when they go deep into the playoffs in football that can really hurt their basketball season, at least the start of it.  I am fully aware with our football players it takes a couple of weeks in that transition to go from your football legs to your basketball legs," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "With a team that goes late into the playoffs like Clyde typically can do their start to the season can be a little bit rough with some losses.  What we are looking at is they are coming in on a two game winning streak.  They are starting to play a little bit better together since the beginning of the year.  We keep reminding our kids that you can't just look at their record you have to look at their schedule and how they have been playing lately."

          Lexington is versatile and can play all styles of basketball.  Hamilton says they expect the Fliers to try and push the pace of the game.  "I think most teams at this point have it pretty much figured out who they are and can be and there little things you can do, but you pretty much have to be who you are.  You have to dance with one who brought you the old saying goes.  I think Clyde likes tom play a little bit of up tempo.  They play some half court stuff, but the play a little up tempo.  They attack you and want to get after you.  I fully expect it is going to be an exciting game.  I think it is going to be fairly up tempo.  If it doesn't work out that way and we see a lot of half court sets on both sides of the ball we are okay with that too," said Hamilton.

 

Published 2/23/16

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A Win Gives Lex the "OCC" Title

 

          It has been a war all season and a win over Mansfield Senior on Friday night will give the Lexington Minutemen the undisputed Ohio Cardinal Conference title.

          If the Tygers win they will share it with the Minutemen and possibly Wooster, who would need to beat Ashland on Friday night.

          Big Lex coach Scott Hamilton says these are the games that are fun to be part of.  "So many times when it comes down to this stuff whether it be football, basketball or baseball things are decided, or can be decided with three games left in the season.  For this to come down to the final game to decide whether it is shared or it is won outright, and for us to be involved in it, and for it to be on our home floor, hopefully in front of a full house, it is just exciting to be a part of," he said.

          Lexington (19-2,12-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball poll in the large school division, plays host to Mansfield Senior (13-7,11-2) on Friday night.  The Minutemen won at Pete Henry Gym (77-74) in overtime on January 16.  Hamilton says he expects a typical Mansfield Senior attack.  "It's not a secret, but it is so tough to prepare for them.  It is tough to simulate it in practice.  I had someone ask me the other day that had watched the Mansfield-Madison game that it looked like they had bumped up their pressure a little bit, they are getting after it and their traps are little more aggressive and was I planning on being defended the same way?  To me that is Mansfield basketball," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "That is what we expect every time we get on the court with them.  That goes back to as long as I have been coaching when Greg Collins was there, Effie James, and now J.T.  It is just one of those things when you play Mansfield that is what you expect."

          Getting into the lane and creating havoc is what the Tygers do, but Hamilton says they have some players that can make perimeter shots too.  "For us the focus is Mario Young, who is shooting the ball a little bit better than he was earlier in the season.  They have B.J. Patrick and David Hall shooting the three ball well and Clark.  It is going to take a full team effort from us on defense.  Hopefully, we don't let Marion Young go for a career night, especially after he scored 48 the other day we don't want him to have a career night against us.  It is not just one person you have to worry about.  It is going to take all five guys on the floor to focus on this thing," said Hamilton.

          Lexington has played in a number of close games where they had to execute in the final seconds and Hamilton feels that helps them in a game like this.  "Just looking at this season I have said it before the season began with an overtime win over at Berlin Hiland, which is an outstanding program.  We have been in tough games with Ashland and Wooster.  We played in the "Smitty" over at the College of Wooster, which was a nice game against Northwestern.  Ontario is always a tough game, Norwalk.  So, we have played the competition to prepare us for games like this.  If you are a player, a coach, these are games you want to schedule, you want to be in, you want to be a part of.  We are excited, we are looking forward to it," said Hamilton.

 

Published 2/19/16

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Lexington can Earn a Share

 

          Lexington is just one step away from winning no less than a share of the Ohio Cardinal Conference title and that step can come on Friday night when they visit Orrville.

          They claimed a one game lead in the conference standings with a (64-61) win over Wooster at home last Friday.  Coach Scott Hamilton says it is just another example of what they can do.  "We have had some nice games this year going back to our first one when we beat Berlin Hiland at their place in overtime.  We would like to say that when we look back on this year that there are some big games that we have won and we competed in and hopefully it will be a successful season when we look back," he said.

          In order to win the title outright they have to take a step in the right direction on Friday at Orrville.  Hamilton says they are excited with the opportunity.  "That is kind of the way we have looked at the season this year.  We knew that we kind of hand some potential to be successful, but like so many coaches says potential will get you fired, you have to realize it.  We take it one day at a time.  Every game is a special one and is important to us.  We are just tickled to death to be in this position right now," he said.

          Lexington (19-2,10-2), #1 in the Swankonsports.com basketball coaches poll in the large school division, travels to Orrville (4-14,3-9) on Friday night.  Hamilton says the Red Riders bring some talent to the table.  "When you toss the record aside, and their are so many times you have to say that, they really do have some serious weapons on the team with Luke Smith and Marcus Conway just to start with.  The last time we played them they put four guys in double figures," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We are not taking them lightly.  With this being their last go around they want to get everything they can, especially at home.  Plus, for them, this is their senior night."

          Rival Mansfield Senior, who shares second place in the "OCC" with Wooster, plays at Lexington next week.  The Minutemen beat them in overtime in January.  However, Hamilton says they have to put that match-up out of their mind.  "We have talked to the guys all season long, especially to our seniors, that this is something special this year an enjoy it no matter what the event is, but when you step across that line and you are on the floor you have to got to be focused and you have to be ready to play," he said.

 

Published 2/12/16

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Its a Battle For the Lead in "OCC"

 

          Ohio Cardinal Conference co-leaders Lexington and Wooster lock horns at Lexington on Friday night to see who takes sole possession of the lead with just two games to play.

          After losing for just the second time of the year to Ashland (61-51) last Friday, Lexington (17-2,9-2), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, responded with a (69-19) destruction of West Holmes on Tuesday night.  Coach Scott Hamilton says they were really ready to play on Tuesday.  "When we have a loss we really look forward to playing the next night to give yourself the opportunity to get that taste out of your mouth.  We had a couple of days to think about it and a couple of days to practice and get ready and I think it was a good sign that maybe our kids have refocused and got ourselves back on track," said Hamilton.

          Wooster will press for 32 minutes in the game and Hamilton says they get a lot of their offense by scoring easies off turnovers they have created.  "They generate a lot of their offense from their defense.  I think I saw somewhere that they were averaging 17, 18 turnovers a game for their opponent.  I would be safe to say that most of that turns into offense for them.  They are a team that is long and athletic and really like to put that pressure on you," he said.

          The Generals (12-4,9-2), #5 in our poll, want to keep the game very up tempo so there aren't many half court situations.  Hamilton says the Generals put a lot of pressure on you.  "I think it is fairly obvious in the way they are doing things that they don't want to be in the half court offensively.  Things happen over the course of a season and you grow and develop, but they are scoring a lot of points.  They are not doing it by running sets in their offense.  It is by trying to create havoc and pressure and turning you over that way so they can get some easy layups," he said.

          Wooster won the first meeting between the teams (69-66) in overtime on January 8.  Hamilton says to win this time they have to handle the ball better and be more mentally focused.  "There are a couple of things we have to do.  We definitely have to make sure we take care of the ball.  They turned us over more than is normal for us and a lot of that was our fault in not being ready, and physically ready, to handle it.  First and foremost for us is we have to keep our composure," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They are a team that really likes to talk and get in your head and play that mental game if you will a little bit, so we really have to keep our composure and stay focused in what we want to do.  Then just take care of the ball and execute our offense."

 

Published 2/04/16

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Lexington Has Found Consistency

 

          According to most Lexington is the best boys' basketball team in North Central Ohio this year and one of the best is state in division two and one of the big reasons is consistency,

          That is an element that most coaches are searching for, but only a few of them find.  Lexington coach Scott Hamilton says he thinks they have a team, led by a solid group of seniors, that does a good job of not getting too high or too low.  "Consistency is something a lot of coaches strive for.  It something that we try to obtain through our practices doing stuff with shooting and just taking care of the ball.  For us specifically it helps having so much experience with our seniors.  With six seniors in the locker room, in the gym at practice, on the floor for games.  I think that is just a huge part of it and probably the biggest factor that we have," said Hamilton.

          Especially when you get to the later stages of the regular season those seniors certainly play with a sense of urgency.  Hamilton says that is true with this group.  "I have seen a sense of urgency with this group.  A sense of maturity in knowing that this is it and right now we are setting with just five regular season games and that is part of the discussion anytime we go through a scouting report or whenever we are talking about taking the floor and where tomorrow may be for us.  It is something that can be a little sad at times, but at the same time it reinforces how important today is," he said.

          Ashland (7-8,5-4) plays at Lexington (16-1,8-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.  The Minutemen lead Mansfield Senior and Wooster, who play each other on Friday, by a game in the "OCC" standings.

          Lex beat Ashland (60-55) on December 15 at Arrow Arena.  Hamilton knows the Arrows will be tough to handle.  "We respect every team there is no question about it.  Ashland I would say has won six of their last eight games, so they are getting things going over there with a new coach and losing a lot of seniors from last year.  They are getting on the right track right now," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They are definitely a team we are not taking lightly.  We are putting in the time that is needed and hopefully be prepared for them when they come to our place."

          Lexington is going to be bigger that most teams they play, but Hamilton says that might not necessarily be the case on Friday night.  "They can definitely shoot the three.  Anyone of five guys they put on the floor is a capable three point shooter, but if you try and focus too much on that they are going to try and go inside.  They are one of the few tams that we will see that will have just as much height, if not more, than we do.  So, we are going to be hopefully ready for them on Friday night," said Hamilton.

 

Published 1/28/16

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Lexington Downs Madison; Leads "OCC"

 

          Lexington held off Mansfield Madison (54-42) on Saturday night and they continue to lead the Ohio Cardinal Conference standings.

          They lead Mansfield Senior, who beat Orrville (69-42) Saturday night, and Wooster, who didn't play, by a game.  Madison drops two back.

          Joey Zahn led the Minutemen with 19 points and Jonah Yaussy added 10 for the Minutemen.  And Lexington, one of the deepest teams in the area, also got 10 off the bench from Dana Shoulders Jr.

          "Dana is naturally just a scorer, so we knew when he got in there he was going to be looking for his shot, but what we wanted him to focus on was the defensive side.  Everyday in practice we tell him that and he is getting to be a better and better defender.  After the first quarter we knew that Yaussy was a problem for them, they couldn't hold back, but when he got those fouls, we just had to set him down.  We have Conner Baughman coming off the bench.  Traevin (Harrison) gave us some minutes in there when we were trying to get Zahn a rest.  When you see that many fouls you know you have been in a battle.  This was a great win the get over here," said Lexington coach Scott Hamilton.

         Madison (9-7.6-3) got a game high 23 from Tyrell Ajian, but no one else was in double figures.  Rams coach Tim Megrel admits the Minutemen had more depth.  "I think that is the difference in the game.  You look at them and their go to guys I think were in double figures, but the Shoulders kid off the bench was the "X" factor.  He is hit a couple of jumpers, he made a transition layup, he got a post up where he knocked one in.  The difference in the game was 12 and he had 10.  Without a doubt that is an area of concern for us, but that's what makes Lexington fourth ranked in the state,  They have different guys step up each night and that's what we are going to strive to do," he said.

          Lexington (16-1,8-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, took an (11-2) lead out of the gate Saturday night, but Rams closed the half with an 8-2 run to trim the Lex lead to (26-22) at the half.  Madison cut it to three (30-27) on an Ajian basket with 6:33 left in the third quarter, but Zahn responded with back to back threes to expand the lead to nine to (36-27) with 5:04 left in the quarter. 

          Hamilton says they were able to make clutch plays in key satiations.  "We knew they played some half court games.  We knew they played some transition games.  We weren't sure which way they were going to try and go with us.  We told the guys we felt comfortable either way.  We wanted the guys to know that we wanted to dictate the tempo that we wanted .  When we got a change in possession or a quick rebound we wanted to run the floor.  We wanted to get out.  If we didn't get what we wanted we wanted to value every possession and we pulled it out and ran something and got a good look.  Through the 32 minutes there were probably a couple of shots we would like to have back.  Overall the guys are confident in their shooting ability.  We tell them if you are on floor you have to be a threat," said Hamilton.

`        Mergel says they were able to be aggressive, especially in the second quarter when the outscored the Minutemen (15-12,) but not as much in the second half.  "You have to give Lex credit they are pretty good and they are long and it hard to find an opening there.  We cut back into the lead there with Yaussy and Stover on the bench.  That cut down some of their length inside, which gave us some dribble drive lanes and we were able to attack.  The officiating was pretty loose in the first half and we took advantage taking it to the basket.  It seemed like tightened up in the second half," he said.

 

Published 1/23/16

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Wins Needed to Stay Ahead

 

          Lexington took back sole possession of first place in the Ohio Cardinal Conference last Saturday with a come from behind overtime win over Mansfield Senior.

          Big Lex rallied from nine down the fourth quarter to beat the Tygers (77-74) in overtime and first place is theirs alone again.  Coach Scott Hamilton says his kids have desire and they know how to win.  "I have got some guys that really enjoy competing.  Our confidence leave is pretty high right now.  Even though we were down in that game our kids felt we were out of it.  That is luxury that coaches like to have when it comes to coaching kids that you don't have to coach that part of the game," he said.

          Lexington (14-1,6-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, entertains Clear Fork (3-8,1-5) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.  The Minutemen won (85-52) in their first meeting, but Hamilton says they aren't taking a win for granted.  "They are a very young team this year and coach Bechtel knows that and is dealing with that and trying to progress them.  Their is no doubt from what I have seen over the last couple of games they are getting better with everything that they do.  We told our guys on Friday night we have to make sure we are able to take away the things that they do well and force our game and our tempo and the things we do well onto them.  Hopefully, we are able to do that," said Hamilton.

          Saturday night, and the Minutemen will be at Madison (8-6,5-2) in another "OCC" game.  The Rams also beat Mansfield Senior (68-64) in overtime last week.  Hamilton says Madison is starting to really play well now.  "They are playing pretty well right now.  They are one of those opponents that you just have to dig in and be ready for anything they throw at you and hopefully at the end of the third quarter when it comes time for the fourth you are in the game and may the best team win," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We know that both of these games this weekend, no matter what the record, are going to be battles for us within the "OCC," which is what we always expect.  We are going to take one at a time and we have the first one on our home floor."

          Tyrell Ajian and Billy Buckley are the Rams leading scorers this year, but Hamilton says they have some other guys that pose a threat.  "If you put all of your focus on Ajian, Buckley is going to light it up on you.  And they have some other guys that have done a nice job stepping up with Deion Miller, Kohler, they have had some shots be hit by Hallabrin.  Nick Smith is a solid player as we well.  They have had some guys step up other than Ajian and Buckley.  So, you have to put that into account when you are putting together you scouting report," said Hamilton.

 

Published 1/22/16

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Lexington Reels in Tygers in Overtime

 

          Lexington outscored Mansfield Senior (12-3) in the final 3:34 of regulation and then beat them (77-74) in overtime in an Ohio Cardinal Conference boys' basketball game on Saturday night at Pete Henry Gym.

          Joey Zahn netted two free throws with 32 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 70.

          A.J. Nickoli's three point basket with 2:20 left in overtime gave Lex a (75-72) lead they would never relinquish.

          Lexington coach Scott Hamilton says his team is experienced and they didn't get rattled when they were down in the fourth quarter.  "It wasn't looking good for a while.  It is easy to say that now that we have won, but we have been down 10 or 11 points before and there was still enough time and we have got guys that can shoot the ball.  You are down 10 and still have five, six, seven minutes to go.  Three possessions and you are right back there and that is what we kept telling the guys.  We are down right now, but we aren't out," he told Swankonsports.com after the game, "It came down to stops.  I kept telling the guys it has to be on the defensive end.  Offensively we are okay, but defensively we have to get stops.  Luckily they missed a couple of shots late that they were hitting early."

          Mansfield Senior led by as many as 13 points in the second half.  Sophomore B.J. Patrick gave the Tygers a (58-45) lead with :26 seconds in the third quarter.

          The Tygers (6-5,5-2) had the final shot of regulation.  Mario Young dribbled out the last 30 seconds and then settled for an off balance jump shot for the top of the key that clanged off the rim as the buzzer sounded.

            Mansfield Senior coach J.T Reese says they just allowed the Minutemen to make too plays in that pivotal fourth quarter.  "They were in the double bonus, so they kept going to the line or scoring," he said.

          It was a tough weekend for Mansfield Senior.  They led the "OCC" going into Friday when they lost to Madison (68-64) in overtime.

          After committing a number of turnovers that led to easy Mansfield Senior baskets over the first three quarters, Hamilton says the got their act together.  "I think it grew on us a little bit.  We knew what was going on.  The trapping that they have, we told the guys the traps are coming and you have to recognize it and see where the trap is coming from and if your man is the one that is coming to trap you have to make yourself available.  We tried to change our play calling a little bit so we weren't calling the plays that they were getting into the traps," said Hamilton.

          Zahn, a senior point guard, and Jonah Yaussey, a senior forward, each had 21 for Lexington (14-1,6-1) to lead the first place Minutemen in the scoring column.  Hamilton says when the pressure is on they want the ball in the Zahn's hands.  "Zahn is our guy.  He really wants the ball in his hands.  He is very confident with the ball and he is a good free throw shooter for us.  When it comes right down to it that is who we want to have it.  He gets it out of his hands without any problems.  We have other guys that can bring it up the floor.  He is very confident with the ball in his hands," he said.

          David Hall paced Mansfield Senior scorers with 19.

          Lexington is now all alone in first place after Ashland beat Wooster (68-50) on Saturday night.  Mansfield Madison won their second "OCC" game of the weekend (63-48) over Orrville.

 

Published 1/16/15

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Lexington Not Shaken

 

        Well Lexington is not going to go undefeated this regular season as Wooster beat them (69-66) last Friday night to hand them their first loss of the season.

          They play at home against Orrville on Friday night and at Mansfield Senior on Saturday.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says you never like to lose, but he feels they have learned from it.  "Anytime you talk about a team going 22-0 that would be pretty special there is no doubt about that.  We felt pretty good about our start and where we were at with the kids and everything.  We knew going into Wooster last Friday that was going to be a tough place to play.  They have a solid team.  Give the credit to them they came away with the win.  When we were walking off the court we were looking at it as a learning experience.  The mistakes that we have made we have worked to adjust to those and take those weaknesses away if you will," said Hamilton.

          Lexington did not have to wait long to get back on the floor as they beat Shelby (64-53) on Saturday.  Hamilton says they were able to implement some of the change they made.  "Fortunately we were able to get back on the floor the very next night against Shelby and we were able to put in some of those corrections if you will against a team that is very similar with the pressure and the full court play.  It is just one of those things we struggled at times against Wooster and were able to correct some things and get back into the win column against Shelby," he said.

          Orrville (2-7,1-4) comes calling on Friday night for an "OCC" game and Hamilton says is not fooled by the Red Riders record.  "Orrville is one of those teams where you just can't look at their record and make a decision about the team.  I think out of their seven losses, six of them have been by six points or less, so they have been in some battles.  They have been down big in a game or two and actually came back and make it close.  So, they have that ability to score and defend.  They have some seasoned players in Luke Smith and Marcus Conway that have been at the varsity level for few years.  So, we are in no way taking them lightly because of their record.  They definitely have the ability to be a threat," said Hamilton.

          Lexington (12-1,4-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball poll in the league school division, plays at "OCC" leader Mansfield Senior (6-3,4-0) on Saturday.  Hamilton says you must defend all of the things you usually do against the Tygers.  "They definitely revolve around Mario Young, their all-Ohioan and he is well deserving of that.  You start throwing in Hall, Bradley, they work the post a little bit together and then their perimeter guys with Mans and Weatherspoon.  So, they have a couple of nice players, but it all starts with Mario Young and his ability to create for himself and create for others and his offensive rebounding ability.  Then you throw in the potential defense.  It is just one of those things you have to be ready for that whole package over there," he told Swankonsports.com on  Thursday, "Unfortunately we are playing them on a Saturday after a Friday night game.  We have to focus our attention on Orrville right now, but come Saturday morning he focus will be totally on Mansfield Senior."

 

Published 1/15/16

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Lexington Facing Tough Test

 

          Lexington has won all four of its Ohio Cardinal Conference games so far this year, but on Friday night they likely face their stiffest test of the season in conference play so far as they travel to Wooster.

          Last Saturday, they faced a possible trap game, but they beat West Holmes (65-41) in an "OCC" contest.  Coach Scott Hamilton says they were able to keep their focus.  "We had two tough games against "NOL" opponents and then a conference game for the third one of the week on Saturday against a well coached West Holmes team.  There is not secret that West Holmes is very young right now and just trying to find themselves right now.  I thought it was a good week for us.  We were able to focus on some things that we were able to improve.  We got better and that is what we want to do every time we step on the floor and be a better team each night out," he said.

          Unbeaten on the season, Hamilton says they have been able to maintain their chemistry and find players that can fill roles.  "I think our chemistry has been good the entire season, but what I think we have seen over the course of the first half is we have really seem some guys grow into their roles.  We have had some guys step up at different times during the season.  We have had guys that have been receiving a lot of attention defensively, which has put other guys, whether they have been coming off the bench, or whether they are in a starting role, have been in a position where they really have to carry us for a play or two or a possession.  And those guys have done that," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "So, I think our chemistry has continued to grow.  Our confidence both as individual players and as a team has grown a little bit.  It is one those things where you want to get better on the defensive end each time out.  We have grown as a defensive team, I'm am not so sure we have gotten to the point where we are a better defensive team, we have just grown a little bit in understanding what we need to do to get better.  That's a nice thing when the kids realize what they need to do."

          Lexington (11-0,4-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, play at Wooster (6-2,3-1) on Friday night.  Hamilton says they must be able to handle the intense pressure they will see from the Generals.  "They create 32 minutes of chaos.  You have to start running your offense 88 feet from the rim.  They get after it and there is not always a great deal of organization that you can make out of it.  They will at random send a couple of guys and they will trap.  It is very affective.  It is working for them.  When we go into that game we have to be able to handle that pressure.  We have to be able to make quick decisions and just not turn over the ball.  For them they have been turning other teams over at a very high rate and for them it has been leading to immediate points and that goes on for the entire game.  They have been putting a lot of points on the board and a lot has to do with their defense because they get after it," said Hamilton.

 

Published 11/07/15

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Lex Hammers Norwalk

 

          A.J. Nickoli scored eight points in the first quarter as unbeaten Lexington raced a (18-7) lead and never looked back in pounding Norwalk, the Northern Ohio League co-leaders, (55-34) on the first night of the "OCC/NOL" challenge at Lexington.

          Norwalk coach Steve Gray said before the game they couldn't guard Joey Zahn and Jonah Yaussy man to man, so some other guys would be open.  Lexington coach Scott Hamilton says they were able to take advantage.  "In the first quarter Joey Vore stepped up and made some big shots.  A.J. Nickoli hit some big shots and on down the line.  A couple of guys just stepped up when they left guys open.  We told the guys in preparing that their defense was probably going to try and do that, take away our top performers if you, will and we let them know hey if your open you have to be a threat and step up and do it.  The guys had the confidence to do it (Tuesday) night, which is really good," said Hamilton.

          Vore had three big baskets in the second quarter.

          Zahn led Lexington with 16 points on Tuesday night before fouling out with 3:58 remaining.  Yaussy added nine and a basket full of rebounds and a number of blocked shots.

          Gray knows Lexington (9-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, is very good, but he also knows they didn't play very well.  "We got beat (Tuesday) night by a better team.  They are a little bigger, a little stronger, a little quicker and hats off to them.  The disappointing thing for us is we didn't play up to our potential.  If we play our best we think we have a chance and I still think that.  Unfortunately (Tuesday) we didn't get our best and I don't know why.  We are going to bounce back and play a hell of a lot harder (Wednesday,)" said Gray.

          Hamilton felt his team executed well on defense against Norwalk, which was an improvement.  "That is something we focus on every day.  I really believe a weakness of ours.  We are giving up 54 points a game, so we work on it every single day in practice, so (Tuesday) night it was nice to see us get after it," he told Swankonsports.com after the game, "We had a little bit of sickness with one our starters in Paul Hogsette and he wasn't able to go, so we relied on Cade Stover and Dana Shoulders a little bit more in the post, but everybody came through.  It was a real team effort, everybody stepped up."

          No Truckers reached double figures on Tuesday night.  They were paced by Jaycee Jordan, George Friend, and Brandon Haraway all with eight points.

          Norwalk (6-2), #5 in our poll, plays Madison (4-4), a (59-53) winner over Ontario Tuesday night, on Wednesday, the second night of the challenge.  Gray looks for a better performance.  "The big thing about basketball compared to football.  If you play a great game you get to play a lot sooner than a week later.  If you play a bad game, you can get rid of this taste in a hurry and (Wednesday) we get a chance to get rid of the taste we have (Tuesday.)  We have good kids and they work hard and we'll be fine," he said.

 

Published 12/30/15

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Undefeated Lexington Plays Two Really Good Teams

 

          Lexington is the host school for the "OCC/NOL" Challenge and it will be a challenge for the unbeaten Minutemen with both Norwalk and Ontario to play on back to back nights.

          The challenge will feature three of the top five teams in our Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plus a petty good Madison team.

          Big Lex coach Scott Hamilton says they will be up against two legends.  "Going up against two teams coached by Coach Gray from Norwalk and Coach Balogh from Ontario that is just good competition,  having coach Mergel at the facility are potential tournament teams down the road.  It just gives our kids another opportunity to play and get a look at what kind of caliber of competition is going to be in our district," he said.

          Lexington (8-0), #1 in our poll, plays host to #5 Norwalk (6-1) on Tuesday and #3 Ontario (7-1) on Wednesday.  Both of the opponents have won some close games this year and Hamilton says there is a reason.  "Anytime you have a successful coach over the period as coach Gray and coach Balogh, those two, you can't not be in this business as long as they have been without knowing how to prepare your team to be able to execute down the line.  What you hope is you have the talent and the ability to get your team into that competitive situation in the fourth quarter where you right there to be able to win it.  I firmly believe that is when the coaching side of it comes in and they know what to do and what to call," said Hamilton.

          Norwalk has won a game in the 40's this year and a number in the 50's.  Lexington has scored more than 70 four times.  Hamilton knows it is going to be a battle for tempo Tuesday.  "Coach Gray, his history is, if he has this type of player, he will coach them to that game.  He likes to run a lot of his sets and they can run them right out of transition.  He has a couple of shooters and they will get up the floor quick and he lets those kids have a lot of freedom, but he also wants to make sure they are under control," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "If they don't get that quick shot or that good look at the rim, he calls then right out and gets them into a set.  It is definitely going to be a game of tempo, we are just not sure who is going to be able to control it."

          Also, both Norwalk and Ontario have the players that can get out and pressure the Lexington guards.  "I think that what we are going to see in both games is they both have some perimeter defensive players that can really cause you havoc.  The Haraway kids from Norwalk and Trey Jordan, Quan Jackson, and Jackson Todd of Ontario.  They like to get our and get after it on defense.  I think in both games we are going to see some quality perimeter defense and it is going to be a challenge for us," said Hamilton.

 

Published 12/29/15

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Lexington Has to Remain Focused

 

 

          Lexington, the co-leader in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, will host Northmor, of the blue division of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, in a non-conference game on Wednesday night.

          The unbeaten Minutemen downed Ashland (60-55) in an "OCC" game last Thursday and then on Saturday beat a solid, small school team in Northwestern (81-70) in a holiday tournament in Wooster. 

          Coach Scott Hamilton says again they did what they had to against good teams.  "Ashland being a conference game and rivalry on their floor.  They were a little misleading with their schedule in their record right now only having one win.  We told our guys that they were in three of those games and could have very easily been a 4-1 team going to our game.  That was a tough battle for us.  That game was on Thursday night and we had a night off on Friday to kind of rest up a little bit.  Then we went up to the College of Wooster and ran into a really good Northwestern team with Mark Alberts at the helm and were able to pull it out," said Hamilton.

          Lexington (7-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, has looked very, very good this year.  However, Hamilton says they have to remember they haven't won anything yet.  "Every kid is different when you are looking at the team and you have to keep them relaxed.  They can't get to tight in their play and in practice, but that the same time you have to keep them focused on their goal and keep them working hard to the point where that target on your back keeps getting bigger and bigger.  This year our mentality has really been one game at a time.  It is not a winning streak, it is not a season, it is one game at a time and so far it has worked for us," said Hamilton.

          Northmor (2-3) is coming off (57-51) win over Marion Elgin on Saturday night.  Hamilton says they have a quality big guy to match against the impressive height of the Minutemen.  "It all starts with their big guy inside.  A 6'6" kid named Kegley.  He is very athletic and loves to go to the boards and strong enough to match up with us.  Then they have some really quick guard play around him.  We are going to have to give him some attention," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We are going to have to not allow the guards to get wide open looks.  Their point guard is just lightning fast.  We are going to have to make sure we contain him because he so he can't create too much for his other teammates."

          With a schedule that includes Ontario and Norwalk next week, not to mention the "OCC" games, Hamilton admits this could be a trap game.  "It is not something that we can be looking down the road.  We don't have a lot of history with them.  Northmor is not a someone that we play regularly.  It's a local team and I expect there to be a big crowd there.  We have a couple of kids on our team who's parents are alumni of Northmor, so there has been a lot of talk among them.  It is not somebody that we really pay attention to in a typical season because we don't play them," he said.

 

Published 12/23/15

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Lexington Takes on Defending Champs

 

          Lexington has likely been the best boys' basketball team around North Central Ohio this year, but it is only December.

          The Minutemen (5-0,2-0), #1 in the Swankonports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, are coming off a big win over Madison (66-41) last Friday in league play and beat Mt. Vernon (61-55) in a non-conference game last Saturday. 

          Coach Scott Hamilton hopes they continue to improve.  "We knew coming in that we had a solid group of guys that could do some special things this year.  We have not accomplished a great deal yet, but we are off to a nice start and we have played some pretty good teams.  Anytime you can get off 5-0 it is a pretty nice thing, but hopefully we can keep working hard and keep it going," he said.

          In the Madison game the Minutemen held only a two point lead (25-23) at the half and Hamilton says they didn't make any big changes during the halftime break.  "Everybody is asking what kind of changes we made an things like that and it was pretty much we were just trying to stay the course.  For us with our defense it allows to do some things maybe for a longer period of time, a quarter, a half, or a full game.  I think the difference between us and Madison was just our bench.  We have more guys that we can go to and keep fresh legs on the floor and eventually we just wore them down," he said.

          Ashland (1-4,1-1) beat Clear Fork (65-44) to win for the first time this season last Friday after claiming the "OCC" title last season and they host the Minutemen on Thursday night.  Hurt by graduation, Hamilton says the Arrows still have some guys that can do a lot of things.  "I don't think they have developed the three point shooting like they did last year, but anytime you lose three four year starters off of your varsity team that is definitely going to be the case," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "They have some very nice firepower.  We know that John Wolfe put 20 up on us last year.  Denbow hit some key three pointers in our game here at our place.  Brewer and Gerwig are very experienced players.  Stoops has been on varsity since he was a sophomore.  It is going to be a tough environment to go over there and play them.  They are the defending conference champions, so I'm sure they are going to be ready to play."

          Lexington shares the "OCC" lead with Mansfield Senior and Wooster and Hamilton says they know teams are going to be ready to play them.  "I told the kids with every win we are able to put in the column it is just going to make the target a little bit bigger.  I reminded the kids the other day that we went over to Ashland a couple of years ago when coach Feick was still around and we were the heavy favorite and I think they ended up beating us by about 35 and the ended up with a bout a .500 record that year.  Rivalries can create some pretty crazy games," he said.

 

Published 12/16/15

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Unbeaten Lex Plays Host to Madison

 

         Lexington has handled all three of their opponents so far this season, two of them pretty easily, but the Madison Rams are probably the best team they have played so far this year.

          The Minutemen (3-0,1-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, host Madison (2-1,2-0) in Ohio Cardinal Conference play on Friday night.

          In their opening "OCC" game they hammered Clear Fork (85-52) last Friday and Saturday won at Willard (63-36) in non-conference play.  Coach Scott Hamilton agrees they are getting better.  "That is our focus right now to definitely keep improving each time we step on the court.  These kids are working hard to improve our defense and so far we have been doing some things right, but we are looking time improve every time we go out," he said.

          Lexington has five players over 6'4", but Hamilton says they have solid guard play too.  "We have good balance and we have experience too, that's what it is.  My three teams captains are seniors this year and have been playing varsity for a while, all returning lettermen.  They have been playing well with Zahn, Vore, and Yaussey.  Then you mix in some guys that are starting with them maybe for the first time this year.  We really do have a nice balance," he said.

          Madison won two "OCC" games last week over Clear Fork (53-33) and Ashland (58-42) and Hamilton says this a very good team, especially with Billy Buckley and Jacob Koehler back on the floor after some discipline issues.  "We are looking at them like they are 1-0.  In their first two games they had a couple of guys that were out and didn't dress.  One of them being Billy Buckley and the other being Koehler coming off the bench.  In practice this week we have addressed that they are an unbeaten team to get ready for Friday night," he said.

          Not that they can't take it to the basket, but Hamilton says he believes the Rams best skill is their ability to stick the outside jumpers, especially three pointers.  "They are a good three point shooting team and that is by design.  They do a lot of spot ups.  They do a lot of dribble penetration and they have the guys that can do it.  Buckley can do a little bit of everything for them.  Ajian can do a little bit of everything for them.  They are both nice ball handlers.  The they have got guys they can kick it to and they can knock down those spot threes.  That is one of the things they are really good at and the other areas we are going to hopefully try to contain them," said Hamilton.

 

Published 12/11/15

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Lexington Edges Clear Fork

 

          Lexington outscored Clear Fork (12-4) in the third quarter and beat the Lady Colts (38-31) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference girls' game at Lexington on Thursday night.

          Courtney Gouge led Lady Lex with 10 points.

          "My team is extremely scrappy.  We have worked all year long in making sure they are aggressive.  They wanted it a lot.  We tell then to bring your own heart to every game," said Lexington coach Brian Thompson.

          Clear Fork took a brief (20-18) lead on Sarah Swank's field goal with 5:33 left in the third quarter, but Lexington (1-0,1-0) outscored them 12-0 for the remainder of the quarter.  "We talk about rocking the boat and not jumping off, but stabilizing it and I thought they did that very well," said Thompson.

          Clear Fork (1-1,0-1) shot just 24 percent from the field and Lady Colts coach Heidi Roush says it's hard to win when you are doing that.  "We tried to tell them that it would turn our way in the second half and we would start making some shots and the momentum would turn.  We had moments where I thought that was going to happen, but we just missed too many easy ones and too many free throws," said Roush.

          Clear Fork was 6 of 13 from the charity stripe.

          They were led in scoring by Swank with eight points.

 

Published 12/04/15

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Lexington Visits Clear Fork in "OCC" Game

 

          Lexington, one of the favorites for the Ohio Cardinal Conference title this season, begins league play on Friday night when they travel to the valley to meet Clear Fork Colts in a league game.

          In their opener, Lexington rallied in the fourth quarter, and won at Berlin Hiland (77-69) in overtime.  Coach Scott Hamilton says they showed some guts.  "The first thought is anytime you can travel to Berlin Hiland and play in their facility and come away with a win it is just a good feeling," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We went down there and we kind of lost focus there in the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth when we kind of got ourselves in a hole down 10.  The kids were able to regroup and battle back and be able to put it away in overtime.  It was just a tremendous win for us and the program."

          Yes, a good start to the season, but Hamilton says they know they have to concentrate on always getting better as they days and weeks unfold.  "It something that you need to work on everyday.  We have the motto this year, that we want to win the day.  Every day we are trying to focus and get better.  One of the things we talk about, no mater what the scoreboard says we have to stay hungry and we have to keep working to improve," he said.

          Clear Fork (0-1,0-1) lost its first game to Madison (53-33) on Tuesday night, with many of the Lexington players in attendance for a least part of the game. 

          Hamilton says the Colts have a lot of young kids that he things are eager to get better.  "I talked to coach Bechtel at our "OCC" meeting this year and just talked with him.  What he lost to graduation and working with so many underclassmen this year.  There are really a lot of uncertainties for us in preparing for them, but especially for him.  I know he is eager to get going in the season and see what he has got to work with.  Scrimmages are one thing, but when the lights come on on a Friday or Saturday night everything is different," said Hamilton.

 

Published 12/02/15

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Lexington Opens at Berlin Hiland

 

          Lexington, one of the early season favorites for the Ohio Cardinal Conference title, plays its first game of the season at statewide, small school powerhouse Berlin Hiland on Friday night.

          They beat the Hawks (55-50) last year at their place.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says his players are kind of kicking at the stall to get out on the court and show what they can do.  "The preseason is not as long as it normally is this year.  The scrimmages come pretty quick, the football playoffs, and some teams are dealing with injuries.  So, you just have to wait until you get some games under your belt until to see where you really stand," he said.

          With height and guard play Lexington can be really good this year.  Hamilton says they know there are some expectations.  "There is a little bit of a buzz in the community.  This is probably the largest group of veteran guys that I have returned with four starters coming back this year.  We have a little excitement going on," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "One of the things that has set us back a little, in the time I have been involved in program, this is probably the largest number of injuries we have had to deal with coming out of the fall season."

          When Hiland has shooters they are very good and when you add height they usually end up in Columbus at the end of the season.  Hamilton says they are the real deal.  "It is a little outside the edge of our community.  Everybody kind of knows that Berlin Hiland's basketball programs are good.  Of course, Mark Schlabach had his own little interesting career down at Loudonville, with a couple of runs to the state tournament there as well.  When it comes to basketball in the State of Ohio you are not going to talk about the better programs without mentioning Berlin Hiland is the small school area," he said.

          Hiland is a school that does not play football.  Hamilton says that gives them some benefits when it comes to basketball, but that is not the reason they are always good.  "Maybe not at the start of the season because I know they do have soccer down there and they have had some success in those areas, but just the general commitment you have to make to football.  It really helps your basketball program out if you have your guys in the gym.  When you are sharing them with football and the summer schedule and, of course, in the early fall.  It will make a difference.  They just have a rich tradition of basketball down there.  The community support and everything is great.  I really believe if they had football or not they would still be very successful with their basketball," said Hamilton.

 

Published 11/26/15

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Foundation Game to Honor Gurney

 

          John Gurney, a basketball official since the mid 1970's, has been battling cancer for the last year, and administrators and coaches at Lexington and Mansfield Christian High Schools have decided to honor Jon by donating the proceeds from their foundation game on Monday night to his health fund.

          Lexington Athletic Director Joe Roberts says they wanted to do something to let Jon know how much they have they respect him.  "We are excited to be able to help out a longtime official and a man we all consider a friend in John Gurney and his continued fight that he moves forward with.  We got this idea going several weeks ago.  Scott Hamilton and I were talking about Jon and that he had fallen into a rough patch there.  We thought we should consider doing something for him," he told Swankonsports.com, "We and coach Kurtz over at Mansfield Christian started to talking about it.  It's just a great way to say, hey, we are here and make sure we remember all of the good things he does for basketball.  So, Mansfield Christian and Lexington have traditionally scrimmaged against one another, so it is just a good way to tie it together and make it a foundation game."

          There are not any officials that get every call right, but Roberts says Gurney has always been willing to talk to coaches and players and that sets him apart from many.  "The underlying factor is this.  He doesn't make every call correct, we all know that, he is an official, but he does it in a class manner.  He is just always approachable and he always available and I think that is what sets him aside from so many others.  He has just done an outstanding job in both baseball and basketball for the last 41 years," he said.

          The games will be hosted by Lexington Monday night and will start at 6 o'clock, according to Roberts.  "All tickets are $5 at the door.  After the JV game is over we are going to do a little recognition of John and give him the microphone for just a few seconds to say thanks for the evening and then we are going to tip it off at approximately 7:30 with the varsity contest," he said.

          Roberts says some local business have also been kind enough to lend a hand.  "We also want to thank Mechanics Bank and Modern Woodmen for their support.  Mechanics Bank put up the money that goes to the Ohio High School Athletic Association for their foundation for this event.  Modern Woodmen has done a matching gift up to $2,500 for the John Gurney health fund.  Thanks to Bucks Bar & Grill in Lexington where Monday evening they are going to donate 10% of the sales before and after the game.  So, stop out at Bucks in Lexington and get one their good cheeseburgers.  10% of those sales are going to go back to the John Gurney health fund as well," said Roberts.

 

Published 11/23/15

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Lexington Wants "OCC"

 

          Lexington has the right mix of the talent and experience this year to have a real good opportunity at winning the Ohio Cardinal Conference boys' basketball title this season.

          With the experience they have back this season, Coach Scott Hamilton says they have been able to get some things done in the preseason.  He says their is some excitement around the program.  "It has been a nice preseason so far, but anytime you can return four starters it kind of helps you get off to a little quicker start in the month of November.  We have been battling with some football and soccer guys that had injuries at the end of the season, but just the interest, the excitement, and the returning experience has been very pleasing so far," he said.

          Experience is a big factor on the floor and Hamilton says it has been helping them during practice sessions this month too.  "When we hit the gym and we have a bunch of guys that had experience with us last year, even on the JV team, those new guys that are coming into the gym with us we have a lot of coaches helping the along, standing on the sideline while me and my staff are out on the floor working with the guys, the experienced players are standing on the sideline talking with the new guys letting them know where they should be and what they should be doing, so we have been able to progress pretty well so far," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday.

          With some big kids and some quality guards Hamilton knows this is a team that has a lot of potential.  "We do have so size this year.  Obviously if we can keep everybody healthy we are looking forward to some good things," he said.

          Ashland is the defending "OCC" champion, Mansfield Senior is always very talented and Madison has potential, but Hamilton believes his kids will be right there in the conference race this year too.  "I think we can compete for a conference title.  You are going to always have the consistency and the power of the Mansfield's, the Madison's, the Ashland's, the bigger schools.  Wooster, with a new coach coming in, there is going to be some uncertainty there.  I think we have the experience and the talented players to be able to compete for an "OCC" title this year," said Hamilton.

          They being their season in non-conference play the day after Thanksgiving on the road at traditional small school power Berlin Hiland.  They open play in the "OCC" December 4 at rival Clear Fork. 

 

Published 11/17/15

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Lexington Looking for Revenge against Bay

 

          Lexington lost to Bay Village in last year's boys' soccer regional tournament.  The will look for a payback on Wednesday night as they meet the Rockets again in the division two regional semi-finals at Sandusky Perkins High School.

          The Minutemen (15-4-1) have had another great season, which included a win over Ontario () in the district final last Thursday at Ashland High School.  Coach Pete Them says they have a boatload of experience and that has been a big plus this season.  "Our success is due to the fact that we are senior heavy.  We have 14 seniors and a lot of guys that have been in and out of the lineup the last couple of years.  Just experience, we had a great run last year and I think that has played well into the hands of these seniors that are starting and having great success this year," said Them.

          Coaches can try to teach, but Them says there is nothing like experience when it comes to playing in big games like this one.  "A hand full of these guys that were starters were there last year against Bay Village and I just think the minutes on the field, just the overall experience and excitement of everything will hopefully be in our favor on Wednesday when we travel up to Perkins again and hopefully get a result," he said.

          Bay (13-3-2) beat Lexington (5-0) in the regionals a year ago and Them says the Rockets are one of the premier programs in Ohio.  He says his kids have seen what they are up against.  "Bay Village is one of the top division two programs in the State of Ohio.  When you talk about soccer in Ohio they come to mind.  They are going to be sound and quick, they have some size and speed.  A hand full of our boys went up and watched their district championship on Saturday," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "I think it was a good experience for those guys that went up and watched just see what they are bring to the table again.  They are very talented and I think it will be a good match for us, a good test."

          It comes down to kids making plays at the regional level.  Them says they have to be both opportunistic and patient on Wednesday night.  "At this time of year you have to take care of the opportunities and the chances that you get.  You might only get one or two and you definitely have to take care of those.  If something goes wrong you just have to keep pushing forward and play our style and do all of the things we have done all season that have carried us.  Sometimes it is just a matter of time before a mistake happens or something goes in our favor.  So, sometimes you just have to keep pushing," said Them.

 

Published 11/04/15

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Lexington Has a Chance

 

          Lexington stands 13th in their division three computer region and they need to finish in the top eight to make the post season for the first time since 2008.

          They need to beat a very good Ashland, which ranks fifth in the same region, and shares the Ohio Cardinal Conference lead, plus get a lot of help, like upset wins by Ontario over Bellevue and Norwalk over Sandusky and even Orrville over Wooster.

          Last week, the Minutemen (6-3,3-3) lost to Mansfield Senior (45-28) in "OCC" play.  Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they played well at times, but they didn't play four quarters and that cost them.  "You can't spot a team like Mansfield Senior 21 points in the first quarter.  I was really proud of the boys because they didn't show any give up and they continued to fight, but at the end of the day we played two good quarters of football and we need to play four.  Senior High did the job and we didn't," he said.

          Ashland (8-1,5-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, needs to win too.  They share first in "OCC" with Mansfield Senior and Wooster and a loss could cost them the playoffs.

          The Arrows have developed more of a running game and Gerhardt says that makes them harder to defend.  "That is what makes them so very dangerous.  When they just threw the ball they were a dangerous offense then and now that they found a running game that even makes them more dangerous.  Certainly they are definitely a challenge for any team," he said.

          Defense might be Ashland's calling card this year.  The held the explosive Madison offense to minus 20 yards rushing last week in a (36-14) win over the Rams.  Gerhardt says they get to the ball and make tackles.  "They run to the football.  They are very disciplined in what they do," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "They have guys and they have a scheme that they like and their players have bought into that.  They play good fundamental football.  They make first contact tackles and they run really well to the ball."

          Gerhardt says this is game they can win, but they have to play 48 minutes of disciplined football.  "We felt like there wasn't anybody on our schedule that we couldn't play with and if we play four quarters of football like we can we felt like we could win those games, but when you don't, you don't.  Against a well coached, disciplined team like Ashland it is even more important not only are they well coached and disciplined they have some talent.  They have some kids that can play football.  You have to string together a full game to have a chance," said Gerhardt.

 

Published 10/27/15

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Lexington Must be Fundamental

 

          Lexington could still grab a share of the Ohio Cardinal Conference title, but a lot of things would have to happen for that to be the case, most notably Wooster losing to either West Holmes or Orrville, which isn't likely.

          Making it to the post season for the first time since 2008 is more likely.  Right now they stand 11th in their division three region, but would get a big boost with wins over Mansfield Senior (11th in their division II region) and Ashland (6th in their DIII region) the next two weeks.

          The Minutemen (6-2,3-2) were able to extend a (7-0) halftime lead into a (42-0) win over West Holmes last week.  Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they pretty much played to their potential, especially in that second half.  "I was happy with the boys.  The defense came out right away and played the way that I know they can play.  The offense got a got a little later start.  They really didn't finish some things are were really sloppy in the first half.  The only adjustments we made were in attitude at halftime and the kids answered to that and then preformed to a level that they can," he said.

          Mansfield Senior (6-2,4-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, is coming off a (32-6) destruction of Wooster last week and are paced by running backs Brian Benson and Tyquan Vickers.  Gerhardt says they expect a lot of handoffs to those guys.  "I would if those buys were playing for me.  They have tremendous talent in the backfield, however they can hurt you in the air.  They do have good athletes and we have to prepare for that and we have to be consistent and disciplined when we face players that can make big plays," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "You have to be really disciplined in what you do as a defense and make sure you are able to take care of your responsibilities.  If we do that while playing aggressive we can be successful."

          The Tygers forced four fumbles last week and Gerhardt says they are pretty talented on that side of the ball too.  "They are just a pretty good football team and their kids fly around and get after the ball.  Again we have to focus on what we do and play sound, fundamental football, stay on your blocks, execute to a very high level and have some patience," he said.

          One plus for the Minutemen is they will be playing at home and Gerhardt says they feel pretty comfortable when they take the field at their place.  "We love playing at home, we love our field, we love our stadium.  The community comes out and supports.  Anytime we play at home it is a plus.  We are excited to be at home," he said.

 

Published 10/21/15

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Lex Needs to Return to Winning Ways

 

          With losses in their last two conference games the possibility of winning and Ohio Cardinal Conference title look slim for Lexington, but not impossible, however, the playoffs are a more real possibility.

          After seven weeks of play, the Minutemen stand 10th in their division three region and must finish in the top eight to make the postseason for the first time since 2008.  With games remaining against West Holmes on Friday and especially Mansfield Senior on week nine and Ashland on week 10 there is a good chance.  It would also help the Minutemen if they could get some wins form the non-league teams they beat in Ontario, Shelby, and Norwalk.

          Lexington recorded a safety to take the lead last week against "OCC" leader Wooster, but eventually fell to the Generals (25-8) in league play.  Big Lex coach Taylor Gerhardt says Wooster forces you to be really good.  "The kids played very good defense.  They were fast and aggressive.  We just gave up too many big plays in the end.  Of course, offensively we just didn't finish drives and that was tale," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Wooster has a lot of talent and they are well coached and they scripted a good plan.  It was a hard fought game and the kids played well, but ultimately Wooster capitalized on our mistakes and beat us."

          Lexington (5-2,2-2) is at West Holmes on Friday night in "OCC" action.  The Knights (1-6,0-4) are on a six game losing streak and have had trouble with consistency of execution. Gerhardt says you never question the effort of a West Holmes team.  "It's one week at a time.  Anytime you play West Holmes you know you are going to get into a game with a hard nosed group of kids.  Those kids don't know the meaning of quit and they are always well coached and very competitive.  So, it is always a test playing a West Holmes team," he said.

          The Knights run a wing-T offense and Gerhardt knows you have to be ready to stop the run, but also be aware of especially the play action pass.  "Oh yeah, they run the football.  They have had their offense for a while now.  They want to run the football and they will be patient and stick with their plan.  And then they are really great at sucking you in and you have to come up and defend that run time and time again and they will pop a quick play action pass on you that can hurt you for a big play," he said.

 

Published 10/15/19

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Fundamentals are the Key For Lexington

 

          After a great first half of the high school football regular season, the Lexington Minutemen were stunned and dominated by the Madison Rams last week.

          The Rams had over 450 yards of total offense, scored four second quarter touchdowns, in route to a (59-10) thumping on Lexington last week, knocking the Minutemen from the "OCC" lead. 

          Coach Taylor Gerhardt says it was simple they just were not ready to play.  "We certainly we not as ready as we should have been last week.  First of all, Madison was ready.  They were well coached and prepared.  They executed everything they needed to and we did not.  What happened was a good, old fashion beating that we received because we weren't ready to play," he said.

          This week, the Minutemen (5-1,2-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, travel to meet Wooster (5-1,3-0), #1 in our poll, the Ohio Cardinal Conference leader.

          Gerhardt says the week is off to a good start.  "I am really happy with how they responded.  (Monday) they were focused and ready to go.  Saturday, they knew what happened, they knew what was going on.  We got through Saturday.  This week we have to have the understanding of what got us success in the first place, which is a sense of urgency and focusing on what we did," said Gerhardt.

          Wooster owns "OCC" wins over Ashland (21-7,) Madison (20-7,) and Clear Fork (41-7,) surrendering only three scores in three weeks.  Gerhardt says the Generals are a combination of solid fundamentals and tremendous athletes.  "They are a good football team overall.  In all three phases of the game they play good solid football.  They have athletes and they take advantage," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "The athletes that they have are playing sound football.  This is a tough challenge for us because it is a good, well coached team with good athletes and that means a pretty formidable opponent."

          Wooster has shown some explosiveness with ability to score quickly from anywhere on the field.  Gerhardt says they can do that with both pass and the run.  "They do what they do and they want to catch you sleeping with the play action and they have the athletes to do that.  However, they also have the kind of offense that can pop a big run because they are good up front and they have some good backs," he said.

 

Published 10/07/15

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Lexington Expecting Really Good Effort Form Madison

 

          Lexington is starting to enter some rarified air.  The Minutemen have won their first five games of the season and they share the Ohio Cardinal Conference lead with Wooster and Mansfield Senior.

          They play at Madison on Friday night in another league game.

          Last week, they beat Clear Fork (27-7) as quarterback Joey Vore was involved in all of their scores, including two field goals.  Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they played a physical game.  "The boys came out and played physical and aggressive and that is what you have to do against a Clear Fork team.  They overcame some mistakes and some surges and a well coached team that has some really nice young talent over there.  Our kids stays the course and played inside of their jobs and played with intensity and did a nice job," said Gerhardt.

          Lexington (5-0,2-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, is at Madison (2-3,1-1) on Friday night.  Gerhardt says the Rams have some game breakers and a physical line too.  "They have a few kids that can hit home runs right away.  They are big up front and as always they are a big physical Madison team.  With that ability to score quickly we will have our hands full," he said.

          After watching film, Gerhardt says this looks like a typical Madison team to him.  "They have some kids that can play football over there.  Coach Masi is doing a nice job over there.  They are better than they record.  They are talented football team that is going to give anybody a handful," he said.

          Both sides clearly see this as a rivalry game.  Gerhardt says the results down through the years prove that.  "The schools have been around each other for a long time.  They have shared leagues through the years whether if leagues have stayed the same or changed.  There is a certain familiarity.  There is certainly a sense of rivalry anytime Lexington and Madison plays," he said.

          Madison has won the last won the last four games in this football rivalry.  The last win by the Minutemen coming (28-10) in 2010.

 

Published 10/01/15

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Lexington Not Overlooking Clear Fork

 

          Lexington is enjoying its best season in almost a decade and they not about to have it ruined by one of their more traditional rivals.

          The Minutemen (4-0,1-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, plays host to next door rival Clear Fork (2-2,0-1) on Friday night in Ohio Cardinal Conference play.

          Last week, Joey Vore found Tony Gerrell with a touchdown pass with 4:00 left to give Lexington the lead and then picked off a pass deep in Big Lex territory to preserve the (35-28) win over Orrville last week in the "OCC" opener for both schools. 

          After holding a (21-0) lead after the first quarter, Lexington coach Taylor Gerhardt was very proud of how his kids responded after the Red Riders tied the game in the fourth quarter.  "Orrville did a heck of a job adjusting with some things that we were having trouble with.  The kids they rallied they didn't quit, they fought to the end and came up with some big plays to help us get out of there with a "W," he said.

          An exciting win like last week can only add to the confidence of the unbeaten Minutemen.  However, Gerhardt says they have to sort of forget last week and focus on the future.  "We approach every week as week onto itself.  It certainly helps moving into a new week coming off of a victory.  However, once we close the book on Saturday after film we are always saying we are 0-0 right now.  The only thing that exists for us is the team that week," he said.

          Coming off a (3-7) season, the Colts were smacked around last week by Mansfield Senior (30-0) in their first conference game of the season.  Gerhardt knows the Colts are always excited to play Lexington and he looks for an inspired performance.  "They are going to come in and they are well coached.  Coach Carroll over there will always have them ready to go.  Not to mention it is a backyard brawl," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "It is always a tough game whenever Lexington and Clear Fork get together.  So, we know it is going to be a tough hard nosed football game that we are going to have to play for four quarters."

          Disappointed in his team's execution and lack of physical play, Clear Fork coach Dave Carroll announced a lengthy list of changes for this game.  Gerhardt says names don't matter.  He knows the Colts are going to ready to play.  "When you play Clear Fork and you are a Lexington Minuteman you have to be ready for their best game.  They are going to come ready to go.  It doesn't matter what guys they put in there.  They are going to come with their "A" game.  They are going to be prepared.  They are going to be in the right mindset.  Who can throw the records out the window.  We have to be ready for their best and that's what we are preparing for," said Gerhardt.

 

Published 9/25/15

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Celebrate the Rivalry

 

          In days gone by I was accused of stirring up the rivalry between Clear Fork and Lexington, as if that is a bad thing, and my answer was this was a rivalry long before I came around.

          We cover almost 80 schools in the North Central Ohio area on Swankonsports.com and this is one of the more long standing and intense rivalries around.  So, let's celebrate it.

          Let's begin by a giving it a name and a physical statute to be awarded to the winner of the annual football game.  Although only symbolic I think such a statue as it is passed from side to side down through the years would help to cement the relationship between the schools.  Have it at the site of the game sitting on a table if not under spotlight.

          You have to give it a name.  How about Johnny Appleseed?  Yes, I realize John Chapman has nothing to do with sports and he was spreading seeds around here long before there were organized sports.  However, his name was once the title of a conference that included both schools.  So, how about the "Appleseed Rumble" or something like that?

          You would not have to invent the wheel.  Check what schools like Wooster-Orrville, Danville-East Knox, or Norwalk St. Paul and Monroeville do.  It really could be a week lone event with a captain's breakfast, hosted by the village where that year's game is taking place.  You could have it at the V & M Restaurant or the Paul Revere Inn.  You could have a dinner each year on Thursday night at a certain location.  How about the Der Dutchman Restaurant?  It's about halfway between the villages.  It could include speakers.  I am willing to serve as the MC for such an event.  As far as who the speakers should be and who pays the fee is probably best left up to others.

          It could involve the whole student body.  Have a contest among art students to design the trophy.  Bands could put together special halftime shows to be played only at this game.  There could be a writing contest on the subject of the rivalry to be judged with the winners introduced in a pre game or halftime ceremony.

          Let's get this done!!

          Rivalry doesn't have to be bad it can be good.

 

Published 9/23/15

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Lexington Not Looking Past Red Riders

 

          Lexington has run off three non-conference wins in a row to open the season and now the Minutemen begin Ohio Cardinal Conference play on the road at Orrville.

          They beat Norwalk (28-0) last week after wins over Ontario (26-19) and Shelby (34-20) over the first two weeks.  Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they just continue to get better as a team.  "I am pleased with how the boys are coming along.  Football is a difficult game.  You only get 10 times to perform and you have to make the most of of every time you are out on the field.  We carry that over to each practice, each rep and everything we do.  They have gotten progressively better, but their are still a lot of areas that I'm not happy with and that we need to pay attention to, but they have gotten progressively better each week," he said.

          Now, one thing they know they most improve is they have to have more concentration and execution when they are in the kicking game.  "We have to be much better on special teams.  We have given up too many big plays in the last two games on special teams.  We have not taken advantage of the plays we have made, either because of mistakes or penalties.  So, that is a real area of focus.  There have to be an understanding that the three phases of the game are equal and understanding that you have to be as advanced as you are in each stage and that intensity and that sense of urgency may look a little different," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "That is a tough thing for a high school kid to do to go from a defensive intensity to an offensive intensity to a special teams intensity.  There is a lot bit of difference in how you approach all of those and they are still learning how to do that."

          Lexington (3-0,0-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, plays over at Orrville (1-2,0-0) on Friday.  The Riders lost to Canal Fulton Northwest (34-7) last week.  Their win comes against Columbus Linden McKinley (47-13) on week one.  Gerhardt says they know better than to look past Orrville.  "They are a good football team.  They are always going to be a good football team.  I see Orrville as a very aggressive bunch of boys that get to the ball on defense.  On offense, they run the crap out of that ball.  They have two good running backs.  They have a very aggressive, sound offensive line.  We go over to Orrville and play, it is the opening week of the "OCC," and we have big challenge in front of us," he said.

 

Published 9/17/15

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Lexington Must Keep that Single Focus

 

          Lexington has been one of the better, and somewhat surprising football teams, through the first two games of the season.

          The Minutemen (2-0) #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, have beaten Ontario (26-19) and Shelby (34-20) this year.

          Coach Taylor Gerhardt says last week against Shelby they were sure tacklers and the players just did their job and didn't try to do someone else's.  "We tackled and we played within our assignments on defense.  Armstrong is a heck of a football player and Shelby has a good football team.  Our kids bought into, and have bought into, our schemes.  We preach do your job and do it well.  They executed their jobs very well and tackled well on Friday night," he said.

          After breaking an 18 game loosing streak the Minutemen have developed some confidence and Gerhardt believes it is a good kind of confidence.  "As a coach I constantly try to read the boys on whether or not that confidence is turning into unfocused confidence, if it becomes arrogance or is that confidence a confidence with a focus on what we have to do right now," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "So far, the boys have shown me that they understand that they focus on the now and that is the only thing we have to take care of.  They have shown that in practice of course, but the true evaluation will be (Friday) night versus Norwalk."

          Lexington visits Norwalk, of the Northern Ohio League, for a non-conference game on Friday night in another new match-up to the area football schedule.

          The Truckers (1-1) were outright "NOL" champs last year and Gerhardt says they still bring a lot to the table.  "They have established themselves as a top program and I tell the kids you have to be ready for four tough quarters of football against Norwalk.  They understand what it is to have to play four quarters and are coached well enough to know that you have to fight to the last tick of the clock, which we have been trying to learn here at Lexington.  Knowing that they are a hard nosed team, well coached, that has established themselves as winners this is a big challenge for us," said Gerhardt.

          Norwalk lost their opener to statewide power Mentor Lake Catholic (30-0,) but responded to beat Cleveland John Hay (32-13) last week.  Gerhardt says they have some powerful athletes.  "We believe their quarterback is a pretty good athlete.  We believe he is a dual threat.  He can run, and he is a hard runner, he is a hard nosed kid.  We are going to have to play within our jobs and our schemes to be able to contain him.  They have some pretty tough running backs too.  It's a good Norwalk team and we understand the challenge that is in front of us," he said.

 

Published 9/11/15

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Lexington and Shelby in Big Match-up

 

          Lexington broke a long dry spell with a win over Ontario last week and now their assignment is to go to Shelby and play the Whippets, also a vastly improved team.

          Last week, Hunter Biddle rushed for 204 yards and two touchdowns in Lexington's (26-19) win over Ontario, their first win since the second week of the 2013 season when they beat Shelby (28-12) at Skilles Field.

          Coach Taylor Gerhardt says talent is not an issue and last week they unlocked the secret of learning how to post a win.  "We needed to learn how to win.  We knew we had a great group of boys.  They don't flinch away from any hard work or the high expectations that we have for them.  It was just a matter of maturing and figuring out a way to hold on and finish and learn how to win," he said.

          Lexington took the lead last week at the end of the third quarter on Joey Vore's 11-yard TD right after a long gainer by Biddle.  Gerhardt says they showed toughness last week.  "I attribute that to our kids answering the toughness that I and the coaching staff have put them through," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Last year, we always said our goal was to learn how to not give up and keep fighting and they learned that even though it was a rough way to learn it and that came to their aid Friday night.  When things got tough they kept fighting and ended up believing in themselves and got the job done."

          Shelby (1-0) got it done too with a (20-6) win over the Madison Rams in their opener.  Gerhardt says they are playing a very good team.  "They are well coached and they have some really good young talent and really talent overall.  They are going to be at home and they are coming off a big win against Madison.  They are a tough football team, so we definitely have a challenge," said Gerhardt.

          Shelby's sophomore quarterback Brennan Armstrong had over 200 yards rushing against Madison.  Yes, Gerhardt says he is at the top of their scouting report.  "He is a special athlete.  He showed that last year as a freshman and he just got bigger and stronger and faster and more confident in the offense that they are asking him to run.  So, certainly one of our top priorities is containing number 5 and that is a big job for us because he is a talented kid." he said.

          The thing about Armstrong is he is not just a runner, Gerhardt says he can hut you in a number of ways.  "He starts and stops better than I have seen in a long while.  He can get up to full speed real quick.  The thing is when he stays in the pocket he has a real good arm too.  Like I said the kid is a competitor and he is surrounded by talent with a really good coaching staff, so we have a really big challenge in front of us," said Gerhardt.

 

Published 9/03/15

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Lexington Looking For Better Start

 

          Last season, Lexington lost to Ontario (33-21) on the opening night of the football season and went on to post an (0-10) record on the year.  This year they are hoping a win on Friday night over the Warriors can boost them to a better season.

          Taylor Gerhardt, in his second year as the head coach at Lexington, believes with a full off season program in place the Minutemen are ahead of where they were a year ago.  "I don't know if I would say better prepared, but I think with our kids with a full year of the schemes and concepts that we would be further ahead with one year under our belts.  I do feel like we are ahead of where we were last year," he said.

          Ontario, of the Northern Ohio League, returns a lot of their skilled players and Gerhardt knows they can't allow those players to make big plays against them.  "I know they are a very well coached football team.  They seem to have some pretty good skilled kids.  When Lexington and Ontario play it is a rivalry game, so they are going to bring their "A" game to us no matter what," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We have to be prepared for that.  They are going to come in hungry.  I think Ontario is going to be a very solid team this year, so we have a big challenge in front of us."

          Ontario quarterback Alex Vredenbaugh is a dual threat from his position.  Gerhardt says they understand his capabilities and know they must at least contain him on Friday night.  "The kid makes plays.  He is a tough hard nosed kid and he can beat you a lot of different ways.  Definitely one of the things we have to do is contain him if we are going to be successful," he said.

 

Published 8/25/15

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Lexington Working on Being Winners

 

          Lexington found it difficult in 2014, the first season for head coach Taylor Gerhardt, but they feel this fall could be better for the Minutemen.

          It was an 0-10 season for Lexington last year as the Minutemen where out manned on both sides of the ball.

          Gerhardt believes they are off to a better start during training camp and hopefully that bodes well for the regular season.  "I'm happy with where we are right now.  I feel we are further ahead this year at this point than we were last year.  Of course, that is always the goal.  Our kids are working hard.  I never have to question their work ethic.  So far, so good," he said.

          Lexington got pushed around a lot last year and Gerhardt thinks this season they are going to be able to compete more physically and hopefully finish more drives.  "As we look back at film and make notes and crunch data the things that we count are missed assignments on both sides of the ball.  Those kill you.  A lot of that we attributed to how young we were, so that has to take care of itself.  We were small last year and we made a real concerted effort in the off season to get into the weight room and get bigger and stronger," he told Swankonsports.com, "As we look back at last year one of the biggest things that we talk about is finishing.  No matter if it is a play, a quarter, a half, or a game, we are really emphasizing being able to finish to be on top at the end."

          Maturing not just physically, but mentally is going to be a big key for the Minutemen this year.  When out on the practice field Gerhardt says he has already seen some of that.  "We have already seen that on the practice field.  There is a different vibe and character with the team where we have really gone for a team at ground zero to picking up where we left off an to really coach the kids to play fast.  We certainly feel that the team overall has matured, but we won't know that until we get more film," he said.

          Lexington was winless in the Ohio Cardinal Conference last season and Gerhardt says they want to make sure the rest of the schools in the league know they are there to compete each week.  "This season we want to win football games and we want to win more than we lose.  We want to be in the top of the conference at the end of the season.  That is a part of finishing.  You don't line up to go 5-5.  You are lining up to win every single time you take the field, so ultimately that is always our goal.  We want to be competitive in the "OCC", so when people look at us for the next week they know they have to be ready to go," said Gerhardt.

          Lexington will host Ontario in their regular season opener on August 28.  They travel to Orrville for their first "OCC" game on September 18.

 

Published 8/18/15

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Bellevue Belts the Minutemen in Districts

 

          Bellevue erased a one run deficit by exploding for eight runs in the fifth inning and went on to blast Lexington (11-3) in the division two district semi-finals at Madison High School on Thursday evening.

          Leading (3-2) going the bottom of the fifth Lexington coach Kevin Morrow removed pitcher Hunter Biddle, who had re-injured his ankle in a slide into second base in the first inning of Thursday's game, and replaced him with Evan Lee.  Lee only retired one batter. 
          Grant Vickery, Bryce Ray and Kyle Geary all had two run hits as part of the eight run inning for the Northern Ohio League champion Redmen. 

          Bellevue coach Andy Dennings thought they were getting good swings are were taking a good approach to the plate.  "It was one of those things where we thought we had a pretty good beat on what their kids were trying to do.  We sat on the fastball.  I thought we were making good quality at bats most of the game and we made some loud outs here and there.  In the fifth inning we were able to get some runners on, I think they walked a couple.  Bryce (Ray) came through and put the double out there and then we just got some good quality at bats and we found some gaps," he told Swankonsports.com after the game. "Coach (Dan) Freitag and I were driving down and just talking about that we just haven't been able to get that big one.  We have had the one, the two, but we haven't had that four, five, six, seven ,eight.  That inning rolled around and we were able to stretch it out and take the wind out of their sails a little bit.  It was a pretty competitive game and that one inning stretched it out and gave us a lot of confidence."

          Biddle gave up two runs and seven hits over the first four innings and Morrow says the plan before the game was to bring Lee, a senior headed to Kent State to play baseball, in the fifth.  "(Biddle) said he felt fine, but the plan was to bring Evan in somewhere around the fifth inning and see if we could do what we have done here in the last couple of weeks," said Morrow.  Lee had some control problems walking three batters and hitting two before being relieved by Brady Kunkle.  "He has struggled a little bit from time to time, but lately he has been on a roll.  It just wasn't there for him.  The kid has just given us so much over the years that I can't complain one bit," added Morrow.  Ray and Geary reached Kunkle for back to back RBI hits.

          Bellevue has been a pretty good hitting club this spring and Dennings thought they would be able to get to Lexington eventually.  "I was pretty comfortable.  I thought we were going to have our chances to score.  Sure enough we hit a couple of gaps and we hit some balls hard.  Thomas (Pressler) threw a great game and the defense played pretty well.  We had a couple of lapses there where we kind of spotted them and they took advantage of it.  We just can't do that.  We have to tighten that up and we will be fine," he said.

          The bottom three hitters in the Bellevue order reached base five times in the game and Redmen are dangerous one through nine in the lineup.  "We have been doing that a little bit lately, but it has been happening all year.  Bryce used to hit sixth and Kyle used to hit eighth and they are hitting one and two for us.  Vickery used to hit two and he is down.  So, we have moved some kids around.  Our kids battle and we are petty comfortable when we are running seven, eight, nine out there and not really feel like I have to bunt or move some guys over.  We got to the point there were we are hitting the kid well, let's just swing.  We have a good team and no matter who we plug in they seem to compete very well," said Dennings.

          Bellevue (22-4) will face Shelby (16-9) in the district final on Saturday afternoon.

          Lexington (15-12) finishes the year as co-champion of the Ohio Cardinal Conference.  Morrow thinks they have been over achievers.  "It was a fantastic year.  Nobody said we would be a competitive team.  Most people, including myself, through we would be around the .500 mark and possibly a third of forth place "OCC" team and we walk away sending out our seniors with a championship," he said

 

Published 5/21/15

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Lexington faces Bellevue in Districts

 

          Lexington, the Ohio Cardinal Conference co-champ, faces Bellevue, the Northern Ohio League champion, in the division two district semi-finals on Thursday at Madison High School.

          Lexington coach Kevin Morrow knows one thing for sure the Redmen have some very good pitching.  "They do have some hitters and they have a little speed at the top of the lineup, a couple of really fast kids.  I think they rely heavily of Spezeck and Pressler, their two quality right handed pitchers.  That tandem has been really affective for them all year long.  They can spot their pitches and I think they are in the mid to low 80's.  I think they hang their hat on those two young men pitching well for them," he said.

          Lexington (15-10) beat Bellevue (5-2) on the second week of the regular season and there have been a lot of games played since then.  With Bellevue's pitching, Morrow thinks it will be important to get to them early in the game.  "The first time we played them I think we were a little bit fortunate with a couple of mistakes on the infield and we got our running game going an it kind of helped us.  It is going to come down to who makes the fewest mistakes and if we could get our hitters to really get into them early.  One thing that has been helping us here lately is that crucial, timely RBI hit, especially if we get a couple of guys on.  We have been doing that a lot lately, especially Nick Adams.  If we can get one of those and play good defense will give ourselves a good chance anyways," said Morrow.

          If you look across the Bellevue schedule there have been a lot of low scoring games this year and there probably won't be a lot of runs scored on Thursday.  Morrow thinks their pitching will keep them in it.  "Our pitching is something we have hung our hat on all year long.  We don't have a pitching staff that is going to blow your doors off, throw 85 to 90 and strike a bunch of people out.  We have some smart pitchers that throw a lot of off speed and a lot of good change ups.  They never seem to get beat up by a big inning.  They are not going to overpower you they are just going to throw strikes and keep people off the bases," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Really it's our infield defense that is so vastly improved this year it is remarkable.  Our fielding percentage in the infield is 90 percent or better.  We have very errors on the infield.  When the pitchers are rolling ground balls our infield is throwing people out at first base.  You can really put yourself in good position to win some ballgames."

 

Published 5/21/15

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Lexington With Some Big Games to Play

 

 

          Lexington leads the Ohio Cardinal Conference standings by one game in the loss column over Mansfield Madison and they start tournament play with a division two sectional final at home against Clyde on Thursday.

          They have two games to play in the league against Wooster.  At this point the schools are unsure when those will be played.

          Lexington coach Kevin Morrow knows they have some exciting baseball to play this month.  "The weather is starting to get nicer and you are playing meaningful games not only for the conference, but obviously for the tournament.  With quality opponents this is when it gets exciting and I told the kids you have to have a lot of fun, we have to focus, but we have to have a lot of fun with this," he said.

          Lexington (13-10), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Clyde (11-11) in a regular season game (7-4) back in early April.  Matt Frazier had two home runs that night for the Minutemen.  Morrow says they looked pretty good that night, but that doesn't necessarily transfer to Thursday.  "You have to take every game seriously.  It does help that we played them up there.  We actually did win, I wouldn't say handily, but we did win by a comfortable score.  We didn't have Evan Lee.  He actually hurt himself on one of the first plays of the game.  I think Josh Vesspool, who has been a tremendous bat in the lineup, wasn't actually in that lineup to start.  So, you would like to say we looked pretty good up there.  We went and watched them a couple of other times, so we are pretty familiar with them," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "I told these kids anything can happen in the tournament.  I have seen some Lexington teams go down I thought were better in the first round in earlier years.  Even my own high school experience on a team I played on was ranked higher and had a heck of a winning record and you get in tournament and things just don't go your way and you get sent home.  We have to be ready mentally to start that first inning and try to get something on Clyde and get some momentum going."

          Wooster lost its tournament game to New Philadelphia (2-1) on Wednesday night, so that does free up the Generals schedule a little bit.  Morrow says they have to work out some dates and then be ready to play.  "We have a dangerous Wooster team.  We have to sort of fit in some games here to get it done.  They have some good pitching if they throw those kids against us.  Lally is a heck of a pitcher.  He may be pitcher of the year.  They have some other kids, Daugherty, that is a fantastic baseball player.  We have to find a way to not only schedule the games, but we have to win them. We at least need a split to guarantee a share with Madison.  You want to be greedy.  You want to go out and get two wins and win it outright, but at least one for sure we have got to win," he said.

 

Published 5/14/15

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Now There are Two

 

          Wednesday, Lexington moved into a share of the Ohio Cardinal Conference lead with Madison when they beat the Rams (7-3) at Madison.

          The two teams resume a game Thursday that was started on Tuesday with the Minutemen leading (1-0) in the second inning at their place. 

         Lexington coach Kevin Morrow says he told his kids to go out and have fun playing the game.  "It's a game that Lexington kids look forward to.  Madison is extremely well coached, they have a great tradition.  It is just a great cross town rivalry.  If you can get a win against those guys you are doing something.  We talked about how fun it is and to not let the pressure get to you.  This is fun and is what you play the games for.  (Wednesday) we had a good one against them on their field and now we have to get ready for (Thursday)," said Morrow.

          Lexington (13-8,9-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, took a (2-0) lead in the top of the first when they scored on a walk and an RBI single by Nick Adams.  They made in (6-1) in the fourth when they scored on walk, bunt and error.  Morrow says they did the little things that added up to runs.  "Momentum is such a huge thing and confidence and all of those things.  Josh Smith throws hard and I thought we were going to have trouble catching up to that, but we wiggled across some runs with some clutch hits after he had walked a few kids.  We found a way to scrape some runs across.  We got some clutch two out RBI hits here and there and pushed across a suicide squeeze.  Now we have a decent enough lead and pitched well enough to hold on to it," said Morrow.

          Starter Hunter Biddle went 4 2/3 innings to get the win on Wednesday.  Morrow says the young sophomore has done a tremendous job for the Minutemen.  "Hunter Biddle, what a kid.  He's a sophomore and I am just impressed with him overall.  He's just a complete player.  I started playing him and haven't regretted it a bit.  He's something else, he is a competitor.  He is a multi tool like kid.  He can do anything on the baseball field and he is only getting better.  He kind of ran out of gas and I pulled the trigger early to get Evan (Lee) in there.  Even struggled a touch, but he had some strikeouts and kept that lead in comfortable standing and closed it out," he said.

          Lee struck out the last two hitters in the sixth inning to end a possible Madison (13-11,9-2), #2 in our poll, rally.

          Last season, Lexington also beat Madison in the first game between the two (8-1), but lost second (10-4) and Rams ended up winning the "OCC" title in 2014.  Morrow says they must come out and play with the same kind of intensity that he expects Madison to play with.  "It is a meaningful game.  It is an understatement when I say that because I know coach Rickert and those guys, just like last year, we got the first game and then we came over to their place and those guys played with an intensity and really put it on us and we have to be ready for that on (Thursday)," he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Wednesday, "I told the guys to enjoy it (Wednesday) night, but it all starts back over again.  (Thursday) is an opportunity to put ourselves, maybe not in the driver's seat, but darn close with three more games to go.  We have to ready for a team that is going to come out on fire.  We have to rise to that level."

 

Published 5/07/15

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Big Win For Minutemen

 

          Lexington maintained a share of the Ohio Cardinal Conference lead when they hammered Ashland (12-2) in a conference game on Monday afternoon at Lexington.

          They now play Clear Fork (8-5,4-3) in back to back "OCC" games scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

          Lexington coach Kevin Morrow says they moved their lineup around a little on Monday and it led to runs against the Arrows (9-7,5-3) in a big way.  "They are a good ball club and well coached.  Up against a top notch pitcher (Logan Brewer) in this area and this conference, who had already beaten us once.  We had to defend our home turf against a good team.  We challenged the boys over the weekend.  We didn't play too well Friday at Wadsworth.  We didn't really hit too well last week against West Holmes till the end.  I challenged them to that we had to do something with the bats and protect Evan Lee.  We had to get the five, six, seven hole to come through with clutch RBI.  We tweaked the lineup and moved some kids down and some kids up.  (Monday) night they really came through," said Morrow.

          In their first meeting with Ashland on April 17 the Arrows won (3-1) and Morrow says they thought they have to adjust their batting order a little bit.  "You hope kids don't take it the wrong way if you move them around.  I did talk to a few kids about why we were moving them.  We just thought they would be in better impact positions for RBIs.  We took a couple of kids that usually hit down near the bottom and moved them up," he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Monday, "We felt they were hitting and we took a gamble on a first baseman.  He is our best defensive third basemen, the Stierhoff kid.  We just felt that he was due.  He hit the Brewer kid at Ashland pretty good, he just go under it a little bit.  We let him swing away (Monday) night.  He came through for us.  The whole lineup really did and really proud of them."

          Lexington (9-7,7-1) shares the "OCC" lead with Mansfield Madison.  Morrow knows they are going to need some arms as they face the Colts in their "OCC" series this week.  "So far we have really done well with that pitching depth I think.  We have had a lot of kids emerge that give us innings and eat up innings and keep us in games.  It was kind of a big question mark losing Temple and Basilone from last year about who was going to step up and give us varsity caliber innings.  We have just had four or five kids do a great job.  The Monday was a little sophomore off the JV last year Austin Eifrid.  Statically he has been our best pitcher all year, so we let him go on (Monday) night.  He threw a gem against a very good team," he said.

 

Published 4/28/15

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Lexington Makes Triple Play

 

          Lexington executed a triple play to end the bottom the seventh inning and then scored six times in the top of the eighth and beat West Holmes (9-3) in eight innings in Ohio Cardinal Conference action on Tuesday.

          Coach Kevin Morrow says it wasn't even a normal around the horn kind of triple play, but rather one that also required some mistakes by the West Holmes base runners.  "It was the weirdest thing I think I have ever seen in high school baseball.  It kind of played right into West Holmes hands.  They got the bases loaded.  We walked two role players just so we could get a force at home and it was also their beast hitter up.  So, we pulled the infield in.  We got the ground ball some how miraculously and threw it home and got the force.  For whatever reason the tailing base runners never advanced and we ended up pulling off a triple play to save the inning and put it in extra innings.  We got enough runs to win.  Quite the miracle," said Morrow.

          Lexington lost (3-1) to Ashland last Friday and also had some problems handling Norwalk pitching over the weekend.  So, Morrow says it nice to see the six spot in the eighth inning on Tuesday night.  "We played Norwalk over the weekend.  In the second game of the doubleheader we didn't do very well hitting the whole game until the end.  We were able to erupt for some runs, it just wasn't quite enough.  (Tuesday) night after it went into extra innings they made a pitching change.  They had to get somebody that could get them through," he told Swankonsports.com after returning home to Lexington on Tuesday night, "The kids just saw the ball well.  it was a good feeling we just have to work on getting the runs in the earlier innings and get a little more production.  We have to put these games away early rather than holding on to the bitter end."

          Lexington (7-6,5-1) shares the "OCC" lead with Mansfield Madison, with Ashland, Clear Fork and Wooster all a game back.  Morrow knows the race for the "OCC" title will come down to the final week.  "It is going to be a battle.  Clear Fork has proven they are pretty good.  Ashland has beat us already.  We beat West Holmes and West Holmes beat Ashland.  There are a lot of splits going on.  Wooster I think was the favorite and they have two losses already.  Madison has a loss.  It is going to be whoever is standing at the end.  You might have two or three losses and still have a chance to win it," he said.

          Lexington hosts West Holmes (5-7,1-5) on Wednesday.  Next week they play Clear Fork (8-3,4-2) in their "OCC" series.

 

Published 4/22/15

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Lexington Faces First Big "OCC" Test

 

          Lexington leads the Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball standings by a game over Wooster, Madison, Ashland, and Clear Fork and they play the Arrows in Ashland on Friday afternoon.

          Lexington (5-4,4-0) beat Mansfield Senior twice this week (10-0) and (12-0) both in five innings and they also own wins over Orrville.

          Coach Kevin Morrow knows things are about to get a lot tougher.  "You never want to say it was the weaker part of the schedule, but we were successful for the game we have had it play.  So far we are undefeated, but it is about to get really, really busy and intense here as we take on a good Ashland team, and then West Holmes and Clear Fork and finish up with Wooster and Madison.  The level of competition is definitely going up," he said.

          The Minutemen have gotten some good play this year from first year varsity players and Morrow says some of their older kids have also started to swing the bat a lot better.  "We had kind of rash of injuries and foot injuries and concussions with some of our juniors and seniors, but we are getting healthy now.  Some of our seniors are starting to swing the bat.  Nick Adams is a returning letterman and he is starting to swing the ball really well.  Joey Vore, our second baseman, is a senior, and he is hitting the ball well.  We got Ryan Cooper back from concussion symptoms and he has had some nice hits there.  It is good to see some of these older kids start to hit the ball.  Matt Frazier kind of got on track at Clyde and hit two home runs in one game.  We are trying to get him going too on a consistent basis." he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Again we are really happy with these younger kids that are really contributing Andrew Iten, Brady Kunkle, Austin Eifird and Hunter Biddle, and Jacob Odson have really come off the JV and are doing an excellent job for young kids."

          Lexington and Ashland (5-4,3-1) were supposed to play their series last week, but the rain got in the way.  Morrow says there is always some emotion associated with this game.  "The Ashland-Lexington thing is a nice rivalry in all sports.  I think it stems from football that got it going a while back and it is definitely in baseball too.  It is kind of weird because I know both coaches.  I played against coach Lavengood in high school and his assistant was one of my high school teammates.  They are both excellent baseball minds.  This is going to be fun.  It is going to be a good test for us to see where we really stand in the conference going up against that kind of competition over there and we are looking forward to it," said Morrow.

 

Published 4/17/15

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Minutemen Getting Solid Play From Younger Players

 

          Lexington has won three of its first five games, two in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, their only blemish a doubleheader sweep at the hands of Mt. Vernon last Saturday, and they have gotten good play from their underclassmen.

          Coach Kevin Morrow, in his second year as the head baseball coach, says they have gotten some big contributions from the younger players on their team so far this season.  "We have really had some younger guys off the JV from last year that have really emerged.  We are really excited about some of these juniors and sophomores that have kind of taken center stage.  We are still trying to get some of our juniors and seniors, our returners to the varsity, to get healthy and get it going.  Some of these younger kids Hunter Biddle, Austin Eifrid, Jacob Odson, Spencer Steifhoff and Andrew Iten have emerged off the JV and have been kind of carrying us," he told swankonsports.com on a weather induced off day on Wednesday, "We had a really impressive win against an annual powerhouse in Bellevue.  Austin Eifrid threw six innings and I think he only gave up two hits.  Of course Evan Lee is always there as our anchor, but the other kids are kind of filling in around him, so we are off to a pretty good start."

          Young players that are going to play at the varsity level have to learn the intricacies of baseball quickly.  Morrow says there are a lot of them.  "There are so many little things and so many strategic positions and all of them have to be clicking.  You not only have to have starting pitching, but you have to have somebody that can come in in short relief that can come in and close it out.  You have to have a kid over at first base, and we have three of them this year, that can pick the throws and make your infield look good.  You have to have plenty catchers and we have three of them.  You have to have kids that can go get it in the outfield, so there are definitely specific things.  You have to be versatile, you have to have kids that can pitch one day and maybe go play a position the next day," said Morrow.

          Now, if the weather cooperates, which it has not been, Lexington (3-2,2-0) will be at Ashland (1-2,1-1) for an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Thursday.  The two teams were supposed to play Tuesday and Wednesday and the rain got in the way.  Morrow says the Arrows will always be fundamentally sound.  "I know coach Lavengood and the kind of ballplayer he was when we were younger we were kind of rivals in high school.  He is going to be a great coach for years and years to come.  He teaches his guys the right thing.  When they are good they are really good.  It wasn't too long ago that they were almost in the state.  Last year they were decent and they spilt with us.  They are capable of beating you in many different ways," he said.

 

Published 4/09/15

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Lexington Shares "OCC" Lead

 

          Lexington shut out Orrville (10-0) on Wednesday, improved to (2-0) in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, and share first place with Clear Fork in the "OCC" standings.

          The Minuteman also beat Orrville (9-4) on Tuesday and coach Kevin Morrow says he is pleased with the start, but understands they still have to get better.  "We have gotten off to a good start.  Orrville is coming off a state final four team from last year, but they graduated some very, very good seniors, so they are down a little bit, but it doesn't matter any given day anybody can beat you.  We are just happy to be off to a 2-0 start.

          They have scored 19 runs in the first two games and Morrow admits he is a bit surprised.  "In our scrimmages one of our weaknesses was not getting quality at bats, so getting nine runs and 10 runs is good to get some kids some confidence.  There are several kids that we have some high expectations for, so it was good to get them plenty of at bats," he said.

          Evan Lee, who will pitch for Kent State next year, got the win on Wednesday night.  Morrow says so far they have gotten good results from the guys they have sent out to the mound.  "Evan Lee did a nice job.  He shut them out for about five innings and Bradly Kunkle came in and shut them off.  We are trying in the early season to keep the kids down to 80 pitches," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, "Hunter Biddle threw a gem on Tuesday and Evan threw (Wednesday) night.  Evan struggled a little bit with command, but he didn't allow any runs.  Our knew sophomore catcher did a nice job and threw a couple of kids out and that really helped us."

          After taking the day off on Thursday, Lexington plays Bellevue (2-0) on Friday and Mt. Vernon on Saturday.  Morrow says both of those games are going to be challenges for them.  "Those are two very storied programs.  Year after year Bellevue and Mt. Vernon are going to be quality programs and that is why I wanted to schedule them.  I told the kids that after the game.  We are off to a 2-0 start, but the competition level is about to go up several notches.  These are not only teams that can kind of tell you where you stand, but also will get those competitive juices flowing for your team," said Morrow.

 

Published 4/02/15

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Lexington's Young Guys are Getting Better

 

          Lexington is coming off another successful baseball season where they reached the district semi finals.  To compete in the Ohio Cardinal Conference and have some tournament success this year they need to find some pitching depth.

          Coach Kevin Morrow says his players are eager to get going this spring and have worked hard do far in the preseason.  "I'll tell you what the work ethic that these young men have showed has been outstanding.  I think we are pretty deep, we have a large senior class, but we have an exceptional group of sophomores and juniors that has really bought into their own form of leadership.  These guys are really pushing each other, I have been impressed all off season," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "There has been just a huge improvement by many of the young players.  So, we are excited to get them out on a real field and let them do what they do and continue the success them have had so far.  Success in the field house and the cages is a different world then going out on a real field and facing a real pitcher."

          With season slated to start March 28 with a doubleheader against the Highland Scots, Morrow knows it is important to get out on the field and play some baseball.  "Last week we took them up to the University of Toledo and had a nice full distance practice up there to let them air their arms out, get fly balls at a full distance.  We are also headed south this weekend to play in a little bit warmer temperatures on a field that is ready for play.  Hopefully, we can come back up and get in the normal scrimmages right before the season and evaluate players and let them play at full distance and at full speed and evaluate where they really stand," he said.

          Evan Lee will be one of the best players in the Ohio Cardinal Conference this season and the number one pitcher for the Minutemen.  Morrow says they need to find some guys to go with him.  "We definitely have to replace two of the more decorated pitchers to come through here in a while.  Brody Basilone is playing down at St. Clair and Zach Temple had a great four year career pitching for us, but we still have Even Lee leftover.  He was actually statistically our best pitcher last year.  He has come in throwing a little bit harder, he is our Kent State commit.  We are going to use him as our number one and we are looking for a two and someone to close out games.  We are young, but I have been really impressed by what I have seen so far," said Morrow.

 

Published 3/19/15

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Lexington Continues to improve

 

          Although their record isn't as good as the other three district qualifiers the Lexington Minutemen are clearly peaking at the right time of the year.

          They face Sandusky in the division two district semi-finals on Wednesday night at Pete Henry Gym at Mansfield Senior High School.

          Lexington (14-10) beat Clyde (81-65) in their sectional final last Friday and coach Scott Hamilton says they are firing all cylinders.  "I think we finally have everybody back in position.  We have had some adversity to deal with whether it be with injuries or discipline or certain things that we have had to try and overcome.  Now we are finally at a spot where we have everybody back and everybody if on the same page as to what our goal is.  It's not the conference or winning this thing or that thing it is just a tournament run and everybody believes it is win or go home.  Of course, our tough conference schedule plus our non conference schedule really helps us out in preparing us for what we want to do in the postseason," said Hamilton.

          Sandusky (19-4), #4 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Galion (83-65) in their sectional final.  Hamilton says they have a nice combination of players  "They are very good at what they do.  They are almost misleading because they are such a good transition team you can almost lose sight of the fact that when you slow them down and they need to they are a solid three point shooting team. They have a nice 6'8" post player.  They are a solid, good opponent for us to be playing in the district semi," he said.

          The Blue Streaks are athletic and Hamilton says he expects they are going to show them a variety of half and full court presses.  "I think it is what they do.  You are not going to change your stripes or your spots at this point in the season and that is one of the things that they have tried to do throughout the season is to apply good pressure at times.  It has worked for them.  It has generated some turnovers that have turned into quick points for them," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "I fully expect that they are going to come out and put some pressure on us at least at moments of the game and try and turn us over.  That falls back on us to be able to handle that and be prepared.  Hopefully we have done that through practice and the schedule that we have put together."

          Being 6'8'", 6'8" and 6'5" everyone wants to talk about Lexington's height, but Hamilton says the play of guards Joey Zahn, Charlie Keller and A.J. Nickoli have been the difference for them lately.  "Going into the preseason everybody talked about the size that we had and nobody gave our perimeter guys very much thought, let alone credit.  I think what has happed for us is we can focus on our size and get some things inside the paint, but when our guards get open looks and opportunities recently they been stepping up and knocking them down.  That just adds to what we can do when we are out there on the floor.  The guys are feeling good and we are taking good shots and if we are smart in what we do we can be a dangerous team," said Hamilton.

          It should be a tightly contested game and Hamilton says it is going to come down to who make the plays in the end.  "When it comes down to it all we can do as coaches is put a good game plan together and prepare our kids the best we can.  At the end of the day it all comes down to how these 15, 16, 17, 18 year old kids step up to the pressure and perform.  We have all seen in our lifetimes following sports when possibly the better team didn't win or maybe the underdog came out on top.  When it comes to tournament time you hope you can put your best foot forward and when you walk off the floor you know you gave it all you've got," he said.

 

Published 3/11/15

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Lexington Makes Another Step

 

          It took a while, but Lexington is playing the kind of basketball many thought they would play this season.

          They blasted Bellevue (71-35) in their first tournament game on Tuesday and now they are preparing for a division two sectional final game on Friday night at Willard High School against the Clyde Fliers.

          On Tuesday night, the Minutemen led (10-0) and then (19-6) after the first quarter and the rout was on.  Coach Scott Hamilton says it was just a good night for them.  "We really played pretty well.  The guys went out and executed the game plan really well for us.  Over the course of the 32 minutes the game just sort of evolved to something that we really didn't anticipate with Bellevue not being able to hit the three point shot.  Our defense was just a little more stingy than what we had planned and that was a good thing for us. We were able to get a lot of guys minutes out on the floor and get that tournament experience, which is always nice," said Hamilton.

          Lexington (13-10) features one of the tallest lineups around and Tuesday night Hamilton says they dominated the boards because everybody was a rebounder.   "That is something we have stressed all season long and for a lot of years.  When you are playing a team that likes to play a one in and four out kind of an offense, dribble drive, like Bellevue does, that was one of the things that we wanted to key on our perimeter guys had to be able to rebound and keep them from rebounding.  With out size going into a game we like to think we should always have a rebounding advantage.  That was just something that worked out of us and they guys really went after those lose balls and rebounds," he said.

          Clyde (13-8) finished in third place in the Sandusky Bay Conference this year.  Hamilton says the Fliers have solid guard play and they are going to want to show them some pressure.  "They are not somebody we see or hear about during the regular season, so we had to kind of go out and find some information on them and try to get to know them as quick as we could for the postseason.  It looks like they have some really nice consistent players that perform well for coach Garcia," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Their guard play is probably their strength, but if you focus too much on that they have some guys that can finish at the rim.  I think we are just going to have to put together another solid game plan and handle their pressure, which changes quite a bit.  We are going to give a lot of attention and respect for Clyde this Friday."

 

Published 3/05/15

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Lexington a Balanced Team

 

          After ending the regular season with a win over Orrville, the Lexington Minutemen tip off the division two tournament on Tuesday night at Willard High School against the Bellevue Redmen.

        Friday night, Joey Zahn pumped in 29 points and the Minutemen rallied to beat Orrville (57-46) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.  Coach Scott Hamilton says they made the right adjustments.  "They played us well in the first half.  We had a couple of guys that they were really focusing on and we weren't able to get them the ball as much as we would have liked to.  We went into the locker room down one and made a little bit of an adjustment.  Joey Zahn stepped up Friday night and had a real big night and put 29 points up on the board.  Jonah Yaussy, who has been our rock all year, supported "Zahny" in the scoring column with 15.  We were able to get out of "Rider Country" with a "W," he said.

          Zahn drilled six three pointers against Orrville.  Hamilton says to be successful in today's high school basketball you have to have good guards and they have them.  "I guess I am starting to believe that when you hear guys talk about the height and the size and that stuff we are just showing our age.  Back in the day you had to have size to be a contender and be a competitor.  With at addition of the three point line a few years back and they way the game is played today with the tempo and pace it is becoming more and more a guard game.  Then if you have some size in addition to it the all the better.  It really has evolved into more of a guard game in recent years," said Hamilton.

          Lexington (12-10) plays Bellevue (6-15) in the first round of the tournament on Tuesday.  Hamilton calls the Redmen dangerous due to their athleticism.  "They started off a little bit slow, but they have been able to put some good games together.  In not all of those games did they come out on top, but just like Friday night against a tough Shelby team and only losing by seven that has to give them some confidence as their season wraps up," he told Swankonsports.com, "Getting ready for tournament we have seen them a couple of times and know that they are a dangerous group.  If you let them get off and start making a couple of shots an get their confidence.  They play with a lot of emotion, so we definitely have to be prepared for them."

 

Published 3/02/15

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Lexington Building Confidence

 

          Lexington didn't beat Ashland last week, but they had to scare them a little bit and the Minutemen gained some confidence from their play.

          The "OCC" champion Arrows had to rally late to beat Lexington (70-67) in overtime.  That was after Ashland manhandled the Minutemen (78-33) the first time they played them in January.

          Lexington coach Scott Hamilton says this was a much better performance in a number of ways.  "We were really hoping it would be a big difference from the first time.  We didn't give them much of a challenge that first time.  The kids really stepped up and we went over some things in practice and preparation for them," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We worked on the kids confidence and being able to handle some of the things that Ashland likes to do to you.  You have to give our kids some credit they stepped up and made some shots and defended much better than we did the first time.  It is kind of where you want to be at the end of the season in every time you take the floor you are getting better and I think so far we have done that."

          Pressure defense is a big part of Ashland's game and Hamilton says they were able to handle it pretty well this time and that bodes well for the future.  "Ashland is definitely one of those teams that if you give them extra opportunities or extra possessions with your turnovers they can just put you away really quick.  They do score a lot of points really fast.  So, for us to be able to handle the ball against their pressure and their different kinds of changing defenses was really a credit to our kids.  It just showed how we have grown and matured as a ball club.  Hopefully it benefits us in our last game on Friday night and then and into the tournament as well," he said.

          Lexington (11-10,6-7) pays a visit to Orrville (10-10,5-8) on Friday night for an "OCC" contest.  Hamilton says the Red Riders have a lot of guys that can score.  "I have always kind of looked at them as a football school and given them a couple of breaks at the beginning of the season.  Once their football players that play basketball get their basketball legs it always seems they start to put some things together.  The scary thing about Orrville is they have a number of guys that can go off and put 15 to 20 points on the board in any given night.  You can't really focus on only one guy.  You have to defend their best players, but then keep an eye on the guys coming off the bench because they are capable of doing some damage," said Hamilton.

 

Published 2/25/15

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Lexington Faces "OCC" Champs

 

          Lexington is really playing its best basketball of the season, but they will be tested when they host Ohio Cardinal Conference champion Ashland on their floor on Friday night.

          Last week, the Minutemen got both outside scoring and inside scoring as they blasted Clear Fork (78-55) in "OCC" action.  Coach Scott Hamilton was pleased to see his guards have a good night shooting the ball.  "It was kind of special night to begin with and the guys were ready for that.  When the shots started to fall and things were feeling good.  The bigs stepped up and had a solid game inside.  It was really nice to see A.J. Nickoli and Joey Zahn get off to a good night.  It has been a little while for that, but they had their confidence flowing and they were knocking down shots," he said.

          The first time Lex (11-9,6-6) played the Arrows (17-1,12-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, they got drilled (78-33) at Arrow Arena.  Hamilton says it was just a night when the Arrows where really on.  "We have to contest their shooting a little bit better, but I am not going to try and take anything away from their performance the last time we played them.  They shot the ball extremely well, hitting all of those threes in the first half.  They had a young man come off the bench and score 23 that was averaging about four at the time.  They shot 50 percent from the three point line.  The played a very nice game and did a very good job shooting the ball.  We have to continue to contest those shots and just make it as difficult as possible and hopefully some of them come off the rim and we can grab those and go down and make some points of our own," said Hamilton.

          Playing good perimeter defense is important on any night, but Hamilton says against Ashland it's a premium.  "For a typical team when you prepare for them you know you have to extend your defense outside the three point line.  For them you have to make an effort to extend yourself about five or six feet outside the three point line because that is their range and that is their range for about four or five guys.  We can not give them second shot opportunities.  When they take those long shots if they do come off we have to make sure we get the rebounds," said Hamilton.

          In the upcoming division two tournament, Lexington will play Bellevue (6-12) of the Northern Ohio League.  Hamilton thought things went well for them.  "We were really pleased to be able to get the fourth seed.  We thought going in we would get the three or the four.  We were unsure of where Shelby was going to go to play at Madison or play at Willard.  When they chose Madison we didn't have any trouble driving up to Willard.  Bellevue decided to come with us.  If we are able to get that win against Bellevue then we play Clyde.  Two teams that we are unfamiliar with, but we will try and familiarize ourselves over the next two weeks," he said.

 

Published 2/19/15

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Lexington Wants to Play to their Strengths

 

          Lexington has been a work in progress this season, but it looks like the Minutemen have started to put things together as we enter the final weeks of the regular season.

          Even though they lost to Mansfield Senior (56-50) last week, they were leading in the first half and coach Scott Hamilton felt they played pretty well.  He says they continue to get better.  "We are playing as well now as we have all year.  We are just working on improving every day that we are stepping on the floor.  We have about three weeks left in the regular season.  I feel pretty good with where we are at right now.  We have gone through some learning curves and taken some lumps, but the guys are starting to make some basketball plays and just little things about knowing where everybody is at on the floor.  I think we are getting better every time we play," said Hamilton.

          As we enter the final three weekends of the regular season Hamilton believes they are really becoming a cohesive unit.  "As coaches you talk about chemistry and working together and the bonding and things like that.  Our chemistry has been really good all year as far as guys getting along with each other.  Now when we have a guy on a back cut or we have a guy curl off a screen or we have a guy flare and he pops or he dives we are starting to make those reads and we are on the same page, so our basketball chemistry is really growing every time we step out on the floor.  They have all been good friends for a while, but the chemistry of our basketball minds is what is really coming together," he said.

          Lexington (10-9,5-6) is at Clear Fork (6-11,3-8) for an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.  Hamilton says the Colts are also a team that has developed as the season has gone on.  "When you have a player like Ridge Winand go through your program and their is so much emphasis put on him then once he is gone you are trying to fill those holes and your role players are trying to step up and do things.  Chrastina and Robinette have done a nice job filling those sports when it comes to scoring.  Chrastina has been a very good leader this year as far as distributing the ball.  Then when things maybe aren't falling for some of his other teammates he is very capable of putting some major points on the board," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "He is doing a nice job of finding players and when it is not falling for them he is capable of doing it.  I think as the season has gone on it has made them a much stronger team."

          Lexington beat Clear Fork (74-60) in January when their post player Jonah Yaussy had 27 points.  Hamilton says they do try to get the ball inside, but Clear Fork can force them to guard them on the outside too.  "I think we always try to take advantage of our strengths.  Robinette may be about a 6'3" player, but he can play much bigger than he really is, his athleticism can make up for the difference between our bigs and him.  They just get in there and they just push and reach around.  Then the have that perimeter with South, Snyder and Leedy they can extend it out and knock down some shots, which brings our bigs outside.  It is always a match-up situation for both of us," he said.

 

Published 2/12/15

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Lexington Starting to Jell a Little

 

          Lexington swept a pair of Ohio Cardinal Conference games last weekend and now they play rival Mansfield Senior at Pete Henry Gym in a conference game on Friday night.

          The Minutemen beat West Holmes (51-39) and Mansfield Madison (58-45) to push their record two games over .500 for the year.

          Coach Scott Hamilton thought they were pretty good on defense in both games and they made a few more shots that they had been in recent weeks.  "We have really been trying to work on consistency, both on the offensive and defensive end, and I thought we were able to put two games together on the defensive end and I thought we shot the ball a little bit better than we had in the past.  We still had our moments don't get me wrong.  We are getting better and that is what we want with four games left on our schedule.  We still want to be improving and hopefully hit our peak once when we get on that tournament trail," said Hamilton.

          Mansfield Senior (10-6,7-3), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, has only lost three games since early December.  Hamilton says the Tygers have matured well.  "They really like to pressure you and get up and down the floor.   When you graduate eight, nine, 10 seniors that took you to the regionals you have to remember that those JV kids are practicing in that gym with talent of that caliber and playing at that level.  That makes it all that much easier to kind of reload.  They had some pretty special players coming back off that team from last year and then they have had some JV kids really step in fill those empty spots rather well," said Hamilton.

          Lexington (10-8,5-5) lost at the buzzer to Mansfield Senior (54-52) when Nardan James drilled a three at the horn in their first meeting.  Hamilton says they just have to play their game.  "You can't rewrite your whole chemistry and everything when you go into a game.  What you really have to do is focus on what you do well and through film and scouting you have to find some weaknesses and some holes if you will with your opponent and try to expose them," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "That is what we are going to try and that's what we try to do every week and hopefully when it becomes that chess match and you are trying to find their weaknesses and they are trying to find yours, you can build off of your strengths more than they can."

          With the district seed meetings for the post season tournament only 10 days away Hamilton knows a win over the Tygers would be pretty big for them.  "We play a schedule against 11 division one schools.  I don't know if their is anybody in our district seeding that is comparable to that.  If we could get a win over Mansfield Senior at their place going into seeding that would be huge for us," he said.

 

Published 2/06/15

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Lexington Working on Some Things

 

          Lexington is not going to win the Ohio Cardinal Conference title this season, but they are a team that can be very dangerous come tournament time.

          They beat Orrville (45-42) and lost to Wooster (58-53) in "OCC" games last weekend.  Coach Scott Hamilton says he was pretty happy with the effort and execution that he got both nights.  "With Orrville Coming to our place we knew they were going to battle because they always do.  They might not have been having the kind of year they have had in the past.  We always expect a good game against them and they didn't disappoint on Friday night.  Then Saturday with Wooster they kind of put it to us over at their place the first time, so we were expecting another good game.  I thought our kids played really well," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We made some adjustments at halftime.  Arguably they have the "OCC" player of the year in Cam Daugherty, a four year starter, on their roster, and I can't tell you how glad I am that we don't have to put a scouting report together on him anymore.  Overall it was a good weekend and I think we got a little bit better.  We played well enough Saturday night to win that game as well, but we just couldn't close it out in the end."

          The difference between being a good team and an excellent one for Lexington is consistency and Hamilton says that is just something they are going to have to work on.  "I think I have said it before we have to become more consistent on both ends of the floor. We have really worked on our defensive side about not allowing guys to get into the paint and penetration.  Then our rebounding have been very good at times and average at times and kind of weak at times.  With our shooting we are really working on becoming more consistent with our shot selection and our percentages with shooting at the free throw line.  It has been a growing process," he said.

          Big Lex is a division two school and Hamilton says he decided to schedule up this year and that has made things hard on his players.  "One of the things I will take a little bit of the blame for because I really put together kind of tough schedule for us this year.  I think so far we have played eight division one schools, and that includes the schools that are in our conference.  We really didn't want to put any guaranteed wins on our schedule.  I have challenged the guys pretty mush every night out.  Our record might not show it as this time, but we are definitely a better team now than we were at the start of the season.  The scary things for us is I think we still have a ways to go, so that is sort of the nice thing for the last six games to get ready for tournaments," said Hamilton.

          Lexington (8-8,3-5) plays at West Holmes (6-8,2-5) on Friday night in "OCC" play.  In the first meeting Lexington won (63-41), but Hamilton says Knights are better.  "Defensively they have gotten much better and they are little more confident in what they are playing.  Some of the their players have stepped up both offensively and defensively.  They have one that is averaging double figures, but they have a number of guys that are averaging five or six a night that are capable of putting up 12, 15 maybe even 20 if you leave them open and they get some good looks.  They are not the same team that we played the fifth game of the season.  We are going to have to be mentally and physically ready for them.  Hopefully, we can be ready for their pressure, which they do try to apply and we can knock down some shots hen they give us some open looks," said Hamilton.

 

Published 1/30/15

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Lex Facing Another Double Weekend

 

          It was one up and one down for the Lexington Minutemen last weekend and they face another tough double weekend in the Ohio Cardinal Conference this weekend as they face Orrville and Wooster.

          Last Friday night, the Minutemen fell behind (28-20) after the first quarter, but rallied to beat Clear Fork (74-60) in a conference game.  The Colts hit seven three pointers in the first quarter, but Lexington coach Scott Hamilton says they were eventually able to wear them down.  "They came out of the game and were really throwing up some threes and knocking them down.  We just kept telling the kids to stay the course and we felt things would work out and fortunately for us they did," he said.

          However, last Saturday they were rocked by "OCC" leader Ashland (78-33) at Arrow Arena.  Hamilton says it was just a situation where the Arrows played very well and they didn't not play up to their standard.  "They are definitely a very good team.  They did play a very good game and they shot the ball extremely well.  The Wolfe kid came off the bench maybe averaging three or four points and he scored 23 and was 60 percent from the three point line.  Just as a team they defend very well.  They are athletic and they have some size.  They shoot the ball extremely well.  Everybody on the floor can shoot the three ball," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "They just put it all together and we knew going in that they were a very good team.  They just played a very good game against us and we did not play one of our better games."

          Lexington (7-7,2-4) is at home for Orrville (4-6,2-4) in "OCC" play this Friday night.  Hamilton says considering what happened last Saturday they need go out and play well against the Red Riders.  "That is always the focus after you have down game is you want to come out and just be upbeat and show yourself that you can put it all together and you can play well.  That's what the guys would expect to do after a tough conference loss and especially since it is at home," he said.

          With Wooster (7-4,4-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, comes calling on Saturday night.  Hamilton says that will make for a tough weekend.  "Orrville is starting to put some things together and they have a couple of wins and they are starting to play better.  We are going to focus on them.  It is going to be another short turnaround for us with another double weekend.  Saturday morning we will put everything together for Wooster coming to our place.  That always revolves around Cam Daugherty," he said.

 

Published 1/21/15

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Lexington Knows its Business

 

          Lexington has already played one of the toughest schedules for a division two school this area and they hope to reap for benefits thereof as the season continues.

          They played two overtime games last week, losing to Mansfield Senior (54-52) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday and beating Shelby (68-66) in double overtime on Saturday,

          Coach Scott Hamilton says he really liked the way his kids responded to the loss on Friday night by coming right back on Saturday ready to play.  "With the double weekends and our schedule it is something we need to get used to.  We knew with Mansfield Senior coming in and them being an "OCC" rival and Shelby was on a four, five game winning streak.  As we were preparing for the week and neither one of those games disappointed us.  We took Mansfield down to overtime and they hit buzzer beater for the win.  My biggest concern going into Saturday night was to make sure my kids were up beat," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "They had played well enough against Mansfield to win the game and it took that buzzer beater to do it.  I thought we went out and maybe started a little bit slow, but the kids reacted well.  We made some adjustments and brought it home on Saturday night, so we were really excited by that."

          Hamilton adds he hopes they can take the momentum from the comeback win over Shelby and use it to boost them through the rest of the season.  "I think we when we got on the bus after that battle Saturday night, of course with the memory of Friday night being with us as well, the kids were feeling pretty good.  We had gone through a pretty tough schedule playing all of those division one schools with Madison, and Solon, and Brunswick, and Mt. Vernon and then Mansfield Senior.  Hopefully putting together that schedule did exactly what is was intended to do which is challenging us and making us a stronger and better team both skill level wise and chemistry wise.  We are ready to get started with the rest of the season and it doesn't get any easier this weekend with back to back "OCC" opponents," Hamilton said.

          Lexington (6-6,1-3) plays host to Clear Fork (3-5,1-3) in an "OCC" game on Friday night.  Hamilton is sure they will come out ready to play against the Colts.  "I am definitely one as a coach a lot of times you have to look past records because lots of times things can happen you have injuries and you have sickness during the course of a short season,  You have to look at those things and try to prepare your team for anything.  With it being an "OCC" rival it doesn't matter who it is you prepare for that program and that coach and their strengths and be able to expose their weaknesses," he said.

          The Minutemen play at Ashland (7-1,3-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, the "OCC" leader, on Saturday night in an league game.  Hamilton says he is not surprised by how good Ashland is this year.  "They have had some time off with the holidays and some cancellations and stuff, but Ashland really has a team that I think people have expected to put this kind of year together even last year.  With them having so many players returning from two, three, even four years.  Their senior starters have been on the floor for them for three solid years, so it no surprise to me that they are putting it together this year," said Hamilton.

 

Published 1/13/15

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Lexington Must be Versatile

 

          Lexington has another tough assignment this week as they play host to Mansfield Senior in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game at their place on Friday night.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says when you play in a conference like the Ohio Cardinal Conference you have to be ready to play every week.  He says he isn't surprised that Mansfield Senior has won four in a row.  "I guess every coach talks about their own conference by saying it's a meat grinder it is brutal and things like that, but with the "OCC" it is good competition every night  A lot of the schools we are close and we are rivals, so you can throw out the records and things like that.  We you talk about Mansfield Senior everyone is talking about the winning streak that they are on right now, but I would say more of a surprise is the way they started the season with their losses.  Mansfield is one of those schools that you kind of always expect to have a solid record and be on these winning streaks and things like that.  To have them coming into our place with their winning streak it is just another good challenge for us," said Hamilton.

          He says for Mansfield Senior, even when graduating ten seniors, they still have the confidence they can play with anyone on their schedule.  "They just have so much basketball tradition over there at Mansfield Senior and they really build on that and use that when their kids are walking on the floor.  They are really driven by defense over there.  When you have a special player like Naradain James that can go out and put 20 points and 11 rebounds in the stat column that is something you can really build around," he said.

          This is a traditional Mansfield Senior team that likes to get up in you with pressure defense and run the floor.  Hamilton says they have to be able to react positively to what they see from the Tygers.  "I my time here we have tried to be able to compete in all facets of the game.  We like to get up and down the floor with some transition.  If we have to play a half court game, we want to be able to do all of that," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Mansfield traditionally they like to be able to apply their defense in he full court, create things, and get that tempo sped up a little bit.  If you go out and try to make it a track meet basketball game you are probably going to come out on the losing end.  We have to be able to play at the tempo that they set it at at times, but also dictate our own whether that be the transition game at times or if want to make into a half court game for a possession or two we need to be able to do that as well."

 

Published 1/09/15

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Lexington Working on Defense

 

          Lexington is working on the old Denny Crum theory that playing a tough schedule is going to benefit you in the end.

          They played two division one schools in Solon and Brunswick in a tournament format on Monday and Tuesday and now will play another big school in Mt. Vernon on Saturday.

          The Minutemen beat Solon (57-43) on Monday and lost to Brunswick (41-35) on Tuesday.  Coach Scott Hamilton says they want to be tested.  "That is kind of what we looked at when we were given the opportunity to get into this thing up there at Brunswick.  Looking at Solon and Brunswick and Cleveland Rhodes it was really an opportunity to go see some talent that we would not normally see.  We really did feel that regardless of the outcome that if we attacked it in the right way it could make us better and help prepare us for the rest of the season," he said.

          Hamilton added that they kind of went into the two games kind of blind and he ended up being pretty pleased by the results.  "We kind of came off a poor outing on Saturday night.  We went up there Monday and had very limited information on our opponent, but we knew they were coming in undefeated and they had some nice players just with what we could pick up off the internet and things like that," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We tried to prepare our guys the best we could.  We really wanted to focus on our defense after the poor outing we had before that.  We got up there and played really well and it was kind of an exciting game for us on Monday.  It turned out to be a pretty good two day trip for us."

          Mt. Vernon is another big school for the Minutemen and Hamilton says its is going to be another physical team that plays good defense.  "That is one of things that one of my assistant coaches talked about just the number of division one schools that we have played already in the season.  Mt. Vernon, we have some history there, we have played them quite a bit.  It always seems to be a pretty tough game that goes down to the end.  We know they are going to get out and defend us very, very well.  They are going to be physical.  We just expect it is going to be another battle for us," he said.

          Lexington (5-4) has some big expectations and Hamilton says if they are going to reach those they have to play better defense.  "For us I think our focus right now is our defense where we have had some struggles.  We are working on our offensive and our execution and discipline and ball handling, but we know that those things are just going to come with confidence and comfort and being able to trust one another.  What we have to do when we have those poor shooting nights we have to be able to consistently stop our opponent and be able to defend no matter who we are playing.  That has really been a focus of ours the last week or so and the kids have just responded great," said Hamilton

 

Published 1/01/15

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Lexington Better, ready For Madison

 

          Wins over West Holmes, in conference play, and Hillsdale, last weekend, have put the Lexington Minutemen two games over .500 and they are certainly headed in the right direction.

          The Minutemen (4-2,1-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, beat West Holmes (63-41) and Hillsdale (54-31) on Saturday.  Coach Scott Hamilton says they adapted well to some changes they made.  "When you have as many double weekends as we have in the season if you can come out of one of them 2-0 you have to look back and say you had some success.  Doing that in going to West Holmes and home against Hillsdale we were pretty happy with the outcome.  There are a lot of things we still have to work on, but I think we made some improvements over the weekend in some changes in things that we made," he said.

          Hamilton says this is a team that is growing in a lot of areas of the game, he struggles a bit when it comes to something they are very good at, before settling on rebounding.  "There are just so many different facets of the game that we need to work on.  I don't know that we are really good at any one thing.  We are getting better at lot of different things our defense is improving, taking care of the ball, our rebounding is pretty good I guess, with both our posts and our guards rebounding well.  I guess that is one of the things that we do.  I think we are a team that is kind of in transition kind of working to get better every day.  So, I don't know if we are really doing anything the best right now that we can," said Hamilton.

          The Minutemen host the Madison Rams (5-2,2-0), #4 in our poll, in a critical early season game in the Ohio Cardinal Conference on Saturday evening.  Hamilton says the Rams, who lost to Ontario (54-48) on Tuesday night, are really good on defense and pretty good on offense too.  "They have been getting after it and they are causing some turnovers and it is leading to some points for them.  Weightman has been coming out and shooting the ball pretty well and I think both Buckley and Ajian have been shooting the ball better than they were at this point last year, so that has to be a positive for them," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "They have a couple of guys that have been long time varsity players over there and they have a couple of guys that maybe didn't play last year that are coming back and are starting to give them some quality minutes.  When you win a couple of games it kind of makes you feel a little better and you work a little harder in practice.  Coach Mergel definitely has them on a little roll right now."

 

Published 12/24/14

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Lexington Must Battle Back

 

          Lexington played two of the better teams in the area last weekend and lost to both Wooster and Ontario.

          Now, they need to remember what they are good at and handle the ball better as they travel to West Holmes for an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.

          Wooster held the Minutemen to just three points in first quarter and beat them last Friday (49-32) and then they lost to non-league rival Ontario (64-52) on Saturday.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says they knew they would be in for a tough battle each night.  "It was definitely a learning curve for us and we saw a lot of things that we need to work on.  We were taking on some tough competition.  To start the season off with four quality opponents like that is kind eye opening and being able to go 2-2.  The second two, both on the road, were at tough venues.  Conference opponent Wooster has always been competitive for us and then to go over to Ontario and have a nice rival game in front of a big crowd was just a tough weekend for us," he said.

          Lexington has a big front line, maybe the biggest in the area, but Hamilton says they have to handle the ball better against these good teams they are playing.  "One thing that we really stressed this week was a our discipline, our team discipline and being able top do what we want to do and influence our opponent in the way we want to do it and where we want to put the ball and where we want to take our shots from.  Of course, taking care of the ball.  We had back to back games with 17 turnovers," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "That is going to put you in a whole real quick no matter who the opponent is.  We kind of knew going in that they would be concerns for us.  Both squads kind of took advantage of not necessarily our weaknesses, but the things that we are working on and trying to improve and those are things we need to keep working on and be better by the end of the season."

          West Holmes (2-1,0-1) lost their conference opener to Orrville last week (53-50) for their first loss of the season.  Hamilton says the Knights can be very patient.  "Coach Troyer has a nice solid group over there.  They shoot the ball very well and they are very confident from behind the arch.  They move around.  They not typically a team that tries to come down and do a lot out of transition.  They will make four, five, six passes and get the open man a good look.  They will knock them down if you leave them wide open.  We will have our hands full with that open post offense when they run that," he said.

 

Published 12/17/14

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Lexington Facing Another Double Weekend

 

          Lexington played some outstanding basketball last weekend and now they will face another tough double weekend this week with a game at Wooster in Ohio Cardinal Conference action on Friday and a meeting with non-conference rival Ontario on the road on Saturday.

          On the opening weekend Lexington downed Berlin Hiland (55-50) and Willard (53-44) to complete the sweep.  Coach Scott Hamilton says those were two excellent teams and programs they beat.  "We were kind of excited to play Berlin Hiland for the first time.  If you follow basketball in the state of Ohio you know about Berlin Hiland over there and the tradition that they have.  It was an exciting first time experience for us.  They played some good basketball and good, solid defense.  So, we were really pleased about how we were able to come away with a win in that one.  You can't say enough about Willard with the tradition that they have over there and they came in and shot the ball really well on our floor.  We were excited to start the season 2-0," said Hamilton.

          Wooster (0-1) opened the season with loss to Medina Highland (66-46) on Tuesday night.  However, Hamilton says this is a team that has a bunch of good athletes and a pretty good player in the middle.  "They just have some quality athletes over there and they always have.  They have that guy in the middle Cam Daugherty, who has been in that position for four years and they have had some nice athletes and basketball players surrounding him.  It is always a nice place to play them no matter who is on their roster.  Everything kind of revolves around Cam and all of the guards that they have it should be an exciting opening to the "OCC" season for us," he said.

          Lexington is one of the schools predicted to be toward the top of the "OCC" and Hamilton says it would great if they could get one on the road to start the season.  "It is always our goal to be as competitive as we can in the conference.  This year I don't believe the "OCC" is any slouch at all.  With the improvement of some of the teams that were in the bottom half last year and the continued success of some of the teams that were in the top half every game is going to be so important.  We are hoping to go over there and have everything right on the scouting report be able to compete over there with the Generals," he said.

          The Minutemen (2-0) will be at Ontario (2-0) for the renewing of their longtime rivalry on Saturday night.  Hamilton says this is always a big game on their schedule.  "The rivalry between Lexington and Ontario has been going on for a lot longer than I have been around.  It is an exciting thing and a lot of our kids know their kids.  I knew coach Balogh before he was at Ontario, so it's an exciting game for us to play.  It always seems to come down to end of the game.  That's what we want to have a chance and opportunity to win the game," he said.

 

Published 12/10/14

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Lexington With Loads of Potential

 

          There are high hopes with their year's Lexington Minutemen and it seems that things are coming together pretty well as the team begins its season this weekend.

          They play home games with Berlin Hiland on Friday and Willard on Saturday.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says the new mix of players are coming together pretty well as a unit coming into the opening weekend.  "It has been productive for us.  We have definitely progressed from our first set of scrimmages until this past Saturday when we had our final one.  That in no way means that is where we want to be realistically, but we have made some progress.  I am excited by what we have in mixing in a lot of players from last year's JV team, which happens when you graduate six seniors.  We are excited and hopefully we will be ready to take on our first opponent," he said.

          Lexington is likely the biggest team in North Central Ohio this year, but Hamilton says they have pretty good guard play too.  "We have always tried to play our game at Lexington from the inside out in getting our posts some touches and some looks and things like that.  In past years it has opened up some more opportunities for our perimeter.  This year we are trying to do the same things, but this year we would like to equal where we can score inside when we need to and we can get our guys some good looks from the perimeter and we can knock those shots down when those opportunities present themselves as well," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Our only returning starter is our point guard in Joey Zahn.  He is doing a really nice job of leading us and distributing the ball and trying to hit the open man whether it is on the perimeter or in the post.  The other guys are filling in their roles pretty well."

          One part of the game that Hamilton says has to get better this year is their defense and he says they are working on it.  "Realistically that is probably one our weaker facets of the game right now.  We are putting a lot of time into that just communicating and stuff.  Anytime you bring in a lot of knew people just that chemistry and that rotation.  We are going from a little bit smaller team to a bigger team.  So, our bigs, the two 6'8" kids in Ashton Ray an Chase Munro played a lot of JV ball last year.  In JV ball you can play pretty close to the rim, but when you are 6'8" on the varsity you have to be able to step out and defend the three point line.  So, we have been really working with our guys on post rotations and help and things like that.  It is not a strong suit for us right now, but we hope to get better every time we step on the court," he said.

          Lexington plays host to former multiple state champion Berlin Hiland on Friday night.  Hamilton says the Hawks do a lot of things right.  "They have a terrific tradition over there and Mark Schlabach does an outstanding job with his teams.  We really expect to see a lot of pressure and run and jump trapping in the full court.  I think they play really fundamental defense in the half court.  I think they look to go out in transition at every opportunity.  They have consistently been a nice three point shooting team over the years.  I don't think they have a great deal of size, but what they do have is I think their guys play a little bit bigger than they are on the roster sheet, so we are expecting some pretty good competition from them.  Hopefully we can handle their pressure and their transition game," said Hamilton.

 

Published 12/04/14

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Lex Will be Big

 

          Lexington will be breaking in some new starters when they tip off the season against always good Berlin Hiland, but they will be one of the bigger teams in North Central Ohio.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says they only return one starter from a team that beat Ontario in the tournament and lost Sandusky Perkins in the district semi-finals.  "We return one starter and then a couple of guys that gave us time off the bench.  We graduated four two-year starters off of last year's team.  Two of the guys off the bench were sophomores last year and Charlie Keller was a  junior last year.  We have a little bit of experience returning, but we are going to have to grow up really fast before December 5 rolls around," he said.

          Even some of the kids with varsity experience will be asked to assume new roles and Hamilton says they are working hard to define those roles in the preseason.  "I really like our kids.  The chemistry is good with the group this year.  We are kind of learning some new roles in what we do.  The starters we lost had a great work ethic and were really smart kids in being able to adapt and put in new plays," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "The kids we are relying on this year are learning new roles and new positions out on the floor and some of them are going to be in multiple positions not only learning the plays and the position they had last year, but also learning on both sides of that this year.  It has been a learning process for us, we have had a few scrimmages, and we have been able to improve each time we step on the floor and at this point that is a big goal for us right now."

          And old coach once told me that when everybody is tired the center on the other team didn't get any shorter and their is no replacement for height.  Hamilton admits they will have some big kids.  "Our JV team last year had two 6'7. 6'8 kids, right round there, and they will both be varsity guys this year and then of course Jonah Yaussy returns this year, he is a junior, and he is in the 6'5" range, so we will have some height.  Again those guys are learning their roles and their positions.  Going from the JV roster to the varsity roster is kind of a big step for them playing against the bigger guys.  They have come along very well and we are expecting some big things from them," said Hamilton.

          Even with height those guys can't score if the don't get the ball.  Hamilton says guard play is going to be key for them.  "We have had some discussions about turnovers and things like that with some of our guards already in the preseason and what some potential goals are, and we haven't set those goals yet.  Last year, we had a squad that at times in heavy pressure we could play the guard position by committee.  This year we have Joey Zahn returning and a couple of those guys are knew in the roles are new and taking care of the ball and handling the ball for us.  That is one things that we have to grow as a team.  You have to have solid guard play, you don't have to be all-stars, but you can be making mistakes that cost you," said Hamilton.

 

Published 11/21/14

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Lexington Faces Mansfield Senior

 

          Lexington and Mansfield Senior, two teams with nothing to play for except pride, meet at Arlin Field on Friday night.

          The Minutemen fell to (0-8,0-5) on the season with a (49-8) loss to West Holmes last week in Ohio Cardinal Conference play.

          Luke Ogi had a school record 332 hard rushing for West Holmes, but Lexington scored the only points of the fourth quarter.  Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they never quit.  "We moved the ball at little bit between the 20s, but that doesn't help when you don't get into the end zone.  West Holmes is very good football team and they are well coached.  We emphasize everyday and every minute you have two choices, you can either walk away or you can continue fighting.  They have answered that call right to the end," he said.

          Mansfield Senior (3-5,2-3) lost last week to Wooster (31-7) and the Tygers have dropped their last three games.  Gerhardt says they are still capable of making big plays.  "We are going to see them come out ready to play.  Anytime Lexington and Mansfield Senior play both sides are ready to go.  I am sure they are going to look to run the ball.  They have a very nice running attack.  I know coach Bradley over there will have those guys ready to.  We have to find a way defensively to contain that and give our offense a chance to get on the field and move the ball and finish and get some points out of it," he said.

          Mansfield Senior has allowed at least 30 points in each of its last three games, but Gerhardt says they still have some speed and aggressiveness on that side of the ball.  "We see kids that fly to the football.  They move around quite a bit.  They have some kids that are going to make plays.  We hope to take advantage of anything they are going to give us.  I think maybe people think they struggle on defense, but they have some good players over there," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "The very last thing we need to do, especially in our situation of struggling this season, is taking anyone lightly.  We don't plan to do that.  I know the kind of coach that Chioke is over there and he will have those boys ready to go and we have to execute if we are going to have any kind of success."

 

Published 10/24/14

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Young Minutemen Learning Varsity Football

 

          With its youth Lexington is finding it difficult to be competitive this season, but they are not about to give up.

          Last week, Wooster dominated them (48-8) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game as the Generals produced over 420 yards of total offense.  Lexington coach Taylor Gerhardt says they just ran into a very good team at the wrong time.  "They are a good football team.  They definitely have some talent and their coaches are using that talent in a really affective fashion.  They are a good solid football team," he said.

          Wooster led (41-0) at the half last week, but Gerhardt says his players did exactly what he asked them to do in the second half, not quit.  "I honestly told the boys when we went back out or the second half I don't want us to concern ourselves with the score I want us to show up and I want us to play hard to the last tick of the clock and I will coach hard to the last tick of the clock," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "What you look for is how are your kids are responding to that adversity.  It's a good football team and you are behind by quite a bit and what kind of character is being revealed.  That is what I look for, are they able to do that, go out and still execute and fight to the end?  And they were.  Unfortunately Wooster was a few rungs up the latter for us, but they hung in there and they fought."

          Things do not gat any easier for the Minutemen (0-7,0-4) in terms of their schedule.  Friday night, they play host to "OCC" leader West Holmes (4-3,4-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division.  Gerhardt says the assignment is to stop, or at least contain, the Knights running game and that won't be easy.  "The things that you know about West Holmes are they are going to have tough kids, they are going to be very well coached, and they are going to run the dog gone ball.  You have to be ready to have low pad levels, you have to have a scheme in place defensively to get your kids to where they are going, that backfield action is designed to throw you off.  If you are able to be disciplined and read your keys you should be able to get to the ball.  But, when you get to the ball they are also very tough runners and they don't go down very often on first contact," said Gerhardt.

 

Published 10/15/14

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Lexington Ready to Win?

 

          When you look at film and the stats everything points to Lexington getting better as a football team, but still they can't get over the top and win games.

          Their next chance is Friday night when they play the Madison Rams (2-3,0-2) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game at their place.

          Clear Fork edged them last week in league play (35-26) in a game that Minutemen could have clearly could have won.  Coach Taylor Gerhardt says again it was mistakes that made the difference in the game.  "For us we didn't make plays here and there and we also gave up plays here and there.  We played hard and physical and I thought we showed a little more of what we are capable of both offensively and defensively, but in the end Clear Fork is a well coached team and those boys made mistakes, but in the end we made more and they capitalized on them.  The bane of our season right now is making mistakes at inopportune times," said Gerhardt.

          Late in the game Lex (0-5,0-2) trailed by only two points, but gave up an 81-yard TD pass.

          Gerhardt says one thing that really pleased him about last week was he thought they were more physical in the game against Clear Fork.  "We definitely took a step last week.  They do have a potent offense.  I credit my defensive coordinator Tim Scheid working really hard and we got a scheme together to gave us our best shot to kind of put a lid on their offense," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "What really stood out was the kids started understanding a little bit more of what we were asking them to do and they really stayed physical at a high level for a long time in the game and that made a big difference in our performance."

          Physical football will likely be key in this week's game too because that is clearly what Madison would like to do.  Gerhardt says they have to be able to match that physicality if they expect to win their first game of the year.  "They have some good coaches over there.  They always want to be physical and that is the kind of football that they like to play.  Hot and cold regardless we have to be ready to play.  We have to be ready to be physical and match them in that and continue with that physicality throughout that whole game.  They are going to come ready to hammer it and we have to be ready to do it back," he said.

 

Published 10/02/14

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Lexington Looking for First Win

 

          For Lexington the first four weeks of the season as been like "Groundhog Day," every game seems to the same.  They play well in certain parts of the game, but they can't seem to do it for 48 minutes.

          They get another chance on Friday night when they travel to Clear Fork (2-2,0-1) to play the Colts at the Corral in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.

          Last week, the Minutemen (0-4,0-1) cut their deficit to as few as two points, but lost in the end (30-14) to the Orrville Red Riders in a conference match-up.  Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they just made too many mistakes, on both sides, to expect to win.  "You watch the film with the kids and you see good things.  When you go back and watch film it is never as bad or as good as you think it is that night.  The bottom line was we didn't get it done when we needed to get it done.  Those mistakes that we gave they capitalized on and we didn't.  That has been the case too often and we have got to make a step forward," said Gerhardt.

          Certainly the Minutemen have had their chances to win in games against Shelby and Orrville, but Gerhardt says it's a process.  You have to learn how to win," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "You have to learn that in a game there are going to be ups and downs.  The other teams are going to have good plays.  There are going to be times when you have bad plays or make mistakes and you have to move forward that very next snap.  You have to play in the now and you have to have a short memory.  Until you embody that for four quarters it is hard to put together a win."

          It is Gerhardt's first game as Lexington coach against Clear Fork, but he understands that the Colts see Lexington as their rival.  "We tell kids anytime you play Clear Fork you better expect their best.  They are always up to play Lexington.  It is a great rivalry game.  We are going over there and they are going to be ready for us.  We have got to be ready to play hard and fast," he said.

          The Colts have twice give up more than 60 points in a game, but three times they have scored at least 40.  Gerhardt says if they can contain Clear Fork quarterback Kadin Chrastina they have a good chance to win.  "We have to slow down their run and that pretty awesome quarterback they have over there we'll do a good job.  Saying it and practicing it is one thing and doing it on Friday night is another.  We hope to slow down number 12 as much as we can," he said.

 

Published 9/25/14

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Lexington Keying on Improvement

 

          The score might not indicate it, but the Lexington Minutemen actually played better as a football team in a loss to Olentangy last week.

          The Braves led (49-0) at halftime and went on to beat Lexington (52-13) last Friday.  Lexington coach Taylor Gerhardt says they just were playing a very good team with a lot of depth.  "Olentangy was as good as advertised.  They are a well coached team.  They have a lot of kids and when you can choose from a lot of kids and put that together with a very good coaching staff you put a good product on the field and that's exactly what is going on down there at Olentangy," he said.

          Gerhardt says there were parts of the game in which they showed some growth last week against Olentangy.  "When it comes to taking away something from a game like that I look at things like what things did we improve on from week to week.  We dropped from eight penalties to two penalties.  The kids had less missed assignments.  The biggest part was they didn't give up.  It was a tough halftime.  We challenged them to come out and fight until the last tick of the second half clock and they did exactly that," said Gerhardt.

          Orrville (1-2) plays at Lexington (0-3) in Ohio Cardinal Conference action on Friday night.  Gerhardt says they expect an Orrville team that is well drilled in their game plan.  "We are excited for league play just like everybody else.  Orrville is Orrville they are always a well coached football team.  They are always going to come out ready to play football.  They are great tradition over there.  We need to get back to doing what we do and putting two halves of football together," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We had a game or two where we could run the ball and a game where we could throw a little bit.  We are looking to put those together offensively and get better at tackling on defense."

          Orrville had been running the ball a little bit more the last couple of years, but Gerhardt says they have returned to throwing the ball a lot more and that's what they expect to see on Friday night.  "What we have seen so far is they are back to throwing it, but they do run it.  No matter what kind offense Orrville going to get in they are going to be well coached and have football savvy.  They are throwing the ball quite a bit in the film that we have seen, so that is what we will prepare for," he said.

 

Published 9/18/14

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Lexington Far From Packing it in

 

          Lexington's football season has been filled with bad breaks yet they continue to show they want to get better as a football team.

          They lost last week (32-21) to Shelby after dropping their opener to by a similar score (33-21) to Ontario. 

          Coach Taylor Gerhardt says they just didn't make enough plays to win last week against Shelby.  "The kids at Shelby are really well coached.  They capitalized on our mistakes.  They did what they needed to do when those opportunities presented themselves and we didn't do enough at the end of the game.  Our kids fought to the end, but at the end of the game too many mistakes, too many missed tackles," he said.

          Injuries have been part of the problem at Lexington, but Gerhardt says they are not going to make excuses.  "The kids have always rallied around and our message has always been before injures even began that this is a team sport and it has to be next man up and we have had guys that are stepping up to fill the shoes of whoever it is," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "I am really proud of how the kids have done it.  Absolutely we do need a little more consistency in both the passing game and the running game.  We are working hard to get that ironed out."

          Last year was a 1-9 season for the Minutemen and they have lost 14 of their last 15 games, but Gerhardt says they have gotten outstanding leadership.  "I am really impressed with our seniors (Wednesday) they asked me if they could have a team meeting without the coaches before practice.  They came our ready to go with renewed vigor.  These kids want to succeed.  The hardest part sometimes is learning to put it all together and those are the hard things they are going through and they are hungry and I am proud of them for that," he said.

          On Friday night, the Minutemen travel to Olentangy (2-0) for a non-conference game.  The Braves have beaten Westerville South (38-6) and Olentangy Liberty (35-34) last week.  Gerhardt says they Braves have the whole package.  "They bring a little bit of everything to the table.  They are big, strong and fast, they have a lot of kids, and most importantly they are well coached and disciplined.  We really need to minimize our mistakes if we are going to have any kind of success.  It is a great opportunity and a challenge to go up against a team like Olentangy."

 

Published 9/12/14

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Lexington Concerned About Their Execution

 

          Two teams seeking to rebound from less than anticipated performances meet Friday night as Lexington plays host to Shelby in a non-conference game.

          The Minutemen lost (33-21) to Ontario and Shelby was beaten at home (34-0) by Mansfield Madison.

          First year Lexington coach Taylor Gerhardt says they just didn't do enough to win.  "Some of things that happened are we made some mistakes that we weren't able to come back from and a well coached team like Ontario took advantage of it.  In the end there it was just too little too late.  The boys played hard and Ontario showed they are pretty good football team.  In the end there were too many errors and not enough opportunities taken advantage of on our side of the football," he said.

          Lexington only ran for 36 yards against Ontario and Gerhardt says they have to do a better job in the trenches opening up holes for the running backs.  "We still want to concentrate on running the football.  We have to do some different things up front and get better at creating some seams for our backs to run through.  Defensively I felt like we got to the point of attack, but we didn't finish," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "It is great to get there, but if you don't finish and get the ball carrier down right there at the point of attack bad things end of happening.  Those are two things we are working on.  Shelby is a tough football team and they will be big and strong.  Those are the kinds of things we have to work on because we are a little bit younger and our size isn't great, but we have to be a little bit more physical on both sides of the football."

          Shelby started a freshman at quarterback in Brennan Armstrong and like Lexington they have a lot of youth on their team.  Gerhardt says they have game plan in place for the Whippets, but this game is more about them executing.  "They looked good on film.  That young quarterback does a real nice job.  As a team they look sharper and sharper in each week of film we watch of them.  We have to make sure we take care of our side of the football and don't make mistakes and allow them to have opportunities to capitalize.  We always like to concentrate on what are we going to do.  We certainly game plan and scheme, but we want to focus more on what we do to get ready for Shelby," said Gerhardt.

 

Published 9/03/14

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Lexington Opens the Season with Ontario

 

          Lexington and Ontario, two teams that want to run the ball, will clash on Friday night in non-conference play at Lexington.

          With summer stuff in June and July and preseason camp this month it can be sort of a drag toward the end and Lexington coach Taylor Gerhardt, in his first year as the head coach, says his kids are ready for Friday night.  "The kids are tired of hitting each other and I'm sure that is the case across the state of Ohio.  They are ready to get on with the season," he said.

          The Minutemen have seen other teams in scrimmages, but those are not games and Gerhardt says on Friday night things will be different for the players, some of whom are new top varsity football.  "Scrimmages are always much more controlled environments, kids are nervous, and it's different.  We talk about that all of the time.  When those Friday night lights turn on and there is a game attached to it there is a difference.  The speed increases, the hits are heavier, and there is a difference, that's why they call it a scrimmage and a game," said Gerhardt.

          Ontario, like Lexington, wants to be a team that is physical and wants to run the football.  Gerhardt says they have the kind of personnel to do just that.  "They have some really good size.  We expect them to be physical and run the football.  I expect it to be a very hard hitting football game, just like a cross town rivalry should be.  Ontario will look different because they have different players, but I know they will be ready to play because it is Ontario-Lexington," he said.

          When you get two teams like this together the line of scrimmage, and who controls it, is going to be big.  Gerhardt says that is where this game is going to be won.  "I believe any game is won or lost at the point of attack.  Offensively if you aren't on assignment at the point of attack or if you don't come and finish fundamentally at the point of attack you are going to get beat.  I think it is the same way on the other side of the ball," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "First of all if you don't get to the point of attack on defense you are hurting.  And the other thing is you have to finish once you get to the point of attack and get the ball carrier to the ground.  I would agree that it will be won or loss at the point of attack, especially with a team like Ontario that will be big and physical."

 

Published 8/27/14

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Lexington Ready to get Started

 

          A week from Friday will begin a new era of Lexington football as the Minutemen host Ontario in a none-conference game that is the season opener for both schools.

          It is a rivalry that dates back to the days of the Johnny Appleseed Conference in the 1960's and 70's.

          Coach Taylor Gerhardt, in his first year at Lexington, says his kids are already ready for that first game against Ontario.  "Oh, absolutely.  We talk about being ready for every rep, every practice and for everything we do.  We ask a lot of the kids and they have answered with their preparation.  So, whatever day it is, whether it is first game week or the first or second scrimmage the Lexington Minutemen we are going to be ready to play football," he said.

          Lexington plays host to pass happy Kenton in their preview scrimmage on Friday night, but Gerhardt admits there hasn't been much preparation for the Wildcats this week.  "With scrimmages we won't spend a lot of time with preparation.  We will line up a little in scout and what their offense is or what their defense is and talk a little bit about what the other team does, but most of our preparation is for week one.  Scrimmages are a way for us to go out and go live and go full speed against a different jersey color that the kids get excited to do.  We get live reps at full speed that are valuable for us preparing for week one," said Gerhardt.

          He says they have already been thinking of the Warriors, but the real work for the Ontario game begins on Saturday like any other week of the season.  "Week one is always a little different because it is the first game coming out of summer practice and their is a lot of anticipation for that first week.  Our preparation week for Ontario starts on Monday, actually it will start this weekend when we starting talking about film and go over the scrimmage a little bit and get ready for Ontario.  Everybody knows that first week is that cross town rivalry against the Ontario Warriors," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "They know it and we know it.  Certainly their is a little bit more excitement and a little more time that we can kind of put some things in to look at, but schedule wise we treat week one just like we would week eight or nine."

 

Published 8/22/14

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Lexington to Feature the Run

 

          Lexington has a new coach this year and Taylor Gerhardt is one that wants to grind out the yards and eat up some clock with the run game.  It’s not that they can’t throw the ball, but their personnel dictates run.

          Gerhardt says so far this summer he has been very pleased with the what he has seen from the players, especially the effort they are giving everyday in practice.  “I am very pleased with the work ethic.  We ask a lot of them.  We talk a lot about the kind of team that we have to be.  The numbers aren’t where we want them to be and that makes us have to play a lot of iron man football, so we are going to have to be in superb physical condition and also mentally.  We push the kids quite a bit everyday in practice and ask a lot of them and I am very pleased with how they have answered that.  We have a lot of tough kids that are coming out to play.  We are young, and we don’t have the numbers, but I am very pleased with where we are right now,” said Gerhardt.

          When taking a look at the personnel they have on the football roster this year Gerhardt says they plan to come out and get physical and run the football.  “We are going to run the football.  We are going to be in some tight end sets, but we will spread it out, so we will be a multiple formation offensive team.  We will want to run the football.  We have a pretty strong junior quarterback in Joey Vore.  We ask him to do quite a bit, so we will throw the ball, but we will be a team that is going to come out and run the football,” he said.

          Lexington gave up some points last season, especially in the second half of games, and Gerhardt says they have to clean that up if they are going to be more successful.  He says they want the players to really pursue the football.  “Last year we had some issues where we played well and then wouldn’t fight back from adversity the way we needed to then things just kind of fell apart after that and it was hard for us to get out of that hole.  We emphasize here flying to the football,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “When we stop the film and the kids are with us we count the number of purple helmets that are in the frame around the ball.  We ask for 11 helmets to be around the ball.  I don’t feel like we did that well enough last year.  The scheme that we are going to run we are going to ask our kids to fly to the football.  We will have five defensive backs and a lot times people will think that is built more around spread teams, but we like the kind of personnel we have and that fits them.”

 

Published 8/13/14

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Dragos Makes it to Semis

 

          At the beginning of the season Lexington tennis player Mason Dragos said his goal was to still be alive on Saturday in the state tournament and he is after winning both of his matches on Friday.

          Dragos beat Alexander Warstler of Cincinnati Indian Hill in the first round 6-3,6-2 and then knocked off Joel Montgomery of Worthington Christian 6-4, 4-6, and 6-2 in quarterfinal action.  He will play J.J. Wolf of Cincinnati Country Day in the semi finals on Saturday morning at the courts at The Ohio State University.

          Coach Ron Schaub says in Columbus you have to be at the top of your game and Dragos was on Firday.  "In the individual tournament you are only talking about the best players in the state.  He has got a kid (Saturday) who is very, very good in J.J. Wolf of Cincinnati Country Day.  Mace is playing really, really strong and hopefully he will be able to continue on (Saturday)," he said.

          This is the third straight state tournament appearance for Dragos, a junior, and Schaub says he has improved his power game and that has made him a better player.  "I was worried about the number three player out of Cincinnati.  Cincinnati is a hot bed for tennis.  I thought Mace's power was just a little more than that kid had.  It was a close match even though the scores were 6-3, 6-2, it was a lot closer than that.  Joel Montgomery is a very good player, a good ball striker.  Mace got the first set, Montgomery dug deep and got the second set.  He is a little bit stronger than he was last year and that is what helped him through," said Schaub.

          Dragos and Wolf have played twice already this year and Schaub looks for as an excellent match come Saturday morning.  "The kid he plays is very, very strong.  Mace has beaten that kid one time and that kid has beaten Mace one time.  Hopefully he will be on his game and ready to play.  J.J. Wolf doesn't have any weaknesses.  Hopefully it will come down to a couple of big points and it will be Mace's day," he said.

          The Lexington doubles team of Matt Youse and Tommy Barkett won their first match Friday by beating Jacob Stavsky and Henry Chavez of Cincinnati Seven Hills 6-4,6-1, but lost in the quarters to Brett Dubin and Karan Gill of Beachwood 7-6 (7-4) and 6-4.

          Schaub says those two kids are hard workers that are only going to get better as players.  "They are two great kids.  Matt Youst is a very, very hard worker.  Tommy Barkett is a very hard worker.  We got the first match and it was doable in the second match.  We just couldn't quite get over the hump.  They will be back next year and they will work hard," he says.

          Lexington, the third seed, plays Columbus Academy, the second seed, in the semi finals of the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team tournament on Sunday.      

 

 
 

The Tradition of Lexington Tennis Success Continues

 

          Lexington is simply a statewide tennis powerhouse and they continued to prove that on Saturday as they claimed both the division two singles and doubles titles at the district tournament at Bowling Green State University.

          Mason Dragos will be making his third straight appearance in state tournament next Friday at the Ohio State University.  So, will Matt Youse, his teammate Tommy Barkett will be making his first trip.

          Dragos dominated the singles tournament beating Alex Seibel of Celina in the semi finals (6-0,6-0) and Pierre Despart of Lima Central Catholic, an exchange student from France, (6-3,6-0) in the final. 

          Lexington coach Ron Schaub says again Dragos was on top of his game.  "He played very, very strong and very motivated.  He has a real live arm.  He was really powerful.  He only gave up five games in the entire tournament in four matches.  He was playing real strong and hopefully he can continue it next week at the state tournament," he said.

          Schaub adds that Dragos is the only the second player to have beaten Despart this spring.  "The kid had lost only one match all year before Mason played him in our team tournament match and then Mason beat him in that match and then beat him here," he told Swankonsports.com on Saturday, "The kid is really good and Mason was up to the challenge.  It is hard to get to the state tournament and now that that is off his back hopefully he can continue with great things next week," said Schaub.

          Dragos has lost in the quarterfinals of the state tournament the last two years.

          The Lexington doubles team of Matt Youse and Tommy Barkett beat a team from Lima Shawnee in the semi finals (6-4,6-2) and a team from Ottawa Hills in final (6-1,6-4) to win the title.  Schuab says they play together well.  "Matt Youse has been to the state the previous two years.  He went two years ago with John Mcarthur and last year with his brother.  This is his third straight new partner.  He is playing with Tommy Barkett.  Tommy Barkett is a talented kid.  He started playing really early.  He has a really good forehand and really good hands.  Matt Youse is really aggressive and hits a really good ball too.  Hopefully they can do really well at start too," said Schaub.

          Lexington plays Ottawa Hills in the district finals in team competition on Wednesday.  A win by the Minutemen would advance them to play in the division two state semi-finals a week from Sunday in Columbus.

 

Published 5/24/14

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Lex Needs Big Effort Versus Perkins

 

          Last year, Lexington advanced to the district tournament and they would like to repeat that this year and it starts Thursday when they face Sandusky Bay Conference champion Sandusky Perkins in the division two district semi-finals at Mansfield Madison High School.

          Lexington (15-11) is coming off a loss to Orrville (13-7) on Tuesday in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.  Coach Kevin Morrow says their schedule has been brutal down the stretch, but they still know what they can do.  "We kind of had a brutal schedule here at the end with Madison and Wooster and we also played Perkins in there.  We took our lumps, but we also proved to ourselves that we can play with a lot of these teams.  We played a really close game with Wooster.  We did get a win against Madison and they did win the league.  We did go toe to toe with Perkins and we proved to ourselves that we can hang in with them if we just play the defense and give ourselves a chance to win," said Morrow.

          Perkins (22-4), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, has been a very good team again this year.  They beat Oak Harbor (8-1) on Tuesday.

          Lexington has some kids that have been part of some pretty good baseball teams too and Morrow hopes that is a factor for them.  "We definitely have some kids that have some experience, but we also have some that were more or less JV players or varsity kind of back ups last year.  We hope our veteran leadership, guys like (Zach) Temple and (Brody) Basilone and even Evan Lee, for a junior he has had two years of previous varsity experience.  We hope they can be that veteran leadership out there and keep everybody together during this tournament time," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We also hope some of these first time tournament guys step up.  We had Adam Johnson, in one his first tournament appearances in the sectional there and got us a walk off hit.  We hope with that experience and the other guys stepping up that we get some tournament magic going."

          Lexington beat Galion (6-5) in the sectional final last Friday.

          Perkins beat Lexington in a doubleheader a couple of weeks ago (11-8 and 3-1) and Morrow says they know they are good, but they are not intimidated.  "It is something hard to get a good read because neither team really threw there best, although some of their threes and fours are pretty darn good.  They have had a program up there for years and coach Neil cranks out one good player after another.  We did prove to ourselves that we can hang in there.  Our pitchers did a nice job.  Our first guy in there Adam Johnson kind of worked around some tough spots with all of the good hitters that they had.  In the second game Evan Lee threw a no-hitter, we lost (3-1), but that was a no hitter.  We proved we can compete with these guys.  They have a lot of arms to go around and to spare.  I guess we do too, but they are Perkins for a reason.  They are the one seed and we are going to see one of their best two pitchers and we just have to be ready to play defense for Temple in give ourselves a chance to win," said Morrow.

 

Published 5/22/14

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Lexington lands a Singles Player and Doubles Team in the State

 

          Lexington is not just the best tennis team in North Central Ohio, they are a statewide powerhouse year after year and Wednesday they advanced their number one singles player and top doubles team to next week's division two state tournament at The Ohio State University.

          Mason Dragos beat Derek Krieger of Rossford (6-0,6-0) in his first match in district play at Bowling Green State University on Wednesday and then dispatched of Alex Schroeder of Ottawa Glandorf (6-1,6-1) in the quarterfinals.

          Coach Ron Schaub says Dragos is an excellent player that isn't done playing this spring, his record dictates that.  "Mason also qualified in his freshman and sophomore years.  Saturday he goes back and to see if he can take first, second, third or fourth.  If you make to Saturday you have had an unbelievable tournament.  The state tournament is next week at Ohio State and starts on Friday.  Mason's goal to tray and get to Saturday next week," he said.

          Dragos is slated to meet Alex Seibel of Celina on Saturday in semi-final play.  If he wins he will meet either Pierre Desprat of Lima Central Catholic or Manickam Manickam of Sandusky Perkins.  Schaub thinks he has a good chance to win his third straight district title.  "He won it his freshman year and he won it his sophomore year.  There is an exchange student from France that goes to Lima Central Catholic that is very strong, potentially that would be the match-up in the finals.  Mason is very, very good.  He has a live arm, he has really good hands, a heavy top spin forehand and a big serve.  We have played a lot of good teams this year.  Hopefully he will get it done this weekend," Schaub told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night.

          The Lexington doubles team of Matt Youse and Tommy Barkett have also reached the semis with wins over teams from Celina (6-4,6-3) and Port Clinton (6-1,6-1) on Wednesday.  Schaub like their chances too.  "Matt Youse is a very good athlete, very competitive and Tommy Barkett is another one too, he plays a lot of sports, he has really good hands and a big forehand.  Matt is a junior and has qualified for the third year in a row.   Hopefully they can get the job done also on Saturday," he said.

          Lexington had qualified a second doubles team too in Matt Barkett and Jansen Webster, who beat a team from Lima Central Catholic (6-4,6-1) before losing to a team from Ottawa Hills (6-1,6-3) in the quarters.  "They won their first match (Wednesday), but lost in the quarterfinals to a team from Toledo Ottawa Hills, but they also did great, so we are really pleased," he said.

          Phil Zitko of Mansfield St. Peter's won his first singles match over Dereck Vincent of Bryan (7-6 (8-6) 6-3) and lost in the next round to Desprat (6-0,6-1).  Clear Fork's Adam Remy lost his opening round match to Jason Judis of Ottawa Hills (6-3,4-6,6-1) on Wednesday.  Ontario's doubles team of Ty Carcione and Brandon Wagner lost their first match to a team from Celina (6-1,6-0).

 

Published 5/22/14

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Lex Preparing For the Tournament

 

          Zach Temple went the distance on Tuesday and Lexington beat Orrville (6-4) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.

          They play at Orrville on Wednesday if the weather allows, but they are really looking forward to their division two sectional final match-up at home on Thursday against the Galion Tigers (18-5) of the North Central Conference.

          Coach Kevin Morrow says he thought they came out and did what they had to do to win on Tuesday.  "It's tough with two games to go and you hate to say that they are meaningless games, but both Orrville and Lex are not in the title run in the "OCC," but you want to have good games going into that tournament game on Thursday.  We jumped out quick with senior day.  We got a lot of seniors some playing time.  We got six runs for Zack Temple and he held on all of the way to the end," said Morrow.

          Early in the season the offense was sometimes lacking for the Minutemen (14-10), but Morrow says they have had some guys heat up as the temperatures have gotten warmer.  "We have had our spots here and there.  Guys that were at the bottom half of the lineup are starting to heat up for us Evan McNeil, Zack Temple, Nate Arnholt, some of those guys that were down in the six, seven, eight spots, are really helping us now," he told Swankonsports.com after the Orrville win, "We have to get Brody Basilone going and Evan Lee, when those kids are both going well and we can get those guys in the six, seven, eight spots backing them up we do score some runs."

          Thursday's game at Lexington features one the better sectional final match-ups in the area this week.  Morrow says the Tigers have some players.  "They have some good kids over there.  We went over and did some scouting (Monday) and watched them play.  We didn't get to play them in a scrimmage or the regular season, but we did scout them a little bit.  You can't take anybody lightly.  They have one heck of a record over there.  We have to ready top play on Thursday for sure," he said.

          Galion lost back to back games to Upper Sandusky last Friday and Monday and that cost them a chance to share the "NCC" title and Morrow isn't sure if that is good or bad for them.  "You don't want to wake up a sleeping giant or whatever.  You don't want to give them any reason for momentum going into the tournament.  They have a heck of a record over there and our games just didn't line up with the weather.  It is going to be interesting.  They don't know much about us and we don't know much about them.  We have to go out there and play every inning, every pitch, the way we should," said Morrow.

 

Published 5/14/14

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Lexington Gets Big Win

 

          After tough losses to Wooster this week, the Lexington Minutemen got a big momentum boost on Thursday when they beat Tiffin Columbian (6-4) in a non-conference contest on Thursday.

          Wooster beat the Minuteman twice (9-5 and 4-3) this week and those losses knocked them out of the Ohio Cardinal Conference race.

          They rebounded and beat Columbian with some clutch hits and coach Kevin Morrow says that was difference between winning and losing.  "It was good to see the kids get back in the win column.  We had a tough week against a good Wooster team.  We just couldn't find that, at least (Wednesday), we couldn't find that clutch hit when we had the bases loaded or second and third.  (Thursday) we did.  Temple came through and had a couple clutch hits with two outs and two RBI with each.  Those two out hits are so precious when you can get them a lot of times you can win games and we had some good pitching.  We had a combination of Nate Arnholt, who is our five or six, usually our catcher, he got the win and Evan Lee closed it out," said Morrow.

          It was the bottom part of the lineup that was able to come through for the Minutemen on Thursday.  Morrow says those guys were able to get some key hits.  "It helps if you get those kids in that six, seven, eight hole.  Maybe the pitcher isn't going at them as aggressively or as carefully and they are going to see a lot of fastballs in the bottom of the lineup a lot of times.  A lot of times those are the guys that end up winning it for you," he told Swankonsports.com, "(Thursday) Temple was hitting in the seven hole.  He has been hitting really well here about halfway through the season the switch just kind of came on for him.  He hit a couple of really nice line drive in the seven hole and that was the difference in the game for us."

          The Minutemen (13-8), #5 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, feature an outstanding pitching staff with Brody Basilone, Zach Temple and Evan Lee.  Morrow says the post season will depend on if they can get those big hits.  "You have to have that momentum going into the post season.  A lot of times these games are meaningful if you are in the league.  Unfortunately we were not able to get the wins we needed to stay in the race, but we have a lot to play for in this post season.  We definitely need to see the kids playing with confidence and playing together and team chemistry and those two out hits to back our pitchers up.  We have the pitching staff I think to be a real threat in the post season, so it is going to come down the kids at the plate and those timely hits that you need," said Morrow.

          Lexington will host North Central Conference co-leader Galion (18-4) in a division two tournament game next Thursday.

 

Published 5/09/14

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Lexington Faces Huge Series

 

          If Lexington is going to defend its Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball title then this is the week they need to make their move.

          Right now, they trail league leading Madison by two games and they play at Madison on Thursday, if the weather allows, and then hosts the Rams on Friday, in two games with big conference title implications.

          Lexington (10-5,6-2), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, carries a six game winning streak into this week.  "The kids are really starting to hit the ball well.  Last week we won five games in a seven day stretch.  Now the rain has sort of put a halt to things, so we are kind of hoping to get over to Madison on Thursday and they can come here on Friday and play some pretty big games here in the "OCC," he said.

          Madison (12-4,8-0), #1 in the poll, is having an outstanding season and Morrow says the Rams are a very good team and their league standing is not unexpected.  "Madison as is kind of expected is sitting on top of the league.  We are right there we just have to go and do the work and prove we deserve to be in the conversation," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We still have Wooster after that and a dangerous Orrville team.  The old saying you take one game at a time, but these Madison games could kind of improve our chances."

          Madison coach Doug Rickert is the dean "OCC" baseball coaches and Morrow knows you have to be on the top of your game if you are going to beat the Rams.  "You know Doug is just going to have some kids that can play blue corral, fundamental baseball.  They seem to hit one through nine.  (Blake) Lampert is really pitching well, he is having a great season.  You know Doug is going to push you.  He is going to put the bunts down when he needs to.  They just seem to execute well and that's why they are undefeated," said Morrow.

          At least one win is a must for the Minutemen because trailing by four games with four to play means they would need a lot of help from Madison, who plays Wooster and Ashland in their final two series of the season.  Lexington also has the Generals and Orrville.

          Wooster is tied with Lexington for second.

 

Published 5/01/14

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Minutemen Keeps Pace

 

          Lexington will play "OCC" leading Madison twice next week and to give themselves a chance to make that series really important they need to sweep Clear Fork this week.  They completed step one last week.

          Clear Fork got to Lexington starter Zach Temple a little bit, but Lexington put together their best offensive effort in a league game this year with 10 hits, four for extra bases, in an (8-6) win over the Colts on Tuesday afternoon.

          Coach Kevin Morrow knows they need that win pretty bad.  "Madison seems to have put themselves out on the top of the heap here and may be pulling away so you have go to keep everything close and give yourself a chance.  We play them next week and we have to give ourselves the chance by keeping things close every time out and that's not easy in this conference," said Morrow.

          The Minutemen trail Madison by two games.

          Lexington also scored seven runs in each of the games of a doubleheader last Saturday against Norwalk.  Morrow says they are stating to hit the ball pretty well now.  "It was good to see the bats come to life.  When you give up six runs in this conference with our kind of inexperience with offense it is going to be kind of tough to win those games, but we were able to push some runs across.  We had the guys in the middle of the lineup really catching fire and came through in the clutch," said Morrow.

          The weather has been warmer over the last week and Morrow thinks that has been a factor in their improved hitting lately.  "It is a big thing.  I remember when I played in school that was a huge thing.  Nobody likes to get out there and swing in the cold or even make contact in the cold.  I think that is a big factor or everybody, plus the sunshine and just seeing more pitches is an even bigger factor in our offense," he said.

          The win Tuesday over the Colts was important for Lexington, but Morrow knows that the game Wednesday at Clear Fork is just as, if not more, important.  "We are going to be playing down there at Clear Fork.  It's kind of funny I'm a big Rusty Staab fan," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, "I know what he coaches and what he teaches and the fire that he brings into that program.  I told the kids after the game that we better flush this.  Have fun (Tuesday) night, but boy it starts all over again (Wednesday) night when we go down there."

 

Published 4/23/14

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Lexington Wins to Stay in the Race

 

          Brody Basilone drove in five runs and the Lexington Minutemen beat West Holmes (8-3) on Wednesday to remain a game behind Mansfield Madison in the Ohio Cardinal Conference race.

          Zach Temple did the job on hill for the Minutemen (4-3,4-1) and coach Kevin Morrow says they played a good overall game on the road in the league.  "We had a really nice win in the "OCC" on the road.  The bats finally woke up.  Zach Temple gave us another good outing on the mound like he always does.  He went all seven.  He just kept West Holmes off balance," he told Swankonsports.com, "Brody Basilone had the game of his life.  He really did it on both ends.  He threw a guy out at home from centerfield, he had a lot of put outs, and I think he had five RBI as well at the plate."

          West Holmes (2-6,1-4) has had some injury problems, mostly with preseason number one pitcher Dillon Baird, but Morrow knows they are going to be better as they season goes on.  "They are pretty good.  They put up a good fight in that first game against Madison.  They have got some hitters.  If you make a mistake they will get after it.  Obviously their good pitching is trying to heel up.  I think once they get that pitching heeled up they are going to be as good as anybody," said Morrow.

          If there has been a problem this year for the defending "OCC" champions it has been at the plate.  Morrow says this might have been their best game of the year on Wednesday.  "We came through with runners in scoring position.  Brody had two base clearing hits.  We had some good leadoff hitters.  We got some people on base.  Joey Vore sparked us from the leadoff position.  He had a couple of hits and scored some runs.  Coming through with runners in scoring position was the big thing," he said.

          It's Lexington and West Holmes again on Thursday this time at Lexington and Morrow knows they have to turn in another good performance against a very good team.  "West Holmes like I said is capable of putting things together.  We have to go home (Thursday) and defend our field and get after it in the "OCC" because anybody can beat you," he said.

 

Published 4/17/14

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Lexington Scores Two Late to beat Tygers

 

          Lexington pushed across two runs in the bottom of the sixth to edge Mansfield Senior (4-2) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game at Lexington on Tuesday afternoon.

          The win ended Lexington's three game losing streak and kept them a game back in the "OCC" race early in the season.  Coach Kevin Morrow says they struggled at the plate, but they were able to come through in the clutch.  "We have definitely struggled.  I made an emphasis about not taking anybody lightly because I have seen Mansfield come in several times over the last six, seven years and give us a good game, even beat us," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "The French kid did a nice job of keeping us off balance.  He threw it past us.  It was good to see out kids come through late in the clutch and give Zach temple a much deserved win."

          Senior Zach Temple went the distance for the Minutemen and Morrow says that the pitching staff is going to keep them in most games this year.  "We have the pitching staff that in the conference should give us well pitched games and keep us in the game with low runs.  Zack is that kind of kid.  He has proven that several years know on the varsity.  We just have to make sure we provide enough offense for these pitchers," he said.

          With the win Lexington (2-3,2-1) remains a game behind "OCC" leaders Mansfield Madison and Wooster, both rained out on Tuesday.  They play Mansfield Senior (0-3,0-3) at Arlin Field on Wednesday.  Morrow says the way it looks it's going to be a real battle in the conference this year.  "Any win in this league is precious.  You have got to get it when you can.  You have to get those clutch runs, those go ahead runs, when the opportunity exits.  You never know who is going to play well in this league, it is very well balanced.  Every game is going to be a battle this year," he said.

          Lexington has gotten pretty good pitching so far from Temple, Brody Basilone and Even Lee, but they haven't hit it very well, including Tuesday.  Morrow says that is something they are going to continue to work on in practice.  "(Tuesday) we preached looking for the fastball and don't let the fastball go especially when you are in a good count and layoff of the curveball.  If you get down two strikes you have to change your swing a little bit and put one in play.  If you have to take it the other direction.  It is still early and we are going to continue working in the batting cage," said Morrow.

 

Published 4/9/14

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Lexington Takes First Step

 

          Lexington won the Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball last year and they would like nothing better than to make it two in a row this spring.

`        They got started on the right foot on Tuesday when Brody Basilone and Evan Lee combined to shut down the Ashland Arrows (5-1) in conference play.

          First year coach Kevin Morrow says the pitching gave the Minutemen a chance to win and they were able to take advantage of their opportunities.  "The pitchers did a nice job of surviving the hurricane wind forces out there. We definitely wanted to get that first one of the year and the first one of my coaching career.  You know you are going up against a perennial tough team in Ashland and a veteran coach in Rob Lavengood," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "It was a game like I expected, and we are probably going to live on all year, it was a nice outing by Brody Basilone and Evan Lee came in and finished off the evening with two innings."

          It was windy on Tuesday, very windy, and Morrow says the coaching staff had to make sure kids where in the right position on the diamond.  "With Brody and Evan they threw so well and they have good velocity, so they did have a lot of strikeouts and lot of ground balls.  We talked to them before the game about how it was going to die and don't give up on anything, especially down the right field line.  Some of the kids we had to pull in a little bit because the wind was killing it and as it got in the wind in right field we repositioned them.  It is part of your strategy to position kids in the right way and make sure they are aware which way the ball is going to drift," said Morrow.

          If it doesn't rain, or at least not that much, Lexington now travels to Ashland on Wednesday for the second half of the back to back series.  Morrow says another win if going to be pretty important.  "We knew we were going to get a pretty solid effort out of Brody on the mound and we are going to throw another veteran pitcher on (Wednesday).  We did get some surprise offense, so I'm hoping that some of the kids kind of carry (Tuesday) into (Wednesday) on the offensive side.  Ashland doesn't lose very often on their field, so we are going to have to keep that momentum going and get off to a nice "OCC" lead," said Morrow.

          Zach Temple is expected to get the call on Wednesday and coach Morrow says they are going to need to develop some additional depth as they season unfolds.  "In the early season we really have to preach versatility and definitely develop enough arms where if you do get a few nice days in a row where you can make some games up you have enough arms and you have enough versatility where you can move kids around. We have to make hay while the sun shines.  When we get days like this we have to find a way to play," he said.

 

Published 4/02/14

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Lexington Ready to Flex Mussel

 

          Lexington is the defending Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball champion and if their pitching is any indication they are ready to make a run at it again.

          Coach Kevin Morrow says he was pretty impressed with what he saw from his players when they traveled to southwest Ohio this past Saturday to compete in a scrimmage.  "We finally got a chance to get outside.  We went south.  We went to Clinton-Massie an got a scrimmage in with some decent temperatures.  We did get to see some boys out there throwing and hitting live.  It definitely did surprise me for the first time actually getting on a field outside.  We had some guys make some nice contact and the pitchers looked exceptionally sharp on the mound," said Morrow.

          Morrow says it was really important for them to get out on the field and find some things out about the team they have.  "It is hard to judge kids too when you have players that are kind on the bubble and you aren't sure where to put them and where the lie on the roster.  It's hard to judge when the kids are playing out on blacktop and on the inside," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We are kind of spoiled with our field house, it does gives us a chance to field some ground balls.  Nothing is quite like being on the real field and the ball bounce of the field and up in the air, so it does help when we can get outside and Clinton-Massie did give us that chance."

          Lexington is scheduled to play at Big Walnut on Saturday in their season opener and plays Ashland in their first "OCC" series next week.

          With Brody Basilone, Zack Temple, and Evan Lee the Minutemen have good pitching and Morrow says they work hard too.  "Again we are kind of spoiled with the field house.  The boys also go down to coach Stabb's "Hittsville" and throw the ball year around.  We have been doing some live pitching here in the cages, throwing to our own hitters.  They have been relying on their experiences over the last couple of years for some of them.  It has really been rubbing off on some of the young pitchers coming up in watch these guys go to work every day in practice," he said.

 

Published 3/27/14

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Lexington Pitching Staff Deep, Talented

 

          Lexington won of the Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball title last year and advanced to the division two district final and this year looks promising too.

          Kevin Morrow, in his first year as the varsity coach, says they are going to have a very good pitching staff.  "We return an awful lot of pitching.  We return "OCC" pitcher of the year in Brody Basilone, right behind him statistically was Zach Temple, and we also have Evan Lee, who throws as hard as anybody in the area, and we have plenty of backup pitching for weekend games and no-league games.  So, our pitching is definitely going to be our strength this year," he said.

          Pitching is the backbone of any baseball team, at any level, and Morrow believes his guys are going to give them a chance to win every time out this spring.  "The pitchers did an outstanding job and led the way last year and gave our team a chance to win last year under coach Strictler every game and they are all back and they are healthy.  In fact, Brody Basilone was pitcher of the year and honorable mention All-Ohio and probably played 65% healthy the entire season, so he is full go this year.  Zach Temple put on a great show last year in the district championship and took Wapakoneta into extra innings and just did not budge.  With those two and Evan Lee I think we have a real good chance every game," said Morrow.

          Although they graduated some big bats from last year, Morrow says they have some guys coming back that can do the job and step into different roles.  "Brody Basilone is probably our best offensive weapon all around.  He is fully healthy this year.  He had an injured season last year and he struggled a touch mostly because of the pain in his knee, but we also have Evan Lee, who is a bright young star.  He is actually verbally committed to Kent State.  He has been a great preseason leader here so far.  He has been a workaholic in the cages.  He has the power.  He has the look and he has the intensity and we are looking for big numbers from him," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "Below that we have Nate Arnholt, who is a returning starter from last year, who had a pretty nice season offensively and we are looking for big things from him.  The rest of the lineup is kind of wide open offensively.  We have a lot of guys that did real well as JV players, so we are looking for them to get their opportunity to produce."

 

Published 3/18/14

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Lex Ready to go

 

          Lexington has already beaten one conference champion in the tournament, why not another?

          They get their chance when they play Sandusky Perkins (20-3), #3 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, and outright Sandusky Bay Conference champion, in the division two district semi-finals Wednesday night at Mansfield Senior High School.

          Lexington (16-8) upset Northern Ohio League co-champion Ontario (56-49) in a sectional final last Friday.  Big Lex coach Scott Hamilton was modest, yet very excited with the win.  "We were really excited about getting the opportunity to play them again after we took them into overtime at our place early in the season.  The kids were excited and it being a tournament atmosphere in sectional final the kids really got after it and for us it was a good thing that we came away with a win," he said.

          Perkins beat Sandusky (76-32) in their sectional final last Friday at Willard High School.  Hamilton says the Pirates have an outstanding player in Nic Williams.  "It starts with Nic Williams their very good wing player that is committed to going to Wheeling Jesuit and continue his basketball career next year.  He is averaging roughly 23 points and 12 rebounds a game on a 6'4" frame and that's a pretty tough match-up for anyone.  He is really the guy that makes things go for them.  They also have some very nice players that support him very well in Kyle Lewis and Chase Green and a couple of nice guards.  So, it's a real team effort, but it all starts with Nic Williams.  Last year we was the district six player of the year and this year it probably would have happened again if not for Norwalk dropping down to division two and Jeff Thomas getting that honor.  We definitely have our work cut out for us.  We are excited to be still playing right now and being in the district semis," said Hamilton.

          Perkins was the two time defending "SBC" champion, but was predicted by some to finish as low as third this year after losing some talent to graduation.  Hamilton says Williams was not about to let that happen.  "I am not really sure I don't follow them last year, but I'm not sure if Perkins didn't win the conference last year.  Of course, Huron made a very long run in football, which kind of delayed their season a little bit.  Like I said Nic Williams was district six player of the year last year and a very tough athlete and basketball guy, so we knew if we matched up against them that would be a our top priority, but he has a very good supporting cast and we are going to have to deal with all of those guys when we step on the floor Wednesday," he said.

          As far as keys to winning go, Hamilton says they have to control the tempo, which they have done all year, compete on the glass and make those open shots when they are available.  "They really look to get up and down the court pretty quick.  We are going to have to contain him in their transition and that is one of our keys for being about to compete with these guys.  The thing that really jumps out at you is how well they rebound.  They go to the offensive boards very strong, very physical.  I believe they are averaging about 36 rebounds a game.  They are just doing a very good job on the boards," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We have to control the glass a little bit better than maybe some of their opponents have this year and keep them away from those second chance opportunities.  For us when we get an opportunity to knock down and open shot we just have to do it.  We have to have a nice shooting game.  Hopefully we can put a couple of those things together and at the end of the fourth quarter we will be in position to win the game."

 

Published 3/05/14

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Lexington to Tangle With Ontario

 

          It went to overtime the first time and now Lexington gets a second chance as they face Ontario in the division two sectional finals on Friday night at Bucyrus High School.

          On Tuesday night, the Minutemen (15-8) held Clear Fork scoreless in the first quarter and went on to beat the Colts (58-43) in semi-final play.  Coach Scott Hamilton says they played well, but admits Clear Fork was tied having played eight games in two weeks.  "We really stressed to the guys, second season, and all of that stuff.  It all comes down to defense and we have thought that way all year long.  The guys went out and executed really good.  Honestly we were playing a tired team in my opinion.  I know coach Bechtel talked to his kids before the game and asked them if they were tired.  Of course, 16, 17, 18 year old kids are going to say heck no we are ready to go, but anytime you play for games in a week there has to be some mental and physical exhaustion there," said Hamilton.

          Lexington and Ontario have enjoyed a rivalry since the 1960's and Hamilton says he expects another close game on Friday night.  "It's a little of a backyard rival you could say.  With coach Balogh, you know, we know the players from playing them in the regular season.  We are excited for the opportunity to play them again.  The first game was very exciting and we don't expect anything less in this game," he said.

          The Warriors have experienced players like Cameron Mack and Tyler Boatwright, both three years starters.  However, Hamilton says was impresses him the most is the Warriors bench and players like Paul Homan and Bradley Garverick.  "They have some starters that are very talented, very good athletes, good basketball players.  Even with that once he starts going to his bench with his rotation they go a solid eight, maybe nine deep with guys that come off his bench and put points on the board and defend.  They can handle the ball.  It is a lot to think about and prepare in two days," said Hamilton.

          Ontario (22-1), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball poll in the large school division, and Northern Ohio League co-champ, beat Lexington (56-49) in overtime back on December 28 and Hamilton hopes they can be the ones to make the plays late this time.  "We go into every game hoping, and planning, and thinking we can get the win.  The first time we played them we definitely had some opportunities and so did they to not let it go to where it did.  We hope to put together a good game plan and have our kids prepared and have that same opportunity late in the fourth quarter to win the game," said Hamilton.

          Lexington has shown the ability to win close games this year and Hamilton says their goal is to take this one down to the end too.  "They have had more experience getting out and getting those good leads.  I don't know what their point spread average is, but it has got to be up there.  I know they have had a lot of 20 point wins.  We hope not to be one of this teams.  In the fourth quarter if we give ourselves a chance we will knock down some shots.  They are a very tough match-up and they are very quick," he said.

 

Published 2/27/14

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Lexington Plays Clear Fork Again

 

          It's the third tome around for Lexington and Clear Fork this year.  This time in the division two sectional semi-finals at Bucyrus High School on Tuesday night.

          Lexington (14-8) finished third in the Ohio Cardinal Conference this year, which is a lot higher than some predicted.  Coach Scott Hamilton thinks the Minutemen are playing pretty well right now as they have won their last six.  "You always want to be playing you best basketball towards the end of the year.  We have encouraged our guys to do some things.  Hopefully end the season with six wins against tough competition in the "OCC" makes us ready.  Going into the first game of the tournament though we face that "OCC" competition again in Clear Fork fort the third game, which nobody really ever wants to do.  Clear Fork is a good competitor for us.  We've had two tough games this season," said Hamilton.

          A real key for the Minutemen has been the development of good balance on offense.  Hamilton says that make them harder to guard.  "Going into the season we really didn't know if we need a bucket and were down two with three seconds to go, who were we going to call the play for the tie or the three to win it.  We really didn't know who that person was going to be.  And now we may not know who that person is going to be, but now we are comfortable making that call for three or four different guys.  It could be a different guy each night," he told Swankonsports.com, "It is definitely a different situation for us because last year we had that guy.  Everybody in the whole gym knew who our guy was late in game situations.  Maybe jelled is a good word to describe our guys here late in the season."

          Yes, they have played good lately, but Hamilton says they still need a little more consistency, especially on defense.  "Defense is something we have stressed all season long as most coaches probably do.  There have been times when we have played very, very well on the defensive end and there have been times when we haven't played to my satisfaction.  Hopefully now that we are in tournament the guys realize that you could be one and done.  Hopefully they stay hungry and we can put a solid four quarters of basketball together every night.  The scary thing is when we look at our guys we know what we are capable of doing and if we get four, five, six guys all in rhythm at the same time," he said.

          Lexington beat Clear Fork (59-54) in the valley and (76-59) at their place earlier this month.  However, Hamilton knows what the Colts are capable of.  "You can't take anything away form coach Bechtel and what he has done.  You look at Ridge Winand and the kid can light up the stat sheet from anywhere on the floor.  Kadin Chrastina who loves to create and push the ball.  They have some nice athletes inside.  Like us they bring some guys off the bench that are just solid performers.  They have some guys on the bench that could be starting elsewhere," said Hamilton.

          Clear Fork (10-11) ended the season with seven games in 11 days and that is tough.  Hamilton says they have proven through the year they can be very good.  "When they get it going they took Mansfield Senior right down to the wire.  They can put some points up.  Clear Fork had Ontario beat in regulation and Cameron Mack had to hit a shot at the buzzer top send it into overtime," he said.

 

Published 2/25/14
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Lexington Finishes Regular Season With Two "OCC" Games

 

          Lexington has become one of the better basketball teams in the Ohio Cardinal Conference as they have a group of solid guards and some real good post players.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says it has been a year long process, but he likes were they are right now.  "We have been able to string a couple of nice games together.  I would like to think we are coming together as a team and recognizing some of our strengths and potential.  At this time in the season that is what every coach wants," he said.

          The Minutemen (12-8,6-6) beat Ashland (57-52) last Friday and Hamilton says they are starting to play with some more consistency.  "I think consistency is the key word.  We have become comfortable with each other and it allows us to just trust and rely on each other in our movement and everything.  A lot of times when you are coaching you talk about making the extra pass.  I think some of our guys have become comfortable with each other that if I'm not open, my teammate is.  It just comes with playing with each other and I think we have come to the point where we have confidence in every kid on the floor to be able to take the shot when we need to take it.  Sometimes they fall and sometimes they don't, but just having that confidence in each other is really key," said Hamilton.

          Defense has become a strength for the team and Hamilton says they are able to customize their defense for each opponent.  "That has always been something that we have stressed in trying to get the guys to buy into playing defense together as a team, working on the different rotations and the schemes that we want.  We do a lot in practice each week in preparing for our opponent specifically for what they do," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Sometimes it is an easy adjustment during a game and sometimes it is not.  We play some pretty good talent and a pretty good schedule, so those adjustments need to be made sometimes on very short notice.  I think we are at a point now where we have seen all of the differences.  Hopefully that is something we just continue to build on on the defensive end."

          Madison (5-15,2-10) visits Lexington on Thursday night.  The Rams beat Lexington (46-40) earlier this year in the first game played in Madison's new gym.  Hamilton believes theyhave also matured.  "I am a true believer in there is a difference between young and experience.  When you looks at Madison's team, let's say, Ajian, he is a freshman in class, but now that we are in game 20, 21, 22 there are no more freshmen on the floor.  You have the experience.  He is definitely one I would talk about in that regard because he is definitely playing much better than a freshman would.  So, I think they have valuable experience on that team.  Just like we have some younger students in class.  Right now we don't look at our guys as being freshen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, we look at them as being varsity players," said Hamilton.

          Orrville (12-9,6-7) will be at Lexington on Friday night.  The Minutemen beat Orrville (68-65) in overtime last month.  Trevor Summers is an outstanding player, but Hamilton says they have to be mindful of the other Red Riders too.  "They have some nice talent throughout.  Guys that can play both offense and defense and can knock down shots, but Summers is the key.  You really have to focus on him.  Just like most teams that are in the "OCC" this year you could probably point the finger at one player on each squad that really could be their go to guy, but unfortunately when you are dealing with a lot of teams in the "OCC" this year if you take for granted some of the other players they are very capable of knocking down shots and winning games.  So, Summers is going to get a lot of attention from us on Friday night, we also have to be aware of their other shooters and what they bring to the table as well.  We are going to have to defend all five guys on the floor,' said Hamilton.

 

Published 2/20/14

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Lady Lex Gets Offense Going

 

          Lexington had only six games during the regular season in which they scored more that 40 points, but Tuesday night they easily did that and more as they beat Ontario in a division two sectional semi-final.

          Lady Lex (4-19) beat the Lady Warriors (66-56) for the right to advance to play the top seed Mansfield Madison (9-11) in the sectional title game on Saturday night at Mansfield Senior.

          Lexington coach Michael Kathrein says they were able to able handle the ball without turning it over and that gave them a lot of easy shots.  "We got a lot of points in the paint.  I think we made two three pointers and the rest were within 10 feet and we converted a pretty high percentage from that distance.  We were able to get dribble penetration.  Ontario pressed us a lot and we were able to get some transition buckets," he said.

          Lexington made 24 of 58 field goals on the night and were led by Michaela Biddle's 18 points. 

          Twice in December Lexington failed to score 20 points in game, but they have gotten much better.  Kathrein says they have learned the game at the varsity level.  "We have gotten better by leaps and bounds from the beginning of the season until now.  We had three retuning letter winners and the rest were mostly freshmen," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We have one junior that was a JV player a year ago, so we didn't have much experience to begin the year.  With each game we have gotten a little bit better.  Those freshmen were thrown in the fire and have all gown tremendously."

          Madison beat Lexington in both of their Ohio Cardinal Conference meetings this year (70-54) at Lexington and (64-38) at Madison.  Kathrein says they have the potential to put up a lot of points.  "They are quick and they score a lot of points.  They put a lot of pressure on offenses.  They get you to make silly mistakes and we have to avoid that kind of trap and take care of the basketball.  They like to speed you up a lot and they are quick and athletic and they convert your mistakes into points," he said.

          Madison plays a very physical game, sometimes it boarders on a street fight, and Kathrein says they need to be able to handle that pressure.  "They are a very physical team and I like that kind of basketball.  I am trying to get our girls to be a little more physical because officials don't call it and they allow that kind of play a lot and you have to make your kids play that way.  That is kind of the state of the game at this time.  We are going to make mistakes and we have to make sure we put those mistakes behind us, keep playing, and try to get stronger from each play to the next," Kathrein.

 

Published 2/20/14

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Lexington Meets Galion

 

          Lexington continues to build toward the post season tournament with games this week at Galion in non-conference play and at Ashland in Ohio Cardinal Conference play.

          The Minutemen are coming off one of their better performances of the season, especially on offense, when they shot more than 60 percent from the field in beating Clear Fork (76-59) last Friday night.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says they played well, but that is in the past now and they have to move forward.  "I was really happy with the guys and the way we played and attacked them and everything.  It wasn't and easy task and now we are looking at getting ready for Galion (Tuesday) night and what they offer.  They are not a team in our conference, so this is the only time we get to see them.  With it being mid week because it was rescheduled it is something a little out of the ordinary for us," said Hamilton.

          Big Lex is at Galion (10-8) for a non-conference match-up on Tuesday night with the Tigers.  "I think they would be a little bit comparable to us in that at the beginning of the season they were trying to find the right combination with guys they have on the floor.  They have gone through some adversity over there and some injuries, so now they are starting to jell a little bit, which is what you want at this time of the season," said Hamilton.

          With the talent they have on offense, Hamilton says they have to be ready for whatever Galion brings to the table.  "You really have to be able to do both today with the 22 games and all of the different styles you see you have to be versatile.  When it comes right down to it you are going to go to your comfort zone and I think that is what they are doing," he said.

        In retuning to conference play on Friday night Lexington (10-8,5-6) will be at Ashland (7-9,3-6) in Ohio Cardinal Conference play.  Hamilton says he is not surprised that the Arrows have become one of the better teams in the conference.  "We always kind of knew Ashland would be pretty good.  In my opinion we went into the season this year thinking they would be right there, maybe behind, but right there with Mansfield Senior as far as the conference goes," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "They just didn't get it going early in the season, but here lately their shots are falling and their defense is playing pretty well and they are definitely a threat for us, especially at their place."

          Lexington beat Ashland (44-30) about a month ago at a time when Ashland was not playing at its best.

 

Published 2/11/14

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Lexington Finding Answers

 

          Lexington has been on a mission all season to find the right combination of players and the right approach to the game and when they have the right plan they can be very difficult to deal with.

          The Minutemen have a nice combination of height and guard play and they are the only team this year to beat Mansfield Senior.  However, the Tygers, the Ohio Cardinal Conference leaders, returned the favor last Friday by downing the Minutemen (51-33) at Pete Henry Gym.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says they knew the Tygers would come out charged up after the result of the first meeting and they made it difficult for the Minutemen to run an offense.  "We knew going in and nothing much changed once we got there.  They really got after us in the half court and made it difficult for us to do anything or execute anything that we really wanted to do.  I don't know if we were as aggressive as we should have been against their defense.  Taking nothing away from the Mansfield Senior kids.  It is a tough place to play when you go over there to Pete Henry.  We knew that going in and we thought we were prepared, but obviously the game results showed us different," he said.

          They were able to get back on the winning trail with a (73-35) trouncing of Fredericktown in non-conference play on Saturday night.  Hamilton says they were able to play some tough, aggressive defense against the Freddies.  "After Friday night's game when we came in Saturday morning to prepare for the Freddies we knew they were a quality team down there and coach Bellman has them playing well.  Some of their losses have been really close losses at the buzzer and last second shots and things like that.  We knew that their three man perimeter squad were really tough and we would have to sit down and defend," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We were coming off a game Friday night that was very fast and very up tempo, very aggressive and our guys were ready for that.  We tried to keep playing that way.  Fortunately for us we were able to get into them a little bit and they picked up some fouls here and there and it took some of their guys off the floor that they really rely on.  Some things went our way and it ended being a good night for us."

          On Friday night, the Minutemen (9-8,4-6) play host to improving Clear Fork (6-7,3-5), a team they beat in the first round (59-54) in the valley.  Hamilton says although Ridge Winand and Kadin Chrastina do most of the scoring, the other Colts do some good things too.  "Peaks and valleys when you are in the "OCC" seem to be a common thing with all of the teams.  Anytime you play an "OCC" team you are never sure how its going to turn out.  You have to be prepared for anything and this Friday night is no different for us with coach Bechtel brining in Ridge Winand and Kadin Chrastina and Ridenour and Robinette and Luers and van Dyke.  Those guys can all do some good things for them.  The scoring of Winand and Chrastina is always going to be there for them, so you have to focus on those two guys, but you can't leave Ridenour, Robinette, Luers open, those guys can make open shots.  It is really going to have to be another strong team effort for us if we want to expect to battle in that game," said Hamilton.

 

Published 2/5/14

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Can Lightning Strike Twice?

 

          Lexington is the only team to beat Mansfield Senior this season and they get another chance this Friday in Ohio Cardinal Conference play this time at Pete Henry Gym.

          Last week, the Minutemen (8-7,4-5) led West Holmes (21-15) at the half, but allowed the Knights to score 51 points in the second half and lost (66-53) in a game played outside of Millersburg.  Coach Scott Hamilton says for whatever reason they quit guarding people.  "For us in the second half the best way to put it we did not play defense very well at all.  When you kind of take some things for granted and expect the other guy to kind of do something for you.  It just didn't go our way over there.  We really felt we played a good defensive first half and the second half we didn't do that at all," he said.

          On December 27, Lexington played a tight zone defense, kept the ball out of the post, and the Tygers didn't make outside shots and the Minutemen upset the "OCC" leaders (60-49) on their floor.  Hamilton knows a carbon copy performance won't be good enough.  "Any time you are playing a conference opponent for a second time you know whatever worked or what didn't work for you in the first game is probably going to have to be tweaked and adjusted the second time around because any coach is going to make those adjustments and changes to his team.  We know going in this is a very tough place to play," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "I can't tell you what their conference record is over the years at Pete Henry, but I know Lexington has not been successful over there.  It is a very tough place to play for us and we are going in as the definite underdog.  We are just going to have try and be as prepared as we can for what they are going to put on us and come Friday night we will be in the gym ready to play."

          A big key in that win a month ago over the Tygers (11-1,9-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball poll in the large school division, was the Minutemen didn't turn it over much against the Tygers intense pressure, not easy to do.  Hamilton understands the Tygers will be out for revenge this time.  "I think that is a pretty big thing in any game.  You can't go into any game and have a lot of turnovers and expect it to turn out well for you.  With us being the only loss on their record this year that gives them a little extra motivation to come out and get ready to play us.  It is one of those games that in history they have always been up for us coming into their house.  It's another tall task and in a very competitive "OCC," he said.

 

Published 1/29/14

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Paybacks for Lexington

 

          Both of the conference opponents Lexington faces this weekend beat them in the first round of the Ohio Cardinal Conference double round robin and they would like to get some revenge.

          It is the second straight double "OCC" weekend for the Minutemen as last week they won at Orrville (68-65) in double overtime on Friday and then lost a tough one at home to Wooster (51-44) after reducing their deficit to just a point with less than a minute to play.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says they gutted it out at Orrville.  "Whenever you split a weekend you come back thinking about what went wrong for you and what went right.  Friday night going into Orrville, always a tough place to play, we battled them for to additional periods with the double overtime and the guys toughed one out against a tough team and we were able to get the win," he said.

          Against Wooster, Hamilton says they just kind of ran out of gas at the wrong time against the Generals.  "Saturday at home I think we were a little exhausted.  We weren't as prepared as we should have been, what we would liked to have been, but that is the way it goes with these double weekends you don't get a lot of time to work on that second opponent, especially when both of them are conference," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "That was my fault not having the guys ready to go.  We got it close as the clock wound down, but right at the end we just ran out of juice.  We couldn't execute and couldn't get the things done that we needed to to get the win."

          Lexington (8-6,4-4) will be at West Holmes (10-4,6-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, on Friday night.  The Knights won back in December (53-50) in overtime.  Hamilton knows it will be a difficult task.  "You always want to defend your own house first, but the fact that they got a win at our place makes its even more difficult knowing we have to go to theirs.  They are a team we feel we can play with.  They have a very good player in Brady Arnold, but the rest of his teammates are doing a nice job of doing their roles and he is doing an outstanding job of putting them in position to battle and compete and everything.  So, it is no small task for us to travel over to West Holmes on Friday night and we are hoping we are up for the challenge," said Hamilton.

          To wrap up the weekend, the Minutemen host the Madison Rams (4-9,1-7) on Saturday night.  Madison's only conference win came against Lex (46-41) and Hamilton says they remember.  "That is kind of the motto for the double weekend. We felt that we had the overtime loss to West Holmes was a game we could have won.  We went into Madison with their new gym and all of that excitement and we felt we had a pretty good game plan going over there and that one didn't work out for us either.  These are both games that we feel we should have a chance to win as long as we are prepared and get in there with the right mind set.  These are two games we need to make up," he said.

 

Published 1/22/14

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Lexington Must Attack

 

          Lexington had won five out of six games going to last Saturday night when they were upset by the Madison Rams in Ohio Cardinal Conference play and now they need to get back on track.

          They play at Orrville (7-4,4-2) on Friday night and host Wooster (4-9,3-4) on Saturday.  The Generals handed Lexington (7-5,3-3) one of their most lopsided defeats of the season (60-45) in early December. 

          Against Madison, Lexington coach Scott Hamilton says they just got into some bad habits in the second half.  “We went in there and we knew there would be a lot of energy and a lot of excitement with the new facility and everything.  We thought we did some things well in the first half and attacked some things that they were trying to do.  Coach (Tim) Mergel went with a smaller lineup and we thought that was kind of to our benefit.  In the second half they made some adjustments and we didn’t handle them as well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “When we did break pressure situations we just didn’t take advantage of it.  A lot of times in the fourth quarter we had a lack of execution.  Give them the credit they are the ones that caused all of it and put us in those situations.  We didn’t handle them to the best of our ability.”

          One of the keys looking toward the rest of the season Hamilton says they must remember to attack when they see pressure, something they didn’t do very well against Madison.  “Just like the Madison game on Saturday they were putting some pressure on us in the first half.  We handled the pressure for the most part, but when we got it into the half court we quit attacking and we didn’t make them pay for spreading themselves out.  That was something we discussed at halftime and something we discussed after the game and even (Monday) in practice a little bit.  When teams want to try and pressure us and spread the floor.  We have to attack and we have to make them pay when we get those opportunities,” said Hamilton.

          Orrville, behind the outstanding play of senior Trevor Summers, has become a good team.  Hamilton knows they will have their hands full.  “Maybe just because they are father away or one of the farthest opponents they aren’t on the radar as much as they definitely should be.  They have played a tough schedule so far.  I believe they are currently third in the conference.  Going to their place to play and they have a new gym as well.  It is always a difficult place to play with a lot of history, tradition, a lot of pride on the line when they play at home.  It’s another very tough opponent for us,” he said.

 

Published 1/15/14

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Lexington Continues to Improve

 

          With two more wins, Lexington continues to build momentum as they near the half point of the high school boys’ basketball season.

          Last week, the Minutemen downed Clear Fork (59-54) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference play and Shelby (64-47) in a non-conference game on Saturday.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says the wins were a big boost in confidence.  “When you are a growing team and you are looking to get better every week if you can put together back to back wins that’s a good thing.  It gives your kids a little more confidence and encourages them to work a little harder in practice, so we were really excited about getting two wins in a weekend,” he said.

          Hamilton says they are continuing to find things out about the team and build on the good things.  “That is one of the things that I have been talking about all season long and trying to figure out who we are and what we can do, our capabilities, our limitations, our weaknesses.  We have a nice solid group of guys one through ten.  We are just trying to figure what we can do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I told the guys the other day that the remainder of the season our starting lineup could change just based on who is lining up against us.  What matters the most is the end result and what is on the scoreboard not necessarily who is in the score book and who starts the game and all of that.”

          One of the reasons Lexington has continued to improve, according to Hamilton, is the players understand their roles.  “Roles is a word we use quite often in our practices and in our season.  Everybody has to be able to fill their role.  As we have explained to our guys that could be the guy that scores for us, it could be the guy that defends for us, it could be the guy that rebounds for us.  They are all very important roles.  Everybody wants to be the guy that puts points in the board, but if you don’t have the guys that defend, the guys that rebound, they guys that hustle and get after the ball, you are not going to be very successful,” said Hamilton.

          Ashland (2-6,1-3) will be at Lexington (6-4,2-2) for a league game on Friday night.  Hamilton says the Arrows have talent and they are going to prove that.  He just hopes it isn’t Friday night.  “Coach Fralich returns four solid starters.  They have gone through some shooting struggles at the beginning of the season and they have played a really good schedule too.  Their big man went down for a few games and wasn’t available for them.  They are going to get this thing put back on course and we are hoping to be ready for them.  We know that it’s going to be a battle.  Any game in our conference as we have seen already is going to be a contest for us, so we are going to try and be as prepared as we can be,” said Hamilton.

 

Published 1/07/14

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Lexington Finding Out Who They Are

 

          It took a little time, but Lexington has again established itself as one of the top boys’ basketball teams in the area after a win over previously unbeaten Mansfield Senior last week followed by an outstanding effort in an overtime loss to Ontario.

          Coach Scott Hamilton he was proud of his kids even in their loss to unbeaten Ontario on Saturday.  “They expended a lot of energy on Friday night to get that game and then to be able to come back and battle with a very strong team on Saturday night, a well coached team in Ontario I was really proud of them.  I thought we made some mistakes down the stretch that maybe could have won us the game, but I’m very proud of the guys and the way they played and I let them know that, so hopefully we keeping working hard and getting better,” he said.

          Lexington had lost of four their first six games before last weekend.  Hamilton says hard word is paying off and they have begun to identify roles on the team.  “I think we are learning a little bit each time we are stepping on the floor about our guys and who can do what.  With each game as coaches we learn a little bit more about our players as far as what we can do with x’s and o’s and concepts and strategy and such.  It is a growing process maybe a little bit more this year than the last because we have guys that are sophomores and seniors and a little bit more distance in between the classes.  We have guys that are coming from multiple sports and early on they were kind of meshing, so everyday I think we are becoming a little bit better and a better team,” said Hamilton.

          Lexington (4-4,1-2) is at Clear Fork (2-4,1-2) for an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.  Ridge Winand has scored more than 30 points three times this year.  Hamilton says he is a tremendous player, but he is not the only player they have.  “He has been a varsity caliber guys for years and this year he is looking to do everything he can to put his team on his back and carry them as far as he can.  You have a nice group of guys in Kadin Chrastina and Robinette and Luers and Ridenour.  Those guys are doing an outstanding job and they have a nice bench,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They can get up and they can fill up a stat sheet in a hurry.  That is something we are going to try and prepare for and hopefully come up with a defensive plan to try and contain them.  Ridge is not a guy you stop you just try and make sure he doesn’t have a career night against you.  And all of those other guys you can’t let them go off.  They have three or four guys that can score 20 points in a night.”

          Hamilton says the Colts are a team that likes to run the floor and they have to limit their opportunities.  “When you look at Clear Fork they want to get out and run.  You can’t compare them to Mansfield, but they have some athletes that can get up and down the floor and that is for sure.  We feel that we can run with some teams, but there are some teams that we don’t want to encourage that and that is one of the things with Clear Fork.  They can shoot the three ball.  If they get those lose balls in the open floor they can fly up and down the floor.  We are going to have to be value oriented with every possession that we have and make sure we aren’t taking it lightly and have turnovers,” said Hamilton,

 

Published 12/31/13

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Lexington Faces Two Unbeatens

 

          You would be hard pressed to find a team in Ohio with a tougher schedule this weekend than the one that faces the Lexington Minutemen as they take on two teams with unbeaten records in Mansfield Senior and Ontario.

          The opponents rank #1 and #3 respectively in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division.

          Lexington coach Scott Hamilton says there is no question they will find out where they need to get better and they are looking forward to the tests.  “Oh yeah, I mean we have been telling our kids all week that this week is a great opportunity for us.  When the state basketball rankings come out both of these squads are probably going to be on those lists and we are excited about seeing where we can fit in and how well we can do and also possibly expose a little bit of what we need to work on to make ourselves better as the season moves forward,” he said.

          Lexington (3-3,0-2) has given Mansfield Senior as much of a challenge as anyone in the Ohio Cardinal Conference the last three or four years.  This is another edition of an outstanding Tyger team, they share the “OCC” lead with West Holmes, but Hamilton thinks they are even a notch above some of their recent teams.  “You could say it is typical, but in a way it is not.  They have 10 seniors on this squad that have been playing together probably since they were in seventh grade, at least a majority of them have.  They have been looking forward to this season for a long time.  I know that there are some high expectations not only for the regular season, but the post season,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It is just a solid group of inside, outside, ball handling, and post play.  They just have a little bit of everything in every area.  It would be easier to list what they can’t do and what their weaknesses are, which would be a very, very short list, than trying to list everything they are good at.”

          A good thing for the Minutemen is they will be home for both games this weekend.

          Ontario is the Northern Ohio League leader (7-0,2-0) and they are coming off a victory over Clear Fork of the “OCC” (84-79) in overtime last Saturday.  Hamilton says the Warriors have a lot of experience to add to their athleticism.  “Coach Balogh over there at Ontario has just had a hall of fame career in everything that he has done with those kids over there.  Each year he had had a solid senior class with some underclassmen.  They are off to just a great start over there.  They have a lot of varsity experience returning for them. Cameron Mack and (Tyler) Boatwright have been playing since they were sophomores.  That is just another tough, tough opponent for us this weekend,” he said.

 

Published 12/27/13

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Lexington Still Tweaking Things

 

          Lexington is still looking for some consistent scoring as they try to put things together for another run at an Ohio Cardinal Conference boys’ basketball title.

          That goal took a bit of hit last week as West Holmes guard Brady Arnold scored 27 points in leading the Knights to a (53-50) overtime win.  Lexington led (11-6) after the first quarter, trailed by one at the half, and led by three after three quarters.  Coach Scott Hamilton says the Knights just made a couple more plays than they did.  “We were in control of the game for many minutes of it and we just kind of let them get back into the game late in the fourth quarter.  In overtime it was a typical Brady Arnold ending.  He just elevated himself and took his team on his back and they left our place with a victory.  It was definitely one we would have liked to have had.  With coaches you look back there are some things that could have, should have and if they would have been done differently the result would have been a little bit different.  That is the way the ball bounces sometimes for you,” said Hamilton.

          Arnold broke the West Holmes career scoring record in the win.

          Lexington (2-3) shown some depth on its roster this year, but Hamilton says they need more consistency from players in different roles.  “We are developing, but it’s a long process and something we took on last year.  We are looking to develop it as the season goes on.  In each practice and each game we are getting ourselves in situations that we need to improve on,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Again with the guys we have returning that were varsity players last year we are actually asking them to be in new roles, so it is something new for them and we have mixed in some new guys that are excited to be part of it as well.  We are asking them to step up to the plate a little bit and take on some responsibilities.  It is kind of like all of us are in the same boat together.  We are all trying to take on some new roles and establish that identity and right now it’s just a work in progress.”

          Big Lex doesn’t play an Ohio Cardinal Conference game this week, but the do play at Hillsdale (1-1) of the Wayne County Athletic League on Saturday.  Hamilton says they must respect the smaller school.  “Coach Shenberger has a nice program over there.  His history as a head coach has been productive.  When we go into their place on Saturday that is definitely something we keep in mind when we are scouting them and looking at what they have.  Last year they went through some changes with some kids that decided not to go out because of some pay to play and things like that.  Their main guy is Mr. (Ryan) Bee inside.  He is about 6’7”, but he has a nice squad bit around him.  We are looking forward to getting back in the gym after our game was cancelled on Saturday and getting into another contest,” said Hamilton.

 

Published 12/18/13

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Lexington Has to Contain Arnold

 

          Lexington and West Holmes are two of the teams bubbling under Mansfield Senior in the Ohio Cardinal Conference and they meet on Friday night at Lexington in a big conference game.

          Last week, Lexington lost their conference opener at Wooster (60-45) to the Generals.  Coach Scott Hamilton thought his team was in pretty good position going into the second half, but Wooster was just too good on that night.  “Going into Wooster we told our guys being our first conference game.  We wanted to get off on the right foot.  We hung with them for a while.  They have some nice size, nice athletes, and nice shooters and stuff over there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Going  into the third quarter we are down three with what we thought were the right combinations and everything and they just kind of jumped out on us a couple of times and we missed a couple of defensive transitions.  It just kind of got a way from us and we walked out of there with a 15 point loss, but we were proud of our guys.”

          However, the Minutemen (2-2,0-1) rallied on Saturday night to beat Mt. Vernon (47-46).  Hamilton says it was another example of his kid’s never say die attitude.  “They didn’t hang their heads and we got right back in it on Saturday at home with Mt. Vernon, another division one opponent and we were able to hold on there and get out of there with a one point win,” he said.

          Lexington and West Holmes have developed a pretty good rivalry in basketball over the last couple of years and Hamilton says the Knights (3-0,1-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball poll in the large school division, are pretty good again this year.  “It’s been really nice.  Over the years that I have been involved with Lexington basketball West Holmes has always been a nice challenge.  Over the last three years leading up to this year with Brady Arnold being over there he just adds a whole other level of excitement to them.  It has been a nice little competition.  They are far enough away where you don’t ready about them daily, but being in the conference you always have to keep a mind on them and know what’s going on and what they are capable of doing.  This year they are off to a 3-0 start and coach Troyer has those guys working like a fine tuned machine.  Hopefully we will be ready for them come Friday,” said Hamilton.

          West Holmes has one of the best players in the league, maybe the best guard in the “OCC,” in Brady Arnold.  Hamilton says he hopes they can contain Arnold.  “They graduated a lot off their team from last year.  He is a guy that can score 30 in a night, but he can get his team another 30, so in a 60 point game he is probably involved in about 55 of those points one way or another.  He is just that kind of player and he can be very unselfish.  In my book you try your hardest to try and contain him the best you can because you just not going to stop him.  He has already committed to the top division two program in the country in West Liberty.  I have a lot of respect for him and what he does and it has been happening since he was a freshman,” said Hamilton.

 

Published 12/13/13

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Lexington Mixing the Old With the New

 

          Lexington is still a little bit of a work in progress, but they have been able to remain competitive while going through that process.

          Last week, they lost at home to Brunswick (55-49) on Friday and then beat Willard on the road (63-53) on Saturday.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says they just got a behind early to Brunswick and could never quite catch up.  “1-1 is better than 0-2, but 2-0 would be nice.  With Brunswick being a new opponent for us and not knowing anything about them would be a difficult task, especially a very large school.  We got off to a little bit of a slow start and dug ourselves a little bit of a hole.  We battled back and got it to within six when we went into the locker room.  They just came out on fire in the third quarter and we got down by as many as 18, but I give my kids all of the credit they stayed in the game and stayed focused and started knocking down some shots and confidence was building and excitement was there.  We got it to within two, which we were really happy about, we just couldn’t get it any closer than that.  Their best player, who is a division one commit just kind of took over,” said Hamilton.

          Now on Saturday night it was a similar situation early against Willard, but the second half was a different story.  “We knew going into Willard that Haas Count is a difficult place to play.  Coach Long, a first year guy, is continuing where they were at last year with coach Hirschy.  They have those kids just playing so hard and we knew it was going to be a battle.  We got into a similar situation over there.  They jumped out a little early, but we recovered quicker Saturday than we did on Friday.  We just battled for a full 32 minutes and were able to get away from them with a win.  We were kind of fortunate to go into their place and come away with a win.  At 1-1 we feel fairly confident that we can get things turned around,” said Hamilton.

          Hamilton says there really isn’t one part of the game where they are really good or really bad, they just have to raise their whole game a little bit.  “Defensively we may have learned some things this past weekend.  We are kind of blending some guys together.  We have some sophomores that are playing.  We have a freshman that is seeing a little bit of time.  Then we have five seniors and a junior.  The seniors are really the only ones that have solid varsity experience.  We are just trying to figure out where guys are going to fit in.  When the game is on the line and the lights are on you can have all of the solid scrimmages you want, but when the game is on the line on Friday or Saturday night different kids react differently,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “So, we have went through a little bit of a learning process.  The nice thing is we have kids that have run our stuff before and it is more of a refresher for a lot of them, so things are moving quickly for us.  The defensive side we have to be stronger in the boards.  If we are open we have to knock shots down.  It’s a total package that we have to work on nothing really hurt us tremendously over the weekend.”

          Lexington (1-1) will be at Wooster (1-0) on Friday night for an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.  The Generals beat Cloverleaf (58-41) on Saturday and they play at home against Medina Highland on Tuesday night.  Hamilton says they had trouble with the Generals and they should be tough to beat this year too.  “They had our number both times last year.  We saw them over the summer a couple of times.  Coach Martin has his guys playing pretty well.  They get up and down the floor.  They have some size inside in Adam O’Brien and Cam Daugherty, both are good athletes at 6’5”, 6’6”, 6’7”, in that range.  Then they have some pretty quick guards that can get after you defensively in Blair and Beckett.  They had a kid come off the bench and really spark them to their win against Cloverleaf.  I don’t think it is one particular guy that you have to worry about.  They are the type of team that on any given night they could have three or four guys step up.  We have to be kind of prepared for any thing they can throw at us.  Of course it is at their place and that adds a little bit to it.  The last time we were up there we left there with a 30 point loss, so we have to remind our guys of that as well,’ said Hamilton.

 

Published 12/03/13

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Lexington Looking to Find Some Things

 

          There is some talent returning, but Lexington is still looking a little bit as to what kind of team they can be this season.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says they have gone as about as far as they can with practices and scrimmages and they need to get a game.  They will get two this weekend with Brunswick and Willard.  “I think we are at a point to where we need to find ourselves in competition when the lights come on to see what exactly we can do.  Most teams improve more between their first and second games than they do throughout the course of the preseason.  I think that is kind of where we are at right now.  We just need to get into some competition.  We have had some good scrimmages, but game situations are much different.  We are just at the point that we have so many things that we need to address and we need to attack that I think the guys are getting a little tired of hearing us talk about it that we need to get into a game situation and show them,” said Hamilton.

          There are four starters back for Lexington and some other kids too, but they will have to fill other roles.  Hamilton says they are still trying to figure out how the pieces fall together.  “That is one of things that we really need to look at.  We have a lot of experience returning from last year’s team, but we have a lot of guys that just game us a lot of different roles and what they did for us last year, so we are just trying to figure out what guys we can rely on in key situations.  We have some young talent coming in that has been playing pretty well for us also.  We are trying to find out what chemistry we have and the identity is really a question for us right now,” he said.

          Lexington plays host to division one Brunswick on Friday night.  Hamilton says it was a matter of needing a game.  “I know very little really about them.  We were in a holiday tournament last year when they went to a 22 game schedule and that went well we thought.  Ontario thought with them going into the “NOL” it might be a little much for them to have and we were trying to pick up those two games that we had and Brunswick was also a school that was looking for a game, so we agreed to play each other without knowing anything about them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Typically Mt. Vernon is our season opener and this year they are game four.  It would have been nice to play Brunswick a little farther into the season where we could have done a little a little bit of research on them, but somebody has to be that season opener and you go in blind, so that is where we are with Brunswick.”

 

Published 11/27/13

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Lady Lex has to be Better Decision Makers

 

          Early turnovers put Lexington behind the eight ball on Saturday night against Ontario and they hope they have solved that as they travel to Willard for a non-conference girls’ basketball game on Tuesday.

          After the first quarter it was 19-4 Ontario last Saturday and the Lady Warriors went on to beat Lexington (54-42) in the opener for both teams.  First year coach Michael Kathrein says they had way too many turnovers, 35 to be exact, and they have to get that rectified in a hurry.  “We got off to a very poor start and had a lot of turnovers.  We did play better as the game went on,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We still turned the ball over a little bit, but we were able to convert some of their turnovers into baskets, so that did help.  It was not the start we were looking for, but we are in the process of getting those mistakes fixed.”

Kelly Rhodes paced the Lexington scorers against Ontario with nine points in the contest.

          Lexington does not return much experience from last year and those that were on the team didn’t enjoy much success as Lady Lex won only twice last season.  Kathrein, last year’s JV coach, says they have looked over their film and discussed what they need to do.  “Decision making is what led to most of those turnovers.  We tried to force the ball into bad situations.  We came in early (Monday) morning and looked at film from Saturday’s game and sat down and hopefully we have a better understanding of what we are trying to do offensively and I think that will help them cut those turnovers down and be more patient in the offensive game plan,” said Kathrein.

          Willard (1-0) beat Mansfield Madison (65-58) in their opener on Saturday.  The Lady Flashes were lead by Hanna Adams and Hannah Schloemer, who both had 17 makers in the game.  Kathrein says they will be facing a team that is bigger than they are and like to get out and run the floor too.  “I know they are tall.  They have a very tall lineup.  Our assistant coach went over and watched that game.  The first thing I noticed is they were really tall across the board.  They play similar to Ontario in that they can get out and run.  We had a warm up game for Willard I guess.  We are going to work on our transition defense in getting back and make sure we are going to rebound with contact and not turn the ball over and make the same mistakes we made Saturday night,” said Kathrein. 

 

Published 11/26/13

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Lexington With Four Starters Back

 

          Lexington went 16-8 last season and advanced to the division two district tournament and this winter they return four of their five starters.

          However, the one that did graduate was Mason Willeke, who led the team by averaging more than 20 points per contest.

          Second year coach Scott Hamilton says they have been making some nice progress over the first two weeks of the preseason.  “We are fairly happy we what we have going on so far.  It’s still early.  We return enough guys that they are familiar with us and we are familiar with them to where we are hoping that things can move along fairly fast. Dealing with graduation we do have some holes to fill, so we are trying to figure out the best way we can do that right now.  Overall we are fairly happy with what we have so far,” he said.

          The Minutemen begin their schedule by hosting the division one Brunswick Braves on November 29.

          Lexington has been at or near the top of the Ohio Cardinal Conference standings over the last half decade.  They finished third last year behind Mansfield Senior and West Holmes.  Hamilton says although some roles might change with the team, they have the players that know what has to be done.  “We do have a lot of experience returning.  I think we have five returning lettermen and four returning starters.  With the guys we lost to graduation with just have to find a way.  When you have a 20 point scorer on your squad it’s hard to replace that guy.  We have guys stepping into leadership roles in many different ways in games and practices and bringing along some of the younger guys as well.  We are kind of going through those stages right now and see what we can put out on the floor,” said Hamilton.

          With Willeke gone, Hamilton says they have to replace his scoring, but it doesn’t have to be one guy that does all that scoring.  “That’s what we felt going into last year.  When Mason (Willeke) was a junior he was averaging seven points a game and turned in to be a 20 point guy for us last year.  We have guys returning that averaged anywhere between four and seven points a game and they have the experience,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It’s just what can we do as far as our offense to get those guys open and let them try and knock down some shots.  We also have to be able to stop our opponent.  We play in a very tough conference and I think it is going to be even more competitive this year then it was last.  There are just a lot of things on the table for us, but we are moving forward.”

 

Published 11/15/13

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Lexington Girls Will be Athletic

 

          Lexington is coming off a season when they only won two games, but this year they will starting from scratch with a new coach and many new faces on the roster.

          Micheal Kathrein, the junior varsity coach the last three years, was promoted to the head coaching position in May.  He has a lot of familiarity with program and with Lexington.  “I spent the last three years as JV girls’ basketball coach at Lexington under coach Uhde.  Prior to that I coached JV boys’ basketball and was an assistant boys’ basketball coach at Lexington.  I have coached various sports at Lexington for the past 12 years.  So, I was already in the system and the administration knew what I was about,” said Kathrein.

          Yes, he has worked with a lot of his players before, but he says there are going to be a lot of players that are fresh to the varsity stage.  “I know some of them, the problem is we only have six girls returning from the entire program from a year ago.  We have a lot of new faces and I am quickly learning what they are about as we go through the first week and a half, two weeks of practice,” he said.

          Preseason practice has been going on for about a week and half and Kathrein says he believes this is going to be a Lexington team with a lot of athleticism.  “They are a very athletic group of girls.  Probably the most athletic I have seen at Lexington in my four years now.  I think that is going to be our greatest strength our overall speed and strength and ability to do some things in transition in the open court that other teams wouldn’t be able to do,” he said.

          Last year a big problem for Lady Lex was their inability to score points.  Kathrein says this year they are going to have to become better shooters.  “I would say shooting is a concern.  Our athleticism really helps on the defensive end and can put you in some good positions offensively, but the bottom line is you still have to be able to put the ball in the basket,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We are working on some fundamental skill work shooting and then experience.  As I said there is not a lot of experience coming back, but we have some really talented freshmen.  I think we are all optimistic about this season.”

 

Published 11/06/13

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Lexington Still Working Hard

 

          It was a great start to the season with a big first half lead over Ontario and then things fell apart for Lexington, and outside of a week two win over Shelby, the Minutemen have had little to celebrate this season.

          They hope to change that by ruining Ashland’s post season hopes on Friday night.

          Last week, Mansfield Senior, the Ohio Cardinal Conference leader, exploded in the second half to beat Lex (44-7) in a conference game.  Lexington coach Dan Studer was impressed with what he saw from the unbeaten Tygers.  “They might be the best team in the conference we find out this week.  Coach Bradley is doing an outstanding job getting those kids playing for him.  I was really impressed with the discipline of the kids.  They are a great football team, they have a lot of weapons, but I was impressed with how the kids kind held themselves throughout the game.  That is a testament to coach Bradley and what he is doing over there.  It shows in their performance.  They are going to finish up this regular season really well and I think they are going to do a lot of damage in the playoffs the next couple of weeks,” he said.

          This week, the Minutemen get second place Ashland (6-3.5-1) at their place.  Studer describes the Arrows as a very fundamental team on both sides of the ball.  “They are really good with that spread offense.  Coach Valentine has been running that ever since I have been coaching at Lex, which is seven years.  The thing about Ashland, both offensively and defensively, is they are extremely well coached.  Watching the film the kids are textbook in their fundamentals.  Their receivers run great routes, they are always going to catch the ball, their quarterback is just phenomenal making reads and getting the ball where it needs to go and that is year in and year out.  Defensively, you watch their middle linebackers, they read your alignment, they read your guards, they know where they are going,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “That’s just great coaching and that’s just the great program over there at Ashland.  We really need to focus on trying to mimic that this week.  We have to do everything right.  We know we are the underdogs going in.  It’s a big rivalry game for us, so we will have all of the hoopla and that kind of stuff.  We have to sit down and play good fundamental football.  We are going to coach our buts off this week and do everything we can to send these seniors out on a good note with a victory against Ashland.”

          Studer says a win over Ashland would do wonders for the program in a couple of different ways.  “It’s obviously been a long season for us.  Coming out of week 10 with a victory going into the off season is great for the kids and the moral of the coaches too, we have a lot of planning and stuff to do.  It’s just good for the school.  Like I said we want send our seniors out on a positive note.  We are doing everything we can this week.  We are still pushing our kids.  We are still working hard,” he said.

 

Published 10/29/13

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Lexington Looking For Upset

 

          It isn’t exactly David versus Goliath, but it almost is as the Lexington Minutemen host unbeaten Mansfield Senior on Friday night in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.

          A win by the Tygers would give then no less than a share of the “OCC” title.

          Lexington played pretty well on offense, but not so much on defense last week in a (55-33) loss to West Holmes in a conference game.  Coach Dan Studer says they did some good things, but not enough.  “Our game plan was to try and run the ball a little bit more.  I think we were pretty successful doing that.  West Holmes is a really good team.  They have a really good defense.  We feel like we played a good football game.  Our kids went out and never quit and they tried real hard.  In the end we just couldn’t hang on.  West Holmes did a great job playing the game they needed to play and it came out in their favor,” he said.

          Defensively, Studer says they played with some energy, but they were out of position too much.  “It was kind of the same thing as it has been all year.  We have to be a little bit more consistent.  The special teams hurt us a little bit on Friday night too.  There were two kickoffs that got taken back for touchdowns.  Anytime you have something like that it is going to hurt you a little bit.  We were playing pretty hard and playing physical.  There were times that the kids weren’t in the right spot or they were too late getting to the ball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “When you have some young kids playing on the team like we do those things tend to bite you in the butt.  We are working to get better and try to tune things up and get more consistent and make sure we are executing things a little bit better.  We have gotten a little bit better as the season has gone on.  As long as we keep doing so I think we will be happy.”

          Mansfield Senior (8-0,5-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s pull in the large school division, has all the talent in the world, but Studer is also impressed by the fact that they play well together.  “They are fast and athletic.  Coach Bradley is doing a great job over there with those kids.  He has them believing in his program now.  I think everybody knew that Mansfield always had the athletes and it was just a matter of getting them all on the same page and get them executing and he has finally done that.  It is showing in their performance because they are a really good football team and they are playing as a team.  They kind of have that swagger that Mansfield can have when they are good,” he said.

          So, what are the keys to an upset by Lexington (1-7,0-5) on Friday night?  Studer says frankly there are a lot.  “We really have to focus on offensively sustaining drives.  We did a good job of that last week.  We have to be able to run the ball and throw the ball and possess the ball.  We have to have the longer drives we had last week and against Orrville.  Defensively we can’t make mistakes and special teams not making mistakes.  They have so many explosive players if you make one little mistake it is going to be huge gash.  We can’t get into a position where they get up on us early and we are just trying to stop the bleeding.  They are going to make their good plays and they have the athletes to do it, but when that happens we have to be able to recoup.  We have to be able to get back to what we do.  We have to play nasty like we have shown a little bit during the season.  We are going to have to do that for four quarters.  We aren’t naïve to think that Mansfield won’t be ready to go,” said Studer.  

 

 
 

Lexington has to be Consistently Physical

 

          Lexington is in the mist of a five game losing streak and they are searching for answers and one of them seems to be they need to be more physical on a consistent basis.

          It looked like things were going to be pretty good for them last week when they took a 14-0 lead over Wooster, but the Generals would end the half scoring 33 straight points and going on to win (40-20) in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.

          Coach Dan Studer says they just weren’t able to put 48 minutes of football together.  “We started off hot and did some really good things on offense and played some pretty good defense too then we really kind of shut down for the remainder of that first half.  We came back and played a decent second half of football and scored some more points, but we didn’t do that well defensively.  It is what it is.  They were another very good football team.  Obviously we are having a rough go at things this year.  We are still focusing on getting better each week and doing a better job of playing as a team.  We are still working hard to compete this week against West Holmes,” he said.

          The one thing that coach Studer has consistently mentioned in conversions with Swankonsports.com is they need for them to be more physical and he says that is still the case.  “When we do play physical we notice it.  You can see it in the game and we how we are playing and we are always playing better.  In the games that we came out and played physical we stayed in and competed well.  The times that we are doing it things are good.  We have shown signs of that physicality, so we know we can do it.  We are just struggling to put together four quarters of football,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We need to play a physical football game this week because West Holmes has a physical football team.  They run a physical offense, they run a physical defense and they are going to come out ready to bash some heads in.  Hopefully we can play at a high tempo this week and come out ready to go and we are playing our physical game and hopefully we can do it for four quarters against the Knights.”

          It’s another big challenge for the Minutemen (1-6,0-4) his week as they head for West Holmes (5-2,2-2) for a battle with the Knights.  Holmes gave unbeaten Mansfield Senior a real battle last week before losing (23-17) to the Tygers.  Studer says there aren’t any secrets with the Knights.  “You aren’t going to see anything new.  That is something that coach Maltrich has hung his hat on in his last two jobs at Madison and Norwayne.  He is running the same offense that he has run for God knows how many years.  We know what we are going to see.  Their mentality is this is what we are going to run and you need to stop it.  They are pretty good at doing it.  They have a good squad this year.  They are dangerous and one of things we picked up quick from the film is they are not just your typical, bruising West Holmes team.  They have some speed too.  They demonstrated that against Mansfield Senior last week, one of the fastest teams in the league.  A lot of times they were right there with them if not pulling away from them.  It is a big challenge for us and we are excited with the opportunity,” said Studer.

 

Published 10/16/13

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Lexington Wants to be More Physical

 

          Lexington is trying to find kids that are physical football players and they believe that is going to give them a better chance to be successful.

          They had the early lead last week, but Clear Fork scored four straight touchdowns and went on to beat them (49-21) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.  Despite the differential Lexington coach Dan Studer felt they did a lot of good things.  “We felt despite the score we played some pretty good defense, but Clear Fork they were strong and consistent and when ever we made a mistake they were able to take advantage of that with some big plays.  Almost all of their scores were off of explosive big plays and that is a credit to them and the athletes that they have,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Offensively, we struggled a little bit to get the ball moving.  We need to do a better job of establishing a run game.  The passing game I thin showed a little bit of improvement last week.  There were some times, especially in the second half that we were really moving the football.  This week we plan to do a better job getting that run game going to open up some thing for Trent.”

          Studer believes they need to get their running game going, something that was pretty successful for them last season, if they are going to be able to win games in the tough “OCC” this fall.  “It’s just execution. We have been working hard just to make sure the communication is there with our offensive line.  We have been kind of mixing and matching our running backs, but this week I think we have kind of narrowed it down to one guy in Ryan Cooper.  He is a physical back and that is what we are looking for, especially when we are playing against Madison who is a very physical football team year in and year out.  We just need to execute better and get our guys running downhill,” he said.

          Lexington (1-4,0-2) plays at Mansfield Madison on Friday night.  Speaking of being physical Studer knows they will have to be that and more against a Madison team that relies on running the ball.  “That is kind of their thing.  We did a great job last year.  They had a fantastic running back in Huss and we held him to 24 yards last year, which was I believe his lowest yardage of the season.  Hopefully we can do something similar this year.  We have had a good week of practice.  They have been the most physical practices we have had this year.  They are a tough football team.  They have tough kids.  That is something you have to deal with when you play Madison.  You know you are going to get a group of kids that like to play mean and like to come out and hit you.  That is just the type of people they are over there.  We know we are going to be in for a fight and we look forward to the opportunity,” said Studer.

 

Published 10/3/13

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Lexington Looking for Physical Battle

 

          It’s the renewal of one of the more heated football rivalries in North Central Ohio on Friday night as the Lexington Minutemen play host the Clear Fork Colts.

          The Colts had won the last three in the series until last year when the Minutemen won at the Corral (28-17) in Dan Studer’s first year as their coach.

          Last week, Lexington (1-3,0-1) started Ohio Cardinal Conference play with a loss at Orrville (16-9,) but Studer thought they played some pretty good football.  “We played a good football game against a good football team.  It was a tough one on the road.  We had a lot of adversity thrown at us with a couple of mistakes we made and a couple of things that didn’t go our way an of course the rain delays and all of that kind of stuff.  We were happy with the way our kids played.  I think we showed a new style of play of this season.  I think we showed a little bit of the potential that we can be as a football team.  I think our kids kind of saw that for themselves, which is a positive.  I think that they have reacted well to the loss that we had.  We have had a good week of practice and we are pretty excited about Clear Fork this week,” said Studer.

          After allowing 48 points the previous week in a loss to Delaware Olentangy, Studer thought the defense played inspired football against Orrville and that is a step in the right direction.  “It is something that we have been focusing on.  We were not happy with our performance at Olentangy on both sides of the ball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “One thing that we really focused on going into Orrville was our pursuit to the football and just our style of play, it was nothing schematically or anything like that, just how we compose ourselves on the field and how we need to start attacking offenses.  Our kids bought into that and a hard week of practice really paid off.  Even though we lost we felt that our kids reached a new level.”

Clear Fork (2-2,0-1) got waxed by a pretty good Mansfield Senior team (40-0) last week.  Studer describes them as being a pretty typical Clear Fork team.  “They are a dangerous football team.  They have a really good quarterback back there and they have some athletes they can get the ball to.  Defensively they are tough just like Clear Fork kids always are.  I think (Friday) night you really aren’t going to see anything out of the ordinary from either team.  I think we are going to line up and do what we do.  There are not going to be very many secrets out there.  It is really going to come down to who wants to play a more physical style of football.  That’s why we like playing Clear Fork and that’s why it’s a big rivalry game for us.  There is always a lot of emotion involved in the game,” said Studer.

Lexington and Clear Fork have been squaring off since the middle 60’s and Studer says they look forward to this game more than any other.  “We love the rivalry games.  We love these backyard brawls.  There isn’t a lot of love loss there between the two communities.  When we are talking about football we really don’t like each other.  That’s good, that’s why we play the game.  I get excited about it.  My kids get excited about it.  We know the Clear Fork kids and their community get excited about it.  It is one of the few times in our society where young men can go and bang heads and we can be violent and have fun doing it,” said Studer,

 

Published 9/27/13

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Lexington Has to be More Aggressive

 

          Lexington just flat out didn’t play with enough intensity last week in their loss to Delaware Olentangy and that has to change going forward.

          The Minutemen (1-2) found themselves behind 31-0 and were never in it as the Braves took them apart (48-21) last Friday.

          Coach Dan Studer says they have to get after it more than they did last week if they are going to win.  “We had a rough week.  We really played under par at least for what we expect from our football team.  There were a lot of breakdowns on offense and defense.  We had a lot of missed tackles and stuff we are not very proud of.  This week we are really focusing on getting back to basics.  Really focusing on intensity this week in practice,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Olentangy’s no huddle gave us some problems.  It’s not that we were out of shape or they really stunned us with speed or anything like that I just think we lacked a little bit of intensity last week.  We just want to get out there and have our kids fly around and be more of an attacking football team.  We feel if we can do that a lot better we will have a better chance of competing with Orrville this week.”

          Orrville (3-0) entertains the Minutemen on Friday night in the Ohio Cardinal Conference opener for both.  The Red Riders were 1-9 last year, but Studer says everybody knew they would be much better.  “They have a pretty good running back.  He has a lot of speed.  They have a lot of kids coming back they were really young last year.  We knew they would be building back up.  Coach Davault has a great program.  They have a little bit of a numbers problem like we do.  They are still a little bit young.  They are still growing.  As they have progressed they are getting better and better and that has already shown with their 3-0 start,” said Studer.

          The Lexington coach says Orrville knows what they are good at and this year it is running the ball.  “They have beaten a couple of pretty good football teams.  They haven’t done anything fancy they just do a lot of things that they do well.  I think that is something we are trying to emulate.  We are trying to do well the things that we do.  They are doing a good job of that, which makes them scary,” he said.

          Studer says if they are going to win this week they have to bring a lot more intensity to the table.  “We have to execute.  We have to do what we do.  We have to come out a lot more aggressive on both sides of the ball and on special teams.  I don’t feel like we did that at all last week. We need a better intensity level and I think our kids are buying into it.  We have had two of the better practices that we have had this week.  We are looking forward to starting conference play.  We are ready for a fight and that is what we are going to get on Friday night,” said Studer

 

Published 9/19/13

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Minutemen Need to Finish Things Off

 

          Lexington held a 16 point halftime lead last week at Ontario and let it slip away, losing in overtime to the Warriors.

          Ontario converted a two point conversion in the overtime period to beat the Minutemen (44-43) and stun the Lexington faithful. 

          Big Lex coach Dan Studer says the made a lot of mistakes, especially when the Warriors scored 23 points in the third quarter, and that cost them the game.  “We came out the first half swinging, sputtered early in the second half, in the third quarter did not play well at all, made a lot of mistakes offensively and defensively, had a lot of trouble just doing basic things, executing things on defense, making tackles, had a lot trouble getting key blocks to get our offense moving.  We knew that Ontario had three pretty explosive players and they shined in the second half.  They took control of the football game and it was just too little, too late for us.  We really have to focus on playing four quarters of football if we want to stay competitive,” said Studer.

          Shelby (0-1) was blasted by Madison (54-6) last week as the Whippets committed four turnovers and allowed four fourth quarter scores.  They were forced to replace injured quarterback Lucas Oulsey with his backup Spencer Blevins.  Studer says Blevins has the talent to do some things.  “They have some athletes. The quarterback that is filling in now.  We have seen the film of the scrimmage against Galion and last week against Madison, and he seems to be a tough runner.  He is able to make some plays.  They are trying to find what it is they are good at.  Defensively we have seen some multiple fronts and some creative things they have been doing.  You’re never sure what to expect.  It is hard to practice for.  It can be a little bit nerve racking preparing for something like that on Friday night,” he said.

          The Whippets have lost 20 of their last 21 games and it can be important for an opponent to put a team such as that is doubt with some early scores.  However, Studer making reference to the Ontario game, knows they have to play a complete game.  “That is always a benefit.  Over the last couple of years we have been good at getting that early lead, but last week goes to show you can be up by two or three touchdowns and if you let your guard down people are capable of sneaking back and biting you on the butt there.  Scoring early and often, sure we will take it, but even against Shelby we need to play four quarters of football.  We need to be able to finish the job and that is certainly something we are focusing on this week,” said Studer.

 

Published 9/4/13

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Minutemen Ready for Athletic Ontario

 

          Lexington and Ontario has become quite a rivalry in football and it renews on Friday night at Copeland Stadium in Ontario.

          Both schools think they will figure in their conference races this year, Lexington in the Ohio Cardinal Conference and Ontario in the Northern Ohio League.

          Big Lex coach Dan Studer says they graduated a lot of talent from last year, but they have a lot of guys left that are used to the Friday night lights of varsity football.  “We feel like we are in pretty good position to compete.  We are fortunate enough to have a good array of veteran players, both offensively and defensively.  We might not have a lot or returning starters from last year, but we have a lot of guys that have seen a lot of action.  We have a lot of good senior players and senior leaders.  One of the things that we always talk about at Lexington is get better every day.  We need to do that to be competitive with teams like Ontario and all of the “OCC.”  For week one coming in we are pretty happy where we are at.  We feel like we can compete with Ontario on Friday night,” said Studer.

          The Lexington coach says they have the potential to have a pretty good defense this year, which they will need against Ontario, because they have some kids that know what they have to do.  “We have two of our three starters on the defensive line.  We lost two really good linebackers last year, but we have our senior captain that played quite a bit last year at linebacker.  He learned a lot last year and has really progressed,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “His name is Kendall Kuhn.  He is a smart kid and one of our captains.  We have Trent Richwine, our other captain.  Everyone likes to talk about him as quarterback, but he is one of our better defensive players too, holding down that strong safety spot.  We have a lot of other guys that saw time last year.  There are going to be a lot of new faces with guys that have been competing for spots the last two years.”

          The Minutemen railed in the second half last year to beat Ontario 34-26.  They did give up 293 yards rushing to Jordan Campbell and Studer says they need to control him and the other Ontario home run hitters.  “They have three players we have been looking at extensively through film, not only from two scrimmages, but from last year in Mack, Campbell and Boatwright.  They are all really explosive guys.  They don’t need much to make a big play.  That is something I think we struggled with in our two scrimmages, eliminating that big play.  Athletically I think we match up well with them, but we can’t afford to have any busts offensively or defensively.  When you are playing kids like that they are going to take advantage of any mistake you make.  So, we have to really eliminate any mistakes on our part.  We really have to concentrate on what we do and really get down to the fundamentals of the game and not giving them an opportunity to take any big gouges out of us because they definitely have the potential to do that,” said Studer.

 

Published 8/29/13

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Lexington to Throw More?

 

          Last year, Lexington was a team that based its offense on running the football, but they lost Andrew Hunt and Brandon Henderson to graduation, but they return quarterback Trent Richardson.

          So, the Minutemen might just throw it more this year than last.

          Coach Dan Studer says they will have some strength in the offensive line too.  “We have a veteran group coming back.  We have almost our entire stating line on offense and defense.  We lost a guard.  We lost an interior lineman, but other than that our big boys are pretty much in tact from last year.  We have a returning quarterback.  We have a lot of skilled guys with some experience that saw some time last year.  Obviously we lost some pretty good running backs and linebackers and a really good wide receiver and safety.  The kids that are stepping up so far this year are doing a great job filling that void.  We are pretty excited so far about how we have been practicing and gains we have been making over the last couple of weeks,” said Studer.

          Lexington stayed in the Ohio Cardinal Conference race for much of the season before settling for fifth place.  Studer thinks they will be a factor this year too.  “We feel at Lexington as long as we stay healthy and as long as we are doing the things that we game plan for and as long as we are executing at the level we expect our kids to execute we always expect to compete in the “OCC.”  With that being said the competition out there is rough.  Mansfield has a lot coming back, Madison has a lot coming back, and West Holmes is going to be a threat this year.  Like I tell our kids all of the time every week is a rivalry week.  It doesn’t have to be Ashland or Orrville or Shelby.  Everybody we play on our schedule is tough and everybody comes to play each week, so we have to focus on what we are doing to stay competitive,” he said.

          Studer says they are set to use their talent wisely this year and that means they are going to throw a little more.  “Offensively we are really focusing on our running game this year.  We lost to really good running backs.  When you have an Andrew Hunt and a Braden Henderson in the backfield it takes a lot of pressure off you quarterback and it takes a little bit of pressure off your offensive line.  We have some good young guys that are stepping up.  We are focusing on fine tuning our offensive line play.  We are taking a little bit of pressure off our running game this year with our passing game.  We do have a veteran quarterback.  We have a lot of receivers on the outside.  We are kind of flipping our roles a little bit.  We might be a little more pass prone,” said Studer.

          Scrimmage action begins this Friday for Lexington and Studer says it’s a chance to find out how they stack up against somebody else.  “The first scrimmage coming up is pretty much a glorified practice.  We script plays.  We will go with like 10 plays on offense and 10 plays on defense.  But, you have that fresh meat coming in.  You are not beating up on yourselves.  You want to get out there and execute the things you have been practicing for the last two or three weeks at full speed,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We have some really tough scrimmage this year.  We have Lake coming in this weekend and then we go and play Bishop Watterson next Saturday.  They are two really good football teams.  A lot of tradition.  A lot of great coaching.  You look good against each other in inter squad stuff, but once that new teams comes in it’s like that old boxing saying everybody has got a plan until you get punched in the mouth.”    

 

 
 

Lexington One Step From Regional

 

          Logan Bastin’s two-run single in the first inning gave Lexington a lead they never relinquished and they went on to down Lima Shawnee in the division two district semi-finals on a soggy day at Bluffton University on Thursday.

          Brody Basoline gave up only two runs and sophomore Evan Lee earned the save in the (3-2) win by the Ohio Cardinal Conference champion Minutemen.

          Coach Jeff Strickler had scouted Shawnee and he knew they had to be patient and not swing at balls out of the strike zone and that paid off in the first inning.  “We went into the game and wanted to be very, very, very patient to force the Wilder boy to throw a lot of pitches.  We started off the very first inning with the approach that we got a strike before we started swinging the bat.  We got his pitch count up quite high in that first inning and got some guys on base.  Logan Bastin came through with a big two run single and kind of got it going for us,” said Strickler.

          Lexington (23-4), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll, has great pitching depth.  Strickler gave the ball Thursday to Brody Basilone and he tuned in an outstanding performance.  “Brody Basilone did a fantastic job pitching.  I’m not sure what his statistics are yet, but he kept us in the game and kept them off balance.  They are a good hitting team.  They did get some hits off of him, but he was able to scatter them and we had some good defense behind him and kept them tot two runs,” said Strickler.

          In a pressure packed seventh inning, sophomore Even Lee came in nailed down the save.  Strickler says he did the job.  “We made a pitching change in the seventh inning.  We brought in sophomore Evan Lee.  Evan did very, very well in that seventh inning.  He got the first two guys out and then he game up a couple of hits.  They had runners on first and second, but then he got Cory Wilder, their best baseball player, their best hitter, to pop up the right field to end the game.  A sophomore coming in in that kind of pressure situation I thought he did very, very well,” said Strickler.

          It was an enjoyable drive home from western Ohio for the Minutemen.  Strickler says this is a group that believes in each other.  “They get along very well.  It’s like any family we have our disagreements and we have our spats, but they get over it.  They are friends.  They hang out together.  They are close guy of guys and they have been close to each other for a long, long time,” he said.

          Lexington will face Wapakoneta in the district final Saturday afternoon at Bluffton.  The Redskins were state runners-up last year and Strickler says they have some weapons.  “(Thursday) was the first time I got to see them play.  I was impressed with how they put the ball in play.  They hit the ball fairly well.  They hit line drives.  There wasn’t anything that was really, really sharp it was just more line drive base hits,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “They have some solid pitching.  They have a really good left handed pitcher, who kept Bellevue at bay for quite a while.  Bellevue got some runs on some defensive mistakes by Wapakoneta.  They do make some mistakes and we will have to take advantage of that if they do that in our game.”

          Wapakoneta beat Bellevue (14-4) of the Northern Ohio League in the first game on Thursday.

 

 
 

Lexington Wins “OCC”

 

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Jeff Strictler

 

          As many good teams as there are in the Ohio Cardinal Conference it seems fitting that the baseball title would be determined on the final week of the regular season.

          Lexington (21-4,12-2), #2 in theSwankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll in the large school division, beat Ashland (6-1) on Monday to claim the championship by a game over Wooster.

          Coach Jeff Strickler says this has been a very consistent ball club this year.  “They have come out to play just about every night.  The way this season has gone it is kind of like we have a target on our back so they have to come out ready to play.  They have been doing that and I am very proud of them with how they have handled things thins year.  It has been good effort by everybody,” he said.

          Senior Zach Temple turned in another strong effort on the mound for the Minutemen and he was helped out by some fine defensive wok too, according to Strickler.  “Zach Temple really did a nice job pitching (Monday).  He didn’t have his best, best stuff, but he scattered 10 hits and he only walked two guys.  They weren’t able to put anything solid together.  We did have two innings where they had the bases loaded and we got inning ending double plays to get out of it.  Zach kept us in the game,” said Strickler.

          This is a very good team, but it is it the best coach Strickler has ever had at Lexington?  “I would say they are one of the best.  You know, if they get to the regionals then I think we can say they are the best team I have had.  On paper going into the season I thought they could possibly be the best team I have ever had.  We are really deep in pitching and we are really good as far as hitting goes.  The defense has been really solid all year,” said Strickler.

          On Thursday, the Minutemen face Lima Shawnee in the division two district semi-finals at Bluffton University.  Strickler knows they will be playing a team with a strong reputation.  “They are a pretty good ball team.  Their record is only like 14-8 or something, but they play a lot of really good teams like Wapakoneta, Defiance, Bryan and just a lot of good teams over that way.  There is a lot of good competition.  When I saw them play Celina last week they hit the ball well.  They put it in play pretty good.  The pitching was solid.  I have heard a lot of things about their pitching and maybe they were off a little bit that day,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I could see when they are on they could be very, very tough.  Their ace pitcher can bring the fastball and mix in his breaking stuff.  It’s going to be a game where we are going in expecting a tough game and expect to play our best to keep moving on.”

          Brody Basilone is expected to get the ball for Lexington in the district match-up.  Strickler says he has earned it.  “Brody is going to be pitching Thursday.  The statistics that he has put together through the course of year.  His ERA is 0.59 and teams are batting only .195 off of him.  He is the best we’ve got statistically and that is why we are going to go that route.  Zach is very, very good too, but he is a little bit higher statistically in some areas then Brody is.  With our schedule they both see the same teams.  That is why I made the decision that I did,” said Strickler.

 

 
 

 

Lexington Wins Sectional

 

          It wasn’t easy, but the Lexington won a division two sectional championship on Monday night.

          They rallied to beat the Shelby Whippets (4-3) in a sectional final at Clyde High School.

          The Minutemen tailed twice in the game, but coach Jeff Strickler says they had the confidence to battle back.  “We gave up the two runs in the first inning, both of them unearned. We have not been in that position very much this year, but the kids battled back.  They have been playing with a lot confidence.  We are very confident we can make up a two run deficit.  We tied the score up and they went up again and then we came up by two and held on to the end.  It was a very well played baseball game on both sides,” said Strickler.

          The Lexington offense averages over 10 runs a game, but Strickler says this time it was pitching and defense that tuned the trick.  “The only error we had all night was in the first inning and after that we played pretty much flawless defense.  Brody (Basilone) settled in after the first inning and did a real nice job.  He pretty shut then down.  They only had one base runner in the last two innings,” he said.

          Lexington (20-4,10-2), #2 in he new Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll in the large school division, has a one game lead in the Ohio Cardinal Conference over Wooster.  They play at Ashland (9-13,5-7) in a league game on Tuesday.  A win gives them no less than a share of the conference title.  “That was one of our three goals that we had.  It’s going to be a battle.  Anytime you go play Ashland it is always a really hard fought baseball game between the two schools.  We are over there, so we have that obstacle a little bit.  The kids are confident, we are playing well.  Hopefully, that goes over to (Tuesday.),” he said.

          The Minutemen are blessed with a deep pitching staff.  Strickler will give the ball to Zach Temple on Tuesday.  “We have been fortunate that my top two pitchers you really can’t say this one is number one and this one is number two between (Zach) Temple and Basilone.  Those two have pitched very, very well.  This week we decided we were going to go with Brody in the tournament game and then pitch Zach in the first game against Ashland.  Some of that is due to some of the circumstances that we have as far as health and that type of stuff.  We just thought this was the way to go,” said Strickler.    

 

 
 

Lexington Back in First

 

          Lexington’s share of first place in the Ohio Cardinal Conference lasted just one day as they have now returned to the top spot in the standings with a win over Orrville and a Wooster loss to Mansfield Madison.

          The Minutemen (19-3,10-2), #2 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll in the large school division, lost in Orrville (3-2) on Tuesday, but they responded to beat the Red Riders (7-0) on Wednesday.  Meanwhile, Madison downed Wooster (6-5) also on Wednesday.

          Lexington coach Jeff Strickler was impressed with his club’s focus, especially after Tuesday.  “The kids really came in (Wednesday) and they were relaxed, they were focused, they played with a lot of intensity and they just had fun.  That s what high school baseball is about having fun and winning some games along the way.  It was a big win for us,” said Strickler.

          The players knew what they had to do on Wednesday and Strickler says they went about their business.  “I thought the last couple of weeks we might have gotten a little complacent, but (Wednesday) they went out and there was no complacency at all.  The kids just played well.  We didn’t have a tremendous amount of hits, but we were able to put some hits together.  Some people got on base with some walks and stuff and did the things they had to do to win.  After some disappointment (Tuesday) night it was very good to get a win,” said Strickler.

          A key to the win was the performance of Lexington’s starting pitcher Brody Basilone.  Strickler says he was outstanding.  “Brody Basilone did a very nice job.  He had seven strikeouts and only walked one.  He hit a couple of guys.  They got four hits off him and they were all just singles.  He did a nice job moving the ball around and changing the eye level on hitters.  He was very strong the whole game.  He was in control the whole way.  He did a great job,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win.  Considering the loss on Tuesday, Strickler says the start of the game and getting out with no damage was huge.  “Their leadoff hitter, the Johnston kid got a hit.  After that Brody settled down and he got a couple of strikeouts in that first inning.  He got a big groundout to Mason (Willeke) at short.  We got through the first inning.  In the second inning he started to cruise a little bit.  The one time they did get the bases loaded, the third inning I think, he got out of it with some good pitches and got the last two outs to get out of the inning with no damage,” he said.

          Now with their destiny in their own hands, Strickler says they know what they have to do.  “It was great that Madison beat Wooster (Wednesday) and put us back in first by ourselves.  Now we control what we do.  We have to come out next week against Ashland and play well.  We also have tournament next week.  It is a very busy week.  We have to play some good baseball to get through it,” said Strickler.  

 

 
 

Lexington takes a Two Game Lead

 

          Lexington seems to have all of the answers this year.  They rallied to beat Wooster on Tuesday to establish a two game lead in the Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball standings.

          Trailing 1-0 after four innings, the Minutemen (16-1,9-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll in the large school division, scored three times in the fifth and four in the seventh to secure the win (7-3) over second place Generals.

          Coach Jeff Strickler says they were able to take advantage when the situation presented itself.  “We didn’t get on the board until the fifth inning.  They were ahead 1-0 at that point.  We took a 3-1 lead in the top of the fifth.  They came back in scored two in the bottom of the fifth on a two-run homer by Daugherty.  We were able to get four runs across against Buckingham in the seventh to win it,” he said.

          Nick Buckingham has had an outstanding season for the Generals (13-3,6-2), #5 in our coach’s poll.  Strickler believes they had a good approach and made him work harder.  “It was a huge win.  They are a really good team.  Buckingham is a really good pitcher.  They hit the ball well.  The biggest thing about (Tuesday) was I thought our kids did a nice job making Buckingham throw pitches.  We were able to get his pitch count up and I think that affected him a little bit later on in the game.  We were able to get a couple walks and some timely hits and get some runs scored,” said Strickler.

          Wooster will be at Lexington on Wednesday and Strickler knows that will be a big game, but he says they are all huge right now.  “They are all big at this point.  We have Wooster again (Wednesday).  We have Orrville next week and Ashland the week after.  We have five very tough baseball games left in our conference schedule.  Wooster is going to come over here (Wednesday) and they are going to be looking for some revenge.  We have to bring our “A” game in order to win again.  We will see what we can do,” he says.

          One of the keys to the success of the Minutemen this year is their pitching depth.  Strickler thinks that was a factor again on Tuesday.  “Zach Temple was our starter (Tuesday).  He struggled a little bit at times as far as throwing strikes, but he was able to limit damage in what Wooster was able to do.  Evan Lee came in the seventh inning and faced four batters and got the three outs to end the game.  Evan did a real nice job coming in from third base to the mound and throwing strikes.  It is really nice to have pitchers and guys you can count on.  Not just in the pitching spot, but the other eight positions as well.  I am having a lot of fun this year coaching this team,” said Strickler.

 

 
 

First Place Lexington at Madison

 

          Lexington has been playing as good a brand of baseball as anyone in the North Central Ohio area this year and that has led to sole possession of first place in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          Veteran coach Jeff Strickler says they have been executing in all elements of the game, including the little things.  “The kids are playing very well.  We are doing the things that are important to us.  We are getting good pitching and playing good defense behind them.  Offensively we are having kids hit line drive after line drive and people moving runners around and being aggressive on the bases.  We are doing a lot of the little things right.  That has added up to the wins.”

          Despite the outstanding play the Minutemen have not been able to pull away from the rest of the first in the “OCC.”  Ashland and Wooster have just one loss.

          Lexington (14-1,7-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll in the large school division, plays a game at Madison (5-9,3-3) on Thursday in a game that was rained out on Wednesday.  Strickler says they want the sweep, but they know it won’t be easy.  “It doesn’t happen very often for either one of us.  We are going to do everything we can to play the baseball we have been playing.  As long as we stay focused on what we are doing and play with the intensity we have been playing with I think our chances are pretty good.  The kids have a lot of confidence in what they are doing right now and that can only help us,” he said.

          Lexington handled Madison (9-3) on Tuesday.  However, Strickler knows there aren’t many sweeps in this series.  “Coach Rickert over there does a nice job getting those kids ready to play.  They play very sound baseball and they have good pitching.  (Thursday) we are going to see a good pitcher in Bo.  He got us last year and we will see if we can’t turn that around.  Madison is always good.  It doesn’t matter what their record is they come to play us and we come to play them.  It’s a war,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night.

          Strickler believes the rain could be a plus in that it gave some of the players some extra rest.  He doesn’t believe it will curve their momentum.  “Rain is never good, but it’s just one day off and that’s not really going to bother us too much.  Some kids can use the rest.  Everybody has two games this week.  We had a doubleheader last Saturday and this past week we have played a lot of ball games already.  We had a good practice inside (Wednesday) and hopefully we can get out and play (Thursday),” said Strickler.  

 

 
 

Lexington Playing Excellent Baseball

 

          Lexington is playing as well as any baseball team in North Central Ohio right now.  Just ask Clear Fork.

          The Minutemen (8-1,3-1) were in the process of taking apart the Colts (14-0) in the fourth inning and then Mother Nature stepped in like a referee in a prize fight before anyone got hurt too badly.  The game will be finished prior to Wednesday’s scheduled meeting at Lexington.

          Zach Steery and Brody Basilone both hit home runs, Steery’s was a grand slam, as part of an 11 run third inning for the Minutemen.  Coach Jeff Strickler says it’s been a good start to the year for them.  “They are putting all phases together pretty well at this moment, offense, defense and pitching.  You can’t ask for much else,” he said.

          Mason Willeke, Sterry, Basilone and Logan Bastin have all been hitting over .400 for the season and Strickler says the rest of the lineup is coming around too.  “Our one through four are all batting .400 or better.  The five, six, and seven are around the .250 to .300 mark and getting better each week.  The bottom of the order they are doing a pretty good job of getting on base, whether it be by walks or moving runners with sacrifices,” said Strickler.

          Starter Zack Temple limited Clear Fork to three hits, two by Ridge Windand, over three innings of work on Tuesday.  Strickler says he is part if a deep pitching rotation.  “We had Zach pitching very well (Tuesday).  Along with him you have Brody Basilone.  He has pitched a couple games already.  His ERA is less than one.  He threw a perfect game against Mansfield Senior.  We have Evan Lee who is doing very well.  He’s a sophomore.  Logan Bastin has come in a few times.  We have had Adam Johnson, a lefty, a junior, that has picked up some innings on the weekend.  We have a lot of depth.  Mason Willeke pitches, but we haven’t had to use him as a pitcher yet, which is good,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “It saves his arm to play short.  I think we are a very good team.  It’s blessed with a lot of good players.  A lot of talented kids.  They work really hard and they just love the game of baseball and it’s showing.”

          Right now, Lexington shares first in the “OCC” with Ashland.  Wooster, Mansfield Madison and Orrville standing a game back.  Strickler says their goal is to win the league, but it won’t be easy.  “That’s our goal going in.  This is one of the premier baseball conferences in the state.  You better be ready to play every league game if you want to be able to win this thing.  Anybody can win this thing this is probably as wide open a conference race as it has ever been,” he said.

 

 
 

This May be the Year For Lexington

 

          Lexington has a real chance to come out on top in the Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball race this season.  They return almost all of their players from a 10-18 team from a year ago.

          This has been a season the Minutemen have been building toward for the last couple of years.  Coach Jeff Strickler likes what he has seen so far, although like most coaches, he would have liked to have been outside a whole lot more during spring training.  “I am pretty happy with were we are at.  I am not very happy as far as not being able to scrimmage anybody yet or being outside on our field.  I guess everybody is in the same boat as far as that goes,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We have a lot of kids back from last year and there is a lot of good talent in that group.  We have some good kids coming up behind them, so we are looking forward to this group.”

          This is a baseball team that has the potential to score a lot of runs.  Strickler says they just need a little bit more consistency throughout the lineup this spring.  “We have two kids back from last year in Willeke and Stary that hit around .450 or so and several other .300 hitters with Baston and Basalone.  If we can get a couple of other kids to get their batting averages up in the 300’s we will be pretty good offensively,” he said.

          Hitting aside, Strickler believe the real strength of the ball club lies on the pitcher’s mound.  He thinks they have great depth.  “Pitching can be a real strong point for us this year.  We have all of our pitchers back from last year.  Temple and Basalone were our one, two last year and they are back.  James Watkins is back.  We have Mason Willeke.  Right now, I have six pitchers that I’m not afraid to use,” he said.

          Yes, the bad weather has affected everyone this year, but some more than others.  Strickler believes with their experience they have a chance to survive it more easily.  “A lot of it is knowing what to do, learn how to keep you focus, learn what you need to do on certain plays and what is expected of you as a player.  It definitely helps in a situation like this where we haven’t been able to go up against anybody else,” said Strickler.

 

 
 

Lexington With a Solid Battery

 

          Perhaps a lot has changed about softball.  It is more offensive in nature, and the depth of talent is more, but one thing that has not changed is if you are going to field a good team you better have strong pitching and Lexington has that.

          Lady Lex begins its season with two against Norwalk on Saturday and then against Ohio Cardinal Conference foe Mansfield Senior next week.

          Coach Mike Hamman says they have been putting in the right kind of effort, but he would really like to take his team out onto the real diamond.  “I can tell you I like the work ethic.  The kids are working hard.  We need to get outside here because the season is rapidly approaching here,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday.  With five inches of snow on the ground on Monday, Hamman and the rest of the spring sport coaches in North Central Ohio are holding their breath.

          Lexington was 15-13 a year ago and lost in the district tournament to Sandusky Perkins.  Hamman says he has a strong group back, especially at pitcher and catcher.  “We have five seniors, a couple of sophomores, that are going to be playing for us.  Then we have a couple of freshmen that will be playing for us.  We have our pitcher-catcher back in Abby Schro and Morgan Ziegler is our catcher.  We start there and then we go out from there.  Jordan Holder is a senior and Caitlin Spore is a senior.  We are counting on big things from them four,” said Hamman.

          The veteran Lexington coach knows they are strong inside the circle, but he says they have to be able to put together some depth if they are going to compete in the always tough “OCC” this spring.  “I think you start with your pitcher and catcher and then you go out form there.  You want to be strong up the middle.  In the way the game is played today you really can’t have a weak player at any position.  Every position is important.  We are working really hard to put a solid 10, 12 girls on the field and be able to compete with anybody we play on our schedule,” said Hamman.  

 

 
 

Lexington Faces Elida in Districts

 

          For the second straight year Lexington will face Elida in the district tournament at Ohio Northern University.

          This time it will be in the division two semi-finals on Wednesday night.

          Elida beat Lexington last year (65-36) behind the exploits of Reggie McAdams, now at the University of Akron.

          Lexington (16-7), #3 in the final Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, beat Upper Sandusky (55-39) last Friday in the sectional final.  Coach Scott Hamilton says they were able to get a lead against the Rams and that was critical.  “They are very patient, very deliberate.  We knew that our possessions were going to be cut maybe not quite in half, but they were going to be reduced.  Fortunately for us we had the guys ready.  We jumped out to an early lead, which is always nice, but against a team like Upper Sandusky is really a plus.  If you get down to a team like that it’s very difficult to come from behind no matter what kind of weapons you have.  They just take so many possessions away from you.  They are capable of taking the air out of the ball.  We added to our lead as the game went on.  We were able to hold off their lead.  They made a charge in the second half.  Our kids did a nice job of playing against that,” said Hamilton.

          McAdams may be gone, but Hamilton says Elida (16-8) already has someone to replace him and more.  “There is basketball rich history over there in that part of the state and Elida definitely fits in with that.  As many people that know about Reggie McAdams there is going to be more people that are going to know about Dakota Mathias.  He is a junior this year and was the sophomore point guard on the team that we played against last year.  He is already exceeding what Reggie was doing as far as recruitment and interest from some of the college coaches,” said Hamilton.

          Obviously, Mathias, who had 30 in heir sectional final win over Celina, is difficult to defend.  Hamilton says they aren’t going to change much from what they have done on defense all year.  “We are not going to be able to do anything to him that he has probably not seen in his first 24 games.  What we are going to try and do is get after him and play good defense.   That is what we have tried to do all year.  He has got a nice supporting cast and that is one of the things when things might not be going as well for him.  He is definitely capable of putting 10 to 15 assists on the board.  What we are going to do I try to make things as difficult as we can on him and then not allow him to just pick us apart and find his wide open teammates for easy makeable shots,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We can’t forget about his support cast, which in the few times we have seen them we have seen multiple guys go off for double digit nights basically all him being able to create for him.  It’s going to be a tall task for us, but It’s an opportunity ti go against a nice player and a good program.”

          Sometimes a good theory is to make a kid like Mathias work hard on defense, so he doesn’t have as much on offense.  However, Hamilton says that may be difficult to do in this case due to how Elida plays defense.  “On the defensive end they play a little triangle and two and we kind of get the feeling that Dakota can be a very good defender, but they put him down below.  We think that is to keep him out of foul trouble.  He is not used to using up his energy on the defensive side.  It’s going to be a tall task to get him to use as much energy we can on the defensive side,” he said.  

 

 
 

Lexington Knows About Upper Sandusky

 

          Lexington opens the tournament season with a match-up with Upper Sandusky on Friday night in the division two sectional final at Bucyrus High School.

          The Minutemen (15-7), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, did not play the Rams during the regular season, but they did beat them in a tournament game last season.

          Scott Hamilton, in his first year as varsity coach, says he hopes they are peaking now, but he really isn’t sure.  “I guess you would have t wait till the end of the season to answer that accurately, but we are hoping so.  We are trying to do some things.  I have spoke with a couple of veteran coaches over the last week about what they do and how they treat the end of the season as far as practice time what they put in their plans and their schedule and just how they do some things.  I have made some adjustments to try and make sure that we are rested and ready to go.  Hopefully, when it is all said and done we can look back say we did they right things and we peaked at the right time and were playing our best basketball at the end of the season,” said Hamilton.

          Upper Sandusky (13-10), frankly, plays like no other team around here with their deliberate approach on offense.  Hamilton says it’s is not about taking time off the clock, but getting a good shot.  “If nothing else you could say that coach Adams is he is deliberate on offense.  He wants to the best shot that he can get.  His kids believe in that philosophy and they are very patient,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “At the end of quarters and stuff they are running the clock to get that last shot, but for the most part their offense is the motion, the movement, the passing, the cutting, the screening to get that open look.  If they would get that look in the first 10 seconds of their possession I’m sure they would take it.  A lot of times it is coming down to 25, 30, 35 seconds into that possession or longer when they get that open look.”

          Upper Sandusky is also able to hold the score down because Hamilton says they play outstanding half court defense.  “Another thing he has those guys doing is playing really aggressive, solid, man to man defense.  They play nice defense, not so much in the full court, but in the half court they defend very well,” he said.

          It is important that you be efficient when you have the ball on offense.  Hamilton says you just aren’t going to get as many shots.  “You really have to value every possession in the game with them.  You could probably go into a game with them and plan on maybe having half of the possessions.  That would probably be a safe bet.  If you are touching the ball “X” amount of times in a normal game when you get up against Upper Sandusky it is going to drop dramatically.  Tuesday night Shelby had some open looks, missed some free throws, just couldn’t knock down some shots that might have gone for them in the regular season.  Those become harder and harder as a team when you are playing a team like Upper Sandusky.  Upper shot the ball very well, especially in the fourth quarter from the free throw line,” said Hamilton.

          Another thing you can’t do is force quick shots.  Hamilton says that is what Upper wants you to do.  “If you get frustrated having to play defense for let’s say a minute and they get a good look on you.  You get frustrated and come down and try to get that back right away.  If you come down and offensively take quick shots, poor shot selection, things like that, that leads right into their hands.  We are going to have the stress that we have to be just as patient on both ends of the floor and get the shots we want and then be able to set down and defend whether it be for 25 seconds or two minutes and 25 seconds.  We have to make sure we are ready to defend in the half court,” said Hamilton.  

 

 
 

Lexington Suffers Poor Shooting

 

          Lexington has lost only seven games this year and four of them are to two teams in Mansfield Senior and Wooster.

          Wooster beat Lexington (49-38) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game in which the Minutemen shot less than 30 percent from the field.  The Generals had beaten Lex at their place by 30 points about a month ago.

          Lexington coach Scott Hamilton says Wooster just seems to play well against them.  “They just give us a tough match-up.  They have some athletic guards.  They have some guys that can knock down some shots.  And that is not to begin to talk about they go 6’6”, 6’6”, 6’7” inside.  All very athletic, all very capable.  One of those guys Kubiak steps out and knocks down a three against us and that makes them even more deadly.  They just give us some match-up problems.  We didn’t help ourselves by not shooting the ball very well against them last Friday night,” he said.

          The loss to Wooster certainly wasn’t due to a lack of effort.  Hamilton says they just couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.  “I have said it all season long that my guys have been working hard.  They were just working their tails off trying to get stuff to fall.  We didn’t shoot the ball well from behind the arc, but we also missed a lot of wide open layups.  I think going back and watching the film there were like 14 wide open threes we took and we just couldn’t get any of them to fall.  I think we shot something like 11 percent from the arc and 28 percent from the field total.  That included half a dozen to eight layups that we missed.  When you do things like that you are probably not going to come out on the right side of the wins and losses,” said Hamilton.

          Lexington (14-7,8-5), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, in a share of third place with Wooster in the “OCC”, travels to Orrville (5-16,2-11), a winner of three of their last five, for an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.  Hamilton believes after some struggles the Red Riders are putting things together.  “They were a little bit like us coming off of the football season they had a couple of injuries, a couple of guys that were making the transition to where maybe we had a couple more basketball guys while they had a lot of football guys.  Their primary scorer and go to guy (Summers) had to have surgery on his shoulder.  That was right about the time we played them in the first go around.  They have a full time replacement for him because he is out for the rest of the season.  It seems like their kids are starting to get a little chemistry.  They are starting to believe in each other.  They are starting to get their basketball legs,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I have noticed in the last four or five games they have really been able to put some points on the board.  They are shooting the ball very well, especially from the free throw line.”

          Orrville has a smaller, old fashion gym, at least for now.  Hamilton says it has traditionally been a tough place for them.  “We have not won in their place since 2006.  They defend their court very well.  It is going to be a special night up there because they are building a new school.  They are going to have a new gymnasium in it.  This maybe the last time we are going to get a chance to play on that court up there.  It is going to be a special night for them, so we have make sure we have everything lined up and ready to go when we go to Orrville Friday,” he said.

          Lexington will play either Upper Sandusky or Shelby in a tournament game next week.  Hamilton says they need to be in top form.  “I just think we want to do some things well.  Whether you say that is shooting, defense, chemistry.  We just want to go in doing some things well and making sure we are still doing things better.  We talked this week about making sure we are peaking at the right time.  Every coach is thinking right now where are you conditioning wise and where are you injury wise.  We just want to make sure we are doing everything the best that you can.  Everything that we can control we want to be at the top of our game,” said Hamilton. 

 

 
 

Lexington Girls’ Getting More Experience

 

          Lexington has struggled with some inexperience this season, but they hope to have grown enough to surprise some people in the tournament.

          They meet Galion (8-14) in the division two sectional semi-finals on Wednesday night at Ontario High School. 

          Despite a 1-21 record this season, coach Daryl Uhde says their attitude has been very good this year.  “The kids mental approach has been very, very good.  They have been very positive and they come in and work hard.  It’s just the inexperience this year and also numbers.  We didn’t get the numbers we thought and that had something to do with it.  There have been a lot of games when we have been competitive and have been winning some games that we just haven’t finished,” said Uhde.

          Their record may not show it, but Uhde believes that they have shown improvement this year and the future is bright.  “I think we have improved and that was my goal this year to be honest with you when I knew that about some of the kids that we would be missing that improvement was the important part.  Again we are pretty young.  We have a nice younger group down tin the junior high.  It has been a tough year, no question about it.  I think here in the next three years if the girls work hard we will be back up there,” said Uhde.

          Galion has not had a winning record in basketball since the early 1990’s, but Uhde thinks this is one of the better teams they have had in that time.  “They have really improved and it’s probably one their better teams in a long time.  They have lost a lot of close game also.  I’m not sure of their record, seven or eight wins,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I think it’s the best record they have had for a while.  They have some seniors that are experienced.  They have one of the better three shooters in the area, really the best three shooter, she has 64 threes, in Beachy.  They are enthusiastic and they play very hard, so it should be a good game.:

          One their big goals on Wednesday night, according to Uhde, is to get some easy shots whether in transition or the half court.  “We have been getting better shots of transition.  We are a little up tempo, but we also have to play a half court game.  We are a combination of both, but they have quite a few seniors on their team.  They have been playing together, so they know each other a little bit better.  We can play the up tempo game.  Our shooting is very important.  Our shooting percentage in the last few games that we have lost has been way down.  We are getting some open shots and creating some shots.  They just aren’t going in,” said Uhde. 

 

 
 

Lexington Faces Rematch with Wooster

 

          Lexington has been one of the more consistent teams in North Central Ohio this season.  They have played well every night, with one exception, a 30-point loss to Wooster five weeks ago.  They get a chance to prove something on Friday night.

          For the second time this season, Lexington (14-6,8-4), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in he large school division, beat Ashland by three points (54-51) this time at Arrow Arena.  Lexington coach Scott Hamilton knew it was going to be tough and it was.  “We were really aware of how difficult it is to win up there at Arrow gymnasium, so we tried to work with the kids and get them mentally prepared.  We knew Ashland we going to get after it after we got a three point win at our place this first time.  Luckily for us the kids went in there and worked hard for 32 minutes.  They were prepared knowing it was going to come down to the final minute of the game.  We knew we had to defend all five guys on the floor.  They put in three point shooters at any given time.  Our kids made some plays and knocked down some shots and defended well for 32 minutes and we were able to get the win,” said Hamilton.

          Senior guard Mason Willeke, who averages almost 20 PPG, scored five in the final minute against Ashland.  Hamilton says they found a way to make plays.  “One of the things that we try to work on in practice is to create as many situations as we can in the execution of our plays so that when our opponent tries to react as far as a defense our kids know how to react.  We know that there are a lot of good coaches out there that are scouting us and know what we try to do.  We try to give ourselves other options.  Last Friday some of those things came into play and the kids reacted and did a nice job,” he said.

          On January 11, Wooster drilled Lexington (81-51) in a league game.  Hamilton says it really wasn’t anything they didn’t do, it was more Wooster doing some things they don’t normally do.  “I am not going to take anything away from Wooster because I think they played a very good game that night.  Obviously I was confident in what we were going to try and do.  Statistically speaking what Wooster did that night was a little bit outside of their normal, which is good and what you want as a coach,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We kind of keyed in on a couple of areas with them having two 6’6” guys and a 6’7” and not shooting well from the perimeter.  Of course, that night they shot the ball very well from the perimeter and the 6’6”, 6’7” guys were just as good.  Now for us we are just going to tweak some things and make sure we try to contain them the best we can in all areas of the court.”

          Lexington was award the top seed in the division two sectional tournament at Bucyrus.  However, Hamilton says with the balance in the sectional the seeding really don’t mean that much.  “Number one to number seven as far as the seeding goes is very even.  Anyone that shows up to a tournament game in our sectional and is not ready to play you are probably going to be packing your bags and going home.  There is no doubt about it.  We have played all of them except Upper Sandusky.  There were a lot of close games, a lot of battles, a lot of history there.  The kids know each other because they are either in the same conference, or play travel ball together or whatever it way be.  It’s going to be a challenging sectional to get out of,” said Hamilton.

 

 
 

Lexington and Ashland Battle For Position

 

          Lexington is a possible number one seed in the up coming sectional tournament and they are trying to hold onto second place in the Ohio Cardinal Conference too.

          They visit Ashland to play the explosive Arrows on Friday night.

          Last Saturday, they lost to conference leader Mansfield Senior (79-53) at Pete Henry Gym.  Coach Scott Hamilton says the Tygers just had too many athletes for them to cover.  “Everybody talks about Keon Johnson, a division one basketball player, but I’m telling you they have some athletes and basketball players at different positions, and a couple of guys coming off the bench are pretty special too.  I just give them the credit for what happened on Saturday.  My guys were in there working and trying to do what they can.  It was just a tough match-up for us.  A 6’6” guy that was on the floor last year at 6’3” Robert Jones.  We play him as a post player and he steps out and knocks downs threes.  That is just something that you aren’t ready for.  Of course, their pressure and their full court ability.  You just can not simulate that practices.  You could throw seven, eight, nine guys on the court and try to pressure your team to get ready, but you just can’t simulate what they can do to you in a game situation,” said Hamilton.

          In their first meeting with Ashland, the Minutemen hung on to beat the Arrows (58-55) as Ashland missed a shot in the last 10 seconds that could have given them the lead.  Hamilton says the Arrows are good and they play a very different style.  “It was a game that was never a big margin for either squad.  They had some leads and we did.  Luckily we were up when the final buzzer went off.  They are team that we are fairly familiar with.  We have seen them over the summer and we know some of their kids.  Coach Fralich does a nice job with those kids.  They really believe in the system that he wants to run over there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It is not the typical of the standard for the area.  They run more of a college style offense.  They are playing solid pesky defense.  They want to get out in transition and for them transition is pulling up and shooting a three.  We go from last Saturday when we are trying to get back and defend the rim.  Now we are going to have to get back in transition and defend the three point line.  They are willing to take that transition and pull up at 20 feet.  They are a team that has probably shot just as many threes and they have twos.”

          Right now, Lexington is (12-6,7-4), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll, and Ashland is (11-6,6-5), so Hamilton says this is game for position in the “OCC” with just a few games left.  “It’s a big game in the conference.  We are a game ahead of them, so we are fighting for position in the conference and also try to get the best record we can going into Sunday’s seed meeting for tournament draw,” he said.

          Ashland is a team that has the potential to convert double figure three pointers in a game and Hamilton says when you can do that you are never out of it.  “For anybody that watches high school basketball or even college basketball for that matter when you can consistently knock down a three point shot and they have multiple guys.  They can put five guys on the floor at one time that are three point shooters.  When you can consistently knock down that three point shot any lead is not safe.  It doesn’t matter what the score is if there is time on the clock they have a chance,” he said.

          Lexington’s Mason Willeke has become as good a scorer as anyone in North Central Ohio and Hamilton says he is getting a lot of extra attention.  “Maybe not so much the junk defense, but we are seeing the best defender is face guarding Mason.  Our other guys are getting respect so we are not seeing the creative junk defense, but Masson is getting the best defender.  It is a little bit more physical, a little bit more hands on, which is affecting him.  That was one of things when we played West Holmes they had Brady Arnold right up in him being pretty physical and then Arnold picks up his fourth foul that allowed Mason to have a little bit of room and a little bit of freedom.  When he gets a little bit of rhythm, a little bit of a shooting zone, the other guys get their confidence and do their job and make sure we can get him the shots,” said Hamilton.   

 

 
 

Lexington Faces Tough Weekend

 

          Lexington has played some fine basketball this season, but they face their sternest test of the year this weekend as they play West Holmes and Mansfield Senior back-to-back.

          Last week, it looked as if the Minutemen were going to be a victim of an upset as they played at Mansfield Madison.  However, Mason Willeke tied the game with a late jumper and Lexington survived (61-56) in overtime. 

          Lexington coach Scott Hamilton says Madison played well, but they made the plays when they had too.  “We knew going into that game if we let a couple of their shooters actually make a couple of shots and get on a roll feeling good about themselves that would be a tough game.  Coach Mergel does a fine job of motivating his players to play hard.  He really had those guys ready to play.  Fortunately for us we were able to make some shots, make some plays, get a couple of lose balls when we needed them to come away with a win,” said Hamilton.

          West Holmes beat Lexington (62-52) on the second weekend of the season with a healthy Brady Arnold, who sprained his ankle three weeks ago.  Hamilton says the Knights (12-4,8-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, are all that was predicted.  “They were a preseason favorite in the “OCC,’ along with Mansfield Senior.  Right now they are sitting in the number two spot.