Swank on Sports

 

 
 

News Line

 
 

 

New London Wildcats

 

 
     
 

Joining us this morning on "Sports Saturday" are high school basketball coaches Jason Hess of Ashland, Steve Gray of Norwalk, Tom Howell of New London, David Sheldon of Colonel Crawford and Zach Ruth of Northmor.  Girls' basketball coaches Jon Dawson of Willard and Greg Moore of Buckeye Central.  Plus, Samantha Bunten of NBC Sports on the Indians and other things.  The show runs from 10 AM to 1 PM on www.swankonsports.com

 
 

New London Gets Past Wynford

  

          Ryan Lane allowed four hits and stuck out 14 and New London beat Wynford (3-1) at Heise Park in Galion on Wednesday in the division four district semi finals.

          They play Firelands Conference rival Norwalk St. Paul, a (5-4) winner over Plymouth in Wednesday’s second game, in the district final Friday in Galion.

          Lane didn’t allow an earned run on Wednesday. 

          Coach Tony Hamilton says he picked his team up quite a few times.  “We didn’t particularly help him much.  There were a lot of errors, a lot of mistakes, which is something I am going to address.  We could have hit the ball a little better, but with Ryan Lane on the mound and a few good defensive plays, especially the one Joe Christopf made at third, that was a really nice play, we were able to pull it off,” said Hamilton.

          Lane struck three guys out with runners in scoring position.  Hamilton says he was able to make some big pitches.  “He has his slider or his curve, whatever you want to call it, and that was throwing them off.  Then for the most part he was hitting them on the inside part of the plate or he was coming up at the letters where it is hard to hit,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “He threw one or two where he got down around the belt and they squared up a little bit.  Wynford is a good hitting team.  They are a good team.  Their record doesn’t show how good they are and I knew that that is why I pitched Ryan because I knew they would be good competition for us.”

          Due to restrictions in the number of pitches a kid can throw Lane will not pitch Friday against St. Paul.

          New London scored twice in the bottom of the first when Jake Gerlak walked to open the inning, was sacrificed to second by Derek Smith and scored on a wild pitch.  Lane also walked and scored on a ground ball by Keaton Houghtlen.  “In the first inning that is typical of how we score.  We get a couple of walks, somebody steals, somebody hits a ground ball or we get a passed ball.  We will score without hitting the ball.  We have got to do that to win because we don’t have really great hitters one through nine,” said Hamilton.

          Wynford got their only run in the fourth when Wyatt Smith doubled and eventually scored on a wild pitch, but Lane then struck out the side.

          The Royals wasted a good opportunity in the fifth when Jalen Brown tagged a one out double to left center and Bryden Oberlander dropped a bloop double behind third base, putting runners at second and third with one out.  However, Joe Christopf made a good stop of a Caleb Stone grounder at third and threw Brown out trying to score.  Brown was kicked out of the game by umpires for a high hit on New London catcher Peyton Wilson.  “I don’t want to be too negative, but base running has been out Achilles Heel all year long and you saw that right there.  Against a kid like Lane and a team like New London you are going to have to be darn near perfect and we definitely missed an opportunity there,” said Wynford coach Jordan Oliver.

          The Wildcats scored an insurance run in the fifth when after back to back walks to Lane and Wilson, Keaton Howlin singled to right.  “That gave us some breathing room.  I think that took a little air out of the sail.  Keaton Howlin has been hitting all season long.  He missed the last two games due to an ankle injury.  That is typical of him,” said Hamilton.

          Wynford had won the Northern 10 Athletic Conference title last year and lost to New London (6-1) in the district final, but did not get off to a good start.  However, Oliver says they never quit fighting.  “We were 6-11 about two weeks ago.  We brought back all of these great players and we weren’t playing well.  It was led by our seniors they continued to play hard and we got hot at the right time.  We went toe to toe with the team we wanted to play in the district tournament and hats off to them,” he said.

 

Published 5/18/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Sports Saturday” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Saturdays from 10 AM to 1 PM

 

 
 

New London beats Plymouth; Maintains Share of Lead

  

          New London won a big game at Plymouth on Monday, downing the Big Red (7-2) and maintaining a share of the Firelands Conference lead with Norwalk St. Paul.

          The Flyers beat Mapleton on Monday.

          Coach Tony Hamilton says it was one of their better performances offensively against a good team this year.  “We hit the ball really well.  We had 14 hits against some very good pitching.  Austin Nester is one of their better pitchers and had a really low ERA,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Monday, “We squared up a lot of balls and hit unlike the Mapleton game where we had a lot of pop ups.  The five, six times we did hit it hard it went right at them, but that is baseball and (Monday) night we were able to really hit the ball hard and get something out of it.”

          New London has lived on its pitching this year, but Monday Hamilton says they came through with a lot of big hits.  “We got six hits (Monday) night in the fourth inning and three or four of them off of a walk and an error I think.  They were all clutch hits.  We didn’t get too many big gap shots, but we got a lot of singles that drove in runs,” he said.

          New London (16-6,11-2), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, plays Plymouth (16-5,8-4) again on Tuesday, this time at home.

          Hamilton says they are likely going to have to get some hits again.  “We have to play Plymouth (Tuesday) and they are a good team.  They are probably the best hitting team that we will face this year.  So, we have to be ready to play some defense and then we have to be able to hit the ball.  I don’t think it is going to be a low scoring game,” he said.

          A win Tuesday by the Wildcats will give them no less than a share of the Firelands Conference title no matter what St. Paul does.

 

Published 5/09/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Sports Saturday” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Saturdays from 10 AM to 1 PM

 

 
   

New London Takes Sole Possession

  

          Peyton Wilson hit a two run homer as part of a four run first inning and Ryan Lane made it stand up as the New London Wildcats handed Norwalk St. Paul its first Firelands Conference loss and took sole possession of the conference lead with a (6-1) win over the Flyers on Tuesday.

          They play again at St. Paul on Wednesday.

          Lane and Derek Smith also had RBI hits in the first inning for the Wildcats.

          Coach Tony Hamilton says it was a huge win for his club against a very good St. Paul baseball team.  “It was a big win for us.  We were able to jump out early.  We started out the game with four extra base hits, including a home run by our clean up hitter and jumped out to a 4-0 nothing lead.  They made a pitching replacement and they slowed us down a little bit, but we had Ryan Lane on the mound and he as able to hold them to two hits and had 12 strikeouts and we ended up winning.  It was a good win for us,” said Hamilton.

          New London has started to play better offensively and get some big hits.  Hamilton says that first inning explosion made everybody more comfortable.  “It is a big relief.  We really haven’t jumped on a team like that all year with that big an offensive surge.  Everything was just right for us.  We got the right pitches.  Guys hit the ball where the other team wasn’t and we were rolling there for a while,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night after the win, “St. Paul came in and kind of slowed us down a little bit, they are a very good team.  With the momentum we had and the pitching we had it was too much for them.  (Wednesday) we are going to have to go with our number three pitcher and we will see what happens.”

          New London (13-3,9-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, plays at St. Paul (13-3,7-1), #3 in our poll, on Wednesday in the rematch.

          Hamilton says he feels with what happened on Tuesday that puts more pressure on the Flyers, who would fall two back if they lose to the Wildcats again.  “I really wanted to get this one, so the worse we could come away with this week is a tie in the conference.  So, we got that first one.  I think there is more pressure on St. Paul now than there is us, so hopefully that will be a factor in our favor where we will be able to come out play relaxed and make some plays defensively and get some key hits,” he said.

 

Published 4/26/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Sports Saturday” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Saturdays from 10 AM to 1 PM

 

 
 

Lane Dominates South Central

  

          They might even get him presents and it’s likely the rest of the Firelands Conference can’t wait for Ryan Lane to graduate.

          He was first team all Swankonsports.com in basketball and he is even better in baseball as he proved again on Tuesday.  He is headed to Kent State University to play baseball next year.

          Tuesday, he struck out the first nine South Central Trojans (5-7,2-4) he saw and New London went on to beat the South Central (10-0) to remain in first place in the Firelands Conference.

          New London coach Tony Hamilton says Lane was in command on the mound the entire night against South Central.  “We have a really good chance to win when he is on the mound.  When you have a guy that has that kind of talent, that kind of size, and in high school throws 90 MPH.  He has only walked a couple of guys all year.  (Tuesday) night he was just extra special.  He struck out the first nine batters.  He had 13 strikeouts in six innings, so he was really at his best,” said Hamilton.

          One thing that is clear about Lane is that he works hard to get better.  Hamilton says every year he has been a better pitcher than he was the year before.  “As a freshman he was about a .500 pitcher and threw in the low 80’s, but you knew with the work ethic and the talent that he had that he was going to get better.  His sophomore year he kind of came into his own,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “Last year, he was even better and this year he has gotten stronger.  He has added three or four MPH to his fastball.  It is really impressive to watch him pitch.”

          New London (8-2,5-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, hammered South Central (13-2) on Monday night.  Hamilton says they really starting to come into their own at the plate too, including Lane.  “Ryan has hit the ball really well right now too, which is an added bonus.  We have two or three guys that seem to be seeing the ball good.  We have a couple of guys that seem to be able to get on base.  We have been able to put that together and have some high scoring game here the last two games,” he said.

 

Published 4/19/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Sports Saturday” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Saturdays from 10 AM to 1 PM

 

 
 

New London Keeps Firelands Lead

  

          New London kept a share of the Firelands Conference lead with a (6-1) win at Western Reserve on Thursday night.

          Ryan Lane went the distance striking out 14 and allowing only four hits.  Payton Wilson had two hits and two RBI for the Wildcats.

         It was Roughriders (4-4,2-1) first loss in conference play after sweeping Monroeville last week.

          New London coach Tony Hamilton says they knew Western was going to be a challenge and they were ready.  “It sure was a big game.  We were very concerned.  We have been following them and they have been playing good defense and have had good pitching,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “We faced their best pitcher (Thursday) night and we actually executed one our better offensive games of the year and came away with a victory.”

          Justin Studd went six innings for Western and allowed five runs on eight hits.

          Western Reserve scored first on a RBI double by Braedon Wright in the second inning.  New London (5-2,3-0), #3 in the first Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, tied it in the fourth on Wilson’s RBI single.  The Wildcats took a (3-1) lead in the fifth when they scored on a bunt and a Roughrider error.

          Hamilton thought their offensive execution was sound.  “We decided we were going to go in and battle.  They had their Studd kid that throws low to mid 80’s and had a good curveball.  We decided we were going to make him earn it and put it in play.  We were going to bunt and move runners and then hope for a big hit and that is pretty much what happened,” said Hamilton.

          It became (5-1) in the sixth on another Wilson RBI single and the Wildcats added a run on a ground ball.

          Lane is defending conference MVP and is headed to Kent State on a full ride.  Hamilton says he got into a grove as the game was going on.  “They got to Ryan early in the second inning.  They go two hits and they went up 1-0.  Ryan didn’t lose his cool and our team didn’t lose their cool.  They came back and started battling more,” he said.

 

Published 4/14/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Sports Saturday” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Saturdays from 10 AM to 1 PM

 

 
 

New London Edges Crestview

  

          New London began defense of its Firelands Conference baseball title with a (3-2) win at home on Monday over the Crestview Cougars.

          Coach Tony Hamilton says the first thing is they got outstanding pitching from Dane Matthews and backed him up with some pretty good defense.  “We had a complete game out of Dane Matthews.  He pitched a good game and we got good defense out there,” he told Swankonsport.com on Monday night, “We ended up with nine hits.  The base running was a little bit sloppy.  That’s why we didn’t score as much as we should have.  Overall it was a pretty good win for us.”

          New London had not played a game in a week and Hamilton says it was an exercise in mental discipline for especially the younger kids they have on their roster.  “Especially with guys that don’t have much varsity experience to get to that level where things become natural for them and have instincts for baseball.  They have to be focused before that happens,” said Hamilton.

          Now New London (3-1,1-0) plays at Crestview (1-3,0-1) on Tuesday if the weather permits, which it looks like it might not.  If it does, New London will have Kent State commit Ryan Layne on the hill and Hamilton says that makes them pretty confident.  “We feel pretty good we have Ryan Layne starting (Tuesday) so we feel pretty good about our chances.  Like I said before the guys hit the ball pretty good so I feel comfortable the guys will score some runs for Ryan,” he said.

 

Published 4/05/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Sports Saturday” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Saturdays from 10 AM to 1 PM

 

 
 

New London Under Development

  

          New London is the defending Firelands Conference baseball champion and they return one of the best players in the area regardless of division in Kent State recruit Ryan Lane.

          However, they don’t have a much else returning from a team that won the district title a year ago. In division three.

          Coach Tony Hamilton says they have shown a good attitude during the preseason.  “The kids have worked really hard.  We only have a few guys that are around from the last few years.  They have really been working with the young guys as well as us.  They seem to have a good attitude.  The guys are putting the time in and doing the work and hopefully we will be able to get some results from all of that work,” said Hamilton.

          Lane had a microscopic ERA last spring and Hamilton says he is going to give them a chance to win anytime he takes the mound, plus he has been a big help to the other pitchers they have.  “With him on the mound we are going to be pretty good.  We have a freshman catcher that just came into the program that is pretty good.  He got some experience playing travel ball.  I think they will work well together.  Ryan has been working with our pitchers and showing them what he knows.  It is like having an extra coach when we are at practice,” said Hamilton.

          New London will open the season on Saturday, weather permitting, with a doubleheader against Mansfield Christian.  Their first Firelands Conference series will be an important one April 3 and 4 against Crestview.

          Can New London be in the Firelands Conference mix as it seems they are every year on the baseball field?  Hamilton emphasizes their youth again and says only time will tell.  “It is hard to tell.  It is going to be a little bit of an uphill climb.  We have guys that work hard.  Our biggest issue is going to be experience.  We only have three or four guys back, starters back, from last year.  We will see how they are able to adjust to things.  Only time will tell how they do under pressure,” he said.

 

Published 3/22/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Sports Saturday” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Saturdays from 10 AM to 1 PM

 

 
 

New London Can Not Allow Clear Fork Confidence

  

          New London is the top seed in the division three district tournament, but they are a little wary.

          The Wildcats (17-5) play Clear Fork (6-16) in a sectional final on Friday night at Shelby High School.

          In what was a balanced Firelands Conference this year, the Wildcats had to battle to the end and need a win over Plymouth (62-47) to secure an outright title.

          Coach Tom Howell says having something on the line on the final week has kept them sharp.  “It went down to the last game of the season.  It was a good testament to the teams in our conference.  I am proud of our kids and the way their finished it.  We will just see what happens on Friday with Clear Fork,” he said.

          The Colts drilled Galion (81-51) in a semi-final game on Wednesday night.  They finished at the bottom on the Ohio Cardinal Conference this year, but Howell says they have a lot of skill.  “Clear Fork is pretty good.  They play in the “OCC” and they play a lot of bigger schools.  They have pretty athletic kids,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have got some shooters.  They get up and down the floor, they guard pretty well, they are physical.  It is not going to be easy for us.  I am looking for a tough game on Friday.”

          New London has to be considered the favorite in this game, but Howell says they can not allow Clear Fork to hang around on Friday and gain confidence.  “They can score point in bunches.  They get up and down the floor.  On Wednesday it was a pretty close first quarter and the next thing you know they are up 20.  They have some shooters and if you let them get good looks and let them get a little confidence it could be a struggle,” said Howell.

 

Published 3/03/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

Better Effort Needed By New London

  

          New London gets a rematch with Mansfield St. Peter’s this time in the girls’ division four district tournament at Shelby High School on Saturday night.

          The Lady Wildcats (15-8) advanced with a (61-26) shellacking of Crestline on Wednesday night.

          Coach Eric Mitchell felt his girls, even though heavily favored, came in with the right attitude and approach to the game.  “I told the girls not to overlook anybody.  Everybody was 0-0 going into that game.  I thought the girl’s focus was where it needed to be.  We came out and jumped on them early and we never looked back.  It was one of those games when we wanted to improve on some things and see if there were some things we could do to get us ready for upcoming games like this one coming up Saturday,” he said.

          It is the second meeting of the year between the teams.  The Lady Spartans drilled New London (53-33) in a regular season game on December 22 at New London.

          St. Peter’s (12-11) downed South Central (58-39) in the first game at Shelby on Wednesday night.  Mitchell says they have good shooting lead by Caroline Blunk.  “It is nice to get that rematch.  We played them early in the season and going back and looking at that film I wish I wouldn’t have. We didn’t play very well at all against them, probably one our worse games of the season, but you have to credit them they came into our place and beat us up pretty good.  Blunk is shooting the ball really well for them.  She is one of those guards that when she is open she is going to shoot it.  She had six three pointers (Wednesday) night against South Central.  We don’t want her to get going Saturday night.  We know what we have to do to get ready for them.  We have to go in and game plan and practice and get ready for them.  We’ll see what happens, but we are going to go out there and give everything we have got,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell says simply they didn’t play very well when they faced St. Peter’s the first time, devoid of emotion, and it showed on the scoreboard.  He says the must come out Saturday night and play much harder.  “We just didn’t take care of the ball.  You have to give them a little bit of the credit for the pressure they were giving us defensively.  We made some silly passes.  It was one of those games in going and watching it again we had no effort, there was no energy at all in our girls and it showed.  We were down in that third and fourth quarter and it was like we had already thrown in the towel.  It was like we were waiting for that final buzzer to sound.  It was a disappointing game and the girls know that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “That was a game where we just didn’t play good and they know that.  St. Pete’s knows that they came into our place and pretty much punched us right in the mouth and took care of business.  I’m glad we got this shot.  I think the girl’s focus by the time we got off the bus back at school they know okay we have to get ready for this next game.  I hope they keep that focus because it is one of those games that is going to come down to the end and who executes the small things.”

 

Published 2/24/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

All in the Hands of New London

  

          New London has earned a share of the Firelands Conference boys’ basketball title, but they don’t want to stay there, they want to get the title to themselves and they have that chance on Friday.

          They host Plymouth on Friday and a win gives the Wildcats an undisputed title.

          They put themselves in that position with a (92-90) double overtime win over Mapleton last Friday.  Karson Howell hit a three pointer at the horn to give his team the win, finishing the night with 31 points.

          His dad, New London coach Tom Howell, says it was a great game.  “That was an amazing game.  Mapleton is good.  They are a very scary   basketball team.  They played their butts off and so did we.  We were just fortunate to hit the shot at the buzzer,” he said.

          The Wildcats lost (67-61) to Wynford of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference on Saturday night.  Howell says they just didn’t defend the way they need to.  “I don’t want to blame it all on Friday because we have to go and play and we didn’t play at the defensive end of the floor.  I give Wynford a lot of credit they made some shots.  We just didn’t finish.  It wasn’t our best game.  Wynford played petty well and we didn’t,” said Howell.

          New London (16-5,11-2) plays at home against Plymouth (5-16,2-10) on Friday night.  The Big Red lost a tough one to Monroeville (53-52) in overtime last Friday, but responded to beat Lucas (56-45) on Saturday in a non-conference game.

          Howell says Plymouth is better than when they beat them (63-46) in January.  “They beat a good Lucas team on Friday night by 11.  They have been playing pretty well here the second half of the season.  We have to bring our “A” game or it could be a long night for us,” he said.

          When it comes to winning the title Howell says it is good they don’t have to rely on anyone else.  He says it is up to them.  “We have talked about this and we said we don’t want to share this.  We all agree nobody wants to share this,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Anybody that plays sports you don’t want to share a league title you want to win it outright.  The good thing is it is all up to us.  We don’t have to rely on anybody else to help us out.  We have to get the job done.”

 

Published 2/21/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

Defense Must be the Difference For New London

  

          New London shares first place with Norwalk St. Paul with two games left on the Firelands Conference schedule.

          They lost (42-40) to St. Paul last Friday in a defensive struggle to drop from sole possession of the lead.

          Coach Tom Howell says they just couldn’t make enough baskets.  “It was a good basketball game.  I give St. Paul a lot of credit.  We didn’t shoot very well.  I think we shot 28 percent from the floor and you aren’t going to win many games like that.  We were able to keep ourselves in it.  We had a chance at the end to win it or tie it we just fell a little shot,” said Howell.

          They did rebound and beat Black River (73-45) on Saturday night.  Howell says they ran the floor and executed much better when they had the ball in their hands.  “It helped us out a little bit.  We shot the ball pretty well that night.  I just wish we could have taken a little bit of that from the night before.  It was good we played pretty well.  We got up and down the floor and it was good to come out with a win,” he said.

          New London (15-4,10-2) plays at home against Mapleton (11-8,5-7) in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  The Mounties upset Western Reserve (54-46) two weeks ago.

          Howell says they have a lot of offensive weapons.  “Mapleton is a pretty good basketball team.  They have some shooters.  They have a real good guard in Berone.  If he gets going it makes it hard to guard the shooters.  If he gets in the paint he will pitch it out,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have a couple of guys off the bench that will shoot it.  We have to guard.  That is what we have been preaching all year we have to play defense and just contain the basketball.”

 

Published 2/17/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

New London Tries to Hold onto First Place

  

          New London holds a one game lead over Norwalk St. Paul in the Firelands Conference race with three games to be played here in the final weeks of the regular season and they host the Flyers in the biggest game of the year in the conference so far on Friday night.

          The Wildcats rallied from 10 down with three minutes to play to beat South Central (48-46) on Jacob Molnar’s stick back at the buzzer last Friday.  Then beat last place Monroeville (50-42) on Saturday to hold onto the lead.

          Coach Tom Howell says they just found a way to win.  “I am glad we came out on top, but if we just played a little better that makes my job a little easier.  My hair line doesn’t go back as far.  We pulled them out, especially Friday it was crazy.  I am still scratching my head trying to figure out how we won that game.  Then we go to Monroeville and we struggle the first half.  I thought we played a lot better in the second half,” said Howell.

          Ryan Lane has not been scoring as much in the last few games for the Wildcats because he is pretty much being smothered when he gets the ball.  Howell says they must find a way to get him open shots.  “My assistant and I here the last couple of days have been talking I said we have to figure out something here.  He is not getting shots.  When he touches the ball, especially inside, he is getting two, three guys most of the time.  They are just surrounding him,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We are fortunate right now that we do have some other scorers.  We have a couple of other guys averaging 12 and 10 and they making shots right now, which is saving us.”

          Norwalk St. Paul (13-4,9-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, comes to New London (14-3,10-1), #4 in our poll, on Friday night.  The Wildcats won the first game (36-31) on January 6. 

          Howell says the Flyers are well coached and know what they have to do to the win.  “They are very disciplined.  They know what they want to do and they work really hard at getting that done.  They are tall, they are big and they look to get the ball inside.  The Furlong kid is shooting the ball better here lately and they are very efficient on the offensive end.  They might only get 44 to 48 shots up, but I bet they shoot about 50 percent.  We have to figure out a way to negate that a little bit,” said Howell.

          Although they were able to win a tight game the last time that was low scoring Howell says they would like to pick up the pace a little more in this game.  “We have to try make them play faster a little bit and not let them set up in so many sets that they like to run.  If we can get a few possessions done that way on the defensive end and maybe get a turnover and shoot it quick.  It is going to be play by play.  We are going to do the best we can,” he said.

 

Published 2/07/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

New London Has to Get Back at it

  

          New London lost for the first time in Firelands Conference action last week to Western Reserve.  They are still all alone in first place, but if they don’t get back to where they were before they won’t be for long.

          They lead Norwalk St. Paul and Western by just a game.

          The Roughriders beat them (60-51) last Friday, but Wildcats coach Tom Howell says they have responded well in practice this week.  “So far, I’ll be honest with you we have had some pretty good practices.  So, hopefully we have our minds set back to where they need to be.  It is not going to be easy Friday night, but I think we took a huge step in the right direction getting back after it in practice after a game where I thought against Western we played a little bit uninspired,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “When you go back and watch the film and we did a lot of things not very well.  It has been good this week.”

          New London (12-3,8-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, plays at rival South Central (9-6,5-4) on Friday night.  The Wildcats beat the defending conference champions (61-55) in December.

          Howell says the Trojans like to play fast and they have players with the skill to do it.  “The pace is going to be like we like it.  They like to push it.  They like to get in the paint.  They will shoot it at any time.  They have some pretty good shooters.  They have some kids that can drive it.  They are athletic.  They are a good basketball team.  It is not going to be easy for us,” he said.

          New London is known for its very sound defense.  Howell says what they have to do Friday night is keep the Trojans out of the paint.  “We want to come out and get a good start.  I know they want to get a good start.  I think the biggest key for us we have to keep them out of the paint, stop penetration.  That is a key to their success on offense.  They kick it out to shooters.  They dump it down to people.  We just have to stop penetration.  I think if we can do that early that is a plus for us,” said Howell.

 

Published 2/02/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

New London Wants to Hold onto Lead

  

          New London leads Western Reserve and Norwalk St. Paul by two games in the Firelands Conference standings and they play host to the Roughriders at their place on Friday night.

          The Wildcats started the second half of the conference double round robin with a (70-42) win over Crestview last Saturday night. 

          Coach Tom Howell says they were able to run the floor and get some easy baskets.  “I have a lot of respect for the Crestview players and coaches our kids, both teams, our kids know each other pretty well.  We played pretty well and it was an all around good game for us.  We shot the ball well and overall one of the things I thought we did pretty well was run the floor.  We got some easy shots early in the game and that helped us get going,” said Howell.

          The coach said he knew before the season started that executing in the fast break was something they would be pretty good at with their personnel.  “I knew that going into this year that was one thing we would do pretty well and we started doing it over the summer and our kids bought into it.  We are pretty fast.  We get up and down the floor.  You play slow and work hard to get a good shot or you can play fast and get a good shot right away sometimes.  That is the way we are going right now and it is working for us,” he said.

          New London (12-2,8-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, is at home for Western Reserve (8-5,6-2) on Friday night.  Western in coming off wins over South Central (58-56) and Monroeville (59-45) in games last weekend.

          They will likely be without their best player in Jaret Griffith, still nursing a food injury, but Howell says they are still going to be a tough nut to crack.  “It is going to be a battle.  They are good.  They have some good seniors still, some post players.  Puter, their best player, can play inside and outside.  Coach Sheldon is going to get them ready to play and it is not going to be easy for us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “The next couple of weeks we are going to see what we are made of.  I know we have a little bit of a lead, but I don’t like to think about it too much.  With the teams we are playing it could disappear just like that.”

          New London won the first match-up (66-57) in December.

          Defense is going to be critical on Friday night and Howell believes the Roughriders will try to be physical with them.  “They are a physical basketball team.  They get in your face and guard you.  We are going to see what we can do against that.  He’ll come up with something different here and there.  When they throw the ball up Friday night at 7:30 I think it is going to be a heck of a basketball game,” he said.

 

Published 1/26/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

First Place New London Needs Focus

  

          New London has built a two game lead in the Firelands Conference with wins over its closest pursuers in Western Reserve, South Central, and Norwalk St. Paul all in good games.

          Now they are playing the role of the hunted.

          They play at Plymouth on Thursday night and then begin the second half of the conference double round robin on Saturday night at Crestview against the Cougars.

          The Wildcats pulled one out of the fire on Tuesday night at Mansfield Christian in non-conference play by outscoring the Flames (16-2) in the fourth quarter to win (40-37) as the Flames missed a couple of threes in the last 10 seconds of the game.

          Coach Tom Howell says Christian made them feel uncomfortable with some of the things they were doing.  “Coach Kurtz does a good job with his kids and they have some very, very good guards.  They took us out of our game a little bit.  They spread the floor and were very patient and it bothered us in the first half,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We didn’t know how to handle that very well.  Our defense wasn’t that great, but I have to equate that to what they were trying to do.  They have some shooters and they were making shots in the first half.  We battled back and ended up getting the win.”

          New London (10-2,6-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, plays over at Plymouth (2-9,1-5) in a conference game Thursday.  They got their first conference win over Monroeville (61-39) last Friday.

          Howell says the Big Red has guys that can make plays.  “Plymouth has some athletes on the floor.  The Nester kid is very good, the Chaffins kid can shoot it, the Adams kid, the point guard, is very good.  They are a team where if you are not ready to play they are going to beat you.  We are going to work on (Wednesday) to try and get our legs back under us a little bit.  It is not going to be easy at Plymouth (Thursday) night,” said Howell.

          New London belted Crestview (68-31) in their first meeting this year on December 9.  Howell says with the Cougars pressure defense they can make it tough for you to get in a rhythm.  “It isn’t going to be any easier for us going over there on Saturday.  They play very hard.  They get in your face on defense.  We are going to have to handle their pressure.  I will say it again it is not going to be easy over there,” he said.

 

Published 1/19/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

First Place New London at Mapleton

  

          New London holds one game lead on South Central and Western Reserve in the Firelands Conference boys’ basketball standings as we near the halfway point.

          They kept the lead when they rallied to overhaul Norwalk St. Paul (36-31) in a conference game last Friday.

          Coach Tom Howell says they couldn’t shoot a lick, but they were able to do what was necessary to get the win over the Flyers.  “We were like 13-48 from the field.  We didn’t shoot the ball very well.  We got good looks.  In the second half we tried to get the ball in the paint and get to the free throw line and that helped us a little bit.  We found a way to win,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We did a heck of a job defensively I thought.  We did everything we could I thought to limit their big guys in the paint.  Some how, some way we found a way to pull it out.”

          Defense has been the bed rock of the New London program and Howell says they preach that every day in practice.  “Everyday I say at sometime during our practice I say you can’t always make shots, but you can always play “D.”  So far, so good, after our first couple of games we have turned it around and our guys are starting to buy in and it is helping us out right now,” he said.

          New London (8-2,5-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, is at Mapleton (7-3,2-3,) a (54-46) winner of Kidron Central Christian on Tuesday in a non-league game and they beat Monroeville (63-58) last Friday in their last league game.

          Howell says they are athletic and they can get the ball down the floor in a hurry.  “They are good.  They have three really good players in Hanies, Barone and Davis.  They have some role players that come in to help them out.  They can score.  They are very athletic.  They push the ball up and down the floor very hard.  We have to be ready to play.  If we don’t it could be a long night for us,” he said.

          One of the keys to this game for the Wildcats will be getting back on defense and limiting the easy looks that the Mounties get to score the ball in transition.  “Their strong point is getting out and running and getting to the rim that way and kick it out to a couple of the shooters they have.  We are going to have to be able to contain the basketball in the open floor and it is not easy.  Barone is pretty good.  We are going to put Gerlack on him until he can’t stop him any more,” said Howell.

 

Published 1/11/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

New London Wants to Run

  

          New London leads Norwalk St. Paul, South Central, Crestview and Western Reserve by a game in the Firelands Conference standings and they play at St. Paul in a key early season game on Friday night.

          The Wildcats lost for just the second time this season on Monday night when Edison beat them (49-42) in a non-conference game.

          Coach Tom Howell says the Chargers played very good defense and really were able to limit the number of shots they were able to put up.  “We struggled a little bit on the offensive end.  We did shoot a good percentage, especially from the three point range, but they just did a good job of not letting us get shots off,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We only took 38 shots and we are averaging between 55 and 60 shots a game.  They did a magnificent job of holding us down.  They are one of the most athletic teams that we have seen this season so far and they did what they needed to do.”

          New London (7-2,4-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division,  plays at Norwalk St. Paul (4-2,2-1) on Friday night.  The Flyers have lost their last two after winning their first four, including a (47-46) loss at the buzzer to Crestview last Friday.

          Howell says the Flyers have always been big and now they are even bigger.  “They are huge.  They were big before and now they got another kid back from injury and now they are able to put another 6’5” kid on the floor.  They can put 6’6”, 6’5”, 6’4” and a couple of other 6’3” or 6’2” kids on the floor at the same time.  They can cause some big problems if we don’t take care of the ball and do what we need to do at our end of the floor,” said Howell.

          New London has been forcing the pace more this season than in pervious years and Howell says they are going to have to be able to do that on Friday night.  “We want to get our shots up and push the ball and get our shooters open and get them off to a good start.  That is what we want to do.  We want to push it and play faster.  Hopefully we can make their big guys tired , but they are a pretty athletic team,” he said.

 

Published 1/06/17

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swanksports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays between 10 PM and midnight

 

 
 

New London Needs Four Quarters

  

          New London is a very good basketball team, but one that has to play a complete four quarters if it is going to win.

          That didn’t happen last Tuesday and they lost to Hillsdale (61-59) when the Falcons Trey Williams cashed in on a three at the buzzer.

          New London coach Tom Howell says they did not play a complete game.  “We didn’t play very well for about a quarter against Hillsdale and that came back to haunt us.  With Hillsdale we have play four quarters against them or they are going to beat you and that’s what happened,” he said.

          New London (4-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, owns wins this year over Western Reserve (66-57) and South Central (61-56) in Firelands Conference play and they share first place in the conference with Norwalk St. Paul.

          However, Howell says they are not good enough to take any time off during games.  “We have to play good for four quarters, especially against good teams and we are hoping to get back on track (Tuesday) night.  They are pretty good we will have our hands full, so we have to play four quarters over there,” said.

          New London plays at Lucas (4-3) in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.  Lucas challenged Mansfield St. Peter’s for a half before losing (76-57) in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game last week.

          Howell says the Cubs will be a challenge.  “They have some shooters, they have a little bit of height, their guard play is pretty good.  We played them a little bit this summer over at Crestview.  We are going to have to go over and be ready to play and if we don’t they are going to beat you,” said Howell.

 

Published 12/27/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight

 

 
 

New London Faces Tough Weekend

  

          New London has played some really good basketball to this point in the season, but they face a big test this weekend when they play two of the other contenders in the Firelands Conference in Western Reserve and South Central back to back.

          Last Friday, they got off to a good start in the conference with a convincing (68-31) win over Crestview behind 29 points and 19 rebounds from senior Ryan Lane. 

         Coach Tom Howell says the way they played defense was a big key in the win over Crestview.  “We did a lot of good things on Friday.  I think one of the biggest things we did as a team is we got after them on the defensive end and that just sparked everything else.  We got some good looks and some second chance points and I think that really helped,” he said.

          He says they were able to take Crestview out of some of the things they wanted to do.  “I think coach Spencer said in the first seven, eight seconds they want to shoot the basketball and they weren’t able to do that and I think that made them a little uncomfortable.  I thought we got some momentum doing a little bit,” he said.

          New London (2-0,1-0) is at Western Reserve (3-1,1-0) on Friday night.  The Rough Riders looked pretty good last Friday with a (77-40) destruction of Monroeville in their conference opener.

         Howell says Western defends and runs the floor well and they must be able to slow that down.  “They are going to be hard to stop on the offensive end.  What they do well is they guard pretty well and then they run the floor.  What we are going to have to do with our offensive team is really get things going and try and get up and down,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They shoot it.  They are going to shoot threes and then go get it.  If we can hold them from getting good shots we might have a chance”

South Central (1-1,0-0.) defending Firelands Conference champion, comes to New London on Saturday night.  The Trojans did not play a game last weekend because their game with Norwalk St. Paul was rescheduled, but Howell knows they carry a whole of potential.  “I would have wanted that if I were the coach.  They are good.  Brett Seidel has done a good job with those guys.  They have a lot back from last year and they won the league last year and they are going to be up toward the top of the league this year.  They have some nice players and it is not an easy weekend for us,” said Howell.

 

 

Published 12/13/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” with co-host Roy Shoulders airs live on Swankonsports.com Fridays from 10 PM to midnight  

 
 

New London Must Handle Crestview Pressure

  

          New London is a team with the potential to be a Firelands Conference contender and they open up league play at home Friday night against the Crestview Cougars, who won their opener Tuesday night over Loudonville (68-51) in non-league play.

          In their first game last Saturday, the Wildcats downed Wellington (60-57) to open the season.  Coach Tom Howell says they did a lot of good things, like rebounding, but there are things they much improve, like handling the ball.  “I thought overall we played pretty well.  One thing we need to improve is we didn’t handle the pressure real well.  I am sure there were reasons they have big, athletic kids,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They were 6’4”, 6’5”, 230, 240, and can run up and down the floor like deer.  I think we struggled a little bit, at times.  We have to get better at that.  We won the rebounding battle, which I thought was critical and it ended up being that way.  If we could make free throws we would won by seven or eight, so we have to work on that too.”

          One things the Wildcats are really good at is working hard to improve and Howell is confident that they are going to continue to that as the season unfolds.  “We have keep working on (ball handling.)  We worked on that a lot on Monday.  We are going to work on that everyday until can do that all of the time.  The kids do a pretty good job of that,” he said.

          Shawn Spencer is in is second year as the Crestview coach and Howell says the Cougars are going to bring a lot of pressure in an attempt to get turnovers and get New London out of their offense.  “They are going to get in our face and pressure of the ball.  They are going to full court trap, they are going to half court trap and we have to handle it.  They do a pretty good job with that.  They had a new coach in there last year and that is the style he wants to play and they are buying into it.  The coach is doing a good job of selling it and they are buying into it.  They are a pretty good team,” said Howell.

 

Published 12/07/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays between 10 PM and midnight

 

 
 

New London Working Hard

  

          New London, another of the good teams in the Firelands Conference this season, opens the campaign in non-conference play against Wellington on Saturday night.

          Head coach Tom Howell says there have been some ups and downs in scrimmage play, but overall he is happy with the work ethic of the kids and that is pretty important.  “We are going to be playing no matter what.  I guess we have had a pretty good preseason.  One scrimmage we didn’t play very well, but we played pretty well in the last scrimmage and we have been getting better in practice.  That is all we can ask for.  Now we get to see if all this work is going to pay off on Saturday,” said Howell.

          The preseason lasts about a month and Howell says the players are tired on beating up on each other and they are ready to play a game for real.  “They are ready to do, probably more so than we as coaches think they are ready to go.  They have played extremely hard and that is all you can ask at this point.  We are trying to take what we have been trying to do in practice as coaches into game time action,” he said.

          Wellington has some height and those big guys are athletic too.  Howell says they want to get them away from the basket.  “One thing they are big.  They have four kids about 6’4”, 6’5” and that can cause some problems at times.  They are pretty athletic,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They aren’t big kids that can’t move or anything, they can get up and down the floor.  We are going to try and speed the game up and make them come out and guard us a little bit and see what happens”

 

Published 12/01/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

Fridays from 10 PM to midnight.

 

 
 

New London Showing Promise

  

          New London is coming off a 15 win season from a year ago and the Wildcats are going to be in the mix this season in the Firelands Conference boys’ basketball race.

          They have one of the best athletes in the conference in senior Ryan Lane, who has been a starter for the Wildcats since his freshman year.  Last week, he signed a letter of intent to play baseball for division one Kent State of the Mid-American Conference.

          The basketball team is coming off its first scrimmage last Saturday and coach Tom Howell saw some things he liked and things that need to get better too.  “I like what I see.  We had our first scrimmage Saturday against Bowling Green and we played pretty well, played well at times I should say.  We are getting up and down the floor, which I think is going to be a strong point. We need to guard a little bit better, that’s what we are going to work on starting (Monday) night.  We need to get everybody on the same page with the rebounding scheme that we want to do.  We need to not have people down there, I call it taking pictures while other people rebound for them.  So, we have to work on that a little bit.  It wasn’t too bad for the first week,” said Howell.

          Last year was a good season, but every year is different with schools the size of the Firelands Conference.  Howell he thinks they will have good chemistry and that is important.  “Especially at a small school.  We have a lot kids playing football.  We have a couple of kids that are still banged up from football, but we have a pretty good group of kids that work pretty hard.  They get a long pretty well, which is always important.  I think we are going to be okay.  I think if we can get some things done here in the next couple of weeks we will see what happens.  I think we are going to be able to compete,” he said.

          The Firelands Conference may have been top heavy the last couple of years, but Howell thinks there is going to be a lot of balance this year and you will not be able to take any nights off.  “I think this is the best the league has been since I have been a varsity coach, which is 12 years.  It is going to be tough.  Everybody is going to be good.  Western was picked to win it, South Central won it last year, they brought some people back,” he told Swankonsports.com when we visited New London on Monday night, “St. Paul is going to be an interesting team because they are big, they are athletic, and they are big.  They can put five guys on the floor 6’2” or better that are athletic and get up and down the floor and do some great things.  They are going to be a team to be reckoned with.  Crestview has turned the corner over there.  You can’t overlook them.  You can’t overlook Mapleton, you can’t over look Monroeville, I mean it is going to be tough.”

 

Published 11/15/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

on Friday nights from 10 AM to Midnight

 

 
 

New London Has Potential

  

          New London enjoyed a tremendous year last season in which the Lady Wildcats advanced to the division four regional tournament.  They want that to be a stepping stone for building a successful program.

          The Lady Wildcats were (21-5) last year and finished as runners up in the Firelands Conference.

          Coach Eric Mitchell says they will be young and inexperienced to begin this season.  “We have a lot of inexperience this year.  Losing six seniors and a great senior class I have two returning letter winners.  They are the only ones that have any kind of varsity experience.  The good thing is it is two starters Morgan Luedy and Eden Copley.  They are great leaders and they are going to be good for us.  It is going to take a little bit of time, but I think we will be okay.  I think we can compete week in and week out just because of the work ethic that girls have brought to the table thus far,” he said.

          A big key for New London will be to bring a strong work ethic to practice everyday.  Mitchell says that is how they are going to get better as a team.  “I have said to the girls we need to win every practice in order to be completive and have that chance at winning the games.  That is the truth if you come in and you take days off at practice it is going to show down the road.  I have told the girls everyday that you have to bring that energy, you have to bring that focus.  There are a lot of positions open right now.  There is not any guaranteed spots outside of my two starters.  We asked the girls to come to practice and bring some energy and then as the season progresses we will see what we have,” said Mitchell.

          There may not be a lot of varsity minutes coming back, but Mitchell says the players he has were around a winning situation and they understand what it takes to get there.  “That was the first thing that I told the girls when we were coming in on the first day was they saw what it took.  They may not have been as much a part of it, but they were there.  Even the young girls that were more practice players or even the JV girls they saw how much hard work it took,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “The work ethic that those girls came in with day and day out.  I don’t want last year to be a fluke year.  New London hopefully is on the map, especially in the Firelands Conference, but also in the district.  I want teams to know these girls know how to play and understand the game.  You want to build that tradition that some other schools have, like what Amy (Taylor-Sheldon) has done down at Wynford.  She has done a tremendous job for years now.  That is something I want for New London.”

 

Published 11/10/16

© Swankonsports.com

Follow us on Twitter at @swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

“Out of Bounds” airs live on Swankonsports.com

10 PM to Midnight on Fridays.

 

 
 

New London on to the Regionals

 

          New London scored six times in the first two innings and that was more than enough for ace Ryan Lane and the Wildcats beat Wynford (6-1) in the division four district final on Monday evening at Shelby High School.

          They will play Kalida or Leipsic in the regional semis at Patrick Henry High School on Thursday.

          New London scored a run in the first on a hit batter and three on a suicide squeeze bunt.  The throw was late to the plate and the catcher then threw the ball into centerfield allowing two more runs home.  Wynford starter Trey Stone then left the game after allowing two runs on two hits in the second inning.

          Coach Tony Hamilton says the early offense was key to their success Monday.  "That was crucial (Monday.)  Their pitcher was struggling a little with some command issues.  We laid down a couple of bunts.  We kept putting pressure on them and they made a couple of mistakes.  We were able to get four runs in the first.  Hit the ball a little bit in the second inning and added two more.  That was all we needed for Ryan," said Hamilton.

          Wynford (19-6) coach Joe Staab says the mistakes his team made in the first inning were not who they have been about this year.  "I thought we didn't bring our best (Monday.)  We played more pressed than I expected.  We put ourselves in a hole early with mental mistakes, which is hard to dig out of.  Credit to New London for playing well.  I thought we didn't compete as well as we have throughout the year," said Staab.

          Lane has a no hitter this season and two one hitters and Hamilton says they feel pretty confident when they can get him some early run support.  "We feel pretty good when we can get Ryan a couple of runs and get him that lead.  When he got those runs, that kind of runs support early, it just makes his job easier," he said.

          There were a number of walks in the game and it appeared that there was a small strike zone, but Hamilton feels that Lane was able to adapt as the game went on.  "It was kind of a small strike zone for both teams.  I think Ryan walked four or five the first four innings.  He settled into the strike zone that the umpire wanted and was able to make some big pitches there.  I think he ended up with 10 strikeouts," said Hamilton.

           New London (23-3) is outright Firelands Conference champion this season and finished the regular season as the #1 team in the small school division of the Swankonsports.com coaches poll.  Hamilton says he couldn't bee more pleased by how his team has played defense and they have gotten great pitching all year.  "I have been totally happy with the way the kids have played.  We have had very few expositions offensively, but we have been very steady on our defense and our pitching," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, "We are doing the things it really takes to win ballgames.  I think the kids have really learned a lot and grew a lot this year."

 

Published 5/24/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Follow us on Twitter at @Swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

 

 
 

New London Blasts Lucas; Wynford Next

 

          New London rallied from an early deficit and drilled Lucas (11-1) in six innings in Wednesday's division four district semi-final at Shelby High School.

          They meet Wynford for a district title on Saturday.

          Lucas scored in the top of the first, but New London got two in the third, two in the fourth, and four more in fifth and the rout was on.

          New London coach Tony Hamilton says started Justin Chaffins allowed two hits in the first inning, but after that he was lights out.  "Justin Chaffins came out and had a rough first inning.  Gave up hits to the first two batters and that is all of the hits he gave up for the rest of the game.  He ended up striking out 10 in six innings.  So, he pretty much held them in check," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening after the win, "When you know you have a pitcher out there that is going to be throwing strikes and keeping the hitters off balance it makes it a lot easier for you."

         Chaffins, the Wildcats number two starter, has had some first innings when he has been belted, but Hamilton says he has the reputation of settling in.  "I think there were some fans in the stands that were panicking,  A sportswriter or two asked if we were afraid?  Were we concerned?  We weren't really all that concerned.  He usually starts out pretty rough in the first inning and then he gets his rhythm and pitches well and that's exactly what he did (Wednesday) night," said Hamilton.

          Hitting has been a concern this season for New London (21-3), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division.  They have relied on their pitching, but Hamilton says they have gotten hot lately.  "The last three games we have been hitting the ball hard.  (Wednesday) I think we only had a couple of strikeouts.  We played Mapleton the other day and hit the ball hard and scored 11, 12 runs,  In the Crestline game when we won (5-1) we really hit the ball hard.  On another day we could have scored a few more runs.  Maybe we are starting to find some things out as far as hitting is concerned," he said.

          Wynford (19-5), #2 in our poll, beat Norwalk St. Paul (4-1) in Wednesday's other semi-final. 

          Hamilton says it will be two similar teams that play on Saturday at Shelby.  "Wynford is a lot like us.  They depend on good defense and good pitching.  It is going to be a close game.  It is going to be a low scoring game.  Hopefully we can score a couple of runs, keep them from scoring one less than we score, and come out with a win, but Wynford is a very good team," he said.

 

Published 5/19/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Follow us on Twitter at @Swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook   

 

 
 

New London Wins Sectional

 

          New London, the Firelands Conference leader, downed Crestline (5-1) in a sectional championship game played at New London on Wednesday.

          It may seem like a broken record, but again Ryan Lane was overwhelming for the Wildcats in going the distance and striking out 14.

          Lane, who has a no hitter to his credit this season, and a couple more near no-hitters, is getting better every time out, according to his coach Tony Hamilton.  "He just seems to be getting better and better.  He really knows how to mix up his pitches.  He had 14 K's (Wednesday) night.  He really had the hitters off balance all night.  Like I said, he is getting better and better," he said.

          Hamilton adds the defense is also alert and ready to make plays for the Wildcats.  He says other teams just don't hit the hard off Lane.  "There are a lot of soft grounders, little pop ups when they do put it in play.  He gave up a couple of hits (Wednesday) that were just finding a hole stuff.  They had eyes were able to find some daylight.  He did a tremendous job," he said.

          New London (19-3,11-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, has been winning on its pitching.  Hamilton hopes their offense is starting to come around.  "I not really happy about how we have been hitting the ball, but I thought we were better (Wednesday) night that is showed in our run production.  We had seven or eight balls that were really squared up and were hit hard.  They just happened to be right at people," he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Wednesday, "I think we are getting a little better.  Our offense is struggling.  We are playing just well enough to win as far as the offense is concerned.  We are capable of doing a little more.  Hopefully we will put something together here soon."

          New London plays Lucas, a (2-0) winner over Buckeye Central in another sectional final on Wednesday, next Wednesday at Shelby in the division four district semi-finals.

          The Wildcats beat Lucas (13-4) back on March 29, but Hamilton says he knows the Cubs are a lot better now.  "Lucas is a much improved team.  We played them earlier in the year and we were able to handle them pretty easily.  Apparently they have done some things that are a little bit different than what they have had before.  I think it is going to be a very interesting game.  I think we are going to have Dustin Chaffins pitch that game and we will see what happens," he said.

          They hold a one game lead on Crestview in the conference standings and face two games against Plymouth on Saturday.  Wins in both would give the Wildcats the conference title.

 

Published 5/12/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Follow us on Twitter at @Swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook   

 

 
 

New London Takes Sole Possession of Lead

 

          Ryan Lane fired a one-hitter as New London beat Norwalk St. Paul (3-0) on Tuesday to take sole possession of the lead in the Firelands Conference baseball standings.

          St. Paul is now a game back.

          Lane almost had himself a perfect game on Tuesday against a team that has hit the ball pretty well this season. 

          Coach Tony Hamilton says Lane was outstanding.  "He had 10 strikeouts.  The only thing was they got a little Texas leaguer to left field to keep him from a no hitter.  He didn't walk anybody.  The balls they did put in play were pretty easy grounders to our middle infielders.  So, he pitched about as good a game as you are going to see," he said.

          Offensively, the Wildcats had to go about things a little differently, but the Hamilton says they did what they needed to do.  "The field conditions weren't very good.  We are a running team and we weren't able to run due to the field conditions, so we had to bunt to move some guys over.  Then we got some clutch hits to get them in.  We weren't able to play the game that we normally would like to because of the field conditions," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night after the win, "We didn't hit the ball all that bad.  I think we had eight hits, but I think we probably squared up 15, 16 balls, they just happened to find a glove.  Hopefully, (Wednesday) when we play them we will be able to hit some green out there instead of some gloves.
          New London (14-3,8-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, plays host to St. Paul (10-3,6-2), #3 in our poll, on Wednesday in another key game.

          Hamilton says he is confident going in.  "We have a good combination with Ryan Lane and the Brad Weber.  Bread Weber has been doing a good job for us.  I think his ERA is down around 1.13 or something like that.  he has done a good job.  He is on the mound (Wednesday.)   He'll throw strikes and I think he will limit their runs on (Wednesday,) he said.

 

Published 4/27/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

Swankonsports@gmail.com

Follow us on Twitter at @Swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

 

 
 

New London Sweeps South Central

 

          New London got out the lumber, or the aluminum if you will, and they belted South Central (19-0) in a Firelands Conference baseball game on Tuesday.

          Coupled with a (2-1) win on Monday, the Wildcats (10-3,5-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, sweep the Trojans this year.

          Coach Tony Hamilton says they were able to string some hits together on Tuesday.  "I was a little concerned about our performance on offense Monday night and we had a good talk about that after the game.  We only had four hits.  We faced South Central's number one (Tuesday) night and we were able to hit.  I think we had 14 or 15 hits, so there was good offense for us," he said.

          It was a matter of approach.  Hamilton says they had an idea of what they wanted to do at the plate.  "We had a really slow lefty that was baffling us Monday night and they guys didn't change their approach till the sixth inning," he told Swankonsports.com after the win, "We had a couple of guys that were able to wait on their pitch, and not reach for it.  Nate Thomas was able to get a triple, after a walk to Brad Weber, D.J. Yates was able to get up there and get a double and was able to knock in the two runs that were decisive in winning the game."

          New London plays Monroeville, who upset Norwalk St. Paul (13-12) on Monday night, in Firelands Conference games on Thursday and Friday.  Hamilton says it might not look that way, but in the conference you can't take wins for granted.  "The Firelands Conference is a lot more balanced than many people might think.  A team or two gets hot early.  Especially when  you go against a team's number one pitcher just like it was for us against Crestview.  There are some good teams out there in the conference this year.  They are playing defense.  If they get you on a night when you aren't playing so well they could beat you.  You have to be on your game every day," said Hamilton.

 

Published 4/20/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Follow us on Twitter at @Swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

 

 
 

Lane No-Hits Western Reserve

 

          Ryan Lane was marvelous on Wednesday night as he no-hit the Western Reserve Rough Riders as New London downed Western (4-0) in a Firelands Conference game.

          Coach Tony Hamilton says Lane was able to locate all of his pitches and keep the Rough Riders guessing.  "He really had pretty good stuff (Wednesday) night.  He had good location.  He was around the plate all night.  He was able to work the ball inside and outside and he had a good curveball going.  He was pretty tough," he said.

          Hamilton says it was a night where Lane was able to make the Rough Riders swing at pitches out of the strike zone.  "You have to be able to locate it when you get up in counts.  That is the must important thing to get up in counts and then you have to be able to come in with some off speed every once in a while," he told Swanksports.com on Wednesday night, "He was able to get up early and he got a lot of guys out by getting ahead on strikes and getting them out on balls.  He did a lot of that (Wednesday) night."

          After making some changes after kicking the ball around last week against Crestview, Hamilton says the Wildcats did a good job of fielding their positions behind Lane.  "We had some good fielding (Wednesday) night, some real good defense.  We went through a stretch there against Crestview were we had a total of nine errors in two games, so we made some adjustments.  It was good to see us get back on the path and hopefully we are headed in the right direction as far as our defense is concerned," he said.

          New London (6-2,2-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, plays at home against Western Reserve on Thursday night in another Firelands Conference game.

 

Published 4/14/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be in e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Follow us on Twitter at @Swankonsports

Like Swankonsports.com on Facebook

 

 
 

New London Meets Fayette in Regionals

 

          New London is among the sweet 16 as the Lady Wildcats face Fayette in the division four regional semi-finals at Elida High School on Thursday night.

          After taking a (10-0) lead after the first quarter and holding a double digit lead for most of the game, New London (21-4) came away with a (41-34) overtime win over Tiffin Calvert on Saturday night. 

          Coach Eric Mitchell says it was a little nerve raking when the Lady Senecas made (17-1) fourth quarter run, but they were just not going to lose.  "It definitely got a little closer than we wanted there at the end.  I give credit to Calvert they fought to the end.  My girls were very resilient at the end of the game and I think a lot of that just goes to leadership with the senior led team that we have to find a way in that overtime.  To jump out and get that seven point victory was just huge for us.  The girls wanted that district title, that was one of their main goals all season.  Gosh darn if they weren't going to let anyone stop them from doing it," he said.

          The Fayette Lady Eagles (25-1) are the champions of the Buckeye Boarder Conference.  They avenged their only loss in the regular season to Defiance Ayersville (55-29) by beating Ayersville (48-41) in their district final.

          Mitchell says they have good size, but they don't have a lot of depth on the roster.  "Everybody is good at this point of the year.  They have the district 16 player of the year.  I know she scored 22 in their district final game against Defiance Ayersville.  They are not really deep.  They played five girls the entire time in their district final.  Depth is something they don't have a lot of, so I'm hoping defensively our pressure and they way we like to get after teams and try to run in transition it might be a little benefit to us to be able to run them a little bit and wear them down," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They are a very good team.  They have a nice 6-2 girl inside.  They are a long team.  So, they match-up size wise doesn't necessarily benefit us like it has in the past.  It will be a fun one and we will just go down there and see what we can do (Thursday) night."

          When it comes to similarities, Mitchell says the Lady Eagles shoot like Firelands Conference champion Crestview and they are a team that likes to feature the 2-3 zone.  "The one thing that they do that I think we have seen before is they have a very good outside shooting team, which remains me of Crestview.  We will have to know where shooters are at all times because it is not just one girl that can shoot.  They don't have necessarily that on superstar, but they do have a very nice player in the Griffith girl that was the district player of the year.  Size wise we haven't seen a girl that has the same size that we have and other girls that have some size.  Shooting wise I compare them to Crestview, but other than that it is a little bit of a different team.  Another thing that they do that we have seem a lot of this year is they play a lot of 2-3 zone.  They are going to set in that zone and they are not going to come out of it unless they have to," said Mitchell.

 

Published 3/03/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London Faces Physical Willard

 

          New London, the Firelands Conference co-runner-up, plays Willard is the second round of  the division three tournament at Monroeville High School on Friday night.

          The Wildcats (15-7) finished the regular season with a (52-42) win over Plymouth last Friday.  Coach Tom Howell says they are playing pretty well right now and he is anxious to see what they do against Willard.  "I'm happy, we had a very good season.  We ended finishing second in our league and I thought our league was pretty good this year," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Were we perfect all year?  No.  We were in some games when we went through some stretches that we weren't doing what we were supposed to be doing, but overall we are right where we need to be I hope.  We will find out Friday."

          Willard beat New London (55-41) in a tournament game last year and the Flashes (7-16) upended Seneca East (65-43) Wednesday night in an opening round game.

          Howell says they have some talent and most notably they are physical when they play.  "They are pretty good.  They play a lot of bigger schools.  The "NOL" is a good basketball league.  They have got some talent, they are very physical.  They are not overly tall, that's not a concern, but they are very physical.  If we can match up with that we are going to give ourselves a chance," said Howell.

          What Willard does have is the district player of the year in Conner Robinson, who averages 20 points per game.   Howell says they have to keep him out of the paint.  "We have to keep him in check.  We have watched him a few times and he can do things with the basketball.  He can shoot it, he can put it on the floor and create his own shot.  That is the most important thing I think we need to slow down him getting into the paint and getting easier looks," he said.

 

Published 2/26/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London Wants to Play Their game

 

          New London faces fellow Firelands Conference member Norwalk St. Paul in the girls' division four district semi final on Thursday night at Seneca East High School.

          This is the third meeting between the schools and they each know each other pretty well.  Lady Wildcats coach Eric Mitchell says they might try some new things, but not a lot.  "One thing in talking to former coaches, and going way back to coach Eibel, every once in a while is nice to sneak in something to catch them off guard a little bit.  We will probably try a little bit of that, I don't how much because if we can just stick to our game plan and what we have done well all year, which is play good defense I think it gives us a good shot to be in the game," said Mitchell.

          If there are some different things it won't be a brand new defense or offense, according to Mitchell.  "I don't think it would be so much putting anything new in, but just tweaking it a little bit.  What has got us here is what we have to continue to do.  Just play really good team defense and let that lead to some easier baskets on offense," he said.

          New London (19-4) beat St. Paul (13-10) twice during the regular season, winning (47-27) at St. Paul and (48-38) at home.  Mitchell says the Lady Flyers have some athleticism and they play solid zone defense.  "One thing they have done really well this year is they are a real physical team, a strong team.  They can jump really well, which is a credit to their volleyball program, a state powerhouse every year in division four.  They do a very good job in their zone defense," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "I can almost assure you that is what we are going to see, a 2-3 zone defense that they run.  They are a patient basketball team and that really helps them because they can get other team out of their rhythm and play St Paul's game.  The big thing we want to do is play our kind of game and not let them get packed back into their 2-3 zone  At times that has given fits to some teams in the conference,"

 

Published 2/24/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London Ready For Mansfield Christian

 

          New London is the top seed in the girls' division four district tournament and they play Mansfield Christian in their first game on Saturday night at Shelby High School.

          The Lady Wildcats (19-3) finished second in the Firelands Conference behind unbeaten Crestview.  Coach Eric Mitchell is pretty confident they are playing the kind of ball they need to be heading into the post season.  "I think we are peaking.  We have really stepped up our defensive game, which is what I have preached to my team all year long, defense, defense, defense.  No knock on Plymouth, we didn't have that tough of an opponent to finish out the regular season, but I thought we played really well.  We've got some fresh legs under us.  I think we are were we need to be if we are going to make a run at this thing in the tournament," he said.

          New London has some height and a solid inside game, but Mitchell says their guards have done a good job too.  "With Eden Copley, she has really stepped into a starting position.  Kennedy Howell went down, Eden stepped in.  Morgan Luedy has done a nice job at the two guard for us.  Rylee Haswell hasn't done a lot of scoring for us, but she really does what you need a point guard to do.  She comes down and sets up the offense and gets things going.  It is nice to have Payton Shays, a 6'1" girl, that can step out and knock down shots.  She is even shooting three pointers this season.  That is a plus when you can stretch the floor a little bit with your bigs," said Mitchell.

          Mansfield Christian (14-7) beat Danbury Lakeside (55-43) on Wednesday night to advance in the tournament.  Mitchell says rebounding is going to be a key and he thinks they might be able to hurt them some with their press.  "We went down and watched them the other night against Danbury.  Danbury is such a young team, but Mansfield Christian was very patent against their press.  Danbury is young and I don't thing they are as aggressive as we are with our press.  The Ritz girl that they have does a nice job, she is averaging about 18 a game.  She is very patient, she gets some points off of stick backs," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, "So, we need to know where she is at at all times.  Not a great outside shooting team, but we don't want to leave kids open so they can gain confidence by knocking down shots.  We definitely have to know where Ritz is because she can hurt us.  We don't need somebody inside getting easy put backs."

 

Published 2/19/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London Warps With Plymouth

 

          New London's goal at the beginning of the season was to win the Firelands Conference title and that isn't going to happen, but there are still other goals.

          They beat Mapleton (65-55) in a Firelands Conference game and the lost (56-41) to Hillsdale in a Saturday night non-conference game.  Coach Tom Howell says it was a decent weekend.  "It is never easy going to Mapleton and playing,  They are pretty good.  I think they are a lot better than their record says.  We went over there and played pretty well.  We played a real good Hillsdale team on Saturday.  It was a two point game at halftime and I thought we were where we needed to be.  They went on a run at the start of the third quarter and we couldn't recover from it," said Howell.

          With the tournament starting next week, Howell says he would like to be better on defense.  "I don't think we are as far along at the defensive end as we usually are at this time of year, but we are scoring a lot more points this year so I guess I can take that a little bit," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We aren't playing too bad.  There are some games we gave up here in the last part of the season that we probably should have gotten.  Anytime we struggle and can't finish a game we struggle on the offensive end this year."

          Plymouth (6-12,6-7) pays a visit to New London (13-7,9-4) for a Firelands Conference game.  Howell says while they aren't going to win the title they still have to finish the season strong.  "Plymouth is pretty good.  We can't take anyone for granted.  We are going to have to play.  When it gets this late we are probably going to get tied for second or second all by ourselves.  It's not what you want, but it is till a pretty good year for our guys and that's what we are going to play for," he said.

          Plymouth pulled the upset last month (50-45) and Howell says they have to be more aggressive with the ball when they play the Big Red on Friday night.  "We only scored 45 points the last time and we have to be a little more assertive on the offensive end.  I thought we dictated the pace of the game, but we couldn't get anything to go in over there.  We just have to go out and play as see what happens," he said.

 

Published 2/18/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London Must Win

 

          New London is the same position as Western Reserve in the Firelands Conference race.  They are two games behind South Central with two games to play.

          They have to beat Mapleton this week and Plymouth next and hope that South Central loses to both Crestview and Western Reserve in order to share in the title.

          The Wildcats slipped two games behind when they lost to Norwalk St. Paul (65-44) last Friday.  Coach Tom Howell says they didn't play well at either end.  "I don't know what to say about that game.  I thought we went over there ready to play and we weren't.  It all started on the offensive end where we couldn't throw it in the ocean," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Then after that you still have to defend and play defense to keep yourself in it and after a while we didn't even do that.  I give St. Paul a lot of credit.  I think they can be a dangerous team come tournament time with their length."

          Since that loss New London has beaten Black River (66-56) on Saturday and Lucas (55-45) Monday in non-conference games.  Howell says he was pleased how they battled back.  "I give our kids a lot of credit.  We could have folded up the tent and put everything away for the winter, but we came back and played pretty well against Black River.  Then we came in Monday with Lucas, I think we played four games in seven days.  I don't know if that hurt us or what.  I hope we are ready to go this Friday against Mapleton," said Howell.

          New London (13-6,8-4) plays at Mapleton (5-14,2-9) on Friday night.  Howell says they better be ready this time.  "If we go over there with the mindset that all we have to do is show up we are in big trouble.  Mapleton has some nice players (Chase) Davis is pretty good.  (Gage) Barone is pretty good.  They have two other kids that can shoot it.  They are very balanced in scoring.  Everyone focuses on Barone, but they have got some other guys that can score.  If you let them get going, you could be in for a long night," he said.

          New London won the first meeting between the two (67-50) on January 8.

 

Published 2/12/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London With Another Test

 

          New London has beaten the other two contenders in the Firelands Conference on their home floor over the last couple of weeks and now their task is to beat the Sandusky Bay Conference leader on the road.

          In conference play last week, the Wildcats beat South Central, the conference leader, (58-51) on Friday night, and then downed Monroeville (66-59) in a conference game on Saturday night.

          Coach Tom Howell says overall they did a great job.  "Friday night was a big game for us.  Our kids knew that.  Our gym was packed.  I think everybody knew that.  I have to give our kids a lot of credit.  We beat a really good team.  We played well, we still need to work on some things a little bit, but overall it was a great game," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We turned around Saturday and Monroeville is a feisty team and we got the win.  Now we have to play Edison and they are very good."

          New London has won eight its last 10 games and Howell says they are putting some things together.  "We are playing well.  We beat some good teams in non-conference play a couple weeks ago and a couple more coming up non-league and we will see where we stand come tournament time," he said.

          New London (11-4) plays at Edison (14-2), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.

          Howell says the Chargers really get up and down the floor and they have a solid bench.  "They are probably going to be one of the fastest teams we have seen all year.  They are one of the more athletic teams I have seen on the basketball floor.  They are deep, they have a very good bench, when they come in there isn't much let up.  We can't let them get in the paint and kick it out to their shooters.  We need to get back on defense because they get up and down the floor like crazy," said Howell.

          If they are going to be successful on Tuesday night, Howell says it is very important that they keep Edison out of the lane.  "We are going to try and guard a little bit better on the perimeter.  We have to stop their penetration.  They have three guards that they have been playing since they were freshmen and they are pretty good.  That is going to be our number one thing and rebound," he said.

 

Published 2/02/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Another Must Win for New London

 

          They kept themselves in the Firelands Conference race with a big win last week over Western Reserve and now they need to do the same with conference leader South Central this week.

          Last Friday, the Wildcats avenged a three point loss earlier in the season and they downed Western (49-45) to remain two games behind South Central in the conference standings.  "We played pretty well on the defensive end an that carried over to the offensive end and we shot the ball pretty well in spurts," said New London coach Tom Howell.

          He says this week is going to be a lot of the same.  "It was a very tough basketball game.  Western is very good.  They are very well coached and we have the respect of the players are coaches.  We have to play two of these in a row.  We have South Central coming in on this Friday and we have respect for their coaches and we have respect for their coaches," said Howell.

          New London (9-4,6-3) plays host to South Central (12-4,8-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches in the small school division, on Friday night in another must win situation for the Wildcats.  Howell says South Central does a lot of good things at both ends of the floor.  "They are a very strong offensive team.  They have got six guys that can score and any of those kids could put up 20 points on a given night," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "They are a very good defensive team for not being very big.  They have one kid about 6'4", but they rebound the ball very well.  They flat out get after it all of the time when they are on the court."

          South Central won the first meeting (58-51) at their place.  Howell believes there are two keys, they must limit penetration by the Trojans and this time they have make more open and especially contested shots if they are going to win.  "We have to keep them out of paint on the offensive side of the floor.  I thought that was key.  Last time we got shots, we just didn't make very many and that is because of their defense.  We just have got to make them.  If we can do those two things we give ourselves a chance," said Howell.

 

Published 1/27/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London Has to Have This One

 

          New London trails Firelands Conference leader South Central by two games and they can ill afford to fall behind by three and they know that.

          The Wildcats (8-4,5-3) plays host to second place Western Reserve (9-4,6-2) on Friday night in a critical game for both frankly.

          Last week in the conference, New London lost to Plymouth (50-45) on Thursday, but responded with a (96-65) win over Crestview on Saturday.  Then lost to Mansfield Christian (66-60) in a non-league game on Tuesday night.

          Coach Tom Howell  admits they have been inconsistent lately and it is because of how they have been playing on defense.  "The last four games we haven't been real consistent.  I think it is more on the defensive end, which surprises me a little bit," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We just can't seem to figure it out at that end of the floor.  Our record the last four games is 2-and-2 and it shows."

          Western Reserve was in first place in the league until they lost to Norwalk St. Paul (52-50) and South Central (49-43) over the last couple of weeks.  However, Howell says the Rough Riders are rivals and he expects them to be at their best on Friday night.  "Western is only 15 minutes away from us.  I expect to get their best game.  They are in the same boat we are in over the last four or five games.  They are a little inconsistent, but I know they will be ready to play us at our place," said Howell.

          Freshman Jaret Griffith has been Western's leading scorer and it seems when he goes so do the Rough Riders.  Howell says he is a tough defensive assignment.  "That's a lot of pressure to put on a freshman, but he has done a pretty good job thus far.  We are going to have to look to stop him and not let the other shooters get good looks from the outside," he said.

          With the conference standings the way they are Howell, and the kids, understand that this is a must win for them.  "It is a must win for us Friday and our kids know it.  Hopefully, we come out and play well on the defensive end of the floor instead of what we did last Tuesday and we'll see if we can pull one out," he said.

 

Published 1/22/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London Back in "FC" Race

 

          New London beat Mapleton last week, while Firelands Conference co-leaders South Central and Western Reserve both lost a conference game and that means the Wildcats now trail the leaders by just a game.

          They play at Plymouth on Thursday and at Crestview on Saturday in conference games.

          Coach Tom Howell says there is a lot of depth in the conference this year.  "We are right back in the race.  It is going to be interesting in the Firelands Conference.  People are playing pretty well and you can't overlook anyone.  Plymouth beat South Central at their place last week.  We have to go over there and be ready to play and do the best we can," said Howell.

          New London (7-2,3-2) visits Plymouth (2-8,2-4) on Thursday night.  It has not been a good season for the defending conference champs this winter, but Howell reminds us they did beat South Central (65-56) last Tuesday.  "They have a couple of guys that can shoot the ball pretty well and they have a little bit of height.  They are athletic kids and you know they are going to play hard.  It is going to be at their place and we have to be ready to play," he said.

          The Wildcats begin action in the second round of the double round robin on Saturday at Crestview.  They beat the Cougars (70-60) in a game in early December.  Howell calls Crestview (6-5,3-3) a dangerous team.  "They shoot the threes very well.  They have beaten some good teams and have gotten a lot better,"  he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "They have a new coach and he is doing a really good job with them.  The kids are buying into it.  If they get on a roll it could be interesting at their place on Saturday."

 

Published 1/13/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London Showing Some Things

 

          New London is hanging around in the Firelands Conference race, two games behind Western Reserve, and they are putting some things together as we head for the second half of the season.

          Last week, the Wildcats hammered Norwalk St. Paul (58-25) in a conference game and then beat Wynford, out of the "N10," (60-39) in a non-conference game on Saturday.

          Coach Tom Howell says they have started to play to their potential a little bit more.  "We have played some pretty good basketball lately.  Our guys are working hard.  We are starting to see some things come together a little bit.  We are not there yet, but we are starting to see some things that we are working on in practice transfer to games.  Our kids work hard, they play hard, they just like to play," he said.

          When it comes to improvement since late November, Howell talks about what they have been able to do on defense.  "I really think we have improved on the defensive end of the floor.  We have some guys that can score and stuff like that.  We have done that almost every game.  We are full court pressing a little bit more this year and that is really helping us out," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "It has taken us a while to get to this point.  Hopefully, we can get better from this point in out.  In our half court defense we have gotten better every game."

          New London (6-2,2-2) is at home for Mapleton (2-9,1-4) in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  Mapleton won their last conference game over Monroeville (60-58) in overtime.  Howell says a win can not be taken for granted.  "Mapleton is always going to play hard.  They have one of the best guards in this area in Gage Berone.  He is a pretty good player.  They have some other guys that can shoot it.  They are competitors.  They get up and down the floor.  They have about four or five guys that can shoot it.  They have played some teams well.  They played South Central well at South Central.  It is not going to be easy," said Howell.

 

Published 1/07/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London Gets Another Chance at Crestview

 

          New London gave unbeaten Crestview a great run last time and they get their second chance when they host the Lady Cougars on Saturday night in a Firelands Conference game.

          Monday night, they downed Vermilion (43-34) in a non-conference game.  Coach Eric Mitchell says they were ready to play.  "I am very pleased.  Coming in it is tough playing on a Monday, especially trying to get back into school and the girls were tied from getting up early.  They have a new coach up there and they have turned it around.  They are playing a lot better basketball, I think they were 6-5 coming in.  They had some nice size, which was good to see.  They had a 6'1" girl in the post.  We were able to go up there and really control the game from the start and really never get behind.  Defensively played very well, offensively shared the ball.  It was a nice win, especially on a Monday night," he said.

          New London (10-2,6-1) is at home for Crestview (11-0,6-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com girls' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, in a game that has been moved to an evening tip on Saturday night.  Mitchell says they must make Renee Stimpert work hard to get her points.  "Anybody that has been around for four years now really, and if you haven't seen her, you really need too.  She is a tremendous talent and more than that she is just a great kid.  I really respect her.  She always speaks to me.  The girl is a workhorse.  Obviously, she makes that team go," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, "If you can make her work as hard as she has to get those points it does help us.  The last time it was a four point game.  She even told some of the girls on our team that she is good friends with about how hard she had to work.  You are not going to stop her.  It is about containing her and making other girls have to step up for Crestview.  That is the goal for us to slow her down a little bit and see if someone else can step up and beat you."

          As far as what defense to use, Mitchell says he has tried them all to varying success.  "I think I have run every defense I can think of.  I have run box and one against her.  One year we did it and were successful, we beat them, I think she was a sophomore.  Last year, we didn't have great success we didn't beat them.  We threw multiple defenses at her this year.  We will run a couple of girls at her.  The thing I think of is facing Brook Turson when I was on coach Howell's staff.  Great players are going to find other people.  That is one thing I will give Renee credit for she is not afraid to give it up.  When it is crunch time she wants the ball, she wants to try and lead her team to victory and great players do that.  The last time we played them we did a pretty nice job with our defense.  Obviously, we have to make some adjustments because we didn't come out on top.  I told the girls we will throw everything we have got at her and Crestview just to come out victorious.  Regardless, I think it is going to be a great game.  It is just one that is good for girls basketball," said Mitchell.

 

Published 1/05/16

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London Wants to Take Advantage of Height

 

         New London, who has been the second best team in the Firelands Conference this year so far, plays Northwestern, one of the best in the Wayne County Athletic League, on Tuesday night in a non-conference game.

          The Lady Wildcats (7-1,3-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com girls' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, beat South Central (48-41) last Thursday and then Monroeville (51-32) on Saturday.  Coach Eric Mitchell says he likes what his girls are doing.  "The good thing is I think we are starting to click at the right time.  It is kind of getting into the nitty gritty of the season with a lot of back to back against good opponents.  (Tuesday) is going to be a good non conference battle for us against Northwestern because I know they are playing really well.  I have not seen them in person, but I know they are playing well based on the film I have seen," he said.

          The holiday period for high school basketball teams starts next week and Mitchell says it will be important for his team to maintain its focus during that time.  "I kind of go back to my roots in coaching with coach Howell its is just so hard because you get into that routine of the school day, the after school practices, or the five o'clock practices and once we go on break, with me being a teacher, we kind of do the 8 AM's, the 10 AM's, the noon's.  The big thing for me is to keep the kids engaged when they are in there in practice and what we need to do.  The main thing is to make sure they keep their focus because I know once we get off routine it does mess with us a little bit more than I would like," said Mitchell.

          Northwestern (4-1) is one of the better girls' teams in the "WCAL" this year, although they got smoked last week by talented Chippewa (49-19) in a league game.  Mitchell says the Lady Huskies have solid guard play.  "They have the Kandel girl.  Last year, when we played them at our place she can score in bunches.  It isn't like we haven't seen opponents like that we have seen Stimpert down there at Crestview.  I know they put in a lot of time this summer.  They have some girls that were out last season that are back.  They can shoot.  I know they really enjoy pushing the ball," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "In a way that doesn't bother us because we like to run the floor too.  I told the girls (Monday) at practice with not much time to game plan we have to play our game, we can't go down there and play their game because they shoot the ball very well, penetrate really well.  Defensively, they give a lot of man looks that we aren't used to seeing this year because of our size advantage.  Hopefully, that is something they do that we can take advantage of being 6'0" and 6'1" down low."

 

Published 12/15/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Trojans Beat Back New London

 

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Brett Seidel

 

          Brayden Wilhelm made three three pointers in the second half and South Central hung on to beat New London (58-51) in a Firelands Conference game on Saturday night in Greenwich.

          Wilhelm led Trojan scorers with 14 and Michael Ponchel added 13 for the winners.

          South Central (3-2,3-0) shares first place in the conference with Western Reserve, who beat Mapleton (71-42) on Saturday night.

          Coach Brett Seidel says they were able to beat a very good team on a night they didn't play all that well.  "We still shot 35 percent from the floor, 31 from three.  I just don't feel like we played all that well, but I would have to say that's a credit to them and the frantic defense that they bring.  They bring 2-2-1, 1-3-1, 2-3, man to man," he said.

        After Wilhelm hit his second three in less than a minute the Trojans held a 13 point lead (40-27) with 2:46 left in the third quarter, but Seidel says they couldn't put the Wildcats away.  "They are never out of it.  We would get it up to 13 and they would hit a three.  We would get up 13 and we turn it over two or three times and they are back in it," he said.

          New London  (2-2,1-2) closed the third by scoring the last six points to make it (40-33) after three.  South Central took a (48-35) lead after another Wilhelm three with 5:20 left in the game, but New London coach Tom Howell called time out and implemented pressure all over the floor.  "No offense to them, but I don't think a lot of it was the pressure, it was just decision making.  We just threw it away.  I don't think they actually made plays accept on a couple of missed shots, I thought that bothered us.  When we were organized I thought we handled their pressure okay just the decisions late were awful," said Seidel.

          South Central held a (54-47) lead with 2:28 left, but missed three straight free straight free throws in an attempt to put the game away.  "We missed some free throws.  I thought in the first half we had numerous very good looks form three and on layups and we did not make them.  New London is so scrappy and they are going to scratch and claw and fight and that is a credit to Tom (Howell,)" said Seidel.

          Ponchel made four of six free throws in the final 1:27 to clinch the win for the Trojans.

          New London's Ryan Lane led all scorers with 18 points on the night.  Nate Thomas chipped in with 11. 

 

Published 12/12/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Big Weekend for New London

 

          New London has shown they can be a pretty good basketball team, but this will be a critical week for them as they play Western Reserve on Friday and South Central on Saturday, both also considered Firelands Conference title contenders, in a tough double weekend in the league.

          Former Willard coach Bob Haas always said it was the performance of teams in these double weekends that would determine the eventual league champion.

          After a (70-60) win over Crestview in their league opener last Friday.  The Wildcats came back the next night and held on to beat Wellington (64-60) in non league play.  Coach Tom Howell says his guys did a good job of handing in there.  "We didn't play too bad in the first half against Wellington.  We gave up a big lead again, at least 15 points, and we have worked on that a little bit.  Wellington had very athletic kids.  I give our guys a lot of credit for that win," he said.

          New London (2-0,1-0) travels to Western Reserve (3-1,1-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, for a big one in the Firelands on Friday.  The Rough Riders beat Monroeville (77-49) last week in their first conference game.

          Howell says the Riders have guys that can score.  "They have a lot of guys that can put it in the basket.  They have some outside shooters.  They have some kids that can drive it," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Their posts aren't really big, but they do a nice job on the blocks with fundamentals and getting in position.  They are good.  They are second in the league and the team that is first we play on Saturday.  It is going to be a tough weekend for us."

          Western has always been known as a solid defensive team, but Howell thinks they can find some shots.  "They have always been a good defensive team.  If we get the ball in the right spots I think we will be able to score too.  It won't be easy as well as they play defense and put pressure on the ball in half court sets," he said.

          South Central (2-2,2-0) will be at home for the Wildcats on Saturday.  Howell says the Trojans have athletic kids that can get shots off and they can score in bunches.  "They are very athletic.  They aren't very big.  The Hale kids is about 6'4", but the rest of them, their next biggest kids is 6'1".  They play a little bigger than what they are because of the athleticism and the different things that they have.  They have a couple of shooters, so it makes it hard," he said.

 

Published 12/11/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London Having Fun

 

          New London is off to a fantastic start to the girls' basketball season.  Their only loss comes to unbeaten Crestview last week and they did a good job of responding to that setback.

          Crestview beat them (51-47) and New London coach Eric Mitchell says they just made a few more plays.  "It was a tough loss.  Crestview and us have become a pretty nice rivalry the last couple of years since I have been here.  A lot of it goes because of the friendship of these girls from both schools, but when they get out on the court they kind of throw the friendship out the window.  It was a great game.  A couple of bounces didn't go our way, but that is the way it works in basketball.  We fought to the end and kind of had to let it go.  During the basketball season you don't have a lot of time to dwell on it.  We were able to pick up a nice win Saturday at Western Reserve," said Mitchell.

          After the loss, Mitchell says he was a little concerned about how his girls would react, but they did a great job.  "I actually talked to (boys') coach (Tom) Howell, I was on his staff for five years before I took over the girls program.  He told me, coach it is going to be your biggest hour and half of practice of the season on Friday just trying to get those girls motivated and ready to go Saturday," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We struggled early on Saturday.  The thing I have noticed about this team is as they are coming along they find ways to grind.  We have grinded out a couple of nice victories this year.  The don't let a whole lot hold them back for too long.  We just have to march on and worry about our next opponent."

          New London (5-1,1-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com girls' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, plays at South Central (3-1,2-0,) the defending Firelands Conference champions, in a conference game at New London on Thursday.  Mitchell says they need to handle the press.  "I know they still love to run that 1-2-2 and trap you all over the place.  It has been affective for them the last two years.  With Hintz gone it is kind of nice to not have to worry about a 6-1 girl out at the top pressing our guards.  She was just a tremendous talent.  They point guard this year is filling in and I know she is battling back from that knee injury last hear in the district semis," said Mitchell.

          The New London coach says this always and interesting game for him personally.  "It is one of those that is fun to play because it is my alma mater.  To see a lot of the faces in the crowd of people I knew.  Their JV coach was actually a player I used to play with in high school.  It's fun, this is my third year at New London and I am still yet to beat South Central.  Hopefully, Thursday we can go in there with a good showing and get a victory in the end," he said.

 

Published 12/08/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London Expects Good Season

 

          New London is among a number of teams that have a chance to contend for the Firelands Conference title.  We get a chance to see how good the Wildcats can be come Friday night when they host Crestview in a conference game.

          Since Edison was on their schedule last week that game had to be moved due to the football playoffs.  Coach Tom Howell says they are eager to get the season started on Friday.  "I am happy with how much we have gotten better since the beginning of practice to right now.  We are itching to get on the floor and play somebody," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We are tired of seeing each other.  We have gotten in our scrimmages, but we haven't played a game yet.  Crestview is our first game coming up on Friday.  Edison made the playoffs and you wouldn't think one week would make that big of a difference, but it does.  We are ready to get going and I think we are going to be okay this year."

          New London has relied more on its defense the last couple of years, but Howell believes they are going to be able to do a lot more on offense this season.  "I think we are going to be a good all around basketball team.  We have some guys that can score.  What the difference is the last couple of years we could defend, but we couldn't put the ball in the basket, but this year I think we can play at both ends of the floor and I think we can be a little more up tempo this year.  We are just going to get out there and get after it for 32 minutes," he said.

          Crestview has been much more up tempo too in their first two games, a (70-58) win over Mansfield Christian and a (76-74) loss to Loudonville last weekend.

          Howell the Cougars are going to try and push the pace of the game and they have to be ready for that on the defensive end of the floor.  "They are playing a little bit differently than they have in the past.  They have a new coach and they have a little excitement going over there.  They do have some athletic kids and they have a couple of big scorers.  It is not going to be the same Crestview team we have seen in the past where they try to set things up.  They are going to shoot the ball, sometimes the first one open is going to shoot it.  They should be fun to play against on Friday," said Howell.

 

Published 12/03/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London in the Mix

 

          The Firelands Conference should prove to be one of the more interesting races in North Central Ohio this season and New London will be a player in what happens this winter.

          Coach Tom Howell, now also the athletic director at New London, says he likes the approach his kids have had this month in getting ready for the season.  "I have liked what I have seen.  We have had a little bit of a different attitude than we have had the last two years.  Our kids are working really hard trying to do the little things.  I think we are going to be right there hopefully.  I know that is the goal in the conference.  I think we are going to be fun to watch," he said.

          In to become the team they can be the Wildcats have to become more consistent scorers and that is a process for them.  Howell thinks they are going to be pretty good at defending the other guys and that is where they are going to hang there hat.  "We have been having trouble scoring.  That is one thing we were working on in the off season.  I thought that is something we would get really, really good at.  I thought we would get a lot better on that end of the floor.  I think we guard pretty well and that might be our strength.  If in the beginning of the season if we could get a couple of wins that might be why," he said.

          With defending champion Plymouth, unbeaten in the Firelands last year, their last conference loss coming to New London two years ago, will likely come back to the pack.  Howell believes the title is going to be up for grabs between many teams, but says South Central is probably the favorite.  "I think everybody is going to tough from top to bottom.  if you don't come to play every night you are going to get beat.  There are a lot of competitive teams out there and good coaches in the league.  South Central has to be the preseason favorite.  They finished second last year and have six returning lettermen," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "But, I'm going to tell you Western is going to be good, St. Paul is going to be good, Monroeville is going to be good.  I'm telling you we are going to be right there.  You can't count out anybody.  You have Crestview and Mapleton has one of the best players in the league.  It is going to be tough night in and night out."

          New London was to open the season next weekend against Edison, but with the Chargers still being alive in the football playoffs that game has been moved.  Now their first game will be December 4 against Crestview in conference play.

 

Published 11/20/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London Takes Firelands Conference Baseball Title

 

          New London blitzed Norwalk St. Paul (13-3) Monday afternoon and in the process claimed the Firelands Conference baseball title.

          Sophomore Ryan Lane again did a tremendous job on the hill for the Wildcats (14-5,11-0) in earning the victory.  Coach Tony Hamilton says he is very proud of the accomplishment.  "It certainly was a goal to win the conference championship and to make a good tournament run.  So, we have accomplished our first goal and now we are going to work on our second goal," he said.

          New London shut out Monroeville in both of their conference games last week.  Hamilton says pitching has been the corner stone of what they have been able to accomplish so far this year.  "We have an outstanding number one in Ryan Lane, that is just a sophomore, he throws the ball really hard and has good command.  He is probably one of the best pitchers around.  He has just done a great job for us," he told Swankonsports.com after the win, "Our number two pitcher is Josh Hamilton and he has done a good job for us.  Our other pitchers have done a good job for us too.  If anything has been the key to our success it has got to be pitching."

          New London has averaged more than 10 runs in their last five conference games and Hamilton says their bats have really come alive too.  "The bats have really been coming around since the South Central series that we had.  We have really been pounding the ball good, averaging about 12 hits a game.  We have four or five guys hitting about .400 or better and driving in runs good.  Most every game we limit our strikeouts.  We try to put the ball in play every time," he said.

          New London plays at St. Paul (12-7,7-4) on Tuesday in the second game of the series.  They play Willard of the Northern Ohio League on Thursday.

          Then they get ready for the division three tournament.  Hamilton likes the fact that their performance this year has earned them a bye.  "We were the number two seed and we are going to play the winner of Margaretta and Lakota.  I think we have got a good opportunity again this year to make some noise there.  Both of those teams are good teams.  We get a bye in the first round, so in the second round we should be able to come up with our number one pitcher.  Hopefully we can play defense for him and get some key hits," said Hamilton.

 

Published 5/05/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London Maintains a Share of Conference Lead

 

          New London beat Western Reserve (6-1) in a Firelands Conference baseball game on Monday and continued to share first place in the standings with Norwalk St. Paul.

          The Flyers outscored Plymouth (11-6) on Monday.

          Josh Hamilton was outstanding on the mound has he limited the Rough Riders to just three hits and struck out 12 in the win.

          Coach Tony Hamilton says he was able to locate all if his pitches.  "Josh Hamilton was pitching (Monday) night and he did a nice job for us.  He had a good curve ball and a good fastball.  He ended up with 12 strikeouts and only gave up three hits.  Our pitching has really been our strong point.  We have done a good job with that," he said.

          Pitching has been the key for the Wildcats (8-4,4-0) success this season.  Hamilton says he believes they need to be able to change speeds and locate their pitches.  "We try to keep the other guys guessing a little bit.  That is what was going on (Monday) night.  That is what went on Saturday when we played Perkins, a very good team," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, "We had one of our pitchers that doesn't throw it real hard, but he mixed it up real good with a lot of off speed stuff and we held them to one run.  I think changing speeds is more important than velocity sometimes."

          New London plays at Western on Tuesday and then plays South Central on Thursday and Friday.  They play Monroeville next week.

          It's been a good start, but Hamilton knows they need to continue to get better, especially on defense.  "We are not at the halfway point yet.  We have got some guys that we have to get going hitting wise.  We just have to start playing more consistently defensively.  The games that was have not won are the games that we just haven't played well defensively.  Our hitting has been pretty good, we have out hit most of our opponents, but we still have some work to do on defense,' said Hamilton.

 

Published 4/21/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London Maintains "FC" Lead

 

          New London remains unbeaten in Firelands Conference play as they dominated Crestview to the tune of (9-1) on Tuesday afternoon in a league game.

          They beat the Cougars (10-0) on Monday night at their place.

          Coach Tony Hamilton says they have been a getting some really good pitching and that has been the key to their success.  "The pitching has been real good.  We have got, I think, three or four really good pitchers.  If the guys play defense for them we are going to be really hard to beat with those guys on the mound," he said.

          Josh Hamilton picked up the win on the mound for the Wildcats and coach Hamilton says they were able to play some pretty good defense behind him too.  "There were a couple of times (Tuesday) night we had really good plays.  The shortstop was able to make a couple of double plays.  The pitcher was able to make good pitches and keep the ball down where they hit the ball into the ground and had some key strikeouts.  Monday night we had a really stellar performance from Ryan Lane.  (Tuesday) night we had more of a control pitcher in Josh Hamilton and he did a real good job for us too.  So, we are really happy with our pitching," said Hamilton.

          It has not been just the pitching and defense as the Wildcats have hit the ball well too.  Hamilton says their focus is to be able to put to put the ball in the play and not strike out a bunch.  "Our last five games we have been hitting the ball well.  Even in the games where we haven't scored a lot we have really been squaring up the ball and putting a lot of pressure on the opposing team.  We don't strike out much, so if you are going to play with us and beat us you are going to have to play defense," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, "We have been hitting the ball, but still the key to our game is and the key to our success is going to be the pitching and the defense.  So, if we can stay consistent there we are going to be awful tough."

          New London (5-3,3-0) meets Plymouth (5-4.1-2) in a rescheduled game on Thursday.  Their two game conference series is with Western Reserve next week.

 

Published 4/15/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London Fires the First Shot

 

          Ryan Lane pitched his second shut out of the season and Josh Hamilton collected three hits and two RBI as New London beat Plymouth (7-0) in the Firelands Conference opener for both teams on Monday afternoon at Plymouth.

          Lane gave up only four hits and coach Tony Hamilton says they were able to hit the ball too.  "It really was a good win.  We came out and played one out better games of the season.  Ryan Lane was pitching again, this was his second shut out.  We played excellent defense, hit the ball, had 15 hits.  We played a good all around game," he said.

          Hamilton says Lane was overpowering, but he kept the Big Red off balance and they were able to field the ball with only one error.  He says if you can do that you have a good chance to win.  "He has done a superb job.  The kids have done a good job supporting him.  He only had four strikeouts, but he didn't walk any batters.  He had them out on their front foot a lot and they hit a lot of soft ground balls," he told Swankonsports.com after the win, "If you can eliminate the errors and the walks you are going to give yourself a pretty good shot to win and that's what we did."

          Mistakes are what kill you in high school baseball.  Hamilton says if you can hold those down you are going to end up being a pretty good team.  "Plymouth played good defense (Monday) night.  We had 15 hits and only scored seven runs.  That just shows you if you play good defense and you don't make mistakes you can hold a team down even when they are really hitting," he said.

          New London (3-1,1-0) plays host to Plymouth (3-2,0-1) on Tuesday night if we can keep the rain away.  Hamilton says they are going to need another really good effort to win.  "We are hoping we are going to get a chance to play again (Tuesday).  It's calling for rain, but are going to try and come back with Justin Chaffins and try to put together another really good effort," he said.

          The Wildcats play Northern Ohio League Power Norwalk (6-0) in a non-league game on Wednesday.

 

Published 4/07/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

Swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

New London Playing Solid Baseball

 

          New London has played three baseball games so far this season and they have won two of them, including a big win over non-conference rival Edison.

          They begin Firelands Conference play next week with two games against Plymouth on Monday and Tuesday, if the weather allows.

          Coach Tony Hamilton has been happy with what he has seen so far this year.  "We are happy to get these three games in.  Out of the three opponents we have played two really good teams and we spilt with them.  We feel pretty good right now about where we are at," he said.

          The Wildcats (2-1) beat Edison (4-2) on Monday and Hamilton says was a big win for them because the Chargers had sort of been a thorn in their side lately.  "That was our first win down there since 2006 and we were excited about that.  We came back and played a pretty good game against Lucas.  Then we ran into a really tough pitcher down at Huron.  We were in the game for most of the game.  It was just a few mental mistakes and we couldn't get any timely hitting.  We aren't too far off I think if we take our number one against their number one we have a better chance," said Hamilton.

          Playing tough non-conference games against the likes of Edison and Huron out of the "SBC" has been something that New London has done over the years.  Hamilton thinks that makes them smarter and tougher.  "If you learn by playing teams where you have to win by one of two runs.  Where you have to play small ball or win on your smarts or defense I think that is going to help you when it comes to the tournament," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "I never thought it was good for a team to beat teams by a lot of runs all of time.  When you get into the tournament you are going to run into somebody that is going to be as good as you are you are going to have to beat them by one run.  So, I think that is good experience for us."

          New London plays Loudonville in a non-conference doubleheader on Saturday and then they play Plymouth in their first conference games at the beginning of next week.  Hamilton says those games against the Big Red will be a good early test.  "Plymouth has some veteran players back.  They have some pretty good hitters and a couple of good pitchers so I think those are going to be tough games next week," he said.

 

Published 4/03/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
 

Girls' Basketball Players to Showcase Talents

 

          Wednesday night, girls' basketball players of all ages will get an opportunity to show what they can do to fans and college coaches with Shelby Rotary NCO Girls' All-Star Basketball Classic at Shelby High School.

          Kyle Fenner of Colonel Crawford and Eric Mitchell of New London are the coaches in the senior game, which includes two ten player teams.

          Fenner has done this before, so she knows what to expect.  "This will be the second time coaching the all-star game.  I believe in 2000 I coached the all-star game over in Ashland, so this will be my second time," she said.

          She will coach team black, which will include: Anna Hintz of South Central, Deijah Swihart of Clear Fork, Gabby Stephens of Shelby, Shelby Stamm of Bellevue, Ellie Richmond of Wynford, Hannah Adams of Willard, Sydnie Carpenter of Ashland, Mekaila Grose of Mansfield Madison, Ta-Sharra Jeffries of Sandusky and Emily Wagner of Sandusky Perkins.

          A real key to this format is to get everyone into the game with a chance to showcase there skills.  "It's not really hard we will have ten kids and we will probably put them in groups of five and let them play for four or five minutes then we will substitute.  We will approach it that way and let them get up and down the floor and show their skills.  If it's a game at the end we will probably go with the five or six best kids that we feel can win the game for us," said Fenner.

          Some of the players might know where they are going to college, but some may not.  Fenner says this is their chance to impress.  "There are going to be a good portion of college coaches there that night.  They have done a great job of getting college coaches there.  It will a great chance for these kids to show their skills off to not only the area, but also some college coaches that will be there," she said.

          On team white will be Carly Santoro of Bellevue, Valesha Province of Tiffin Columbian, Shelby White of Ashland, Jeryn Reese of Mansfield Senior, Morgan Bailey of Clear Fork, Hunter Feltner of Willard, Alexis Smith of Mansfield Madison, Makayla Cook of Norwalk, Megan Flaherty of Bucyrus and Samantha Reer of Norwalk St. Paul.  The coach of the team will be Eric Mitchell of New London.

          There is also an underclassmen game on Wednesday night, a first due to a change in OHSAA rules and Clear Fork coach Heidi Roush is one the coaches in that game. 

          She was an MVP in an all-star game as a player, but this will be her first as a coach.  "It is my first time coaching anything like this.  There are some stipulations as to who can coach the younger kids.  You couldn't have one of your own players on the team.  I think that is how they kind of stumbled on me.  I'm really looking forward to it.  I think it will be a lot of fun," she told Swankonsports.com.

          Her team members are:  Renee Stimpert of Crestview, Abigail Fogle of Upper Sandusky, Sarah Ogden of Wynford, Gabbi Baldridge of Willard, Ashley Painley of Norwalk St. Paul, Shelby Kin of Carey, Maggie King of Willard, Jisselle Thomas of Norwalk, Paige Leitz of Monroeville and Leah Bouillon of New Riegel.

          She says she will judge playing time by performance during the game.  "With you know you have talented kids, they wouldn't be on the team other wise.  I think for the most part you just go with who is playing well.  Get everyone in there and let them show their skills," said Roush.

          There are only a couple of practices before them game and Roush says the players sort of have to get used to each other.  "There are some larger schools and I know those players and what they are capable of and there are some players that I haven't seen before and I only know their stat lines checking on then throughout the season in the paper.  I think it will be a little bit of a challenge for the kids knowing each other.  Some of them will have played against each other in summer league, some during the season and then there are kids they really don't know each other," said Roush.

          Playing for team black in the underclassmen game are Seina Adachi of Seneca East, Sydney Wentling of Carey, Kamryn Troike of Fostoria St. Wendelin, Payton Shays of New London, Kelci Simms of Bucyrus, Jenna Strayer of Bellevue, Sydney Holderman of Riverdale, Emily Yeager of Mansfield St. Peter's, Jackie Garrett of Shelby and Alexus Burkhart of Colonel Crawford.  They will be coached by Jon Dawson of Willard.

          Roush thinks it is pretty cool that underclassmen get to participate too.  "In this sport most of the time you are going to end with a loss and it can be so disheartening.  Now, these younger kids are going to get a chance to play again this season and pump them up and get them ready for next season," she said.

          There will be a halftime three point shooting contest among girls in district 6.  Some boys will be there for dunk contest as well.

          The underclassmen game starts at 6 PM, with the senior game at about 7:45.  Tickets for the game are $6 for adults, $3 for seniors, and free for 18 and under who donate a gently used or new children's book to the Shelby Rotary's "Big Red Book Shelf."

 

Published 3/23/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
   

New London Making Strides

 

          New London has probably been the most consistent baseball program in the Firelands Conference over the last 20 years.  This year the Wildcats will be young, but they have some talent too.

          The Wildcats won the conference baseball title last year, their second in a row.

          Coach Tony Hamilton says they will be young this year, but they have some kids that have shown some things.  "I have been pleased the kids have been enthusiastic.  I have more pitching than I thought I was gonna have.  Some guys have really improved since last year," he told Swankonpsorts.com Thursday, "We lost a lot of guys last year, but it seems like we always lose a lot of guys at New London and the younger guys always seem to be able to pick up the pace and they are doing that again this year."

         Pitching depth is a key in high school baseball and Hamilton believes they have some this year.  "Right now I think we are four or five deep in our pitching.  A lot of young guys stepped up.  We have a guy that was injured last year that came back.  His arm is stronger.  We are feeling pretty good right now about our pitching," he said.

          You can bet that New London will be part of the mix too, but Hamilton gives us a feel for what the Firelands Conference will be like this year.  "I think Western Reserve is going to be pretty tough.  St. Paul is going to be right in there and Mapleton.  I think those are going to be the teams to beat in the conference," he said.

          New London is slated to start the season at Mansfield Christian on March 28.  Their first Firelands Conference games are April 6 and 7 against Plymouth.

 

Published 3/20/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
   

New London must be Better

 

          New London faces Willard on Tuesday night in the division three sectional semi-finals at Shelby High School and they are going to have to play better if they want a win.

          Last Friday, the Wildcats (10-12) lost to Mapleton (62-55) in Firelands Conference play.  Coach Tom Howell says it seems they are not peaking.  "We have gone backwards here the last couple of weeks.  We have been very inconsistent again.  That has been our story all year.  Mapleton played well, their two guards, Wade and Dane Berone, played very well and the big guy played well inside.  It was a good game they just finished a little better than we did," said Howell.

          Willard lost to two division one schools in Mansfield Madison (71-61) last Wednesday and Marion Harding (63-41) last Friday.  Howell says the Flashes (10-12) are better than their record indicates and they have very good guard play.  "Willard is very good.  Where we were seeded we were going to have to play a very, very tough game no matter where we went.  We are going to have to play well," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "Willard is very guard oriented.  We have been having trouble with teams that are very guard oriented.  They are going to pressure the ball and we know what we are going to get."

          Howell says they are going to have to play strong defense and handle the Willard pressure defense or this will be their first and last post season game.  "We have to play good overall defense.  If we can defend pretty well and handle their pressure I think we will have a shot, if we don't it is going to be a long evening," he said.

 

Published 3/03/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
   

New London Looking For Some Offense

 

          New London plays hard, plays sound defense, but sometimes they just can't make enough shots.

          They lost (70-68) to Monroeville in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night. 

          Coach Tom Howell says the Eagles came out hot and they just got too far behind.  "They came out and hit nine threes in the first half.  It seemed like the basket was that was the size of an ocean for them that night.  We hung in there.  We actually took the lead.  We got down by 20 and we actually took the lead with 20 seconds to go.  They had a kid probably make the shot of his life at the buzzer to beat us," he said.

          New London (9-10,5-7) plays at home against Norwalk St. Paul in a conference game on Friday night.  Howell says his team has to find a way to score.  "We are not playing, I guess, really bad.  We are not consistent, especially in the early parts of games.  We can go five minutes without scoring.  We are getting good shots and they just don't fall, or we get bumped a little bit and we can't put it in," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "I think that has been our Achilles Heel all season.  We work on that all of the time in practice trying to get contact with shots being made inside the paint.  We just have trouble scoring at times."

          Norwalk St. Paul (3-16,3-9) lost (63-54) to Sandusky River League champion Sandusky St. Mary's on Tuesday night.  They have had trouble scoring too.  Howell says it might boil down to who can get some easy looks inside.  "I think the team that finds some easy shots will win.  They are athletic.  They are not very big.  That's one thing.  We do have a couple of guys bigger than they are.  We have to try and get the ball inside and make some easy buckets," he said.

 

Published 2/18/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
   

New London Meets South Central

 

          New London meets one of its traditional rivals in the Firelands Conference on Friday night as they travel to South Central to face the second place Trojans.

          Last week, they came up a little short when Western Reserve beat them (60-56) in a conference game.

          Coach Tom Howell says they had a period of time when they just couldn't get the ball in the basket.  "We went through about a three, four minute stretch late in the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth quarter where we missed four front ends of one and ones and I'm not kidding I think we missed about five point blank shots to either take the lead or we would have been right there to finish that out.  We just couldn't finish the game," said Howell.

          New London lost five of its first seven games this year, but Howell says they remained strong and got after it and now they find themselves in position to win games.  "We have played a lot of close games.  I give our kids a lot of credit because at the beginning of the year we were really struggling and it wasn't a close game there for our first seven, eight games," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Our kids have worked hard and gotten better.  We have started to put ourselves in position to win and we have won a few of those too."

          New London (8-8,5-5) plays at South Central (13-3,9-1), second in the conference standings a game behind Plymouth, in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  Howell says the Trojans have a bunch of scorers and that makes them tough to stop.  "They are very, very hard to guard.  Their starting five can score and their first two guys off the bench can score.  It is kind of hard to dictate what kind of defense you are going to play.  If they are making threes they are really tough to guard.  Our main goal to try and stop penetration and get out on shooters," he said.

 

Published 2/05/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
   

New London Working to Get Better

 

          New London is a team that has steadily gotten better as this season has gone a long and they need to continue to do that as they approach the post season, which begins in about a month.

          Last week, they lost at Firelands Conference leader Plymouth (66-38) on Thursday, but rebounded to beat Crestview (60-53) on Saturday in another conference game. 

          Coach Tom Howell says they got off to a very poor start in the game against Plymouth and that cost them.  "We knew it was going to be tough going over to Plymouth and playing.  If you take away the first quarter I thought we played pretty well, but you have to play four is the big thing," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "Then we came home Saturday and came away an got a win.  We are going to look forward to playing Western on Friday."

          New London (8-7,5-4) plays host to Western Reserve (4-9,2-6) on Friday night in another conference game.  New London won the first time they played (61-55) right before Christmas.  Howell, says they have to sort of forget about that.  "Chris Sheldon always does a good job with the those guys and they are always ready to play.  I told my guys not to think about last time when we went over there and won, which is always tough.  They are going to be coming over here ready to play.  We had a pretty good practice (Monday) to get ready for this," said Howell.

          New London is one of 13 teams that will play in a super sectional in division three at either Oak Harbor or Shelby High School.  The Wildcats are one of a number of teams sort of in the middle of a pack and Howell says they would like to make some strides forward.  "We have been playing pretty well here lately.  We want to try and get one of the better brackets in the super sectional and see what we can do," he said.

 

Published 1/28/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
   

New London With Big Task

 

          New London is the only Firelands Conference team in the last year and half to beat Plymouth and they get another chance on Thursday night when they play the Big Red at Plymouth.

          The Wildcats beat Mapleton (64-50) in their last conference game on Friday night.  They did lose a non-conference game to Mansfield Christian (55-47) on Saturday night, but have really tuned their season around over the last couple of weeks.

          Coach Tom Howell believes they are playing some pretty good basketball right now.  "From the beginning of the year to our last seven, eight games there have been some pretty good games for us.  We have battled our way back to over .500.  We have battled our way back to third place in the conference right now.  We are just taking it one game at a time we know what we have on Thursday.  It is going to be tough, but we are going to give it one heck of a shot," he said.

          Plymouth (11-1,6-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, is the conference leader and has big time post season aspirations.  Howell says there are good reasons for those expectations.  "They have a lot of experience.  A lot of those kids have been playing some of them four, most of them three, and a couple of them two years.  They are very experienced and they have played a lot of basketball together.  Those kids have put a lot time in and it is showing right now.  I know they want to have a long run in the post season, which they could.  We have our hands full, but we are going to give it one heck of a shot," he said.

          Last season, New London (7-6,4-3) beat Plymouth on a last second shot by Ryan Lane.  Howell admits he doesn't have any secrets when it comes to game plans to beat Plymouth.  He says you kind of have to get lucky.  "I don't know what we did different than other teams.  Sometimes when you get a team with the caliber of Plymouth, sometimes it is just them not making shots is in your favor.  Maybe they get in some foul trouble and you have to hope for that a little bit," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "It has just been the right team at the right place, I guess.  It is never easy and to be honest I am setting here at this moment thinking how are we going to beat these guys Thursday?  I am really baffled."

 

Published 1/22/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
   

New London Starting to Shoot Better

 

          New London has found its shooting touch and they have also found a four game winning streak heading into a double weekend of games with Mapleton in the Firelands Conference and Mansfield Christian in a non-conference game, both on the road.

          They beat Lucas (64-55) on Tuesday night and coach Tom Howell says they are a lot better now than when they started the season six weeks ago.  "We are starting to figure some things out.  We've got some guys playing pretty well right now.  It is never easy.  From where we started to where we are at right now.  It has been fun to watch these guys transfer into, slowly but surely, a decent basketball team," said Howell.

          New London has always sort of prided itself on defense and that is coming along, but Howell says they are shooting bell well right now from the perimeter.  "Right now we are shooting the ball pretty well for the outside and that opens things up on the inside.  I still think we can get better defensively and that is something we are working on a lot.  If we can do that who knows what we can do the second half of the season," said Howell.

          The Wildcats (6-5,3-3) play at Mapleton (3-7,3-2) on Friday night in league play.  Howell says this is a pretty good Mounties team, despite their record.  "If you watch them or watch them on film they are pretty good.  We can't take these guys lightly.  They have two very good guards in the Barone brothers.  I am really impressed with their two low post players.  They are not very, very tall, but they are strong and athletic.  They can make things very difficult for teams," he said.

          On Saturday night, the Wildcats travel to Mansfield Christian (5-3) to meet the Flames.  Howell says Christian will make them be very fundamental.  "Coach Kurtz does a good job with pressure defense, half court man right in you face.  If we can't handle the ball it could be a very long evening for us.  Both games are going to be a test, but it is going to be different both nights I think," he said.

 

Published 1/15/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
   

New London Coming into their Own

 

          After two big wins last week over Hillsdale and Monroeville, the New London Wildcats are threatening to become a pretty good boys' basketball team.

          Sophomore Ryan Lane scored 25 points and the Wildcats beat Wayne County Athletic League power Hillsdale (75-72) in triple over time last Friday.  Coach Tom Howell says they are starting find our who they are.  "We have some guys stepping up.  I think it just took them a long time to figure out some roles for some people.  It has been a weird season so far for us, but I think we are on the right track now," said Howell.

          On Saturday night, the Wildcats (4-5,2-3) buried Monroeville (73-48) and Howell says they have a chance to put some wins together.  "We only have one game this weekend, but next week we have three, so if we can get some things rolling.  It won't be easy we are at St. Paul on Friday and it is always tough to play there," he said.

          New London plays Lucas, Mapleton in a league game, and Mansfield Christian next week.

          Friday night, they are at St. Paul (2-4,2-2) in a Firelands Conference game.  The Flyers lost to Willard (68-45) in a non-league game on Tuesday night.

          Howell says the Flyers have some physical players that could give them trouble.  "They are still recovering from football and are trying to get their basketball legs.  They do have some guys that can shoot it.  They are not very bog, but they are strong, athletic kids," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We will have a height advantage and we will see what we can do with that.  With how physical their guards play and how they guard the ball could be a problem for us.  If we can take care of the ball and get it to our big guys I think we can compete."

 

Published 1/07/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
   

32 Minutes the Key For New London

 

          New London is a basketball team that by mid-season might be a pretty good unit and they are certainly headed in the right direction.

          They led for almost three quarters on Tuesday night before losing to a talented South Central team (60-52) in Firelands Conference action.  Coach Tom Howell says they almost had it.  "We actually played pretty well.  We are getting there.  We are starting to compete in more games now.  We led almost the whole game until the last three minutes of the third quarter.  We just couldn't get the lead back, we kept it close, we just couldn't overcome South Central and he players they have," he said.

          Howell says that the Wildcats have some younger players that are part of their mix and he says they are getting better and so is the team.  "We are almost there.  We are getting better.  I have a lot of juniors that are starting to contribute now.  Ryan Lane is playing pretty well.  He is my leading scorer as a sophomore.  We just need to put four quarters together.  Seems like we play three or three and half.  We just have that four to six minute period where we do some silly things," he said.

          Lane scored the winning basket in an upset of Plymouth last year in the Big Red's only loss during conference play a year ago.

          New London (2-5) plays host to Hillsdale (4-1), the leaders of the Wayne County Athletic League, in a non-conference game on Friday night.  Howell looks for a battle.  "They are athletic and big and can shoot it.  We are going to have our hands full on Friday.  I am glad it is at our place to give us a little bit of advantage, but we are going to need all the help we can with them," he said.

          New London plays Monroeville in a Firelands Conference game on Saturday night.

 

Published 1/01/15

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
   

New London Starting to Turn the Corner

 

          After a win over Wellington last Saturday, the New London Wildcats are starting to make some moves toward being a good basketball team and they will be tested with Firelands Conference games this week against Crestview and Western Reserve.

          New London beat the Dukes (51-37) and coach Tim Howell says that was clearly their best effort of the season so far.  "We've had like almost three different teams, not two, like most coaches say," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "There was one game when we didn't play any quarters against Huron, against Edison we played maybe a quarter and half and didn't play well the rest of the game, and we sort of played well, like three and a half quarters last week against Wellington.  I saw some things that are good to see and I hope it continues."

          Howell says his players want to be better and they are putting in a consistent effort during practice during the week.  "Our kids are working hard, even when we were struggling, I give our kids a lot of credit.  We have been focusing more on us than the other teams we play that week.  Maybe giving ourselves another day, like Crestview for this Friday, we are going to start talking about (Thursday).  Once we get ourselves taken take of maybe we can worry about the other team a little more," he said.

          New London (1-3,0-1) plays at Crestview (0-4,0-0) in a Firelands Conference game Friday night between two teams trying to put some things together.  "They are scary.  You look at them on paper.  You look at them when they warm up.  They have good guard play, they are big, and they have good shooters.  It is going to be a pretty good challenge for us on Friday.  It's over at their place and it should be a good conference game," he said.

 

Published 12/19/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
   

New London Has to Find Some Scoring

 

          New London just hasn't been able to score much this season and now they are going to play one of the best defensive teams in the area as they host defending Firelands Conference champion Plymouth on Friday night.

          The Wildcats lost to two "SBC" teams last week in Edison (52-40) and Huron (64-22) and coach Tom Howell says they just couldn't get anything going offensively either night.  "Last week didn't go very well for us.  We struggled taking care of the basketball.  Both teams that we played were very quick and athletic.  We just didn't play very well.  We've had trouble scoring, which I didn't think was going to be the problem this year.  Right now, that is where we are at and hopefully we have gotten some things taken care this week in practice," said Howell.

          He says they getting some good shots, not a lot, and they weren't making those.  Howell says they have to find a playmaker.  "We need to find somebody that can create their own shot for themselves. We have a big kid and he just isn't making shots right now.  I think that will be taken care of sooner of later he is going to start making them.  We are not shooting well from the perimeter.  We need to step up.  That is a place I thought we would be strong and right now we're not," he said.

          New London (0-2) hosts Plymouth (2-1) in the conference openers for both on Friday night.  The Big Red, who's only loss in the conference last year came at New London, is the preseason pick to defend that title.  Howell says it might have been better for them if Plymouth had found a what to beat Colonel Crawford on Tuesday.  "They have everybody back.  Some of those guys have been playing for three, four years now.  They are very good basketball team and I went and watched them played Tuesday night against Colonel Crawford.  For us it is kind bad that they did get beat," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "I was sitting there thinking darn it if they could have just won maybe their attitude would have been a little different coming to our place.  Now I think they are going to be ready to go and this is going to be a tough one for us."

 

Published 12/12/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
   

Getting to the Lane Big For New London

 

          New London will work hard and play hard on defense now if they can get some more open shots they might end up being a pretty good basketball team.

          They open the season this Friday in non-conference play against the Edison Chargers.

          Coach Tom Howell says their practices have been pretty intense lately and that is because they have a lot of kids that are working hard to earn some plying time.  "Our last couple of scrimmages they were pretty good and our practices are getting better.  The good thing is I think I'm pretty deep this year so a lot of kids our realizing they are competing for playing time in practice and that has made everything a little bit more intense in practice and that helps out a lot," said Howell.

          Another plus is the improvement of New London's big man.  Howell says he will allow them to be more aggressive on defense this year.  "John Paul Brady, he has come a long way since last year.  I am expecting a lot out of him.  He is about 6'6" and he is kind of athletic.  He still growing, but he is finally catching up to his body a little bit and I am expecting a good year out of him," he said.

          Howell says one thing they are working on all of the time is being able to create things off of the dribble and he says that is something that can't be done only in practice.  "We are working on it, but we struggle taking people off the dribble.  We have trouble getting around people.  Some of it is working on your ball handling, which we do everyday.  It is not just going to happen in practice, you are going to have to do some stuff on your own," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "If we can get some guys to get around people off the dribble it just opens up a whole lot of things because we do have some guys that can shoot it, but we have to get them open and people driving the basketball helps that out a lot."

          New London plays at home against Edison of the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night and Howell expects that the Chargers are going to try and press them a lot in order to cause turnovers and force the pace of the game.  "I do know that they are not as big as they usually are.  Their guards are very experienced they are juniors now and they have been playing since they were freshmen.  They usually have a couple of kids that are 6''4" to 6'8" , but they just don't have that this year.  what I am looking at anyway is they are probably going to press a lot this year, so we have to get ready for that," he said.

 

Published 12/03/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
   

Hamilton Back at New London

 

          Last season, New London lost their point guard Josh Hamilton for the season due to a knee injury and they still ended up being a .500 basketball team.

          They were the only team in the Firelands Conference last year to beat Plymouth, the conference champion.

          This year the have Hamilton back and that should help what is a pretty young team.

          Coach Tom Howell says they are starting to come around a little bit.  "Early on I didn't know what to expect.  It wasn't until our last scrimmage with Clear Fork and Waynedale that I finally had some kids step up and do what I expect them to do over the first month of the season.  I think we are going to be okay," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We are definitely young still, but I do have some seniors.  I have Josh Hamilton back off an "ACL" injury last year.  He has lost his quickness a little bit right now, but he is just so smart on the basketball floor.  He gives us that leadership on the floor and that's what we need."

          Hamilton played a lot as an underclassman for the Wildcats and Howell says he shows great leadership.  "He can handle things on the floor really well.  He can get people were they are supposed to be.  He can make the right call at the right time.  When he is on the floor and has the ball in his hands I am pretty confident that he is going to call the right stuff.  It is just a huge plus for us this year," he said.

          Howell coached New London teams have always prided themselves on playing defense.  He says they have been a little slow at the defensive end this season, but he sees some good signs.  "To be honest that is one area we are struggling with at little bit, but we are getting better.  I think we are going to be pretty good because we are going to be able to pressure the ball on the perimeter a little more because we have some height on the back to guard the basket.  John Paul Brady is about 6'6" now and he has improved a lot since last year and that is going to be another factor for this year on the defensive end," said Howell.

          New London opens the season with two Sandusky Bay Conference teams on the opening weekend in Edison and Huron.

 

Published 11/25/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
   

New London Meets Huron

 

          New London tangles with Huron in the division three district semi-finals on Thursday afternoon at Heidelberg University in Tiffin for the right to advance to Saturday's district final.

          New London (21-6), #5 in the final Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the small school division, won its second straight Firelands Conference baseball title this spring and the first for head coach Tony Hamilton, who took over for long time coach Glen Morse this season.  Their only conference loss came last week to Mapleton (5-2) when the title had already bee secured.
          Hamilton says they have a great and deep pitching staff this year and that has been the real key to their success this year.  "It has probably been our pitching.  We have got probably four or five quality pitchers.  We have a number one veteran in Ben Young that throws in the mid to high 80's and he has a good curve ball.  He has been outstanding this year.  He has been a real tough competitor," he said.

          Young will likely get the call from Hamilton on Thursday in the team's biggest game of the year.

          Three times this season the Wildcats have scored more than 20 runs in a game and Hamilton says they have that kind of capability, but they still struggle with some of the fundamental things at the plate.  "We have been scoring a few runs.  We still struggle a little bit with execution, getting the bunt down and moving runners.  Sometimes we struggle to get the key hit with runners in scoring position, but we've got some good hitters.  Hopefully, we can string a few hits together on Thursday," said Hamilton.

          Huron (16-7) has really played some pretty good baseball over the last couple of weeks, including wins over Edison, who plays Wynford in Thursday's other division three semi-final and Clyde, who faces Ontario in a division two semi on Thursday.

          New London beat Huron (8-6) back on April 10 on the second week of the regular season and Hamilton says the Tigers are a team that hits the ball really well.  "They have got real smart hitters.  They have an outstanding catchers that not many guys will run on.  We played them earlier in the year," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We were impressed with their hitting.  From looking at them on line they don't make very many errors.  They are a really solid team that is going to be a challenge for us."

 

Published 5/22/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Or you can post comments on

our new forum

 

 
   

New London Must Handle Willard Pressure

 

          New London scored four points over the last 30 seconds of the game and they rallied to beat Bucyrus (43-40) in a division three sectional semi-final on Tuesday night and now they play Willard, of the Northern Ohio League, for a sectional title on Friday.

          Cory Haswell gave the Wildcats the lead when he hit a jumper with 31 seconds left and then Ryan Lane converted two free throws for the final margin.

          New London averages less than 50 points a game and they are used to winning these kids of games.  Coach Tom Howell thought their press helped change the flow of the game.  "We always make it exciting this year.  Guys that paying to watch the game are getting their money's worth.  We were down 14, 15 points in the first half.  We struggled big time.  We couldn't make a basket and kept turning the ball over," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We started pressing and we haven't done that much this season because of personnel.  It seemed to bother them and we were able to capitalize on it."

          The Wildcats (11-11) have had to grind out wins all season and Howell says that was the case again on Tuesday night.  "I give our guys a lot of credit.  They didn't give up.  They kept fighting and they were really up beat about everything.  When things start to build, your confidence gets going.  We had some guys back some big shots in the second half," he said.

          Willard (14-8) drops down to division three this year.  Howell says play outstanding defense.  He says the Flashes trap a lot and that really isn't something they have handled well this year.  "They play in probably a little tougher conference than we do.  They play a lot of bigger schools.  What concerns me about them is the way they pressure you with in your face defense in the full court, three quarter court.  They like to trap in the half court and we have struggled with that this year.  If we can handle that hopefully we can make a game out of this," said Howell.

         New London has been forced to deal with a size disadvantage in most of their games this year, but Howell says that won't necessarily be the case when they face the Flashes.  "I think we will be okay down low.  We might try to get the ball inside to release some of that pressure they are putting on the perimeter.  Maybe get some guys cutting to the basket and get some easy ones," he said.

 

Published 2/27/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Or you can post comments on

our new forum    

 

 
   

New London Expects to Grind it Out

 

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Tom Howell

 

          In what shapes up as a defensive battle the New London Wildcats face the Bucyrus Redmen in the division three sectional semi-finals at Lexington High School on Tuesday night.

          Both teams have played some excellent defense this year, but they have struggled scoring the ball more times than not.

        New London (10-11) lost to Western Reserve (47-44) in overtime last Wednesday and (65-49) to Mapleton on Friday in Firelands Conference games.  Coach Tom Howell those teams just played well against them.  "The last two games have been kind of tough for us.  We played well against Western and ended up losing in overtime.  Mapleton on that night they probably could have beaten anybody.  They shot well.  They defended well.  I have to give them a lot of credit they played well and we just couldn't get things going," he said.

          The Wildcats are not a big team this year and Howell says there will be some match-up problems for them in defending Bucyrus.  "They aren't that big, but they have a couple of guys that are going to give us problems.  They are like 6'2" and 6'3" and they play on the perimeter and they play inside.  On paper we don't match up very well against them," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "They have some shooters and they are going to pressure the ball a little bit.  They have had a pretty good year.  Coach Rose has come in and done a pretty good job with them."

          Bucyrus (12-10) has a win over Colonel Crawford to its credit this year and they lost only two games at home.  Howell says tempo will be a factor in the game.  "They are very deliberate in what they do on offense and they play very good defense and we are going to have to do the same thing and try to slow them down a little bit and not to let them make us play too fast," he said.

          Post season games already tend to be slowed paced, possession by possession games and Howell says it might be that neither team scores 40 points in this one.  "Its that point of the year and if that is what it takes to get a tournament win then that's what we will have to do.  It could be the first one to 35 could win this one," he said.

 

Published 2/25/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Or you can post comments on

our new forum  

 

 
   

New London Using Defense for Success

 

          New London doesn't even average 50 points a game, yet the Wildcats are in position to finish second in the Firelands Conference standings this year.

          All they have to do is beat Western Reserve at home on Wednesday night.

          After some serious injuries and a relative inexperience to begin the season people started to count out the Wildcats.  Everybody expect for the players that is, according to coach Tom Howell.  "Our kids work hard.  They take it upon themselves.  We were like 2-5, 2-6 and they said coach we are going to get back to .500 and then we will go from there.  They did it.  We beat some good teams," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, " We lost some games that we probably could have pulled out in the end.  So far, these guys are surprising a lot of people."

          They don't have a lot players with God given talent to score the ball, but Howell says they are willing to play hard on defense and try to rebound the ball.  "We don't score very well.  The guys on the team have taken a lot of pride in their defense and trying to out rebound opponents.  After every game that's what they talk about first.  It would be a lot easier if we would score a lot more.  It is just one of those things that we are lacking skill wise, but they really try to get it done on the defensive end," said Howell.

          Western Reserve (9-20,8-4) is one game behind New London (10-9,9-3) in the conference standings.  The Rough Riders won the first meeting (55-42) and they beat Crestview (60-54) last week without the services of leading scorer Nate Good, out with ankle problem.  Howell expects that Good will play against them.  "They always seem to find a way.  Coach Sheldon does a good job.  I am sure Nate will play on Wednesday and we are going to prepare for him to be there," he said.

          Howell also believes that Western is similar to his own team in that they rely on playing tough defense.  "They get after it pretty well on the defensive end.  He is playing a lot of zone this year.  Nate is probably a first team all conference player and Hankins is too.  He is a load inside.  They can also defend.  It's going to be a tough game," said Howell.

 

Published 2/19/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Or you can post comments on

our new forum

 

 
   

Wildcats are Hard Workers

 

          I don't think anyone would have predicted at the beginning of the season that New London would finish in second place in the Firelands Conference boys' basketball standings, but if things remain as they are now that is exactly what is going to happen.

          Although it has been a real struggle at times, coach Tom Howell really believes that their offense is starting to produce some things, he just wishes they were more consistent at that end of the floor.  "We are scoring a little bit more.  We are still averaging about 47, but we are only giving up 42, so that keeps us in a lot of games.  We have some guys that have been stepping up here lately.  We are just not real consistent on the offensive end and it hurts.  It's coming along.  We are playing our best basketball right now," he said.

          They may not have as much raw talent as they have had in recent years, the Wildcats have either won of finished second in the league the last three straight years, but Howell says he has been very pleased with the work ethic of the players when it comes to getting better.  "Our guys have hung tough.  We had one guy with varsity experience coming in that played a lot last year.  We do have some seniors. but they played JV as juniors and it took them a while to get used to the game," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "I had a freshmen step up and since we inserted him into the starting line up we are 9-4.  We have just moved some things around and we have the right combination and we have some guys coming off the bench now that can contribute during the games.  We struggle at times still, but we are a lot better now than we were at the beginning of the year.'

          New London (9-8,8-3) is at Norwalk St. Paul (8-10,6-6) in Firelands Conference play on Friday night.  Defense has been the name of the game for the Wildcats this year, but Howell says the Flyers can be difficult to defend.  "It is always tough to play over there.  Their size could give us a little trouble with Harwood and Smiley.  We just can't let Slauterbeck just shoot opens threes because he is their best shooter.  We are just going to try and contain everybody and keep them in front of us.  They can't get open looks on kick outs and try to keep those big guys off the boards and we will see what happens after that," said Howell.

 

Published 2/14/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Or you can post comments on

our new forum

 

 
   

New London Still Looking For Offense

 

          New London won both of their games over the weekend, but they are still having problems scoring the ball and they are going to have to do that if they are going to consistently compete with the better teams on their schedule.

          They beat South Central (49-37) in a Firelands Conference game last Friday and needed overtime to beat winless Seneca East (53-51) on Saturday.

          Coach Tom Howell admits they are still struggling to put the ball in the basket, but he hopes last weekend got them some confidence.  "I hope so the guys just keep working hard.  I like where we are headed.  We are starting to get some guys to step up and score a little more.  We still miss a lot of easy shots," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We are going to keep working on them and some day hopefully they start falling a little more consistently.  We are going to keep plugging away."

          Howell says they continue to work on their offense in practice, but he says they really miss a lot of easy shots.   "We have struggled passing the basketball.  Getting guys to catch and shoot it all in one motion.  We work on it a lot, more than I ever have.  At times we get better then we go backwards a little bit.  We might get better for little while.  It's just not consistent.  We miss a lot of point blank shots," he said.

          New London (7-7,6-3) travel to Crestview (5-9,4-5) on Tuesday night for a Firelands Conference game.  This is a game that was cancelled a couple of weeks ago due to a power outage.  The Cougars have lost their last three, but Howell says they really don't match-up very against them.  "They scare me just looking at them with the height and their guard play and all of the shooters they have.  They are big and that's going to give us a little trouble.  We are going to try and stop the big guys, but you can't lose the other guys they are very good shooters.  They are a team that we don't match up very well against," said Howell.

          New London has been winning games this year on defense and Howell says that is going to have to continue to be the case on Tuesday.  "We are only giving up like 48 points a game.  The games that we've lost we gave up like a big quarter here or maybe two big quarters in a game.  We are not a very good catch up team, so we have to play good defense," he said.

 

Published 2/04/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Or you can post comments on

our new forum     

 

 
   

New London has to Defend South Central Better

 

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Tom Howell

 

          New London has hung its hat this year on defense, but the first time they played South Central they didn't do that very well and that has to change when they play the Trojans on Friday night.

          Like other coaches in their area New London coach Tom Howell says he hopes the weather and the cancellation of school and games does not have negative affect on a team that has been getting better.  "This weather has been crazy.  A lot of people are saying they haven't seen weather like this in a long time.  It affects things, especially with the 22 game schedule and you are trying to make up games.  We are going to play five games in like eight, nine days.  It's going to be rough," said Howell.

          New London now stands at 5-7 for the year and Howell says an attainable goal for them is to get to that .500 mark.  "We have gotten better.  We have gotten so close to that .500 mark.  We get there and we take a step back.  We've played some pretty good teams lately.  That's my goal right now to get to that .500 mark and get over it," he said.

          Last week, in a battle for second place in the Firelands Conference Western Reserve beat New London (55-42) on Friday.  Howell says it was the first quarter that cost them.  "We came out in the first quarter and Nate Good had five threes in the first quarter.  We just could stop him, but after that it was even," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "When we looked at the scorebook after the first quarter it was 22-8 and after that it was even.  We had our chances.  We cut it down to six a couple of times and we couldn't make that big bucket or get that big stop."

          This Friday they host South Central (5-8,3-6) in a conference game.  In their first meeting the Trojans routed New London (52-33) in December.  Howell says they have to do a better job of getting out on the Trojans perimeter shooters.  "They have some guys that can shoot the basketball.  They do something well that we really struggle with and that's scoring.  We have to work hard on the defensive end and last time we didn't stop them very well.  They hit a lot of threes on us.  That opens up a lot of things and makes us come out a little further.  Coach Seidel does a good job with those guys.  It's not going to be easy, but we are going to come out and compete.  That's what we tell our guys everyday," said Howell.

 

Published 1/31/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Or you can post comments on

our new forum

 
   

New London Gets Big Win

 

          New London may have gotten its break through win of the season when freshman guard Ryan Lane drained a three pointer with 1.5 seconds left to give the Wildcats an 52-51 upset of Plymouth last Friday.

          They actually hit three three pointers in the last minute to help erase a 13-point fourth quarter deficit.   Coach Tom Howell says it was a huge win for the program.  "It was a good win for our kids.  Our players have been working pretty hard.  To see some of the progress we have made come into play.  They stuck with the game plan and it was just a good win for our team at this point and time," said Howell.

          Although their offense is coming around, the Wildcats only scored 39 points the first time the played Plymouth six weeks ago, Howell says it's their defense that won the them the Plymouth game.  "We are only giving up about 48 points a game.  Our problems is sometimes we can't score.  If they get off like they normally do we don't have a chance because we can't score with them.  We tried to keep it in the low 50's around 55 just to give ourselves a chance,  our kids stepped up and did an outstanding job on the defensive end," said Howell.

          New London (6-5,5-2) was hoping to take some momentum from the Plymouth win on to Saturday night when they were at Crestview.  However, the game was canceled when the power went out due to an Ohio Edison equipment failure.  "It was the first situation like that for me.  We were in the locker room getting ready to go out an warm up.  I was in the locker room writing stuff on the board and the power just went out," he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday, "I don't even know when it came back on.  They waited about 45 minutes and they decided to call it.  I don't know what the problem was.  We will just have to deal with it and find a make-up date."

          Their next two games are both against Western Reserve (6-7,5-2), whom they share second place with in the Firelands Conference standings, a game behind Plymouth.  They travel to Western on Friday and then host them on January 27.  Howell says the Rough Riders are good on defense.  "They are always a good hard nosed basketball team.  They are very physical down low.  We are going to have to be really, really patient on offense and try to get the best shot possible for us.  They have been playing a lot more zone this year.  They haven't played a lot in the past," said Howell.

          These are two of the more successful conference teams over the last decade, along with Plymouth, and Howell says this is always a big game.  "It should be a fun game.  It's kind of rivalry for us.  They are only 15 minutes away and we have always had some great games.  It will be fun to play," he said.

 

Published 1/20/14

(C) Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Or you can post comments

on our new forum

 

 
   

New London Solving Some Things

 

          New London has worked its way into a share of second place in the Firelands Conference two games behind conference leader Plymouth as we near the halfway point of the conference season.

          After a slow start, coach Tom Howell says they have become a better team because they have found some guys that can score the ball and that was an issue earlier in the season.  “We are getting better right now.  Our kids have been working hard.  We have found out identity a little bit on defense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We are playing a little bit more zone this year then we have in the past.  We are starting to get a few guys that score and that’s where we have been struggling.  If we can get over that 50 mark and that is pretty good for us right now.  We are just going to continue to work on that.”

          New London beat Mapleton (47-38) last Friday to improve their conference record to 4-2 for the year.

          Howell says the defense has really been there all season, but the offense is gradually getting better.  “We are only giving up 40 points a game, but we are only scoring about 48 and lot of those have been coming here lately.  We have had a couple of games when we have been in the 30’s.  The kids have been working pretty hard.  We have been doing a lot of offensive stuff in practice.  They are starting to see it work on the floor on game night,” said Howell.

          On Tuesday night, New London (5-4) plays at Oberlin Firelands in a non-conference game.  Howell says Firelands will try to be physical and that’s all right with them.  “They are going to be physical and get in your face on defense.  We do some of that a little bit.  It seems like we are getting better at that also.  We can deny the guys the basketball a little bit.  They are physical.  They shoot the ball well.  It’s not going to be an easy one, but if we come and play we will compete.  That is what we have been telling our kids we have to compete,” said Howell.

          On Friday night, the Wildcats host Plymouth (10-1,7-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball poll in the small school division, in a conference game.  The Big Red drilled New London (76-39) the first time they played.  Howell says they have to go in with a different game plan.  “Yeah, Plymouth is good.  They beat us pretty bad the first time around.  We have to come up with something different to show them.  Maybe try to slow the game down and get them into the 50’s instead of the 60’s and 70’s where they are used to scoring.  Maybe that will be a way we can have a chance,” he said.

 

Published 1/14/14

© Swankonsports.com

comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Or you can post comments on

Our brand new forum    

 

 
   

New London Starting to be More Offensive 

          New London may not have the talent level that they have had in recent years, but they are starting to play better basketball, punctuated with a good win over Norwalk St. Paul last Friday.

          The Wildcats got off to a great start and beat St. Paul (55-42) last week and coach Tom Howell says they he thinks they have shown needed improvement through the holiday period.  “I think we have gotten better.  I mean we ended up 2-2 through the holiday and that is pretty good for us right now.  The players are getting better and hopefully we are starting to turn the corner a little bit and get this thing back on track,” said Howell.

          After losing a number of players, including leader scorer Dane Held, to graduation and their point guard to injury during football, they struggled a little earlier.  Howell says now they are finding ways to score.  “Some guys are finally figuring out their roles.  The effort is there all of the time.  We had some problems with that the first couple of games, but that has been taken care of, but right now we have some guys starting to score a little bit and that was our biggest downfall,” he said.

          New London (4-4,3-2) hosts Mapleton (1-6,1-3) in a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  Howell says the Mounties are better than their record.  “Mapleton is very good.  I know their record isn’t that great, but they have some athletes on the basketball floor.  They are very guard oriented that can shoot it.  They are good defenders.  They are going to start winning some basketball games I think here.  I hope it doesn’t start with us.  It is going to be a good hard fought game I think,” he said.

          On defense, Howell says they have to be able to keep the Mounties out of the paint because they are able to break you down if they get in there.  “I think we have to contain them and not let them drive the basketball so easy.  They like to drive the ball into the paint and then kick it out and they have some guys sitting out there that can shoot if pretty good,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “On the offensive end we have to get the ball inside a little bit.  I think we have a little height advantage on them.”

 

Published 1/09/14

© Swankonsports.com

comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

Or you can post comments on

Our new forum

 

 
   

Defense the Key for New London

 

          New London may not have the explosive scorers that they have had in recent years, but they can still play defense.

          That is what won them a Firelands Conference game over Crestview (42-33) last Friday night.  The Cougars only made 13 field goals.  New London coach Tom Howell says they were aggressive.  “Crestview, they are a scary bunch of basketball players.  They have some good size and their guards are pretty good.  I think we caught them on a night when they didn’t shoot the ball very good,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I think we got in their face a little bit and they didn’t like that.  That was a big win for us going to a place that is always tough to play in South Central.”

          With graduation and injuries hitting the team hard, Howell says they have been preaching defense.  “We have been telling our players to just fall out on defense and they are finally starting to get it a little bit.  Sometimes you get spoiled seeing it year after year, but these guys didn’t know how hard they had to play, so that is what we are working on,” said Howell.

          New London (1-3,1-1) travels to South Central (2-2,1-1) for a Firelands Conference game on Friday night.  Howell says it’s always a tough place to play and the Trojans are improved over the last couple years with an influx of some younger players.  “Bret is doing a great job over there.  He gets his guys ready to go.  They are very young, but they are talented.  They are playing pretty well right now, it’s going to be a tough game,” he said.

          South Central has some talented shooters and they can stretch a defense, but Howell thinks his team can hurt them inside.  “They have about four or five guys that can flat out shoot the basketball and that can cause some problems.  I think we have a size advantage for once and I think we might try to take advantage of that,” said Howell.

 

Published 12/17/13

© Swankonsports.com

comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com

 

 
   

New London Looking For Stability

 

          New London has been a consistent threat in the Firelands Conference, winning the title two years ago and finishing second to Western Reserve last year and three years ago, but this year there are going to be some growing pains.

          With graduation of four year starter Dane Held and some other talented players, the Wildcats were going to need to find some players to fill new roles.  However, this fall they had their legs cut out from under them when point guard Josh Hamilton went down in football season with a serious knee injury. 

          Despite that, the Wildcats played pretty well in an opening night loss to Edison (48-45) last Friday.  Coach Tom Howell says if they could have avoided a scoring draught in the third quarter they could have easily won the game.  “We actually played pretty well I thought.  We had one bad quarter.  If we play better in that third quarter we come away with a win,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I am searching for a point guard, I think a lot of people are probably, but ours got hurt.  He tore his ACL and now I am down to one experience player on the floor.  Our kids our getting better and they are working hard.  I think we will be one those teams that gets better as the year goes on.”

          Hamilton is likely out for the year, but Howell says younger players have begun to step up.  “Josh Hamilton has been playing since he was a freshmen, he is a junior this year.  He tore his ACL in football.  He was the quarterback of the football team and a really smart young man in the classroom, on the field, on the floor, and everything he does.  He is a big loss, but we have some young men stepping up right now that have played pretty well.  His replacement only had one turnover.  I think he is going to do fine,” said Howell.

          New London (0-1) will be at Plymouth (1-1) to open conference play on Friday night.  The Big Red was the preseason pick to win the conference.  They lost to Buckeye Central (63-49) last Friday, but responded to beat Lucas (97-50) on Saturday.  Howell says they have all of the elements of a good team.  “They stumbled a little bit Friday night, but Buckeye Central is pretty good.  Plymouth is very dangerous.  They have one of the better players in the area in Tyrell Edmiston and they have some guys to go with him this year.  They have been playing since they were freshmen.  They are getting experience and are very, very confident on the floor.  They are going to a force to be reckoned with all season long.  They are just going to be a hard team to beat,” he said.

          Plymouth is explosive on offense and on defense they like to feature a variety of presses.  Howell says they will have to handle that pressure.  “We know that going into Friday.  We told our kids we have to handle their pressure.  They can score in bunches if you don’t.  It’s to their advantage with the athletes they have.  If we can cut down on our turnovers and handle their pressure I think we can play with them, but it’s not going to be easy for us,” he said.

 

Published 12/4/13

© Swankonsports.com

Comments can be e-mailed to

swankonsports@gmail.com     

 

 
   

New London Wants to End Season With Win

 

          New London has a chance to finish the season with a winning record and in the upper division of the Firelands Conference with a win on Friday night against South Central at home.

          It was a very exciting game last week for the Wildcats (5-4,3-3) as they edged Plymouth (27-26) when the Big Red missed a field goal at the buzzer.  New London coach Justin Vorhies says it still makes his heart beat a little faster.  “Even watching it on film you still get a little nervous if you watch completely through as a coach.  It was two evenly matched teams with some individual players making big plays,” he said.

          Nick Thomas scored three touchdowns in the win and Vorhies says there were a lot of big plays by both sides.  “No matter how you draw things up it is going to breakdown at some point and for both teams that happened.  We had guys step up and make plays and so did they,” he said.

          South Central (0-9,0-6) will make the trip to New London to finish the regular season on Friday night.  Vorhies says they may not have won any games, but the Trojans are still dangerous.  “They haven’t won anything yet.  They are a solid team up front and they have a running back that runs really hard.  With it being late in the season like this and the conditions the way they could be,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Our field is a little bit wet and it is going to rain again Thursday that is kind of a neutralizer for them, so we are definitely taking them seriously.  Our kids want to go out with a winning season.”

          With wet conditions expected this week, Vorhies says they have to hang onto the ball because turnovers could keep South Central is the football game.  “In our experience the last two seasons the field has been kind of bad.  They were both tight games and they were within a touchdown or two touchdowns throughout the whole game.  If you make a mistake in your own territory and give them the ball they are big enough and strong enough they can capitalize,” he said.

 

Published 10/31/13

© Swankonsports.com     

 

 
   

Controlling the Ball Big For New London

 

          New London is looking to finish the season strong with wins over Plymouth and South Central.  That would give them a 6-4 season.

          Last week, they broke a three game losing streak in downing Monroeville (27-13) in a Firelands Conference game.

          Coach Justin Vorhies says they were able to fight through some injuries and persevere to get the win over the Eagles.  “It was a good team victory for us.  We lost our quarterback for the game on the first play.  We lost our middle linebacker in the second quarter and he’s our leading tackler.  Our guys kind of rallied around each other and gutted it out for the whole game and got a win,” he said.

          It situations like last week Vorhies says you find out who your leaders are and they had some players take on that role.  “The nice thing is our offensive line really stepped up and did a nice job.  Our defense did a nice job of holding the other team to 13 points.  You have to give Nick Thomas a lot of credit.  He was our leading rusher, but at halftime he let me know that he was still getting his guys with his blocks to run behind so that is big when your senior leader does that for you,” said Vorhies.

          New London (4-4,2-3) is team that really wants to run the ball and against Mapleton and Norwalk St. Paul they really weren’t able to that very well.  Vorhies says starting two weeks ago against Western Reserve they were able to get that done.  “We got a good performance against Western.  We had almost 200 yards rushing.  They really did a nice job against Monroeville.  We controlled the ball form the middle of the third quarter to the end of the game pretty much.  Derrick Philips did a nice job of running behind our guys.  Caleb Morgan and Garret Hall, we put them next to each other and they just cleared space for those guys,” said Vorhies.

          Plymouth (5-3,2-3) comes to town on Friday night off a loss to Western Reserve (50-41) last week.  Vorhies says they have to keep the ball out of the hands of the Plymouth offense.  “They are dangerous.  They are a scary, explosive team.  I think they are a team if you can control the ball and keep the ball out of their hands you have a great shot of winning.  You have to try and force some turnovers and get some guys to the ball.  I think you also have to understand they are going to make plays,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “They have enough athletes, enough good players that they are going to make plays and you just have to limit them.”

          He says Plymouth has a lot of athletes and they will have to work hard and execute well to hold them down.  “If you put one guy out there on (Edmiston) you can almost guarantee that sometime they are just going to throw the ball up to him and let him go get it, but the scary thing is if you pull a guy out of the box, or pull a safety over top, they have guys they can hit up the seam or their quarterback Hunter Bailey is a very good option quarterback, read option, or pitching the ball.  They really force you to stay disciplined and stay at home and do your job,” said Vorhies.

 

Published 10/21/13

© Swankonsports.com     

 

 
   

New London takes on Monroeville

 

          New London tries to break a three game losing streak as they play at Monroeville against the Eagles on Friday night in Firelands Conference action.

          Last week, the Wildcats (3-4,1-3) had their offense going, but they had trouble stopping Western Reserve’s pass attack in a (41-30) loss to the Rough Riders in conference play.  Coach Justin Vorhies says they didn’t cover the Western receivers that well and they didn’t tackle that well either.  “Both teams came out and played well on the offensive side of the ball.  Defensively we went back and watched some of the film and we just made some mistakes in coverage and didn’t tackle well in the open field.  When you are facing an athletic team like they are you have to tackle in the open field.  Give their quarterback a lot of credit he played a really good game throwing and running the ball,” said Vorhies.

          Western had always been a running team until this year, but Vorhies says the Rough Riders coach Mark Stoll knows what he has in terms of talent.  “Coach Stoll has done a really good job of adjusting from that unbalanced double belly offense to getting his athletes the ball in open space.  They have a lot of athletes out there.  They find their best match-up and they get it to them.  When you do that you can put points up in a hurry,” he said.

          Monroeville (1-6,1-3), a tradition rich football program, has struggled this year getting their first win last week against South Central (20-8) in conference play.  Vorhies says they just haven’t been healthy.  “They are getting some guys back.  They are getting healthy.  We saw they had Seth Farley in the game a little bit last week, who was the conference defensive lineman of the year.  That is the first time he has played,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It sounds like Rick Heck might be back, we aren’t sure.  He is an all-conference running back.  They are a team that was picked to finish pretty high they have just had injury issues, but we think they are going to be close to full strength and we are preparing like it because they are a solid team.”

          If Heck, a 1,000 yard back last year, is back for the Eagles that will make them tougher to deal with, according to Vorhies.  “When you have (Heck) and Levi Anderson it is a nice inside-outside threat.  It is something that got us last year that we have really worked on.  It is something that we are going to try and stop and be focused to stop,” he said.

 

Published 10/16/13

© Swankonsports.com   

 

 
   

New London Has to be Tougher

 

          New London is going to have to run the table if they expect have a chance to share the Firelands Conference title this year after back to back losses to co-leaders Mapleton and Norwalk St. Paul.

          St. Paul was the favorite to win the title at the beginning of the season and they have done nothing but enhance that theory by outscoring its three league foes 145-13 so far. 

          The Flyers beat New London (41-13) last Friday night.  The Wildcats trailed just 20-13 early in the third, but it was all St. Paul in the second two quarters.  New London coach Justin Vorhies says the Flyers are relentless.  “They are very good team overall.  They have a great line and a great set of backs.  They are good defensively up front.  They just constantly attack, attack, and attack and eventually teams break down,” he said.

          The Wildcats (3-3,1-2) want to be able to run the football and take charge at the point of attack.  Vorhies says to do that they must continue to become more physical.  “We’ve got have to be more physical and that is something we are stressing.  The last two games that we have lost we think we haven’t been as physical up front and played as low as we would have liked to,” he said.

          New London pays a visit to Western Reserve (3-3,2-1) on Friday night for a Firelands Conference game.  The Rough Riders have traditionally been a power run team, but Vorhies says they are throwing the ball a whole lot more.  “Give their coaches credit for making their system work for the athletes that they have.  They have a lot of good athletes on the outside.  Their quarterback is very much improved from last year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “He is throwing a really nice ball and he is throwing a lot better.  They are really using the guys that they have and have put in a system on offense that allows those guys to do what they do best.”

          In order to be successful on Friday night, Vorhies says they must get some pressure on the Western Reserve receivers and not allow them to just go anywhere they want.  “The big thing is to not let the receivers run the routes that they want to run.  You have to get physical with them up front and reroute them a little bit.  Hopefully you can get some pressure on their quarterback.  At the same time your linebackers have to stay home and stop the run because they will still run it out of that shotgun formation,” said Vorhies.

 

Published 10/9/13

© Swankonsports.com      

 

 
   

New London Can’t Have Mistakes

 

          You may not have to play a perfect game to have a chance to beat Norwalk St. Paul, but it is close. 

          The assignment this week goes to the New London Wildcats, who host the Flyers on Friday night in a Firelands Conference game.

          Last week, the Wildcats (3-2,1-1) lost in dramatic fashion when Mapleton scored with just over a minute to play and then made a two-point conversion for the (28-27) win.  Coach Justin Vorhies says his players have responded very well to that loss.  “The first two days we came back and had a great two days of practice.  They have responded really well.  We talked about that Saturday morning after film that our character was going to be shown after that game to see how we respond, so far this week in practice they have stepped up and done it,” said Vorhies.  And he says you can’t let wins or losses hang around in your mind too much.  “If you lose a tough game it is okay to let it hurt for a good 12 hours, but after we watched that film we moved on to the next week, whether it is a win or a loss,” he added.

          The Flyers (4-1,2-0) are tied with Mapleton for first place in the conference blitzed rival Western Reserve (49-0) last Saturday.  Vorhies says they make you react quickly to what they are doing.  “Offensively they are a traditional St. Paul team.  They are going to get to the line quick and they are going to put as many bodies to the point of attack as they can,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “The thing I think they try to do is put your defense under pressure and keep pushing and pushing and pushing and before you know it in a lot of their films and a lot of their games they have a pretty big lead.  I think it is because of the pressure they constantly put on you.”

          St. Paul has shut out their first two conference opponents and Vorhies says they have made some adjustment to their defense this year.  “Defensively they do a couple of different things this year to stop some things they have seen in the past that maybe they have had trouble with, but they are doing a great job all around you can tell,” he said.

          Because they adjust to what you are doing, Vorhies says you must adjust to what they are doing too.  “They do a great job of seeing what you are taking away and then moving on to the next thing on both sides of the ball.  When you are in the game with then it is definitely a cat and mouse game to figure out what they are doing next and they are figuring out what you are doing next.  As a coach it is fun and a challenge you really enjoy,” he said.

          St. Paul is one of the traditional small school powers in North Central Ohio and they are used to winning.  Vorhies says you have to play with confidence or they will beat you up.  “That comes from that pressure they put on you.  Our kids still expect to win every game even though we have lost two it has been by a touchdown in one game and a point in the other.  We have talked about what we need to to fix to get it done and in most games it is turnovers.  Against St. Paul you have to have the right mindset that you are in it to win.  It is a discipline thing too and you can’t have turnovers and you have to stay disciplined to your assignments to have a chance to win it.  It’s not going to be easy and our kids know that too,” said Vorhies.

 

 

 

 
   

New London Faces Mapleton in Big Game

 

          It has been a long time since a New London versus Mapleton football game meant much over anything except to mom and dad, but this year it just might determine who can challenge Norwalk St. Paul in the Firelands Conference.

          Both schools are 3-1 in all games and 1-0 in the conference.

          New London outscored Crestview (42-20) last week.  Coach Justin Vorhies says their offensive line was physical and they did the job running the ball against the Cougars.  “Offensively we executed really well.  Nick Thomas had a big game on the ground and our line definitely did a good job opening up some holes for our running backs Derek Phillips had almost 100 yards and Marcus Best had a couple of big runs too.  Offensively we were definitely clicking that night,” said Vorhies.

          On defense, the Wildcats forced some turnovers and that was able to show down the Crestview attack, at least a little bit.  Vorhies says Crestview was able to move the ball running it though.  “We got it done on the offensive side of the ball and I think Crestview had the same mentality and they got it done too.  They had over 300 yards on the ground,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Give them credit, but our kids did a nice job of flying to the ball and we forced some turnovers too and that really helped open the game up for us.”  And when they got the turnovers, Vorhies says they were able to turn them into points.  “That is something we have done pretty well.  When we totaled it up we had 30 points off turnovers.  When you look at the final score that was kind of the tuning point there,” he said.

          Mapleton’s Travis Pickering ran for 381 yards, a school record, last week against Plymouth.  Vorhies says they have to gang tackle Pickering to get him down.  “He is a talented back and he was as a sophomore and he is better this year as a junior.  Their line is definitely better this year too.  They are much improved.  The big thing we have to focus on is reading our keys up front and make sure we get guys to the ball like we did last week to stop those big plays.  He got a lot of his yards off big runs,” said Vorhies.

          An aggressive defense, Vorhies expects a lot of the blitzes from the Mounties.  “They are a “50” front team and they like to bring a lot of pressure from different angles.  If your kids aren’t ready to pick that up they can cause a lot of havoc in the pass game and some of your run plays.  They are a solid team with a lot of speed and they are physical up front too,” said Vorhies.

 

Published 9/27/13

© Swankonsports.com      

 

 
   

New London Has to Win the Trenches

 

          New London travels to Crestview in one of the key match-ups on the first week of conference play in the Firelands Conference.

          Both teams are could be or could not be contenders this year and this game will go a long way in determining in which direction those teams might be headed.

          Last week New London (2-1) dropped their first game of the season to Colonel Crawford (33-27) in game that was close all of the way.  Coach Justin Vorhies thought they kind of let one get away.  “My reaction right now is a little bit of disappointment.  Our kids are disappointed.  Just because we felt that if we had gone in there and executed we could have come out with a win.  We did for most of the night.  We told our kids the team that executed the best was going to win that game.  We feel it came down to our two turnovers.  We gave them the ball twice and that was it,” he said.

          Vorhies says they have really been emphasizing being physical at the point of attack.  He thought they were a little lax in that area last week and they have to be better against Crestview.  “We have done a real good job of playing physical up front on both sides of the ball, but especially defensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “That is something that maybe we slipped a little bit last week.  We were more concerned about their pass, but that is something that we are really hammering our kids on right now, be physical on defense and fly to the ball.  If you are going to make a mistake, make an aggressive mistake.”

          Crestview threw three TD passes in a win over Wynford last week.  The Cougars have always been a run team and Vorhies says that is really still the case.  “They are throwing it a little more.  Their quarterback is in his second year.  They have some speed on the outside with their receivers.  I think that really helps balance them out.  They are still a run first team.  Against them you have to stop the run first.  If you don’t do that it is going to be a long day,” he said.

          With both teams wanting to run the ball, Vorhies says he feels the winner will be the team that controls the line of scrimmage.  “All games are like that, but especially this week.  You have two teams that are very physical up front and both teams are run first teams that are going to primarily run the ball to set the tone and use the run game to set up the pass game.  We have been hammering our kids about being the most physical team up front,” he said.

 

Published 9/19/13

© Swankonsports.com

 

 
   

New London Takes Firelands

 

          New London claimed its 11th baseball title in the last 22 years when they downed Western Reserve in extra innings on Thursday night.

          The Wildcats (19-3,12-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll in the small school division, got past Western Reserve (4-3) when they scored on an error in the top of the eighth inning.

          Veteran coach Glen Morse, who won his 400th game on Monday night, is excepted to retire at the end of the season.  He says the conference title is a fitting prize.  “Like I have said from the beginning, you know 25 years ago, my first goal every year is to win the conference.  This gives us number 11 or 12 in my 22 years, I can’t remember right off the top of my head.  These kids that are seniors where freshmen when we won it and then we finished second the last two years.  That was important for them too.  We were pretty excited (Thursday) night after the game.  It was a tough game going eight innings, we scored the run on error by other team, but we will take them however we can get them,” said Morse.

          He believes not winning the conference title the two years, Plymouth won it last year and Crestview the year before, was a motivating factor in the play of the Wildcats this year.  “The six seniors I have and the couple of juniors that actually played varsity when they were freshmen and last year as sophomores.  I think that helped us work a little but harder on some things and concentrate a little bit more and do some of the small things you need to do to get where we are,” said Morse.

          Expect for a weekend and one other game, Morse says this has been a very consistent team for him this season.  “The second day of the season we lost to Edison, who we possibly might face here in the tournament here.  We lost our focus a little bit in a doubleheader a couple of weeks ago against Seneca East, who is a pretty good team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “For the most part the kids have come out every day, all 13 of them, ready to play.  We have gotten some different kids some time.  It doesn’t fall off no matter who we have out there.  They all work hard and they do what they need to do to win some one run games.”

          One of the reasons for the consistent play is this Wildcats have some pretty good depth on the diamond.  Morse says everybody he has on the varsity can play.  “One through nine in the order everyday, plus we have two or three kids that we rotate in and out off the bench that are pretty good hitters and are solid on defense and stuff.  Sometimes that is a challenge as a coach that you have that many kids that deserve playing time.  I think we have juggled them pretty good.  We put the kids out there when they need to be.  Everybody has contributed this year.  It is really good to see them succeed,” said Morse.    

 

 
   

New London Bashes South Central

 

          New London scored nine times in the first three innings and they went on to blast South Central 14-0 in a Firelands Conference baseball game on Tuesday afternoon.

          The win keeps the Wildcats (14-3,7-0), #5 in the swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll in the small school division, in first place in the Firelands Conference with a two game lead on Plymouth.  The Big Red shutout Crestview (4-0) on Tuesday.

          Seneca East swept New London in a doubleheader on Saturday and coach Glen Morse was pleased with how the team responded to those loses.

“We had a little glitch on Saturday with Seneca East in a doubleheader, but we came back (Tuesday) ready to go.  We came out firing on all cylinders right from the beginning of the game.  I was pleased to see to see the guys rebound from a loss and get out there and get another win in the conference under our belt,” he said.

          Senior Dane Held pushed his record to 6-0 by scattering two hits over five innings.  Morse says he was outstanding again.  “Dane Held has done a heck of a job this year.  He was dominating (Tuesday).  The first batter he went 3-0 on and then came all of the way back and got the kid.  He struck out nine batters in six innings and pretty much controlled that part of the game for us.  We didn’t have to field very many balls when you are striking out two out of every three batters.  He did a great job,” said Morse.

          Six players had two hits for the Wildcats in the victory.  Morse believes they have a good mix of speed and power.  “We had three or four dribbler base hits.  We have pretty good team speed this year.  Then we really ripped a few shots to the fence (Tuesday) too and managed to spread it around.  We had a bunch of guys with two hits.  We got some subs in there and three of four of them got hits.  It was good to see all of those guys swinging the bats like that.  That is what we strive for,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win.

          New London has four more stolen bases on Tuesday and Morse says they continue to be aggressive on the bases.  “These are mostly the same guys we had last year.  Last year we started becoming a lot more aggressive.  We set a school record last year stealing 143 bases.  This year I don’t know if we are the same kind of pace as that.  We probably won’t get as many games in as we had last year.  We are aggressive on the bases.  We have some guys that can bunt the ball when we need to and we has some guys with some power that can hit the ball in the gaps and gets some doubles and triples.  This might be the best all around athleticism I have had on a baseball team at New London,” said Morse.   

 

 
   

New London Knocks off Another Contender

 

          So far this baseball season, New London is 3-0 against contenders in the Firelands Conference.

          Dane Held threw a two-hitter and the Wildcats scored six times in the first two innings and went on to blast Crestview (10-2) in conference play on Monday night.

          After two wins over Plymouth last week, coach Glen Morse says the win Monday put them in pretty good position.  “Both games last week with Plymouth were really tight and nail baiters all the way to the end.  In both games they had the tying run on base and we had to come up with a big play on defense in both of those games to hold on to those.  Then (Monday) going against Crestview Rob Gross always has his team ready to play, especially against us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We came out and strung some hits together there.  I didn’t realize until the end of the game how good of a game that Dane Held has pitched only giving up two hits.  We played some defense and managed to get another win out of it against another high quality opponent.”

          Morse says the early runs gave a Held a chance to pitch more relaxed and he was able to get some things done.  “We went out (Monday) and scored three in the top of the first. Dane managed to throw two pick offs away and they scored two in the bottom of the first to make it a one run game.  Then we came back in in the second and scored three more.  That gave him a little bit of breathing room.  He settled down and did a great job after that,” he said.

          New London (12-1,5-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll in the small school division, holds a one game lead on Crestview in the standings.  Morse thinks defense has been a big factor for them this spring.  “I think one of the biggest improvements from last year has been our defense.  Last year, especially at the beginning of the year, we struggled with that and game some games away.  This year we have done a really good job of fielding the ball and making good throws and playing smart baseball.  I am really proud of the guys for that.  We have come through with a lot of clutch hitting this year too.  We have made improvements in all of those areas and it has shown up in our record,” said Morse.

          With the Wildcats schedule be loaded early in the season, Morse says they have two more tough games to play this week against an excellent Western Reserve team.  “That is the biggest job I have as a coach is to keep them going against teams that maybe don’t have those big records.  You know, we come right back (Tuesday) and go against Western Reserve, who is 5-1 in the league so far. We play them on Wednesday also.  We can’t set back and rest on our laurels we have to come right back out and be ready to go again (Tuesday) afternoon,” he said.

 

 
   

New London Stays in Front

 

          New London beat defending Firelands Conference champion Plymouth Monday night to remain in a share of first place in the conference standings.

          Dane Held scattered four hits over six and a third innings to get win and added three hits and an RBI as the Wildcats (10-1,3-0) beat Plymouth (4-3) on Monday. 

          New London beat Plymouth ace Zach Butler and Wildcats coach Glen Morse says there is some satisfaction, especially when you beat a top notch starter like Butler.  “When your up against a pitcher of the quality we did (Monday) an you come up with the “W” that does make it better later on when you are looking back on it,” he said.

          It’s very early in the season and Morse says things are far from over and he knows Plymouth will come out Tuesday with fire in their eyes.  “Like I told the guys after the game in the outfield, I said they are going to come right back at us (Tuesday) and they are going to want to make up for the loss and try to get us right back where they are at 2-1 in the league,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Hopefully we can come through.  We have another good, quality pitcher going for us (Tuesday).  I don’t know who they are going to throw, but we are going to be right back at it with two of the top quality teams in the Firelands Conference.”

          Right now, New London shares first place with Crestview, who beat Monroeville (16-0) on Monday night. 

          New London scored the winning run on Monday night on a botched play by Plymouth.  Morse says you have to take advantage of those opportunities when they come along.  “They came back and tied us at two in the bottom of the fifth inning.  In the top of the sixth we got a couple of guys on base with a base hit and a hit by pitch.  They moved around on a wild pitch, so they were at second and third.  We got another wild pitch that scored the go ahead run.  On the flip back the catcher and the pitcher miscommunicated on it and they threw it away.  Corey Smith scored the fourth run and that turned out to be the winning run.  You have to be ready to go on all of those situations and be aggressive and go after it,” said Morse.

          New London has been the conference runner up the last two seasons and Morse says the kids are committed to changing that this spring.  “We finished second by one game last year to Plymouth and the year before to Crestview.  Two years ago we had a significant lead with four games to go and ended up not finishing it off.  A lot of these guys were playing as freshmen and sophomores that year and they are now juniors and seniors and they think it is time for them to finish it off and get their names at the top of the list,” he said.   

 

 
   

New London Facing Big Week

 

          After the first week of the play in the Firelands Conference, New London shares the lead in the baseball standings with Plymouth and Crestview, all three are 2-0.

          The Wildcats blistered Mapleton in two games on Monday (18-8) and Tuesday (15-1) to put themselves in good position.  Coach Glen Morse says they hit the ball pretty well, totaling 30 hits against the Mounties.  “On Tuesday we even beat a pretty good pitcher in Colton Hickey from Mapleton.  He put the ball over the plate and we hit hard up the middle a bunch of times and just kept running the bases.  We were very pleased with that.  Dane Held has pitched the last two games for us and got complete games out of them and pretty much shut them down.  We have done really well so far,” said Morse.

          New London (9-1,2-0) has some depth this year.  Morse says they have a lot of guys that can hit the ball.  “We probably go 14 deep in quality high school hitters in division three, so we are going to put some runs up, even against good pitching.  My biggest problem with them so far this year has been finding playing time for all of those guys to keep them sharp so they are ready to go if something happens injury wise,” he said.

          Held is clearly the Wildcats number one pitcher, but Morse says they have some guys to go behind him.  “We go probably seven deep this year of pretty decent pitchers.  There have been years in the past where we have had one real good pitcher and two or three okay pitchers and then we fall off a lot, but this year we go pretty deep and that is showing up over the first two weeks of the season.  We have played 10 games over the first 11 days of the season.  We have come out of that healthy and with everybody throwing well.  We are looking pretty good right now,” said Morse.

          If the weather permits, New London will play Colonel Crawford on Friday and a double header against Black River on Saturday in non-conference play.  Morse says these are important games too.  “We want to win every game that we play.  There are no throw away games in our minds down here in New London.  Quality programs like Colonel Crawford has been over the years.  Black River we play on Saturday.  Those are games that you want to get in if you can.  The main thing right now, before tournament starts, is to get those league games in and be healthy for them.  With the way we are set up right now with the number of baseball players we have here we want to play everything we can,” he said.

          Maybe the most critical week of the season for the Wildcats will be next week when they play both Plymouth and Crestview.  Morse knows that will determine a lot.  “Monday and Tuesday we play Plymouth and we play Crestview at the end of the week, so we are going to find out how we stack up against those two teams next week.  We look forward to those games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Last year, we lost three games early in the year in the conference and we played form behind all year and came up a little short when it came time to end the season.  I think this year our upperclassmen are pretty focused on going out there every league game and putting fourth a good effort and seeing if we can come out of this with a league championship.”

 

 
   

New London Doing Some Good Things

 

          New London has won three of its first four baseball games this year, including Wednesday against Mansfield St. Peter’s, and their coach says they are making some progress.

          Dane Held had two hits and three RBI as the Wildcats took out St. Peter’s (14-4) on Wednesday afternoon.  Coach Glen Morse says overall they have played pretty well in their first four games.  “Considering how cold it’s been and how little time we had outside, everybody else hasn’t been outside either, three of the four games we have played fairly well.  When we played Edison on Monday we made enough little mistakes to kind of hand that game away.  Mansfield St. Peter’s is a much improved team this year.  We made two errors in the first inning and they jumped up on us 4-0 before we even got to bat.  We came back from that and battled through it.  We scored 14 and they didn’t score any more and we got the “W,” said Morse.

          Can the Wildcats (3-1) be better?  Sure and Morse says most notably those improvements can be found in their defense and their approach at the plate.  “I think we still need to work on our fielding as far as being consistent in what we are doing.  There are certain situations when we are at the plate were we are not being aggressive enough or we are not going to the plate with a plan in our mind of what we want to accomplish.  The way the weather looks for the rest of the week we are going to get four more games in before Sunday.  We will have plenty of time to work on that before we begin league play on Monday against Mapleton,” said Morse.

          New London will play eight games, weather permitting, before they begin conference play and Morse says that gives them time to look at who can play varsity baseball.  “We are getting some younger guys in, getting them a few innings here and there at different spots and getting some at bats with some younger guys.  I don’t like calling it preseason I like to win no matter whether it is a league game or early in the season kind of stuff.  You have to get a look at those guys, especially when you have a lot of talented guys, so you can figure out who the best guys are for you in crunch time coming up,” he said.

          Many times it is the little things that win and lose games, especially among good teams, and Morse says that is something that experience has taught him.  “St. Pete’s (Wednesday) made a couple of diving catches in the outfield.  If they don’t make those we probably end this game an inning earlier.  We made a couple of errors too.  Good teams take advantage of the other team’s mistakes and capitalize on them.  You have to work all of that stuff out right now before you start getting into the ones that really count in the conference and you start getting into tournament,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night.

 

 
   

New London Wants Title

 

          New London was the favorite to win the Firelands Conference baseball title last spring, but they were surprised by Plymouth.

          They are committed to getting that title this spring.

          Coach Glen Morse, who doesn’t quite date back to the days of Willie, Mickey and the Duke, but almost, says if everything comes together this could be a very good year for the Wildcats.  “We have high hopes this year.  I have got probably five guys that have started for two years and another couple that started for us last year.  We only had one senior starter off last year’s team that was 20-8.  We are cautiously optimistic here going into the season if we can ever get outside,” he said.

          New London earned more baseball titles in the Firelands over the last 20 years then anyone else and Morse says that is their first goal again this year.  “That is our number one goal to win the conference.  Plymouth did surprise us early last year and we ended up losing three league games the first two weeks of the season and then took care of business after that.  I know Plymouth has two quality pitchers coming back,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I’m not sure about the rest of their team as to what they have coming back.  I have listed them and Crestview and us as the top three teams in the league this year as far as guys coming back and that kind of stuff.  I will be a tough one and it will probably go down to the last week just like it has the last couple of years.”

          New London travels to Lucas to open the season on Saturday.  They play their first Firelands Conference games against Mapleton on April 8 and 9.  Morse says they need a much better start to year than last and he is confident they can get it.  “Part of our problem last year was the basketball team went all of the way to the regionals and those guys didn’t get a chance to get any baseball work in until that was done.  We stated playing games about three of four days after they were playing basketball.  The weather, as great as it was last year, we had lots of games the first couple of weeks, so it took a while for our pitching to settle down and our fielding and stuff.  This year we have had them for three weeks now.  If we can get outside and get the other stuff accomplished that will help us out.  We have talked significantly about making sure we make the plays and getting off to a good start this year,” said Morse.  

 

 
   

New London Outsized Again

 

          New London has often been outsized this year, but they have rarely been outplayed.

          The Wildcats (19-3), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll, face Huron (18-5), #4 in that poll, in the division three district semi-finals on Thursday night at Willard High School.

          In a tough sectional final game New London beat Wynford (53-46) in overtime behind 24 points from district player of the year Dane Held.  Coach Tom Howell says the second half bailed them out.  “We played very well in the second half against Wynford.  The first half we didn’t play very well.  They took us out of what we wanted to do.  You have to give them a lot of credit.  We were able to pull it out at the end with some guys making some key free throws.  It just worked out for us,” said Howell.

          Huron shared the Sandusky Bay Conference crown with Sandusky Perkins and they hung on to beat league foe Margaretta (40-38) in their sectional final last week in Sandusky.  Howell says they are big and talented.  “Their inside game is very strong.  I think one thing that could bother us a little bit is their length.  Their post people are big.  Their point guard is 6’3”.  Their wing player is about 6’5”.  If we don’t check out it’s going to be a long night.  That is one of the biggest things we have been stressing all week,” he said.

          This is not the first time New London has faced a size disadvantage this year.  Howell says they are used to it.  “I think we are going to enjoy this.  I think it’s going to fun.  After making a little run last year during this time some of the guys are back.  It does help.  Huron is a very good basketball team.  This going to be a fun night of basketball I think,” he said.

          New London won a district title last season and they return many of the same players.  Howell believes that will be an advantage for them on Thursday night.  “There is always going to be nerves with everybody, including myself.  You get a little bit anxious and want to get going.  Hopefully we get over the jitters before they do and maybe can make a run early,” he said.

 

 
   

New London Hopes Second Season Brings Success

 

          New London made it the regional tournament last year and this season they are going to have to clear many of the same hurdles to get there again.

          Last year, it started with a tough two point win over Wynford and it is the Royals again that stand as the first assignment.  They face Wynford in the division three sectional final on Friday night at Lexington High School.

          Wynford beat Seneca East (67-60) in overtime on Tuesday night.

          New London (18-3) had won 10 straight games and 14 of their last 15 before allowing a 10-point fourth quarter lead to get away and lost to Norwalk St. Paul (41-40) last Friday night.  With it went a share of the Firelands Conference title.  Coach Tom Howell says they didn’t finish the game.  “We let one slip away from us last Friday.  We did everything we wanted except for the last four minutes.  St. Paul did some things to bother us a little bit.  I don’t know how many games we won in a row or anything.  We probably won some games where we didn’t play very well.  I would rather win them than lose them.  We have had a good week of practice so far and we are going to see what happens Friday,” said Howell.

          With regional run last year the Wildcats have some players that have been through this before, including district player of the year Dane Held, a four year starter.  Howell believes Wynford (10-13) will be a challenge, especially with their size.  “We have some good seniors, and even a sophomore that has some good experience.  It’s really a one game season if you lose you are done, if you win you get to play at least one more.  Wynford is now 1-0 and played pretty well (Tuesday) night against Seneca East.  They are athletic.  They have two big kids that are pretty good.  Sometimes that gives my team some trouble because of our lack of size,” said Howell.

          This has not been a typical Wynford year in terms of wins and losses, but Howell says that doesn’t mean they don’t have talent.  “They are good.  They have a good point guard in Powers.  Carter is at the top of their league in scoring and rebounding and shooting percentage.  They have some good supporting players.  They are very quick.  They play hard.  If you play hard some good things are going to happen sooner or later,” he said.

          New London has been successful for the most part in defending bigger players.  Howell says that will be their first goal on Friday night.  “St. Paul had a big kid that we kept in check for about three quarters and then he got us at the end.  We are going to try and stop Carter inside.  That is going to be our main goal and try to control the tempo a lit bit.  We want to get out and run and just see what happens,” said Howell.    

 

 
   

New London Has one Goal in Mind

 

          A month ago you would have thought that New London was an outside shot to win a share of the Firelands Conference title and now if things fall right they can win it outright.

          They are tied for first place in the conference with Western Reserve.  Western plays at Crestview, while New London is at third place Norwalk St. Paul, a team that beat them earlier in the season.

          Coach Tom Howell says this is an exciting part of the season, no doubt.  “Last year we were able to go over to St. Paul and win over there.  We knew we could have a least a share of the title and we are looking at that this year also.  All we have to do is take care of ourselves on Friday.  We will just have to play and see what happens,” he said.

          It is really a similar situation to last year when New London railed from behind to win the title outright.  Howell says they have been winning games in different ways though.  “Our seniors have been leading this team all year.  Some of them maybe not statistically with their points, but everybody brings something different.  We are not the most offensively talented team, but our kids play hard and they really take pride in their defense this year, which is totally different from last year,” he said.

          The St. Paul Flyers handed New London (18-2,11-2), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, their most lopsided loss of the season (67-52) back in January at New London.  Howell says they have good guard play and some intimidating posts.  “St. Paul is good.  There is still a scenario where they could get a share of the title this year.  They are only one game behind us and Western.  If they can beat us and Western loses there can be a three way tie there.,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It’s going to be a tough game.  Their size gave us trouble last game.  If we don’t check out better and control their penetration it could be a long night again.”

          St. Paul (15-6,10-3) runs a lot of the dribble drive offense and Howell says they are tough to keep out of the lane.  “Their guards are quick and they have two big guys down there.  They might be 6’4”, but they play about 6’7” with how athletic they are and how well they jump.  If we don’t control penetration from Conner Smith and Sal Sortino out front it’s going to be a long evening,” he said.

          New London has experience playing in big games.  They qualified for the regional tournament last year.  Howell says a win is something they want.  “We are playing a big game going into tournament.  Your goal every year is to win the conference.  Our kids have worked hard to get in this position.  It’s a reward for them to get to play in a big game like this.  It’s a good way to send the seniors out,” he said.

 

 
   

A Must Win For New London

 

          New London needs Plymouth to beat Western Reserve.  It’s that simple, okay, it’s not, they have to beat Monroeville Friday and then beat St. Paul next week to share the Firelands Conference title.

          Last week, they did what they needed to do by beating South Central (56-45) in a conference game.  Coach Tom Howell says all they can do is keep winning.  “That’s all we can do in that aspect of it, the conference part of it.  We are down one.  Our kids know the only thing we can do is take care of ourselves.  If Western keeps winning they are going to get the title,” he said.

          New London (15-2,10-2), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll, takes its act to Monroeville (3-14,1-11) on Friday night.  Howell says they better be ready because he know Monroeville wants to make a statement.  “We have to play hard.  They are going to play very hard.  They have a lot of good athletes.  They have some size and they are always strong and they are fast,” he told Swankpnsports.com on Wednesday, “It’s a scary place to play and we are trying to get our guys focused and trying to go over there and get a win.  It’s senior night so they are going to play a little bit harder and shoot a little bit better.  It could be a tough game.”

          Last season, New London won the conference title and advanced to the regional semi-finals before losing to Ottawa Glandorf.  Howell says this year’s team has a similar work ethic.  “They come to work every day in practice.  They work hard.  They make everybody else better by playing hard a practice.  That makes it a little bit easier on me if I can get that kind of effort from them every day,” he said.

          The Wildcats have a tough game Saturday night as they host Mansfield St. Peter’s (14-5), a winner of eight straight games heading into a contest with Marion Pleasant on Thursday night.  Howell says the Spartans can plan.  “St. Pete’s, they are pretty good.  I have gotten a chance to see them a couple of times.  Coach Durham is doing a great job with those kids.  They are pretty deep.  They have some guys that can come off the bench.  They have five, six, seven guys that can put the ball in the basket and sometimes that can be hard to guard,” said Howell.

               

 
   

New London Has to do Their Part

 

          New London has been successful in making the last month of the season more interesting in the Firelands Conference and now they need to catch a break.

          The defending champions beat Western Reserve (41-39) last Friday to reduce their deficit to one game with three to play.  Coach Tom Howell says they did what they needed to do to win.  “It was a good win for us.  Our kids worked hard.  We are back in the race a little bit.  We are going to need some help still.  At least we put ourselves in position if Western slips up we could maybe catch a share.  If we just take care of ourselves for the rest of the year.  I know these guys are going to keep working hard,” he said.

          Western Reserve plays Mapleton on Friday and closes with games against Plymouth and Crestview.  New London still must play South Central on Friday, followed by Monroeville and Norwalk St. Paul, a team that beat them in the first round.

          Again this season New London has shown some improvement in their play since the beginning of the season.  Howell says they are getting good minutes from their bench.  “We have some guys that are coming along coming off the bench that are giving us a lot of production right now.  That is sort of what happened last year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “If these guys continue to get better it just makes everything a little easier.  You just get some of these younger guys that didn’t get any experience last year that are starting to get everything right now.  You can just see it on the floor.”

          New London (13-2,9-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, has exhibited some good chemistry.  Howell says it’s because of their leadership.  “We have some good senior leadership and a couple of guys that practiced with us last year, they didn’t get to play much, but they were there for the run we made last year.  It does help. Dane Held and Cory Smith especially.  Those two coming back with all the young guys they are just teaching them.  They are doing a good job,” said Howell.

          The Wildcats play at South Central (6-11,3-7) on Friday night.  Howell says the Trojans are better than when they played them earlier, a 49-31 win for New London, and they have personnel that can cause problems for them.  “They have a big guy, which always seems to give us trouble, for time to time.  They are playing a lot better now than the first time we played them.  We have been telling our guys all week one game at a time.  We are getting everybody’s best game.  We have a target on our back and we have to just handle it.  We have to get ready to play and not take anybody lightly because South Central is good and they have some seniors.  They are a scary basketball team,” said Howell.

 

 
   

New London Needs Win

 

          New London faces its biggest game of the season Friday night as they host Firelands Conference leader Western Reserve.

          Right now, the Wildcats (12-2,8-2) trail Western (13-3,10-0) by two games in the conference standings.  They must have a win to have any chance, one would figure, to defend the conference title they won last year.

          They gave themselves a least a chance by overwhelming Crestview (67-30) last Friday as Cory Smith scored 16 points and leading scorer Dane Held added 14.  Coach Tom Howell says it was defense that turned the trick.  “We played pretty well.  We had a lot of guys that scored for us.  Again our defense was pretty good.  We forced turnovers in the first quarter and got some easy buckets off of them.  I think that set the tone early and it just kept rolling from there,” said Howell.  He says the Wildcats are a team that lives on its defense.  “We work on it pretty hard and our kids take pride in it.  It really helps us out because we do struggle a little bit on offense.  We cause some turnovers and gets some easy shots for guys that can a least make it around the basket,” he said.

          Western Reserve is #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division.  Howell says they have a bevy of shooters and this season they have some height.  “Western they have shooters.  They bring shooters off the bench.  They have six, seven kids that just shoot the basketball.  Plus, this year they have some height.  That caused us a lot of problems last game we played them.  We got out on their shooters and controlled them a little bit for a couple of quarters and they ate us up inside.  They are a very, very well rounded basketball team,” said Howell.

          In their first meeting back on December 21 the Rough Riders won (52-45) and Howell says to be successful this time they have to be more aggressive on offense.  “Last time we played them I thought we settled too much for perimeter shots.  I think we have bee a little bit more patient and get the all inside a little bit,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Maybe inside-out and not settle so much for threes.  I mean it’s okay if you are making them, but we weren’t making them that night.  I thought for a while we shot our way out of the game, especially early in the third quarter.”

          Howell says there is no secret regarding what is riding on this game from their perspective.  “Our kids know that.  They know what’s coming up and how big this is.  We are going to try and get better (Monday) and try to get better Tuesday and so on taking one practice at a time this week.  We will try to be as prepared as we can.  It’s going to be a fun game to watch and I think it will be a fun game to play in,” he said.

 

 
   

New London Looking to Keep Pace

 

          New London has to keep winning and get some help if they want a piece of that Firelands Conference title this season.

          They won it outright last year and advanced to the division three regional tournament.

          Defense has been the key for the Wildcats this year and that was the case again last Saturday night when they were able to shutdown Plymouth (51-37) to remain two games behind Western Reserve in the conference race.  Coach Tom Howell says they did a good job containing the Plymouth big guys.  “We played pretty well at Plymouth.  They have a real, real good basketball team.  With the amount of athleticism they have their big guys really scare you.  We did a pretty good job on them and hopefully we can continue that way Friday against Crestview,” he said.

          New London (11-2,7-2) has used defense all season to create offense in the open floor.  Howell says they have to do that to be successful. “That has been our forte’ all year we try to get after people and try to make them do things they don’t want to do.  Eventually it helps us on the offensive end.  We caused some turnovers and get some easy baskets when we started getting after them.  I mean it really helped us in the end,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday.

          Offensively with an overall lack of height they have to work hard and Howell says they are getting more guys to step up.  “We are getting there.  We have some more guys scoring now a little bit more consistently.  I’d like a little bit more, but I guess every coach would.  A couple of guys are stepping up a little bit.  They aren’t scoring big numbers, but they are getting eight to ten points instead of four to six.  They are just a little bit more consistent,” he said.

          They host Crestview (6-7,4-5) in conference play on Friday night.  Young at the beginning of the season, Howell says the Cougars are starting to turn some heads.  “They are a young team, but they have been playing pretty well here lately.  They are only one game under .500.  That’s pretty good with all of the sophomores he has been playing.  They have some guys that can shoot it.  That scares you a little bit.  Plus, they have a little height and that always scares me because we aren’t very big,” said Howell.

          In the first meeting this season, New London won handily (60-32) and Howell wants to get off to a good start in this game too.  “It’s real important if we can come out and establish what we want to do early and get some easy baskets it is going to go a long way through the whole game.  If we can continue to check out and play good defense I think we can play with anybody right now,” he said.

 

 
   

New London Needs to Stay Close

 

          New London is the chaser and if you are in that position you can’t afford to lose.

          The Wildcats (9-2,5-2) trail Western Reserve by two games in the Firelands Conference and face a double weekend of conference games this week at home against Mapleton on Friday and on the road at Plymouth on Saturday.

          Coach Tom Howell hopes they get some help form Norwalk St. Paul, the team that beat them last week.  “We have two tough games this weekend.  This week could tell a lot because Western Reserve plays at St. Paul and if St. Paul plays like they did against us last Friday they could beat anybody.  Our games are all important now.  We have to take one game at a time, we can’t look ahead too much, but we might be watching as little bit of the scoreboard after our game on Friday if we can take care of our business,” said Howell.

          Mapleton (2-10,0-7) has a new a coach in J.R. Keener.  Howell says they can’t be taken lightly.  “Mapleton always plays hard.  They have three very good guards.  Their post player is a little bit undersized.  He’s not real tall.  Actually this might be the only team in the league we are bigger than.  They have Colten Hickey, a second team all conference player last year.  He is having a pretty good year and two more guards that are very good.  If we don’t care of ourselves and come ready to play it could be a long evening,” said Howell.  He knows a good start, especially after the lost to St. Paul last week, is important for them.  “We always try to get out fast, get out to a good start.  Our problem right now is out second quarter for some reason.  Even on Tuesday we got out to a 10, 12 point lead and in the second quarter we really struggled.  It’s been that way all year.  I don’t know what it is.  We are trying to figure that out.  I guess that’s why we get paid the big bucks,” said Howell.

          New London beat Plymouth (5-6,4-3) at their place in December.  The Big Red are on a four game losing streak and Howell knows they will be fired up.  “We went through that last week with St. Paul and the way they played.  Plymouth is a very, very scary basketball team.  They have size and good guard play.  One thing that we have struggled with is big post players that can score and they have one of the best ones around the area.  This weekend is going to be big for everybody,” said Howell.

 

 
   

New London Needs to Keep Pace

 

          It appears like Western Reserve is not going to lose many Firelands Conference games, so that means New London is going to have to keep pace if they want a chance at a second straight conference title.

          After a loss to the Rough Riders three weeks ago New London is game behind in the conference standings heading into play this weekend.  The Wildcats (8-1,5-1) host Norwalk St. Paul (7-3,4-2) in a conference game this week.

          Last week, they stuffed Monroeville (58-17) in a Firelands game.  Coach Tom Howell says they played strong defense, but the Eagles missed some shots too.  “We got after it and probably held them to their lowest ever.  I am sure Monroeville is a lot better than that.  They didn’t shoot the ball very well.  They had some wide open looks, especially late in the first quarter.  They just didn’t make shots.  We played pretty good defense.  It has been our strong point all season,” said Howell.

          New London has been winning with defense and Howell says they take pride in defending the other guys.  “Last year we had the best offensive team I have ever had and this year is the best defensive team I have ever had.  They sort of take pride in it.  They work hard on it in practice.  Usually we score off our defense.  That is the way we know how to score right now,” he said.

          St. Paul comes into the game winning three of its last four and Howell says they have some talent.  “They have some good senior leadership.  They have five letter winners back.  They have some height and the guard position is usually where their leadership comes from,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Sortino and Conner Smith out front sort of hold everything together.  They are athletic and well coached.  Coach Smith has 300 plus wins at St. Paul.  They are very good it is not going to be easy, it’s going to be a tough game.”

          Last season, New London lost to Western early and then rallied to win the conference title.  If they are to do the same this year, Howell understands the importance of a win on Friday.  “Every game is important.  Western they are running through the conference right now.  They have had a couple of close ones here lately.  For us to keep pace with them this is a big game.  It’s a big game for St. Paul also because if they can get this game they are right back in the race.  It should be a fun atmosphere for our kids to play in,” said Howell.

 

 
   

New London and Western Reserve Play for First

 

          New London won the Firelands Conference title last season and Western Reserve was favored by many to win it this year.  They are both 3-0 in league play and they clash at Western on Friday night.

          The Wildcats (5-0,3-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, swept weekend games in conference play from Plymouth (43-33) and Crestview (60-32) to maintain that first place standing. Coach Tom Howell says they are starting to get some improved play down on the blocks.  “We had a pretty good weekend.  We didn’t shoot the ball very well again, Friday night especially.  Saturday night, we got a big time game from Josh Dillard.  We are hoping that continues, so we can get some post play and post points.  If we can get that consistently it just opens up a little bit of everything else for our guards and their outside shooting abilities,” said Howell.

          Very good defense is giving the Wildcats wins right now.  That and the ability to score in the open court.  Howell says their half court execution must get better than it is right now.  “We are not executing plays very well.  We are getting most of our points on the break or pressure the ball and getting some turnovers and scoring that way.  We are working on it and getting better at it, so hopefully here in the next month we will be where we should be I hope,” he said.

          Howell says their defense has been good enough to shut down other offenses and different kinds of attacks too.  “To hold Plymouth to 33 points and turn around and do it again against Crestview, they are young but they have some good outside shooters and some bigger kids inside.  We held them to 31, so I have been pretty happy with the defense all year.  I think we are only giving up 37 points a game right now,” he said.

          Western Reserve (5-1,3-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com poll, also won two last weekend downing South Central (65-40) and Monroeville (69-63) in their double weekend.  Howell says this is certainly another good team for the Rough Riders.  “They have some size.  Their guard play is very, very good.  Their outside shooting is just like last year.  I mean they are shooting the ball very well.  Our goal is to keep their guards out of the paint and kicking it out, so they can’t get those wide looks.  If we can hold them to 55 to 60 points I’ll be happy,” said Howell.

          The Wildcats defense has to be tuned up even another notch this week as Howell says they need a hand in the face of all of the shooters.  “They might be the best three point shooting team that we see all year and we have to see them twice, so that doesn’t make it any easier.  That is how they beat St. Paul.  They hit eight to 10 threes against St. Paul and shot like 50 percent against them.  It is not going to be easy,” he said.     

 

 
   

New London Needs to Compete in the Post

 

          New London may have lost some players to graduation, but they continue to find ways to win basketball games.

          The Cats (3-0,1-0) are the defending Firelands Conference champions and they began that defense with a victory over Mapleton (42-31) and then played Saturday afternoon at Quicken Loans Arena and beat Seneca East (57-53) in non-conference play.

          Coach Tom Howell is excited with the start and with the experience his players were able to have in playing on an NBA floor.  “It was good to get our first conference win.  I still think we aren’t playing very well right now, but hopefully that will change.  Mapleton played very, very well against us last week.  Then our kids got probably a chance of a lifetime to play at the “Q” on Saturday.  They had a great time.  They had a great day and it was good to get a win too against Seneca East, but it was just a fun opportunity,” said Howell.

          Last season the Wildcats were able to get a lot of points in the open floor from their guards, but this season Howell knows they need more from the guys closer to the basket offensively.  “It actually on the offensive side.  We are playing pretty good defense right now.  We need to get some post play, I guess you could say.  We are very guard oriented, but we have to get touches in the paint and try to get somebody to score down there a little bit.  We have some guys working hard and it’s going to come sooner or later.  I guess sometimes coaches are little impatient and want it to happen right now,” said Howell.

          Plymouth (2-1,1-0) comes to New London on Friday night for game in conference play.  Howell says Plymouth may be young, but with Edmiston, Beebe and Bailey they have a solid core.  “They do start three sophomores, but two of them played last year on the varsity level and had a lot of success.  The point guard Bailey is going to beat really good.  He is just going to get better with every game.  It is going to be a tough match-up for us because of their size, but the good thing is we have them at home,” said Howell.

          It’s a road game on Saturday in a double weekend in the Firelands as New London travels to Crestview (1-2,1-0) for match-up.  Howell says Crestview is one of the youngest teams in the entire area.  “They are actually playing some freshmen and a lot of sophomores.  They sprinkle in a couple of juniors where and there, they are real young.  They played really well last week against South Central.  You just never know with a team like that they get a little confidence going from last week you never know what might happen for them,” said Howell.

          He said it would be nice to get a pair of wins, but they are going to try and get them one at a time.  “It is important to get both of them.  We are going to work hard and see what happens Friday.  You try not to look ahead and play one game at a time.  We are going to try and do what we can with Plymouth on Friday,” he said.

 

 
   

New Loudon Counting on Defense

 

          New London won the Firelands Conference boys’ basketball title last season, but this year they are working with some different players with hopes of accomplishing the same goal.

          The Wildcats opened the season with a win a win over Edison (52-37) last Friday.  Coach Tom Howell says it was a game where they rescued the win in the second half.  “We are still feeling our way through a couple of things.  We have some guys with different roles form last year.  We struggled the first half.  I thought we didn’t play very well.  We played very well the second half.  If we get more consistent I think we will be okay.  We still have a little work to do though,” said Howell.

          With some new players to interrogate into the game Howell believes this team will be a work in progress.  “I think we will get better throughout the year.  It all depends on how fast these kids can step up and get better at practice and get acclimated to what we need them to do for us to be successful,” he said.

          Last season, New London advanced to the division three regional tournament before losing to Ottawa Glandorf and they were successful pushing the ball on offense and pressing.  Howell says the keys to success will be the same again.  “We actually got smaller if you can believe that.  We are very guard oriented.  We are going to count on our guards to make a lot of plays in the open floor this year, just like last year.  We are going to defend.  We have to.  We are going to try and score off our defense,” he told Swankonsports.com.

          New London travels to Mapleton (1-0) to begin the league portion of their schedule on Friday night.  The Mounties beat Lucas (47-34) in their first game of the year.  Howell says they have some experience in their back court.  “Mapleton is young, but they have two good guards in Barr and Hickey.  They have some experience coming back.  Their point guard is very good.  If we don’t come to play it is going to be like this all year in the Firelands Conference.  There are some good teams.  You are going to have to be ready every night or you are going to get beat,” said Howell.

 

 
   

New London Wants to Use Momentum

 

          New London put together one of the bigger wins in recent Wildcat football history when they beat Western Reserve last week.

          The win (7-6) moved the Wildcats into a share of first place in the Firelands with Western and Norwalk St. Paul.  Coach Justin Vorhies says they made big plays on the big downs against the Rough Riders.  “Our kids stepped up on the big downs, the third and shorts, the fourth and shorts.  Our linebackers filled hard, the lineman took their gaps.  We talked about bending and not breaking.  We talked about that they were going to knock us down a few times with some big plays, but as long as we get back up and knock them down on fourth down and third down.  Our kids rose to the occasion and shut them down on a lot of fourth downs and a couple of times inside the 10,” said Vorhies.

          This year has been a coming out party for the Wildcats and Vorhies says the players have put in a lot of hard work to turn things around at New London.  “Especially this senior class.  They have struggled the last three years.  A lot of them were on the varsity field as freshmen and they were part of that group last year that learned how to compete on the football field.  We were 2-8, but they started to figure it out towards the end of the year by winning the last two games.  You could tell that they really wanted to go out and win these games this year and kind of change the program and leave something behind for the other guys that are behind them.  It has really been a testament to our seniors and their drive and their will to win,” he said.

          This week, the Wildcats (5-3,4-1) plays host to Monroeville (3-5,3-2) in a conference game.  The Eagles, a traditional power in the Firelands, has struggled to find wins over the last two seasons.  However, Vorhies says they have improved and looked pretty good the last two weeks in wins over Mapleton (49-34) and South Central (40-6) in conference play.  “They are coming in hot.  They have won the last two games and scored a total of 89 points in those last two games.  This is a junior class that has experienced a lot of success in middle school as football players and you can tell that they are starting to figure things out.  Rick Heck is one tough running back.  It takes more than one guy to bring him down.  He is going to break arm tackles,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Levi Anderson has really stepped up as a compliment to him.  He has the capability of breaking some big plays.  Even though their record doesn’t show it they are a tough team.  Their biggest loss is eight points and they have been in every game until the end.”

          Yes, the win over Western Reserve was huge, but Vorhies says if they don’t win this week it doesn’t mean nearly as much.  “We talked about that this week with our kids about not having that hangover game that young teams have.  We are a program that is still figuring out winning and figuring out success and how to handle it.  We’ve talked about really coming out these last two games and proving a point and not let that Western win go for not.  We need to capitalize on it.  We know our goal at the beginning of the season was to be conference champs and if we take care of business ourselves we are going to have a piece of that championship.”

 

 
   

New London Must Regroup

 

          New London fell out of a share of first place in the Firelands Conference after being blasted last Saturday night by Norwalk St. Paul.

          However, there is a lot for the Wildcats (4-3,3-1) to play for over the last three weeks of the season beginning Friday night at home against conference leader Western Reserve.  They host Monroeville next week and are at South Central to conclude the regular season. 

          St. Paul scored the first two times they had the ball and went on to drill the Wildcats (49-7) last week.  Coach Justin Vorhies says they got behind early and lost their momentum.  “I think Saturday it was one of those games where we went in there expecting top come out with a win and maybe we got up too much before the game.  A lot of times when you get up too much for it, you fall real far too as far as emotions go.  They came out and we fought them off, and it took then 16 plays to score on their first drive.  Two plays later we had a turnover and they scored the very next play.  I think it was something we didn’t respond to and things kind of snowballed from there,” said Vorhies.

          For an attitude standpoint, Vorhies thinks they are in better shape this week than they were a week ago.  He says they are on a more even plain.  “I think we have gone back to the point before the St. Paul game before that week when we were on our win streak.  Kind of that same attitude, level headed attitude.  We are still working toward our goals,” he told Swankonsports.com, “The big thing that I stressed to our kids is our goal of being conference champions isn’t gone.  If we can go in there and get a win this week we are still going to have a piece of that championship.  There is still a chance of getting into the playoffs.  If we do knock off Western Reserve there is a lot of points there for us.”

          Western Reserve (6-1,4-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the small school division, is enjoying another fine season.  Vorhies says this is just a typical Western team.  “You are going to see what you always see from them offensively.  Defensively they will give you a lot of different looks that we are just going to have to be able to recognize when we get to the line of scrimmage.  Offensively they give you that unbalanced wing.  Their belly series can really give defenses fits.  You really have to be disciplined.  The size of their line, I don’t think that is anything that anyone in our conference really matches up with.  It is something where we are going to have to use our speed, but they also have speed in the backfield.  They have a lot of different weapons between Martz and Robson and Roth and Munz in the backfield,” said Vorhies.

          Western Reserve has been able to score on just about everybody this year.  Vorhies says they want to keep the ball away from the Rough Riders.  “Establishing a run game is going to be big, especially against any good offensive team.  Even if it is taking the easy passes that they are giving you.  The more you can keep them off the field the better off you are.  It is a team that can either grind it on you or they do have the ability to make some big plays happen.  They can’t do that is we have the ball in our hands,” said Vorhies.   

 

 
   

New London in the Mix

 

          New London is a team that is making the transition for a lower division team to a contender this year in Firelands Conference under the leadership of first year coach Justin Vorhies.

          It happens every year in most conferences, West Holmes in the Ohio Cardinal Conference and West Salem Northwestern in the Wayne County Athletic League would be other examples.  The Firelands Conference had been pretty stable until the last two years with Norwalk St. Paul, Monroeville, Western Reserve and Crestview as the hunters and the rest of the pack as the huntees.  Last year, Plumouth made a bid and Monroeville slipped a little.

          New London has won its first three conference games this year over Plymouth (48-36 in overtime), Crestview (26-21) and last week Mapleton (48-21).  Saturday night, they face one of the top of the food chain in Norwalk St. Paul.  Vorhies says he likes the way they have been playing.  “The last three games have been nice to get out on a win streak and see what we can do from here,” he said.

          New London has been able to put points on the board against anyone they have played this year and Vorhies says that’s because they have some weapons.  “Just the selflessness that we have and the amount of weapons that we have it’s hard for a team to key in on one player.  I think a big difference this year compared to the past couple of years has been our offensive line has really done a nice job pass blocking and opening up some holes fro run plays,” he said.

          Some of the Wildcats have played varsity football for almost four years now and Vorhies believes that is starting to make a difference for them on the field.  “The experience has definitely paid off and we talked about that at the beginning of the year.  With guys like Dane Held and Clay Wilson and Josh Dillard and Damon Bullen, guys that started some games their freshmen year.  They took some lumps as freshmen, sophomores and even last year as juniors, but are really stepping up this year for us,” he said.

          However, like any coach, Vorhies knows that there are things that the Wildcats can do better and they are working on those.  “Just our execution every day in practice.  We are getting there.  We have had a pretty good week so far.  Every once in a while we will have a practice that as a team we aren’t happy with.  We need to tackle on every single play on defense and getting guys to the ball.  Sometimes we will be great at that and other times we are lacking a little bit.  It’s an attitude adjustment that we have slowly been making and we doing a pretty good job of it so far,” said Vorhies.

          New London has not beaten St. Paul in football since the days of Rocky Farlow in the 90’s.  Vorhies says this is a team that you can’t make mistakes against.  “St. Paul is St. Paul. They are going to be disciplined.  They are going to execute their plays real well.  Coach Livengood always does a nice job with them.  It’s a team that if you don’t watch and you don’t do things the way you are suppose to do them they are definitely going to make you pay,” he told Swankonsports.com, “If you don’t stop them they are going to grind out the clock on you.  If you don’t hold your blocks they are going to get you in three and out situations.  Even though they got beat last week it is definitely a team that we respect and we know we are going to have to play our best game to come out with a win.”

          Vorhies says it’s going to come down to blocking and tackling for them.  Those are things they have to do to win.  “Like I mentioned before just tackling.  Definitely going to have to tackle well against this team.  If you let Smith of Griffin get out in the open.  Those are two guys that can hurt you if they get in the open field because not too many people are going to catch them.  Offensively, just staying on our blocks and executing and making plays when plays are able to be made,” said Vorhies.

 

 
   

New London Blasts South Central

 

          Dane Held went the distance scattering seven hits and with the bat he got three hits and scored three times as the New London Wildcats belted South Central 15-2 Tuesday night in Firelands Conference action.

          South Central (6-8,5-2) came into the game in second place in the conference standings and Wildcats coach Glen Morse says this was a win they just had to have.  “They were 5-1 coming into (Tuesday).  Like I told our kids before hand we needed to com out focused and ready to go and it looks like we were.  They threw a pretty good pitcher in Jordan Risner at us.  We made sure he threw us strikes and we put the ball in play,” he said.

          New London had 19 hits in six innings off two South Central pitchers and Morse says they were able to stay patient at the plate and wait for their pitch.  “(Tuesday) we made him come to us and we took advantage of it.  I mean we had some bloopers that fell in and stuff like that.  Over the course of the season those things tend to even out usually.  We were aggressive on the base paths and put the pressure on the defense there.  Hopefully when we play them again we can come out and do the same kind of thing,” said Morse.

          Held struck out seven and walked just one in the game.  Morse says he did an outstanding job in a clutch situation for the Wildcats.  “Dane did an excellent job.  He gave up a couple of hits there on first pitch strikes.  He worked himself out of jams.  The only inning he had more than one base runner on was the inning they scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth.  We played some good defense,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “The only error I think we had was on a ball that bounced up on one of our outfielders and that let them take an extra base.  Other than that we played solid on defense.  You have to do that if you are going to compete.”

          Plymouth (12-5,8-1) beat Crestview (2-1) on Tuesday night to maintain a two game lead over New London.  With South Central again on Wednesday as well as two-game series with Norwalk St. Paul and Monroeville, Morse says they just have to keep winning.  “We already faced them and split with them.  I was kind of hoping that Crestview could jump up and help everybody out (Tuesday).  Now we have to wait for somebody else to do it.  If we don’t take care of business on our end it’s not going to matter what anyone else does with Plymouth,” he said.

          The sectional draw for baseball teams in the Northwest District takes place on Sunday.  Morse is hoping they can get a seed in what is going to be a pretty tough sectional.  “We moved back up to division three this year and we are going to Bellevue.  We have Edison up there, who beat us in the very first game of the year in eight innings.  An Oak Harbor team that is dropping down from division two and they have a pretty good record too.  We also have Western Reserve from our conference and Huron and Margaretta are also in that sectional.  I don’t know whether we are going to get one of the top two seeds out of that or not.  If not we just have to keep playing and if we have to play those extra games we play them,” said Morse. 

 

 
   

Win Keeps New London in Race

 

          New London was almost the unanimous chose to win the Firelands Conference baseball title this year, but nearing the halfway point of the season it is anybody’s race.

          The Wildcats had split their first three conference series with Mapleton, Plymouth and Crestview.  They needed a win Tuesday night against Western Reserve and they got it (5-0) to improve to 4-3 in conference play. Plymouth beat Norwalk St. Paul (10-0) and the Big Red is 5-1, South Central is a surprising 4-1 after a win over Monroeville (7-3) and Crestview is 5-3 after a (11-2) win over Mapleton.

          Veteran coach Glen Morse knows that was a win they almost had to have.  “Devon Phillips came through (Tuesday) night and did a great job.  He was a little wild during certain times during the course of the game, walking guys back to back a couple of different times.  He didn’t give up a hit until the bottom of the seventh.  He pretty much just kept us there and we got enough offense strung together to get the win,” he said.

          With a lot of talent back, and solid reputation, a lot people thought the Wildcats might walk away with the title.  However, Morse says they have been inconsistent because of what he believes are a couple of reasons.  “I think part of that is we’ve still only got six or seven practices with the basketball guys that went to the regionals.  That’s seven guys of the 11 on the varsity.  I think that plays into it a little bit,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night,  “I don’t think these guys are used to playing this many games in this shot period of time.  We have played 17 games now already and played all of the games that have been scheduled so far and that has never happened in my coaching career of almost 30 years.  I think maybe that plays into it a little bit too.  They came ready to go (Tuesday) night.”

          With Western Reserve again on Wednesday and South Central next week, Morse hopes they have to the pieces put together for a little win streak.  “I keep looking at that and I keep hoping.  I thought after the comeback win we had on Friday against Crestview that we were turning the corner maybe and (Tuesday) helps go along with that.  (Wednesday) we play Western again at home and that might be the telling tale.  We have our returning best pitcher on the mound in Dane Held.  We’ll see how we come out (Wednesday) and see if we can put back to back games together,’ said Morse.

          With half of the league or more still in the conference race, Morse knows it’s going to be a battle down the stretch of the regular season and it’s going to take consistent play to win the championship.  “That is kind of what I thought even at the beginning of the year.  I thought that there was a lot of parity in the league.  I thought there were enough guys back from different teams that on any one night if you weren’t out there to play ball you were going to take a loss.  We are trying to get that through to our kids.  I think they believe us now finally after the first couple of weeks of league play where we ended up 3-3.  It’s up for grabs and whoever can play more consistently over the next three or four weeks is going to be the one that takes home the crown,” said Morse.   

 

 
   

New London Embarks in League Play

 

          New London wants to finish it off this year and they have the talent to do it,

          Last spring, the Wildcats held the Firelands Conference lead for must of the baseball season before fading in the last week and finishing second behind Crestview in the standings. 

          Last week, New London (4-2) played some pretty good baseball outside of some problems in the field.  Veteran coach Glen Morse says they have been able to establish who is going to be in the starting lineup for them before the conference schedule begins.  “We started out on Monday and it was your typical March weather for baseball in Ohio not the same that we had been having for two or three weeks.  It was real cold and that kind of stuff.  We ended up making a lot of errors and stuff like that and ended up losing to Edison in extra innings in the first game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday night, “We bounced back on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and beat Lucas, Mansfield St. Peter’s and Bucyrus.  Went to New Riegel (Saturday) and again it was cold and misty and all of that stuff and had seven errors in the first game and lost that one and came back and won the second one.  This is probably the third time in 25 years that I have been coaching high school baseball that we actually got in all the games the first week.  We have sorted out who needs to play where.”

          Morse says they certainly have designs on winning a conference title and that is a goal that the players have established at the beginning of the season.  “We finished second last year.  We lost a few games at the end there.  If we would have held on we would have been conference champs last year.  We have all of those kids back and they know what it feels like a lot of them were on the basketball team that won the conference this year.  They are striving to do that again this year in baseball.  Starting Monday we will figure out how we settle in with the rest of the league.  I know most the teams think they have to go through us to get it anyway.  Everybody is going to be shooting at us,” said Morse.

          Conference action begins on Monday and New London travels to Mapleton (3-2) to face Mounties.  Morse says his Wildcats and Mapleton have developed somewhat of a rivalry on the baseball diamond.  “I know they have one of the top pitchers in the league with the Cuffman kid.  I don’t know how their younger kids were last year.  I don’t remember.  I haven’t looked through my stuff yet.  I expect that they are going to be competitive.  They have been one of the teams.  They have been just as successful as we have over the last 15 years.  In the mid-2000’s there it was them and us and every once and while you would throw in a Western or Crestview.  It was basically just the two of us battling it out,” said Morse.

          In other Firelands Conference two games series this week, Crestview plays South Central, Western Reserve meets rival Norwalk St. Paul and Monroeville tangles with Plymouth.  

 

 
   

New London Has the Potential

 

          Last spring the New London Wildcats led the Firelands Conference baseball standings for much of the season and ended up in a share of second place with South Central, a game behind Crestview.

          This season, the Wildcats are the odds on favorite to win the conference title.  Veteran coach Glen Morse says they have looked pretty good in preseason stuff, even as they have been working in a number of basketball players, whose season just ended last week.  “We have had probably more outside practices so far this year already than we have had the last two or three years combined.  That’s all good.  We had a scrimmage (Tuesday night) against Crestline.  It was good to go our there and go against some other people.  I have liked what I have seen from our younger guys.  I have seven guys that have only been there about a week because of basketball.  We are trying to play catch up with them and trying to get them up to speed so we can get going at high speed next week when we start playing games,” said Morse.

          A loss in the regional semi-final last Wednesday ended the season for the Wildcats basketball team.  Morse says he was happy for coach Tom Howell and his players.  “I know there were some people around town here that were thinking I wanted the basketball team to lose, or the baseball coaches were, just so we could get going and that’s not the case at all.  Those kids had a wide ride.  That hasn’t happened for years that we have gone that deep in the tournament,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I was hoping that they were going to play coning into this weekend coming up because it would be a great experience for the kids playing and for the fans and the whole town.  We will put up with that and put us back a little bit in baseball and we will just have to play catch up.”

          Morse believes the success enjoyed during basketball season can be carried over to the spring, especially that winning attitude.  “These guys that played basketball, and we have seven of the 12 that were the team last week.  Even the freshmen and the sophomores that didn’t get to play a lot in that tournament run will still there on the bench.  They went through everything and they got to see what’s going on.  Hopefully, in baseball we can continue that and when tournament time comes maybe we can be a little more relaxed when we get down the tournament trail,” said Morse.  New London was upset in the sectional baseball tournament last May by Norwalk St. Paul.

          Most of the coaches in the Firelands Conference have said New London is the clear favorite this spring.  Morse says they know the have a bull’s eye painted on their chests.  “I appreciate that the coaches feel that way.  We probably have more starters coming back than anyone else.  We finished tied for second place last year and that’s only natural.  Even in years when I say we will be down most of those guys don’t believe me any more, they think I’m sandbagging.  They call me names and everything else, all in fun.  I am cautiously optimistic this year because we have all of those guys back.  We only lost one senior that started all of the games and we have one senior that didn’t come out.  We have our top five or six pitchers back.  All of those things play into it and it’s just a matter of going out there and living up to what our potential is and making plays,” said Morse.

 

 
   

New London Going to Press

 

          New London takes a 16-game winning streak into a division three regional semi-final match-up with tradition rich Ottawa Glandorf at Bowling Green State University on Wednesday night.

          Ottawa Glandorf has qualified for five state tournaments and won state titles in 2004 and 2008.  New London coach Tom Howell knows they are competing against a school that knows what big games are all about.  Plus, he says the Titans are the biggest, strongest team they have faced this season.  “You know tradition speaks for itself.  They have been to the state tournament, they have won state titles.  They just have good basketball tradition,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “One thing that concerns me right now with them is their size and the way they go to the offensive glass.  That is going to be a big key with us because of our lack of size.  I know we have played bigger teams all year, but this is probably the best offensive rebounding team I have seen.”

          New London has been undersized all season, so they are used to that situation.  Howell says they are going to continue to do what they have been doing to be successful, press and press some more.  “I still think we can do what we like to do.  You know press a little bit and trap a little bit in the half court.  We want to try and get a lot of our offense from our defense.  We are still going to try and do that.  If we can do that we can get their bigs out on the perimeter a little bit more and maybe be able to drive the basketball,” he said.

          New London’s Dane Held and Clay Hall have received most of the postseason honors, but Howell believes their balance has been a key to their tournament drive, including the play, and scoring, of point guard Cory Smith.   “We have been telling him we need more offense from you.  He has been working very hard on his shot and about the last month of the season here he has come on very, very strong.  Clay LeFloure, he goes a little bit unnoticed I guess.  He can make the outside shot if no one pays attention to him.  He had 15 on Saturday against Millbury Lake.  Andrew Hopkins, here is averaging almost a double, double, 10 and 10.  These guys have been consistent all year and I think that’s a huge part of our success,” said Howell.

          The Stroh Center is an arena that just opened at Bowling Green last fall and sometimes an arena set up can lead to shootings problems for high school teams that aren’t used to it.  Howell says he thinks they will be okay.  “We are going to try and get there early.  Try to have these guys walk around a little bit and get the feel of it.  Maybe get the aye factor out of it.  It is the biggest arena these guys have played in.  It’s going to be different for us, but I think once we get out there and shoot a little bit.  I think these guys will be alright,” he said.

          With Firelands Conference, sectional and district titles already in hand, Swankonsports.com asked Howell if he thought his Wildcats were satisfied?  “They are still working very hard in practice.  Tournament time practice is a little different, you are trying to focus on the other team more.  Maybe a little shorter, a lot of shooting, and then you go home.  We have watched a lot more film over the last couple weeks than we have in a while.  These guys are ready to go.  They are excited.  I don’t think they are going to be satisfied,” said Howell.

 

 
   

New London Must Control Todd

 

          It’s the third meeting of the season for two of the Firelands Conference’s best when New London tangles with Western Reserve in the division three district semi-finals on Thursday night at Norwalk High School.

          New London (18-3) won the title outright this season when Western Reserve (15-6) lost on the final Friday to Crestview.  The Rough Riders won it last year.

          The Wildcats railed to beat Wynford (47-45) to claim a sectional title last week at Lexington High School.  Cory Smith drained two free throws with four seconds left for the win.  Coach Tom Howell says they were in a desperate situation with two minutes in the game.  “I didn’t know how they were going to react.  We were down six with like two minutes to play.  We had some players step up and make plays.  I have to give a lot of credit to Cory Smith.  He made two big steals in those two minutes and knocked down the two biggest free throws of his high school basketball career so far,” he said.

          Howell said Smith, along with some his teammates,  just made big plays when they had too in order to pull the game out of the fire.  “During the game we played pretty well.  We sort of struggled in the third quarter.  Their size really gave us problems all night long, but like I said Cory Smith made a couple of big plays, Dane Held made a heck of and one.  You know, he got fouled on a lay up and so did Clay Hall.  Players have to make plays.  They make us look good,” said Howell.

          The two teams spilt their regular season meetings this year, so this will be the rubber match so to speak.  Western won at New London on December 23 (67-57) and the Wildcats returned the favor (54-45) at Western on February 4.  Howell says this is going to be another game that is going to be determined in the game’s final minutes.  “We are anticipating a tough basketball game.  We know with Western they are well coached and have some really good guards.  We are going to have our hands full.  They shoot a lot of threes.  If we can get up and down the floor and execute a little bit it’s going to be a heck of a game.  It could come down to a player making a play at the end of the game,” he said.

          Nolan Todd scored 20 points in the fourth quarter of the Rough Riders come from behind win over Margaretta (58-54) in last Friday’s sectional title game.  Howell knows they have to contain Todd.  “He is a special player.  They only come around once in a while.  He has put a lot of time in and now it is paying off for him.  We have to keep Nolan out of the paint.  I think that’s the biggest thing we have to do.  We can’t let him penetrate the basketball.  He’ll either pull up and shoot it or kick it out to the shooters they have on the perimeter.  That’s what they did to us the first time.  We didn’t do a very good job of that and he made us pay for it,” said Howell.

          Sometimes in the tournament there is a tendency to change the way you play, especially play a slower tempo game.  Howell says they can’t afford to do that.  “We want to run.  Western wants to run.  I think the pace is going to fine.  If we can do what we need to do to stop them and have them play our game a little bit is going to be the biggest key,” he said.  

 

 
   

New London Must Rebound

 

          New London has not lost a basketball game since a few days after Christmas and 14 straight wins later they won an outright Firelands Conference title with a win last week over Norwalk St. Paul.

          They begin tournament action in the division three sectional final at Lexington High School on Friday night when they face the Wynford Royals of the North Central Conference.  New London coach Tom Howell says Wynford is a physical team that rebounds very well and has two outstanding scorers in Zach Chatlain and Seth Rall.  “Wynford is a very good basketball team.  They have some good size and some good guard play.  They have two very good scorers in Rall and Chatlain.  Their size is scary because with us we aren’t very big.  We are going to have to do some things on the defensive end to make sure they just don’t dominate the offensive glass and it’s going to be tough for us,” said Howell.

          New London (17-3), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com basketball power poll among smaller schools, does not have a lot of height.  The tallest player in their starting lineup is 6-1.  Howell says they will have to work very hard to get their share of rebounds.  “That could be the biggest key to the game.  We are going to have our hands full.  They are a very good offensive rebounding team.  For us to have a chance to finally pull it out in the end that’s going to be a big key for us to try and limit their stick backs,” he said.

          What the Wildcats do have are five players on the floor that can handle the ball well.  Howell wants to feature the fast break and force Wynford (13-8) to guard them in the open floor.  “That has been one our strong suits all year we like to get out and run.  We want to try and push the ball and get a quick easy shots.  We are going to try and do that Friday night.  Wynford has some good athletes on their team.  You know, they are big, but they can also run and handle the ball well.  Two of them are very good shooters from the outside.  I think it’s going to be a fun game for both teams,” said Howell.

          Any coach is concerned that their players will be nervous for a tournament game, especially at the beginning.  Howell would like to score a couple of hoops right at the beginning of the game Friday night.  “They got to play over there on Tuesday and got some jitters out maybe.  It is going to be important for us to get off to a good start.  We are going to try and get some easy shots in the beginning and try and get those to fall and take off from there,” Howell told Swankonsports.com.

 

 
   

New London Wants to Finish

 

          New London has not lost a basketball game since just after Christmas and the Wildcats have put themselves in position to earn no less than a share of the Firelands Conference title.

          Right now, they are in a first place tie with the Western Reserve Rough Riders.  Western plays host to Crestview on Friday night, while the Wildcats must travel to Norwalk St. Paul.

          New London maintained its share of the lead with a win (72-50) over Monroeville last Friday night.  They have won two more games since then in non-conference play as they defeated Mansfield St. Peter’s (56-41) last Saturday and Mansfield Christian (49-41) on Tuesday night, both on the road.  New London coach Tom Howell though has not been impressed with the defense in those last two wins.  “We struggled a little bit Tuesday night.  Actually we struggled our last two games.  We have to get some practices in and try to get some things fixed before Friday.  Mansfield Christian did a good job and that is the first time I have been part of game where somebody tried to hold the ball against you a little bit.  That’s what Mansfield Christian tried to do to us.  It worked for a while.  We struggled with it.  We started to get impatient when they started to get real patient,” said Howell.

          He says it comes down to the players being more committed to playing defense and using better fundamentals on the floor.  “Our defense of the basketball was really bad Saturday at St. Pete and Tuesday at Mansfield Christian.  These guys just have to get down in a stance and play better defense on the ball.  We let people get around us too easy.  If we do that Friday it is going to cause a lot of problems,” he said.

          Norwalk St. Paul (7-12,6-6) has been an inconsistent team this season, but the Flyers home gym is never an easy place to get a win.  They just beat Crestview (50-48) there last week on a last second shot.  Howell says the Flyers will be excited to play them.  “They have added this dribble drive offense.  If they can get into the paint and kick it out to a couple of shooters they have setting out there on the three point line.  If they get good looks they knock them down,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “If they get a little confidence going they are a hard team to beat.  I am sure they are going to be one to play us very well at their place.  It’s probably senior night.  They are going to play a little harder.  They are going to shoot a little bit better just because it’s at their place.  They are going to have a little bit more confidence going in.”

          The New London players know that a win means at least a share of the title and Howell says it’s been a goal to win that title.  “I give our kids a lot of credit.  They have worked hard all year.  That’s what we have told them, you have worked hard to get to this point now we just have to finish it out,” said Howell.    

 

 
   

New London Has a lot of Weapons

 

          New London has surged into a share of first place in the Firelands Conference on the strength of a nine game winning streak.

          With two conference games left they share first place with Western Reserve.  New London plays at home against Monroeville on Friday night and then at Norwalk St. Paul next week.  Western has home games with Plymouth and Crestview, the two third place teams, yet to play.  It would seem that New London has the easiest road.

          Last Friday, New London got off to a solid start and went on to beat South Central (79-60) to avenge a loss to the Trojans in December.  Wildcats coach Tom Howell says their defense was the difference.  “We played pretty well.  We got after them and tried to pressure the ball a little bit full court and got them to take a few quick shots and turn the ball over a little bit.  We shot some pretty easy shots the first half,” he said.

          They don’t have great height, but the Wildcats do have athletic players they can put on the floor and all of them can do a lot of different things.  “Everybody we have on our team can guard the ball.  It’s doesn’t matter if they are guard or a forward or whatever.  We are very versatile that way.  We aren’t real big, that’s the bad thing, if we come up against some kids that are 6-5 or so,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Offensively, we have four guys averaging double figures in Dane Held, Clay Hall, Andrew Hopkins and Clay La Fleur.  What is helping us out now is we are getting six to eight points off the bench from Luke Shayes.  Cory Smith our point guard is starting to score a little bit for us and that just helps us out.”

          Monroeville (3-14,2-10) comes to New London (13-3,10-2) on Friday night for a conference game.  Howell is cautious because he knows the Eagles have been getting better and have wins over South Central and Mapleton the last couple of weeks.  “We have been saying all year that it’s one game at a time and try to stay focused and never underestimate who you are playing.  Monroeville is very athletic.  They have some big guards.  Their four and five men can step out and shoot it and put the ball on the floor.  They have been causing some havoc here lately and beating some teams and playing some good teams very, very well.  It’s not going to be easy and I hope our players realize that coming into Friday night,” said Howell.

          Playing as well as any small school team in the area over the last six weeks, the Wildcats look like they are on a mission, but Howell says they must keep focused mentally or they could be in for a surprise.  “We always want to try and get better.  We still come in and play pretty hard.  We have shortened our practices up a little bit.  We are trying to save our legs.  We are trying to stay sharp on fundamentals and what we need to do.  Right now, our kids are responding.  With 16, 17 or 18 year old kids the next week that could change, you never know sometimes,” said Howell.    

 

 
   

New London Where They Want to Be

 

          Six straight conference wins has moved the New London Wildcats into a share of first place with Western Reserve in the Firelands Conference standings.

          They picked up their biggest win of the season last Friday when they beat Western (54-45) to avenge a ten point loss (67-57) in December.  Wildcats coach Tom Howell says they did a much better job of controlling the Western dribble drive offense.  He says they limited penetration and where are to defend the Rough Riders three point shooters.  “We worked hard all week on just making sure we got a hand up on those guys shooting threes out there.  I thought we did a better job this time of not letting them get into the paint as easy and be able to kick it out for a wide open three.  We did a better job with that and it paid off.  The work we did last week, it showed on Friday,” said Howell.

          South Central was the last team to beat New London (62-53) in a conference game on December 30.  South Central’s Austin Hintz had 27 in the game for the Trojans.  Howell says they have to be very award of where he is on the court at all times.  “This is just as big of a game as last Friday.  They beat us at their place.  Our kids are pretty focused and want to get after it on Friday.  It’s not going to be easy.  They are athletic.  They play defense well.  Hintz can shoot and he can score 50 on any night.  You just don’t know what that kid is going to bring.  He is a special player,” Howell told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday.  Hintz had 40 in a win by the Trojans over Norwalk St. Paul on January 27.

          Howell says they have not brought up the fact that South Central beat them the first time they played, but he is sure the team’s leaders will make it clear that they need to get some revenge on the Trojans.  “You hope so.  I mean we haven’t talked about it a whole lot.  We do have some pretty good seniors and Dane (Held) is a junior, but he plays like a fifth year senior, he is that composed and that kind of leader.  They just bring it to practice everyday.  They know what is at stake and they are preparing to get after it on Friday,” said Howell.   

 

 
   

First Place on the Line For New London

 

          After a big win at the buzzer at Crestview last week, the New London Wildcats have a chance to move into a share of the Firelands Conference lead with Western Reserve if they can beat the Rough Riders on Friday night.

          The Wildcats (8-3,7-2) edged Crestview in dramatic fashion last week and coach Tom Howell says the win lifted the players spirits and gave them even more confidence in their abilities.  “That was a huge win.  It was a good win for our kids.  We knew it was going to be tough over there.  You don’t want teams to lose in games like that, but somebody has to.  I think in the last two minutes there were four lead changes.  We pulled it out in the end.  You know, Dane Held made a heck of a shot,” said Howell.

          Dane Held connected on a three point shot from near mid floor at the horn to give New London the win (48-46) over Crestview.  The Cougars had lost earlier in the week to South Central at the buzzer.  Howell says they were able to execute a play, that frankly, usually doesn’t work for the win.  “There was about 25 seconds left.  We wanted to hold it for the last shot.  We actually shot a little bit too soon.  Tyler George made a heck of a defensive play and went down and scored,” he told Swankonsports.com, “After George missed the first shot we called time out.  I told Clay Hall, our all-Firelands Conference quarterback, and Dane Held, second team receiver, find him at half court somewhere.  Most of the time that doesn’t even work, but it did and Dane made a heck of a shot after that.”

          Western Reserve (9-4,8-1) beat New London (67-57) December 23 in a game that was played at New London.  This time, Howell says they need to make sure they get a hand in the face of the Western Reserve shooters and get down the floor faster so they can get some hoops in transition as well.  “The last time they hit 13 threes.  They live and die by the three point line.  We just have to get out and contest those shots.  They made threes and we made twos.  It’s a big plus for them when they are making shots from behind the arc.  We just have to take care of the ball a little bit better, execute our plays a little bit better.  We have to get up and down the floor.  I think it’s going to be a fast paced game.  We need to get some easy baskets in transition,” said Howell.

 

 
   

New London Has to Keep Pace

 

          With two wins last weekend, the New London Wildcats kept themselves in the Firelands Conference race, just a game behind Western Reserve and Crestview.

          They dominated Mapleton (71-32) last Friday and they hung on to beat Plymouth for the second time this season (52-46) on Saturday night.  Coach Tom Howell says they did enough things to win the games.  “We had a tough weekend.  I didn’t know how we would play Friday.  We hadn’t played in 13 days.  Our kids went out and played very hard on Friday night.  Saturday it was really tough,” Howell told Swankonsports.com, “Plymouth is a very, very good basketball team.  They have a lot of size and good guard play.  We got up early on them.  We had a pretty good sized lead on them and we did some things we normally don’t do and let them back in the game, but we pulled out the win.”

          New London (7-3,6-2) has done a lot of good things this season, but Howell knows there is room for improvement in what they do.  “We have to check out better.  We didn’t do a very good job Saturday night checking out.  We are pretty small, so we have to put a body on people.  We have to take care of the basketball.  We had some turnovers in key situations on Friday.  We have to correct those if we want to beat good teams like Western, St. Paul and Crestview,” said Howell.

          On Tuesday night, the Wildcats host Norwalk St. Paul in a game that was originally scheduled for January 13, but it snowed a lot that day.  St. Paul (4-8,4-4) has struggled at times against a very tough schedule.  Howell, however, knows the Flyers have some talent.  “They are very well coached.  If we don’t come to play Tuesday they are going to beat us.  We have to be mentally prepared.  We have to come ready to play.  They have good shooters, good guard play and a couple of big guys.  We have to come out and play our game.  We keep telling our kids it’s one game at a time.  Hopefully, we can get something going on Tuesday,” he said.

          St. Paul is relying on making the outside shot and sometimes it has been there and sometimes it has not.  Howell says the Flyers four players that are capable of filling it up from beyond the arc.  “They like to penetrate and kick the ball out to their shooters for a good opportunity to knock down the three.  They have four kids that can just flat out shoot it.  If you let them drive and get those shooters out there without getting a hand up they are going to knock those threes down and you’re trouble.  You don’t like to play from behind with them because they have good guard play.  It’s just hard with a team like that is you get down too far,” said Howell.

          On Friday night, New London makes the trip to Crestview, the conference co-leader, and Howell knows the Cougars will be out for revenge.  “We are going to take one game at a time.  We beat them pretty handily at our place.  They didn’t play very well and we did.  They probably have that one circled.  I’m sure they are going to be ready to play on Friday,” said Howell.  New London won the first meeting 66-40.  That is Crestview’s only league loss this season.

 

 
   

New London Ready to Play

 

          New London hasn’t played in two weeks and they are ready to go as they face a double weekend in the Firelands Conference with games against Mapleton and Plymouth.

          Currently, the Wildcats (5-3,4-2) trail Crestview and Western Reserve by a game and a half in the Conference standings.  Their game with Norwalk St. Paul last week had to be postponed because of the slippery road conditions and the Wildcats did not have a game scheduled for Saturday night when the weather had cleared.  Coach Tom Howell hopes they aren’t rusty.  “It will be our first game in 13 days.  We didn’t get to play last week.  I mean a lot of teams didn’t get to, so we just have to deal with it.  The kids are getting anxious.  They are bouncing off the walls a little bit in practice,” Howell told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They want to get on the court and compete with another team.  You worry about turnovers and trying to do too much when they first get out on the floor on Friday after that long layoff.  Hopefully we can overcome that and get things back on the right track.”

          On Friday night, the Wildcats travel to Mapleton to take on the Mounties (2-8,0-6) in a conference game.  In their first meeting New London won (62-39) pretty easily.  However, Howell thinks the Mounties are improved and they need to come out with come more intensity than when they played in December.  “Mapleton is always a tough game for us, especially over there.  They have three really good perimeter players.  They are going to play very hard.  I thought when we played them earlier in the season at our place, they played a little harder than we did.  We need to get ready to do what we need to do to get the job done,” said Howell.

          Plymouth (5-4,3-3) pays a visit to New London on Saturday night for the back half of a double weekend in the conference.  The Wildcats won (65-64 in overtime) in the first game between the two.  Howell says the Big Red has quality in the post and on the outside too.  “We are trying to tell our kids not to look forward to that game till after Friday, but it’s going to be a tough one.  They are big and they have really good guard play.  They are very athletic.  We have to be on our “A” game this entire weekend,” said Howell.

 

 
   

New London Can’t Lose

 

          New London is in danger of falling out of the Firelands Conference race.  And a loss on Friday night at Norwalk St. Paul will probably do just that for the Wildcats.

          They already trail first place Western Reserve by two games in the conference standings.  The Wildcats lost two games during the holiday period to Western Reserve (67-57) and South Central (62-53), but they railed to beat Monroeville (67-39) last Friday night.  Coach Tom Howell was a little nervous going into the Monroeville game last week.  “I didn’t know how we were going to react against Monroeville.  Over the holidays we lost two conference games.  You know, Western beat us.  They shot light out.  You have to give them a lot of credit.  Then we went o South Central and we struggle playing there.  They aren’t bad.  The Hintz kid is pretty good.  They got us it was close.  I know the score was like 10 points, but it was tied with like two minutes to go.  I was hoping to pull it out, but we just couldn’t do it,” said Howell.

          On Friday night, New London (5-3,4-2) travels north to face Norwalk St. Paul (3-6,3-3) in a conference game that is big for both sides if they want to stay in the race.  “St. Paul they are very athletic.  Defensively they are going to get into your face and they are going to make you play error free basketball.  If you turn the ball over they are going to go down to the other end and score,” Howell told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They have some shooters.  The biggest thing is they have changed some things around a little bit.  They spread the floor and then they are driving it, pitching it and shooting it more this year.  That’s what Western did to us.  It’s a concern.  We are going to have to prepare hard this week.”

          St. Paul has gone to the dribble drive offense and Howell says against them you have to play solid defense against the guards and not let them get into the lane.  “We just have to get down in a stance and guard the ball well on Friday.  We have to keep them out of the lane,” he said.

          With Western still unbeaten in the league, Howell knows they can’t afford to lose many, if any, more games in conference play.  “It’s a big game for us.  We have been telling our kids that we are taking it one game at a time.  We want them to learn from the game before and get ready for the next one.  You know, we are playing pretty well.  It’s going to be a tough game.  I mean we know it’s going to be a tough game.  I just hope we can do a little bit more than St. Paul does and pull out a victory,” said Howell.

 

 
   

New London Has to Stop Penetration

 

          It is a battle for first place in the Firelands Conference Friday night as Western Reserve plays at New London.  They share first place in the conference standings with 3-0 league marks.

          The schedule maker hasn’t been kind to the Wildcats who are playing their third contender in their first four conference games.  They beat Plymouth (65-54 in overtime) and Crestview (66-40) last weekend.  Coach Tom Howell was impressed by what he saw in his players.  “I give my guys a lot of credit.  They stepped up to the plate and played well last weekend against two very good basketball teams.  That overtime win at Plymouth was huge.  Even bigger I thought was our performance Saturday night because Crestview is a very, very good basketball team.  I think our kids took the challenge and steeped up their game on the defensive end and that was the difference in the game,” he said.

          New London has some scorers in their lineup, like Dane Heid and Clay Hall, but they are one of the better defensive teams in the area.  They have number of players that can get steals and force turnovers.  “We try to use our defense to get our offense going.  We try to make the other team feel uncomfortable.  We throw different defenses at teams and they have to prepare for a lot when they come and play us.  We play some man and some zone, we half court trap and full court press.  That shows you what kind of athletes we have right now and how hard these guys are working,” Howell told Swankonsports.com.

          Western Reserve (4-1) is the defending league champion and they have an excellent point guard in Nolan Todd.  Howell knows they have to keep him out of the lane because he causes trouble for the opponent if he gets in there.  “One of the biggest things we have to do is contain his penetration.  We can’t let him get in the paint and then find their shooters.  They have three or four kids that can just flat out shoot it on the perimeter.  They like to dribble it, drive it and pitch it out and let those guys shoot.  It’s going to be a big key to slow him down and not let him get in the paint,” said Howell.

 

 
   

New London Facing Tough Weekend

 

          It will be a difficult back to back for everyone in the Firelands Conference with league games on both Friday and Saturday, but none more difficult than the games facing the New London Wildcats.

          The Wildcats play at Plymouth (2-0) and at home against Crestview (1-2) in conference games this weekend.  All three schools expect to compete for the conference title this year.  Plymouth owns impressive wins over Lucas (78-52) and Monroeville (66-50) in their first conference game.  Crestview lost tough non-conference games against to Clear Fork (48-46) and Ontario (70-61) before downing South Central (58-50 in overtime) in their first conference game.

          New London (2-1), who returns most of its talent from a year ago, has played well too.  The Wildcats have beaten Edison (49-40) and Mapleton (62-39) before losing to Wellington (63-61 in overtime) last Saturday night.  New London coach Tom Howell says if they would have played smarter they would have still been unbeaten.  “Yeah, we played pretty well so far.  Against Wellington, we didn’t manage the clock very well at the end of the game and we ended up getting beat in overtime.  We aren’t playing too bad right now, but there are a few things we can tweak here and there and we are going to compete,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday.

          Plymouth has a mix of youth and experience this year.  Howell says they have the kind of personnel that can balance the floor.  “They are pretty good.  They have height.  They have three 6-4 players that are athletic and get up and down the floor and shoot the basketball.  They have a good point guard.  They have good guards that can come off the bench and give them quality minutes.  You know, they are going to be tough to beat,” he said.

          Howell believes the team that runs the fast break and defends it the best is most likely going to win the basketball game because both teams like to get out and run the floor.  “Yeah they like to get up and down the floor, but so do we.  I imagine Friday night will be more of a track meet than anything.  He does a good job with them.  He gets them to play defense and wants to get down and get easy baskets,” said Howell.

          Of the contenders, New London is the only one to play two of the others on this first double weekend.  Howell knows Crestview has a lot of veteran talent too and Saturday night will be another battle.  “They have one of the best post players in the league in Tyler George.  They have some good pieces to go around him.  They have some shooters in Adkins and Durbin.  I mean they are good.  We have our hands full this full weekend.  It doesn’t get any easier for us on Saturday,” said Howell.   

 

 
   

New London Must Focus on Mapleton

 

          New London is one of the better teams in the Firelands Conference this year and a real competitor for the conference title.

          The Wildcats (1-0) play host to the Mapleton Mounties in their first conference game on Friday night.

          Last Friday night in their first game of the year they won at Edison 49-40.  Coach Tom Howell says they did a lot of good things after getting off to a slow start.  “We played pretty well for three quarters last Friday.  We struggled a little bit to get started,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Edison is big and athletic and it really hurt us in the beginning.  We hung in there and got the win.”

          Howell says there were some teaching points from the Edison game and they have been working hard in practice to correct those things.  “We are shooting the ball a little more.  We didn’t shoot very well at Edison.  We are trying to get up and down the floor and get some quick shots.  We are kind of small.  We have been working on our defense and trying cause turnovers,” added Howell.

          Mapleton (1-0) has been in the bottom half of the conference standings pretty consistently over the last 20 years, but Howell believes this can be one of their better teams.  “They could easily beat anybody,” he said, “They play hard and are very scrappy.  They are going to come ready to play.  If we don’t match that it could be a long evening for us,” he said.  Mapleton has a couple of pretty good players that return for last years 4-18 team.  “They are pretty good.  They are not bad.  They are pretty young.  They have a good player in Colt Hickey.  They have a 6-6 gentleman that plays in the post and a little outside in Cuffman that can cause some problems,” he added.

          New London hosts Wellington in a non-conference game on Saturday night.  

 

 
   

New London a Factor in the Firelands

 

          New London was the only team in the Firelands Conference to beat Western Reserve last season and they return a lot of their players and Wildcats will challenge for the conference title this winter.

          Coach Tom Howell says he has been pretty pleased with what he has seen from his players so far during preseason play.  “Yeah, so far, we started off kind of slow with kids just getting off of football and feeling each other out.  Here at the end we are starting to play pretty well.  These young men are starting to get a little excited,” he said.

          Western Reserve is just about everybody’s favorite to repeat as conference champions, but Plymouth, Crestview, and New London will be near if not at the top of the standings at year’s end.  “We have a lot of potential,” Howell told Swankonsports.com, “It’s going to depend on our seniors and our leaders stepping up and making sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to do.  We aren’t very big and we have to do something like block and check out and try to stop the inside scoring of our opponents.”

          The Wildcats have some guys that can score, but Howell believes defense is going to tell the story for them.  “We play pretty hard on the defensive end of the floor.  We have some guys that really get after it on that end of the floor.  They take pride in that.  We are going to have some guys that get some playing time just because they play hard on defense,” he said.

            New London tips off the season on Friday night with a visit to Edison of the Sandusky Bay Conference.  The Chargers qualified for the division two district tournament last year, losing to Mansfield Madison in the semi-finals.  “Edison is big.  They go 6-8, 6-4, 6-3 and 6-3.  Their guards are 6-2 and very long.  They are big and we are going to have trouble if we don’t check out and keep them off the boards.  They are always athletic.  They have been pretty successful the last few years.  That will give them some confidence coming into this season and we will have our hands full,” said Howell.

 

 
 

 

Wildcat Sports News Coming Soon ...

 

 
   

New London Sports news can also be heard on the SwankonSports 24/7 Listen Line