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Ontario Blanks Willard

  

          Ontario shutout Willard (3-0) on Monday night in Northern Ohio League play and is now preparing to face Kenton in the first round of the division two tournament on Wednesday.

          After not playing their best in losses to Norwalk (6-3) and Bellevue (8-0) last week coach Jeff Fisher says they were much better on Monday night.  “We took our lumps the week prior here where we just didn’t play very good baseball in all three phases, but (Monday) night, especially on the mound and defensively I thought the Warriors were really clean and gave ourselves a great chance to win, which we did,” he said.

          Monday was the first time most teams played since last Wednesday, which means teams had a lot of time to work on things.  Fisher says they have been stressing the mental game.  “Considering all of the ways, shapes and forms that you have to come up with as baseball coach to keep kids sharp indoors a lot of the time we spent with our guys was above the shoulders.  With a young group confidence can wane and be fragile.  So, a lot of it was developing a sense of confidence and maturity on how to handle failure like we dealt with against Norwalk and Bellevue.  We took advantage of being off the field and felt like our kids walked out the door (Monday) ready to go,” said Fisher.

          Ontario (12-8) will be the home team on Wednesday, but Fisher says Kenton is a very good team that is going to be a big challenge for them and they will have to be at their best.  “This is team that historically has struggled in baseball.  Fantastic in football, has just really been a program that has been resurging.  They have a new coach in there that has done a fantastic job of getting the kids to believe in themselves and play winning baseball.  They haven’t lost in three weeks.  I believe they are on a nine game winning streak.  They find themselves (Tuesday) night going against Celina for second place alone because Wapakoneta has already clinched the title in their league.  The “WBL” historically is a fantastic baseball conference.  This is just one of those years where Defiance isn’t going to be the trophy winners and here is Kenton finding themselves above Defiance.  This is a ball club that is confident,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “They have a group of seniors that are playing well right now.  They have a two headed monster pitching staff hat alternates and throws complete games and then they have a shutdown closer that they are confident in in Kessler, who as their four hitter, has been outstanding and has been getting RBI hits all year for them.  I know we got the best of them a year ago in the same situation as far as the semi-final, but we have to play great baseball to move on to the next ballgame.”

 

Published 5/09/17

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Ontario Gets Past Tiffin

  

          Ontario beat Tiffin Columbian (7-6) in a Northern Ohio League baseball game on Thursday.

          The Warriors (11-6,3-5) has been involved in a lot of one run games this year and coach Jeff Fisher says it was nice to be able to get one of those on Thursday.  “It could of went either way.  One thing that I have seem this year is there is a lot of teams that any given night can come out with a victory.  No matter how it shapes up.  Being able to get that one run win against Tiffin was good for us,” he said.

          With about a month left in the school year there can be a lot of distractions.  Fisher says they have been doing a pretty good job of staying focused on what they are supposed to be doing baseball wise.  “You have to make sure you are on the growth side of things.  When you get to this time year kids can see the light at the end of the tunnel academically with school, prom is past, the weather turns, you know all of those external factors can really undermine a locker room.  It takes a lot of extra work for our young guys in any high school situation at this time of year, especially in Ohio to keep things going forward here.  With tournament time knocking on the door it is better to be on the upswing rather than looking for answers,” said Fisher.

          The draw meeting for the division two baseball tournament is going to be on Sunday.  Fisher believes with non-conference wins against teams like Madison, Lexington, and Clear Fork will help his team earn a seed that will put them at home for the first round.  “I would like to lay eyes on all 16 teams at one point.  That is just hard to do in the spring to evaluate and see teams first hand.  You are going to have to go off black and white paper and count on other coaches who played some of the other teams up north.  I think we have put ourselves in a position to host a first round game based on the quality of our schedule playing “OCC” teams when we aren’t playing “NOL” and having some success,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “Winning more than 10 games and putting ourselves in position to possibly host is a goal for us.  We have to wait until Sunday and bracket it up.  So, hopefully that works out.  I think the goal for each of us in the tournament is to get to Heidelberg.  Hopefully, in the next week and half we will do everything possible to get yourself shaped up for that.”

 

Published 4/28/17

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Ontario Blanks Sandusky in “NOL” Play

  

          Avery Fisher and Jake Gleason combined on a one hitter as Ontario shutout Sandusky (4-0) in Northern Ohio League play on Tuesday evening.

          Ontario lost to Ashland in a non-league game on Monday and coach Jeff Fisher says it was good to come right back and play well on Tuesday night.  “Considering our mood just 24 hours ago where we put on a circus clinic if you will against Ashland.  We threw the ball around and threw it everywhere and every which way.  For us to come back (Tuesday) night and play errorless baseball and really kind of dominate from the mound like we did was unforeseen yet with a young club you never know what you are going to get.  I think (Tuesday) night we saw are potential realized a little bit,” said Fisher.

          Ashland beat Ontario (9-3) on Monday and Fisher says it was about a 180 degree turnaround for the ball club on Tuesday and that is what they needed in league play.  “We were fortunate the next one was (Tuesday) night.  We didn’t want to think about the Ashland game any longer than we did that would have been troublesome.  Our kids fought hard,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “They put the ball in play more efficiently (Tuesday) evening and defensively they played pretty well.  To go against Sandusky that we think is one of the better clubs in the league, the top four guys in their lineup are good, but we were on.  This was a good night for us.”

          Fisher went the first 6 and a third with nine strikeouts.  Gleason finished up by getting the last two outs.

          Coach Fisher says Avery settled down after a rough start in the first inning of the game when he had some concerns with his command.  “It didn’t start that way.  Avery Fisher was our starter and this was his first start of the year.  He had a 26 pitch inning where he was just sort of fighting consistency.  After the first inning he just continued to get stronger throughout.  We have been looking for one or more to add depth to our top two in Hatfield and Gleason to give us some length.  This was certainly a shot in the arm for the Warriors,” said Fisher.

 

Published 4/19/17

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Ontario Winning, but Still Cautious

  

          Ontario pitchers Nolan Hatfield, Andrew Cacchip and Avery Fisher held Madison hitters at bay on Monday and the Warriors downed the Rams (4-2) in a non-conference baseball game played at Ontario.

          It had been originally scheduled for Madison, but had to be moved to Ontario due to field conditions.

          Over the first three games of the season, including two wins over Mansfield Senior on Saturday, Ontario has allowed only two runs.

          Coach Jeff Fisher says that is a good start for a young pitching staff.  “That has been our focus in the preseason to make sure our guys are varsity ready because in the recent past we haven’t been.  We have been very inconsistent throwing strikes.  Even in our off season there have been some question marks with accuracy.  So far, so good over our first three tests over two days that our guys we have thrown out there have put us in great position to win,” he said.

          Fisher says they knew Madison had two Ohio Cardinal Conference games against Lexington set for Tuesday and Wednesday and that would affect their pitching rotation, but anytime you can beat the Rams that is a quality win.  “Considering their tradition of success and considering where we are at in our program, we are pretty youthful and just trying to get our feet on the ground from a varsity prospective.  This was a big night for us.  I don’t care if it was their number five or six starter or there number one anytime you beat Madison that is a feather in your cap and then you move on,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “We have a lot of respect for that program because we know how many innings and days that those kids put in and invest in the game of baseball.  We were fortunate enough to battle in a rivalry kind of environment (Monday) night.  It was just good to come out on top.”

          Ontario (3-0) opens Northern Ohio League play with home games against Sandusky and Bellevue on Thursday and Friday.  However, Fisher doesn’t want to look ahead.  He says a non-league game with Marion Harding on Tuesday is very important in terms of building their foundation.  “I don’t want to get too much into the “NOL” yet, our goal is to get this pitching staff developed.  It is collectively that we are trying to get these guys going.  We are too young to look ahead like that.  We have to make sure we come out of (Tuesday) night healthy and guys get good experience and do it with the competitive spirit that was expect out of them and then we will move on.  (Tuesday) night is important we gave guys that haven’t pitched yet that need to.  We have a couple of guys that threw on Saturday that need to get more work in.  It is way too early from the “NOL” perspective.  We just need to continue to improve as a group,” said Fisher.

 

Published 3/28/17

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More Consistency for Ontario

  

          Ontario has a new head baseball coach and they are looking for consistency from what is pretty much an inexperienced team as we hopefully get ready to start the season in less than a week.

          Jeff Fisher is now the manager, if that is what we call them at the high school level, of the Ontario Warriors.  He says they have a limited number of players that have much varsity playing experience.  “We are going through a honeymoon period here of sorts with a new head coach and there is a lot of optimism.  There are a lot of positions that are open.  We really only have three guys that played significant innings as far as hitting and defense last year.  We only had a couple of other guys that lettered, but their time was split.  It has the makings of a JV group in transition,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “On one hand we see a lot of baseball talent, we see kids working hard, but will that transition into the schedule we have before us in the “NOL” and non-conference in Richland County, well the jury is still out there.”

          It has been cold and sometimes snowy in North Central Ohio, but Fisher says they were fortunate to be able to get some innings in over the weekend and hopefully that helped them a little bit.  “We were fortunate enough to be in Portsmouth, in southern Ohio, this past weekend, and we did play a doubleheader on Saturday.  So, we a least got to play 14 innings and get our feet wet that way and that is important because we both witnessed a significant amount of success in areas and we have got a lot of areas for improvement.  We didn’t walk out of there as fat cats and we didn’t walk out of there thinking we are going to be a push over either, so that for sure was advantageous for us,” he said.

          In the preseason, Fisher says they have been trying to find out who can pitch and how much because that is going to be important, especially considering there may be some issues regarding games being postponed and then moved to later in the season.  “I think baseball is a game that benefits those that have an established routine that they can adopt and gain confidence from, but when you are as inconsistent as we are right now it is not easy as a coach to establish that.  The pitch count I don’t know if you call it a dilemma or an opportunity is factor as we lose games and it starts to compact the schedule even more and bring to the light which teams have more pitching depth.  That is something that has been an area of concern for us because we have more than two guys that can throw strikes, so that is a big part of our preseason,” said Fisher.

 

Published 3/21/17

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Lexington Gets Past Ontario

   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Published 3/09/17

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Defending the Paint a Key for Ontario

  

          Ontario against Lexington is one of the best basketball rivalries in North Central Ohio and they face each other in the division two district semi finals on Wednesday night at Mansfield Senior High School.

          Lexington sophomore Cade Stover is first team all district and Ontario coach Joe Balogh says he gives them a lot of problems they have to solve.  “He is really a force on the glass.  Just his athleticism is something that is difficult to defend.  When he plays really well it seems other guys step up and play well also.  He has got to be a focus of what we do well defensively, which is we have to try and limit his touches inside and when he does get touches we are going to have to try and get it out of his hands.  The most important thing is you have to try and keep him off the offensive glass.  That is really where he has hurt us in the past,” said Balogh.

          A.J. Nickoli and Traevin Harrison had good games in Lexington’s section final win over Norwalk (49-41) and Balogh says because you have to help on Stover that gives those guys some open shots.  “You can’t have him play one on one.  You have got to get help.  You have got to have great rotation to get help to him and you have to have great rotation coming out of your help to get to those other players,” he said.

          Lexington is known for good defense and Balogh says they are solid in man to man or zone.  “Scott (Hamilton) does a good job.  They are a solid man to man team and they have been able to mix up some 2-3 zone that they play on baseline out of bounds.  They will play some of those possessions in the half court defense.  They have been very, very solid over the last couple of years and again a very solid team defensively this year,” he said.

          Ontario has an outstanding trio of guard in Tre Jordan, Quan Jackson and Jackson Todd.  Balogh hopes they have some stuff that can give the Minutemen some concerns too.  “We hope we can cause them a few problems.  That is kind of a cat-mouse game you play as coaches in your preparation.  What do you feel you do well against them and what do you need to do to kind of take away what they do well.  That is the preparation that you have.  You hope your kids can execute your game plan and that your game plan is a good one and that it is good enough that you can advance,” said Balogh.

          Lexington beat Ontario (54-49) back before Christmas and Balogh says they need to shoot better than they did that night and they have to defend the lane against both post ups and dribble penetration.  “In our first game we didn’t shoot the ball very well.  You have to be somewhat efficient offensively.  You have got to be able to make shots and if you are not making shots you have to get to the offensive glass to get some put backs.  We have to shoot it better than the first time we played them.  At the defensive end we have already talked about the presence of Stover inside and your ability to keep them off the offensive glass.  That is going to be key.  I think the other key is to keep Harrison out of the lane.  He has been really good when he has been able to get the ball into the lane, whether it is him finishing plays or he creates situations where you help and he shoots it and they go to the glass and get it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It is just going to come down to players making plays.  I don’t think there are going to be a lot of new wrinkles that the other team hasn’t seen.  It going to come down to little plays like getting an offensive rebound or diving on the floor for a loose ball or maybe taking a charge, something like that.  It will be a fun atmosphere for both teams to play in.”

 

Published 3/08/17

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Ontario Has to Handle Pressure

  

          Ontario squares off with Vermilion in the division two sectional final on Friday night at Galion High School.

          Ontario was runner-up in the Northern Ohio League and Vermilion was co-champ of the bay division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          The Warriors (18-5), #4 in the final Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Port Clinton (56-42) in a semi-final game on Tuesday night.

          The Redskins lead (27-24) at the half, but Ontario coach Joe Balogh says they were able to turn the tide with defense.  “Port Clinton I thought played really well.  I think when you get to the tournament I think you find that teams prepare very, very well because it is one and done.  We did not play poorly.  We didn’t play our best game either.  I thought our defense was kind of the big key, especially the second half.  We were able to really guard well and played man and just kind of wore them out a little bit.  It was a good win for us, but we have said every week we have to get a little bit better as we play on Friday night,” said Balogh.

          This is a match-up between the third seed, Vermilion (17-5,) and the fourth seed, Ontario, in a second round game.  Balogh says the Sailors are aggressive and they are good shooters from distance.  “They are a really good basketball team.  This is game that you would typically see in the district final.  They are a team that loves to press, loves to try and create havoc with their defense and turn that into offensive points.  For us we have to do a really good job of handling their pressure and not just handling it, but attacking it and looking to finish against their pressure,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “From a defensive standpoint we are going to have make sure we get back in defensive transition.  We are going to have to do a great job contesting their threes.  We have to rebound the basketball that is always a key especially when you get into tournament time.  Your ability at the defensive end to limit teams to one shot and the offensive end the ability to get second and third chance opportunities.”

          In a game like this there are likely going to be ebbs and flows and Balogh says they have to be able to move onto the next play no matter what happens.  “We talk about this a lot you have to be able to go to the next play whether you turn it over or you make a great play there is always a play that comes after it.  You have to have a focus on the next play.  You don’t want a turnovers to turn into three, four, five bad possessions in a row and allow them to make that run.  Composure is going to be really key, but I think we have a veteran team, some veteran guards that I think are really going to be composed and be good decision makers for us,” he said.

          Last year, Ontario beat Vermilion (64-56) in a tournament game.  Yes, it is a different year, but Balogh says they hope to be able to do some of the same things.  “It is a different team, but we have some of the same players that played in it.  I think are familiarity is better with each other since we played last year.  We are doing similar things and they are doing some similar things also, but it is not last year it is this year.  We looked at last year’s game a little bit as coaches and tried to pick out what we had done well.  I think maybe we can do some of those same things this year.  The players that are back are one year older and hopefully one year better.  It is going to be a great game come Friday night,” he said.

 

Published 3/03/17

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Ontario Challenges Bellevue in Girls’ Districts

  

          Ontario meets Northern Ohio League rival Bellevue in the girls’ division two district semi finals at Willard High School on Thursday night.

          The winner advances to the district final Saturday against either Shelby or Norwalk in the all “NOL” district tournament.

          Ontario knocked off Mansfield Senior of the “OCC” (61-37) in a sectional final game last Saturday at Bucyrus.

          The Lady Warriors were in control the whole game and coach Sarah  Kirchbaum says it was a good win for them, especially considering they play Bellevue next.  “I was definitely a good game for us, especially going into a game with Bellevue it gave our kids a lot of confidence.  It was good that Mansfield Senior put some pressure on our guards because I think we are going to see them same thing from Bellevue on Thursday,” she said.

          Bellevue (19-4) dominated Tiffin Columbian (70-29) last Saturday and they are the two time defending district champions.

          Kirchbaum says the Lady Red has great guard play and they do a lot of things on defense to take you out of your game.  “They have an ability to score.  They have a tendency to make you play faster than you want to play.  They have some very good guards in Casey Santoro and Jenna Strayer.  They bring some experience and some speed to the court.  They have the ability to score off the dribble.  They really utilize spacing well offensively.  They see to court well,” she told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Then defensively their speed and their ball pressure have gotten to a lot of teams this year.  It will just be a matter of handling that and running our stuff and scoring out of our offensive sets.”

          Bellevue beat Ontario (15-8) twice during Northern Ohio League play, winning (48-25) on December 8 and (53-42) on January 21.  The Lady Red has won their last 10 games on the year.

          Kirchbaum says against Bellevue you have to know they are going to make plays against you and you have to move on and not dwell on it or they can get on a big run.  “We have stressed focus and composure this week.  Just knowing they are going to get a steal.  They are going to make shots.  They are going to make a run because they are a good team.  It’s how we rebound from that and how we stay composed and move onto the next play or the next defensive stop.  It is going to take all four quarters.  Every possession is important,” she said.

 

Published 3/01/17

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Ontario Ready For Tournament Play

  

          Ontario has only lost one game since before Christmas as they have won 15 of their last 16 heading into their first game in the tournament against Port Clinton in the division two sectional at Galion High School on Tuesday night.

          They downed Willard (57-41) in their final regular season game last Friday and coach Joe Balogh says they continue to play well.  “We think we are playing pretty well, but when you get to the tournament you never know.  I think out kids are really excited about the opportunity to start sectional play and kind of see what we can do,” he said.

          Port Clinton (4-18) finished in the basement of the bay division of the Sandusky Bay Conference this season.  However, Balogh says they have played better basketball over the second half of the season and have a really good post player.  “They have played much better the second half of the season.  In the two games I have seen them play in person this year they played Bellevue, and beat them, and I saw them play Tuesday night against Tiffin Columbian, and they beat Tiffin Columbian.  They have a really nice post player in Joey Brenner, who is probably as good a post player as we have played against this year.  They have two kids that can really shoot the ball from the perimeter.  So, they have some nice balance,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “The thing that we have to do is try to do what we do well.  Really hope that we can pressure the basketball and try and create some turnovers to give us some scoring opportunities.  It comes down to you just have to be able to make plays in the tournament and we hope we can be good enough to do that.”

          Ontario (17-5), #4 in the final Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, has been to three division two district tournaments in a row and Balogh hopes that tournament experience is a plus on Tuesday night.  “Tre (Jordon) and Quan (Jackson) are both three year varsity players.  Jackson (Todd) and Logan Jones both were key people for us last year.  I think they understand what the tournament is all about.  It is an exciting time of year, but there is a little more pressure.  I think our kids are really ready to go,” he said.

          Balogh has been the Ontario coach since 1986 and he says to be successful in the tournament you have to do a lot of things well.  “Any time you are in the tournament it is one and done, so teams are going to bring their best effort.  You have to hope your effort is going to be better than the other teams.  You have to do a lot of the little things well.  You have to make sure that you defend.  You have to make sure at the offensive end that you do a good job of making good decisions with the basketball.  That you are not going to throw away possessions with turnovers.  Many times it comes down to how well you rebound the ball and the effort plays that your make.  It is a fun time of the year, but it can be a stressful time.  It is just high school basketball at its best,” said Balogh.

 

Published 2/28/17

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Ontario Has to Keep Its Composure

  

          Ontario plays its first tournament game in the girls’ division two district tournament on Saturday against Mansfield Senior at Bucyrus High School.

          The Lady Tygers beat Sandusky (49-48) on Jordan Thompson’s free throw with no time left on Wednesday night.

          Ontario (14-8) won two of its three games last week on the final week of the regular season, beating Madison (62-42) and Bucyrus (48-30) in non-conference games, they did lose (54-36) to Norwalk in a Northern Ohio League game on Saturday.

          Coach Sarah Kirchbaum thinks they are feeling pretty confident going into Saturday night.  “I definitely think we can afford to play with a little more consistency.  This week with having the bye we had quite a few kids sick and just some nagging injuries here and there here at the end of the season.  We had three games in our last regular season week, which I think in a way was good for us because we were going to have a week off because we had the bye.  I feel pretty good,” she told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We were able to go and see the Mansfield Senior, Sandusky game on Wednesday night.  We definitely have had a good week of practice.  So, I feel pretty confident and the girls feel pretty confident going into Saturday night’s game.”

          She says against Mansfield Senior (11-12) you know what to expect.  “We know Senior’s is definitely going to bring some defensive pressure and defensive intensity.  They always do a nice job.  We have to come ready to play,” she said.

          One thing they won’t see Saturday night is Erika Johnson, headed to Ohio University on a basketball scholarship.  She is out the season with a leg injury.  “Erica being out is definitely a game changer for them in some things they run offensively and maybe some things they do defensively and depth wise.  They are a team that you don’t want to take lightly they do bring a lot of speed and athleticism to the court.  So, we are going to have to be able to handle the ball with their ball pressure and their quickness,” said Kirchbaum.

          You are still going to see a lot of full and half court pressure from the Lady Tygers and Kirchbaum says you have to keep you head.  “Just being able to keep our composure.  Their speed and their athleticism we are going to have some turnovers, but it will be being able to stay composed and run our stuff and stay confident throughout the game,” she said.

 

Published 2/24/17

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Ontario Players Turn it Around

  

          Before Christmas Ontario was two games under .500 and struggling.  Now they have won 14 of their last 15 heading into a Northern Ohio League game at Willard on Friday night.

          Coach Joe Balogh, the Ontario boss for more than 30 years, says the kids have the will and the determination to turn things around.  “We are headed in the right direction.  We have taken strides at both ends of the floor over the last several weeks.  Hopefully our kids continue to play with confidence and they continue to play with a lot of passion.  It is hard to believe we are at the end of the season and going to start tournament play.  It was rewarding to see how these kids have bounced back.  Being 2-4 there are a lot of questions that kids would be asking themselves.  Give them a lot of credit that they believed in us as a coaching staff and believed in themselves and we have been able to turn it around and made a really nice second half of the season,” said Balogh.

          Defense has always been the cornerstone of the Ontario program and Balogh says they have played outstanding half court defense, but they need to be better in the full court.  “We look at our stats and one of the things we like to do is pressure in the full court and we really haven’t forced teams to turn the ball over a lot or as much as we have in years past.  The thing that we have been able to do is we have done a really good job of taking away their first and even their second option with what they want to do offensively and try to make them go to their third or fourth,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “When you are able to do that with teams your defense as far as your opponent’s shooting percentage seems to drop.  We have been really pleased how we have defended in the full court, but we would still like to be able to create a few more turnovers and get some transitions baskets with our defense.”

          Ontario (16-5,8-3), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays at Willard (3-18,1-10) in a “NOL” game.  The Warriors buried Willard (81-32) the first time they played, but Balogh reminds it is a road game this time.  “With it being the final game of the year, especially the final home game, that is always a special game no matter what your record is.  The thing we need to expect is there is going to be a lot of energy in the gym on their part because you have some guys that are going to be playing their last game on that court,” he said.

          Willard has had some trouble scoring this year, but Balogh says the Flashes have some height they will have been forced to contend with.  “They have good size and they have increased that size as they are now starting the Baldridge kid.  They have Baldridge, Daub and Cofer.  Baldridge is 6’7”, Daub is 6’5” and Cofer is 6’2” and really strong, so they have really good size.  It kind of comes down to the same things we talked about the last several weeks we have to take away what they want to do and make them a little bit more uncomfortable than they would normally be.  Anytime you go on the road in our league it is always a challenge.  This will be another challenge and hopefully we can finish off another very good regular season,” said Balogh.

 

Published 2/23/17

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Ontario Downs Colonel Crawford

   

          Six different Ontario players scored in the first quarter as the Warriors took a (17-8) lead and they went on to beat Colonel Crawford (53-37) in a non conference boys’ basketball game on Saturday night.

          It was (9-3) Ontario with 5:19 left in the first quarter after a basketball by Owen Zeiter and the lead grew to (29-13) when Trey Jordan scored with :06 seconds remaining in the half.

          Ontario coach Joe Balogh thought they were able to make some adjustments defensively to take away some things Crawford wanted to do.  “We are really happy with the way we played defensively both nights.  (Friday) night and (Saturday) night they were similar in the sets that they ran.  I was pleased when we made some adjustments during the game on how to defend the side ball screen and the roll because that hurt us a little and I thought our kid’s concentration was really good,” said Balogh.

          Jackson Todd led three Warriors in double figures with 19.  Logan Jones added 12 and Jordan 10.

          Balogh says they executed well with the ball in their hands.  “I thought offensively we were much better.  We talked this week about trying to be efficient and precise.  I thought our sets (Saturday) night against the zone we were pretty precise in what we did,” he said.

          Colonel Crawford coach David Sheldon says they didn’t handle the Ontario pressure well and they settled for too many outside shots early in the game.  “I thought early on they took us out of some things.  We had seven turnovers in the first half and you can’t do that against a very good basketball team.  That is a great basketball team and there is a reason we schedule that.  We won’t see anyone like that in our entire district.  It is a D-four playing a D-two to challenge us.  We have to stay positive and that is what I try to do as a coach,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “I thought some guys rose to the occasion and some didn’t play as well.  A lot of that has to do with Ontario and their pressure and what they did.  The second half I was very pleased.  We thought we could attack them inside with drive and post and it the second half we did that.  The first half we were 2-10 on threes and the second half we were 1-1 and we were able to get it inside.”

          6’10” senior Heath Starkey led the Eagles (16-5) with 14 points on Saturday.

          Colonel Crawford has been a good rebounding team this year, but Saturday night the Warriors (16-5) were able to keep them off the offensive glass.  Balogh says their guards did a very good job.  “The thing is our guards have done a much better job of rebounding the ball.  Quan (Jackson) and Tre (Jordan) and Alex Shifferer at 5’9” or whatever he is has really gotten in there and battled.  That has been a big emphasis for us because we found ourselves defensively that we watched a lot or we leaked out too much.  We talked to our guards if you rebound the ball we don’t have to worry about out letting the ball we can just push it and I thought we did a good job of that (Saturday) night,” said Balogh.

          The Eagles have emphasized running the floor this year, but their preferred tempo probably isn’t quite as fast as Ontario’s.  Balogh says they were successful in pushing the pace.  “We kind of knew that they wouldn’t want a fast paced game.  I thought our pressure in the full court was really good.  We made some adjustments with that too and tried to take some different things away with their press attack.  I was just really pleased with the concentration and focus that our kids had in (Saturday) night’s game,” he said.

          The lead grew to as much 31 points (48-17) after a field goal and a free throw by Todd with 3:41 to play in the third quarter before Colonel Crawford started to play better for the remainder of the game and got the ball inside.

          Sheldon says this was an important game for them leading into the postseason tournament in two weeks.  “It was a learning experience.  There was nothing lost (Saturday) night.  It is a loss in the loss column, but it was a learning experience in the big picture for our goals down the road,” he said.

 

Published 2/18/17

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Ontario Working to Get Better

  

          Ontario has been playing pretty good basketball, but they are continuing to work to get better as the regular season closes.

          They host Norwalk in “NOL” play on Friday and travel to face Colonel Crawford in a non-conference contest on Saturday night.

          The Warriors have won 12 of their last 13 games, but coach Joe Balogh says there is still room to improve.  “I think as a coach you never think you are at your best.  So, we think we are getting better every week.  We fought last week a little bit through and injury with Trey Jordan, who didn’t play in either game.  It was good to get two wins without him having to be on the floor.  This week we are dealing with a little bit some of the flu bug going around.  We have some kids out that are a little bit sick.  We are just trying to continue to take steps to get better.  We think we are doing that, but you never know with injuries or illness how that is going to affect you,” he said.

          Ontario (14-5,7-3) plays at home against Norwalk (6-14,2-8) in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.  Ontario overwhelmed the Truckers in their first meeting (68-26,) but Balogh says Norwalk is a lot better with Brandon Haraway back.  “The first time that we played them George Friend didn’t play either.  They have probably their two best players back in the lineup.  The thing we have to do as coaches is make sure we convince our kids they are going to be a lot different team than when we played them earlier in the year.  Haraway gives them that guy that is a little bit more glue that can handle the ball against pressure and can be a good decision maker and Friend is the guy that can make shots,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They are their two leading scorers over the last four games that those guys have played in.  So, this is a much different team.  The other guys can now get back to their normal positions that they play.  They are not going to be an easy out here late in the season from the standpoint that Steve really likes to control the tempo of the game and if you allow them to do that they are pretty good.”

          Colonel Crawford (15-4), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, is in second place in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.  Balogh says they have size and shooters.  “It will be another really good test, especially going on the road.  They have really good guard play even though they are young.  Those guys really aren’t freshmen any more and they have some size inside.  That is a good combination to have.  The good thing for us is our preparation is similar from the standpoint that both teams like to run a lot of sets and run similar sets.  I think our game prep for both of the games is similar.  We want to try and speed the game up a little bit.  Our defense is going to have to disrupt some of the things they do offensively.  If we allow them to run all of their stuff they are going to be pretty good at getting the shots they want to get,” said Balogh.

          Fortunately, the two teams on pretty similar in what they do and Balogh says they have identified things they need must be good at doing this weekend.  “We have really tried to have an emphasis in practice this week on two things.  One on defense, just try to react with pressure on the basketball and be active in passing lanes and not just allow them to reverse the ball and run their stuff.  From an offensive standpoint we talked about trying to be precise and efficient because at this time of year you want to execute the things you do.  We have tried to whittle down some of the stuff we have added through the season and try to be precise with the three, four, five things that we think we can do really well,” he said.

 

Published 2/17/17

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Ontario Needs Four Quarters Against Madison

  

          With the seasons that Shelby and Bellevue have had Ontario has kind of gone unnoticed, but the Lady Warriors are pretty good too.

          They host Mansfield Madison in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.

          Ontario beat Willard (47-32) in a Northern Ohio League game on Saturday.

          Coach Sarah Kirchbaum says they did some good things on offense and were able to rebound misses pretty well too.  “The end of the season does get to be long.  The kids really did a nice job on Saturday coming into the Willard game focused.  Willard is always a tough place to play and a tough team to play.  (Coach) Jon (Dawson) does a nice job.  I thought right off the bat we started off strong, especially on the offensive end,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Defensively I thought we did a nice job controlling the boards throughout the game knowing that Willard has two of the top rebounders in the “NOL.”  So, I was very pleased with our team effort on Saturday.  That was a good win, especially going into the last week, going into tournament.  We are just looking forward to getting better.”

          Ontario plays either Mansfield Senior or Sandusky in the division two tournament on February 25 at Bucyrus High School and Kirchbaum would like to see a more consistent performance from here kids over 32 minutes on play.  “I would like to see us be a little more patient offensively.  On the defense end we can definitely improve on guarding the ball and stopping penetration.  Just continuing to play a solid four quarters.  A lot of times we will play a really solid three quarters and then that fourth quarter we just get complacent.  We will just have some breakdowns depending on where we are at in the game.  I would like us to fill those gaps and just play consistent all of the way through,” she said.

          Ontario (13-6) plays at home against Madison (6-15) on Tuesday.  They Lady Rams beat Clear Fork (36-30) 0n Saturday in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game.  They lost to talented Mt. Vernon in overtime (60-55) on Thursday.

          Kirchbaum says they have to keep the Lady Rams out of the paint.  “I definitely think they have gotten a lot better as this season has gone on.  We just need to focus on controlling the tempo.  I think they have a lot kids that have the ability to get to the basket off the dribble, so we have to stop penetration and make sure again we play a consistent four quarters and come in ready to play.  Madison, their kids always play hard.  At the end of the season everybody has gotten better everybody has made improvements.  It’s anybody’s game, so you have to come out and play,” said Kirchbaum.

 

Published 2/14/17

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Ontario Still on Course to Peak

  

          With 10 wins in its last 11 games the Ontario Warriors are on track to peek at the end of the season and that is were they want to be.

          They beat Shelby (63-60) in overtime in “NOL” play last Friday night and Clear Fork (46-43) in a non-league game on Saturday.

          This week it is at Tiffin Columbian for a Northern Ohio League game on Friday and home for Mansfield Christian on Saturday.

          Veteran coach Joe Balogh says they want big “M” on their side.  “You want to keep trying to improve each week and continue to build momentum towards the end of the season so you are playing really good basketball as the end of the season approaches,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We go on the road to Tiffin, which is always a tough place to play and then we get to come home and play Mansfield Christian at home, which is always nice to play at home.”

          The Warriors (12-5,6-3) play at Columbian on Friday night.  They got a win at home against the Tornadoes (62-55) on December 30, but Balogh says they had to work hard to get it.  “We got out to an early lead on them in the first game that we played them and then they did a nice job of cutting it to two at the half.  We kind of extended it a little bit in the third and they came back and really made it a game in the fourth.  So, we are going to have to play well as we go over there to win,” said Balogh.

          Just one Sandusky win away from being out of the “NOL” race including this week the Warriors still have five games to play and Balogh says they must keep their focus on improvement.  “I hope our kids aren’t dragging here at the end of the season.  This is part of the season can be the best part of the season for them.  I think this is why you put in all of the work that you want to be playing the best basketball that you can at the end of the year and have a special run in the tournament that makes the season really, really special,” he said.

          The tournament draw is set for Sunday and Balogh says their goal is make long run and he thinks they have the personnel and the experience to do just that.  “We return some guys that have kind of been through the grind in Quan (Jackson) and Trey (Jordan,) this will be their third experience with it.  We have Jackson (Todd) that played in it last year and then Logan Jones.  You kind of lean on that experience, but hopefully all of your kids are going to be excited about the opportunity to try and do something special here at the end of the year,” he said.

 

Published 2/08/17

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Ontario Survives at Clear Fork

   

          Ontario made four of four free throws in the final 48 seconds and they held off Clear Fork (46-43) in a non-conference boys’ basketball game at Les Hauenstein Gym on Saturday night.

          Clear Fork freshman guard Brenan South converted a driving layup with 1:57 to play to tie the game at 40.  Ontario retook the lead (42-40) on Logan Jones basket with 1:09 remaining.  Quan Jackson gave Ontario a four point lead (44-40) when he converted two free throws with 34 seconds.  On the next Clear Fork possession Chase Endicott buried a three pointer from right corner to reduce the Colts deficit to (44-43) with 21 seconds to go.  Ontario was able to get the ball inbounds and Tre Jordan was fouled and made both three throws with 18 seconds left for a the final margin.  Clear Fork got off a final shot, but it was no good.

          Clear Fork led (24-22) at the half and (29-28) after three quarters as both teams struggled to find good shots.  Ontario coach Joe Balogh says they were more aggressive in the second half.  “I told our kids we were much better in the second half then we were in the first.  I thought in the first we got a little timid offensively and didn’t attack.  I really liked the way our guards took the ball to the basketball.  Quan (Jackson) was good, Jackson (Todd) was good.  We put it on the glass to finish plays,” he said.

          The Colts (5-12) lost two tough games this weekend.  Mt. Vernon beat them (61-55) Friday night in Ohio Cardinal Conference play.  Coach Steven Bechtel says he hopes they can take what were good efforts and move forward.  “We told the players even after (Friday) night.  That is two nights in a row we played extremely well on both sides of the ball and gotten great effort from our bench as well.  Different guys had to step up and score for us.  The bad thing is we don’t have anything to show for it.  Hopefully, this week we will get back in practice and continue to build on these two efforts,” said Bechtel.

          Balogh has been the Ontario varsity coach since 1986 and he says there have been a lot of tough games for them in the valley over the last 30 years.  “I give Clear Fork a lot of credit.  It’s hard to get kids to understand over the years that we have played there haven’t been very many double digit wins that we have had, especially down here.  This has always been a somewhat difficult place to play and they made it difficult for us (Saturday) night,” he said.

          Ontario’s first lead in the second half came on Quan Jackson’s free throws (26-24) with 2:42 left in the third quarter, but Gannon Seiffert’s two field goals gave the Colts a (29-26) lead with 1:36 left in the quarter.

          Jones old fashion three point play gave Ontario a (31-29) lead with 6:25 left.

          Balogh says they have to make some defensive adjustments in the second half in order to make the Colts more uncomfortable.  “They handled our full court pressure in the first half really, really well.  I don’t think we were really able to create any kind of tempo.  In the second half we made an adjustment and went to some man where we kind of turned and trapped.  The big part was we got some turnovers in the first two, two and half minutes of the third quarter and expended a lot of energy, but we really didn’t stretch anything out,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “I think we only got a couple of points.  We can’t complain we played (Friday) night and (Saturday) and they played Tuesday, Friday and (Saturday.) What you found was two teams that were tired basketball teams, but played really hard.”

          The Ontario coach says they tried to sub a little more after an overtime win (63-60) over Shelby Friday night, but he knew who had to be in the game at the end.  “We tried too, but when we get down to the stretch we are not going to take Trey, Quan and Jackson and some of those guys off the floor.  There is a trust level in those guys and they want to be on the floor.  They make plays, so we tried to use a little bit more of our depth, but late in the game that is not going to happen,” he said.

          Ontario (12-5) had three players in double figures led by 14 from Quan Jackson.  Jackson Todd and Logan Jones both had 11.  Endicott had 11 to lead Clear Fork scorers.

 

 

Published 2/04/17

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Ontario Faces Defensive Challenge With Shelby

  

          Ontario can move into a share of second place in the Northern Ohio League with a win at Shelby on Friday night.

          With eight wins in their last nice games, the Warriors are also trying to build some momentum for the postseason tournament.

          They probably lost their chance to share in the last “NOL” title boys’ basketball title ever when league leader Sandusky beat them (64-50) last Thursday.  However, they were able to bounce back Saturday and beat Bellevue (68-50) and coach Joe Balogh says that says a lot.  “Last Thursday we were disappointed in how we played.  As I said after the game I think you give Sandusky a lot of credit for us playing poorly.  The important thing was we didn’t have a lot of time to dwell on it or think about it.  We took some time on Friday to learn some lessons on things we didn’t do well and came out and played really, really well the first half against Bellevue and continued to play well in the second half with just didn’t score like we thought we should have in the second half,” he said.

          Ontario (10-5,5-3) plays at Shelby (9-7,6-2) in “NOL” play on Friday night.  The Warriors beat Shelby (52-46) at their place on December 23.

          Balogh says the Shelby guards have a lot of versatility and that makes them hard to guard.  “They have five guys on the floor that can all score.  They can score from the three and use the three a lot in their offense, so they are tough from that standpoint because they have guys like Hipp and Keres and Hill that can put it on the floor and do a great job getting into the lane and kick it to open shooters, so now you are forced into situations where you have long close outs.  You are either late contesting their three or they will put it on the floor and get into the lane and pitch it again.  So, their versatility from that standpoint with guys that can shoot it and put it on the floor causes problems for us defensively,” said Balogh.

          Sandusky would pretty have to fall apart for the Warriors to have a chance, but Balogh says there is still a lot to play for.  “We would need a lot of help for the league we are really fighting for second place here.  I think it says a lot about our program.  When we came into the “NOL” there were a lot of questions on could Ontario compete and I think we have shown that we have competed very well.  As we have said many times you don’t win the league in the first round, but you can loose it and the two losses in the first round really hurt us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “So, now we are in a situation where we are kind of playing for some pride here and seeing where you can finish in the league.  Then you are just trying to continue to build and play better basketball as you approach the tournament at the end of the month.”

          Ontario travels to Clear Fork (5-10) for a non-conference game on Saturday night.  Balogh says Clear Fork has had some ups and downs do mostly to youth, but he knows they will be ready to play them.  “Number one they are young.  I mean they start a freshman and two sophomores and they have another sophomore coming off the bench and Barnett is a junior.  You can see that inconsistency when you have that lineup at times.  They have played really well in some games and have struggled in some other ones.  Anytime you go to Clear Fork to play, especially for us, it has been a tough venue for us to play in.  We understand that Steve Bechtel is going to do a great job and preparing his team.  He played on Tuesday, he is going to play on Friday, and then play us on Saturday.  That is what you kind of do at this point in the season.  Your kids don’t really want to practice a lot they want to play.  We expect they are going to bring a lot of energy to this game on Saturday night,” said Balogh.

 

Published 2/03/17

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Sandusky Ready to Slam Door

   

          Cavon Croom fueled a Sandusky third quarter run and they went on to beat Ontario (64-50) in a Northern Ohio League game on Thursday night at the O-Rena and take command of the “NOL” standings.

          The loss drops Ontario three behind Sandusky (12-3,7-0) in the league standings.  Shelby is in second two back after their (51-44) win over Norwalk on Thursday night.

          Leading (30-29) with 6:18 to play in the third quarter, Sandusky went on a (13-2) run lead by Croom’s three three pointers and 11 points to take command (43-31) with 2:30 to play. 

          The Warriors (9-5,4-3) would get no closer than seven the rest of way (43-36) with 1:58 left in the third.  “Even the times they scored it seemed we had a breakdown defensively.  I keep saying the word execution.  We did a very good job.  Cavon was unbelievable (Thursday) night.  He had six threes.  The most important thing we need to do is we have to remember to attack the basket first and then work inside out.  We did a good job of that.  Keith (Williams) had a great game distributing the ball.  Our guys did a good job rebounding as a team, I not sure what the rebounding totals were.  I am pleased with our overall performance from everybody,” said Sandusky coach Colin English.

          Croom finished with 26 points on the night.

          Ontario coach Joe Balogh says they gave some extra attention to Sandusky’s outstanding guard Jayreese Williams and Croom burned them.  “He had a career night.  I mean six of seven from the three point line.  I don’t know what he was from two, but it didn’t seem like he ever missed.  The only one he missed was the one that was wide open late.  They played really well.  When they are able to get a lead and have those three guys control the basketball they become really hard to guard because you have to give help in penetration.  All three of them are willing to find open teammates,” said Balogh.

          Jayreese finished with 14 points on the night.  English says when Williams missed some shots other players were able to step up.  “We run everything through Jayreese.  Jayreese, Keith, and Cavon in my opinion are three of the better guards around.  Cavon had it going, Keith had it going.  They were obviously double teaming Jayreese off of our pick and roll option.  He missed a couple of bunnies he usually makes, but that is part of the game.  It doesn’t take anything away from what he has done all year,” said English.

          Ontario is bigger with Logan Jones and Owen Zeiter, but Sandusky one the battle of the boards, and was particularly affective on the offensive glass.

          English thought they were able to get out and control the pace of play Thursday night.  “We were able to get the ball out and control tempo.  I want us to control tempo and have a tough mentality and we did that (Thursday) night,” he said.

          Jackson Todd had 15 points and Trey Jordan added 11 for the Warriors.

          Balogh says they could never get much going on offense.  “Their zone hurt us too.  We missed some shots early and then I thought we really got tentative against it and we didn’t do a very good job of attacking it.  We did a really poor job of running any kind of sets against it.  It just seemed like it took us eight, nine seconds to get into a set when they should be quick hitters.  Give them a lot of credit they came in and played really, really well,” said Balogh.

 

Published 1/26/17

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Ontario Faces Biggest Challenge

  

          Ontario has fought its way back into the Northern Ohio League race with wins in its last four league games and now they face their biggest game of the year as they host first place Sandusky on Thursday night at the “O-Rena.”

          They trail the Blue Streaks by two games starting the second half of the league schedule.

          The Warriors have won their last seven games after an (81-32) destruction of Willard in a league game last Friday.

          Coach Joe Balogh says week by week they have become a better team this season.  “I think we have taken strides and guys have started to understand their role.  We have been a lot more consistent on both ends of the floor and I think that has led to our success.  You have to keep trying to get better each week.  That’s our goal to get a little bit better each week and add that up over a season you hope by the end of the year you are playing really, really well,” he said.

          Sandusky (11-3,6-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, outscored Shelby (16-2) in final three minutes and beat the Whippets (67-60) last Friday. 

          Balogh says the Blue Streaks guards, including the schools all time leading scorer Jayreese Williams, are very good.  “Their guard play is outstanding. They have three really good guards, the two Williams kids and the Croom kid.  They can beat you off the dribble and create their shots, beat you off the dribble and create shots for other guys.  They are really good.  Jayreese (Williams) is probably the best player in this area and probably one of the best guards in the state.  When you have a player like him he can put the team on his back and carry you, which has he has done a few times already this year.  So, their perimeter play is really, really good,” said Balogh.

          Ontario also has athletic guards too in Trey Jordan, Quan Jackson and Jackson Todd and Balogh feels they match up pretty well and likely have an advantage in the post with Logan Jones and Owen Zeiter.  “We feel confident that we match-up pretty well with them.  I think one of the things that we have a little bit of an advantage in is if we have the opportunity to put the ball inside we think our post play might be a little bit better than theirs.  The thing that has really hurt us in the last couple of games against them has been those role players,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Their post players I think combined for 20 plus points and 10 plus rebounds the last time we played them and that really hurt us.  Not just their big guys, but their other guys have played well also and that is a hard combination to stop.  Our kids are excited about the match up and they understand what is on the line.  If we don’t win on Thursday then we are really behind the eight ball as far as having any chance to win the league title.  They understand that and we are going to prepare and hopefully play well on Thursday.”

          Ontario (9-4,4-2) lost to Sandusky (67-57) on December 9 and to Bellevue (50-45) on December 15 and Balogh since that time they new what they had to do if they wanted to win the “NOL” title.  “I think our kids understood that when we started 0-2 in the league we didn’t have any margin for error and we still can’t have any margin for error if we want to win the league title.  It has been a step by step process.  As a coach and a team that is how you have to approach it you can never really look ahead.  We have to be really ready to play on Thursday.  Whatever the result on Thursday we have to come right back and play on Saturday (against Bellevue.)  That is high school basketball at its best.  We are going to be excited about the challenge that is ahead of us,” he said.

 

Published 1/25/17

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Red Hot Ontario Hosting Willard

  

          Ontario, with a six game winning streak in hand, plays host to the Willard Flashes in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.

          Last week, the Warriors destroyed Norwalk (68-26) in a league game on Friday night and Galion (78-34) in a non-league game on Saturday night.

          Coach Joe Balogh is happy, but he is not satisfied.  “I think we have really taken some strides starting at the Christmas break.  We are happy with the progression we are making.  I think this team still has a long way to go and has a chance to be better.  We want to be a better basketball team this Friday night than we were last Saturday.  We have had a great positive effort in practice throughout the weeks and that has transitioned to how we have been able to play,” he said.

          Good basketball teams are ones that talk and Balogh says they took part in a little drill this week to hone their communication skills.  “We continually talk to our kids about our communication.  Not just at the defensive end, but the offensive end to make sure everybody is on the same page.  We did some situations early this week were we just kind of had kids do it and there wasn’t a lot of coaching.  It was interesting to see the dynamics of the five kids that were together and see how they communicated.  We had some groups that did a good job and other groups that didn’t,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “As coaches you are trying to get your kids to be more of a player coached team than a coach coached team.  If you players are making the corrections and seeing the mistakes they are the ones that are a lot more engaged.  That is a key thing if you are going to be a good basketball team that you are having players really lead your team and not your coach leading your team.”

          Ontario (8-4,3-2) plays at home against Willard (2-10,0-5) this week.  The Flashes won their second game on Saturday night when they beat Port Clinton (50-40) in a non-conference game.

          Balogh says their record may not be very good, but Willard has some skill to work with.  “The thing they have, they have really good length and they have a couple of really good athletic players in Daub and Cofer, that plays in the high post in that 2-1-2.  Willard always does a really good job of running their stuff.  I guess it is similar to the way we approach Norwalk that if you allow Willard to reverse the basketball and get guys coming off screens they are going to get shots that they want.  We have to be able to disrupt that.  I think that is what we were able to do last Friday night and we have to try and do that again this Friday night,” said Balogh.

          Joe has been the varsity coach at Ontario since the late 80’s and he says it is important to understand when you play each other twice a year there aren’t any secrets.  “The thing I don’t think people understand is that league games are different than non-league games from the standpoint that coaches know so much about your team.  Chris Long does a great job of preparing his basketball team, so they are going to be a very well prepared basketball team.  They are going to try and do something different to take some things away from us and we have to try and do a good job of not letting the ball get reversed in the half court so they can run all of the cuts off the 2-1-2 set that they like to run,” he said.

 

Published 1/19/17

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Ontario Must Execute at Norwalk

  

          If Ontario is going to stay in the Northern Ohio League race they need to have a win at Norwalk on Friday night.

          Right now, they trail Sandusky by two games in the league race and have already lost to the Blue Streaks once this year.

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

          Ontario won their fourth game in a row on Saturday night at Madison (49-42) in a non-conference game.

          Coach Joe Balogh says they have been playing better step by step and that is good to see.  “I think we have taken steps in the right direction and continue to improve as a team.  We were a little bit fortunate with Madison.  They played a very emotional game with Senior High on Friday night and just how the schedule works we were fortunate to have that night off.  We were able to make really great preparation against Madison.  It was a good win for us.  It was a good win from the standpoint of going on the road and playing against a team that was playing really well.  We continue to make strides to be a better basketball team.  I felt we have done that and now we just have to continue to do that this week,” said Balogh.

          Ontario (6-4,2-2) plays a “NOL” game at Norwalk (3-7,1-3) on Friday night.  Norwalk beat Keystone (46-44) in a non-conference game on Saturday after the Truckers lost (67-53) to Sandusky in a league game on Friday night.

          Balogh knows that his longtime friend Steve Gray, the Norwalk coach, is going to make things tough on them.  “One of the things you know when you play Norwalk is they are going to be extremely well prepared at both ends of the floor.  Defensively he is really going to try and take away your strengths and get into your kids head a little bit by face guarding or maybe even playing a little bit of junk defense.  So, you have to be prepared for that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “The other part is if you allow them to run their stuff in the half court they are good.  I mean they can be really good.  We have to try and get the game at a quicker pace than Norwalk would want to play.  Sometimes that is difficult to do because Steve does such a good job of having his kids honed into to what they do.”

          Balogh says they have to be ready to give a solid effort at Norwalk or it will be costly to them.  “They got a big win on the road against Keystone and played really well for about two and half quarters against Sandusky and then Sandusky’s athleticism kind of took over on Friday night. We will have our hands full on Friday night.  We went up there last year and I think we were kind of not as respectful as we should have been from the standpoint that we beat them early in the year fairly easily and then it was really a struggle up there when we played them.  We need to be really ready to play from the standpoint of it being another league game,” said Balogh.

          When it comes to Norwalk’s various defensive looks, Balogh says you have to be patient and find open players.  “The big thing is you just have to play.  Sometimes when a kid is getting face guarded they just kind of start running around.  We have to stay within what we do and trust the stuff that we do.  You have to recognize what they are in, but also when they try and take stuff like that away from you there are going to be some openings some where and you have to be able to find those openings,” he said.

 

Published 1/10/17

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Ontario Girls Playing Better

  

          Ontario plays it what is the toughest girls’ basketball league in North Central Ohio this year in the Northern Ohio League and they are becoming a better and more dangerous basketball team.

          When you play Shelby, Bellevue, Norwalk and Willard you find out where you have to get better.

          Ontario beat Willard (42-29) in a “NOL” game on Saturday.

          Coach Sarah Kirchbaum says they have found their identity if you will.  “I am pretty pleased with how we are playing.  I think losing our point guard from last year is definitely an adjustment.  We are trying to figure it out and what makes us go and what our strengths and weaknesses are and what we need to work on and get better.  We have definitely turned the page here in the second half of the season and are playing well,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We are getting more well rounded scoring.  We are upping our pressure on defense.  We have been a little more consistent and have been able to put more than one or two quarters together. We have started to put three and four quarters together.”

          Lots of times when you are talking high school athletics, and especially with girls, Kirchbaum says it’s about confidence and she believes they are finding it.  “Teenage girls especially I think confidence is a big thing.  We are team that is very capable of doing a certain skill or making a shot in a game or getting a defensive stop and that just elevates their confidence that much more,” she said.

          Ontario (7-2) visits Northmor (5-5) for a non-conference girls basketball game on Tuesday night.  Northmor beat Highland (39-32) in a blue division game in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference last Friday.

          Kirchbaum says Northmor wants to physical and they are going to have to be physical too.  “We have to play at their place and that is a tough place to play.  They are very scrappy and well coached.  I look for definitely a physical game.  We need to go in with a game plan of what we like to do and be physical right back.  Be able to press a little bit and get some pressure on their guards and see what we can do,” she said.

 

Published 1/10/17

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Ontario Better on Both Ends

  

          After losing four in a row the Ontario Warriors have battled back to win their last three games and coach Joe Balogh says they have done a better job of focusing in on what they need to do.

          Ontario beat Tiffin Columbian (62-55) last week to even their Northern Ohio League record on the season.  They don’t play a league game this week.  Their only meeting is game at Mansfield Madison in non-conference play on Saturday night.

          Coach Joe Balogh says they have been doing a much better job of getting the ball to who they want to have it and keeping it out the hands of the opponent’s best players.  “I think we have made some steps forward.  We knew our early part of the season schedule was going to be tough, but we also have to make sure we prepare for every game.  I think we have made some strides.  I think maybe the word is consistent, we have been better consistently on the defensive end,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I think we have done a better job of identifying key players and trying to make sure those are not the players that are going to beat us.  I think we have done a better job at the offensive end of identifying who needs to get shots for us within our offense.  We have done those few things and we have gotten better.  We are taking strides and we have tried to get better every day of the week and that what we are trying to do this week.”

          Balogh, the Warriors boss since 1987, says he thinks they have everyone understanding what their role is now.  “Maybe the coaching staff has been spoiled over the last three to four years in that most of the kids we had returning had a real good understanding of what we wanted to do.  Not to say that this group doesn’t.  We don’t have an entire group.  We have some young guys, some guys that didn’t get significant varsity minutes last year and we took some things for granted.  So, we hope we are progressing in the right direction of having everybody on the same page and being engaged for 32 minutes in a game, but that is always process.  We will continue to try and work on that process each and every day,” he said.

          Ontario (5-4) is Madison (6-3) on Saturday night.  The Rams play rival Mansfield Senior in an “OCC” game on Friday night.

          Balogh says the Rams have three really good players, plus and excellent cast around them.  “They have got the Ajian kid that is just a tremendous athlete and a very good basketball player.  Kyle Jackson from the beginning of last year to the end of the year was one of the most improved players in the area and he has continued to improve.  They have a post presence in the Koehler kid inside.  The other thing that they have done really well is the other players have stepped in, whether in the starting line up or off the bench, and are hitting big shots.  The Stone kid had seven threes against Norwalk.  Those guys who have kind of stepped into their role have done a good job of that.  To beat Madison you have to do a good job of controlling Ajian and Jackson and Koehler.  Those are their three big guys and hopefully those other guys don’t step up and have big nights like the Stone kid did against Norwalk,” said Balogh.

 

Published 1/06/17

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Ontario Facing Different Challenges

  

          Ontario won a must win game last week against Shelby and now they want to continue to build momentum as they play Highland in non-league play and Tiffin Columbian in a “NOL” game.

          Last Friday, they rallied in the second half to beat Shelby (52-46) after being down 10 in the second quarter.  Coach Joe Balogh says good defense produced some easier chances to score.  “We were really engaged defensively on every possession and because of that we were able to create some turnovers and easy baskets, which makes your offense look a lot better when you don’t have to go against a set defense every possession.  We need to try and build on that.  That is what we are working on this week to try and build on the positive two quarters that we had in the second half and hopefully be a better team when we play on Wednesday,” said Balogh.

          Highland (5-2) of the red division of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference comes to the “O-rena” on Wednesday night for a non-conference game.  Balogh says they must execute against a very good zone team.  “They have really good size and length.  They are 6’3” at four positions and fairly long.  They challenge you because they play a lot of 1-3-1 and 2-3 zone.  Typically we have not seen a lot of that this year.  The challenge is going against a team that is predominately zone.  We will see how well we can move the ball and shoot the ball in positions that we want to get it.  I think any time you are 5-2 you are probably playing with a lot of confidence.  They will present a big challenge for us when they come here on Wednesday night,” he said.

          Balogh says they have worked harder in practice over the last several years against zones and with their zone offense.  “I think it is just the DNA of your coach and your program when it comes to how you go about playing zone.  I am not a big zone guy, but over the last couple of years we have tried to work more against zone and play more zone in practice so that we had more confidence,” he told Swankonsports.com Tuesday, “One that we could play it and more importantly the confidence of playing against it.  We probably made that decision five or six years ago.  I think it came to fruition after we played Plymouth in the tournament and felt we had a lot of good zone stuff, but we never really practiced it.  We try to take one day a week and really practice our zone offenses and also playing zone defense.  I think that has helped us over the years, but it still comes down to what coaches feel most comfortable doing.  Highland plays a lot of 1-3-1 and 2-3 zone and they are good at it.”

          Tiffin Columbian (4-2,1-1) is coming off an impressive (53-18) win over Willard last Friday and they come to Ontario (3-4,1-2) on Friday night for a Northern Ohio League game. 

          Balogh says they have some guys that can score the ball and he adds this is another very important game for them.  “They have three guys that are averaging in double figures.  They have a post guy in Durham that is really athletic and presents a lot of challenges for you because he is really good around the basket, but can also put it on the floor from the perimeter and get to the basket.  They have the Bump kid that is really shooting the ball well and the Simmons kid that is averaging 16.  So, they are playing with a lot of confidence and I think any time play anyone that in the league it extra challenge because I think with your conference schedule of playing teams twice you get to know them a lot better than you would no league teams.  Any game in the league is a challenge and then.  Playing them here at home is a big challenge because you try to keep some pace in the league and give ourselves a chance that we can have a fighting chance at the end to be part of the league title,” said Balogh.

 

Published 12/28/16

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Ontario Needs More Plays

  

          Ontario will attempt to break a four game losing streak when they host the Shelby Whippets in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.

          They lost to two more talented teams last week, falling to Bellevue (50-45) in a league game last Thursday and Lexington (54-49) in the “OCC/NOL” Challenge on Saturday.

          Coach Joe Balogh says it wasn’t effort plays last week, but they just didn’t make plays a critical moments of both games and it cost them.  “Coming out of the weekend before it was just our effort plays, which we track, which are deflections, steals, getting on the floor, those kinds of things, and we were really good with effort plays.  We doubled up Bellevue in effort plays, but we just didn’t do a very good job taking care of the ball at crucial times and then we just didn’t get defensive stops at crucial times.,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It was kind of the same with Lex our effort plays were really good, but again we had some real defensive breakdowns, especially off some ball screen situations that Lex ran against us.  We think we are really close.  When you lose a few games in a row I think kids start to doubt what you do and we are trying to find that formula to make sure we don’t have those breakdowns as often.”

          Ontario has lost games to Sandusky, Wooster, Bellevue and Lexington.  Only one of those, Bellevue, is not ranked in the top five of our coaches poll.  Quality teams yes, but Balogh says those are teams you want to beat.  “What they have heard is you play a really tough schedule, which we have.  Three of our four losses to Sandusky, Wooster, and Lexington have a combined one loss, but you know where our program has been you want to beat those teams.  We can’t be satisfied that we lost to those three teams.  We just have to kind of find a way and the way you find a way is knowing what the problems are and working to make those corrections and make sure that you are going to be better prepared on Friday night than you were the Saturday or Friday night before and make better efforts, so that is kind of where we are at as we prepare for Shelby this week,” said Balogh.

          Ontario (2-4,0-2) is at home for Shelby (3-3,0-2) on Friday night in “NOL” action.  Balogh says they Whippets have very good guards.  “They have several guards that really shoot it, especially in Hipp and Kehres.  They can really put together a string of made shots very, very quickly.  Their strength right now is their guard play with those two guys and Brady Hill.  The Hoffman kid has played really well for them too.  I think he has made nine threes.  I am not really sure how deep they are, but that has been the question for us too.  What we have to do a really good job of is we can’t just let their three point shooters to shoot open threes.  We have t do a good job of contesting them and making sure we are getting hand up and contesting those threes,” he said,

          As far when they have the ball in their hands, Balogh says it’s pretty simple they have to make shots.  “From an offensive standpoint we have to be more efficient in what we do.  It really comes down to we have to make some shots.  I think we were 28 percent at Bellevue and maybe 34 percent against Lex.  To win ballgames you have got to make shots.  You have to finish shots at the rim and when we are not finishing shots at the rim we have to make sure we are getting fouled and getting to the free throw line and then we have to make some perimeter shots.  We kind of had a run against Lex were we missed three or four shots,” said Balogh.

 

Published 12/22/16

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Ontario Looking for More Depth

  

          After beating two quality teams on week one of the season, the Ontario Warriors lost to two very good ones last week and, of yeah, play two more this week.

          They lost at Sandusky (67-57) on Friday night in a battle between the schools that shared the league title last year and then lost (64-43) to “OCC” preseason favorite Wooster on Saturday.  They play at Bellevue in an “NOL” game Thursday night and host Lexington as part of the “OCC/NOL” challenge on Saturday.

          Coach Joe Balogh says last weekend they got too far behind against Sandusky and had too many turnovers and against Wooster.  “When you play good teams you have to play well and we didn’t play exceptionally well either night, especially in the first half on Friday night against Sandusky.  We dug ourselves a 17 point hole.  Give our kids a lot credit we fought back and had it to a six point game with about four minutes to play and then missed two shots at the rim, got a stop and then turned it over and we just couldn’t get back into it.  Then Saturday night we played a really good Wooster basketball team.  To play against a good team like that you have to play well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We turned it over 22 times against their pressure and that really hurts.  You can’t do that against good teams.  We left the weekend we thought we could be a good basketball team, but if we are going to be the caliber of those two teams that we just played we have to improve in a lot of areas.  The one area is taking better care of the basketball against teams that pressure us.  The other area is just playing harder.  We have to play harder on a more consistent basis and not have lapses like we had on both nights.”

          Balogh says they need to find out who can play and it what sports coming off the bench for them.  “The thing is we have four experienced players and in the past we had a pretty good rotation and right now we are still trying to figure out what our rotation is, so early on the season we might have played some of those kids more minutes than maybe they are used to, but we have to find some consistency with those guys coming off the bench and that is going to be a key for us as we grow as a team over the next few weeks,” he said.

          Ontario (2-2,0-1) plays at Bellevue (2-1,1-0) in an “NOL” game on Thursday night.  Balogh says it is an improved Bellevue team and their gym is always a tough place to play.  “They return their point guard in Rulhman and a post player in Hartley, so those are two key things for any basketball team.  I think anytime you go to Bellevue it is a different place to play.  It is a tight atmosphere, it is a great atmosphere for high school basketball.  We travel on a Thursday night and it will be our third long road trip in a row.  You can’t use any kind of excuses.  The big thing is we have to get better at the things we do.  That is our focus this week that we have to improve our things and not so much worry about the things that Bellevue could possibly do because we think if we can get better with the stuff we do we will be okay,” said Balogh.

          As for Lexington (4-0,1-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, Balogh says they are very good again this year, mainly because they understand who they are and how to win.  “They have got off to a tremendous start and you have to give them a lot credit.  One they lost some key players and he had some his key players that were involved in the football playoffs, but that is not always bad because if you are in the football playoffs you have kids that understand what it takes to win.  When you have players like Stover and Shoulders, those kids know how to win and that carries from sport to sport.  They have got off to a really solid start.  They are going to be playing Ashland on Friday, so they are going to be coming off a Friday night game.  At Ontario I don’t care if you play eight games in a row in eight days if the ninth day is Lex it is going to be a high energy contest,” said Balogh.

 

Published 12/14/16

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Two more Tough Ones for the Warriors

  

          Having beaten Mansfield Senior and Mansfield St. Peter’s last weekend, the Ontario Warriors face two more very good teams in Sandusky and Wooster this weekend.

          They beat Mansfield Senior (68-60) in overtime last Friday and downed Mansfield St. Peter’s (67-60) on Saturday.  Still, they must improve and for coach Joe Balogh two things come right to mind, handing ball pressure and rebounding.  “From Friday night’s game we have to do a better job of handling pressure when we play a team that is like Senior High.  We had 22 turnovers on Friday night.  Just didn’t make very good decisions against their on the ball pressure.  From the weekend one of the things we have to continue to work on is rebounding the basketball, especially at the defensive end.  We didn’t do a very good job at times of making sure we check guys out and limit teams to one shot.  When you play really good teams that is one of the big issues that you have to have and you have to be able to do is you have to be able to rebound the basketball, especially at the defensive end,” said Balogh.

          Ontario (2-0) travels to Sandusky (0-1) on Friday night for a game between the two schools that shared the Northern Ohio League title last season.  Balogh says a key will be containing district player of the year Jayreese Williams.  “He poses just a tremendous threat at the offensive end because he can shoot the three off the catch, he can shoot it off the dribble, he can go right or left off the dribble to finish.  He posses a lot of problems for our defense.  We are going to have to do a great job of trying to contain him and make sure the shots that he makes are difficult shots.  He is the type of player that can make a lot of difficult shots.  If you give him some open looks to get him going that furthers the problem.  We are going to try and limit his touches if we can and make his looks difficult and play as hard as we can and hope for the best,” said Balogh.

          Rebounding a focus this week for the Warriors because of Sandusky’s athleticism they can really get you out of position and cause havoc.  “When you have players like they have that are very similar to Senior High in that they can beat you off penetration and create situations where you have to help so much that you might not be checking the guy that you are guarding when it involves rebounding,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I think that is one of the things we tried to show our kids on tape after the game on Monday on the Senior High game was we have to have everybody involved in rebounding the ball on the defensive end and we had some guys that were trying to leak out and Senior High was able to get some second chance opportunities.  Rebounding is a key in every game you play and try to limit teams to one shot and your efforts to get to the glass and get second and third shots.”

          Wooster (2-0) is similar in the fact that they will pressure you all over the floor and Balogh says they have some shooters too that will have to be guarded.  “You have to handle the pressure.  They can shoot the three and they have several guys that can really light up the three.  They have good size inside and they are athletic on the perimeter.  They are going to be a very good basketball team and to go on the road at Wooster is going to be a real challenge, especially after coming home from Sandusky.  If you are a coach or a player you want to play really good teams and we get a chance to do that this weekend,” he said.

 

Published 12/07/16

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Ontario Beats Another Good Team

  

          Ontario outscored Mansfield St. Peter’s (26-19) in the fourth quarter and pulled away for a (67-70) non-conference win at the “O-Rena” on Saturday night.

          They add that to a triple overtime win (68-60) over Mansfield Senior on Friday night for a quality (2-0) start to the young season.

          The Warriors hit three three pointers in the finial quarter, two by Quan Jackson, to create some space in the game.

          6’7” junior forward Logan Jones drilled a three with 7:31 left in the game to give Ontario a lead (44-41) they would never relinquish.  “Jones’ three at the top was key.  Quan (Jackson) hit one or two.  They were all rhythm jump shots with in what we do.  It was just an extra pass.  We were able to get shots that weren’t contested as much as they maybe were (Friday) night.  I was really pleased with how we played down the stretch,” said Ontario coach Joe Balogh.

          Jackson’s three with 2:32 left game Ontario a (58-52) lead, their largest lead until that point in the contest.

          St. Peter’s coach Joe Jakubick says they tried to force Ontario to beat them from the perimeter and they were able to do it.  “Ontario made seven threes, I don’t think they made seven (Friday) night.  They made them (Saturday) night.  I felt like we had to keep them out of the paint.  I think we did an adequate job of that.  You have to pick your poison,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “Especially in the second half Jared (Jakubick) did an excellent job of guarding Jackson Todd.  We felt that we really had to limit him.  Logan Jones shot it well, (Quan) Jackson, with four threes, shots it well.  These are the games that hopefully make us a better team as the season progresses.”

          Todd had 35 points Friday in the win over Mansfield Senior, he finished with eight against St. Peter’s.

          Quan Jackson paced the Warriors on Saturday night with 18 markers.  Trey Jordan had 13, Jones had 11, seven in the pivotal fourth quarter.  Mason Campbell led everybody with 26 for the Spartans.

          Balogh felt his team made the Spartans (1-1) take some tough shots in the half court and were able to get their share of rebounds.  “We had them take tough shots where we able to get them in the half court.  We got really hurt in the third quarter by the transition game.  That was kind of what got Campbell going.  They kind of cleared it out at the top for him to start.  I think he made a basket and then he got fouled, but then he probably had three or four baskets just by running the floor and out sprinting us and that really hurt us.  Other than that I thought we did a good job of making them shoot over us with some pressure, so happy about that,” said Balogh.

          A key moment in the game came with 1:11 left in the third quarter with Ontario leading by one (40-39) when St. Peter’s junior guard Elijah Cobb went down with a leg injury.  He did not return.

          Jakubick says that took them out of the flow of their offense.  “I think one thing that hurt us we not having Elijah out there because James (Rall) is still trying to get his feet underneath him and playing a team as solid as Ontario that made a difference in getting good shots.  This is a game that our kids battled,” he said.

          The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Warriors.  They open Northern Ohio League play at Sandusky next Friday, they shared the “NOL” title last season.  They travel to Wooster (2-0) the Ohio Cardinal Conference preseason favorite on Saturday.  “Our kids know this too we are going to find out how good we are.  That is why you play the games.  Our kids know our schedule is a challenge.  We will try to rest a little bit this weekend and enjoy this, but Monday get back to work,” said Balogh.

          The Spartans play a Mid-Buckeye Conference game against Loudonville on Friday and then tangle with Mansfield Senior in an inter city battle on Saturday.

 

Published 12/03/16

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Ontario Facing Challenging Weekend

  

          Ontario, one of the top programs in North Central Ohio year in and year out, opens with a tough back to back this weekend playing at Mansfield Senior on Friday and at home against Mansfield St. Peter’s on Saturday, both in non-conference play.

          Veteran coach Joe Balogh thinks they made a nice progression during November and it will be interesting to see what they do against top level competition over the weekend.  “We felt like if our kids improved 1% every day and if you continue to do that you are going to get better.  We think we have taken strides pretty much every day in practice and we have gotten better in some area that we thought we needed to focus on.  We thought we played our best in our last scrimmage, which is kind of what we wanted to do.  As a coach I don’t think you ever think you are ready for that first game.  It is going to be here on Friday and we are going to show up and be ready to play,” said Balogh.

          Game night is a different experience than any scrimmage because the goal is to win and not just to look at match ups or which kids can play.  Balogh says that is the energy.  “I think most kids would prefer to practice two days and then play.  I don’t think kids understand lots of times the importance of practice.  We have kids that have really worked hard in our practices, but I think they are biting at the bit here to really see what it is like.  They get excited to play in scrimmages, but scrimmages aren’t real games.  You aren’t always necessarily playing your best against the other team’s best.  Coaches are putting in lineups to see if some kids can be play in certain situations.  On Friday night you are going to be matching up your best kids for 32 minutes, so that is the exciting part of it,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior is going to bring pressure and lots of it.  Balogh says you have to attack the pressure and keep your head if there are turnovers.  “They going to get out and try and pressure you in the full court and the half court and try and create some havoc with their defense.  If they are able to get one turnover they are going for two, if you panic they get three or four in a row and now they are on that 8-0, 10-0 run and that makes it difficult to come back,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We are going to be similar to last year.  We are going to try and attack their pressure.  We are not afraid I don’t think to run with Senior High.  We have to have good decision making.  We can’t just throw the ball all over the gym and put it in the hands of opponents and let them get score with their defense.  They are not really complicated in what they do, but they are good in what they do.”

          Mansfield St. Peter’s in the defending division four district champ and Balogh says they are going to be really good and another tough assignment.  “We know we are in for a tremendous challenge, not just on Friday night, but then to come back and play again on Saturday night.  Early on the season we are really going to find our how good our team is or the areas where we really have to get better.  St. Pete’s is going to provide a tremendous challenge for us.  They return three starters that played significant minutes last year and then two kids that came off the bench and played significant minutes, so they have five kids that have a lot of experience in their tournament run.  When you have kids coming back from a long tournament run there is hunger.  I believe those kids put in a lot of time in the summer and have that hunger to get going,” said Balogh.

 

Published 12/02/16

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Ontario Showing Some Good Things

  

          Ontario clearly has the talent to have another very good season and should be in the race to claim what will be the final Northern Ohio League title in boys’ basketball.

          They shared the title last year with Sandusky and advanced to the division two district tournament before losing to the Blue Streaks in a semi final game.

          Veteran coach Joe Balogh, in charge of the Warriors since 1987, and a winner of more than 500 games, says they have shown some good things early in the preseason.  “Our effort has been really good in practice.  I can’t complain about that.  We had a scrimmage Saturday at Napoleon that we played pretty well in.  At this point in the season there is a lot work to be done.  We have gotten a couple of kids that have gotten sick this week.  We have had a little bit of the injury bug.  So, we are trying to fight through some of those things.  Overall we are pleased where we are at right now,” he said.

          The Warriors won 20 games last season for Balogh and they return some kids that were a big part of that.  However, Joe has been around long enough to know that every year is different.  “We bring some key guys back in Trey Jordan and Quan Jackson and Jackson Todd and Logan Jones.  All of those guys had quality minutes for us last year on a team that was very successful, but you never know how it is going to come together.  That is always a question,” he told Swankonsports.com inside the O-Rena before practice on Tuesday, “Our kids have been good so far, but you are going to face adversity sometime during the year whether that is a tough loss, or whether it’s injuries, or whether it is illness and you are going to see how your kids come together.  That has always been a key.  We have been very fortunate over the last several years that we have faced that adversity and really come together and overcame it.  That is always a challenge every year when you start.”

          There is some height on the roster this season, but Balogh says they have to be sure they are good rebounders and a big key for them this season is developing some more depth.  “It comes down to things like you have to be able to rebound the ball at the defensive end especially.  That is always a concern even though we have some good size.  I don’t think there is anything necessarily right off the top of my head that is going to jump out that hey this is a major concern.  I would say one thing that we have got to do is we have to develop some depth.  I think the last couple of years we came in and we thought we could play eight guys, nine guys, pretty strong and I am not sure right now that we are confident to do that.  We hope that that develops over time that we are able to do that,” said Balogh.

 

Published 11/16/16

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Ontario Making Progress

  

          Ontario will play its final game of the season on Friday night at Bellevue and their coach believes they have made a lot of steps this season in becoming a more solid program.

          Last week, they lost (36-6) to Sandusky, the Northern Ohio League leader, but coach Chris Hawkins says there was definitely a silver lining.  “I have never been one of the coaches, or the type of person, that is in to moral victories.  Last week, it really was.  It was 36-6 and that sounds like a butt kicking, but it was not.  This is a team that handled Shelby, they are going to be “NOL” champions and they are going to the playoffs, and they have all kinds of speed and athleticism and they only gave up 11 rushing yards to Shelby.  I knew we were going to have a hard time rushing the ball, but we passed it for about 180 yards.  What I am most happy about is we held them to just 247 yards of total offense.  We gave them a short field a couple of times because of turnovers.  I know it was a loss and that is unacceptable and our kids know that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “At the same time we were physical, we played hard, and again keeping a “NOL” championship caliper team to 247 yards.  We were actually driving inside the 40 yard-line when it was 21-6 in the second quarter.  We tried to get them to jump offside, and they did jump offside, but unfortunately our center snapped it anyway.  So, we didn’t play extremely well, but we played hard.  When you are trying to build a program you look for steps in the right direction and Friday was definitely a step in the right direction.”

          With the tough schedule they have gone through this year, Hawkins says the kids understand what it is to be a good team and what they need to do.  “I have been doing this for a long time, and without a ton of thought and not doing any research, I don’t know that in any of my years at Wynford, Galion or Willard did I have any more of a tougher schedule than we had this year.  I know the “NOL” was down for a couple of years.  It is usually one or two teams and then you have the middle of the pack, this year there are three or four teams that are really, really good in this league.  We had to deal with that “NOL” schedule murders row with Shelby, Sandusky and Bellevue.  Then our non-league we opened up with Lexington and you see what they are doing now, Clear Fork, always tough, and then we have Cardington, who is 6-3.  One of the coaches told me that if the playoffs started this week five of the teams we played would have got in.  We have had a brutal schedule.  It has been kind of good for our kids to say here is where we need to get to.  So, we have played a tough schedule and even though we are not happy with our record we have made progress since game one,” said Hawkins.

          Ontario (4-5,2-3) plays at Bellevue (6-3,3-2) on Friday night.  The Redmen are coming off a (49-34) loss to Shelby last week, their largest of the season in terms of point differential.  Hawkins says he would like nothing more than to knock the Redmen out of the playoffs.  “They have played a tough schedule.  They got upset by Perkins and then they turned around and drilled Clyde and lost a couple of close ones to “NOL” preseason favorite Shelby and of course Sandusky.  They are setting eighth right now and they need this win to get them in.  I have a lot of respect for coach Nasonti.  I actually get a long with him very well.  I think a lot of him.  There is nothing more you would want to do then to knock a friend out of the playoffs. We have this opportunity to do it.  Can we do it?  Absolutely.  We are going to have to play well, we are going to have to protect the football, we are going to have to play a little tougher.  If we play kind of like we did against Sandusky, and just clean up some things, I really like our chances that we can be right in there,” said Hawkins.

 

Published 10/26/16

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Ontario Has to Handle Sandusky’s Speed

  

          Ontario has to go on the road and play the Northern Ohio League leading Sandusky Blue Streaks, who have not lost a league game, on Friday night.

          Last week was not a good one for the Warriors.  Shelby scored seven times in the first half and went to destroy Ontario (49-7) in a league game.

          Coach Chris Hawkins admits that Shelby is better then them, but he is disappointed they gave up some easily.  “I was disappointed.  You don’t have to be the best team to win.  I have coached and played on teams when you are not the best and you end up winning and I have played and coached on teams that were better than the team on the other sideline and we lose.  That doesn’t mean much to me.  I do think we have beaten the teams that we are better than on the schedule, but we didn’t even compete Friday and I was very, very disappointed.  Where they the better team? Absolutely, but I was very disappointed in our performance.  I have to say what kind of hurt us is we are kind of a team, an I noticed this when I took over in the summer, that when bad things happen we don’t deal with adversity very well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I don’t know if it is because they haven’t had a lot of success.  When there is a bad play their shoulders will shrunk down.  Instead of moving on to the next play they let that affect them.  I have noticed this year when things go well early we play much better and when things don’t go well we kind of go down the tubs.  Last week, that is kind of what happened.  We thought we had a fumble there on the first drive.  Would it have made a difference in the outcome of the game?  Probably not, but I really think if we would have had something positive happen in the beginning it would have definitely kept the score a lot closer.”

          Ontario (4-4,2-2) plays at Sandusky (7-1,4-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, on Friday.  Hawkins says the Streaks are blessed with a lot of speed.  “Sandusky has great team speed and athleticism.  It is not just their secondary guys and their receivers, their quarterback, their running back, they have offensive linemen that move well, their defensive front moves extremely well.  I think that’s what stands out how athletic they all are,” he said.

          Sandusky is a great team and Hawkins knows that, but he says they may match up better with them than some other teams they have played this year.  “As good as they are I told our kids that I think they aren’t as physical.  Shelby is fast and they are just big and they are physical.  Sandusky is just athletic and fast.  They can both cause all kids of damage, but I think where we are at, I have no idea how we are going to respond, I know Sandusky beat Shelby, but I think we are struggling with those physical teams that smash you in the mouth.  I am not saying they aren’t physical, I’m just saying they use their athleticism and speed to beat you where as Shelby has speed, but they just wanted to play smash mouth football.  I am just hoping we can handle the speed better than we can that physicality,” said Hawkins.

 

Published 10/18/16

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Ontario Has to Find Ways to Stop Shelby

  

          Ontario and Shelby both trail Northern Ohio League leader Sandusky by a game in the standings and they play each other on Friday night.  The loser falls out of league contention.

          It has become a pretty good rivalry between the neighboring schools.

          Last Friday, the Warriors scored three times in the fourth quarter to finally put away pesky Willard (35-8) in an “NOL” game.

          Coach Chris Hawkins says not happy with the effort he saw in the first half of the game and he let the players know about it.  “I don’t want to take anything away from Willard they played hard as well, but we were very, very sluggish.  We played a very poor first half especially offensively.  We were just kind of going through the motions.  I watched them coming off the field at halftime and I didn’t like the body language and we had a little talk at halftime.  I am usually calm, cool and collected at halftime, but I wasn’t then.  I did not like the way we started that game, but I do like how we bounced back and finished it.  It wasn’t a great performance, but again like Urban Meyer says the coaches and players put in way too much time to not at least enjoy the victory.  One of the coaches that was on staff last year came up, and it kind of hit home, when he said coach, our program is heading in the right direction because we are disappointed in winning 35-8.  Expectations are pretty high when you are disappointed in a 35-8 win,” said Hawkins.

          Shelby (6-1,3-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, comes to Ontario (4-3,2-1) for perhaps the final time Friday night.  The Whippets will be part of the mega league that is the Sandusky Bay Conference next year, while the Warriors join the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

          Hawkins says the difference with the Whippets this year is their balance on offense.  That has made them tough to defend.  “When I was at Galion they were our preview game and we have been playing Shelby for the last four, five, six years.  Last year was a close game, but we had pretty much easily handled them because they were so one dimensional, but not any more.  I’ll tell you what that is a good football team.  They are so darn tough to defend defensively because they don’t have just one receiver, they have three or four receivers that can hurt you,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Then you have that back in the backfield that holy cow he is a playmaker.  Of course, Armstrong is a duel threat.  I would much rather defend a team that has a 6’5” guy that all he can do is pass and fling the ball around.  He at the same time can hurt you with his legs.  It is almost like you have to pick your poison. If you put people in the box to stop the run they will throw the ball all over you, if you try to stop the pass they will run the ball on you.”

          One of the things Hawkins wants to do to defend the Whippets is keep that offense off the field.  “What we have to try and do, you are not going to stop them, is try and slow it down and offensively, we are a fast paced team, we need to slow it down a little bit, and make it a shorter game because they can’t score of they are not on the field,” he said.

 

Published 10/14/16

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Ontario Working on Getting Better

  

          The major goal for the Ontario Warriors this season is not wins and losses, but getting better from one week to the next and their coach thinks that happened last week.

          Ontario beat Carey (45-30) in a non-conference game and coach Chris Hawkins says it was a step in the right direction after a disappointing performance the week before in losing (40-14) to Norwalk.  “I thought we were making progress from week one to week two, two to three, three to four, unfortunately at Norwalk I think we took a huge step back.  We made some physical mistakes, didn’t play well physically, but it was more the mental aspect.  On the way home last Friday I heard that Tiffin had a chance to beat Norwalk, we handled Tiffin and Norwalk handled us, it was definitely a couple of steps back,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “When you are building a program it can’t always be step up, step up, step up, and get to the top of the latter as quick as you want.  You are always going to take a step up, and a couple back, during the course of the season.  You hope when you take a step back, or a couple steps back, you have to get back on that latter and keep trying and we definitely did that.”

          Ontario (3-3,1-1) plays at home against Willard (1-5,0-2) in a Northern Ohio League match-up on Friday night.  The Flashes were handled by Shelby (66-0) last week.

          There have been some scores like that this season, Sandusky (64-12) is another example, but Hawkins says the Flashes are a lot better than they were in 2015.  “You see some of those scores and sometimes those scores are very lopsided, but in watching the film some of those scores, with the exception of the Shelby game where they didn’t play with their starting quarterback, some of their other scores, when you see the final score, you say that was lopsided, but it was close in the second quarter with four or five minutes left.  They are much, much improved.  They have a different style, last year they were in the triple option and now they are throwing the ball all over the place.  They want to throw the screen to death, and throw over the top, they will throw the ball 40, 50 times.  We are expecting their quarterback to be back and he is a great athlete,” said Hawkins.

          Still, as he has been saying all season, Hawkins wants the focus this week on getting better at what they do.  “I said three, four weeks ago and I am still sticking to my guns when you are trying to build a program you don’t necessarily worry about who you are playing.  We are going to break down film and find out what they do best and their defensive calls.  However, the main focus is still on the Ontario Warriors and that is what we need to continue to do.  We have talent we just need to keep improving.  Whether we are playing Willard, Sandusky or Cleveland St. Ignatius the focus is on the Ontario Warriors,” he said.

 

Published 10/04/16

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Ontario Has to be More Physical, Mentally Tough

  

          Ontario has taken some small steps, but they have to take some big ones if they are going to become a good football team.

          They have to be more mentally tough and they have to show they are a more physical football team.

          Norwalk beat them (34-14) last week in Northern Ohio League play and coach Chris Hawkins says they were neither.  “It wasn’t effort.  I think it was the mental approach and we addressed that.  I told our kids after the fact on Monday.  We got off the bus and went in the locker room as they were getting prepared we were not ready.  I could just tell we were not ready.  So, we have talked about the mental approach.  I didn’t think we were very physical, so I challenged them.  I told them people have called Ontario out for just being flat and I take offense to that and you should too.  We need to show them how we can play football and be more physical and be more aggressive.  We also talked about the mental approach.  We did a couple of activities on Monday and I really liked the way they responded the last couple of days.  We did a mental activity just to test them and I’ll tell you they passed with flying colors and I liked how they responded as a team.  We showed some mental toughness,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Our last couple of practices they showed some nastiness and physicality and what I like to call grit.  We saw guys hit each other and get in each others faces and there is nothing wrong with that as long as when you walk off the field you are teammates again.  I really thought we got out physicaled and we didn’t play very tough and we did not have the proper mental approach.”

          Hawkins says he did some research over the weekend and came up some activities for the team to participate in and they did a good job.  “We are making progress.  Sometimes when adversity hits we sulk, our head comes down.  We let one bad play affect us for the next five.  We have made progress, but we are still doing that.  Right now, we are a team if we get off to a great start, like we did in Tiffin, I’ll tell you what we can play with anybody, but if we don’t get off to a good start we kind of let things roll out of control, so that is another aspect.  We can practice and we can make you bigger, stronger, faster, and make you better and teach you fundamentals, but that physicality and that mental approach has to be developed.  I have a psychology degree and I got on the old website and tried to get some things.  I kind of learned, and coaches say this all of the time, you have to me mentally tough, but no coach shows what is mentally tough.  So, we developed some activities to show what mental toughness is.  I am kind of learning as well,” said Hawkins.

          Ontario (2-3) plays at Carey (2-3) of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference in a non-league game on Friday night.  The Blue Devils lost (28-0) to Wynford last week.  Hawkins says this is a good match-up for them.  “That was 7-0 late into the third quarter and Wynford put three scores in the last 14, 15 minutes.  What I like about this is it is the perfect test that we need for what we are talking about.  They are old school football.  They will line up in double tight, under center, triple “I” and play smash mouth football.  I am excited we are playing a team like that because we have talked about being more physical.  This is a perfect opportunity to show are the hammer and not the nail,” he said.

 

Published 9/28/16

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More Balance for Ontario

  

          Ontario seems like they have shifted into the right gear as we head to the middle part of the high school football season.

          The Warriors opened up the Northern Ohio League schedule with a (40-14) destruction of Tiffin Columbian last week.

          Coach Chris Hawkins, in his first year at Ontario, thinks the players are understanding the new system, they have been able to limit the turnovers and that is why they are starting to win.  “Way back in the summer people were asking, what is your greatest concern?  I remember saying when we face Lexington will are going to be thinking and not reacting.  Taking nothing away from Lexington we didn’t have a grasp and we were out there thinking.  Tom Herman said that is the best way to make you unsuccessful on the football field.  I think one thing we are getting more comfortable in the system and because was a repeating and refining and we are now starting to play instead of think we are now starting to react instead of think and be a step or two late.  That is one thing and I think the other thing is we have cleaned up the turnover battle.  We lost that battle to Lexington 5-0 and Clear Fork 2-0.  I am telling you when you are down 7-0 you going to be 0-2.  These last two games we have won the turnover battle.  I told the kids lose the turnover battle, lose the game, win the turnover battle, win the game.  Our success has been based on those two things,” said Hawkins.

          Ontario (2-2,1-0) plays at Norwalk (2-2,0-1,) who lost to Shelby (29-15) last week.  Hawkins says the Truckers are finding their stride too.  “They are not the Norwalk of old when they used to be the doormat.  They had a great year a couple of years ago and they are building off that.  They are 2-2 and they gave Shelby everything they could handle.  They went to their back up quarterback, but I’ll be honest with you we wasn’t much of a backup, that kid is an athlete.  Their starting quarterback is a good quarterback, don’t get me wrong, but that backup kid brought something totally different to the table.  He is a scat back and he can throw the ball there also.  They are going to be a tough test regardless of who is back there taking snaps,” he said.

          Hawkins says they are still in the mode when they are more concerned with what they are doing and how they are executing rather than the opponent.  “We are kind of focusing more on us.  I know that a lot of people say that, but you don’t do that.  There are times when you are so worried about what other people are doing.  However, with trying to develop this program with these kids I am more worried about what we are doing as opposed to what they are doing.  We have a good grasp on what they want to do.  Again they are a very talented team, however, the keys to this game are going to be the Ontario Warriors,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Do we protect the football?  Do we continue to build from where we left off and continue to refine what we have improved?  Thirdly, I think we need to be a little more balanced against Norwalk and some of these better teams that we are going to play in the “NOL.”  What I mean by that is we are not going to be able to run the ball 70 or 75 percent of the time like we did against Tiffin.  We are going to have to be able to put the ball in the air.  We can do that we were five of six fro two touchdowns.  It’s not that we can’t and I think against some of these tougher opponents we are going to have to air it out a little bit more.”

 

Published 9/23/16

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Last Year of “NOL” Starts with Ontario and Tiffin

  

          Ontario football coach Chris Hawkins will be leading his third different league school into the Northern Ohio League wars starting this week having previous been the head man at both Willard and Galion.

          He believes the “NOL” is going to go out with a bang.

          The Warriors (1-2) got their first win a (59-34) victory at Cardington last Friday.  Hawkins says they were finally able to cut down on their turnovers.  “You know Cardington is a good football team.  They were 2-0 and they handled Galion and in that league I think they are going to get eight even nine wins.  It was a good win for our kids.  Is there more to clean up? Absolutely.  The one thing we absolutely had to clean up we did and that was turnovers.  We were minus seven after the first two games.  We did not have a turnover and also got our first one for the year.  I am very happy with the progress.  I am pleased first of all with “W” and after that we cleaned up the turnover issue,” he said.

          Judd Lutz takes over this year as the head coach at Tiffin (1-2) and even with a loss to Ashland (38-21) last week they seem to have gotten better each week.

          Hawkins understands the tradition of the Tiffin program.  “In the “NOL” if you think over the last two decades the team that stands out as the most consistent is Tiffin Columbian.  There are other schools that won the league, but they were there year after year after year.  They are tradition rich.  Watching them on film they have talent.  What they are trying to do now is find something to hang their hat on,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We have watched three different films and they have been in three different defenses.  They are trying to figure it out.  The “NOL” has been a great football league, but I think everyone would agree the last couple of years it has been down, but man oh man is the “NOL” back this year.  The last year of its existence it is going to be a battle each and every week.  We are going to have to play well and again cut those turnovers down.”

          Both teams have shown some flashes of good play this year, but not consistently enough, especially up front and Hawkins believes that is where the story is going to be told on Friday.  “Do you need to have speed? Absolutely.  Do you need to have athletes and playmakers?  Absolutely.  I know all coaches would say it you could only give me one thing then give me a big, physical offensive and defensive line because if you have a big, physical offensive and defensive line you can get bye without having a ton of playmakers.  That is where it all starts.  Why we struggled the first couple of games is our offensive line was getting dominated and it was nice to see on Friday we kind of dominated the line of scrimmage.  They have playmakers, we have playmakers.  We need our playmakers to make plays, but this game is going to be determined in the trenches on both sides of the ball,” said Hawkins.

 

Published 9/13/16

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Better Mental Approach Key for Ontario

  

          After a second inconsistent performance of the season, the Ontario Warriors have to have a better mental approach if they are going to start winning football games.

          Their next test is Friday night at Cardington (2-0) in non-conference play.

          Last week, the Warriors (0-2) spotted Clear Fork a three score lead before making it a game in the second half, but losing (21-14) to the Colts.

          Coach Chris Hawkins says their inexperience and the fact they are learning a new system is costing them.  “It was definitely a tail of two haves.  We came out and offensively we re just struggling up front.  We have made three or four changes already and we are going to make a few more.  We are just trying to find the boys up front that can handle this system.  It is kind of work on progress up front and that is kind of hurting us.  Our quarterback Trey (Jordan) is very, very talented, but that is the one position where you have to have experience.  He is not only learning to play the position he is also learning a new system,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “As good as he is he is a work in progress.  I think he has a big upside to him as well.  In the first half for the first time all season long our defense really struggled.  We made some adjustments at halftime and shut them down.  The same thing offensively we made some adjustments in the second half.  I think if we would have had another four, five more minutes I really like our chances to tie it up and send it to OT.”

          A solid mental approach is very important to a football team and right now Hawkins says they aren’t getting that, at least not consistently enough.  “I think the tough thing about taking over a program is not just the x’s and o’s of a new system, but I have learned sometimes it is harder to break bad habits than it is to teach what you expect of them.  So, not only are we teaching what we expect of them on and off the field, but we also have to break several bad habits.  I think that is what we are getting caught up in.  We are putting in so much time erasing certain bad habits, whether it is fundamentals, whether it is techniques, whether it is how the kids played last year.  So, we are putting in so much time getting rid of these habits.  Lots of times we go out and practice like we want to be and then we revert back to old ways.  I have seen that happen the last two weeks.  We just need to continue to battle, break those habits, and persevere,” said Hawkins.

          Cardington beat Hawkins’ old school, the Galion Tigers (35-14) last week.  Hawkins says they have good talent and are well coached.  “Jerry Williams, I know him fairly well.  I tried to get him to come to Galion and coach for us.  I didn’t work out unfortunately.  I was really high on him because he is a very knowledgeable coach and he is doing a great job there.  The thing about them they about 70 percent of the time they want to put the ball in the air.  He coached at the collegiate level for a while.  They run the spread, but it has a little more of the college fair to it,” says Hawkins.

          The coach says they respect Cardington, but really their goal this week is to improve at executing their stuff.  “I know I have said this before, but right now I am more concerned about the Ontario Warriors than the Cardington Pirates because, no disrespect to them, they are a good football team, they are undefeated, but if we don’t correct some of things that we need to get corrected it doesn’t matter who we play on Friday.  So, first and foremost weed need to correct things form our standpoint.  If we do I think we can have success regardless who we play,” he said.

 

Published 9/05/16

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Ontario Has to Get Out of its Own Way

  

          Ontario committed five turnovers on the way to an opening week loss to Lexington and they have to limit those mistakes in order to beat Clear Fork this week.

          Coach Chris Hawkins says they did some good things in a (24-6) loss to Lexington, but those turnovers just killed them.  “We got off to a perfect start.  We scored on the very first play and we held them on the first drive.  The second drive we picked up a couple of first downs and unfortunately had a penalty.  After that first quarter it kind of went a fray.  However, I thought the defense played pretty well.  Our offense put them in horrible positions.  Anybody that follows football knows we had five turnovers, three fumbles and two interceptions, and they had zero.  You are not going to beat an average team when you lose the turnover battle five to zero.  You will be lucky to beat a bad team and you sure aren’t going to have much of a choice at all to beat a good team.  There were other things, but it I had to point to one thing it had to be those turnovers.  Two of those interceptions occurred in our end zone while we were going in for a score,” said Hawkins.

          Hawkins says he was proud of the effort he saw last week for the must part, they just have to quit hurting themselves because they have the talent to be a good team.  “That is what we talked about on Saturday.  90 percent of our kids gave great effort.  There are 10 percent that we addressed and said, hey, we don’t want this kind of effort and I don’t care who you are, a three year starter, whatever, you are going to be on the sideline rooting on younger kids.  For the most part our kids gave great effort,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I think that’s what kept this in the game.  It was 6-6 and we got an interception and we were inside the nine yard line with 1:47 left until halftime.  If we score we can tie it up 12-12 or go up 13-12, but instead we throw another pick and they score on a halfback pass.  I told the kids after we watched film, on defense we didn’t play poorly, kind of bend and don’t break.  We did get beat on the perimeter a couple of times and we got beat over the top twice for two cheap scores.  For the most part our defense played well, especially when we gave Lexington field position time after time after time.  We didn’t play very well offensively.  We had a lot of kids that had missed assignments and we had five turnovers.  If just limit those turnovers so it’s even 0-0 it would have been a 12-12 type of ballgame.  As bad as we were, and as good as I think Lexington is, if we correct some things, we would have been right there with a very good football team.”

          With some changes to the Clear Fork coaching staff, Hawkins knows the Colts are better on defense.  “They are going to be well coached, especially with coach Carroll’s big brother coming over and helping.  I really like Mike Carroll.  When he was defensive coordinator at Pleasant we had some battles when I was at Wynford and some battles when I was at Galion.  I tried to get him on our staff,” he said.

          Clear Fork beat Fredericktown (42-7) in their opener.  Hawkins says the Colts have some kids capable of making the big play.  “They have speed on the edge, a very, very talented quarterback.  But, again we just have to correct those things.  Even before we watched the Clear Fork film we said there are two things we need to do and that is set the edge and not give the big play over the top.  What did Lexington have 480 yards?  I bet you 400 were either perimeter run plays where they got the edge or over the top plays.  We have to get that corrected and if we can do that I like our chances.  I told the kids that coaches smarter than me say you see the most improvement from week one to week two and I certainly hope that is the case for us,” said Hawkins.

 

Published 8/30/16

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Hawkins Not Crazy About Playing Lexington in Opener

  

          Ontario plays host to Lexington Friday night in coach Chris Hawkins’ first game as the Warriors coach.

          It’s been almost four weeks of camp, but Hawkins, installing a new offense and defense, would like to have more time to prepare.  “Every coach in Ohio is saying I wish I had more time.  That’s a given.  However, when you are taking over a new program and you are trying to instill things you are definitely behind the eight ball.  There are things I have normally put in the past and I am trying to set there and not put in those things.  Are we going to have as big package as we normally do? Absolutely not.  I just want to have our kids just play football and react,” he said.

          Offense has been good so far for the Warriors, but Hawkins says their defense has been really good and is ahead of schedule.  “We have had high points on both sides of the ball.  The first couple of scrimmages we scored three or four touchdowns.  Right now, I think it’s our defense that is playing well because we have yet to give up a score.  We didn’t give up a score to Fredericktown, we didn’t give up a score to New London, and we didn’t give up a score to Hillsdale in a half.  So, I would have to say our defense is ahead.  I wouldn’t say our offense is lagging way behind, they just have so much more to put in.  We have been clicking on both sides of the ball, not necessarily on all cylinders, but we are definitely ahead of schedule on the defensive side,” said Hawkins.

          A lot of people are talking about Lexington being one of the “OCC” favorites and Hawkins says the Minutemen have the talent, no question.  “They have a very good football team with a lot of playmakers.  They were struggling for a couple of years, but all of the sudden those kids are juniors and seniors and they have 20 some games under their belts.  Then you add into the mix the Stover kid, who just a freak of nature and you have a darn good football team.  They have a solid group up front and they have lots of athletes.  I don’t want to say it is any one person they are a very, very good football team that can hurt you several ways,” he said.

          Now, Hawkins is not particularly excited about playing Lexington in their first game and it is not because he thinks they can’t win.  “For the community and for the program it is a good way to start the season.  However, as a football coach, to be honest with you, I don’t like it because I think you can get caught up in a lose, lose situation.  What I mean is if you say what a great game, one the better non-conference games on our schedule, old rivalry, the community will play it up to the hilt.  That is fine, but win or lose that can be a trap game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “If you win that was our number one goal and then you get complacent and get knocked off in game two or three.  If you lose we didn’t beat our number one rival.  Just ask Northwestern a couple of years ago, they are 4-0, ranked like 17 in the country, put all of their eggs in one basket, the played Ohio State and came up short and they never recovered.  As coaches we have to make the kids understand, win or lose, it is just game one.  In our program a league championship will always be the first goal and Lexington is not in our league.  There are seven other league games that are lot more important.”

 

Published 8/24/16

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Ontario Must Believe

 

          Ontario wants to be a better football team and is working toward that goal, but their coach says they have to work even harder if they are going to get there.

          Chris Hawkins, in his first year with the school, says the final week of the preseason is going to be pretty important to them.  “I think it takes on even more importance when you are taking over a new program.  Now, it’s even harder.  I am, the community, the school, the kids, obviously, are looking forward to game one, but where has the time gone?  With all we have to do we have eight days, and that is the hurdle for every coach, but when you take over a program that is an even bigger hurdle,” he said.

          The Warriors have looked good so far here in August, but Hawkins says they have to keep their noses to the grindstone because they know the Northern Ohio League is going to be tough.  “You don’t want to get too comfortable and that is what we tell our kids.  I have always kind of played that way.  I have always kind of coached that way.  Be pleased and enjoy the good things, but at the same time never, ever become complacent and satisfied.  We tell our kids that we have come a long way and we are doing good, but at the same time we have lofty goals.  We don’t just want to improve on last year’s season.  Heck 3-7 is improving on last year’s season.  We want to contend for an “NOL” title,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “That’s what these kids need to understand the higher the goals, the harder the work.  Are we putting in more time and working harder than last year?  I don’t know, I think so.  We have to stop comparing how hard we are working to the past.  We need to compare how hard we are working to Bellevue and Shelby because those are the people you need to out work.  Are we doing a nice job? Absolutely.  At the same time we still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do and there is still a lot to learn.”

          Hawkins has seen the attitude start change with the Warriors, and they have had success in scrimmages, but he says they have to continue to get better every day.  “I think the first two scrimmages were critical for us.  The scrimmage to me is just a glorified practice, but once again when you are taking over a new program it could turn your season around either way.  For us to come out there and have some success in out two scrimmages is a positive thing.  At the same time our kids need to understand we have a lot bigger opponents coming up.  Are we proud of how we have played in our two scrimmages?  Absolutely.  But, do we need to get better to contend for an “NOL” title?  Absolutely,” said Hawkins.

 

Published 8/18/16

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It’s a New Plan at Ontario

 

          Chris Hawkins takes over this year as the football coach at Ontario High School, a program yearning for success, but Hawkins has seen that before.

          Monday was the first day for two a day workouts and Hawkins was pretty happy.  “The kids are working hard.  They had a good spring season in the weight room and we felt they had a good summer.  To steal an Urban Meyer term we call the summer “the grind.”  It is sometimes not fun to get up at 7:30 on a June or July morning.  We thought we had a pretty good grind and we said now it is the preseason,” he said.

          He admits there will be a lot of learning for the players this year because they will have to get used to a lot of new things.  “I guess my biggest concern in taking over a new program is I really believe we have the skill and talent to contend for an “NOL” title, I really do.  What concerns me a little is how quick can they pick up what they need to know?  That’s my greatest fear.  We have the talent to perform and win an “NOL” title, but because we don’t know it that well, because we are still learning, you don’t want them learning while they are playing football.  That is the biggest challenge for my staff and I is to get this system implemented where the kids know it well enough were they can just react and not think,” said Hawkins.

          Over the last 25 plus years Hawkins has made this sort of transition three other times, taking over programs at Wynford, Willard, and Galion.  Hawkins believes this situation compares to the first two.  “I think it is very similar to Wynford and Willard.  Galion was a different scenario, they were what?  3-77 in eight years.  They were just so horrible.  The kids did buy in, but it took a little longer.  We are not in as bad shape as we were when I took over the Galion program.  That was in the worse shape as a football program that I have ever seen,” he told Swankonsports.com between practices on Monday, “Wynford I thought had a nice senior class coming back, just went 2-8 before because they didn’t have it together.  Willard had a nice senior class coming back even though they were 3-7.  Even though Ontario was 2-8 we have a nice senior class coming back and some very nice underclassmen to intertwine with those upperclassmen.  So, I think personnel wise and talent wise, we are very close to Wynford or Willard that first year.  However, does that necessarily mean we will go 10-2?  That is on these kid’s shoulders because there are a lot of intangibles.  We have the potential to be “NOL” champions and play in the postseason.  We have the potential to do the same things we did at Wynford and Willard.  How physical are we going to be?  It is a whole new ball of wax here.  So, how quickly they pick up the offense and defense is going to be a main key.”

          Hawkins is bringing a new offense and defense, pretty much new everything and he knows there is going to be a learning curve.  “I think they were kind of in a spread last year.  I didn’t look at what they did last year.  I mean that chapter is closed.  I went and watched some film and things like that.  Everything is new.  This is a new offense, new terminology, a new defense, new special teams.  So, everything is new.  However, when I went to Wynford it was the same thing and they picked it up.  When I went to Willard, same thing, we brought in everything new.  We are not keeping anything from the past.  They might have done a few things that we are doing, I’m not so sure, but the terminology is different.  I am a little concerned about that, but it gives me hope we have brought in new offense, new defense, new special teams, new workouts, new mindset to Wynford, Willard, and Galion and the kids bought in and the kids had success.  So, I know it can be done.  I really think if the kids buy in, which they thus far have done, I think we can have the same amount of success we have had at the past schools,” said Hawkins.

 

 

Published 8/02/16

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Ontario Belts Columbian

 

          Ontario advanced to the sectional final with a (16-2) destruction of Tiffin Columbian in the opening round of the division two tournament on Tuesday evening.

          They scored seven runs in the second inning and never looked back.  Lauren Musille had three hits and sister Lindsay and Lexi Augustine added two for Ontario.

          Coach Chris Musille says he believes they are starting to peak at the right time.  "It seemed like our bats came to life (Tuesday) night.  We had good defense, minimal errors.  We got good pitching.  I thought the whole game pretty much came together.  It was a good night for us," he said.

          Lauren Musille fired a two-hitter for Ontario and her father says she has been throwing well and they have been backing her up with some pretty solid glove work.  "I thought our pitching for the last couple of games has been pretty good.  Actually my youngest daughter is our pitcher, Lauren Musille.  She went nine innings with Norwalk the other night and we ended up losing on an error in the ninth, but pitched a good game there.  (Tuesday) night she threw a one-hitter against Tiffin Columbian.  It helps to have good defense behind her," said Chris Musille.

          Ontario is part of the tough Northern Ohio League and coach Musille says he thinks they have been tested coming into the tournament.  "We really had some problems with Bellevue this year.  We played Norwalk well.  We should have spilt with them, but took them to nine innings the second game.  They are a very good team in our league, as well as Bellevue.  We have played one game with Shelby so far," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, "We played a very good game and won 10-1.  We got good pitching and good defense in that game, so that really helped as well.  We do have a make up game with them next week, so we have another tough test yet."

          Ontario (9-8) travels to Clear Fork (19-5), #3 in the Swankonsports.com softball coaches poll in the large school division, #1 in our new Twitter fan poll, for the sectional final on Friday.  The Lady Colts beat Ontario (12-3) in a regular season game earlier this spring.

          Musille believes this is a game they can win.  "Clear Fork is a very solid team offensively and defensively.  That is going to be a great test for us.  I think if we come out and play good defense and play our game I think we have a shot at beating them, but it will be a tough one and it will take our best game to do it," he said.

 

Published 5/11/16

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Ontario Facing Important Weekend

 

          It could be a big weekend for the Ontario Warriors baseball team or it could be disappointing, it all depends on the outcome.

          They host Lexington, of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, in a big non-conference game on Friday and then finish up two Northern Ohio League games with league leader Bellevue on Saturday.

          Lexington (12-6), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, comes calling on Friday and Ontario coach Dan Gorbett says it could be pretty important in determining how things shake out with the tournament draw, which takes place on Sunday.  "Every game is important as far as getting a seed, especially this year, there are 16 teams, there are no byes and the first eight get homes games, so it is kind of important in that regard.  When it was a at neutral site the only advantage was you got to bat last.  There is a little bit more importance to it.  The Lexington-Ontario game has always been a fun game.  The last several years it has been played by far has been the biggest crowd whether we play at Lexington or at Ontario there is usually a very big crowd for that game," he said.
          When it comes to Saturday Ontario must finish two games with Bellevue.  One in which is tied at 12 in extra innings and in the second Bellevue leads (9-4) in the top of the fifth inning.

          Gorbett believes the games against Bellevue (12-3,6-0), #2 in our poll, are key in terms of their chances for the league title.  "We have three league losses right now and in a lot of years that would automatically eliminate you from league contention, but it is conceivable that even four losses could win the league there is just so much balance.  Bellevue is 6-0.  They just beat Sandusky in two games by one run.  They beat Norwalk by one run.  They have Tiffin twice and Shelby twice and us.  Shelby I think has one league loss, but I'm not really sure.  I know they haven't played a league game in a really long time.  So, everybody is backed up and you just never know what is going to happen," said Gorbett.

          Right now, Bellevue sits in first place in the league with no losses, Shelby has one, Tiffin Columbian has two, and Ontario has three.  Norwalk and Sandusky are good enough to beat any of the first four.  Gorbett says the "NOL" is still up for grabs.  "Now you throw tournament games in there too.  If you get rain outs.  I have been down this road before where a team has a two game lead and they don't win the league.  They end up losing their last three or four, like I said you put tournament games in there.  Baseball is a little bit different because your best team isn't always out there for every league game like it would be for every other sport," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, "If you are playing a team in your league and you have tournament the next day you could be throwing your number three at that team and that team could have been eliminated in the first round and they have their number one.  So, you just never know."

 

Published 4/29/16

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Colts Hold Off Ontario

 

          Clear Fort scored nine runs in the first two innings and then hung on for dear life to beat Ontario (11-10) in a non conference baseball game at American Legion Field on Monday.

          Luke Clark and Gavin Bailey both had RBI doubles in a four run first inning for the Colts.  They then batted around in the second, keyed by Shane Klenk's two run double to take a (9-0) run lead.

          However, the next five innings featured four walks, three hit batters, four errors and countless other miscues for Colts.  It may have been exciting for the fans, but Clear Fork coach Rusty Staab, fresh off a three game suspension due to comments deemed inappropriate by the school administration, says it nearly gave the coaches a heart attack.  "We almost had the deliberators out there between me and (Ontario coach) Dan (Gorbett.)  We decided to go for two to make it an 11-10 game, it was like a football score.  When we got up nine runs and you would think all we have to do if throw strikes, but it is just the opposite," he told Swankonsports.com after the game, "They did nothing but throw balls and bean batters.  Our defense feel apart, but we won.  I'll take winning ugly as opposed to losing awesomely every single day."

          Ontario battled back to score twice in the third and five more times in the fourth to cut it to (9-7) and the game was on.  Luke Gorbett's two run double helped to fuel that five run fourth.  He ended up with four hits and four RBI on the day.

          Ontario coach Dan Gorbett was proud of his kid's resiliency.  "We were down 9-0 and we battle back and it was 9-7.  Hayden Schaffer and Nolan Hatfield did a nice job in relief.  The kids did a nice job of hitting the ball and putting it in play and getting some runs in.  Just a little bit short," he said.

          Clear Fork scored twice in their half of the fourth.  The final run coming on a sacrifice fly by centerfielder Thomas Staab, who had to come out in the top of the fifth due to a leg injury.  Ontario (7-4) had the tying run thrown out at the plate in their half of the sixth.

          The Colts (10-8,4-4) used three pitchers on Monday in Klenk, Lane Belcher and Mitch Dulin and are scheduled to host West Holmes (5-9,4-3) in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Tuesday.  Staab joked he hoping for divine intervention.   "Let's hope it rains.  Chris Spencer is throwing (Tuesday) and we will figure it out from there.  If I have to bring up JV players I will bring up JV," he said.

          With a nine run lead, Staab was hoping to save some pitching.  "You think let Shane go about 45 pitches and maybe Lane for an inning and maybe I can get Jarrod Smith and some other guys in.  It just didn't work out that way," he said.

 

Published 4/26/16

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Ontario Just Needs to Relax

 

          Ontario has played three Northern Ohio League games this week and they are still looking for their first win. 

          They have been making some uncharacteristic mistakes for one of the more consistent programs in North Central Ohio.

          They held an (8-0) lead Monday at Bellevue and allowed the Redmen to storm back and tie the game at 12 before the contest was stopped due to darkness.  The lost (13-0) to Sandusky on Tuesday.  Then played Bellevue again Thursday and the Redmen were leading (9-4) in the fourth inning when the rains came.

          Hall of Fame coach Dan Gorbett says they have kind of been in a funk all week.  "It hasn't been a good week.  It has been a rough week for us.  We are on a downward slope.  We have to get it turned around quickly.  We had a makeup game Monday with Bellevue that ended in a 12-12 tie and we haven't gotten out of the funk since that happened," he said.

          Ontario made six errors on Thursday and Gorbett says they weren't making the fundamental plays that you have to make in order to win games.  "We are searching for answers and we just need to relax.  Our defense has been horrible this week and that has been our strength all year.  (Thursday) we just had some really bad errors," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, "Some errors are tough plays and you make an error.  There were two guys that were picked off and we couldn't convert them to outs.  It was just an ugly outing from that standpoint.  I think we are just uptight and pressing.  We just need to take a deep breath, relax, and play, and get on a streak again."

          The schedule does not get any easier for the Warriors (6-3,1-3) as they play at Sandusky in a rematch with the Blue Streaks on Friday and Tiffin Columbian in a league game next Tuesday.  Plus, they play "OCC" powers Clear Fork and Lexington and "N10" leader Wynford.

          Gorbett says sometimes kids just try too hard.  "When you make a mistake you play not to make another mistake and that is the worst thing you can do.  It just all kind of rolls into one.  Everybody it affects.  We just need to snap out of it and have a good game and get going again," he said.

 

Published 4/22/16

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Ontario Manufactures Win

 

          Ontario collected only three hits on Thursday, but they were able to come up with a (6-4) win over Willard in Northern Ohio League play to even their league record on the season.

          The Warriors (4-1,1-1) had not played since they lost to Shelby (2-1) in 10 innings on April 5 and veteran coach Dan Gorbett says that is a long time between baseball games.  "It had been week ago Tuesday since we had played, so nine days.  That has not happened too much in my career where you have that long of a span between games," he said.

          However, we was confident that his players were going to be ready to go when they took the field on Thursday.  "The kids have been really good inside, except Monday or maybe Tuesday, but they have been really good.  They worked hard an didn't complain and got it done.  There is not much you can do about it, so you don't worry about it.  You have no control over that everybody else is in the same boat.  Some people adjust to it more than others," he said.

          It was not a day when Ontario hit the ball very well, but Gorbett says they did a nice job of finding ways to get runs across the plate.  "They actually out hit us.  Their pitchers hit us like four times, so we got people on base that way and quite few of those scored.  We scored on a double steal, a sac fly.  We scored a run in the first inning without having a hit.  We had a walk, a stolen base, and two ground balls and got a run," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, "We always talk about having good at bats and doing something positive.  In the first inning we had that with our two hole hitter Gorbett and our three hole hitter Jackson both hit ground balls, moving the runner up, and then Jackson got an RBI ground ball.  We did a pretty nice job of situational batting."

          Ontario will be back in action on Friday in "NOL" play when they host Tiffin Columbian (4-2,1-1) and they tangle with league leader Bellevue on Monday.  Gorbett says they have solid pitching depth and he thinks they will be able to handle a busy schedule.  "We are hoping here in the future to get Ridge Jackson, who pitched two really good games for us, back from injury.  That was the one good thing about the bad weather it gave him some time to heal.  So, hopefully we will get him back soon.  We don't have any overpowering pitchers, but we feel we have five guys that can keep us in the ballgame and we play good defense.  So, even though they out hit us (Thursday.)  Willard earned their runs, they hit the ball, they are a much improved team.  They are going to win some games going forward here," said Gorbett.

 

Published 4/15/16

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Ontario Has to Ready

 

          Ontario lost their Northern Ohio League opener to Shelby on Tuesday, but the Warriors know they are still in the league race.

          They are scheduled to play at Sandusky on Friday if the weather permits.

          Veteran coach Dan Gorbett has been around the block several times and he knows this is going to be a good "NOL" race with a lot of tight games.  "In the "NOL" Sandusky beat Perkins 3-2, Bellevue beat Norwalk 5-4, we lost to Shelby 2-1, and the blowout was Tiffin beat Willard 5-3.  When you talk about a balanced league, I know it's a coaching cliché to say they are all big, but every game is a game that is going to be a toss up.  We lost 2-1 in 10 innings and I told the kids that you better get used to close games because it looks like all season is going to be like that," he said.

          Ontario lost (2-1) in 10 innings to Shelby on Tuesday and coach Gorbett says right now they aren't hitting the ball well enough, but he believes they have get that fixed.  "We struck out too many times.  They only struck out four times and we had three errors in that game.  We played some outstanding defense, we made some really good plays.  Our pitchers did a really nice job of throwing strikes.  Maybe Jake Gleason had three walks, which is not characteristic of him, but he was just missing.  It wasn't like we were going 3-0 or 4-0.  The pitchers did a nice job.  It is just what I have been telling you all year our hitters have to get going here.  I think they will it is just a matter of getting confidence and getting comfortable, which Mother Nature is making difficult for us," said Gorbett.

          Ontario wants to play Friday, but it looks like they are going to be shut down again by the weather.  Gorbett says that forces them to make some tough decisions when it comes to their pitching staff.  "Our coaching staff just talked about that (Thursday.)  In March you get your pitch count up and your arms are in shape and then you don't play.  It's hard to say, okay go throw another seven innings in the gym because the weather may not be as bad as they are calling for and you have play another game, so he has to have his arm ready," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, "A lot of our pitchers were ready to go two and half weeks ago and haven't been able to get on the mound except for an inning or two.  We had some guys throw 50, 60, 70 (Thursday) and if we don't play (Friday) we will have some more guys try to get their pitch count up.  You have to keep their count up and keep their arm in shape.  The bad weather really does mess that up."

 

Published 4/08/16

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Ontario Good, Needs to Get Better

 

          Ontario has won all three of its baseball games so far, but they face their stiffest challenge of the season when then play at Bellevue in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday afternoon.

          The Warriors have wins in a doubleheader last Saturday against Mansfield Senior (2-1) and (13-3) and then beat Crestline (10-0) on Tuesday, all in non-conference play.

`        Veteran coach Dan Gorbett says their pitching and defense has been really good so far.  "In our scrimmages and our games we have been playing very good defense and our pitching has really been solid.  We haven't been blowing everybody away, but pitching is about changing speeds.  The hitting is traditionally always behind early.  It needs to pick up a notch if we are going to beat teams like Bellevue and Sandusky," said Gorbett.

          The hitting hasn't been as good for the Warriors so far.  Gorbett says it is a matter of finding confidence and once a couple guys do they can start rolling.  "We talked (Thursday) that it is about relaxing and not everything is on you.  When you start hitting and then you relax and I think there is a lot of truth in that.  You can give each other confidence and just get rolling.  We are not quite there yet, but I think we have that potential," he said.

          It's a key early season game in the "NOL" on Friday, weather permitting, as Ontario (3-0,0-0) travels to Bellevue (4-0,0-0,) the defending league champion.  Gorbett says he is not surprised that the Redmen are good again this season.  "They had the best JV team in the league.  They lost seven starters off a very good team, but there are a lot of good young kids in that program, so I am not surprised about how well they have done so far.  I said earlier in the year they were kind of the dark horse because everybody was counting them out because they graduated seven, but I certainly an not," he said.

          It's an important game for both teams on Friday, but Gorbett says it is not a make or break situation either.  He says win a lose you have to move forward.  "I think whoever wins will get a confidence boost, but it's a long season.  If you win, you build off of that, but if you lose there is still a lot of baseball to be played.  I know it's a coaching cliché, but you really do just take them one game at a time and try to do your best and move on to the next game.  It's a short season, but it's a grind because you are playing a lot of days in a row and that can wear on you mentally," said Gorbett.

          Ontario plays Shelby, Tiffin Columbian, and Sandusky in league games next week.

 

Published 4/01/16

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Ontario Wants that Title Back

 

          Ontario won the Northern Ohio League baseball title in 2014, but finished a game back last year.  They want it back.

          Coach Dan Gorbett says in order to finish in the top spot they have to get good pitching.  He says they have a start.  "It all starts with pitching and we lost our top two pitchers from last year.  We have two guys that have done a good job in our non league games in Ridge Jackson and Alex Vrendenberg.  They were 3-0 and 4-0 last year.  So, they will have to step up their game and be an elite pitcher for us.  Alex is coming off basketball, so he is a little bit behind.  Ridge has looked really well in the gym," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "So far, the hitting has looked really good.  I am pleasantly surprised where we are at in hitting.  We have several lettermen back from last year in the field.  Defensively I think we are going to be pretty solid.  That is always important that you have pitchers that don't have as much game experience as you would like."

          Ontario has tremendous success since Gorbett became their coach and he says they believe they can win and that attitude prevails in their system.  "You try to develop a culture of winning.  Anything but that is not acceptable.  I really do think our baseball program has been that way.  Two years ago coming from the "NCC" to the "NOL" was a huge year when we came in and won the "NOL."  I think that goes back to senior leadership and just the culture of the team that was expect to win and we are not intimidated.  Last year we fell a little bit short.  This year the goal going in is to win the "NOL," he said.

          Bellevue was the league champion last year.  Ontario finished a game back.  Gorbett says in the next to the last year of the "NOL" it is going to be a fight to the finish.  "Tiffin has their one and two back, Shelby has their one and two back.  Just because of that you have to put them at the top.  Everyone else has people coming back.  They are well coached teams.  I think it is going to be a league that if you don't bring your "A" game you are going to get knocked off.  The winner of the league could have two, three, even four losses because of the balance of the league," he said.

 

Published 3/17/16

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Sandusky Edges Ontario in Districts

 

          Sandusky made two three pointers on consecutive possessions in the final three minutes and six of six free throws in the final 54 seconds and beat Ontario (57-54) in a division two district semi-final at Galion High School on Thursday night.

          There were 10 lead changes and five ties in a game that was close the entire way.  "Every time we play Ontario it is a battle.  We got one more bounce than they did.  We made some free throws down the stretch and a huge shot by Jayrese at the top when we were down one and Keith hit a couple of big shots.  It is more than just numbers our guys that came off the bench, everybody did such a fantastic job.  I am proud of our kids.  I am proud of our staff.  We have a great coaching staff over there.  I am just extremely happy that we are coming back to defend our district title," said Sandusky coach Colin Irish.

          With his team down two, district player of the year Jayrese Williams drilled a three from the top of the key under pressure to give the Blue Streaks a (48-47) lead with 2:47 to play.  Ontario's Quan Jackson made a pair of free throws to give the lead back to Warriors (49-48) with 2:17 left, but Keith Williams responded with a three from the right baseline to give the Streaks an advantage (51-49) they would never relinquish.

          The two teams had shared the Northern Ohio league title, each winning on the others home floor.

          Ontario coach Joe Balogh says he was proud of his kids effort.  "Anytime you end a season it is tough.  To lose a close game is always tough in the tournament.  Give Sandusky a lot of credit, they made some big plays down the stretch.  Jayrese's three was big, probably the biggest play of the game.  I can't fault our kids effort," he told Swankonsports.com after the game, "We didn't play our best, but we gave great effort.  We had ourselves in position to win the game, but sometime it just comes down to making that play.  Sandusky made one more play than we did."

          Ontario took a (7-2) lead on Trey Jordan's three with 4:59 to play in the first quarter, but Sandusky caught them at 7 and took a (9-7) lead on Cavon Croom's driving layup.  Ontario would not be in the lead again until Jackson Todd's field goal (38-36) with 3:12 to play in the third quarter.

          Jayrese Williams lead Sandusky with 18 points, Keith Williams added 14.  Corey Thomas had 20 for Ontario and Jordan chipped in with 15.

          Sandusky plays Lexington (23-2) in the district final on Saturday afternoon at Galion.  The Blue Streaks beat Lexington in overtime in last year's district semi-final.  "I can't think about Lex right now.  They are big.  It is going to be an interesting game.  They have been very tough all season.  We have some tough kids here too.  We are looking forward to the challenge.  I am sure they think they owe us because of what happened last year.  The kids have done the hard work already and we will see what happens Saturday afternoon," said Irish.

 

Published 3/02/16

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Rubber Match With Ontario and Sandusky

 

          They both won each other's floor this season in Northern Ohio league play and the rubber match between Ontario and Sandusky is in the division two district semi final on Wednesday night at Galion High School.

          Ontario (20-3), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, rallied from a (19-8) first quarter deficit to beat Vermilion (64-56) last Friday at Willard High School.  Coach Joe Balogh says they kept their focus.  "We didn't get rattled and I think that is the sign of a good team.  We have kind of bend through a lot of things this season with some really tough basketball games.  Our kids have been a pretty focused group.  Not that you want to get down 19-8 at the end of the first quarter, but I though our kids were poised and they stayed within themselves and played with a lot of confidence.  I thought that really showed throughout the rest of the game," he said.

          Sandusky (18-3), #3 in our final poll, hung on to beat Shelby (60-59) as the Whippets missed the final shot last Friday.  Balogh says they have outstanding guards that they have to keep out of the paint and off the glass.  "Their guard play is probably the strength of their team.  They play really four guards.  They can really handle the basketball.  The strength of their team is when they can just grab it off the defensive glass and beat you down the floor in transition or they are able to create some offense from their defense.  The big thing I think you have to do is you have to keep them out of the lane, keep them from getting to the basket on their dribble, because they have guys that can just really finish at the glass, really finish well," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "So, that is going to be really important.  The first game they really hurt us on the glass.  Even the second game they kind of hurt us on the glass because they are so athletic.  Our emphasis defensively has to be one get back in defensive transition and keep the ball out of the lane and be able to finish plays by rebounding the ball at the defensive end."

          They want to get down the floor and gets some easy looks, but Balogh says when in the half court they must get good movement to get good shots.  "We are going to look to attack them with their defensive transition, but I think in the half court they do such a good job of switching screens that you have to really move the basketball and make them move a little bit more because if you just stand then switching becomes pretty easy.  If you have good ball movement and player movement with that then switching becomes more complicated.  You have to be able to read screeners and receivers when they switch," he said.

          Sometimes in district games like this there will be an unsung hero.  Balogh says all kids need to take advantage and make a play if the opportunity presents itself.  "That is why we are both pretty good basketball teams.  Even for Sandusky it hasn't Jayrese (Williams) all year.  He has been a big key for them, but they have had other people step up.  We have had other kids step up at crucial times in big games also.  It will probably be similar tonight that you can have somebody that doesn't start the game, or somebody you don't know, of somebody coming off the bench is probably going to make a play that may make a big difference in the game.  That is part of the excitement of tournament that you have kids when their opportunity becomes available that they are able to make a play and make a difference in the game," said Balogh.

          In tight games you tend to focus on what happens at the end, but Balogh reminds there are big plays to be made at any time in the game that have an impact.  "It is probably going to be the team that plays the most consistent for 32 minutes.  It may come down to a play at the end of the game, but their may be a play in the first two minutes of the game that may make a difference also.  I think if you take a look at the Sandusky-Shelby game, the play at the end of the third quarter where they bank in a three from half court ended up being a tremendously big play.  Plays like that sometimes you look at the end of the game, but there are many plays throughout the game that are going to be big plays.  We tell out kids that you just have to be able to go to the next play whether it is a good possession or a bad possession .  If we have to a bad possession you have to be able to forget about it and move on and if you have a good possession you want to make sure you build on that.  That has kind of been our emphasis this week as we build for this game," said Balogh.

 

Published 3/02/16

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Warriors Must Handle Pressure

 

          Ontario, the Northern Ohio League co-champ, plays its first tournament game on Friday night at Willard High School as they play Vermilion in a second round game in division two.

          The Warriors (19-3), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, has won their last 12 and have lost a game in almost two months.

          Veteran coach Joe Balogh says they are excited to have 6'4" Andrew Rathburn back in the lineup for them.  "We have played really well since the first of the year.  We have Andrew Rathrurn back, which we hope is going to continue to be a big boost for us.  It gives us some more depth and size inside.  So, we are excited about getting to the tournament and kind of seeing what we can do.  It's not going to be easy, but we are excited about the possibilities that is has for us," he said.

          A key to the Warriors season is their versatility on offense.  Balogh says they have seen a lot of different defenses and they expect that the Sailors are going to try and trap them.  "We would like to play a fast paced game, but the last couple of games we have played have been more of a slow paced possession by possession game and we have done pretty well with that.  We anticipate that Vermilion is going to try and pressure us a little bit, trap us and speed the game up.  I don't think we will be afraid of that," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We just have to make sure we do a good job of recognizing where traps are coming from and making the appropriate reads and the appropriate passes out of it and attacking that pressure.  The tournament presents some different scenarios that happens over time.  We just have top make sure we are prepared for really anything that happens.  Really we just have to play."

          Vermilion (14-9) beat Huron (42-37) on Tuesday night top advance in the tournament.  Balogh says they have excellent guard play and want to pressure you and trap a lot on defense.  "They play a really good schedule and their losses have been close losses.  I think their worse loss was to Lorain, which is a very good division one team.  Their guard play is their strength.  They have three guards that handle it really well and two of them can really create their own shot and shoot the three.  They have a post kid that is only about 6'1", but he will step out and shoot it.  What the try to do is reach havoc with what they do defensively.  Their ball pressure, their ability to trap people, and turn people over.  When they have been able to shoot the three affectively that has been when they have been most affective.  (Tuesday) night they didn't shoot the three very well and almost shot themselves out of the game at times late.  They play with a lot of confidence and they will be a difficult test for us in the sectional final," said Balogh.

          Ontario has faced a lot of teams that feature a similar defense and Balogh think they will be ready for it.  He says they just have to play their best.  "I don't think our kids are really fearful of anything.  At tournament time it comes down to being able to play with great effort and great energy and not make a lot of mistakes.  That is what we have got to do.  We have to play with great effort and great energy on both ends of the floor.  Eliminate those mistakes that really aren't forced mistakes and play.  That is the exciting part about the tournament you have to play, there is no coming back and reevaluating and planning for the next game.  You have to got to make sure that you are able to play the game and make adjustments during the game when you are not playing well," said Balogh.

 

Published 2/25/16

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Ontario Plays For a Title

 

          This is the third season the Ontario Warriors have been in the Northern Ohio League and a win at home on Friday night over Willard would give them no less than a share of a third straight title.

          The Warriors put themselves in that position with a come from behind (43-39) win at Norwalk on Tuesday night.  Trailing by four entering the fourth quarter, coach Joe Balogh says they didn't panic.  "We were pretty fortunate.  Steve (Gray) did a great job of getting the game at pace that Norwalk wanted to play at.  We didn't do a very good job of keeping them off their offensive glass.  I think they had 16 second chance points and that was a huge difference in the game," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We could never get the game going at a pace that we like.  It was more of a half court game with them taking 25 to 30 seconds off the clock with a possession.  When you get a stop and don't finish it with a defensive rebound it makes things tougher.  But, I give our kids a lot of credit.  We hung tough, we didn't panic and we made enough plays down the stretch that we were able to win a tough game on the road."

          This was not the first close game the Warriors have won this year and because they have been there before, and cover situations in practice, Balogh says they are ready to execute.  "We spend time each week in practice trying to work on special situations.  We have won our share of close games this year and I think it is because of that preparation we have put in in practice our kids don't panic and that has been really, really good for us," he said.

          Ontario (18-3,10-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, hosts Willard (6-14,2-9) on Friday.  Balogh says Willard goes as district player of the year Conner Robinson goes.  "The Robinson kid has had a great year for them.  Their success depends on how well he scores, so we have to do a really good job of making his looks at touches very, very difficult.  If he starts to make shots then it makes it easier for everybody else to make shots.  That is going to be a big, big key for us.  The have nothing to lose and we have a lot to lose with a share of the league title on the line.  I think they will play very, very loose and hopefully we come out really ready to play on Friday being the last game of the season and our last home game," said Balogh.

          Ontario beat Willard (84-52) on January 15, but Balogh says the Flashes have nothing to lose.  He says his kids have to be ready to play.  "We told our kids right after we were able to beat Sandusky on the road that the target was going to be on our back.  So, you want to be in those positions.  You don't want to be the team that is coming in having really nothing to play for.  Hopefully our kids really understand that.  You don't get that many chances.  We have been very fortunate that we have been able to have part of the "NOL" title for two years in a row.  To be able to grab it for a third year in a row would really be a statement for our kids and our program," he said.

 

Published 2/18/16

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Defense Carries Warriors

 

          Ontario hasn't lost a basketball game in six weeks and they continue to find ways to win.

          Last week, their offensive execution wasn't the best in wins over Tiffin Columbian (65-54) in league play on Friday and Galion (46-44) in non-league play on Saturday, but coach Joe Balogh says their defense was pretty good both nights.  "We weren't as good offensively as maybe we have been the last two weeks, but both nights we felt our defense was pretty good.  Against Tiffin we were able to turn them over 25 times and that is always a positive.  Anytime you play through the second round of the league it is going to be different than the first time.  I thought Tiffin's offense was really, really good.  They ran a lot of really good stuff to the Durham kid that we initially struggled with.  Our defense was pretty good and it was good again on Saturday night even through we weren't as good offensively," he said.

          In the Galion game, Balogh says they almost let it get away, but again their defense saved the day.  "We wanted to speed them up and get it out of Houston Blair's hands and we had a difficult time doing that.  He did a great job of just directing their offense.  We spread it out a little bit in the fourth, but again our old nemesis not consistently making free throws hurt us a little bit.  They actually had a shot at the buzzer to win or tie the game.  Anytime you give up just 44 points in a game you have to be pretty pleased with your defense," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Our defense was good, we just thought from an offensive standpoint we weren't really efficient.  Some nights you are going to have that, but if you have a mentality of being a good defensive team that will carry you through and that was kind of one of those games.  We were a little bit lucky, but our defense was good all night, so we were not displeased with that."

          Ontario (16-3), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, the Northern Ohio League co-leader, does not play a league game this week, but they do host Mansfield Christian (11-6,) of the Mid-Buckeye Conference on Saturday.

          Balogh says the Flames are going to make them execute.  "John (Kurtz) doesn't do a lot of complicated things.  They are really going to guard you hard in the half court and just get in passing lanes and make things difficult from an offensive standpoint.  They have a pretty good balance, but I think their guards are their strength McPeak and Mount are really good.  The Mitchell kid has really shot the ball well from the three. They have two big posts inside that they rotate that will bang you around.  We went over there last year and fortunately won in overtime.  John does a great job of just getting his team prepared and even though they play Friday night they are going to be very prepared and excited about coming to our place to play," said Balogh.

 

Published 2/11/16

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Ontario Really Clicking

 

          Ontario is playing as well anyone in this part of the state right now and big reason why is the focus they have been playing with.

          Post player Andrew Rathburn injured his foot around Christmas and the Warriors lost their first two games without him to Madison and Lexington, but since that time they have won seven in a row.  Coach Joe Balogh says have been focused in both their preparation and their game execution.  "We think we have taken steps not just every week, but every day to get better and I think that is a credit to our kids coming into practice with a great focus.  Maybe some of that focus was do to the injury to Andrew (Rathburn) and we got out of our comfort zone a little bit because he wasn't there and we knew the guys where going to have to step up.  Our kids have done a good job of that.  They really have been focused in practice pretty much throughout this run and that focus has paid dividends in how we have played," said Balogh.

          The veteran coach says they haven't ask kids to do a lot of different things, but rather get better at what they were already capable of doing.  "We didn't ask anybody to do anything that they weren't capable of doing.  I think some kids started to understand that they were going to have to a few more things than they had to do in the past, especially from a rebounding standpoint.  I think our guards had to understand that they were going to have to be active in rebounding the basketball.  Our kids have done a good job of stepping up and we are hoping, I don't think it will be this weekend, but hopefully by next weekend, Andrew can be back in our lineup to help us," he said.

          On Friday night, Ontario (14-3,8-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, hosts Tiffin Columbian (6-11,1-6) in an "NOL" game.  The Warriors were (64-43) winners in their first meeting, but Balogh says they better come out with the same kind of focus they have been.  "I don't think we can afford to look past anybody.  We told our kids after we beat Sandusky that now the target is on us and that is the position that we want to be in.  They are going to come in very well prepared.  Their post play is going to be a concern for us and we are going to have to do a good job of giving help in the post and possibly even doubling in the post to get it out of there," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "In think a lot of it right now comes down to how are we going to play?  I think out kids, and even our coaching staff feels, that if we come in and are focused we are going to be a hard team to beat.  But, you never know on a Friday of Saturday night how your kids and going to be.  We think our kids will be really prepared and ready to go on both nights."

          Ontario is at home for Galion (10-7) in a non conference game on Saturday night.  Balogh says they have to do a good job of getting the ball out of the hands of point guard Houston Blair.  "Blair is really a key for them.  He is probably one of the better guards in our area.  The problem is a lot of people don't see him because a lot of their schedule is south of here.  Blair presents a problem for us and we are going to have to do a really good job of one control him and contain him and two try get out of his hands and see if some other guys can handle pressure," he said,

 

Published 2/05/16

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Hawkins New Football Coach at Ontario

 

          Chris Hawkins is the first football coach at Ontario to not be named Scott since the 1990's.

          He is leaving Galion to take over the Warriors football program and try to take them to the top of the Northern Ohio League.

          Hawkins took Galion to four straight playoff appearances, five overall, plus four league titles.   He said he is comfortable with what he accomplished with the Tigers.  "Anytime you move on you kind of look back and see how you did.  If you can look back and say the place that I am leaving is better now than it was when I got there you can hold your head up high and be proud of what you did and feel guilt free to move on.  Looking back at Galion in previous seven years they were 4-66  and had a six or seven year "NOL" losing streak.  They were pretty much the laughing stock of not just North Central Ohio, but pretty much Ohio football.  For the parents to buy into what we were preaching and the players to buy in to what we were preaching, to go 10-0 three years after and four straight playoff berths shows that the parents stuck with it and so did the kids.  We are glad that we brought them some league championships, playoff appearances and we are glad we got that program turned around and headed in the right direction.  Even though I thought this was a great opportunity it was a tough decision.  I feel like a kid out of college again and I am anxious to hit the ground running and I try to get the Ontario program turned around as well," said Hawkins.

          This is Hawkins fourth head football coaching assignment, all in North Central Ohio, at Wynford, Willard, Galion and now Ontario.  He says he is very familiar with the rugged Northern Ohio League.  "I have been in the "NOL."  When I was at Willard we played in the "NOL" and my first year at Galion we were in the "NOL."  I am telling you what there is good football in the "MOAC" though with Jonathan Alder and River Valley and Pleasant, even though they were down this year, but they are a four, five time state champion.  You had to compete.  I am familiar with the "NOL" with the Tiffin Columbians, the Bellevues, Sandusky being added in and now Shelby kind of back on track.  We are going to have our hands full, but at the same time hopefully I have done some of my research," he said.

          Ontario is (13-17) overall since entering the "NOL" and has not competed for a league title as the Warriors have in both basketball and baseball.  Hawkins says he had to encourage more Ontario athletes to play football and he doesn't believe that will hurt other sports.  "They have been mediocre, below average, but there are two many kids not playing football, especially at Ontario.  Even before this all went down I would go watch my nephew play basketball and I am looking out there at the JV team and the varsity team and I am saying does that kid play football?  And the answer is no he doesn't.  There are just way too many kids specializing.  I know coach Balogh and it is a quote, unquote basketball school.  There is no reason that football and basketball can't co exist, it happens all of the time.  One year when I was at Willard I think our basketball team was 19-1 and the following year we went to the playoffs and they went all of the way to the final four.  We were winning league championships in the fall and we were winning league championships in the winter," he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday, "There are the Coldwaters of the world that are dominating in football and good every year in basketball.  When you have someone like Urban Meyer saying these kids shouldn't specialize.  We want the football team to get back to winning "NOL's" and state playoffs.  Maybe we can even help coach Balogh.  He has had amazing success, but I'm sure he would agree we can help take his program up to an even higher level.  I am not just in there for football, but for all Ontario athletics."

          Hawkins we also be teaching at Ontario, which is different than when he was at Galion, and he says that was a factor in taking the Ontario job.  "I wasn't looking to leave, but I am teaching  at Willard.  I really appreciate my principal and superintendent there allowed me to come in early and put my hours in so I could leave as soon as I'm done teaching.  However, it really go hard the last two years when I went to the elementary.  The elementary is on a different schedule, so even with going in early and getting our right after class I was still not getting to Galion until 3:30.  I had a great staff that got it started and it was harder to do in the off season in trying to get there.  It wasn't fair to be always leaving.  I am supposed to stay there until 3:45 and if I do I don't get to Galion until 4:15.  I told the kids it isn't fair when I have these high expectations of you to be at practice on time and I can't be there because of my job.  So, it just got more difficult.  I tried to get into Galion and that just couldn't work.  I am in stage in my life where I can't take pay cuts either with three daughters and whatever.  I had to find a place where if I did make a move I wouldn't have to take a pay cut and that couldn't happen at Galion," said Hawkins.

 

Published 1/31/16

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Ontario Runs Past Shelby; Holds "NOL" Lead

 

          Ontario shot 71 percent in the first half when they raced to a 13 point lead and they went on to beat Shelby (71-60) in a Northern Ohio League game at the "O-rena" on Saturday night.

          The Warriors made 20 of 28 shots in the first half in taking a (45-32) lead and coach Joe Balogh thought they did a good job of running the floor and getting to the basket.  "I thought we were really aggressive offensively.  We talked about we really needed to attack with our transition.  I thought Trey (Jordan) and Quan (Jackson) were really good attacking it off their dribble and then our other guys really ran the floor hard.  When we got some ball movement Jackson Todd and Griffin Niss were really good for us in the first half of taking open shots.  The first half was a big, big key," he said.

          Ontario took as much as an 11 point lead (19-8) in the first quarter on Quan Jackson's lay in with six seconds left in the quarter.  Their biggest lead of the half came at (39-25) on Jackson Todd's three from the left wing with 2:12 left in the half.

          Davey Hipp paced Shelby with 16 points, but Balogh thought they were tough points.  "We weren't as good defensively as we wanted to be because they did a good job of attacking the basket with their dribble.  Our emphasis was we didn't want them to get off and start making a bunch of threes and especially Hipp.  I think coming in he had 37 for the year and probably in the last five games he has had three fourths of those.  A big emphasis was we couldn't lose him," he told Swankonsports.com after the game, "In the first half we lost him off a screen once and I think he hit one off the bounce once.  I don't think he hit one in the second half.  We had Quan on him, we had Griffin on him, we had Jackson on him, and I think those three guys through the season have done a good job when we said this is the guy we have to control.  Those guys each give a little bit of a different look and sometimes I think that can wear people out a little bit."

          Shelby cut the Ontario lead to six at (57-51) with 7:27 to play in the game, but could get no closer.  Coach Troy Schwemley says when they would get within range they couldn't make the big play.  "I felt there were a couple of those where we were quick.  There were times there I felt where we had battled back.  We were more aggressive in the second half and maybe the score was around eight points.  I seemed like every time we had the score where we wanted it we took a bad shot or we turned it over.  The hard part is yes we want to be aggressive and it's not to say we don't want to take a three point shot, but also don't be content when we can get to the paint and the free throw line.  I seemed like every time we had that moment of maybe getting back into the game we weren't able to get those back to back to back possessions.  We weren't consistent there," said Schwemely.

          Griffin Niss led three Ontario players in double figures with 17.  Corey Thomas added 13 and Trey Jordan 11.  Balogh says this is team that shares the ball well.  "They have been unselfish all year.  That is what is really fun about this team and over the last three or four years.  I don't think anyone comes in and looks at the scorebook or the stat sheet and says I didn't get mine, it's we got ours.  That's really good.  I can't really think of a game where we have had selfish plays.  That's a credit to these kids they understand that's how you become a good basketball team," he said.

          Ontario (14-3,8-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, has won seven straight and shares the "NOL" lead with Sandusky.  "I think we had an adjustment period when Andrew (Rathburn) went out.  We are hoping we can get him back and get him back in the flow because I think there was a little bit of difference (Saturday) night.  Shelby did a lot more where they tried to post kids.  Logan (Jones) is pretty good, but you get Andrew in there at 6'4", 210, whatever he is, it gives us a little more physicality in there and he can help us from that standpoint," he said.

 

Published 1/30/16

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Ontario Can't Stop Here

 

          Ontario produced its biggest win of the season when they beat Sandusky last Friday night and moved into a share of the Northern Ohio league lead with the Blue Streaks.

          The Warriors (12-3,6-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Sandusky (62-60) last week.  Coach Joe Balogh says they had great focus and very good execution.  "It was a big win for us.  I think if we have any chance of competing for the league title we needed to win that game.  We had a great week of practice.  We had a great focus throughout the week and we had a great focus as we approached the game.  We didn't do everything right, but we did enough things right that we were able to come out on top.  Now we have put ourselves in position.  After we lost that first game we told our kids they still controlled their own destiny because we would have to play the second round of the league.  Now we have to make sure we stay focused on the task at hand and continue to perform," said Balogh.

          They were able to show Sandusky some new things on offense and Balogh says they made them take perimeter shots.  "We added a few little wrinkles with some sets that we had offensively.  Defensively we needed to get back in defensive transition and not give up easy baskets and we needed to keep their dribble out of the lane and we did an excellent job of that.  I think they made seven threes, but that was something we kind of had to give up.  We felt that if we made them shoot perimeter jump shots and kept them out of the lane we were going to have more success and fortunately that game plan kind of worked," he said.

          Ontario travels to Bellevue (5-9,2-5) on Thursday night for a league game.  The Warriors win the first meeting (65-29,) but Balogh, for many reasons, believes this game will be a better one.  "I think anytime you go on the road in the league and it is even more dangerous when you go on the road in the second half of the league because you have already played that team.  They have had to remake themselves a little bit because their post kid, Seth Linder, has had to have surgery and is out for the year, so they are playing a pretty young lineup.  It's a young lineup that has a lot of potential.  Bellevue is a tough place to play.  It's a long road trip on a Thursday night," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Hopefully our kids have the same kind of focus that we went to Sandusky with because that is what it is going to take.  You can not judge a second game by the first game.  I told the kids the other night at practice that the target is kind of on our backs now.  We are in a situation where we have a lot to lose and other teams don't have a lot to gain and that is a difficult position to be in, but it is the kind of position you want to be in at this point in competing for a league title."

          Shelby (8-7,4-3) will be at the "O-rena" on Saturday night and Balogh says this match-up always produces intensity.  "I think they have won four of their last five and gave Sandusky everything they wanted at Sandusky.  They beat a good St. Pete's team and beat them handily on Saturday.  That is going to be an exciting game for our kids to be in.  Shelby-Ontario is always a game that our students and fans and Shelby's students and fans always get into. So, it will be an exciting atmosphere Saturday at our place," he said.

 

Published 1/27/16

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Ontario in Must Win Situation

 

          If Ontario is to have much of a chance to defend its Northern Ohio League title they must win on Friday night at Sandusky.

          They trail the Blue Streaks by a game entering the second round of action and they do not want to fall two back with five games to play.

          The Warriors put two tremendous performances together last week in hammering Willard (84-52) on Friday and trouncing Norwalk (56-35) on Saturday, both in league games.  Coach Joe Balogh says Saturday night was pretty much a carbon copy.  "We played really well and got off to another great start.  We played really well at both ends of the floor, especially in the first half.  I was really pleased with how we progressed over the weekend," he said.

          Ontario (10-3,5-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, has won its last three.  Balogh says they have been very good on defense and excellent executers on offense.  "We have been solid at the defensive end of the floor.  We have shot the ball well offensively.  I think the credit goes to we are getting the shots within our offense and we are making them.  When you make shots it makes things a little easier.  We have been able to do that, but the important thing is we have to try and continue to get better this week," he said.

          They have been forced to play their last five games without post player Andrew Rathburn, who was their leading scorer at the time out of the post.  Balogh says they have adjusted what they do a little bit.  "We haven't changed a lot in how we attack.  It is just have to have some different people step up.  We have had some of our guys that are starters step up and play a little better.  Logan Jones was coming off the bench and now he is a starter is playing better.  Greg Gardiner has come in and helped a lot in the post.  It is kind of that thing of next man up.  I think our kids have prepared themselves pretty well for the opportunity and some of them are taking advantage of that," said Balogh.

          Sandusky (8-2,5-0), #2 in our poll, is paced by explosive guard Jayrese Williams.  Balogh says he can do a lot of things.  "They are basically now playing five guards, so they are hard to defend from that standpoint because they kind of just get the ball off the glass and put it in your hands and go.  They have a really good go to guy in Jayrese Williams, who had 52 against Bowsher earlier in the year.  He is just a hard match because he can beat you off the dribble to the glass, he can shoot it off the catch from three, he can shoot it off the bounce from three.  You just have to do a great job of controlling him, but if you control him than their other guys become much, much better too.  We have our hands full, but we hope we can make some adjustments from the first time we played them and be better," said Balogh.

          Sandusky won the first meeting (61-47) and Balogh says they have to do a better job of controlling Williams and keep the Streaks off the offensive glass.  "I think we have to convert.  We missed a lot of shots inside, especially in the first half.  They could have made a difference in the game.  I think we have to try and get the ball out of Jayrese's hands a little bit, so he can't just control it.  In the first game I think he had 18 points and eight assists in that game.  The 18 points is pretty good, but the eight assists made everybody better," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "The other thing is we just didn't do a very good job of keeping them off the offensive glass.  They had two guys, Kelsey Jakson and another kid, come off the bench and combined for 16 points and mainly got them off the offensive glass.  We have to do a great job of finishing possessions and rebounding the ball at the defensive end of the floor.  I think that is a big, big key for us."

 

Published 1/20/16

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Ontario Has to Keep Winning

 

          Ontario plays two games in the Northern Ohio League this weekend as they travel to Willard on Friday and host the Norwalk Truckers on Saturday.

          They continue to trail league leading Sandusky by a game.  The Blue Streaks handed them their only league loss (61-47) last month.

          After loosing two games in the "NOL/OCC" challenge to Madison (59-53) and Lexington (57-54) coach Joe Balogh says it was important to get back on track with a (69-41) win over Clear Fork last Saturday.  "We played well it was good that we were able to get back into the rhythm of things.  I think the time off that we had without a game gave a chance that we could work on some fundamental things and also tweak a few things.  Also we dealt with some issues of sickness last week too, especially early in the week.  So, I guess maybe it was good we didn't play Tuesday, or even Friday.  The kids played really well on Saturday," he said.

          Willard (2-8,0-5) has not been having a Willard like season this year, but Balogh cautions that it is never easy to get a win at Bob Haas Gym at Willard.  "I think anytime you go on the road in the league you really have to be aware of how you are going to play.  Willard has always been a tough place to play.  (Conner) Robinson is really the only player they return with significant minutes and they have been in some games and they have just had a stretch in many games, a two to three minute stretch where they haven't played really well and they haven't been able to recover.  The important part for us is be able to go up there and be really ready to play.  Especially I think we need to play well early in the game to try and set the tempo and the tone that we would like to have in the game," said Balogh.

          Ontario (8-3,3-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays at home with Norwalk (6-5,3-1) on Saturday night in a battle between second place teams.  Balogh says the Truckers are always hard to defend in half court situations.  "Steve (Gray) does a great job and they are going to be very, very well prepared.  They run a verity of sets.  The thing with Norwalk is that if you allow them to reverse the ball and run their actions they are going to be really hard to defend," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "One of the things that we have to be able to do is do a good job of not just pressuring the passes, but also be active in the passing lanes, so moving the ball isn't going to be really easy.  If they are able to move the ball they do such a great job of moving people and setting screens that they get people the ball where they need it to score.  That has kind of been their M.O. for many years and Steve's M.O. for a long time.  It is going to be a little contrast in styles.  I think we would like to see the game up a little bit and Steve would like to keep it more of a half court game."

 

Published 1/15/16

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Ontario Dumps Clear Fork

 

          Amanda Nething scored nine of her game high 17 points in the third quarter as Ontario downed Clear Fork (52-32) in a non-conference girls' basketball game on Monday night.

          Clear Fork cut the Ontario lead to (25-22) on Darian Gottfried free throw with 6:38 left in the third quarter, but the Lady Colts would score only four points for the rest of the quarter and trailed (41-26) after three quarters.

          Ontario forced 25 turnovers on the night, 15 in the first half, and coach Sarah Kirchbaum thinks they were affective with their press.  "That is kind of one of our strengths, our speed and our press, so that is what we really looked to do on (Monday) night.  I thought we could get out and pressure them and cause some turnovers.  I thought we did a pretty good job of staying consistent with it.  I thought we did a good job of rotating well out of it, especially through the middle.  I was very pleased with that and their effort," said Kirchbaum.

          They knew what to expect when it comes to the Ontario press, but Clear Fork coach Heidi Roush says they didn't always execute very well.  "We knew it was coming and we practiced for it and I think the girls know what to do they just have lapses.  There were times we moved the ball exactly they way we talked about," she told Swankonsports.com after the game, "We moved the ball with the pass it was very affective and we just had other moments when we just decided we weren't going to do that and we paid the price."

         Ontario plays in the tough Northern Ohio League, which includes the likes of Willard, Bellevue, Shelby and Norwalk, all with more than nine wins on the season.  Kirchbaum feels they can stay with those teams.  "I think we have been a lot more competitive this year.  We still have a pretty young squad.  We are playing with a bit more confidence this year.  I really look forward to the second half of the "NOL."  I think we will be able to surprise ourselves the most just continuing to play hard," she said.

          Gottfried paced Clear Fork with 10 points. 

          Emily Yeager, a transfer from Mansfield St. Peter's, had 16 points in her first game for Ontario on Monday night and Kirchbaum says she can make a difference for them in the second half of the season.  "She is definitely going to help us.  Her and Hanna Holmes, she is going to be able to gives more depth in the post.  They are nice additions for us on the court," she said.

 

Published 1/12/16

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Ontario Working on Getting Better

 

          Ontario hasn't carried too many two game losing streaks over the last three or four years, but that is what they have after losing both of their games in the "NOL/OCC" Challenge last week.

          They lost to Madison (59-53) and Lexington (57-54,) but coach Joe Balogh says they were really two different kinds of games.  "In the games that we played against Madison and Lexington you give both of those teams a lot of credit.  They played extremely well and executed very well.  We really didn't adjust very well to playing without Andrew Rathburn in the first game, but I was really proud of how our kids bounced back and played against Lex.  Our effort was much better on Wednesday than it was on Tuesday," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We did have a lot of breakdowns on defense, especially rebounding the basketball, that would have made a difference in the game.  We shot free throws a lot better, but down the stretch in both games we missed a lot of free throws.  So, that is an area where we still have to get better.  I thought our team really took some strides on Wednesday with the way we came back and played.  Disappointed, but playing two teams, Madison playing very well over the last two weeks, and Lex playing very well all year.  The big thing we have to kind of get better at the things we do.  This week gives us a chance to tweak some things, maybe add some things, but Saturday night is a big game in terms of just getting back on track."

          Ontario does not have and "NOL" game on Friday and Balogh says that gives them some more time this week to work on things that have to be improved.  "Especially with Andrew's injury and the extra time that he can be healed and ready to go this weekend will help us.  The season is kind of a grind.  I told our kids that you kind of break the season up.  You have your preseason where you have your practices and you have done your scrimmages, you come to that Christmas break, that is a little bit of a break in your schedule, then you have this two week span over Christmas that you kind of find out about your team, things are different, you don't know if your kids are staying up late, and now you are kind of in a grind.  We play Saturday, and then we have double weekend, double weekend, and then Thursday, Saturday at the end of the month.  It is kind of a grind, the weather is cold, and it is basketball season.  So, hopefully we embrace the grind of January and really work to get better.  I have been pleased with our practices so far this week.  We just have to continue to get better everyday," said Balogh.

          Ontario (7-3), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays at home against Clear Fork (2-5), of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, on Saturday.  Balogh says likely will be a game determined by tempo.  "Steve (Bechtel) does a great job there.  I saw them play Saturday and they are a young team, but they are a team that plays extremely hard and they are doing what he wants them to do.  A key for us is to get the game at a little bit higher pace than maybe Clear Fork would want it to be.  I think they would like it to be a game where they could control the pace.  That will be the challenge.  Over the years, Clear Fork-Ontario, no matter what the records have been, have been very competitive contests," he said.

 

Published 1/06/16

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Madison Takes Down Ontario

 

          Deion Miller scored all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter, including three of three form behind the three point line, and Mansfield Madison turned a three-point deficit to start the final quarter into a (59-53) win over Ontario on the first night of the "OCC/NOL" Challenge at Lexington High School Tuesday night.

          Rams coach Tim Mergel says his guys showed what they could do against a very good basketball team.  "We are a good basketball team. We just haven't showed it.  I know that is a little cliché to say, but we have kids that know the game.  We have kids that work pretty hard, but it takes games like this to win for us to understand we can be pretty good," he said.

          Madison trailed (47-43) with less than five minutes left before Miller hit three threes in as many possessions to give the Rams a (52-47) advantage.  "Deion made some big shots.  We were able to get him open off some screens and some penetration.  To come off the bench like when he was a starter before was huge for us.  To come in with the confidence to knock them down there wasn't any bigger shots in the game," said Mergel.

          Ontario played without the services of leading scorer Andrew Rathburn and coach Joe Balogh says they needed some other kids to step up and that didn't happen.  "We just needed some other guys to step up and play.  Trey Jordan was really good.  Jackson Todd was really good, but we needed other guys to step up and we didn't do a very good job of that.  We had our chances.  We had it at 47-43 and we didn't extend it out," he said.

          Tyrell Ajian led Madison scores with 19 and Balogh added they didn't do a good enough job of keeping the ball away from him.  "Tyrell (Ajian) is a tough match and he kind of controlled the basketball game.  We were hoping we could get it out of his hands a little bit more," he told Swankonsports.com after the game, "The front of our press was pretty good, but the back of our press wasn't very good.  We gave up too many layups at the back end of our press, so that made it difficult for us to get back in it because you can't give up layups.  Then Miller hit some big threes in the fourth that were key in their runs."

          Ontario guard Trey Jordan scored 17 of his game high 26 points in the first half as the Warriors led (27-26) at the break, but Mergel thought they made things tougher on him in the second two quarters.  "In the first half the Jordon kid killed us, so we faced guard him in the second half, which I thought was the difference.  Cal Rickert and Austin Hallabrin did a great job.  We pride ourselves on our half court defense and (Tuesday) night wasn't any different.  We had to put some stops together.  We came out flat the start the third, but we picked it up," said Mergel.

          Balogh has been happy with how hard his kids have played this year, but that wasn't necessarily the case Tuesday night.  "I just don't think our effort and energy was there from all five positions (Tuesday) night.  A lot of 50/50 rebounds we didn't get and lose basketball we didn't get.  in transition we get deflected from behind, we don't take care of it.  Those are plays that come back and haunt you, especially in a close game.  Madison made those plays and we didn't," said Balogh.

          Ontario (7-2), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays Lexington (9-0), #1 in that poll, and a (55-34) winner over Norwalk Tuesday night, on Wednesday at Lexington.  "We just have got to come back and bounce back.  We play a really good team (Wednesday) night," said Balogh.

          Madison (4-4) plays Norwalk (6-2) inn the first game on Wednesday.

 

Published 12/30/15

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Ontario Meets Two "OCC" Powers

 

 

          Defending Northern Ohio League champion Ontario faces two foes from the Ohio Cardinal Conference in Madison and Lexington on Tuesday and Wednesday at the "NOL/OCC" Challenge at Lexington.

          Ontario stayed a game behind Sandusky and Norwalk in the "NOL" standings with a (64-43) win over Tiffin Columbian last Tuesday.  Coach Joe Balogh says they got off to a great start and that was a key.  "We played extremely well in the first half.  We talked about being able to create turnovers with our pressure and we were able to do that and really played outstanding in the first half.  In the second half we didn't shoot it as well as we did in the first half, but still we were really pleased with our defensive effort overall.  To give up 43 points was a really good effort," he said.

          Coming off two straight seasons when they won at least 20 games, Balogh says he isn't surprised they have won seven of their first eight.  "We are not surprised.  We brought back a point guard in Trey Jordan and a post player in Andrew Rathburn and then four kids that played significant minutes off the bench, so our expectations were pretty high coming into the year.  I am not surprised with what we have been able to do here in our first eight games.  We have battled hard and our kids have had a quick understanding of what it takes to win games and we have been able to do that," said Balogh.

          Ontario (7-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, Mansfield Madison (3-4) on Tuesday night in the challenge.  Balogh says the Rams Tyrell Ajian is the real deal.  "He has had 55 points over the last two games, so he is playing with a lot of confidence.  They played really well in that Massillon tournament.  They beat a Massillon team and then lost by four to a Tuslaw team that made it to the regionals last year and returned everybody on their team.  They are going to come in with no fear of anything that we do," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "With Ajian and Buckley they have two very, very good players that you have to be able to contain.  If those two kids play really well than their other kids seem to be able to step up.  We have to do a great job of controlling those two guys in order to be successful."

          Then on Wednesday, the Warriors take on the unbeaten Lexington Minutemen (8-0), #1 in our poll, on the Lexington floor in the challenge.  Balogh says Lexington is balanced on offense and outstanding in defense.  "They have great balance.  They have a really good post player in Yaussy inside and a very good point guard in Zahn and they surround them with guys that pretty much know their roles.  They have a couple of kids that can stand and shoot it.  The big thing is they defend well.  They play with a lot of passion on the defensive end of the floor.  They playing with a lot of confidence.  We have our hands full on both nights.  It is going to take a great effort on both nights for us to be successful.  Our kids are looking forward to the opportunity to play in this.  It will be a challenge for us, but I think an exciting challenge," said Balogh.

 

Published 12/29/15

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Ontario Has to keep Pace

 

          Ontario travels to Tiffin Columbian to face the Tornadoes in another key game in their quest to defend their Northern Ohio League title.

          They are a game behind Sandusky and Norwalk.  The lost to the Streaks (61-47) on December 4 and they don't play Norwalk until January 15.

          Last Saturday, they played in the WQKT/Steve Smith Classic at the College of Wooster and beat Dalton, of the Wayne County Athletic League (64-55) in third game of the day.

          Coach Joe Balogh says they got off to a good start and then made some free throws down the stretch.  "It was a good experience for our kids.  We jumped out to an 11-0 lead and then Dalton got right back into it and the game was kind of between five and 10 points pretty much throughout the rest of the game.  We got to 10 a couple of times, but we could never stretch that lead out.  I give a lot of credit to Dalton.  Ben Holt was a guy that played in this area a while back.  He has done a great job there.  Their kids just play extremely hard and continue to fight.  We hit some big free throws down the stretch.  We were 11 of 13 in the fourth quarter, so that was key for us," said Balogh.

          The Ontario coach says they have been inconsistent at the line though and that is something they have to continue to work on.  "We didn't shoot them very well on Friday when we were five of 14 on Friday and then on Saturday we went 11 of 13.  I'm no sure what the difference is, but it is something we are going to have to continue to work on, but I was really happy with how we shot them on Saturday.  It just a process of continuing to work at it and get better," he said.

          Tiffin Columbian (4-4,1-1) hosts the Warriors (6-1,2-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, on Tuesday.

          Columbian has a new coach in Travis Kinn, but Balogh says it is pretty similar Tiffin team to what they have seen in the past.  "They are still kind of similar to what they have been in the past.  They have some strong, physical post players.  They really look to stick the ball inside.  They play extremely hard.  They are very physical at both ends of the floor, especially their post players," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "They are still adjusting to a new coach and are 4-4 coming into our game.  Anytime you go on the road in the league it is always going to be a battle.  Over the Christmas break it might be different too, but I think we will be ready to play."

          Sandusky at Bellevue on Tuesday, while Norwalk hosts Willard.  Balogh says the goal for them is to just keep winning.  "We are still in control of our destiny.  We just have to continue to take care of business.  The key thing is you have to prepare as well as you can and put your kids in the best position possible to win the game.  Hopefully the kids execute what you have planned out," he said.

 

Published 12/22/15

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Warriors Making Progress

 

          Ontario, already a good team, made some pretty sizeable strides forward in their win over Bellevue last week and they will need to make a few more as they travel to Shelby on Friday for a Northern Ohio League game.

          The Warriors drilled Bellevue (65-29) last Saturday and the thing that made coach Joe Balogh the happiest was the reduction of their turnovers.  "We were extremely happy with the performance that we had, really at both ends of the floor.  We really, I guess the term is, imposed our will on them a little bit.  We really hadn't prepped a lot this first two weeks because of the schedule that we had had, the time didn't fit into it.  So, we were able to spend time last week preparing our press and that was really good for us.  Even more importantly we were happy with the way we took care of the basketball.  We had 10 turnovers and we played at a fast pace and the decision making we really good, so were happy with that." said Balogh.

          The effort and performance of Ontario last week shows the potential upside this team has, according to Balogh.  "It kind of shows what we are capable of.  We thought our depth played a factor in the game.  We thought we were a little fresher going into the game, especially in the second half.  It shows the potential of the team, but I think this team really understands that we still have a lot of work to do.  We are still really early in the season.  We have got to get better each week and we have got to be a better team this coming Friday than we were last Saturday," he said.

          Ontario (4-1,1-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays at Shelby (3-1,1-1), #5 in the poll, in a "NOL" game on Friday night.  Balogh says the Whippets will press all over the floor and they we attempt a lot of threes.  "They return a lot of kids that played a lot of minutes last year and they are somewhat young.  They have several sophomores that are in the lineup that played as freshmen and they return some juniors and some seniors.  They have a good mix of kids." he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "They are going to try and pressure you into making some mistakes.  They use the three as a big weapon offensively.  We have to be good decision makers with the basketball.  We have to take care of it.  We can't have turnovers that lead to baskets for them.  Then we have to do a great job of getting out on shooters because they just have the ability to make a lot of shots over a short period of time, so defending that three point line is going to be important as we go over there."

          Games involving the Whippets, due to the way they play, tend to have wild swings in momentum.  Balogh says they have to avoid deep valleys.  "You have to play at a consistent level.  With the 8-0, 10-0 runs you want to get on the positive side of that and form a defensive standpoint you want to make sure they don't go on those kinds of runs.  That involves taking care of the basketball and making good decisions with it an then being able to defend what they do.  The big thing for them is you have to be able to defend the dribble and keep them out of the lane, so you don't have to have a lot of help because they love for you to have to help and then recover to their three point shooters.  That is when they are the most dangerous," said Balogh.

 

Published 12/16/15

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Turnovers Hurting Ontario

 

          Trailing by a game in the Northern Ohio League it is a big game for Ontario as they host Bellevue on Saturday night and it could be a milestone for coach Joe Balogh.

          A win would mark the 500th in Balogh's career, all at Ontario.

          Last Friday, the defending "NOL" champs lost their first game this year to Sandusky (61-47), but they responded Saturday night to beat Wooster (64-46) in non-league play.  "Friday we just didn't seem to have the energy that we would like as a coaching staff.  That was kind of addressed after the game on Friday.  We really bought a great energy on Saturday night, but we still have work we need to do, but our energy level for 32 minutes was something we were really happy with," said Balogh.

          Turnovers have been a issue for the Warriors this season and Balogh says they haven't improved much over their first four games.  "We turned it over 25 times on Saturday, but the positive was we forced 21 turnovers, so that margin was only a difference of four.  It has really been an emphasis this week in practice.  We don't want to slow our tempo down, but we are making just some really poor decisions with the basketball and not valuing possessions.  So, it is going to be an emphasis until we get it corrected.  We just have to that," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "When we turn it over 25 times.  Ideally we would like to keep it in that range of 10-15.  That is at least 10 extra possessions that you get a shot and you are hoping you are going to score on maybe 40 percent of those possessions, so that is eight to 10 points you aren't going to get because you just throw the ball away.  That is something we really have to emphasize and get better at and I think our kids will."

          Basketball is about making good decisions with the ball and Balogh says right now they aren't doing that.  "We are just making bad decisions.  It is not doing fundamental things like jump stopping and reading where the open pass is.  A lot of our stuff is leaving our feet and making a decision when we are in the air and things that good basketball teams don't do.  We have to get better with just some of the simple fundamental things.  We believe if you do the little things the big things are going to happen.  At times we don't do the little things well and that is the difference in the game.  It hurt us on Friday night and fortunately on Saturday night not as much.  We are going to try to be the team we can be here and that has to be a priority that we become better decisions makers with the ball," said Balogh.

          Bellevue (2-1,1-0), a (64-27) winner over Port Clinton on Thursday night, comes to Ontario (3-1,0-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com basketball coaches poll in the large school division, for an "NOL" game Saturday night.  Balogh says it is a very important game for the Warriors and he knows Bellevue coach Ed Rich will offer up a challenge.  "He is going to do a really good job at Bellevue.  He has them playing really hard.  They have two post kids, a 6'4" kid in Linder and a 6'6'" kid and then they have three guards.  The guards are all shooting over 80 percent from the free throw line.  He is kind of putting in what he wants to do.  They are a team that we are going to have to be really ready to play because they have good size inside and the guard play has been good the first two games.  So, it is going to be a challenge for us.  Being a home league game, we have already put ourselves behind the eight ball with Sandusky coming in and beating us at home.  The home league games are important, so this is an important one for us," said Balogh.

          When it comes to 500 wins Balogh says it has certainly not been about just him.  "It means I am getting old, that is probably the first thing that I think of.  I have been very fortunate to have some great coaches that have helped our program throughout the years, some great players.  As coach I really haven't won those games it has been players.  Our job as coaches is to prepare them.  Thankfully our kids have bought into the system that we have established over the years here and kind of prove that it works.  It will be neat when the moment happens, but right now it is just kind of another game that we are trying to prepare and win and make our basketball team better this year," he said.

 

Published 12/11/15

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Ontario Faces Two More Tough Challenges

 

          Ontario won two games in the final seconds last week against good teams and this weekend they face two more in Sandusky in "NOL" play on Friday night and "OCC" power Wooster on Saturday.

          Last Friday, Quan Jackson nailed a three pointer at the horn to down Mansfield Senior (52-50) and then Jackson again splashed three straight free throws to beat Mansfield St. Peter's (57-56) on Saturday.

          Coach Joe Balogh says those were good wins, but they know they most execute better.  "There are a lot things we want to do better.  Playing two tough teams on the opening weekend we new there would be some mistakes, but we have to a better job of taking care of the basketball.  We had 21 turnovers on Friday and 17 on Saturday.  The thing is our kids just kept fighting for 32 minutes and they put themselves in position to win a basketball game.  Fortunately we were able to make a play and we were able to win on both nights.  Hopefully, that will give our kids some confidence that when games are tight or even when we are down in games they understand that if you play to the buzzer many times good things will happen," said Balogh.

          Ontario (2-0,0-0) hosts Sandusky (1-0,0-0) in a huge Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.  The Warriors beat Sandusky twice last year during the regular season to win the league title, but the Blue Streaks got them in the district finals.

          Balogh says Sandusky will offer a tremendous challenge for them at the "House that Joe Built" on Friday night.  "They return pretty much everybody except for the 6'8" kid that they had last year.  You anticipate that all of those kids are going to be better.  Jatrice Williams was one of the better players in our league and in the area last year.  He is going to be a load for us to handle.  The Fisher kid I heard just signed a track scholarship at Ohio State and he is very, very athletic.  The thing they possess is the same thing we saw last weekend on Friday night," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "They are going to be very, very athletic and quick with the basketball and they are going to be skilled.  The thing we have to be able to do is keep the dribble penetration out of the lane.  We have to make sure we are getting back in defensive transition so we are not giving up easy layups and try to force them to shoot jump shots with some pressure and then we have to rebound the basketball in order to finish defensive possessions."

          Defensively, the Warriors face a lot tough tasks because Balogh says they can't give up easy looks anywhere on the floor.  "We tell our kids we don't want to give up dribble penetration, but we also don't want to give up open jump shots.  We still want to contest those jump shots.  We have to do a good job of that.  We have to force them to take jump shots, but they can't just be open shots they have to be contested shots," he said.

          Ontario hosts Wooster, who opens their season Friday against Orrville in Ohio Cardinal Conference play, on Saturday night.  Again Balogh says ball handling is going to be a big factor.  "Wooster is a team from the "OCC" so you know they are going to be extremely competitive.  The information we have on them so far is they have pretty good depth.  They lost some key kids from a year ago, but they also return some starters for a year ago.  Its seems like they like to run a trap a lot, both in the full court and the half court.  They forced a lot of turnovers in a lot of their scrimmages.  So, we have to be able to handle that pressure again on Saturday," said Balogh.

 

Published 12/04/15

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Quan Jackson Saves Ontario Again

 

          24 hours after beating Mansfield Senior with a three at the horn, junior Quan Jackson made all three free throws after being fouled shooting a three with 0.6 seconds left to give Ontario a (57-56) win at Mansfield St. Peter's Saturday night.

          St. Peter's sophomore Mason Campbell made one of two free throws with 3.8 seconds left to give the Spartans a (56-54) lead, but Ontario rebounded the miss and called timeout to set up the final play where the Warriors threw a baseball pass three quarters the length of the floor, which was poked away from Corey Thomas and then picked up by Jackson.  "It was something we drew up actually.  You may not believe it.  We have several options.  The first option is to get it to Corey (Thomas) where he can catch it and shoot it.  We have two guys running down the sideline if Corey can tip it.  Quan (Jackson) is the guy that is supposed to set the back screen for the guy running.  He is supposed to turn and run if the ball got tipped back.  He may a play.  He made two big plays for us.  A great weekend for Quan," said Ontario coach Joe Balogh.

          Jackson led Ontario (2-0) scorers with 13 makers for the game.  Fellow junior guard Trey Jordan added 12 for the Warriors.

          Balogh the winner of more than 400 games was not afraid to admit they were a little bit lucky on the last play of the game.  "You have got to be lucky. We were a little bit lucky.  We were kind of in the same situation as we were (Friday) night.  We had opportunities to put the game away at the free throw line and didn't do it.  Fortunately Quan stepped up with a lot of pressure and made the three biggest free throws of the game for us and made the difference.  It was a good weekend for us.  Two teams that are going to be very good throughout the year.  A tough way to start the year, but a good way to start the year," said Balogh.

          St. Peter's (1-1) was in it the whole way.  The took their first lead on two free throws by Ryan Payne (25-23) with 6:56 left in the third quarter.  However, Ontario responded with 8-2 run to take a (35-30) lead with 2:01 left in the quarter and led (38-33) after three periods.

          The Spartans wouldn't go away.  After Ontario took a (52-44) lead on a Thomas basket with 3:29 left in the game sophomore Mason Campbell drilled back to back threes to cut the lead to (52-50) with 2:28 to play.  They battled back to take a (55-54) lead on two charity tosses by Payne with 36 seconds to play.

          Coach Joe Jakubick chalked this one up as a learning experience.  "I am not disappointed at all.  It is tough to lose.  Ontario is a tremendous team.  There were close plays in the end that happen in games.  Hopefully we learned from the mistakes we made throughout the game.  Everything gets magnified at the end of the game, but there are mistakes that get made along the way that cots you points and at the end they come back to cost you," he said.

          Campbell led the Spartans in scoring with 15, all in the second half.  Junior Tyson Kent and sophomore Jared Jakubick both added 13.

          Ontario plays Sandusky (1-0) in their Northern Ohio League opener next Friday.  Balogh says they have wok to do.  He says his posts spent most of Saturday night in foul trouble.  "It hampered us some, but we didn't think we did a good job of putting the ball inside to them.  We thought we could take advantage and we didn't do a very good job of that.  The big thing that hurt us was in the first quarter we turned it over seven times and we turned it over, I think, 11 times in the first half.  I don't know what we were for the game.  That has to be a focus for us over the next week.  We have to do a better job of taking care of the basketball and make better decisions with it.  Our decision making wasn't very consistent (Saturday) night or even (Friday) night,' he said.

          St. Peter's would have opened its Mid-Buckeye Conference schedule next Friday with Lucas, but due to the Cubs football success that game has been rescheduled for February 16.  Now, the Spartans don't play until December 10 at home against Buckeye Central (1-0) in non-conference play.

 

Published 11/28/15

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Ontario faces tough Opening Weekend

 

          Ontario has put together back to back banner seasons in which they have won Northern Ohio League titles in both years.  It is highly likely they will be pretty good again and it will be interesting to see how good.

          We will get petty good idea this weekend as the Warriors host the Mansfield Senior Tygers on Friday night and travel to Mansfield St. Peter's on Saturday night.

          Veteran coach Joe Balogh, the winner of more than 400 games, says his teams has done everything he has wanted in the preseason and now it time to see if they can compete at a high level.  "We are happy with how we have progressed in practices.  We are happy about the energy we have shown in our practices and our scrimmages, but until the lights get turned on you really don't know exactly what you have on your team.  We have a really challenging weekend for us opening up, but I think our kids are excited by that challenge.  That is what high school basketball is about, the excitement of a new season and to kind of see where you are at.  I think this weekend will gives us a clue of where we are at after our first weekend of games," said Balogh.

          There is always some extra excitement associated with an opening game, but Balogh says you can only live on that so long even when it is Ontario and Mansfield Senior.  "I think you only play on emotions for so long.  The key thing in any game is you want to try and get your kids to play with a lot of passion and emotion, but you want to make sure it stays at a consistent level.  You don't want to get too high or get too low.  That is always a challenge whether it is opening weekend or any night that we play.  Typically on the opening night of the season there is just that little more excitement and energy in the gym then maybe you normally have.  I think there will be a lot of excitement when Mansfield Senior comes to our place on Friday," he said.

          When it comes to being successful against the Tygers, Balogh says you must handle the penetration and keep them out of the lane because that leads offensive rebounds for them too.  "They like to put the ball in transition.  They have the ability to beat you off of the dribble, which I think is one of the hardest things to defend in the game of basketball.  If they are able to beat teams off the dribble that just forces you into some many help situations.  Because they are able to do that when they miss shots they always put you out of position for rebounding the basketball at the defensive end," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We have to do a really good job of trying to contain their penetration and keeping them out of the lane and then you have to do an excellent job of keeping them off their offensive glass.  I think that is the big key."

          Plus, he says when you have to the ball you must be solid with your ball handling and find some easy baskets.  "Offensively for us we just have to be able to handle their pressure.  They are going to be physical, aggressive and active on and off the basketball.  You have to be able to play against that pressure with your head up so you can see the floor and you have to be able to find open guys when they trap and when they pressure and that is going to be a key for us offensively," said Balogh.

          On the back end of this opening week double weekend is the defending Mid-Buckeye Champion Mansfield St. Peter's Spartans.  Balogh says they will be a challenge too.  "They bring a lot of experience back in the Campbell kid and Jakubick.  The were both freshen last year and have just gotten better.  It will be a little bit difficult coming off that game on Friday whether it is a win or a loss for us just from the standpoint we going to St. Pete's and it will be their opening home game.  We are going to be facing another exciting atmosphere," he said.

 

Published 11/25/15

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Ontario Can be Really Good Again

 

          Ontario won the Northern Ohio League boys' basketball title last season and shared it two years ago.  The bad news for the rest of the league is they are going to be pretty good again.

          The Warriors return two starters and four other guys that played a lot on a team that lost in the district final.  Veteran coach Joe Balogh is pretty excited about what he has for this season.  "We hope we can be right in the search for another "NOL" championship.  We return two starters in Andrew Rathburn and Trey Jordan and then we return four kids that played significant minutes off the bench Alex Vredenburgh, Griffin Niss, Corey Thomas and Quan Jackson.  Then we have a couple of kids that are coming from the JV team that was very successful.  We like the mix of players that we have.  Part of the problem is you never know how your team is going to come together.  We think we have a good squad and a positive attitude.  There is going to be adversity that you are going to face during the season and how your kids respond to that adversity is going to lots of times decide how successful you will be," said Balogh.

          On offense, Ontario will be pretty hard to defend.  Balogh says they will be able to balance the floor pretty well.  "We have a good mix of perimeter players and we are going to be a little bit bigger than we were a year ago.  We also have a sophomore in Logan Jones that is 6'7".  We like the balance with the lineups we can put on the floor.  We are trying to find which of those groups plays the best together," he said.

          Defense has been the corner stone of Balogh's teams at Ontario.  He says this team has the potential to be pretty good on defense.  "We think we can be pretty good defending the other guys.  When you have size inside we may have more of a rim protector with Logan Jones in the lineup.  We like that and we like our guards ability to pressure the basketball.  We are hoping we will be pretty good defensively," he said.

          Ontario is at home for always good Mansfield Senior on the night after Thanksgiving and at defending Mid-Buckeye Conference champion Mansfield St. Peter's on the following night.

          Balogh knows they are going to have to be more consistent if they are going to be successful.  "I think we have to be more consistent defending at the defensive end.  We have had situations where we have not matched up very well in transition.  Particularly with a team like Senior High if you don't match up in transition you are really going to get hurt and hurt a lot.  From an offensive standpoint we need to move the ball and move people better in a more consistent manner," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We are sometimes really good offensively and other times our decision making isn't very good.  Again when you face a team like Senior High in your opening game if you don't have good decision making your turnovers are going to lead to easy baskets for them.  I guess our key word right now would be consistency in how we practice and how we are playing on both ends of the floor."

 

Published 11/20/15

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Ontario Dominates Tiffin Columbian

 

          Ontario did not allow a shot on goal and had about 90 percent of the possession in shutting out Tiffin Columbian (4-0) in the girls' soccer division two district semi-finals on Tuesday night at Community Stadium in Ashland.

          Alex Kuenzli, Brittany McCauley (on a free kick) and Amanda Nothing all scored in the first 29 minutes of the game to give Ontario the lead.  "I think they caught us a little off guard, somewhat, we thought they would go a little more defensive, we had played them twice during the regular season and they hadn't put nine people behind the ball.  In the middle of the first half I thought we did a good job of moving the ball around from side of side waiting on the avenues to open up and I thought we did a pretty good job of that," said Ontario coach LarryAtkinson.

          The Lady Warriors (16-2) found the next only once, on a goal by Bria Meisse, in the second half, and Atkinson feels going forward they have to do a better job of converting.  "In the second half we pretty much had the wind to our back, or our right, or our dominate foot and I just don't think we took advantage of that.  We wanted to work on more outside shots and we really didn't do that in the second half," he told Swankonsports.com after the match, "The goalie really didn't field anything clean in the first half and we had a couple of shots from the outside and we didn't follow up.  It's unfortunate we play them three times in year and once you get the lead to keep them mentally focused."

          Ontario will play old rival Clear Fork for the district title on Saturday afternoon at Community Stadium.  Atkinson knows they are going to have to play better than they did Tuesday night.  "I am trying to get them mentally a little bit harder on themselves because the next game is not going to be as easy.  Scoring opportunities are going to be few and far between, but you know, we scored four goals," he said.

          Clear Fork won the regular season match-up between the two powers (3-2) on September 1.  However, that was before a season ending knee injury to the Lady Colts leading scorer Jordyne Helinski. 

 

Published 10/27/15

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Ontario Must Play Best Game

 

          Ontario is the only thing between Bellevue and an outright Northern Ohio League title.

          They play each other on Friday night at Ontario.

          The Warriors (2-7,2-3) have suffered form inconsistency this year.  They had one of their best offensive performances of the season last week in a (41-31) loss to second place Sandusky.  But, coach Scott Kreger says it was still a loss.  "We did a good job of making some plays.  We ran a kickoff back for a touchdown.  We had some big plays made whether it was Alex Vredenburgh, Greg Dorsey did a great job running the ball and Griffen Ness had a big game for us on the outside.  We were able to get some things done, still at times we didn't block really well.  It is one of those things where we just can't continue to be sporadic and be up and down.  We have to have some consistency," said Kreger.

          They were able to make a big play in the special teams last week, but Kreger says they gave up one too.  "We gave up and touchdown and we scored a touchdown with a kickoff return.  It is just one of those things where it was just a back and forth game.  That third quarter was one of the longest quarters I can remember in coaching.  Credit to both teams for going out and making plays and we have to continue to do that," he said.

          Bellevue (7-2,5-0) hammered Shelby (42-14) in their showdown last week to post their sixth straight win.  Kreger says the Redmen are physical on offense.  "They line up and they just smack you in the mouth.  Their front six, I count their tight end in there as well, they are as hard hitting as anybody we have faced.  They are big and athletic and they do a good job of opening up holes for Foos and Ray to run through," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "Those two kids are very fast and powerful runners.  They just kind of wear on you as the game goes on.  We just have to be able to bring the battle and hopefully we can do a good job."

          There offense gets a lot of headlines, but Kreger says the Bellevue defense is just as good.  He says they have been able to dominate the point of attack in league play.  "They are very aggressive and coach Nasonti has always had very good defenses up there.  They just do a good job of being physically sound.  Their front four, front three sometimes, they just line up and do a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage and keeping people off their linebackers so they can make plays.  They are very athletic on the back end as well, so we are going to have our hands full," said Kreger.

 

Published 10/27/15

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It's Still execution for Ontario

 

          Ontario has shown they can do some good things this football season, but they have not been very good at consistently executing and that is while they can only claim two wins.

          Last week, the gave up four scores in the first quarter and Shelby handled them easily (46-13) in a Northern Ohio League game.  Coach Scott Kreger says Shelby just made too many big plays.  "They scored on the second play of the game.  We threw a pick on our first play and they took advantage of that and scored, blocked a punt and ran it in and before you know it we were down 27-0, so it is just a matter of not getting yourself is those situations because it is very hard to be successful once you are behind the eight ball like that," he said.

          Unfortunately the story of the Warriors season is they have just made too many mistakes on both sides of the ball to beat the good teams in their schedule.  "You have to be in it mentally and it has to carry over physically as well.  Right now we are trying to eliminate a lot of the foolish mistakes we are making on both sides of the ball.  Whether it is defense and we are not lining up correctly, missing tackles, or having blown coverages.  Offensively, whether we are missing blocking assignments or running wrong routes or having bad reads.  We are still not playing at the level we need to be playing at," said Kreger.

          They have another good team this week as Sandusky (4-4,3-1) and in a share of second place in the league with Shelby comes to town.  Kreger says the Blue Streaks are very aggressive on defense.  "They hang they their hat on their defense.  Their defense is super aggressive.  Their front four is big and physical.  They have a couple of linebackers that run sideline to sideline and tackle everything.  They get up in your face with press coverage.  They are going to beat you with their physicality, their speed and their aggressiveness.  We have to be able to handle that on our offensive side," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "On our defensive side they line up and pretty much smash you in the mouth.  They have some big kids up front that do a nice job in blocking.  They have some game breakers that can run and score from pretty much anywhere on the field.  We have go to be on top of our game this week and we got to be better than we were last week."

          With that aggression on defense, Kreger says there are plays that can be made, but they have to execute to take advantage.  "We have go to block.  Their interior causes havoc and they have caused havoc with everybody.   We have to do a good job of slowing them down, so Alex has a lot of time to throw the ball.  Those are make or break plays when they are up pressing you like that.  When they make plays the defense looks great, but the minute you find a hole and get behind them they can and will give up plays.  We have to take advantage of those situations," he said.

 

Published 10/23/15

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Ontario Faces Shelby is Big One in "NOL"

 

          Ontario and Shelby are two of three teams a game behind Bellevue in the Northern Ohio League standings and the play each other at Skiles Field in Shelby on Friday night.

          The Warriors (2-5,2-1) are coming off one of their better efforts of the season in a (42-14) beating of Willard in league play last week.  Coach Scott Kreger says he saw improvement all over the field.  "We did a lot of good things on both sides of the ball.  We were able to get two pick sixes for touchdowns and offensively we started out with a three and out, but after that we moved up and down the field and did a lot of good things.  We grew a lot as a team and that is very important and we are very happy with that," he said.

          Now the key for the Warriors is build on the momentum gained form the win last week.  Kreger says they are working hard to achieve that end.  "It started Saturday with watching film and looking at Shelby a little bit.  The starting (Monday) getting back to work and keep improving as football players at keep improving as a team," he said.

          Shelby (4-3,3-1) is also coming off an outstanding performance last week in a (46-13) destruction of the Tiffin Columbian Tornadoes.  They scored 19 points in the first eight minutes of the game. 

          Kreger says it all starts with sophomore quarterback Brennan Armstrong, who can make big plays himself and get the ball to other guys too.  "He is a major threat number one because he is such a great athlete.  He has already thrown for over 1,000 yards and he will be over 1,000 rushing soon too.  The scary part is the ball is in his hands on every play, so you have to account for him.  I don't know if we will be able to stop him, but we are going to do our best to try and contain him and do the best we can to try put the ball in other people's hands," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "Again he can turn around and hand the ball of to Brooks who can run and score from anywhere.  He has been throwing the ball outside to the Tuttle kid and the Schnieder kid.  They do things well and they have gotten better each week.  We will have our hands full."

          In games against Norwalk, Willard and Tiffin, the Whippets have exploded early in the game to take control.  Kreger says they can't let that happen to them.  "I think a lot of that is up front with them.  They have a very big offensive line, very athletic.  The kids do a nice job of moving around.  If you can maybe win that battle and get that edge up front at the beginning of the game you put some doubt into their minds.  We are going to do the best we can to be disciplined on the defensive side.  We have to tackle.  I mean we have to make tackles.  They have a lot of great athletes and when they get in space they cause havoc and we have to avoid that," said Kreger.

 

Published 10/13/15

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Ontario Looking for Good Start

 

          We are more than half way through the football season and the Ontario Warriors are still searching for some things.

          In a non-conference game last week, the Warriors lost to Vermilion (20-15) and coach Scott Kreger says they have a number of chances to win the football game and just could not get it done.  "We continue to shoot ourselves in the foot.  We had the ball four times inside the 25 yard-line and go no points out of it.  We can't continue to do that and expect to be a successful football team.  We just have to do a better job of calling plays, executing, and just everything," he said.

          Ontario (1-5,1-1) takes its act to Willard (0-6,0-2) to face the Flashes in a game that Ontario must win in order to stay alive in the Northern Ohio League race.

          Kreger says that Willard is an option team that plays some good football in the trenches.  He says they must be disciplined on defense or they could give up some big plays.  "Coach Matula is a tough, hard nosed coach and his team reflects that.  They do a very good job up front.  They just don't have speed that some other teams have," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "When you play an option attack you have to be disciplined on the defensive side and know where to be and make sure you are there, stop the ball and make plays when you have a chance.  That is definitely what we have to do on the defensive side."

          On defense, Willard has a pretty standard approach.  Kreger says they want to be able to run that ball and they means they must control the line of scrimmage.  "They are a 5-2, 3-4 team.  We just have to do a good job up front of winning that battle and establishing our own run game and eventually putting points on the board," he said.

          Willard has lost 23 games in a row and they are battling some numbers issues.  Kreger says they want to get out to and early lead and try and take control of the game.  "That is every week for us, but especially when you are playing a team that is down.  You want to get on top them and stay on top of them.  Hopefully, you can get them to hang there heads a little bit and that will help our success," said Kreger.

 

Published 10/06/15

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Ontario Has to Continue to Move Forward

 

          Ontario won for the first time this season when they scored with about six minutes to play to give themselves a (20-19) win over Norwalk in Northern Ohio league action last week.

          Coach Scott Kreger says there wasn't great execution by the Warriors, but, they did enough to get the win and that's what is what's most important.  "We didn't play the best game we have played all year, but to come out with a "W" is huge because those are games we didn't succeed in the previous few weeks.  I think it was a really good direction and the right step for our young men to overcome a lot of mental mistakes and a lot of physical mistakes to ultimately come up with a win," he said.

          There are still a lot of issues on both sides of the ball and Kreger says they have to clean those up if they are going to beat the better teams on their schedule.  "I think we are going to have to keep stressing the word consistency.  To be able to block up front, to run the ball well, to throw the ball well, to catch it," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "Defensively, to make our reads and make sure we are covering people well and then ultimately tackle.  I think we just have to continue to improve across the board in every aspect of the game.  We are young enough and we are experienced enough to be able to feed off each other and get better."

          Ontario (1-4) will host Vermilion in a non-league game on Friday night.  Kreger says the Sailors can do a lot of things.  "They like to spread it out a little bit.  They do a lot of full house backfield all the way to open it up.  They really have hurt themselves they last few weeks with turnovers.  So, they are a very dangerous team.  They have some potential to score some points and they have good athletes.  Defensively, they have very tough up front.  Their front four is very solid.  They do a good job of keeping people off of their linebackers and those guys are making plays.  We are going to have to be on top of our game this week," said Kreger.

 

Published 9/29/15

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Ontario Half Way There

 

          They didn't win, but appears Ontario is making some needed progress on the field.

          The led Tiffin Columbian at halftime (14-10) before falling to the Tornadoes (23-14) last week in Northern Ohio League action.

          Coach Scott Kreger says they played with more intensity, at least for a half, and that was a step in the right direction.  "We came out and competed really well the first half.  It was probably the best half of football we have played since week one.  We were able to put together a lot of intensity and a lot of aggressiveness.  We played with a lot of energy, which we kind of missed the previous couple of weeks," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday. "Unfortunately we just ran out of gas and we weren't able to carry that over to the second half.  Columbian was able to take advantage of running the ball and shutting our run down and things didn't go our way, but absolutely a step in the right direction."

          Certainly in order to compete in the tough Northern Ohio League the Warriors need to play four quarters and Kreger says that is what they are working on.  "We have talked about being able to keep up our intensity and our aggressiveness for the whole game.  There has to be an understanding and a mentality of playing to win rather than playing not to lose and putting that out on the field on Friday night," he said.

          Ontario (0-4,0-1) is home for Norwalk (1-3,0-1) in a league game on Friday night.  The Tuckers are the defending "NOL" champs, but they have struggled this year.  They lost (62-21) to Shelby last week.  Kreger says they have been bitten by the injury bug.  "I think they are battling injuries right now.  Anytime you lose a player of the caliber of Breck Turner that they lost to graduation.  Not just him, but they had a great senior class last year.  They had a lot of good lineman and a lot of good skilled kids and that was a key to them being successful the last few years, so that is hard to replace.  Coach MacFarland is doing a good job up there and just has their kids plugging away.  We will be looking to improve ourselves and do what we need to do to get a "W,' said Kreger.

          It's the halfway mark of the season and Ontario doesn't have a win yet.  Kreger says this is going to be an important game as far as their entire season is concerned.  "We talked about that after watching film on Saturday, talked about it as a team, and understand that our main goals are still ahead of us.  I don't know if anyone will run the table in our league right now.  We still have five games in our league that we have an opportunity to win and we need to go out and focus on that.  We can't get caught up on what has happened in the past or what might happen in the future.  We have to start focusing on the now and work on being 1-0 at the end of this week," he said.

 

Published 9/23/15

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Ontario Not Getting Better

 

          Ontario keeps making the same mistakes on the football field and it's costing them games.

          Right now, coach Scott Kreger says they are undisciplined, it something they have been working on, but there hasn't been much progress.  He says as coaches they aren't pushing the right buttons.

          Last week, a very good Danville team blanked them (43-0) in non-conference play.  Kreger says the Blue Devils pretty much had their way with them.  "That is a very good football team,  Coach Honabarger has a great group up there.  Their kids are just well coached.  They play hard.  They are tough up front on both sides and they were able to do pretty anything thing they wanted to do defensively, which really hurt us.  They are a very good football team and we are looking to rebound this week," he said.

          When it comes to the Warriors, Kreger says they have been making the same fundamental mistakes and that can't continue to happen.  "We have talked about discipline and we just have not been a very disciplined football team on either side of the football and that is absolutely killing us right now.  Defensively we have to be able to go through and line up correctly, make our reads, and make tackles when those opportunities present themselves.  We have to be able to make plays on passes and just make good, fundamental plays on that side of the ball," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Offensively we are just making way too many mistakes up front.  We continue to make the same mistakes week in and week out.  That is a coaching problem and we are working on that and fixing that making sure we can show up and keep our defense off the field, which will help keep the other team off the scoreboard."

          Things do not get any easier for the Warriors (0-3,0-0) as they travel to Tiffin (1-2,0-0) to meet the Columbian Tornadoes in a Northern Ohio League game.  Columbian has lost tough games to two unbeaten teams in Clyde (15-8) on week one and Ashland (16-7) on week three.

          Kreger says their defensive line is very good and allows their linebackers to flow to the ball.  "They are a typical Tiffin team.  They are big, they are athletic.  They have big numbers.  They do a great job up front on the defensive side keeping the offensive line off their linebackers, so those kids can run and make plays.  They just do a very good job.  Offensively, they are athletic and have kids they want to get the ball to.  We are going to have our hands full," he said.

 

Published 9/18/15

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Ontario Must Take Advantage of Opportunities

 

          Ontario has shown some improvement with its young players, but they haven't been able to get over the hurdle and get a win over the first two weeks and they face another tough challenge this week in Danville.

          Last week, Clear Fork rallied in the second half to down the Warriors (42-24) in non-league play.  Despite the loss, coach Scott Kreger thought they did some good things.  "I thought we improved from week one to week two I thought we came out and did some very nice things.  We were able to run the ball better than we did week one, unfortunately we not able to throw it as well as we were week one.  Offensively we have to be able to sure that up this week.  Defensively in the first half we played great.  The second half of the first quarter and the second quarter we played extremely well.  We were physical," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We came out and tackled well and we really did a good job of shutting down Clear Fork's running game.  In the second half they were able to find some seams and were able to find some holes in our defense.  Credit coach Carroll and his staff for what they did.  With our young men I think we made a step forward and continued to improve."

          The Ontario roster is made up of a lot of young kids, some in their first year of varsity action, and Kreger says it is a maturing process.  "When you have kids that are young and haven't played and have not been on the field under Friday night lights.  Now we have been through two, two and half if you want to count the preview, and we want those kids to continue to grow.  We have to start stepping up and making varsity style plays and varsity style advancements in our game and start eliminating the mistakes that we have had week after week.  If we want to be a good football team we have to do that," said Kreger.

          Danville (2-0) will come to Ontario on Friday night having scored almost 100 points over the first two weeks in wins over East Knox (62-14) and Fredericktown (37-13.)  Kreger says their defense is pretty good too.  "They run a five wide, spread offense and their quarterback is very good.  He runs the ball and throws the ball well.  Defensively they are just so aggressive.  They come at you and come at you for four quarters straight.  We are going to have our hands full with them on both sides of the ball,' he said.

          Against an aggressive defense there are going to be a lot of big plays, either by the offense or the defense.  Kreger says they have to execute in order to be rewarded.  "Execute is the key word and that's what we talked about with our young men.  We really want to be physical this week and know our assignments and know what we are supposed to do on every play.  You can take advantage of their aggressiveness at times.  Establish some type of running game, some type of passing game, control the ball offensively and concentrate on shutting down their offense on the other side of the ball," he said.

 

Published 9/09/15

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Ontario Faces Clear Fork

 

          Ontario played a good football game last week, just not good enough on the first week of the season, losing to rival Lexington.

          Now, they travel to meet another longtime opponent in the Clear Fork Colts on Friday night in non-conference action.

          Lex broke an 18 game losing streak by scoring in the late going to beat the Warriors (26-19) last week.  Ontario coach Scott Kreger says they had a lot of kids new to varsity action and it showed in key moments.  "Our kids played hard and played with a lot of heart for four quarters and did a lot of what we asked them to do.  We made a lot of mistakes, it's week one, and we have a lot of guys that were green behind the ears going out and playing in their first game on Friday night," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "There is nothing else like it in high school like the experience of going out on a Friday night under the lights.  We had some jitters and there were some mistakes that were made.  We look to eliminate those mistakes and get better this week."

          Kreger says executing in practice and on game night are not the same thing and they have to be more disciplined.  "We talked a lot Saturday about how we can go out Monday through Thursday and be perfect with our footwork and our sets and our reads and the minute those lights turn on and you get into the atmosphere of the game and the pressure of the game and we don't execute play in and play out like we should.  That goes back to discipline and that will come with experience," said Kreger.

          Clear Fork (0-1) lost a close one too on week one when Fredericktown scored in the final seconds to beat them (17-14) last week.

          This season, the Colts are featuring a lot of the triple option offense.  Kreger says they are trying to get the ball to their athletes, who are pretty good.  "We have seen a lot of triple option and we have seen a lot of empty from them in their scrimmages and in their game.  They have a lot of good young kids with very good speed and very good athleticism.  They are looking to get the ball in those kids hands in space so they can create, so the triple option is a great threat," said Kreger.

          If they are going to stop the Colts, Kreger says they have to be disciplined and play assignment football.  "It goes back to being disciplined and reading your keys and being in the right spot and letting your ability take over and go from there," he said.

          Clear Fork surrendered more than 40 points a game last year, but Kreger says they appear to be much improved on defense this year.  "Coach Carroll has kids being very aggressive and sturdy up front.  I thought they tackled pretty well out in space and really shut Fredericktown down after the first half.  The defense really kept them in that game and put them in a position where they could have won it," he said.

 

Published 9/01/15

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Point of Attack Key For Ontario

 

          Ontario and Lexington lock horns at Lexington in the renewal of an old rivalry on Friday night in the opener for both squads.

          The Warriors. who were 6-4, got off to a bit of a slow start last year, but ended the season with a band and a win over Tiffin Columbian.

          Coach Scott Kreger says they have are coming off a pretty good preseason camp.  "I believe we have gotten better each week and that's our goal.  Each time we step on the field we want to be better.  We really stress to our young men about improving as an individual, so we can improve as a team and I think we have done a pretty good job of that," he said.

          With Alex Vredenbaugh at quarterback, Greg Dorsey at running back, and Griffin Ness at a wide out, the Warriors have some big play makers.  Kreger says their job is to get then the ball where they can do some things.  "Our skilled kids have done a really good job for us.  We have used our two scrimmages to try and figure out how to utilize them to the up most and we have seen what a couple of kids can do," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "So, we are excited to see what we can do Friday against Lexington.  It all starts up front, can we block?  And can we get people taken care of?  So, we can get those seems and get that time to throw.  We will find out Friday."

          Ontario beat the rival Minutemen last season (33-21) after beating them in overtime two years ago.  Kreger says the Minutemen will feature some athletes that can do some things too.  "They have some good size up front.  Watching them in their two scrimmages and what they have done.  The Vore kid at quarterback is very good and he is a great athlete.  You pair him up with Nickoli, who is probably their best receiver, that is a great tandem to work with.  We have got to take care of Vore and make sure he doesn't hurt us with his feet and his arm," said Kreger.

          These two schools have met pretty consistently since the mid 60's and Kreger admits this is always one of the bigger games on their schedule each year.  "Rivalry games are always big, but they have changed a lot over the years because these kids now with social media don't have the hatred for one another that they used to.  You do look at this as a rivalry game because Lex being our neighbor and being right there we want to go down there and be able to compete with them year in and year out and it always great to beat them," he said.

 

Published 8/27/15

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Ontario Defense Must be Aggressive

 

          Ontario has to compete in the Northern Ohio League, which includes the likes of Bellevue, Tiffin Columbian and Norwalk, and if they are going to do that they must be a more physical football team than they have shown so far.

          Coach Scott Kreger says they played some kids for the first time at the varsity level in a scrimmage against Colonel Crawford last Friday.  "We got to see a lot of our younger kids step up and play against varsity level competition and we were hoping to see some growth in that area and I believe we did.  Probably the main thing we got out of it is working ourselves into football shape," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We are in good physical condition, but when you get out and start banging bodies and tacking in full gear for a couple of hours that is a whole different mentality and wear and tear on your body and I think our kids are getting into that shape right now."

         The Warriors meet Hillsdale, of the Wayne County Athletic League, in a scrimmage on Friday.

          Due to new rules installed by the Ohio High School Athletic Association there is less hitting in practice this year and Kreger says that does affect how they schedule things.  "They have dialed that back a lot.  You are allowed 30 minutes of live contact a week in practice.  It does make a difference because we are going more with just helmets and shoulder pads and dialing down on full contact sessions," he said.

          To be a better football team, Kreger says they must start running the ball better and on defense they have to stop the run, something they didn't do in their first scrimmage.  "We have to do a better job of running the ball with our running backs.  Our quarterback runs have been really good.  We have a lot of experience there with Alex (Vredenburgh) and what he does in the backfield.  A lot of that is due to some new linemen and what they are doing up front.  Defensively we just have to be a lot more aggressive.  We didn't do a very good job across the board in stopping Crawford's run game and we got beat on a couple of passes.  We just need to improve our aggressiveness on defense and do a lot better job of being physical," said Kreger.

          Ontario starts the season on August 28 against Lexington.  Their first "NOL" game in September 18 against Tiffin Columbian.

 

Published 8/18/15

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Ontario Looking to Take the Next Step

 

          Ontario ended last season and a good note with a win over traditional powerhouse Tiffin Columbian in the final week of the regular season and now they want to take that momentum and make this season a better one overall.

          To do that a big thing for the Warriors, according to coach Scott Kreger, is being able to execute play after play on both sides of the football and in the special teams.  "I believe we have to be more consistent across the board, both sides of the ball, special teams, everything.  It seems in every situation we get in we take two steps forward and one back.  Whether it is offense, defense, special teams, whatever, we need to do a much better job, of blocking, tackling, being assignment smart.  My first statement would be we have to be more consistent," said Kreger.

          At times, Ontario (6-4,4-2) was pretty good on offense in 2014 and they will have a lot of the those kids back and they can make the big play.  "Anytime you are returning your quarterback and Alex Vredenburgh did a nice job for us last year.  He is a great leader and a great football player," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We have Greg Dorsey coming back in the backfield and Griffin Ness at a receiver position.  We have some skilled kids that I think are going to be very good football players for us.  They are going to be our leaders and we are going to lean on them heavily this season."

         Ontario plays its first game against Lexington, of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, on August 28.  They face Tiffin in their league opener this season on September 18.

          Kreger says they are going to have to step up their play because everyone else in the league is still going to be good.  "I hope by the end of the year our name is in that mix as well, but Bellevue, Columbian, Norwalk, Shelby have all earned their stripes.  Sandusky plays everybody tough.  They are as athletic a team as anybody sees around here.  Willard is tough.  They are a physical, hard nosed school and they come out and play with a lot of pride.  We don't have an easy league game anywhere.  The "NOL," I believe, is one of the premier, if not the premier league around here," said Kreger.

 

Published 8/06/15

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Thornsberry One-Hits Ontario in District Semis

 

          Junior lefthander Dillon Thornsberry limited Ontario to just one hit and the Shelby Whippets topped the Warriors (4-1) in the division two district semi finals on Thursday at Madison High School.

          Thornsberry didn't allow hit until a solid single by Tyler Weber in the sixth inning.  "We put him in there because we have complete trust in him.  He pitched extremely well in the sectional championship game too.  He is throwing the ball really well for the team.  In the biggest time of the year Dillon Thornsberry has stepped up.  He has been our star.  He has been our leader.  I am extremely proud of him.  He carried the whole team on his back," said Shelby coach Jon Amicone.

          Thornsberry says his curveball was the difference for him.  "The change up wasn't working as well I was hoping in would.  The curveball was working, so I just stuck with that," he said.

          Veteran Ontario coach Dan Gorbett says Thornberry wasn't overpowering, but he kept them off balance and they could never really get anything going.  "He was throwing strikes and they played great defense.  They made several outstanding plays.  Anytime we got something going their outfield made an outstanding play," said Gorbett.

          Amicome says his lefthander kind of sneaks up on you.  "He is kind of that democratic pitcher.  He gets ground balls and pop ups.  He is not going to wow you with his fastball or his curveball, but he keeps you off balance enough where he gets ground balls and fly balls and we played extremely well behind him," he said.

          Shelby took a (1-0) lead in the top of the first on an RBI double by Alex Paulo, who stepped in with 1-2 count after Brennan Armstrong couldn't go because of an injury.  Two Ontario errors, one when they tried to pick a runner off first, lead to another Whippet run an (2-0) lead after an inning and half.  "Ontario doesn't make errors.  It doesn't happen very often, so on the occasion that they do you have to score runs.  They are one of the best coached teams in the area.  I hold Dan Gorbett in the highest regard.  I consider him a friend and a mentor," said Amicone.

          It remained (2-0) until the bottom on the sixth when Ontario (21-5) scratched across a run on an RBI ground out by Mason Goodwin. 

          However, Shelby responded with two in their half of the seventh on another botched pick off by Ontario, an RBI ground out by Thornsberry and a run scoring double by Carter Brooks.  "With them getting one in the sixth, especially with the best pitcher in the area throwing for them.  To manufacture some runs was huge for us to get the momentum back.  It allowed Thornsberry to relax and just throw strikes  in the seventh inning," Amicone told Swankonsports.com after the game.

          Only one of Shelby's run were earned and Gorbett says the Warriors really didn't give themselves a chance to win.  "You are not gong to win a lot of baseball games with six errors and one hit, so that's the bottom line.  We didn't play well," he said.

          Shelby (16-9) will play Bellevue for a district title on Saturday afternoon at Madison.

 

Published 5/21/15

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Ontario in For a Battle With Shelby

 

          It's Ontario and Shelby for the third time around this year this time in the division two district semi-finals on Thursday afternoon at Madison High School.

          Ontario coach Dan Gorbett says this thing about Shelby is their lineup never gives you a rest.  "Everywhere in the lineup they can get you.  Even though all of their batting averages aren't .350 they always have good at bats one through nine.  Against us they have just played solid defense.  They are just a good overall team," he said.

          In their two Northern Ohio league meetings this year Shelby won (7-6) at their place and Ontario took the measure of the Whippets (4-2) at theirs.  Gorbett says they are going to have to hit the ball to win.  "When you get into the tournament you can't let them get extra runs.  They are usually very close games.  That one mistake can be the difference in the game.  I think a big key for us is hitting the ball," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We need to come out of the gate and consistently hit the ball and put pressure on them to field it.  We have been a little bit up and down.  We look really good and then we kind of fall asleep at the plate.  Hopefully we come with those sticks ready to go."

          Shelby has two talented lefthanders in Dillon Thornsberry, who beat Norwalk in the sectional final last week, and freshman Brennan Armstrong.  Gorbett figures they might see the freshman.  "I know Armstrong hasn't pitched because he has a sore arm, but I think we will see Armstrong (Thursday.)  I told the kids they are both lefties and they are both good.  It is really not going to change our mindset or our approach because we know we are going to face a good pitcher and we have to play well to win.  I know that sounds simplistic, but it's true," he said.

 

Published 5/21/15

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Ontario onto the Districts Again

 

 

          Mason Goodwin's three run triple capped a four run fourth inning and help to lead Ontario to their fifth straight district title as they beat Galion (7-2) on Thursday in the division two sectional final at Ontario.

          They will play fellow "NOL" member Shelby in the district semi finals next week.  The teams split their regular season games. 

          The game didn't start very well for Ontario as Galion loaded the bases with nobody out and ended up scoring two runs and three hits.  "The game started with them loading the bases with no outs.  They got two runs and I thought that was actually a positive.  It could have been a lot worse.  In the next three innings we left guys on second and third twice and first and second with one out.  We were getting hits, but we weren't getting them in.  Then we scored four or five in the fifth and that broke the game open," said Ontario coach Dan Gorbett.

          Ontario has now won its last 12 games and they are playing with confidence.  Gorbett says they may not have won a game like this early in the season.  "That was exactly what I said after the game.  When things didn't go our way early in the year that really affected us, but we have gotten over that hump and we just kept battling and eventually had the big inning.  That would have been something that would have been tough to recover from early in the year," said Gorbett.

          This time the Warriors (21-4), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, rallied for the win.  Gorbett says Goodwin's hit was huge.  "You just have to keep battling.  Mason Goodwin hit a bases loaded triple.  He had three hits.  He had an outstanding game (Thursday).  We had our seniors step up and in the clutch get it done," he said.

          Senior pitcher Paul Homan got the win for the Warriors.

          Ontario plays Shelby next Thursday at Madison High School.  They spilt their regular season games with the Whippets winning (7-6) on April 13 and the Warriors returning the favor (4-2) on May 1.

          Gorbett says it should be an outstanding game and one fans should turn out for.  "It will be a tough one.  Anytime that Shelby and Ontario play really in any sport it's a great game.  This will be the rubber match.  We've won one and they've won one.  It should be a great game for Richland County with two local schools playing in a district near by.  Hoping the see a nice big crowd there.  It should be a lot of fun," he said.

 

Published 5/15/15

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Ontario Getting Better and Better

 

          Ontario won its 11th straight game on Monday when they traveled to the capital city and beat Columbus Bishop Watterson (3-2) in a non-conference baseball game.

          Watterson has a great tradition and Ontario coach Dan Gorbett says he wanted his team to be tested going into the tournament.  "That is why we picked up this game for was to play a really good team to get ready for the tournament.  It was a really close game," he told Swankonsports.com after the win, "There was some pressure where you had to make plays.  It was a long trip, a long night, and we had like an hour rain delay too.  We didn't start to like six o'clock, but we came home with the victory, so it was worth the time and effort."

          Gorbett says they got a good overall effort on Monday against a very good team.  "They really hit the ball well.  There were a lot of load outs.  They are a very good team.  Mason Goodwin went five innings and Alex Vredenburg finished with two string innings.  So, there was good pitching, defense, and timely hitting," he said.

          Ontario (20-4), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, meets Galion (9-14) in the division two sectional final at Ontario on Thursday.

          Galion scored three runs in the seventh inning on Saturday and rallied to beat Clear Fork (5-4) in semi-final game.  Ontario swept a doubleheader from Galion last month, but Gorbett knows they will not be a push over.  "That was a nice comeback they had over at Clear Fork.  They were down the whole game and came back and won.  They are a dangerous team.  Coach Jackson does a good job over there.  We are approaching it like they are 1-0 and we are 0-0.  Throw your records out the door when it becomes tournament time," said Gorbett.

          With the win on Monday, Ontario has now won at least 20 games in five of the last six years.  They advanced to the district final last season.  Gorbett says that experience winning big games should be a plus come Thursday for Galion.  "We weren't playing well at the beginning of the year and now we are playing and getting better I think every game and every play.  Past experience gives you confidence.  What we have done the last two or three weeks hopefully will give us more confidence going into Thursday's game," he said.

 

Published 5/12/15

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Ontario Wins; Falls a Little Short

 

          Ontario rallied to beat Norwalk (9-8) in a Northern Ohio League game on Thursday, but their pursuit of a second straight league title came up a little bit short.

          Bellevue downed Shelby (9-1) on Thursday and the Redmen closed out an undisputed league championship.

          Ontario (17-4,8-3), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Bellevue twice this year.  However, they lost one games to Shelby (7-6) and Norwalk (3-2) in the first round of league play and that might have been the difference.

          On Thursday, the Warriors found themselves down (7-1) at one time, but coach Dan Gorbett says they were able to rally.  "In the first inning they got the bases loaded.  It was an infield hit we just missed, a bunt in the air, we dove after it and didn't catch it.  We had everybody in for the third batter and he bunted it to the edge of the infield over everybody's head.  That was a our first three batters and they had a double and a squeeze.  We were down 3-0 and one ball left the infield, so it was that kind of game," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, "They got the leadoff runner on in every inning for the first four or five innings.  We scored four in an inning and closed the gap.  We went up and they tied it.  We got one in the bottom of the sixth and held onto the lead.  It was a great game."

          Gorbett, a hall of fame coach, who has also managed Colonel Crawford and Galion in his career that includes over 500 wins, says this year's Warriors have learned that the game is never over until the last out is made.  "Early in the year we didn't have that attitude.  About midway through the year we finally got that.  We have had some bad things happen and we have responded.  Earlier when bad things happened they just hung their heads, but we have recovered from that, so that has been a change from earlier in the year," he said.

          Gorbett says it was disappointing to hear that Bellevue had won, but he is confident that they are playing good ball.  "That was disappointing when we got that news (Thursday).  We were 2-3 in the league and we have won six "NOL" games in a row.  We are on a nine game winning streak right now.  So, after starting slow we have got in going and have been playing pretty good baseball," he said.

          Ontario will play it's final league game on Friday when they resume a game with Tiffin Columbian that rain halted on Monday.  They play at Ohio Cardinal Conference leader Lexington on Saturday and state power Columbus Watterson on Monday.

          They will play host to either Clear Fork or Galion in a division two sectional final tournament game on Thursday.

 

Published 5/08/15

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Ontario Gets a Little Closer

 

          Ontario, and pitcher Paul Homan, beat Bellevue for the second time in the space of five days and the Warriors moved to within a game of the Redmen in the Northern Ohio League race.

          Homan gave up only one run while going the distance in a (3-1) win at Bellevue on Tuesday.  The Warriors now trail Bellevue and Tiffin Columbian in the loss column.  The Tornadoes beat Shelby (1-0) for the second straight day on Tuesday.

          Hall of Fame coach Dan Gorbett says it was a huge win for them and keeps them in the hunt.  "It gives them two league losses.  Tiffin beat Shelby (Tuesday) night, so Tiffin has two league losses.  We finish up with Shelby, Tiffin, and Norwalk and that will be three tough games.  If we could win out and Bellevue loses another one.  It's a huge one because it keeps us in the race," he said.

          Homan was an excellent starter for the Warriors a year ago, but he struggled a little bit early in this season.  Gorbett says he has found his grove again.  "Paul was outstanding.  He is back.  He had some ups and downs early, but going into the tournament he is back.  He gave up one run in the second inning and he was perfect from that point on.  They went 1, 2, 3 every inning for the rest of the game.  Bellevue is a very good hitting team, so that is very impressive to hold them to one run and two runs," said Gorbett.

          Homan also started last Friday's (3-2) win over Bellevue.

          Bellevue (13-4,6-2), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, has a deep lineup that hits the ball.  Gorbett says they did a good job of keeping the Redmen off balance.  "Curt does a great job of calling pitches.  He had Bellevue guessing and, of course, Paul can throw a fastball, change up, and curveball all for a strike, which makes him so affective," he said.

          Ontario (13-4,6-3), #3 in our poll, has three games left in the league.  Gorbett says they are going to have to win all three.  He says right now they are playing with a lot of confidence.  "The difference has been our confidence.  We are relaxing and just having fun and playing.  We were just pulling our hair out trying to figure it out.  Last Thursday and Friday, those two big wins over Sandusky and Bellevue were huge and just kind of gave us some confidence," he told Swankonsports.com after the win over Bellevue Tuesday, "We are hitting the ball one through nine now and we weren't doing that earlier.  We had no errors (Tuesday) night and played some great defense.  It is kind of how baseball is you are just in that funk.  We went through a span when whatever could go wrong went wrong and now I think the brakes are starting to go our way too."

 

Published 4/29/15

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Ontario Earns Key Win

 

          Ontario, the defending Northern Ohio League baseball champion, had lost their last three league games and were fading from title contention, but they stopped the bleeding on Tuesday.

          Alex Vredenburgh took the mound on Tuesday at home against Willard Flashes in league play and he pitched a shut out as the Warriors beat Willard (8-0) to break the league losing streak.  "It was good to win.  We have been losing a lot of tough, close games and we have to find a way to win those.  It feels good to get a win," said Ontario coach Dan Gorbett.

          Two of the losses over the last 10 days have come by one run to Shelby (7-6) and Norwalk (3-2).  The Norwalk loss was on Monday and Gorbett says it was good to get back on the field quickly.  "That is high school baseball.  The good part of that is if you lose a tough game in football and basketball you have to wait a whole week to get back in the saddle," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, "In baseball in could be the next day or the day after that you are back at it.  As long as you are ready to play that is a good thing."

          Vrederburgh, a three sport athlete at Ontario, took the ball in the clutch situation for his team and Gorbett says he was up to the task.  "Alex Vredenburgh pitched very well.  In that wind it would tough to throw off speed stuff.  He did a nice job and had 11 strikeouts," he said.

          The wind has effected baseball games across the region on Monday and Tuesday.  It was nice to get 11 of the 21 outs by strikeout because Gorbett says fielding fly balls was a challenge.  "There was one that looked like a fly ball to the outfield that was caught on the dirt.  It went up there are just blew all of the way back," he said.

          Willard is winless in "NOL" play this year and things are going to be more difficult for the Warriors (9-4,3-3), #5 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll, later this week when they play Sandusky (5-9,3-3) on Thursday and league leader Bellevue (10-2,4-0), #1 in our poll, on Friday.  Ontario beat the Blue Streaks (10-0) earlier this spring.  It will be their first meeting with the Redmen.

 

Published 4/22/15

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Ontario Holds "NOL" Lead

 

          Ontario won the Northern Ohio League baseball title last year and they won their first league game on Monday against Willard, but not they have had to set around and wait for three days hoping to play Sandusky on Friday.

          Coach Dan Gorbett has been around for a while, he is a member of the Ohio Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and he says this year has been particularly bad weather wise even for early spring in North Central Ohio.  "I thought last year was really bad and this year is in contention already.  It is not unusual to get a few days that are bad, that will happen.  We have had two, three or four day spans, already this season.  I don't know it has got to get better," he said.

          As it stands now the Warriors (2-1,1-0) play at home against Sandusky on Friday, at Shelby on Monday and at Tiffin Columbian on Tuesday, all in league games.  Plus, they have a non-league doubleheader with rival Galion set up for Saturday.

          There are going to end up being weeks when there are three and four league games in a week and Gorbett says the team that wins the title is going to have pitching depth.  "The winner of the league is going to be who has the better 3-4 pitcher.  The games get all jammed up and then when you get to tournament time you have choices to make.  Then you throw more games in there.  So, it is going to be a tough situation," he said.

          Ontario beat Willard (9-2) back on Monday and Gorbett says that was a key win for them considering what else went on in the league in the first games.  "It is nice starting out 1-0.  There have already been some upsets in the "NOL" and it just goes to show it's anybody's race.  That's what is going to make this jamming of all these games even tougher.  Sandusky beat Shelby and Norwalk beat Tiffin and I wouldn't have predicted that before the season.  That just goes to show the parity in the league," said Gorbett.

 

Published 4/10/15

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Ontario Waiting to be Good

 

          It looks like Ontario is going to be one of the best baseball teams around here again this year, but they have only played one game so far, so it may be too early to tell.

          The have only played once this week, a (7-2) win over Crestline on Tuesday, their Northern Ohio League game with Willard Thursday was rained out.

          Coach Dan Gorbett says they just have to have mental toughness and be ready to go when the weather breaks.  "It seems like every year it is the same thing we just have these periods of time when we have this bad weather.  I talked to the team about it (Thursday) about mental toughness and that is just part of the season.  You just have to keep grinding away and trying to get better and when the weather breaks you are ready to go," he said.

          Paul Homan is one of the best pitchers in the "NOL" and he and Alex Vredenburgh were part of the successful Ontario basketball team, league champs and district runners-up.  Gorbett says all the rain may help those kids.  "(Homan) played in the all-star game on Thursday night.  We would have only had him for an inning or two (Thursday).  Him and Alex Vredenburgh are two of our better pitchers and they are a little bit behind so with all of this they will have time to catch up.  Hopefully, next week where we have three league games they will be at the top of their game by then," said Gorbett.

          Defense sometimes suffers when you can't get outside to practice.  However, Gorbett says his kids have reacted pretty well.  "We always tell the kids that everyone is in the same boat.  It is not like the team you are playing has been outside doing the same thing.  It is amazing how well they do.  They can get better as the year goes on because they are outside more and more.  We played Crestline Tuesday and there was just one error in that game, so kids adjust I think.  It is difficult to be in the gym all of these days in a row, but that is part of spring sports," he said.

          Ontario won the "NOL" baseball title in their first year in the league last season and they have been pegged as favorites again this year.  However, Gorbett knows it will be a tough race.  "I think what everybody is looking at is we have our two top pitchers from last year back in Homan and Goodwin.  A matter of fact we have our whole pitching staff back in Jackson and Vredenburgh and Baker is doing some pitching for us this year too as a senior.  So, I think when people look at the pitching that is why you are put at the top.  When you have a target on your back it makes it tougher and last year everybody was young.  So, everybody has a lot of pitching and a lot of players back," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "I think we are going to be in the running.  People may say we are the favorite, but it is going to be an old fashion "NOL" race.  It seems like there are always three or four teams in the running and I definitely think that is going to be how it is this year."

          Ontario is scheduled to play "MOAC" power Fredericktown in a doubleheader on Saturday.  They play Sandusky and Bellevue in league games next week.

 

Published 4/03/15

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Warriors Ready to Defend

 

          Ontario won the Northern Ohio League baseball title last year and they have their pitching back and that should give them a good chance to repeat that feat.

          Hall of Fame coach Dan Gorbett says they lost their best hitters from last year, but he says he is glad he has those arms back.  "We did graduate our three top hitters.  They were all first team all-NOL in Pasheilich, Dretzka, and (Tyler) Gorbett and they were also great senior leaders.  We do have all of our pitching back.  I think if you ask any coach would you rather have your top pitching or hitting?  They would all say their top pitching.  In that regard we are in pretty good shape," he said.

          Offense can take you a long way, but Gorbett says frankly he would rather have those arms.  "You can hit it right at people with great hitters and lose a game, but with a pitcher that is throwing well no matter who you are playing you have a shot," he said.

          Plus, Ontario baseball teams are used to winning.  Last year, the "NOL," three North Central Conference titles before that.  Gorbett says his players just kind of expect to win.  "Last year is a good example of that.  McCrystal and Beal, two guys that had won over 40 games in two years, and that was a lot of wins and some great pitching.  Goodwin and Homan just stepped up and we didn't mss a beat as far as pitching was concerned.  That was a little bit of a surprise last year, a pleasant surprise," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "I think they saw what the guys in front of them had done and they were ready to take on the challenge and did an outstanding job last year.  They have worked hard in the off season.  Paul (Homan) is coming off the basketball season, so he is a little behind.  We just need to get him in shape hopefully in time for the Willard game, which is a week from Thursday in the "NOL" opener."

          Ontario is due to start the season on Saturday with a twin bill at Mansfield Senior.  The weather forecast doesn't look very good, but Gorbett says you always have to be ready.  "My "AD" is probably going to mad that I say this, but New London called two weeks and said we need to cancel our scrimmage that would have been last week there is snow cover.  I said, hey, let's just wait till it comes because you never know.  Come last week were able top get out and the week before there was two feet of snow and it was 10 degrees.  You just never known in Ohio, you just have to be ready.  You have to preach that to the kids.  It is something we can't control.  When we play be ready.  When you are ready to play and it's cancelled, don't get too down that is just kind the way it is," said Gorbett.

 

Published 3/24/15

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Ontario Runs Past Shelby

 

          Ontario shot 54 percent from the field and they sprinted past Shelby (70-55) in a division two district semi-final at Mansfield Senior High School on Wednesday night.

          The Warriors (24-1), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, return to Pete Henry Gym on Saturday night to play Sandusky for a district title.

          Post player Andrew Rathburn scored 20 points, making 10 of 12 field goals, to lead Ontario scorers.  Coach Joe Balogh says Rathburn did an outstanding job of converting his chances.  "I think when you have guards like Trey (Jordan) and Lenell (Shelby) a lot of times that they are able to create help situations where it is just a simple catch and a layup for him, but (Wednesday) night he showed he could catch it in the post, read it, and make post moves.  The other thing that we were happy about was the way he rebounded the ball.  I know in the second half he rebounded some balls in traffic.  He went up above people and grabbed it with two hands and rebounded it through people, so that was key for us," said Balogh.

          Rathburn also hauled in a team high eight rebounds as Ontario won the battle of the boards 36-23, something that has been a key to their success all year.

          Rathrun scored three straight field goals over a 60 second period of the first quarter that helped fuel a (12-5) run that gave the Warriors a six point lead (16-10) after the first quarter.

          "The happy part was we answered everyone of their runs.  The start we had was really key for us an we never really let them back in it.  I think it got to six once, but it never got any closer than that," said Balogh.

          Shelby cut the Ontario lead to (23-17) with 3:48 left in the second quarter on a field goal by freshman Brennan Armstrong, but the Warriors responded with a (7-0) run to take a (30-17) lead with 2:57 left after a basket by Cory Thomas.

          With a final push Shelby got to within five (60-55) after a three pointer by Brandon Schneider with 3:25 to play in the game, but Ontario would end the game scoring the final eight points.

          District player of year Lenell Shelby spend the majority of the third quarter on the bench with three fouls.  However, Ontario was able to stretch their lead to as many as 19 (49-30) with 3:46 left in the third.  "We have a lot of confidence in our bench.  Griffin Ness coming off the bench was huge.  Cory Thomas was really big for us too.  It is just part of this team that they have a lot of confidence in each other.  That confidence shows in how they play.  Griffin hit a couple of shots and we ran a play for him and they put it right in his hands to get another shot.  Our bench has been huge all year.  We think it allows us to play just a little harder than maybe some teams we play against," said Balogh.

          Shelby (15-9) presses for the entire game, in the full and half court.  Balogh says they did a good job, at least early in the game of attacking that press.  "Early on we really attacked their pressure.  The hard part is sometimes when you get up 19 as a coach you get a little conservative.  We try to tell them to attack, but we made a couple of poor decisions when we tried to attack off the first pass or the second pass.  When we were good is when we got it to the third or fourth pass," he said.

          Shelby was paced by 11 points each from Schneider and Cody Stine.

 

Published 3/11/15

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Balogh Wants Good Shot Selection

 

          Ontario is going to have to beat a very good Shelby team for a third time this season to reach the district final.

          They face the Whippets in the division district semi finals at Mansfield Senior High School on Wednesday night.

          Coach Joe Balogh says his team is focused on putting itself among the best teams in the history of Ontario basketball.  "They have already made a great mark going undefeated in the Northern Ohio League and having the record that they have.  If you are able to add a district title to your resume that is very, very special because that doesn't happen that often.  So, this is an important week for what we are trying to accomplish," he said.

          The Warriors beat Shelby (74-61) at their place and (64-59) on the road this season in Northern Ohio League play.  Balogh says the Whippets shoot a lot of threes and they try to turn you over in order to create good shots on the offensive end.  "They use the three point shot as a major weapon in their offense.  You have to be able to get out and contest threes on a number of players.  They really try to create offense with their defense with their trapping and their pressure in both the full and half court, so you have to be able to make good decisions with the basketball," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "You need to make sure you kind of attack the rim.  If you choose to take jump shots you better make them because they are going to come right back at you."

          If they are able to break the Shelby pressure Balogh says its key for them to attack on the offensive end.  "That has to be the mentality.  Our identity is we want to attack teams that pressure us.  When you have advantage opportunities you can score.  We will shoot open jump shots, but you can't just settle for jump shots.  If we have a chance to take the ball to the basket and attack the basket I think we need to do that," he said.

          Ontario (23-1), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, is not one of the biggest teams in the area, but they have been a very good rebounding team.  Balogh thinks they need to make that be a factor on Wednesday night.  "I think rebounding at both ends of the floor is important from the standpoint that defensively you want to limit teams to just one shot and from an offensive standpoint you want to get second shot opportunities.  We have had guys that have made efforts to the offensive glass and we have done a pretty good job of that this year.  I think those second shot opportunities are huge, especially when you get into tournament play," said Balogh.

          There are going to be some big plays to be made on Wednesday night, momentum shifters, and Balogh says they need to make more of those.  "There are plays in the beginning of the game and the middle of the game that are going to be crucial too, but usually the ones you recognize are the ones that are made in the fourth.  I think we have kids that are pretty hungry and we hope we are the team that can make more of those plays than Shelby does," he said.

 

Published 3/11/15

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Ontario wants to Make its Mark

 

          Ontario played really well in winning their first tournament game on Tuesday and they are ready to do it again on Friday.

          They play Sandusky Perkins in the division two sectional finals at Mansfield Madison Middle School.

          On Tuesday, the outright Northern Ohio League champs hammered Oak Harbor (75-45) and coach Joe Balogh says a real good start helped to fuel that win.  "We were really pleased about how we started the game to be up 23-3 at the end of the first quarter I thought it showed a lot about our kids readiness to play.  We really were able to carry that through the first half and then be able to play a lot of kids in the second half and rested a little bit in preparation for this game on Friday," he said.

          This has been a group of players that has really succeeded this season and Balogh says they are eager to continue to achieve.  "I think they really want to make a statement and put their mark on the program now.  They have already done some really great things.  Every step we take in the tournament is another notch they can kind of put in their belts in something special that they have done to kind of put their stamp on the tradition and legacy of the Ontario basketball program.  I think that is kind of what they want to do to just continue to build the legacy of the 2014-2015 basketball team," he said.

          Sandusky Perkins (7-15) had been the dominate power in the Sandusky Bay Conference in recent years, but Balogh says this year they have been really inexperienced.  "They are very young.  Right now, they are starting two sophomores, two freshmen, and a junior and they have dealt with some injuries during the season to key players, so they have kind of battled back.  They are really athletic.  They are 6'4", 6'3" in the post and both kids jump really well.  They have a couple of kids that can really shoot it.  Their point guard is the quarterback of the football team and does a really nice job of seeing the floor," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Their athleticism presents a little bit of a concern for us from the standpoint when we scouted them and they were able to get the ball to the lane and gotten to the free throw line they have been very successful from the free throw line.  So, we are going to have to play really good defense without fouling and try to keep them off the free throw line as much as we can."

          Ontario (22-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, has been a quick tempo team all year and you would expect that Perkins would try to slow them down, but Balogh says the Pirates might try about anything.  "They are not afraid to take advantage of transition opportunities, so it's not like if they break pressure they are going to pull the basketball out, they will continue to attack.  We would like it to be an up tempo game and maybe force them to shoot the basketball quicker than they want to.  The tournament is always a challenge to see how teams want to play, especially with teams that in the area that know you a little bit.  They have seem us play, they have scouted us, they have tape on us.  So, they may do something totally different than they have all year.  We have to be prepared for really anything and I think our kids are.  We have seen a lot of different defenses through the year.  We have had to play the faster pace, the slower pace.  I think these kids are really going to be ready to play on Friday," said Balogh.

 

 

Published 3/06/15

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Ontario Closes Regular Season with Norwalk

 

          Ontario can finish the Northern Ohio League unbeaten this season if their win against the school that is quickly becoming their biggest rival, the Norwalk Truckers.

          The Warriors downed Mansfield St. Peter's (61-49) in a non-league game on Monday night.  Coach Joe Balogh says they really executed well when they had the ball in their hands.  "We were pleased with how we executed offensively.  We shot 57 percent from the field.  Especially in the second half and late in the game I thought our offensive execution was really, really good.  I think that is important at this time of year that you are as efficient offensively as you can be.  I thought we were pretty efficient in the second half offensively," he said.

          On defense, that was another story on Monday.  Balogh says they had to refocus a little bit.  "We kind of had to remind them that we have kind of hung our hat on pressuring the basketball and getting up in passing lanes.  I was little disappointed in that.  In the third quarter we kind of took a timeout to remind ourselves of that.  After that we turned them over three times in row and it led to two baskets.  We talked to our kids quite a bit about being active, active on the ball and maybe more important than being active on the ball is being active off of the ball and you can attack and get some deflections and steals.  We had to remind our kids of that, but they have been responsive to anything we asked then to do," said Balogh.

          Ontario (20-1,11-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, hosts Norwalk (11-10,5-6) in a league game on Friday night.  Balogh says the Truckers have become pretty good at stopping, or at least slowing down, the opponent.  "They have struggled a little bit offensively, but they have been pretty solid defensively.  They had a nice win at Genoa on Monday night when they won something like 58-35 or something on Monday.  This being the last game of the year I think they are 11-10 overall and 5-6 in the league, so they are looking at a situation they can pretty much guarantee that they will be a least .500 with a win and would be .500 in the league.  When you consider all of the players they lost that is a pretty good year," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We have to be ready to play.  We have won the league outright, but there is a lot of pride in this game with the rivalry and the two games we had last year.  So, we hope our kids are really excited about playing this final regular season game with a chance to go undefeated in the "NOL."

          Because Norwalk plays defense so well and they way they play it, Balogh says this game will prepare them well for the tournament.  "We are going to have to execute in a variety of ways because I am sure they are going to show us man to man pressure and they are going to show us some different looks in zone.  We are gong to have to do a good job in recognizing defenses.  It will be a challenge because Norwalk likes to confuse you a little bit with their different defensive looks.  They are also not afraid to trap at any time.  It will be a challenge for us as we approach the tournament trail next week," he said.

 

Published 2/27/15

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Ontario Guns for Outright "NOL" Title

 

          Last season, Ontario's first in the Northern Ohio League, they shared the league title, and this year they have already assured that share, but this time they want it all to themselves.

          They have the chance to earn that undisputed title when they play at Tiffin Columbian on Tuesday night.

          Coach Joe Balogh says it has been their goal is to win an outright title and he is confident his kids will be focused when they play Columbian.  "We are excited about the chance to win an outright Northern Ohio League title.  Hopefully our kids are really ready to play.  I think we will be.  If we are not ready to play it is the fault of our coaching staff for not getting them ready.  I don't think our kids really should have to be motivated to play when you are playing for a chance to win a league title you should really be ready to play," he said.

          Ontario (18-1,10-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays a good schedule and Balogh says his players have been ready to compete every time and that has led to their consistency.  "It is really an emphasis of what we try to do in our program.  We kind of have a routine about how we go about each week.  I think our kids understand our routine and what they are supposed to know and what they are supposed to have knowledge of.  The last couple of years we really built on that.  When you have that in place, I don't know if it makes things easier, but it makes you feel pretty confident that your kids are going to be ready to play going into a game," he said.

          Tiffin Columbian (7-11,1-8) just won its first league game on Friday when they beat Willard (65-57) at their place.  However, they do have a couple of talented post players in Derek Dryfuse and Cody Daniel.  Balogh says they are going to have to get some help guarding them.  "They are a talented basketball team.  They probably have two of the most talented post players that we play in the league.  They are going to pose some problems because they do a really good job of posting up low.  We have Andrew Rathburn, who is a big, physical body, but our other post player really isn't that strong," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We have to make more adjustments defensively than what we normally do.  We have to a better job of helping in the post when those guys catch it because I don't think we can defend those guys one on one.  it has to be a team effort when we try to get the ball out of their hands in the low post and make their perimeter guys try to beat us."

          Ontario still has a two games to play after this, Mansfield St. Peter's on Saturday and Norwalk a week from Friday.  Balogh says have to keep the pedal down.  "Our goals is to win an outright league title on Tuesday night and we have some other goals that we would like to achieve into Tuesday night to Saturday night and to next Friday that can make this team a special team in the tradition of Ontario basketball.  We have kind of mentioned that to our kids.  I think our kids understand the importance of ending the season strong and being a confident team when we go into the tournament," he said.

 

Published 2/17/15

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Ontario Can Earn Share

 

          Ontario has not lost a game within the Northern Ohio League this year and they can clinch no less than a share of the league title with a win on Friday night at Shelby against a pretty good Whippets team.

          In a surprise to some Mansfield Christian, of the Mid-Buckeye Conference, was able to give Ontario all they wanted at the Furnace before loosing (63-61) in overtime.  However, Ontario coach Joe Balogh wasn't that surprised.  "John (Kurtz) has done a really great job when he was at Crestview and now at Christian.  Their kids play with no fear, they play extremely hard.  There was a lot of excitement in the gym.  We had some chances to take control of the game and they didn't allow that to happen and made plays that put the game into overtime.  I'm pleased that our kids were kind of able to regain their poise and their composure and we were able to pull out enough plays down the stretch to get the victory," he said.

          They have not been part of a lot of close games this year and Balogh hopes his team can learn form some of the mistakes they made to allow the Flames back in the game.  "At the time you don't want to be in that situation, but as you look back you try to practice those situations with score and time situations, but it is never the same when you get into a game.  We did some things well, but we also did some things that we weren't very pleased with, especially in regulation.  Hopefully, it is a situation where we can learn from that we can apply it if we are in that situation in the future," he said.

          Ontario (17-1,9-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays at Shelby (12-6,6-3), #5 in our poll, in an "NOL" game on Friday night.

          Balogh says the Whippets are playing with a lot of confidence.  "I think they lost their first to and then won about four straight and really ever since then have played with a lot of confidence.  They are a team that is playing a little bit of a different style than they have in the past.  They want to press and are using the three as really a weapon.  They have a bunch of guys that can shoot it and they all kind of have the green light to shoot it," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "What is dangerous from that standpoint is you really can't match one or two shooters because they have four or five guys on the floor that will shoot it at anytime.  The three point shot has really change the game a lot and they are really taking advantage of it this season."

          Shelby is a team that has been able to put together some impressive runs in game this year and Balogh says they have to stop that on Friday night.  He says they can do that by defending the three point shot.  "A game has a lot of ups and downs.  What you try to do in a game is get the game to a level that your team is comfortable playing at.  You don't want to have a lot of high peaks and low peaks.  What you have to do with Shelby is prevent them from having that 6, 8, 10, 12 point run because that makes a difference.  A key in a game like this from an offensive standpoint is you want to make sure you are getting good possessions.  You may not always score, but you want to get good looks.  From a defensive standpoint, especially with them, you can not allow them to have wide open threes.  We have to be able to do a great job of being able to contest their threes and that is going to be a challenge," said Balogh.

 

Published 2/13/15

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Ontario Pushing Toward Stretch Drive

 

          Ontario leads the Northern Ohio League standings by two games over Sandusky and they just beat the Blue Streaks on Saturday night, but there are still four league games to play beginning with Bellevue on Friday night.

          Ontario (15-1,8-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys basketball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Bellevue (55-42) on December 27.  Coach Joe Balogh says Bellevue (4-11,1-6) can not be taken lightly.  "We have a Bellevue team coming here who's record doesn't look really good, but if you look at their last three to four games.  Saturday, they lose to Willard and had a shot at the buzzer to win it.  Tuesday they played Edison and were up 13 going to fourth quarter and lost in overtime.  They played a very good Shelby team two weeks ago and they were down two at the end of the third and lost by nine.  So, they have been in a lot of games and just have not been able to finish it off.  What is scary about then is they are very athletic at all positions and they could give us a lot of trouble is we aren't really ready to play," said Bellevue.

          They are a team that runs the dribble drive offense, and Balogh says against Bellevue they have to be able to keep the ball in front of them.  "They are not afraid to push it because they are athletic.  The thing that they do is they use a lot of dribble drive and when they are able to beat people off the dribble it creates a lot of problems for your defense.  So, from a defensive standpoint we are going to have to do a really good job of keeping the dribble in front of us and keep the ball out of the lane so we don't force ourselves into a lot of situations where we have to help and recover, that's where they get a lot of their threes, and if you have to help a lot, and you don't get the help, they can finish at the basket.  They don't do a lot of complicated things offensively, but they do some things that can give defenses a lot of problems if you allow them to beat you with a lot of penetration," said Balogh.

          Sometimes when teams are as good as Ontario their opponents will change their style to just try something different against them.  However, Balogh says that hasn't really happened against them this year.  "I can't think of what game it was, maybe it was the first time we played Bellevue, we prepared for man or zone and it was the opposite, and that might have been the only time.  What we try to do with our practices is we will take one day where we really concentrate on what we do against man defenses and we try to take another day where a good portion of the practice is of us playing zone and us running our zone stuff.  On Thursday before we play Bellevue the focus will be the things that Bellevue tries to do well and this is what we anticipate," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We have tried to do a better job pf preparing our team rather than worrying about the opponent.  Our scouting reports are really, really important to us, but we have kind of gotten away from in practice worrying so much about our opponent and tried to focus on what our team needs to do to get better."

          Ontario plays at Mansfield Christian (11-5) in an non-conference game on Saturday night.  Balogh says the Flames are going to be hard nosed.  "John (Kurtz) has always done a great job whether it was when he was at Crestview or now that he is at Christian their kids just play extremely hard.  They don't care who they play against they don't back down against anybody.  We have seen that in the summer when they have come over here and played in open gym.  It is kind of a unique atmosphere in their gym and have a really enthusiastic fan base.  It will be a good test for us to kind of go into that environment to see how we handle coming off a key league game on Friday night.  We really haven't played a double weekend in a long time, probably since December.  We have had some Thursday-Saturday games, but we haven't had a Friday-Saturday back to back," said Balogh.

 

Published 2/05/15

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Ontario Now up Two

 

          Ontario used a (10-3) fourth quarter run to take control and the Northern Ohio League leading Warriors downed second place Sandusky (64-54) on Saturday night at the "O-rena."

          The game was tied at 39 after three quarters of play and after a three pointer by Sandusky's Cavon Croom with 7:14 left in the game the Blue Streaks had a (42-41) lead.  Sandusky made only one field goal over the next four minutes.

          Coach Joe Balogh says it was their defense that was able to give them the momentum.  "We had a stretch of three or four possessions in the fourth quarter where we just got stops and we got conversations out of it whether it was a score or we whether we were able to attack the basket and get to the free throw line, which was huge.  I just really liked the toughness that our kids showed and the togetherness that we showed down the stretch.  I just thought we were a really focused basketball team at the defensive end.  We talked about executing our sets much better and when they went zone we ran a couple of sets and just executed them to perfection.  A lot of credit goes to our kids for that kind of focus," said Balogh.

          The Ontario coach though they did a good job of keeping the athletic Sandusky guards out of the lane and when they got there were able to make them pay by drawing fouls.  "We thought about trying to press them, but I think the big thing where they have been strong is just beating teams in transition.  Our emphasis was we had to control the ball in transition and not let them get easy baskets or get to the lane.  We did a really good job of that in the full court and the half court," he told Swankonsports.com after the game, "Another big key at the start of the second half was we had two charges taken at the beginning of the third quarter.  We had some opportunities to do that in the first half, but we tried to block shots.  I thought our kids toughness of just sticking their nose in there and taking a charge, one of them took away a basket, which was huge.  It also made them a little tentative when they got to the lane because they know somebody is there and they are going to maybe make that charge, so I thought those plays were huge for us in the third quarter."

          Sandusky guard George Brown had to sit for about eight minutes of the second half after he was whistled for a charge with more than seven minutes to play in the third quarter.

          Ontario one the battle of the boards, including some key offensive rebounds in the pivotal fourth quarter.  11 came from Bradley Garverick and Balogh says he just does a tremendous job.  "Bradley Garverick has just been outstanding on the glass on both ends of the floor.  When you watch tape he is just fun to watch because of his efforts to the offensive glass and then he is just kind of relentless at the defensive end of the floor.  When you look at him he is probably 160 pounds, but he just gets after it and plays with a lot of effort.  If we can get our other kids to play with that kind of effort consistently like he does we would be even better on the glass," said Balogh.

          Ontario (15-1,8-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball poll in the large school division, leads Sandusky, #3 in the poll, by two games in the league.  "You want to win the games at home.  We played well up there in December to beat them and kind of protected our home court here, so it puts us in a good situation, but as the old saying goes when we get back on Tuesday we have to get better," he said

 

Published 2/01/15

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Ontario Tries to Protect Lead

 

          Ontario would like to create some space between them and the rest of the field in the Northern Ohio League as they play Willard on Thursday and at home against second place Sandusky on Saturday night.

          The Warriors beat Highland (71-46), of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, in non-conference play on Saturday night.  Coach Joe Balogh says they didn't play as consistently as he would liked in the first half of the game.  "In the first half we had a couple of times when we got it to 12 and they hit some shots at the end and cut it to six.  We were not happy with the way we finished the half, but we were really pleased about how we came out in the first three minutes.  We took it from a six point game to about a 15 point game and then really never let them back in it," he told Swankonspots.com on Wednesday, "We were pleased with that effort in the second half.  As always at this time of year you continue to look for consistency in your team and that is one of the things we have to keep working to be better at.  When you get off to a good start and have a chance to put the hammer to a team in the first half you need to do that, but pleased about how well we played in the second half of that game."

          Ontario (13-1,6-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, travels to Willard on Thursday night.  They beat the Flashes (61-39) back in early December.  Balogh says they want to make Willard play faster.  "They run a lot of good stuff.  They run a variety of things out or transition and a variety of things in the half court.  You have to defend down screens, cross screens, and player screens.  With Ebert and Robinson they have two really good players that can score off the catch or off the bounce, so we have to do a really good job from a defensive standpoint of trying to make them uncomfortable and not letting them run their stuff.  If you allow them to run their stuff they are going to get great looks.  Anytime you go on the road and you allow teams to get great looks it usually spells trouble.  Our pressure on the basketball and not allowing them to do the good things that they do in the half court is going to be key to our success," said Balogh.

          Ontario beat Sandusky (12-3,5-1), #3 in our poll, (71-61) in their first meeting this year.  Balogh says the Streaks play aggressive defense and they have a lot of weapons on offense.  "I think they have win eight or nine in a row coming into this week and they are playing with a lot of confidence.  They have done a really good job in this streak of not allowing, I think I read, in this streak of eight games they have held their opponent under 20 points in the first half in every one of those games.  So, they are really doing a great job in guarding.  They are hard to guard because they have guys that can shoot the three and they have got guys that can really beat you off the dribble whether it be in the half court or in transition.  We will have our hands full on Saturday night when Sandusky comes here," said Balogh.

 

Published 1/29/15

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Warriors Undefeated over First half of "NOL"

 

        Corey Thomas came off the bench to score 19 points and Ontario smothered Norwalk (51-33) in a Northern Ohio League game on Thursday night.

          Defense was the difference in the win for the Warriors and coach Joe Balogh says they were able to take the Truckers out of what they wanted to do.  "We had held them to 12 in the first half.  They came out and made an 8-0 run to kind of cut into the lead.  I think we were able to extend if back out 11 at the end of the third and kind of maintained it.  We didn't shoot it very well offensively, but when you can be pretty good on defense that makes a big difference," said Balogh.

          A big plus for Ontario this year is the way they have forced turnovers and them converted scores off of those.  Balogh says that didn't happen on Thursday night, but they were pretty good in the half court.  "They did a really good job defensively.  We were a little surprised that they just played us man to man.  We wanted to steed them up and we weren't able to do that at our defensive end of the floor.  The key for us is we were able to get great production off our bench.  Cory Thomas came in and had 19 for us and that was really key for us because he was able to give us a presence inside.  I was really pleased with how he came off the bench and played for us," he said.

          Ontario held a 37-23 rebounding edge in the game as Thomas had seven.  Balogh said he and some other guys off the bench did real good job.  He says those guys know if they do the job they will stay in the game.  "Our depth has been a real key.  The situation is you better play hard or someone is going to come in and play harder than you.  If somebody comes in and plays well they are going play more minutes," he told Swankonsports.com after the game, "It makes for a competitive spirit everyday that we practice.  Their is an understanding that during a game that you better not be concerned about the quantity of minutes that you play, but the quality.  We have been getting a lot of quality minutes from a lot of different kids."

          Ontario (12-1,6-0) has gone through the first half of the Northern Ohio League's double round robin unbeaten.  Balogh says that means they control their own destiny.  "It is really important for us, especially to go on the road to Norwalk.  Now we are in a situation where you are in the second half of the league and we continue to control our own destiny.  You are not asking for help from anybody else you are just looking at how well your team can play.  We have put ourselves in that situation now we just have to continue to work better in the second half of the league than we did the first half," he said.

          Ontario plays host to Highland out of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference on Saturday night in non-conference play.

 

Published 1/23/15

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Ontario Developing More as a Team

 

          Ontario continues to motor right along with another outstanding season as they lead the Northern Ohio League standings by a game over both Norwalk and Sandusky.

          Last week, they downed Tiffin Columbian (70-50) and coach Joe Balogh says they did a very nice job of running their offense when facing Tiffin's zone.  "I was really pleased with how we played last Friday.  Tiffin showed us more zone than we had seen all year.  I was even more pleased when I watched the tape because we had good spacing in the zone.  Our patience led to shots that we wanted to get with our willingness to turn down a good shot to get a great shot.  I think that showed in our shooting percentages when we went 10 for 19 from three point range that we were willing to make the extra pass to get guys open shots.  So, really pleased with out effort last Friday night," said Balogh.

          Ontario has scored a lot of points on fast breaks or off steals this year, but Balogh says they need to continue to develop in executing in the half court.  "We take a lot of pride is what we can do defensively by creating some offense with our defense.  I think if you want to become and elite team or a really good team you have to be able to score in your half court offense whether it be against man or zone," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "Right now, we think we are taking good strides at becoming a pretty good team in the half court when teams try to pack it in on us and slow it down on us a little bit.  That is a process that we are still working on, but we thought we made a lot of process on Friday night with it."

         Ontario (10-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball poll in the large school division, steps out of the "NOL" to play an old rival as they travel to New Washington to meet Buckeye Central (7-4) in non-conference play on Friday night.  Balogh says the combination of Austin Wurm, a 1,000 point scorer, and Grant Loy, make the Bucks hard to contain.  "Wurm and Loy are probably two of the best players in the area no matter what the division.  Wurm is just a really good three point shooter off the pass or off the dribble and can create his own shot.  Loy is just physical, very athletic player that can take the ball to the basket and is just extremely strong and can shoot the three off the catch or the drive.  We are going to have to do a good job of just containing those two guys.  They score about 60 percent of their points are we just have to do a really good job controlling those two guys," said Balogh.

 

Published 1/14/15

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Ontario Wants to Make it Fast

 

          Ontario leads the Northern Ohio League standings by a game over Norwalk and Sandusky and they try to maintain that advantage as they host Tiffin Columbian on Friday night.

          Tuesday night, the Warriors downed Galion (58-50) in a non-conference game.  Coach Joe Balogh says it was not a complete game, but a pretty good one.  "It was a good win for us going on the road.  Galion is a team that has been playing pretty well over the last several games.  You are always concerned maybe with how you are going to play on a Tuesday night.  We went to Wooster on a Tuesday night early in the season and didn't play really well.  I was pleased, we played a really nice third quarter and forced nine turnovers and extended a four point lead to about 17.  We didn't close out the game like we wanted to.  Galion continued to fight back and made a little bit of a run at us late in the game, but a good win either way going on the road," said Balogh.

          One of the real strengths of the Ontario basketball team this year is their bench.  Balogh says they have some really good kids that can do some nice things that aren't starters.  "We have gotten real good production out of guys like Alex Vredenburgh, Griffin Ness, Quan Jackson, Corey Thomas have done an outstanding job of either maintaining what we have been doing or lifting us up.  So, our bench has been key in how we like to play as far as being an up tempo team and pressuring defensively.  It is hard for one player to be able to do that for 32 minutes," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "I think what are starters have really started to understand too is the harder they play, the better we are and they are not expected to play that way for 26 minutes, but they can play really hard for three or four minuets they are going to get a little bit of a blow and the guys coming in are pretty much going to lift them up.  Our bench has been really key to our success so far this season."

          Columbian (4-4,0-3) has done some good things, but they haven't been able to win in the league yet this year.  Balogh says they are really strong inside.  "They return two players in Derek Dryfuss and Cody Daniel that are both 6'6" post players that are really athletic.  They really pose a problem because they can post you up inside and they can put it on the floor from 15 feet, but I think the biggest thing that concerns us is their ability to get to the offensive glass.  So, we have to do a really good job of keeping them off the glass.  I think our pressure has to be able to create some turnovers.  Their guard play may be a little bit of a question, but their guard play has been good enough.  When they are able to get the basketball inside they have been effective.  We can't allow them to become just a half court team and put the ball inside," said Balogh.

          Ontario has been able to turn some their games this year into track meets and Balogh says they want to get this game against Tiffin moving too.  "I think they would prefer the game to be more of a half court game so they can pound it inside to their two post kids.  They even bring another 6'4" kid off the bench.  It will be a battle of tempos as far as who can if we can get the game going at a faster pace or they can try and keep it a half court game," he said.

 

Published 1/09/15

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Ontario Must Handle Shelby Pressure

 

          In the first boys' basketball game of the new year and second place Shelby is at first place Ontario for a big game in the Northern Ohio League.

          The Warriors (7-1,3-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, kept their league record unblemished with a (55-42) win at Bellevue last Saturday.  Coach Joe Balogh says they did it with defense.  "We did a great job defensively to held Bellevue to 42 points at their place.  I think we can get better offensively, but especially in last two games against Bellevue and Madison it has been our defense that has really been the key.  We haven't been as efficient offensively as we would have liked to have been, but defensively we have just done an outstanding job of really limiting what teams can do against us.  That is the sign of a good basketball team if your defense carries you when you struggle offensively," he said.

          Over the last two games the Warriors have been a little sluggish with on offense and Balogh says that is because they are turning it over too much.  "We want to play fast, but we kind of use the team that we want to be quick, but not in a hurry.  At times we have been in too much of a hurry offensively and we have had some turnovers that have been unnecessary and we need to make a better decision with the basketball.  In our first four games our turnovers were 10 or less and we have been in the 15 to 17 range here the last few games," he told Swankonsports.com on New year's Day, "Our goal is to stay within that 10 to 15 turnover range.  We think when you don't turnover at least you have a chance to shoot the basketball and a chance that you are going to score.  When you turn it over you eliminate that chance.  Our emphasis is we have to take a little better care of the basketball and making better decisions with it."

          Shelby played maybe their best game of the season last Saturday in beating Tiffin Columbian (65-48) in league play and Balogh says the Whippets have been forcing quick decisions from their opponent.  "They lost their first two and they have won five in a row so they are playing with a lot of confidence.  They are somewhat of a young basketball team.  They are playing some seniors, but they are playing several freshmen and sophomores.  What they have been able to do is turn teams over with their pressure.  They want to trap in the full court and they want to trap in the half court.  They want to try and make you make quick decisions with the basketball.  They have been able to force teams to throw the basketball away or turn teams over and create offense with their defense," he said.

          Plus, the Whippets (5-2,2-1) have become a perimeter oriented team and Balogh says they have must get hands in faces.  "The other thing is they have shot the ball much better.  Against Tiffin they probably had 11 or 12 threes and that was divided among five different guys.  I think there were five different guys that had at least two threes.  The problem they pose is one you better be able to handle their pressure and two they have a lot of different guys that can shoot the basketball.  You have to do a great job of coming out with high hands to their shooters.  If you make them put the ball on the floor you have to keep the ball out of the lane because they to a great job of kicking it out to open shooters.  They challenge for us will be two things, one to handle the pressure and two allow them to just spot up and shoot it," said Balogh.

          A win by Shelby moves them into a share of first place in the "NOL" and Balogh says they are in a situation where they want to protect their home court.  "I always say you never win the league in the first round, but you can lose it.  It is a big game from the standpoint that it is on our home floor and you want to try and protect your court.  This starts the new year and you want to try and get off on the right foot.  Typically over the years Ontario and Shelby has been a great rivalry.  For all of the years we have been here we have only played them once, but now we are playing them two times because we are in the league and possibly a third time if you play them in the tournament.  it is going to be an exciting atmosphere here at the "O-Rena" and I think our kids are going to enjoy it and their kids will enjoy it too," said Balogh.

 

Published 1/01/15

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Ontario Holds on to Beat Madison

 

          Lenel Shelby poured in 23 points and Ontario sprinted to a 15 point halftime lead and held on to beat Mansfield Madison (54-48) in a non-conference boys' basketball game at the "O-Rena" on Tuesday night.

          Madison's leading scorer, the explosive sophomore Tyrell Ajain finished with a team high 12, but didn't score until less than three minutes remained in the first quarter and only scored four points the entire second half.  Ontario coach Joe Balogh thought they didn't an excellent job defensively on Ajian and Billy Buckley.  "I thought we did.  Ajian ends up 12, he eight in the first half and Buckley gets nine, all in the second half.  We had to limit the touches of those two guys and I thought we did a really good job of that," he said.

          Ajian has scored as many as 25 in a game and averages more than 20 per contest.  Rams coach Tim Mergel says he has to be ready to score against tough defenses like he saw Tuesday night.  "Tyrell is going to continue to see that.  He is a sophomore, so he has two and three quarters of a year left.  He is going to see all kinds of defenses.  He is going to see all kinds of crazy things thrown at him.  He continues to work hard and he continues to want to get better.  So, he knows he is going to have to continue to earn everything he gets," said Mergel.

          Shelby, the Warriors (6-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball poll in the large school division, only returning started form last year's Northern Ohio league co-champs scored eight of his points during the second quarter when the Warriors outscored Madison (17-10), plus Balogh says he did a great job guarding Ajian.  "Lenel can do some things that our point guards haven't been able to do for years.  He was pretty solid defensively.  We kind of had him matched on Tyrell.  We switched some people on him, but I thought his defense was really a key for us," he said.

          The Ontario pressure hurt the Rams (5-2), #4 in the our poll, especially early, and Mergel says they were sloppy in the first half and it cost them.  "We told the guys prior to the game just by watching Ontario they score bunches of points when they get a turnover and transition offense.  If we limit their transition and stop the ball with Shelby and we take care of the basketball we are going to be successful.  The first half it didn't work out that way," he told Swankonsports.com after the game, "Against Clear Fork I think we had three turnovers and in the first three minutes we had five (Tuesday) night.  That is a credit to Ontario and the defensive pressure they brought.  We were sloppy with the basketball and they capitalized."

          Ontario only scored seven points in the third quarter and Balogh says they didn't play smart basketball.  "Just disappointed that we didn't value possession of the basketball as much.  When you are in the situation where you have that 13, 15 point lead you need to make people come and play you.  Some of our decision making was I am going to drive the ball into the lane and they were taking charges.  We need to make them come to us and then the lane will open up and we just drove into traffic,' said Balogh.

          There were a number of times when the Warriors either got stick backs or kept Madison's hands off the ball with offensive rebounds.  Balogh says that was a plus Tuesday night.  "We talk about efforts to the glass.  We have 11 offensive rebounds, I'm not sure how many of those were in the first half.  Bradley Garverick was really good on the glass at both ends all night, " he said.

 

Published 12/23/14

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Talented Teams Ontario and Madison Lock Horns

 

          Ontario and Mansfield Madison, two of the better boys' basketball teams in North Central Ohio face each other at the "O-rena" on Tuesday night in non-conference play.

          After losing their first game to Wooster last Tuesday, the Warriors (5-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Sandusky (71-61) in Northern Ohio League play on Saturday.  Coach Joe Balogh was pleased with how they responded.  "We were happy with how we were able to bounce back and our seniors showed great leadership.  Lenell Shelby, Paul Homan and Bradley Garverick were all were all in double figures and just their leadership on the floor was really, really good.  It was really good to make that road trip and come back with a victory and we were really happy with that," he said.

          Madison (5-1), #4 in our poll, is enjoying it's best season since going to the regionals four years ago.  Balogh says they have some scorers and the Rams play very well on defense.  "They have played really well. Their loss to Norwalk was on a shot with about two seconds to go, so they easily could be undefeated.  The Ajian kid and Buckley have played extremely well for them.  We have to do a really good job containing those two guys because when they have been able to score everybody else has been able to step up a little bit.  Our emphasis is we have to do a really good job controlling those two guys," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "I think more than that defensively they have been really, really tough.  Their half court defense is as good as anybody's we have seen up to this point in the season.  They just make things difficult for you and they have some athletes that just make things difficult for you.  We expect Tuesday night to be an exciting basketball game."

          Balogh says the Warriors have to make solid passes when they face the Rams or they are going to end up making too many turnovers.  "They are going to be physical on the basketball.  They do a great job of switching actions away from the ball, they have been able to get in passing lanes.  We have to do a great job of catching and facing the basket and making reads.  If you are just passing to an area you think is going to be open it will be a guy with a different color jersey taking the ball away from you.  We have to do a good job of taking care of the basketball.  Just like we told our kids going into the Saturday game usually it is the team that makes the less mistakes that wins the basketball game and that is going to be the case again on Tuesday," said Balogh.

          After just playing on Saturday it's a quick turnaround for the Warriors, but Balogh thinks they will be ready.  "A lot of the things that we do defensively we try to cover in the first two, three weeks of practice with the different kinds of screens that we will face, so when we play certain teams that run certain stuff it is just kind of a reminder.  We have seen a lot of actions that they run.  It just comes down to having that focus and being able to defend it," he said.

 

Published 12/23/14

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Ontario Has to reduce Turnovers

 

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Joe Balogh

 

          Ontario lost its first game Tuesday after winning its first four in impressive fashion and it was mostly about turnovers.

          Wooster downed the Warriors (60-55) in non-conference play and coach Joe Balogh says they just weren't as focused as maybe they needed to be.  "We need to understand when we go on the road that the start of the game is really important.  We didn't get off to a real great start, we got down early.  It was just one of those night when we had to keep fighting back.  We were down four at the half and felt pretty good because we hadn't played that well.  In the third quarter we came out and turned it over 11 of 19 possessions and we were down 11 going to fourth and we were lucky we were only down that many," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We didn't play with a lot of poise in the third quarter, but I give our kids a lot of credit we really battled back in the fourth and had it twice cut to three, but we never had the basketball with a chance to tie it.  I think the lesson we need to learn is that when we are on the road it is different you have to be a little more focused.  We had 21 turnovers in the game which has really been atypical of this basketball team.  You have to take care of the basketball and we didn't do a very good job of that.  We lost our poise a little bit and you can't do that, especially on the road.  Hopefully, it is a good learning experience for our kids because we have to bounce back and go to another tough place to play in Sandusky on Saturday."

          Ontario (4-1,1-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the large school division, pays a visit to Sandusky (3-1,2-0) on Saturday night.  The Blue Streaks won at Willard (66-53) on Tuesday.  Balogh says they have experience and talent.  "They have a lot of kids back.  They were really young last year and they are really athletic.  They are just kind of playing.  They have a new coach in Colin Irish, who was a really great player in high school and had a great collegiate career.  I think he has come in and tried to establish a little more discipline in them and just getting them to play hard.  We are going to be in a rough spot going in there on Saturday night traveling on the road to Sandusky.  Being early in the league it is an important game to try and win on the road," said Balogh.

          Winning on the road in the league against a good team is like a steal, but Balogh says getting out of town with the loot won't be easy.  "It would be a nice steal, but if we go in there and turn it over 21 times like we did on Tuesday we are going to be in for a long night, so we are going to have to do a good job of taking care of the basketball.  That is really going to be a high priority on our list.  If we have 16 turnovers in the game against Wooster at least gives you five chances to shoot the basketball and score.  I would have liked our chances if we would have had 15 or 16 turnovers rather than 21," he said.

 

Published 12/19/14

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Ontario Faces Big Weekend With Willard and Lexington

 

          Ontario hosts Willard in a key early season game in the Northern Ohio League on Friday and then plays Lexington in a rival game on Saturday.

          On the opening weekend the Warriors blasted both Clear Fork (75-47) and Crestview (82-47) to start the year 2-0.  Coach Joe Balogh says their ball handling was solid and their bench gave them good minutes in both games.  "We were really happy and the most happy from the standpoint that we did a really good job taking care of the basketball offensively.  We try to play fast, we were able to play fast, and we only had eight turnovers on Friday and nine on Saturday.  Keeping it under 10 and playing at the pace that we like to play was really, really good, so we are extremely happy with that.  We were really happy about the play we got off our bench.  Our bench came in an energized us a lot.  They never let us down in fact many times added to what we wanted to do at the defensive end of the floor," said Balogh.

          Plus, they were able to take away what the other teams wanted to do.  Balogh says they did that with pressure defense.  "We are not really big inside, but we are pretty athletic at the perimeter positions.  We think we have a handful of guys, not just one or two, but a handful of guys that can really guard the basketball.  Our emphasis has been to really try and pressure the basketball then guys off the basketball can be even more active.  We were able to do that in both of those games last weekend," he said.

          Ontario and Willard (1-1) are both really good teams that should contend for the Northern Ohio League title.  Balogh says the Flashes have a lot of kids that can score and to stop that you have to disrupt their set plays.  "Willard brings back four starters off of a team that played very well last year.  I think they won 16, maybe 17 games if I'm correct.  They have a point guard in the Ebert kid, they have the Moore kid at 6'5" inside.  Usually when you have a good point guard and a good post player you can build around it.  They have two kids, the Robinson kid, and the Keaton kid, that can both shoot the ball from the perimeter very effectively," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "The area typical of what they have been over the last several years in that they run a lot of screening actions and sets our of the their transition and half court offense.  You have to be able to defense a number of screening actions and cutting actions.  The key is if you let them run that stuff they are really good.  If you pressure is able to take them out of some of that stuff the advantage kind of goes to us.  It will kind of be a challenge to see if our pressure can take them out of some of the things they want to do offensively."

          As for Lexington, Balogh says they have to make the Minutemen play faster to sort of negate their height advantage.  "It is going to be a challenge for us.  An emphasis that we have had this week is to make sure we rebound the ball and especially at the defensive end of the floor.  The thing with Lex is not only do they have size, but they have a really good point guard in Joey Zahn.  He is not your typically point guard because not only can he create shots for other people, but he can really shoot the basketball.  I think he had six threes in the win against Willard.  If you really try and concentrate on taking away their inside game they have done a good job of getting it to their perimeter guys who can shoot it.  They are very, very balanced.  I think Saturday will be a challenge to see who can get the game at the pace they would like.  Lex will push the ball in transition, but I think they are a little more comfortable when they can get the ball inside to their post guys.  I think we will be comfortable if we can get the pace of the game going a little faster.  That will be the challenge for us to see if we can speed them up without just letting them get easy shots at their offensive end," said Balogh.

 

Published 12/12/14

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Ontario Excited and Nervous

 

          Ontario is coming off a great year last year, and they have talent this year too, but there are always some questions marks on that opening night when you have a new mix.

          For the Warriors that will be a Clear Fork in non-conference play on Friday night.

          Coach Joe Balogh, entering his 29th year as the Ontario coach, with more than 450 wins to his credit, says he is interested to see what this new group can produce.  "We are excited about the possibilities that this team can bring, but you are really never sure until the ball goes up on that first night where you are exactly at.  We think our practices have been really productive.  We ended with a really good scrimmage last Friday against three pretty good teams in Plymouth, Upper Sandusky and Huron.  We have a pretty good up beat attitude, but until the lights really come on you are not sure what you have, so we are excited about the possibilities, but also anxious about what is going to happen on Friday," said Balogh.

          The players that return from a Northern Ohio league co-champion team will be assisted by players off a JV squad hat won more than 20 games.  Balogh says you never know what is going to happen with those guys before they see varsity action.  "Coming form JV to varsity is so different with the pace of it is a lot faster.  You have coaches that do a great job of trying to take away not only your team strengths, but players individual strengths.  So, I think there are more adjustments maybe at the varsity level than there is at the JV level.  The purpose of the summer is to try and see what you have for next year.  We feel like we have gotten better with each scrimmage that we have had, so we hope we are better this Friday than we ere even last Friday in our last scrimmage," he said.

          Clear Fork also lost a lot of players from last year when they took Ontario to overtime, including 20 point a game scorer Ridge Winand, but Balogh says they have a couple of really talented players.  "They bring back two really good players.  Chrastina, we had a tough time handling him last year, and Robinette we had a tough time handling him too just from the standpoint that we were a little bit lucky because he got in foul trouble and had to sit for some minutes.  We have to do a really good job of focusing on those guys and seeing what their other guys can do as far as stepping up and being able to make some plays," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "If those guys score, and score a lot they make their team pretty good.  We have to have a great focus in trying to limit Chrastina's touches as far as from the perimeter and trying to keep Robinette off the glass, he is a kid that really finds a way to get to the glass and rebound the basketball."

 

Published 12/04/14

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Ontario Ready to be Good Again

 

          Ontario shared the Northern Ohio League title and they lost only two games all year last season and they will probably be a very good team this year too.

          Yes, the Warriors lost some key personnel to graduation last season, but they also have some experienced players back and an influx of new talent.

            Coach Joe Balogh says they have some kids that do things on both ends of the floor.  "We lost some keys players from last year in Tyler Boatwright, Cameron Mack, Josh Plieninger, Brandon Wagner, and Tyler Gorbett.  They were key elements to the success we had, but we return Lenell Shelby, our point guard, who was a starter last year, and played significant minutes as a sophomore, and then Paul Homan, and Bradley Garverick, who came off the bench and played significant minutes too.  We combined that with a JV team that went 21-1 and knows how to win we are excited about what this season may bring for us," said Balogh.

          Shelby really came on at the end of last year when Ontario shared the "NOL" title with eventual state champion Norwalk.  Balogh thinks they can design some thinks that will make him even better.  "He is a tough match from the standpoint that he is a physical point guard that handles the basketball really well.  He has the ability that he can attack the basket off the dribble and get to the lane and be strong enough to finish and get fouled.  That is an area where we think he can be really affective for us," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We have got get him to be a better defender, not that he is a bad defender, but we got hurt last year when he got in foul trouble because we had to take him off the floor.  We are hoping with our depth that we can rest him at times a little bit more because we felt that at times last year it was just fatigue that he got some silly fouls.  We are working on increasing our depth and with Lenell making sure we don't put him in position where he makes stupid fouls."

          Ontario was chosen as the preseason co-favorite in the "NOL" with Willard and Balogh says to achieve that and some other things they have to become solid rebounders.  "Rebounding is going to be a big key for us.  How we rebound the ball, especially at the defensive end of the floor is going to be key because Cameron was one of those guys that could just turn it on and go get you a rebound when you needed it.  I don't know if we necessarily have that guy, but we have some pretty athletic kids, not necessarily big kids.  We have tried to emphasize that our guards need to be better rebounders.  We just don't have that big size inside and if we have our guards rebound the basketball then we don't have to worry about getting a outlet pass.  You can just have your guards put the ball on the floor and in one or two dribbles you are attacking the mid court line," he said.

          The veteran Ontario coach says there is the potential for this year's team to be really good on defense if they continue to improve.  "We think we are going to be really good defensively because we have more than a handful of guys that can apply pressure on the basketball.  We think we have done a pretty god job in our first couple of scrimmages of getting pressure on the ball, what he haven't done as good a job on is when we haven't been on the ball of getting up in that passing lane.  We think that if we get pressure on the basketball it is going to create some opportunities where guys can jump in passing lanes and get steals and we will have an opportunity to score off our defense.  We are going to have to make some adjustments against a team that has a big guy inside. We are going to have to do some things maybe that we haven't done in the past couple of years, but we think this group will be pretty good with it," said Balogh.

 

Published 11/21/14

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Ontario Facing Powerful Tiffin

 

          Ontario played some inspired football last week and they will have to do the same this week as they play Tiffin Columbian.

          The Warriors ran for over 300 yards and had 23 first downs last week in beating Sandusky (38-17).  Quarterback Alex Vandenburgh ran for 138 yards and three scores.  Coach Scott Kreger says they played some pretty good football.  "We played well pretty much the whole game.  Defensively we gave up two big scores to them, but other than that we did a really good job on the defensive side of shutting them down and shutting their running game down," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Other than two mishaps in which we lined up incorrectly.  We were able to kick a field goal right before halftime to go ahead and had a lot of momentum and came out and made a big stop in the third quarter to hold them to a field goal.  We pretty much just opened it up from there on out where we were able to take control of the line of scrimmage and run the ball and mix in some good passes.  I am very proud of our young men in the way that they played and battled.  It was a good win for us."

          Kreger believes they have gotten better this season on defense due to a couple of factors.  "A big part for us has been lining up correctly and understanding where we need to be in every situation.  Coach Canfield has done a good job with our defense in getting everybody where they need to be and put them in position to make plays.  I think athletically we have gotten better as the year has gone on and we have been able to make some more of those plays.  So, kudos to our kids and our coaching staff for being able to make those adjustments," he said.

          Ontario (5-4,3-2) plays at home against Tiffin Columbian (6-3,3-2) in a Northern Ohio League game.  Columbian, in eight place in their computer region, needs the win.

          Of course, the Tornadoes scored 83 in a game against Shelby two weeks ago.  Kreger says they have a lot of weapons beginning with running back Cliff Miller, who had over 500 rushing and 10 TD against the Whippets.  "All three of their running backs, all three of them that they rotate in there, are very good, highlighted by the Miller kid.  The performance he had against Shelby was unbelievable.  They have a great quarterback that does a good job of running and throwing, a huge weapon at tight end in the Dryuss kid, and up front they are Tiffin, they are big and physical.  They are going to try and run the ball with a lot of their counters and powers and work their passing game from there.  We are going to have our hands full," said Kreger.

 

Published 10/30/14

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Ontario has to Execute Their Stuff

 

          Ontario has two games left to play this season and what they do with them could determine how good a season their have overall.

          Bellevue lit them up last week in "NOL" play beating the Warriors (64-23) in a game in which the Ontario scored twice early in the game.  Coach Scott Kreger says they found it different to compete at the point of attack.  "We came out and were able to take advantage of a couple of their miscues right off the bat.  On the opening kickoff they fumbled it and we got it and we were able to score and we tuned in pick into a score.  We came out on fire.  Up front they were able to dominate the game.  Once they got going we didn't have an answer for their offensive line and their defensive line.  They are very good football team an as good as their offensive their defense is very aggressive and just as good.  They really caused us a lot of problems.  I credit coach Nasonti and Bellevue our kids played as well as we could, we just came up on the short end," said Kreger.

          With Tiffin Columbian on week 10 the Warriors are going to have a tough road.  Kreger says they have to find out how much football still matters, especially to their upperclassmen.  "That is what I talked to our young men about on Saturday just coming in and getting better.  We can only control what we can control. We have two games left and those games are going to dictate if we are going to be 4-6, 5-5, or 6-4," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "It's going to be how do these young men, these seniors, want to be remembered, and that is a huge part of what we do here, what do you want your legacy to viewed as down the road?  We are going to work our tail off against Sandusky and Tiffin and try to get our record back up to 6-4 and be where we can at the end of the year."

          Ontario (4-4.2-2) travels up to Sandusky (3-5,2-2) for a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.  Kreger says the Blue Streaks have some athletes and they will play aggressive football.  "They are very aggressive and very athletic.  They do a good job on both sides of the ball.  They just look at running their spread and using their athleticism with each.  Defensively we are going to see a lot of what we saw last week.  The one thing that we learned from playing them last year is they are going to come after you for four quarters, 48 minutes, and be relentless.  We have to match their intensity and their aggressiveness.  That is our challenge this week to our young men," he said.

          A key to winning on Friday night will be them limiting the big plays that Sandusky makes on offense and the special teams.  "We did a great last year of eliminating their big plays and they ended up beating us on a punt return, a pick six, and a couple of those situations.  We have to go out and play our football and put together the best game we have all year.  That is our challenge to our kids.  We just want to go out and compete and do they best we can as far as Ontario is concerned.  We have to go out and control what we can control and do what we do.  If we play disciplined football and line up right and tackle we should be successful defensively," said Kreger.

 

Published 10/23/14

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Ontario to Face Battle with Bellevue

 

          Ontario takes a two game winning streak to Bellevue on Friday night for a Northern Ohio League contest.

          Both teams trail "NOL" leader Norwalk by a game.

          Last week, Ontario (4-3,2-1) found itself down by two scores with eight minutes to play, but Aaron Baker would score twice and quarterback Alex Vredenburgh added a two point conversion with just over three minutes to play to give the Warriors a (21-20) victory over Shelby. 

          Coach Scott Kreger says they never thought they were out of the game.  "The kids never gave up.  They battled their butts off all game.  They just continued to battle.  We got a lot of momentum on our side and it worked to our advantage.   I give the kids credit for making stops on defense and plays on offense and just going out and executing," he said.

          Ontario ran for 236 yards on the night, 113 by Baker and 86 by Vredenburgh.  Kreger says they didn't do anything technical they just lined up and took it right at Shelby.  "It was a testament to our kids will as far as going out and wanting the ball and wanting to go out and succeed.  Up front we were just running some base plays and they were opening holes and we had the fullback leading through and just running "iso."  It just opened things up and turned the corner as far as being competitors and wanting to go out and win rather than playing not to lose," said Kreger.

          Bellevue (5-2,2-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, lost last week to Norwalk (49-27), breaking a three game win streak for the Redmen.  Kreger says this is a really good team they are facing.  "They are as talented as ever.  Coach Nasonti does a fabulous job up there and this year is no exception," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "They do a good job of throwing.  They do a good job of running.  It is a proto typical Bellevue team.  They throw the ball a little bit.  They run the ball a little bit.  They have good lineman up front.  Defensively they are as physical and aggressive as ever.  We will definitely have our hands full."

          The Redmen don't always have the biggest linemen around, but Kreger says they have a found ways to use their assets to their best advantage.  "I have been in this area for 17 years and their lineman don't always move the same as other teams and that is a credit to them and their coaching staff and being able to get their kids to buy into their system and execute.  They do it year in and year out.  They are probably one of the best offensive and defensive lines that we will face all year," said Kreger.

          Ontario has already lost to Norwalk (40-7) this year, but Kreger says they need to keep winning to make the Truckers nervous.  "We look at going out and continuing to build on our success so far to this point.  We have won two in a row and we want to continue to build on that and go out and execute and play a great Ontario football game on Friday night," he said.

 

Published 10/14/14

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Ontario Wants to be Aggressive

 

          Ontario played some aggressive football last week and that led to a thumping of Vermilion and they hope to be able to take that attitude into this week's game with Shelby.

          They pounded the Sailors (40-7) last week and coach Scott Kreger says one of the reasons is they just were playing harder and more aggressively then they had over the last couple of weeks.  "The outcome was fantastic, exactly what you want.  Our young men came out and battled hard.  We didn't play great as far as the overall execution of what we wanted to do, but we played aggressive and we were able to get away with some mistakes because we were aggressive.  The offensive line kind went and hit somebody and the defensive line we were able to maintain our gaps and get through and do some things.  That is kind of what we stressed to our young men over the last couple of weeks is to get more aggressive in order to be able to execute things the way we want them to be executed," said Kreger.

          Coaches really don't want any mistakes, but if they get them they want them to be because a player was too aggressive, not too passive.  Kreger says they can live with that.  "You can afford to have mistakes sometimes, not always, but sometimes if they are aggressive mistakes.  We don't want to make any mistakes, but sometimes when they happen, hopefully it is an aggressive one.  Those are the ones you can live with," he said.

          Shelby (2-4,1-2) comes to Ontario (3-3,1-1) for a game in the Northern Ohio league on Friday night.  Freshman quarterback Brennan Armstrong and receiver Cody Stine hooked up for three scores last week in a (19-6) win over Willard.

          Kreger says they Shelby is coming into its own on offense.  "They are as athletic a team was we have seen this year.  They have the Armstrong kid at quarterback and he is probably the best thrower and runner at that position that we have seen all year.  That says a lot because we have played Clear Fork and Chrastina this year.  But, he does very a good job throwing the ball and they have a good receiver in the Stine kid and a very bowling ball like running back in the Shaffer kid," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "Defensively they are aggressive up front, they get after it.  Coach Will has those kids playing hard, so we know we are in for a battle and we are working hard this week on our end."

          Armstrong is one of the few freshmen starting quarterbacks in this part state, yet Kreger says he is the key to the Shelby attack and they have to contain him.  "We really have to keep him in the pocket.  He is very rare, number one he is a freshman playing varsity football.  He looks to throw first and his legs can eat you alive.  He doesn't look to run right way, he is very patient in the pocket.  He is able to look down field and see the guys open down field by making his progressions.  That is how he makes a lot of his big plays when kids come open later in their routes.  He just does a good job, he is a great athlete, and he is going to get nothing but better over the last three years.  We have to contain him as much as possible and do everything we can to keep him under control," said Kreger.

 

Published 10/08/14

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Improving Fundamentals Still the Key for Ontario

 

          Ontario played a really good Norwalk team last week and lost and now they need to need to get back on the beam.

          Breck Turner rushed for 218 yards and three scores in the first half for the Truckers who belted Ontario (40-7) in a Northern Ohio League game last week.  Ontario coach Scott Kreger says the Truckers are just a very good team.  "They are just a good football team all around.  They are very good up front and obviously Breck Turner gets a lot of recognition for their success, but their guys up front do a great job of getting a helmet on a helmet and blocking people.  Their quarterback is a very good complement to Breck, the fact that he can throw the ball and run it.  They are a scary team and they are going to make a lot of noise this year I think in the regular season and once they get in the post season.  Our kids battled, we just came up short," he said.

          Despite a the loss to Norwalk in which they trailed (40-0) at halftime, Kreger believes they learned some things that they can take forward.  "We talked to the young men about the level of competition and being at that level and we wanted to go in an compete.  Anytime you go into a game you want to be successful, you want to compete and go out an win and win your individual battle and win the team battle and all of that kind of stuff.   We went out and were just out manned in certain areas, but were able to go through and battle and go through and win the second half.  We have talked about pride and going through and building on," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We didn't tackle well, but a lot of that was based on who we were trying to tackle.  We didn't block real well at times.  Those are things we are focusing on this week in practice.  Those are fundamentals and if you want to be a good football team you have to be able to do those and repeat them on every single play."

          Ontario (2-3) plays host to Vermilion (1-4) in a non-conference game on Friday night at Coffman Stadium.  Kreger describes the Sailors as a physical team and he says they have to match that physicality.  "They run a pistol attack and run a lot of wing-T stuff out of the pistol.  Their quarterback is a pretty good little athlete.  All of their running backs are pretty physical and they pretty good up front.  We played them last year and they gave us a battle.  They kind of pounded it at us a little bit.  We know we have our hands full.  We have to go out and play a very tough physical football team.  Hopefully we can go out and match them man to man and play tough and physical as well.  They are 1-4, but that is a little deceptive as well because they play some good talent and play some good teams.  We will have our hands full and we have to keep improving as a team," said Kreger.

 

Published 10/01/14

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Ontario Knows What it has to do

 

          Ontario is an underdog, probably a big underdog when they take the field at Whitney Field to face the unbeaten and state ranked Norwalk Truckers on Friday night in a Northern Ohio League game.

          Swankonsports.com has them as a 32 point underdog to the Truckers.

          The Warriors (2-2,1-0) played likely their best game of the season in a 42-point destruction of the Willard Flashes in "NOL" play last week.  Coach Scott Kreger says it all started up front for them.  "We were able to go out and control both sides of the line of scrimmage and do a good job as far as blocking and keeping blockers off our secondary people on defense.  That's good for us because we are always looking to improve our execution on both sides of the ball and we were able to do that Friday against Willard," he said.

          Norwalk (4-0,1-0). #1 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, scored the last five touchdowns of the game in a (35-21) win over rival Tiffin Columbian last week.  Kreger says one their big goals is to keep the ball away from those playmakers the Truckers have.  "We have talked about that all this week as far as we have to win the time of possession battle.  That goes back to up front and being able to run the ball, complete passes, and keep the ball in our hands and not theirs because if they don't have the ball then the big plays won't happen.  That is going to be a better situation for us.  Definitely a focal point for us this week is being able to control the clock, control the ball, and keep it out of their hands," said Kreger.

          Senior running back Breck Turner is the schools' all-time leading rusher, big time college recruit and possible Mr. Football in Ohio.  Kreger says when Turner gets it they just have to find a way to get him down.  "He is going to make plays, he is going to get his plays.  The one thing we can do hopefully is control how many times he touches the ball.  If the ball is in our hands it is not in his.  Breck is a great kid.  I had the chance to meet him last year and he is very polite, a great young man, and I wish him the best of luck in everything he does.  You like to see a good kid get recognized and good things happen to him," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We have got to go through and tackle and bottle him up as much as possible.  I don't think you can stop him you just have to contain him and limit those long runs and those long scoring opportunities.  We have to play smart on both sides of the ball doing what we are coached to do, what we are assigned to do.  We have to be able to execute and be able to do that to pull off the victory."

          It's not just us, but most are calling the Truckers a significant favorite in the game.  Kreger says in their heads and hearts they believe they have a chance to win.  "There probably aren't very many people in Ontario, Ohio, that think we have much of a chance in this game.  I can tell you there are 45 guys that have been going out this week busting their butts that think we can win and they are going to go out and do everything they can on Friday night.  The pressure is on them because we are in a situation where we have nothing to lose.  We are not the ones favored to win, we are not the ones that are state ranked, we are not the ones that are near the top of the region in computer points.  He have to go out and execute and hopefully that leads to us being loose and going out and having fun and playing the way we are capable of playing," said Kreger.

 

Published 9/26/14

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Ontario Needs to Clean Their Own House

 

          Ontario is the kind of football team that has to be at their best if they are going to win against their schedule and that hasn't happened the last to weeks.

          After a loss to Clear Fork (42-18) on week two they took a step back in a (46-6) loss to Norwayne last week.  Coach Scott Kreger says they just didn't do much well.  "We went over and played a very good Norwayne football team and quite honestly didn't play very well.  We didn't perform assignments and we didn't do things that we had worked on all week in practice.  We didn't translate that to the field on Friday night.  We are looking at improving on that and doing a better job of doing that this week against Willard," he said.

          They don't have the game breakers they have had for the last several years and Kreger says they have to do a lot of things well if they are going to win games.  "I go back to what I stated when we first talked in the summer we have got to execute at a highly efficient rate.  We have to do everything at 70, 75, 80 percent for us to be successful.  We were able to do that week one down at Lexington, we blocked well, we ran well, we caught well, we tackled well, we did everything well, and that led to success for us.  We were able to control the clock, we were able to control the ball, and control the line of scrimmage," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "The last two weeks we haven't done that.  We have had too many mental mistakes, we have had too many physical mistakes, on the coaching staff and the playing part, on everything.  We have to eliminate those problems in order for us to be successful.  We have to go out and play a very good football game week in and week out if we want to be successful."

          Willard (0-3) will be at Coffman Stadium for the opening game of Northern Ohio League play on Friday night.  The Flashes have scored only twice this season and one of those was in mop up time last week against Wauseon.  Kreger says Willard runs an offense that you don't see very much.  "Willard poses a big threat because they run an old school, triple option offense that you don't see a whole lot anymore, so we have to be very assignment savvy on the defensive side to make sure we stop the fullback, we stop the quarterback every single play.  We have to find the ball and attack the ball.  The fact that they like to run the ball opens up some of their play action and we have to do a good job in the defensive backfield of staying home," said Kreger.

          When the Warriors have the ball Kreger says it will boil down again to controlling the line of scrimmage.  "They are a 5-2 team and we have to go out and again win the battle up front and be able to control the ball and control the clock and run to set up our play action pass.  Ultimately you looking at identical teams looking to do the same thing so whoever executes best is probably going to be successful," he said.

 

Published 9/19/14

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Ontario Has to Execute Better

 

          Ontario felt like they took a step backwards last week and they have to get a lot better if they are going to win this week.

          Clear Fork beat them (42-18) last week in game that coach Scott Kreger says they moved the ball well, but couldn't take advantage of their opportunities.  "That has been the story for the last few years.  We got up and down the field and got some yardage.  The whole first quarter they did everything they could to give us the game and we just couldn't take advantage of it.  For us to be a good football team we have to be very opportunistic.  We have to execute on both sides of the ball.  When you get turnovers in the first quarter and can't capitalize and get points off of it that puts you behind the eight ball, especially against a good team like Clear Fork.  We went out and didn't tackle real well, and gave up some points, and things didn't fall our way," said Kreger.

          When it comes to personnel Kreger feels they have talented players they just have to be able to execute on the field.  "It is just a matter of missing assignments and missed alignments and just going back to square one and doing what we do.  We went out and played as well as we could on week one and had a great result and then we had just the opposite of that on week two.  We have to get back that mentality that we had through all of two a days and all week one prep to be successful on week three.  Just going back to the basics of blocking and tackling and becoming a better football team," he said.

          Norwayne (2-0) will host Ontario on Friday night in non-conference play.  The Bobcats have scored more than 40 points in both their games so far in beating Wellington (54-30) and Cuyahoga Falls Christian Academy (41-14) last week.  Kreger says again they have athletes.  "This is a team that is three years removed form a state championship and two years removed for the state semi finals.  These kids that are on this team were part of that and have been part of a very good history of football.  They have a very athletic back back there that they get the ball to," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, " He has been running all over teams the first couple of weeks.  I think he is averaging 230 some yards a game.  We have to get him before he gets going because once he gets to the second level I don't think we have, or many teams have, anyone that can catch him.  We have to do a good job up front of keeping people off our linebackers and maintaining our gaps and making tackles."

          To win on Friday night, Kreger says they play very solid defense, something they didn't do last week.  "Our defense carried us week one and it lets us down last week.  We have got to eliminate big plays.  Any points that anybody gets they have to earn them.  We have got to go out and do a good job on the defensive side of the football of tackling and just aliening and playing assignment football.  If we don't do that that is going to put us behind the eight ball and put us on the short end of the scoreboard a lot of times," he said.

 

Published 9/11/14

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Ontario Has to Win up Front

 

          Ontario is a team built around running the football and that is what they want to do when host Clear Fork in non-league play on Friday night.

          Last week, the Warriors downed Lexington (33-21) and they ran for nearly 200 yards, blocked a kick to set up a score and returned an interception for six. 

            Coach Scott Kreger says they have practiced this week with an attitude of getting better.  "We came out starting Saturday and Monday working to get better.  That is our goal every time we step on the field to get better just shoring some of the things we didn't do well on Friday and working on the things we did do well.  I am very happy with the effort we have had this week from our young men," he said.

          Since work began to get ready for this year especially the senior class has shown great leadership and Kreger says they aren't surprised at all.  "That is led by our senior class and our returning lettermen.  They come out and give us our two, two and half hours of hard work and do a good job of leading by example.  That is something we have preached and actually we knew we didn't have to worry about with these young men.  They are just dedicated to the game and dedicated to each other," said Kreger.

          Clear Fork was destroyed (69-49) by Fredericktown last week, but Kreger says the Colts still have some pretty good football players.  "They have threats and yeah they are young and this and that, but they are athletic and they do a good job of flying around on both sides of the ball.  I am sure they are going to be hungry.  Chrastina is a heck of an athlete and their offense starts with what he does and he a creator.  His feet and his arms are both huge weapons," said Kreger.

          The Colts gave up a lot of yards on the ground last week with some young guys on defense, but Kreger says he sure that the Clear Fork coaching staff will have those players coached up this week.  "Defensively they are pretty young and Fredericktown was a able to exploit some of their deficiencies with their tackling and things like that, but I'm sure coach Carroll and his staff will do a good job with them this week in getting some of that stuff shored up," he said.

          Not that they can't throw the ball, but Kreger has said since the beginning the season that they want to run it first and he says that is what they have in mind on Friday night.  "That is definitely part of our game plan going in and doing what we want to do and doing what we have to do to be successful.  Fredericktown is good team every year and they do a good job of moving people and getting their kids in space and they created some mismatches for Clear Fork in that game last week.  We have to do a good job up front.  It is going to be a battle up front and we have win that battle and control the ball and control the clock,'" said Kreger.

 

Published 9/05/14

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Ontario Improving, Ready for Test

 

          Ontario will be a different football team this season, but is one that has shown gradual improvement during the preseason and is ready to be tested at Lexington in their season opener on Friday night.

          Coach Scott Kreger says his group has shown they want to improve as individuals and as a team.  "We have improved each week an that's our goal as we go through the whole season.  We went from the first day of two a days to the Crawford scrimmage and from Crawford to Bath and we took steps forward each day and we got better and fixed some of our weaknesses and worked on those.  We have continued to grow and continued to develop.  We will find out Friday when the rubber meets the road we will see if we are ready or not," he said.

          They likely will not be as explosive on offense as they were last year and Kreger says they need to take advantage when they get down close and score the ball.  "We have to be really efficient and really opportunistic.  That is probably the one thing that I will take away from the scrimmage last week we had the ball three times inside the 20 and scored one touchdown.  I don't care what level you are at you can't do that, you have to be opportunistic," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We have to continue to do what we do and that is to run the ball and run some play action pass off of it.  Just be very efficient at what we do.  We need to control the clock, grind out the clock, wear on the other team and when we get an opportunity to put points on the board we do that."

          Defensively, the Warriors gave up some points last year, but Kreger says that it wasn't all of the defense's fault.  "The offense has to take care of the ball and not put our defense in predicaments we were in last year at times.  That is number one.  I would say we have done a pretty good job of improving each day defensively as far as getting our reads down and understanding what we are doing.  Now when you get into game situations start tackling and start doing things and it wears on you a little bit that is a whole different story.  I think we are doing a good job of improving on both sides of the ball," said Kreger.

          Taylor Gerhardt is now the head coach at Lexington.  He was on their staff a year ago when they were 1-9.  Kreger says the Minutemen are better and out to prove something.  "We have watched their scrimmages and seen what they do and they are athletic.  They are hungry and they are pretty athletic.  They have everything to gain this week.  They want to go out and make their mark on their season an rebound from a disappointing season for them last year.  We have to go out and have all of our ducks in a row and be ready to take on their best punch from the get go," he said.

          This is a rivalry that dates back to the 1960's and Kreger says players and fans alike will be excited for Friday night.  "It is a great way to kick off high school football.  Anytime you can get a back yard rivalry like we have with them.  The kids all know each other really well, not necessarily like each other, but know each other really well, and that just adds fuel to the fire.  The communities are very similar and they take pride in what they do.  We want to go down there and start off the season in the right foot.  Who better to do that against than a rival that is just a few miles down the road," said Kreger.

 

Published 8/27/14

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Ontario Doing the Right Things

 

            Ontario had to mature a lot during the preseason if they were going to come out and be competitive on the football field this season and they have done that.

          Coach Scott Kreger says he had confidence that his players were going to be up to the challenge and they have delivered.  "Our kids have done a really good job of the last two and half weeks as far as preparing and working.  That is something we never had a doubt coming in with the senior leadership that we have had and the upperclassmen that have played for us the last couple of years.  They have come out and been relentless for us everyday on the field," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "We have just continued to get better every day.  Up front we have some solid kids that have done a good job like Nick Ruff, Bronson Kroll, and Jason Shock, have done a really good job of anchoring out line.  Matt Eichlberger has done a really good job of running the ball for us and Greg Dorsey as well.  We are just continuing to build on some of the basics we have and establish a strong running game and then build some play action pass off of that."

          Ontario wants to be able to run the football and Kreger knows that starts with creating some holes up front.  He says that line is going to be key unit on their team this year.  "Good teams that is usually what makes them good, or great for that matter, the ability to get a body on a body up front.  If your running back is able to run two, three yards without first contact you are going to be getting positive plays and getting first downs and controlling the ball.  That is something that we have really focused on and that should be where our most experience is and probably the most veteran group we have.  They really need to pick it up when it comes game time and I think we have done a really good job of that so far," he said.

          Defensively the Warriors are again well positioned in the trenches.  Kreger says those guys have looked pretty good in scrimmage play this year.  "Going against Crawford last Saturday we started out really good and doing a good job of getting 11 people to the ball, being really aggressive, getting our reads and trusting our reads.  Kids we are banking on and knowing they will do a good job such as Bronson Kroll and Troy Collins and Aaron Baker and Matt Eichlberger on that side of the ball as well, just going out and doing their job.  It's the little things like our defensive lineman getting their hands on the offensive lineman and keeping them off the secondary people, do they can flow and make plays.  When we get tired are we still able to read and react and make those plays?  We want to continue to get better every time we step on the field and I think we are doing that right now," said Kreger.

 

Published 8/20/14

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Ontario With Holes to Fill

 

          It is the second year in the Northern Ohio League for the Ontario Warriors for the football squad it is time to step up.

          Last year, Ontario won a “NOL” titles in both basketball and baseball meanwhile in football they were in fifth place in the league with a 2-4 record.

          This year begins with some unanswered questions, especially on offense where they Warriors were able to turn on the scoreboard last fall.  Coach Scott Kreger says the preseason is going to especially big this year.  “We’ve got a lot of holes to fill from last year’s team. We lost 13 kids to graduation and most of those kids contributed on both sides of the ball for us.  We are not 100 percent sure where we are going to be.  We are going to use these next two weeks of two a days to see where we are at.  We hope by the end of the season we are in that mix for things.  We are going to do what we do and go out and work hard and hopefully compete week in and week out,” said Kreger.

          Ontario had a lot of big plays last year and that probably will be less the case this fall, but Kreger says that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to do some good things with the ball.  “Loosing Tyler Boatwright at quarterback that took basically every snap for us and accounted for 90 percent of our offense, if not more than that is tough.  We are hoping that Alex Brandenberg, who will be a junior for us, will step up and do a good job in that role.  We lose Cameron Mack on the outside, who was one of the top athletes in the area last year,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Those are tough shoes to fill and I don’t think we have any one person who can do it.  We are going to be a lot more team oriented in trying to get multiple people the ball.  We don’t have that one kid that can take the ball from 80 yards out for a touchdown.  We are going to have to be very disciplined and grind out the ball.”

          Running the ball and doing it play after play is going to be a key for Ontario.  Kreger says they have to execute and that has to be the case play after play.  “We have some big kids up front that have same game experience for us.  Bronson Krull is a two year starter for us that comes back for his senior season.  Luke Gorbett played every game for us last year.  Nick Ruff did a lot of good things for us last year in a back up role.  It is going to be a lot of running back by committee and getting different people the ball.  I don’t want to say it is going to be three-four yards and a cloud of dust because that is pretty much non existent any more.  I would have no problem if we were able to run the ball and control games.  We’ll try to go with that and catch some teams will play action,” said Kreger.

          In their four losses in league play the Warriors gave up and average of five TD’s per game.  Kreger says they have to a lot better on defense and they have made some changes to effect that difference.  “We are switch to a 4-2-5 because of the personnel that we have.  We just have to get fundamentally better.  We were put in a lot positions defensively because of turnovers.  We gave up some points and looked like our defense didn’t play well when in actuality they did do a decent job.  We have a lot returners coming back with Troy Collins and Aaron Baker both playing linebacker.  They started every game for us last year.  These kids that have a lot of varsity experience have to step up and take pride in doing what they are coached to do.  We have to be able to tackle and eliminate big plays,” said Kreger.

          Ontario has proven in other sports they can be successful in “NOL” play and Kreger says now it is their turn to prove some things.  “As a coaching staff we talked about that in the spring.  In football we were towards the bottom the pack.  Only won two league games last year and then basketball goes and has an unbelievable season and they win an “NOL” title and baseball wins an “NOL” title, so we feel the responsibility to start carrying our weight around.  With some of these kids that have been successful in other sports.  Hopefully that mentality takes over and those kids can step up and be leaders and show these younger guys what it takes to be a league champ,” he said.

 

Published 8/05/14

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Ontario Advances to District Final

 

          Clyde made two errors and a mental mistake in the first six Ontario batters of the game and the seventh made them pay dearly.

          Aaron Baker reached Clyde starter Blake Miller for a grand slam that ended a five run onslaught in the top of the first.  Ontario (19-3), #3 in the final Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, hammered Clyde (11-1) in five innings.  They will play Sandusky Bay Conference champion Sandusky Perkins on Saturday at Mansfield Madison High School for the division two district title.  A Warriors win will put them in their third regional tournament in five years, but their first in division two.

          The beleaguered Fliers gave up three more runs in the second and Ontario coach Dan Gorbett says their big game experience was a plus in this one.  "I think our tournament experience helped us (Thursday).  They won their first sectional since 1992.  We have been to regionals twice in the last four years.  We have won three sectionals in a row, so our guys were not nervous at all.  I think maybe some of those mistakes they made they may have bee a little uptight and nervous," said Gorbett.

          Ontario got four hits in the first two innings with runners in scoring position and Gorbett says that isn't something they have been doing all year.  "Finally we didn't leave a ton of people on base and took care of business, so that is what really pleased me.  One through nine we got the job done.  We scored every place in that lineup," he said.

          Clyde (19-7) hit some balls hard, but almost every time they did an Ontario player was there to make the play.  "They are a good hitting team.  They hit the ball hard several times and we played great defense," said Gorbett.

          Ontario starter Paul Homan didn't walk anyone, while striking out three Fliers.  Gorbett says Thursday was typical of what Homan has been like all year.  "That is what he does.  His changeup and curve he throws for a strike consistently.  He has eight walks this year and like 59 strikeouts.  He just puts that curveball and changeup in and out.  He is a true pitcher.  There are harder throwers, but he is a true pitcher.  We tell him a spot to put it and it is usually there," said Gorbett.

          Perkins (23-4), #2 in our poll, beat Lexington (6-2) in the first game on Thursday.  Gorbett knows the Pirates are a very good team and they will have to at the top of their game.  "It will be a challenge they are a very, very good team.  They are a tournament experienced team.  We will face the big lefty that is going to Ohio State  Our guys they just don't get too high, they don't get too low.  I really don't see them getting rattled," he told Swankonsports.com after the win over Clyde, "They respect every team we play.  I think that's what makes us good, we just come to play and just do the fundamental little things everyday.  We really don't have a superstar, we just have a lot of guys that get the job done."

          Braun Miller did have to pitch the last two innings of the Lexington game for Perkins and it remains to be seen how that will affect his stuff on Saturday.

 

Published 5/23/14

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Ontario Wins "NOL" Baseball Title

 

          There was a lot of talk about how difficult it was going to be this year for Ontario to move from the North Central Conference, where they were one of the biggest schools, to the Northern Ohio League where they are one of the smallest.

          Well, maybe it wasn't that big of a difference after all.

          On Monday, they beat Tiffin Columbian (8-0) to claim the "NOL" title.  The Tornadoes (13-11,9-3) finish second in the league.

          Mason Goodwin pitched the shutout for the Warriors and Ontario coach Dan Gorbett couldn't say enough good things about him.  "He pitched one heck of a game, eight strikeouts, two walks, and he was in control the whole game.  I can't say enough good things about his performance stepping up in a championship game like that and shutting out a good team like Tiffin," he said.

          The Warriors (18-3,10-2), #3 in the final Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, left some runners on base Monday, but Gorbett says they got some big hits too.  "We left the bases loaded three times in the first four innings.  We did get one in the first and three in the fourth and we built that lead up to 5-0.  We could have just broken it open, but we couldn't get that big hit.  In the fourth inning Rich Jackson, in the nine hole, got an RBI double and moved the runners up and Brad Dretzka got a huge RBI base hit.  With the way Mason was pitching that was a pretty good lead at that time.  You always want to add on, but at that point we kind of took the wind out of their sails," said Gorbett.

          Ontario won the "NCC" title the last two years and Gorbett says they have gotten solid play and better leadership from the seniors on the club.  "It's a team win, but when you get to this time of the season I have to give a shout out to our seniors.  They are like 70-8 over a three year span that they have been varsity starters and have won three league championships, three sectionals and a district championship last year," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, "When they were freshmen they didn't play much on that district champion team.  They have had a phenomenal run.  Kyle Pasheilich, Tyler Gorbett, Brad Dretzka, and Tyler Boatwright are our seniors.  I think when you win championships and come through in the clutch a lot of that comes down to that intangible of leadership.  Those guys have been doing it on the field too, don't get me wrong.  I have always been a believer in senior leadership and they have done a great job."

          Ontario will play Clyde (19-5), #5 in our poll, in the division two district semi finals on Thursday at Mansfield Madison High School.  Gorbett hopes their experience is a factor.  "They are a good team.  They are good enough to beat Clear Fork, who is a very good team.  I told the kids when you get in the district tournament everybody is good and you have to play your game and move on, so hopefully we come with our "A" game.  We have a lot of district tournament experience.  Paul Homan, our shortstop, is also a three year letterman.  So, I think that will be an advantage.  We have six people that have played in a district championship and regionals and the other starters were at least on the bench during that run.  I am hoping that could be an advantage for us come Thursday," said Gorbett.

 

Published 5/20/14

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Warriors Get Big Win; Need Two More

 

          Ontario stopped Shelby (4-2) on Tuesday to maintain a share of the Northern Ohio League lead setting up a showdown with Tiffin Columbian on Saturday.

          Columbian beat Willard (10-6) on Tuesday and the Warriors and the Tornadoes both have 9-2 league records heading into a game at Tiffin on Saturday.  Ontario also faces a division two sectional final game against league foe Bellevue (16-8) on Thursday at home.

          On Tuesday, coach Dan Gorbett says they got a couple of good pitching performances against Shelby and were able to hold on for the win.  "Mason Goodwin started and went four innings and (Paul) Homan finished it up and went three.  I might not have used Homan except the forecast shows a chance of rain on Thursday, so we went ahead and used him (Tuesday)," he said.

          Ontario (16-3,9-2), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Bellevue in a pair of two-runs games (5-3 and 7-5) in league play this year.  Gorbett knows that Thursday is going to be a real battle.  "They were 16-6 coming into the week and lost to Tiffin and Sandusky.  They are a very solid team.  They have two pitchers that are very similar I am not quite sure which one we will see," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, "They both have pretty good velocity and both are good pitchers.  They put the ball in play.  They are a good hitting team.  Both times we beat them they were really good games and it came down to a play here or a play there and I am sure Thursday will probably be the same way."

          Often fielding, or defense, is the forgotten element of baseball, but not to coaches.  Gorbett says you have to make plays.  "It's an old coach's cliché in every sport, but defense wins championships and I really do think that is true whether it is football, basketball or baseball," he said.

          Ohio has a restriction in terms of innings pitched.  One player can pitch no more than 10 innings over one three days.  With the tournament game on Thursday and the league title game on Saturday, Gorbett says that forces him and his staff to make some decisions on who goes to the mound and how long they stay there.  "We are still trying to figure that out and it is a dilemma about what to do and who to use when and who to save for relief.  That is going to a tough decision that has top be made," he said.

 

Published 5/14/14

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Gorbett Wins 500th as Ontario Keeps "NOL" Lead

 

          Ontario blasted Willard (13-3) on Thursday afternoon to maintain a one game lead on Bellevue and Tiffin Columbian in the Northern Ohio League standings and, oh yeah, it was a milestone win for coach Dan Gorbett too.

          The Flashes are in the league cellar and coach Dan Gorbett says his team lacked a little bit of focus on Thursday, but they were able to put some things together.  "First you don't play a lot of games and then we play Monday, Tuesday, (Thursday) and a big game (Friday).  I thought at times we were a little bit flat, but we fought through that and got the win.  (Friday) we have to definitely bring out "A" game because that is going to be a tough game at Tiffin," said Gorbett.

          Ontario (15-2,8-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, faces Tiffin (10-9,6-2) on Friday.  It's been a tough week for the Tornadoes with league losses to Bellevue (4-3) on Monday and Sandusky (1-0) on Tuesday, plus a non-conference loss to Lexington (6-4) on Thursday.  However, Gorbett expects to see their best on Friday.  "They have a good number one.  Hoyda I think his name is.  I haven't seen him pitch, but I have heard good things about him.  It will be a challenge.  I think we will be ready for them, but it is going to be a tough game," he said.

          The Warriors have been hitting the ball pretty well, but Gorbett says they need to hit better with runners in scoring position.  "I think we leave too many guys on base.  In the last week we have done that a lot.  If we could just break a game open.  After the first week we have actually started to hit the ball pretty well," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, "We have been doing good situational hitting moving the runners up, if you are making an out some good is happening, it is a good quality at bat.  We just need to get that clutch hit and put teams away and we haven't been able to do that consistently."

          The win over Willard was Gorbett's 500th of his distinguished career, which has included stays at Colonel Crawford, Galion and now Ontario.  The veteran coach admits he was a little nervous.  "The other 300 or 400 didn't mean that much.  Getting 500 was something that was pretty special, I will concede that.  I was actually kind of getting nervous about it when I got near that.  I don't why I was, but I just was.  I'm glad it is done and over and we can go back to concentrating on winning an "NOL" championship and a sectional championship," he said.

 

Published 5/09/14

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Ontario Takes "NOL" Lead

 

          Ontario took over sole possession of first place in the Northern Ohio League as they beat Norwalk (8-1) and Sandusky upset Tiffin Columbian (1-0) on Tuesday.

          Coach Dan Gorbett says they have worked hard this year and it does feel pretty good to be able to take the lead in the "NOL" with 10 days to play in the regular season.  "I have to admit it does feel good, but that upset should send a message to our team that you have to take it one game at a time.  (Tuesday) I put on the board that we have five "NOL" championship games to play and each game will be a championship game at this point because if you look ahead to say Tiffin on Friday and overlook Willard and you loose then Friday means nothing.  I just gave them that speech (Tuesday) about one game at a time.  If we win out we will be champs," said Gorbett.

          The Warriors (14-2,7-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, play host last place Willard on Thursday and then Tiffin Columbian, now in a share of second with Bellevue, on Friday.  Gorbett says they better not look past the Flashes or it could be costly.  "It does sound like a coach's cliché, but I have been at this a long time and I have seen that happen.  The thing with Sandusky is they are really young and we only beat them 2-1 the second time that we played them.  They are getting better.  I mean that's an upset, but when you are in the "NOL" that bottom team can beat you," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday after the win over Norwalk, "I have been telling the team from 11 years in the NOL" at Galion that happened every year a lower end team would knock off one of the top teams.  I hope our kids take a lesson from this and not overlook anybody."

          Paul Homan has been the stopper for Warriors this year and he was brilliant again against Norwalk allowing only four hits while striking out seven and walking none.  Gorbett says he was able to do that without his best stuff.  "Paul Homan did a nice job (Tuesday).  His curve ball wasn't quite there, but he got bye on his change up and his fastball.  We made some good defensive plays behind them and got him some runs and got a big victory," he said.

 

Published 5/07/14

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One Run Win Keeps Ontario One Back

 

          Mason Goodwin allowed just one run and Brad Dretzka had the go ahead hit as the Ontario Warriors edged the Sandusky Blue Streaks (2-1) in a crucial Northern Ohio League game on Thursday.

          The win keeps Ontario (8-2,5-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coach's poll in the large school division, in a share of second place with Bellevue in the "NOL," a game behind Tiffin Columbian.  They play at Tiffin on Friday afternoon with a share of first place on the line.

          Coach Dan Gorbett says Goodwin has gotten a lot better this year and he gave them a chance to win against Sandusky.  "Mason Goodwin pitched a great game.  His velocity keeps getting better each game.  His breaking ball has improved every game.  He really made a big step up and pitched well.  We played good defense, we just didn't hit the ball.  A lot of pop ups.  Their pitcher did a nice job.  He had one walk.  He just kept moving the ball in and out.  We just couldn't get going and get a lot of hits, but we pushed across two and that did the job," said Gorbett.

          Ontario had been hitting the ball more consistently lately, but they only managed four hits on Thursday against Sandusky's James Herrcott.  Gorbett says they were able to get some key hits.  "I don't know what happened we just didn't quite have it, but the old coaching cliché we found a way to win and that's what good teams do," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday after the win, "We had a base hit, a wild pitch, and got a two out hit.  Then Tyler Boatwright got a hit, stole second and Brad Dretzka came up with the clutch hit to score him in the fifth and that's how we got our two runs."

          Tiffin Columbian (6-5,4-0) lost to Upper Sandusky (16-1) on Thursday, but they have played better in league games, including two one run wins.  Gorbett says they have to be playing their best baseball over the next couple of days.  "We have to go up to Tiffin (Friday) and they are 4-0 and not looking ahead, but Bellevue has one loss and we have them on Monday.  We have a lot of kids that have been through this before and they get it.  They know you have to take one game at a time and I think we are doing that right now," he said.

 

Published 4/25/14

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Ontario Gets Big "NOL" Win

 

          This season the Northern Ohio League is going to be a real battle among some teams that are pretty close in terms of talent and Ontario earned itself a pretty big win on Thursday.

          The Warriors, in their first year in the league, beat defending league champion Norwalk (9-1) on Thursday to stay a game behind Tiffin Columbian, who beat Sandusky (6-1) in their league game.

          Paul Homan turned in another fine performance on the mound for Ontario.  Coach Dan Gorbett says he continues to throw his change up, which has good movement, for strikes.  "He did an outstanding job.  He is getting his change up over for a strike consistently.  He has an outstanding change it almost looks like a curve it drops so much.  Then he throws that curve in there and that is sharper.  It really keeps the batters off balance," said Gorbett.

          Perhaps even a bigger key on Thursday was the fact that the Warriors finally got their bats going a little bit.  Gorbett says they got a huge hit from a sophomore.  "We have really struggled at the plate.  Even in games where we have had hits they haven't been hard hit balls.  (Thursday) we hit the ball really hard.  It was tied 1-1 in the third and Vince Jackson, a sophomore, hits a three run homer and that kind of got us going.  We scored I think in every inning, but one from that point on," said Gorbett.

          It has been cold and rainy with some snow mixed in this spring, but Gorbett says he is not going to use that as an excuse for their overall poor hitting this year.  "I guess you could say that, but there are some teams out there right now that are hitting the ball well and they have the same weather that everybody else has.  The elements are what they are.  There is a lot that goes into hitting team wise as far as team chemistry and everybody sort of relaxes and starts hitting," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday after the win, "It is almost like a momentum you get with hitting.  A lot of teams have started out slow and we are one of them.  Hopefully we can get it going here now that we are halfway through the season and have only played five games."

          Ontario plays at Sandusky (1-5,0-1) on Friday in an "NOL" game and then plays Bellevue, Sandusky again, and Willard next week.  With so many league games over a short period of time Gorbett says they are going to have to show some pitching depth if they are going to win the league title.  "There is nobody that is going to dominate.  Like Wes Douglas of Norwalk said with all of the backed up games it could come down to who has the best three and four pitcher as to who wins the league.  The next three weeks we have three, four league games every week.  Defense and scoring some runs and if your three, four pitchers can put together some good performances will determine who wins the league," said Gorbett.

 

Published 4/18/14

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Ontario Wins First "NOL" Game

 

          It is the first year for Ontario in the Northern Ohio League, as we have been documenting the whole year, and they have proven they can compete, at least in the boys' sports, in the league.

          It looks like that is going to be the case in baseball too.  They went to Bellevue and knocked off one of the traditional powers in league (5-3) on Tuesday afternoon.  Coach Dan Gorbett was very pleased with what he saw from his club.  "I coached at 11 years at Galion and when I was at Colonel Crawford we always seemed to face them in the tournament and they have a great program.  They have a lot of good players and good coaches.  That was a big win, our first "NOL" win, was against one of the traditional powers of the "NOL," he said.

          Paul Homan was again outstanding for the Warriors on the mound.  Gorbett says he was able to get all of his pitches over for strikes and that was a key.  "He only walked one, the number nine hitter in the bottom of the seventh, that was his first walk.  He was all around the strike zone with all of his pitches.  He has a great change up.  He was throwing his curve for strikes and his fastball.  I went to take him out and he said I am fine and I am finishing this.  That is attitude I like to see from our pitchers," said Gorbett.

          After perhaps not playing that hard in a loss (5-4) to Fredericktown in non-conference play last weekend, Gorbett says they played with a lot of heart against Bellevue.  "I really questioned our competitive spirit on Saturday in our loss to Fredericktown.  Were we really into the game?  Just our whole approach I wasn't happy with.  We are not like a rah-rah team, but we were into the game.  We played really hard," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday after the win, "A couple of times we had our backs to the wall and we made some clutch plays, so that is what I was pleased with.  When the pressure is on, that is great team, they are not going to let up.  We got up on them 4-0 and they just kept scratching back and we battled right back there with them.  It was a great win."

          Ontario (3-1,1-0) plays host to Shelby (3-2,0-0) in "NOL" play on Thursday and entertains Willard (0-2,0-0) on Friday in another league game.  Gorbett knows the league is going to be a grind.  "It was a long ride and we got stopped by a train 10 minutes on top of that.  It is tough to win on the road.  Our kids did a great job of being mentally prepared to play on (Tuesday).  I was really proud of them," he said.

 

Published 4/09/14

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Ontario Does the Job

 

          Ontario played well in all three phases of the game pitching, hitting, and defense and Northmor didn't and the result was a five inning win for the Warriors in their first game of the season.

          The Warriors dilled the Golden Knights (15-1), who are the defending blue division champions of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.  Northmor had beaten Mansfield Christian (5-3) in their first game on Monday.

          Paul Homan got the win on the mound and coach Dan Gorbett says he had a really good changeup against the Golden Knights.  "He pitched outstanding.  His changeup was really good and he was getting all of his pitches over.  He had a very good changeup that is even better this year.  He was throwing hard enough to set of the change.  I thought he pitched very, very well.  I was pleased," he said.

          Obviously when you score 15 runs who are doing some good things on offense too.  Gorbett says they were patient at the plate.  "We took advantage of seven, eight walks and several errors on their part.  We only had two strikeouts, so we put the ball in play.  We hit it hard and laid our bunts down.  We had good at bats," he said.

          Putting the bat on the ball and not striking out much is a big part of the Warriors success, according to Gorbett.  "That has been a major point of emphasis in our program.  Last year in the league, as a team, we had like 77 strikeouts in 31 games, and the next closest in the league was like 144.  We have done a good job of being disciplined and not striking out.  When you put the ball in play anything can happen," said Gorbett.

          It was a pretty nice day weather wise with temperatures in the 70's except for the wind.  Gorbett says they didn't have to catch many fly balls, which was an adventure on Tuesday.  "Our pitchers kept the ball low and we had a lot of ground balls.  We didn't have very many pop ups, which was fortunate," he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Tuesday evening, "They struggled with some balls that looked like they were going to be little bloopers and then they went flying out there and hooked to the foul line.  When they hit the ball they hit it into the ground and we were able to field it.  We had no errors (Tuesday), which is good on your first game."

          Ontario plays its first ever baseball game as a member of the Northern Ohio League on Thursday, weather permitting, when they host the Willard Flashes at their place.

          They are scheduled to play another team out of the "MOAC" in Fredericktown in a doubleheader on Saturday.

 

Published 4/02/14

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Ontario has to be on "A" Game

 

          Ontario has won over 90 games over the last four years and they advanced to the division three regional tournament last year, but this year is a whole different scenario for the Warriors.

          They are not in the North Central Conference this year, but the Northern Ohio League and they are no longer in division three, but division two.  Plus, add to that the bad weather.

          Coach Dan Gorbett, who has been a baseball coach since the 1980's, says this has been one the worst months of the March he can remember.  "In my opinion it seems like one of  the worst in the last several years.  We have been out on a field three times for three scrimmages and two of those we had to go down to the Ohio River.  We haven't been on our home field yet.  We scrimmaged Galion and we were on the field that time.  I remember about 15 years ago our first game was the first time we were on the field.  So, this is in my opinion pretty bad.  We are ready for the 60 degrees next week," said Gorbett.

          Due to the rain, snow, and cold temperatures most of the practice has been inside, but Gorbett says the players have reacted pretty well to what has happened in terms of the weather.  "Our kids have done a really good job of staying focused and trying to get better in the gym.  Normally at this time of year we are out.  I am really proud of kids dealing with the circumstances not just the wet, but the cold.  It freezes when it goes below 32 and the when it goes about 32 it gets all mushy.  I am hoping we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

          The Warriors are developing some young pitchers and Gorbett believes they will play excellent defense behind them and so far that has been the case.  "We have been able to get out in the outfield and hit some fly balls like two or three days, but amazingly I think we have had one or two errors in our three scrimmages.  Coming into the season I thought that was going to be our number one strength and so far that has been holding true," he said.

          Ontario is coming off a great basketball season and Gorbett says it will be important to the baseball kids to understand they need to take a step up, but they can be successful.  "This year that is important because we are in a new league.  We went from being the third biggest team in a league and now we are the smallest team in the league.  It is going to be a different ball game we are just going to have to bring our "A" game every single game.  Even the teams at the bottom of the "NOL" are good, solid teams, so if you don't play well you are going to lose," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "The last four years we have won 20 or more games and five of the last six years.  The kids expect to win, believe they can win, and I think success in other sports will give them confidence as they go into a game."

 

Published 3/28/14

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Pitching the Key for Ontario

 

          Last year, Ontario won the black division of the North Central Conference and advanced to the regional tournament in division three, but it's a different world this year as the Warriors are now in the Northern Ohio League and in division two.

          Veteran baseball coach Dan Gorbett says they will have some guys that can hit the ball, but the real key is will they be able to develop some depth on the pitching mound.  "Will lost four starters, our catcher, and three of our top pitchers and two of those were top hitters, so we lost a lot of firepower between Beal and McCrystal they had 38 wins over a two year period.  Those two were two outstanding pitchers, so that is where the big question mark is how our young guys that have pitched at the lower level can step up and pitch at the varsity level.  if they can do that I think we can be pretty good.  We should have a pretty decent hitting team and the defense should be solid.  The pitching, that is going to be the big question mark," said Gorbett.

          The Warriors have some kids that were successful as pitchers on the junior varsity level, but Gorbett says that doesn't necessarily mean they can get varsity hitters out.  "At the JV level if you can throw fastballs for strikes you are going to be pretty successful.  Now they have to throw that curve and change and make sure they keep the ball low.  If they make a mistake it is going to go a long way.  In JV ball that is not always true, you can get away with some mistakes," he said.

          Gorbett has some experience in the "NOL" and he knows what it is going to take to be successful against the Norwalks, Bellevues and Shelbys of the world.  "I spent 11 years in the "NOL" when I was at Galion and it's a very, very good league.  We are going to be the second smallest school there going against some pretty big schools.  For the tournament that is going to help us because by two boys we are now division two, so we are going to be facing tougher competition in the tournament," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Hopefully, the "NOL" is going to get us ready for that.  It is a league where even the bottom teams can beat the top teams on any given day.  I know that sounds like a coach's cliché, but I was in that league for 11 years and so many times the last team of the next to last team would beat one of the top tier teams, that happened a lot.  It will be very, very competitive in talking to the other coaches there is there is no really definite favorite, so it looks like it is going to be very balanced where the league champ could have several losses.  Our kids are excited to play new teams and very talented teams."

 

Published 3/14/14

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Ontario Looking to Snap Back

 

          Ontario had a chance at an undefeated regular season and an undisputed Northern Ohio League title, but Norwalk took that away from them.  They can not allow that loss to affect them on Friday night or their season could be over.

          The play an excellent Lexington (15-8) team in the division two sectional final on Friday night at Bucyrus High School.

          Norwalk forced a share of the "NOL" title when they beat the Warriors (69-47) last Friday.  Ontario coach Joe Balogh says he believes there will be no lingering affect from that loss on Friday night.  "I don't think so, when our kids look back at this regular season they can be very happy with what we have been able to achieve and accomplish.  They know that portion of the season is over and we have to refocus and try to be at our best on Friday night when we play Lex.  We have to have good practices this week and good preparation and we have to play better than we did last Friday.  I have a lot of confidence in this group that we will play well on Friday," said Balogh.

          Lexington beat Clear Fork (58-43) on Tuesday night in semi-final action.  Balogh says they have been playing very sound defense lately.  "They are playing really well.  They are playing with a lot of confidence.  They have good balance.  Zahn and Barkett are playing good on the perimeter and then you really have to do a good job defending their post kids on the inside.  They defend extremely well," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "If you take a look at their scores in most of these wins they have held the opponents under 40 or at least under 50 points, which is outstanding.  We knew coming in that we were going to be facing a really good team on Friday night, a team that is playing with a lot of confidence."

          Lexington has some big guys inside and Balogh says they play physical and have been able to intimidate some of the teams they play against.  "They have been physical,  They play very physical at the defensive end of the floor.  I think their size inside is a little bit of an intimidating factor.  You might take a second look before driving the ball to the basket.  I think we have to be able to attack their bigs inside whether it be by putting the ball in our post guys hands in the paint, even though we are a little smaller than they are there, or attacking it off of the dribble," said Balogh.

          Another thing Lexington has done in their seven game win streak is control the pace.  Balogh says their strength on offense is in the half court.  "They pace of the game has been to their liking.  Not they will not push the ball, but they have been very good at operating in the half court and running their sets in the half court and executing those very well.  We are going to have to try and deal with that on Friday," he said.

          Ontario (21-1), #2 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, has been successful this year at pushing pace.  Balogh says they have to do that on Friday night.  "I think that is where we have been good and we even talked about that after the Norwalk game that we needed to play at a little faster pace.  In order to do that you have to have your defense create some offense, so pace of the game could be important on Friday," he said.

 

Published 2/27/14

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Ontario Not Done Yet

 

          The state's best two teams in division two according to a slate of media experts, and the top two teams in this area according to the coaches that vote for us, square off in another expected classic as Ontario travels to Norwalk on Friday night.

          Ontario (21-0,11-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, won the first game on January 29 beating the Truckers (63-61) by one basket.  Coach Joe Balogh says they look forward to another fantastic game.  "I think both teams have heard a lot about this game since we played last.  I think both teams have done a really good job of focusing in on the tasks each of us have had at hand prior to this game, but now it is here and I think both groups are excited about getting the opportunity to play," he said.

          Norwalk (20-1,10-1), #2 in our poll, has made some changes based on their loss to the Warriors and Balogh says they have made some refinements too.  "We have taken a lot of time to look back at that game and each game we have played since then and talk about things we need to get better at.  We did a lot of things well in that first game against Norwalk, but there are some things that we have to continue to improve on and do much better when we go there on Friday night," he said.  Balogh says they need to do a better job of keeping the Truckers off the offensive glass and they must handle that aggressive Norwalk press.  "The big concern for us all year has been rebounding the basketball at the defensive end.  We have to do a great job of keeping them off their offensive glass, especially Jeff Thomas.  He really hurt us in the first game getting to the offensive glass and getting second shots.  We have to do a good job of handling their pressure in the full and half court.  They do  a great job of changing up their traps," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "You have to do a really good job of seeing the floor and finding open teammates. We have to do a really good job of that.  The big thing it comes down to in many of these games is the team that can limit their mistakes is usually team that is going to in the game,"

          Ontario already has a share of the Northern Ohio League title and Norwalk wants part of it.  Balogh says the thing is the don't want to share.  "It is not a factor for us.  We know they are playing for a piece of the title, and playing the last game of the season for group of kids that have really put Norwalk on the map over the last four years.  I don't think their is any extra motivation for us we don't feel like we want to share the title with anyone.  I think both teams are going to be really focused basketball teams when this game is played out on Friday," said Balogh.

          With the kind of pressure applied by both teams there are going to be turnovers and shots are going to get blocked.  Balogh says you have to move on to the next play.  "We expect the game is going to be a very close, tightly contested game.  It is going to come down, like I said earlier, to the team that limits their mistakes and plays through their mistakes.  You can't let one mistake turn into two or three.  Their are going to be some mistakes made in this game, but the team that plays through those mistakes is going to be the team that has a lot of success,'" he said.

 

Published 2/19/14

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Ontario Focused for St. Peter's

 

          Saturday night's non-conference game at Mansfield St. Peter's could be a trap game for the unbeaten Ontario Warriors who are looking forward to a second match up with Northern Ohio League rival Norwalk next week.

          However, one of the keys to Ontario's success this season has been their tremendous focus and their coach expects nothing different from the Warriors on Saturday.

          They clinched no less than a share of the Northern Ohio League title Tuesday night when Cameron Mack scored 17 points and had six rebounds as Ontario beat Tiffin Columbian (65-42) at the "House that Joe Built" at Ontario High School.

          Coach Joe Balogh says they had good focus.  "I was really pleased with the effort our kids showed.  I thought they were really focused considering it was a our seniors final home game.  We had a chance to go undefeated at home for the season, plus a share of the "NOL" title.  I was really pleased with the effort that our kids showed and the focus that we showed coming into that game on Tuesday night," said Balogh.

          The veteran Ontario coach says this year's team has done a very good job of making sure they are prepared before the game starts.  "I don't think its just focusing the night of the game I think our kids have done a really good job of making sure we are focused on what our scouting reports are talking about and really applying that as we go into our game.  I think that consistency has shown up in the type of season that we have had," he said.

          Mansfield St. Peter's (11-8) has won four its last five games and Balogh says the Spartans have really started to shoot the ball well from the perimeter in their recent run of success.  "They have kind of made the adjustment after losing their big kid at the beginning of the season and adjusting to him not being in their lineup.  What has impressed me over the last several games is the way they have shot the basketball and how well they have shared it," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "They have several kids that are capable of getting between 15 and 20 points a night.  They have been able to spread that wealth around a little bit.  We are going over there and I think it will be a crowd that is going to be really enthusiastic.  So, we have to make sure we do all of the things that we always do and just make sure we are prepared and go in with really good focus."

          Ontario (20-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, likes to push the pace of the game, but Balogh says so does St. Peter's.  "They like to push it in transition and create offense off the dribble.  I think it will be a really exciting game.  They have a really tough game on Friday night.  I don't think they are going to make a lot of adjustments as far as really changing a lot of things that they are going to do.  They are going to look to push the basketball.  It should be an exciting atmosphere to play it," said Balogh.

 

Published 2/14/14

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Ontario Has remained Focused

 

          Paul Homan scored 18 points and Cameron Mack added 17 as Ontario sprinted to a 77-50 win over Sandusky in Northern Ohio League play on Thursday night.

          The Warriors outscored Sandusky (27-13) in the second quarter and were able to pull away.  Coach Joe Balogh thinks they were able to control the game pretty well with their defense.  "I was really concerned going up there.  For one, the long trip kind of on an odd night and two just how they had played against Perkins over the weekend.  Our kids have really done a great job of focusing through the year and really did a good job (Thursday) night of taking away what we wanted to take away from them defensively.  We were able to create some turnovers for easy baskets in the second quarter and really just opened up the game right before the half and maintained that lead throughout the second half," he said.

          The win keeps Ontario a game in front of Norwalk in the "NOL" standings and is their third win since they beat the Truckers last Wednesday in the battle of the unbeatens.  Balogh says they have had great focus.  "Our focus has been really good since the win over Norwalk.  (Friday) night will be another test for us from the standpoint that it is really different in preparing.  Typically when you play back to back you come in on Saturday morning and kind of have a walk through," he told Swankonsports.com on Friday morning, "We are not really going to be able to do that (Friday).  We have kind of told them that it is their responsibility to watch our tape and really take a good look at our scouting report because we weren't going to have a lot of time to go over it.  We have really trusted our kids to have done that and we will be really focused about what we have to do."

          Shelby (6-9,2-6) will be at Ontario (18-0,9-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll, on Friday night for another "NOL" game.  In their first meeting the Warriors pulled away late to win (63-56) at Shelby.  Balogh expects another battle.  "I think what you need to understand that I don't care about their record this has kind of been a rivalry game throughout and now it is just league and you have to play them twice.  Shelby and Ontario has really been a close game throughout the last 11, 12 years that we have played.  The big difference now is you play them twice.  There are some adjustments that we have made and I am sure they are making, so we really expect that it is going to be a really spirited contest," he said.

          Shelby is led by senior power forward Tristan Kehres and Balogh says you have to control him because if he gets going so do the other players.  "He is averaging a double-double.  The big thing is you can't let him get 20 or 25 then the other thing that happens is when you have to really guard him inside it makes it a lot easier for their three point shooters to have open looks.  That is kind of what hurt us last time is they made eight threes.  We are going to have to do a much better job of contesting threes and get those shooters off their spots and use their dribble a little bit more than maybe they want to," said Balogh.

 

Published 2/07/14

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Ontario Can't Panic

 

          Wednesday night marks a game between two unbeaten teams more than halfway through the season as Ontario hosts Norwalk at the "O-rena" to see who takes the outright lead in the Northern Ohio League.

          Both teams are 14-0 and 6-0 in the league and ranked in the top 10 of the statewide media poll in division two.  Norwalk is #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll released on Tuesday and Ontario is #2.

          Ontario coach Joe Balogh, the winner of more than 400 games, says it is a great way to find out where they stand against a very good team.  "I think we are both excited about the opportunity to play.  It should be a great atmosphere for our kids to play in.  Like I said before I think it is a game that is great measuring stick for how your team is going to be here in the next month.  It should be an exciting game here on Wednesday," he said.

          With the depth in the Norwalk lineup, Balogh says it is nearly impossible to give help in guarding another guy.  "They can score and they can score from a variety of positions.  They have three really good players in Haraway, Hull and Thomas that have been consistent scorers for them over the last several years.  You can think if you could kind of control those three you could help off the other two and the other night against Tiffin Johnson gets 22 and Turner gets 18.  If you try to play off those other two guys they score.  The big thing is they can score off of all five positions.  If you have that it makes it really difficult to defend," said Balogh.

          The Truckers, winners of 57 straight regular season games, might be even better on defense.  Balogh says they make you execute when you have the ball.  "They are really athletic at all five positions on the floor and they try to use that athleticism to create either offense or defense.  I think they have been a little bit more of a gambling team this year than they were last year, but they have had great success with it.  They change defenses on you and they don't let you get comfortable running what you want to in the half court," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "If you have kids that don't make very good decisions with the basketball then they are great defensively, but we think we have some players that are pretty good decision makers with the basketball and can make plays.  That is probably what this game will come down to is the team that has players make plays and doesn't turn the ball over will probably be the team that has the most success."

          When you have two very talented teams there are going to runs, but Balogh says you have to limit the length of those runs and he says they can't panic when Norwalk scores a couple of baskets.  "The big thing is you don't want a 6-0 run to turn into a 12-0 run.  You have to have teams that are poised because you won't be able to call a time out every time one of those runs happens.  The big thing is they have probably been through every type of game in this 55 or 58, whatever it is now, winning streak, so they are not going to panic, so that will be a key for us if they hit a couple of shots in a row or we turn it over a couple of times that we don't panic and stay on task with what we want to do and stay focused with it and hopefully we put ourselves in position that in the last couple minutes of the game that we have a chance to win this thing," said Balogh.

 

Published 1/28/14

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Ontario Ready to Play Again

 

          There was great anticipation for last week's game between Ontario and Norwalk in their battle for first place in the Northern Ohio League and then it snowed and the game was postponed.

          Ontario coach Joe Balogh says that was disappointing, but they can't allow that to affect the rest of their season.  "It's only a letdown if you let it be a letdown.  Our kids were, of course, excited about the opportunity to play, as I'm sure the Norwalk kids were too.  You deal with the situation and the elements and you move on.  We will have another chance to play them next Wednesday, but we told our kids that it's important that we have to get refocused and be focused Thursday night at Willard and refocus again and go to Sandusky on Saturday.  If we don't do what we need to do in those two games then the hype of Wednesday night's game with Norwalk will be diminished," said Balogh.

          The Norwalk game at the "O-rena" has been rescheduled for January 29.

          This week, the Warriors (13-0,5-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, will play at Willard (10-4,3-3) on Thursday night and at Sandusky (2-10,1-4) on Saturday.

          Balogh says Willard is a tough gym to have success.  "We are going to see a team that is going to be very ready to play.  Chris does a great job preparing his teams.  We are going into a place that typically has been a tough place for teams to play.  We have to make sure our kids understand the energy and enthusiasm we are going to face going into Willard.  We have to make sure we are focused on the things we need to do.  If we don't go in with focus we will probably be abruptly surprised and we hope that doesn't happen," he said.

          Willard is a team that has been successful in holding teams down with their defense, especially after a (66-44) loss to Ontario in early December.  Balogh says they also believe the Flashes will attempt to control the tempo against them.  "Defensively we anticipate they are going to try and mix it up on us a little bit.  We may see more zone than when we played them the first time.  Offensively they run a large variety of sets," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "If you allow them to reverse the basketball and run their sets and set their screens they are going to have success against you.  What we have to try and do is get pressure on the basketball and also be active off the basketball to try and take away form them just being able to run their offense in the half court.  It might be a little bit of a battle of tempo from the standpoint that we would like to play at a faster pace.  I'm sure they would like to keep the score under 50 if they can."

 

Published 1/22/14

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A Battle of Unbeatens at Ontario 

          The highlight of the boys’ basketball season so far in North Central Ohio takes place on Friday night at the “O-rena” in Ontario as the Warriors host the Norwalk Truckers in Northern Ohio League action.

          Both are unbeaten on the season and rank in the top 10 in division two in the statewide media poll.  They rank #1 and #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, with the Truckers occupying the top spot.

          Norwalk has not lost a regular season game since February of 2011.  The streak has now reached 55 in a row.  Ontario coach Joe Balogh says the Truckers play with no fear.  “Probably the most important thing is you have won 55 regular season games in a row. That is extremely hard to do.  They have kind of been through everything.  They have blown out people.  They have played close games.  They have played a variety of different styles during that run, so their kids play with no fear.  They have three veteran players in Haraway, Thomas and Hull.  Haraway and Thomas have started since they were freshmen and I think Hull has started since he was a sophomore.  So, they know what it is about.  They have no fear about coming into any place, or playing anyone, with what they have been through over the last three or four years,” said Balogh.

          This year, Norwalk coach Steve Gray is employing a more aggressive defensive style where they are pressing quite a bit.  Balogh says they have great athletes.  “They are not quit as big as they have been over the last two years.  They lost a 6’6” kid and a 6’3” kid inside, but they have two really good athletes in Turner that is 6’1” and Johnson that is about 5’11” that can really play and guard anybody.  They try to use that quickness to their advantage and they have done a really good job with that.  It’s not like Steve (Gray) has the same group back, he has made adjustments and those kids have responded very, very well,” he said.

          When you are playing team that presses a lot you can not afford to be timid.  Balogh says they have to attack.  “We have to attack it and make good decisions with the basketball and look to attack the basket.  You can’t just settle for jump shots.  It is great if you are able to make jump shots, but not only do they want to create turnovers, but they want you to take quick shots that are out of what you do.  Although we are not afraid to take quick shots, but what I think we have to emphasize is we have to attack the pressure and get to the basket and be able to lay it on the glass and score that way rather than just settling for 15, 18 foot jump shots,” said Balogh.

          When you have two outstanding teams like this there are going to be runs and lead changes.  Balogh says they have to move onto the next play whether it is a good one or bad one.  “It is going to be important that we don’t let them get a 10-0 run or anything like that.  There are going to be ebbs and flows to this basketball game.  It is going to be the team that plays a little bit more consistently is going to be the one that comes out on top.  You can not let a bad play frustrate you for two or three more possessions, but on the same hand you can’t be celebrating a good play because I think both of these teams will come right back at each other whether it is a good play or bad play.  It is going to be 32 minutes of great energy.  It should be an exciting night of high school basketball here at Ontario,” said Balogh.

 

Published 1/14/14

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Ontario Must Maintain Focus

 

          Ontario shares the lead in the Northern Ohio League, but they do not play a league game this week, instead they meet Wynford and Seneca East in non-conference action.

          Last week, they beat back a challenge for Tiffin Columbian and downed the Tornadoes (66-55) in “NOL” action.  Warriors coach Joe Balogh says they did a good job of with standing the Tiffin second half charge.  “I think when you play in this league you know teams aren’t going to fold the tent.  The big thing is you are going to try and stop those runs and we have been able to do that.  I think that goes with the experience of this basketball team that has led to that and I think that is good,” said Balogh.

          They also beat Sandusky (70-56) in a league game on Saturday night.

          On Thursday night, the Warriors (11-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, play host to long time rival Wynford (3-7) in what is now a non-conference game.  Balogh says he expects nothing but the best from the Royals.  “Wynford-Ontario has been a great rivalry over the years, both regular season and the tournament.  The difference is this year we only play them once.  We are in two different leagues again.  Coach Mohr will bring a little faster pace than they have had in the past and maybe not as many sets as they have run in the half court.  Wynford-Ontario we always expect it is going to be a very competitive game and I don’t expect anything different on Thursday,” said Balogh.

          With Steve Mohr now the head coach at Wynford they are running the floor a lot more and Balogh says that means they have to have solid defensive transition.  “You have to be able to find their point guard quickly because they like to get in quick and push it up the sideline.  They do a really good job with their posts running the floor, which has always been a staple of Wynford basketball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Their post kids really run to the rim well and you have to prevent them from getting easy layups by running harder than their kids.  The things is we are not going to try and slow down from our standpoint.  If it becomes a fast paced game I think it will be an entertaining game for fans to watch.”

          With it being a non-Wynford like year record wise on Thursday and a winless Seneca East team on Saturday, Balogh maintains this is going to be a weekend that going to be a lot about them getting better.  “I think the thing that we need to understand is our focus every week is we are trying to get better and that is going to be the focus of our basketball team.  We have to take steps to getting better.  We have been fortunate enough to win games, but also each week we have moved forward and not taken any steps back and I think that’s what is going to be important these two games this week is that we continue to work at taking steps forward and not necessarily look at our opponent, but take a quick look at ourselves to see where we are at,” said Balogh.

 

Published 1/09/14

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Ontario Plays Two Games in the “NOL”

 

          Three games into their first season in the Northern Ohio League the Ontario Warriors are in first place and oh yeah, they are unbeaten on the season. 

          They outscored the Shelby Whippets 9-2 over the last four minutes of the game to secure a league win (63-56) last Friday night.  Coach Joe Balogh says they couldn’t put it away earlier, but he says they were able to make some plays late.  “It was good for our kids.  We had a chance at Shelby about three different times to extend the game to 10 and beyond and they just didn’t let us do it.  Then they put themselves in a situation in the fourth quarter where they felt they had a chance to win the basketball game.  I give our kids a lot of credit because we made plays down the stretch, especially defensively, that were able to pull that out,” he said.

          On Saturday night, they went to Lexington and edged the Minutemen (56-49) in overtime.  Balogh says it was a similar script to the night before.  “We weren’t great offensively, we were really good to start the game offensively on Friday night.  A foul situation made us go zone in the second quarter and we only scored three, but we were up four at the half and I was really pleased because Lex was in the bonus the whole second quarter, but ended up only shooting four free throws in the first half.  We had a chance to stretch that game out too and didn’t do it and Lex fought their way back in it.  We were just fortunate down the stretch that we were able to make some plays and pull it out,” said Balogh.

          It’s a double weekend in the league for the Warriors, which begins on Friday night in Tiffin against the Columbian Tornadoes (3-3,1-2) in an “NOL” game.  Balogh says the Tornadoes have good size and good talent.  “I think the thing you have to consider with Columbian is they have played a bunch of games in a short amount of time.  We saw them play on the 23rd and they may have played five games in less than two weeks or even six games because of the football run they had,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Sometimes that is going to catch up to you a little bit.  The scary point for us is going over they have had a chance to rest some over Christmas.  They are a very good team.  They have two big kids that play well and are very athletic and their guard play has been pretty consistent.  We have to be focused when we go over there to play because I am sure they are going to be ready to play.”

          Sandusky (1-6,1-1) will be at Ontario (9-0,3-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, on Saturday night.  Balogh says despite their record the Blue Streaks have enough players to make them dangerous.  “They are really athletic and they are really young.  I think they start three sophomores.  They are very athletic at the perimeter positions.  To allow them to create turnovers with their defense and let them start really playing fast off those turnovers they can be very dangerous.  They haven’t shot it great from the perimeter, but they have shot it well in a couple of games that really scares you.  I guess the good thing for us is we don’t have to go on the road that we have them coming to our place.  We will have to come back on Saturday and really be focused,” said Balogh.

 

Published 1/03/14

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“NOL” Leader Plays Shelby 

          So far, Ontario has met expectations and those expectations are pretty high.

          The Warriors have played seven games and they have won them all so far.  They have the lead in the Northern Ohio League heading into a match-up with Shelby at the Whippets new gym on Friday night.

          After belting Bellevue (77-44) in a league game last Friday, the Warriors (7-0,2-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball poll in the large school division, beat Clear Fork (84-79) in overtime last Saturday when Cameron Mach hit a shot at the buzzer to send the game to the extra session.

          This week began Christmas vacation and Ontario coach Joe Balogh says this can be an important time for teams.  “I think it tests your kid’s focus.  You are not in the daily routine of school.  You are trying to give them some time off for the holidays.  Your practice schedule is different.  The important thing at this time of year is your kids have to have great focus about just doing the things that we need to do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Sometimes that can be challenging, but for the most part over the years our kids have done a really good job understanding that we want to give them some time off for Christmas, but the important part is when they get in the gym they stay focused in what we want to do and for the most part we trust that this group is going to be able to do that.”

          Shelby (3-2,0-2) returns only one starter from last year in Tristan Kerhes and Balogh believes that Tristan is big key to what Shelby is able to do on offense.  “Kerhes is a big key.  I think if he scores he provides a comfort zone for those younger players to take some pressure off of them and they can play a little bit looser and freer as far as far as shots that they take.  So, he is an important part of the puzzle for them.  We have to do a good job of controlling him because if he scores for them it seems like those other player step up and have a lot more confidence,” he said.

          Shelby has seemed to go in spurts this season.  A big fourth quarter led to a win on opening night against Mansfield Madison (62-61), but the scored only two points in the fourth quarter last week and lost at Tiffin Columbian (55-50) in league play.  Balogh hopes their pressure can tale the Whippets out of what they want to do.  “We are hoping our pressure can create some problems for them, but typically Shelby-Ontario has been a very closely played game.  We have only been fortunate once in the last 10 years to be the team that comes out on top and that was last year.  We expect that this game is going to be a very hotly contested game.  It has just never been a game that either team has won by very many,” said Balogh.

          In non-conference play on Saturday night, Ontario is at Lexington (3-3).  Balogh says they have been telling their kids all year it is really up to them.  “These are kind of both rivalry games.  The only difference being we are now in the “NOL” and play Shelby twice instead of once.  I think our kids understand that we need to be focused on the things that we do and try to focus our energies on us and not any other factors in the game,” he said.

 

Published 12/27/13

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Ontario Must Play Solid on Ball Defense

 

          There are a lot of new things on the Ontario boys’ basketball schedule this year with being in a new league.  This weekend it’s some new faces and a traditional non-conference foe as they play Bellevue and Clear Fork at home.

          Their match-up with Sandusky last Saturday got called off due to weather concerns, but they did beat a talented Wooster team (57-53) last Tuesday at the “House that Joe Built.’  Coach Joe Balogh says it was a quality win for them.  “It was a real good challenge for us.  We knew coming in that Wooster was going to present some problems for us.  Number one because they have 6’6” and 6’7” post players that are very athletic and they are very athletic at the guard position and we knew it was going to be a serious challenge for us.  We are really happy with how we responded throughout the game.  It was kind of back and forth, especially in the second half.  We made some mistakes offensively turning the ball over late when we had a one-point lead, but then we made some really good defensive plays down the stretch and were able to pull it out,” said Balogh.

          If Ontario (5-0,1-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, has ever played Bellevue (0-3,0-0) it’s been a long time ago and there is a lot new with the Redmen, with a new head coach in Brad Scheiber and many new players.  Balogh says what hasn’t changed is their athleticism.  “They are pretty athletic.  They’ve got kids, the Presser kid is averaging about 18 and the Gerwin kid, who is averaging about 12.  Both of those guys can really catch it and shoot it if you let them get their feet set and shoot it.  Their point guard DeWitt does a nice job of getting them into what they do offensively.  They don’t push the ball a lot, but they push it when they are at an advantage,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They like the dribble drive as their base offense, but they mix in some really good sets where they try to get the ball in their shooter’s hands.  We are expecting that they are going to be really ready to play.  They have been close in their games for about three, three and half quarters and have kind of faltered a little bit down the stretch.  I think they are just trying to find that mix over the last three or four minutes so they can make enough plays to win some games.”

          The dribble drive offense emphasizes getting the ball into the lane, which sets up many little wars.  Balogh says they must keep the Redmen out of there.  “I think that is the hardest thing to defend in basketball is defending the dribble.  If you can not keep people from getting in the lane on the dribble it creates a lot of problems for your defense.  A big emphasis for us Friday is you really have to guard your space.  If you can guard your space and not have to rely on your teammates and get a lot of help it can take away a lot of things they do offensively.  They are relying on if they can beat you off the dribble they can get to the rim and finish.  If you can force somebody to get help now they can find open teammates where they can just pitch and shoot it,” said Balogh.

          Clear Fork (2-1) of the Ohio Cardinal Conference comes to Ontario on Saturday.  Balogh says the Colts are another team that wants to use their athletes to get into the paint.  “They don’t run a true dribble drive, but what they try to do is they get good spacing and they try to spread you out.  They have a kid in Ridge Winand who has been s starter for almost four years now.  He is just a really tough match because he can catch and shoot it, he can put it on the deck and get it to the basket an finish or he can put it on the deck and pull up at 15 feet and shoot it.  Their other guys kind of match around him pretty well, Chrastina, Ridenour and some of the other guys.  Our preparation for this week is not like two completely different teams.  A big emphasis for us this week is to keep the ball in front of you and keep the ball out of the lane,” said Balogh.

 

Published 12/19/13

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Unbeaten Ontario Faces Big Test

 

          Ontario has not only been up to the test every time out this year, but they have played four excellent basketball games in four outings this season.

          However, they may face their toughest test of the season so far when they take on the Wooster Generals (2-1) of the Ohio Cardinal Conference on Tuesday night in non-conference play.

          Last weekend, the Warriors won their first ever game in the Northern Ohio League in convincing fashion over Willard (66-44) and then downed Crestview (56-44) in a non-league game on Saturday.

          Coach Joe Balogh says they didn’t shoot the ball that well, but they did lot of other things well in those wins.  “I thought we were really solid defensively both nights.  We limited our opponents in both games to under 35 percent shooting and we held them to 44 points and you can’t be disappointed in that at all.  We are really pleased from that standpoint.  We still think we have to rebound the ball a lot better, especially at the defensive end, that has to be a little bit more of an emphasis for us as we approach the games that we have this week.  We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well offensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I think we were under 40 percent each night, but Saturday we were nine of 20 from three point range, which was a big difference because they were in zone.  Friday night we were able to get to the line 34 times and go 24 for 34, over 70 percent, which has been a strength for us too.  We didn’t shoot it well and I guess there are going to be nights when you don’t shoot it well ands that’s where you have to depend on your defense.”

          Wooster pays its first effort visit to the “House that Joe Built” on Tuesday night and Balogh believes it will be their toughest game so far this season.  “It’s going to be a real challenge for us and good gage to see where we are at as a basketball team.  They have 6’6” and 6’7” inside, a point guard that handles it really well and a 6’3” perimeter player that handles it really well.  We are going to be at a little bit of a size disadvantage, which we will be throughout several games this year, especially in league play.  It’s going to be a good gage to see if we can handle that kind of size and it will also be a good gage offensively to see if we can draw their bigs out and guard us on the floor,” he said.

          Because the Generals have players that can do some athletic things with the ball, Balogh says they will have to be particularly good on defense and rebounding.  “They are very athletic.  Their post guys are not big slow guys, they are pretty athletic.  The Boyer kid on the wing is very and athletic and their other two guards can put it on the floor and beat you off the bounce.  Anytime you have players that can beat you to the basket off the dribble that creates a lot of stress on your defense.  So, we have to do a good job of keeping the ball in front of us, keep it out of the lane, without giving a lot of help.  We are going to have to do a real good job of keeping them off the glass because the 6’6” and 6’7” kids both go to the glass very hard,’ said Balogh.

          Yes, Wooster is good, but so are the Warriors (4-0), #3 in the first Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division.  Balogh says they need to remember that.  “They understand that we are going to face some adversity with some of the opponents that we play, but we have to play to our strengths too.  You try to take away the strengths of your opponents, but you also have to make sure you play to your strengths.  Our strengths from an offensive standpoint is we have been able to push the ball.  We have done a really good job of sharing the ball.  I think everyone of our baskets against Crestview had an assist to it and that tells us we were doing a great job in sharing the basketball,” said Balogh.

 

Published 12/10/13

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Defending Sets Important For Ontario

 

          Ontario opened the season like a house a fire last week against to teams they played in their old league and now they get their first taste of action in the new league.

          Last week, the Warriors belted Bucyrus (87-44) and beat Upper Sandusky (76-57) on the opening week of the season.  Coach Joe Balogh feels they did a solid job both on offense and defense.  “We were pleased with how we played overall.  We were pretty solid defensively.  We did what we wanted to do as far as getting pressure on the basketball and being able to get in some passing lanes to get some steals.  We still have to work on our locations in our full court pressure,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Offensively we just did a real good job of sharing the basketball.  We were willing to make the extra pass not to just get a good shot, but to get a great shot.  We were pleased with the start, but the thing we need to understand is there is still a lot of work to be done.  We want to try and be a better basketball team this Friday night than we were last Saturday night.”

          Ontario (2-0) has the potential to have four or five double figure scorers in a game and Balogh says the key is having players understand their role on the team.  “As long as we continue to have that unselfish attitude that we really don’t care who gets the points.  There are going to be a lot of opportunities for everybody to get a chance to score.  The other part is to understand what is your shot and what is your role because we need to get our shots and not just have players get their shots.  We will continue to work on that, but we are really happy about where our kids are right now,” he said.

          The Warriors host the Willard Flashes (1-1) in their first ever game in the Northern Ohio League on Friday night.  Balogh says when you face Willard expect them to run a lot of set plays.  “They return a really good point guard in Carson Ebert.  He is kind of their main player.  With coach Long being under coach Hirschy for that amount of time they are very similar with the stuff they run.  Willard is going to run a lot of sets out of transition and run a lot of sets in their half court.  You have to be ready to defend a lot of actions, down screens, cross screens, back screens, a lot different things.  From a defensive standpoint the thing that they have changed a little bit they play different defenses.  They will play some man.  They will play some different zones.  They will show some different kids of pressures in the full court.  So, that may be a little different than they were a year ago,” said Balogh.

          Willard also beat Upper Sandusky (56-50) and lost to Lexington (63-53) last week.  Balogh says under coach Chris Long, in his first year as the head coach, the Flashes make you defend a lot of things.  “We try to work on in preseason different things we are going to face during the season as far as defensively how we defend the different types of screens.  This week will be about try to figure what Willard’s strengths are and try to take those strengths away.  That will be important as far as our preparation,” he said.

 

Published 12/4/13

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Ontario Can be Pretty Good

 

          Ontario is always going to be good, it is just the how good.  This year has a chance to be a very good year for the Warriors, who are now part of the Northern Ohio League.

          Veteran coach Joe Balogh says this has been a pretty good preseason for the Warriors and they are ready to go when they play Bucyrus and Upper Sandusky this weekend.  “I think the kids have a pretty good understanding of what we are doing even though we have probably limited stuff we have put in more this year than in the past.  We are trying to get good at a few things that we think are important for this opening weekend and try not to overload our kids with too much information because we might have done that a little bit last year and we try to just par things down a little bit and gradually add things and not throw everything at them at once,” said Balogh.

          Ontario won the black division of the North Central Conference last year and advanced to the division three district tournament.  Balogh says so far they have adopted the right attitude.  “I don’t have any real big concerns.  We have played pretty well in our scrimmages.  We have really focused on what is important to us.  We haven’t worried about getting knocked down or officials are anything like that.  We have told these kids really from the summer that if we focus on what we do we are really pretty good,” he told Swankonsports.com, “If we allow things that we really can’t control affect us then that really hurts us as a team.  It seems in the preseason that we have really done a good job with that.  Now when we get in a real game situation we will have to see how that affects us.  Our seniors have been really good about having a positive attitude and have really helped coach our younger kids and that is why we are excited about where we are at right now.”

          Bucyrus has a new coach in Tony Rose and Upper has a new coach in Jeff Winslow.  Balogh says that will make things a little different, but really it’s about them.  “You have a little bit of an idea, but not as much if the two coaches were returning.  This first weekend is going to be focused on what we do.  We feel like if we can pressure the basketball defensively we can make some good things happen.  We think if we value the possession of the basketball and don’t play too fast.  We want to play quick.  We like what we have.  We have a little bit of an idea about these teams, but not as much as we would want.  The focus this week will be on what we do and not so much on what Bucyrus and Upper Sandusky do,’ said Balogh.

 

Published 11/29/13

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Ontario Starting it Slow

 

          Ontario is coming off another outstanding boys’ basketball season where they won the black division of the North Central Conference and advanced to the division three district semi-finals. 

          But, this year will be a new adventure for veteran coach Joe Balogh, the winner of more than 400 games, and the Warriors as they enter the Northern Ohio League. 

          Balogh says he has been very happy with the effort he has seen from the players in preseason workouts.  “The positive is our kids are giving great effort since they have been in practice and we just got our football guys last Wednesday.  We tried to give them a few days off.  I think the hard part for a coach right now is you want to get a lot of stuff in, but also I think you have to make sure you don’t over do it, especially with kids coming off football.  We have tried to do a better job monitoring our practices as far as the time on the floor.  We have emphasized to our kids if we are going to have a little less time on the floor early we want to effort to be great and our kid’s effort ahs been really great,” said Balogh.

          Balogh has been the coach at Ontario since 1987 and he tried a lot of things over that time.  He says this year he has employed a different strategy when it comes to preparing for the season.  “I think conditioning is really important.  The kids aren’t in football they go through about 10 days of conditioning before we start.  I think this year in a little unusual because you don’t have that full week in between.  You have to be careful with your football kids because there is going to be a point when they hit the wall.  In my older age I may have shortened practice a little bit here early and then may here as we get into the next two weeks extend them a little bit more just from the standpoint of trying to keep our football guys fresh and excited.  You don’t want to damper the enthusiasm of starting a new basketball season by wearing the kids out early.  We have been a little bit more aware of that this year than maybe we have in the past.  I guess we are going to see if it works out,” said Balogh.

          Ontario was 20-5 last season and they return some key players to the lineup, but Balogh says potential is just that and they have to prove a lot of things to a lot of people when they hit the floor.  “It has potential.  We bring back Cameron Mack and Tyler Boatwright, who will be three year starters.  That is kind of unusual in our program to have two of them.  Then we bring four kids back that have a lot of experience in Brandon Wagner, Josh Plieninger, Tyler Gorbett and Lynell Shelby.  All of those guys had significant playing time at one time or another last year.  Our experience should hopefully help us.  I think the thing our kids need to understand is we are not going to be given anything.  There is no entitlement because of the success we had last year to any success we may have this year.  We need to understand we need to have a great work ethic,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “The thing our four seniors from last year brought each and every day and I think hopefully that if this group of seniors and juniors understand bringing that kind of work ethic everyday and trying to get better everyday we have a chance to be good.  Sometimes it takes some time to get kids to understand that, but right now we are happy with the effort our kids have brought to practice each day.”

 

Published 11/14/13

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Ontario Faces Big Challenge in Tiffin

 

          After losses in their last two games the Ontario Warriors play Northern Ohio League leader Tiffin Columbian on the road to close out the season on Friday night.

          Last week, Sandusky scored 20 points in the first quarter and went on to beat the Warriors (27-13) in an “NOL” game.  Coach Scott Kreger says again they hurt themselves more than anything.  “Sandusky came out and played a good game.  They did exactly what we thought they would as far as coming out and sending a lot of pressure on defense trying to shut down our passing game.  We came out right from the get go on the first play of the game and got a turnover and marched the ball right down and ended up making a mistake right down at the goal line, which led to a touchdown for them.  Things kind of snowballed from there for us and we were never able to get momentum back,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Give Sandusky credit for coming out and making plays and doing what they needed to do to be successful.  It was just a matter of us again shooting ourselves in the foot over and over again and not being able to overcome it.”

          Kreger says when you give up big plays like they did it kind of deflates the team.  “Those are big momentum killers, and builders for the other team, as far as that goes.  When you look at the numbers, aside from their long pass and a 90-yard run I think they ran 50 plays for 13 yards.  So, despite the score out defense played really well across the board.  It was just one of those games when things couldn’t get going our way.  We just couldn’t get any momentum built up,” he said.

          Columbian (8-1,5-0) has won eight straight games this season.  Kreger says the Tornadoes really resemble a small college team more than they do most of the teams they play.  “They are a big, physical football team.  Up front they are built like a small college team as far as their offensive and defensive line goes.  They have skilled kids, they have speed, they have size, and they have everything you want as a coach for a football program.  They are really well coached and very well disciplined.  They just go out and play the game the right way.  They are going to provide a match-up for somebody like us.  It is going to be tough to match-up with their size.  We have to be very disciplined across the board.  They are just a good, physical football team,” said Kreger.

          In order to be able to move the ball after Columbian, Kreger says they are going to have to be able to get the ball out onto the perimeter.  “That is really where we have gone the last few weeks as far as getting the ball in Tyler’s hands whether it is running or throwing and trying to create opportunities for our offense to move the ball up and down the field and put the ball in the end zone.  We have to really capitalize on those opportunities.  When we have open receivers hit them and make plays,” he said.

 

Published 10/30/13

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Ontario Hurting Itself

 

          With a loss last week to Bellevue, Ontario is out of the Northern Ohio League race and probably out of the playoffs, but they still have two games to play they would like to win, beginning with Sandusky this week.

          Bellevue pulled away in the second half and beat the Warriors (35-12) last week in first meeting between the schools.  Coach Scott Kreger says they just made too many mistakes.  “We played pretty strong for three quarters, two and half quarters for sure.  We were down nine going into the fourth and our mistakes really caught up with us.  Between 14 penalties and five turnovers I don’t care who you are playing you are not going to be successful.  When you are playing a team is good as Bellevue you are in trouble with that situation.  It was a matter of us not playing well and not being disciplined.  Credit them and what they did.  They played a good game and deserved to win,” said Kreger.

          Offensively Ontario (5-3,2-2) was able to move the ball again last week, but when they got into scoring position Kreger says they just couldn’t do anything right.  “Tyler Boatwright threw for 330 yards and ran for 100 some yards.  We moved the ball up and down the field.  We get inside the 25, 30 yard line and it was like a broken record, it was a ground hog day, whatever you want to say, we would have a penalty, a misalignment, a bad snap, or a turnover, it would just end up catching up with us,” he said.

          Sandusky (2-6,2-2) visits Copeland Field this week for an “NOL” game.  Kreger says they have an aggressive defensive line.  “They bring a lot of pressure up front defensively.  They are probably one of the best defensive fronts, as far as aggressiveness, that we have seen all year.  There front four can definitely cause havoc.  They bring their linebackers so we have to be able to block them up front,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Offensively they have a lot of speed and a lot of athleticism.  Defensively we have to be able to go out and tackle them to prevent them from making the big play and have to march the ball down the field on us.  We just have to play good assignment football and just not make the mistakes whether it is mental or physical this week.”

          Ontario has the players to make big plays and Sandusky has given some up.  Kreger says it is about getting the Blue Streaks blocked up front.  “It goes back to controlling the front four, five or six depending on how many they bring.  We feel that if we can block them up front we have the opportunity to whether it is a quick pass we can hit and run after the catch or whether it’s a team we can has success running the ball.  The bottom line is we have to be able to control the line of scrimmage,” he said.

 

Published 10/25/13

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Clear Fork and Ontario meet in the District Final

 

          In the final game of the regular season Clear Fork beat Ontario 1-0, with only goal on a penalty kick.  They meet again, this time in the girls’ division two district final at Ashland High School on Saturday.

          Tuesday night, Clear Fork shutout Clyde (6-0) and Ontario downed Norwalk (6-2) in semi-final action.

          Less than four minutes into the match Clear Fork midfielder MacKenzie Golden scored on a ball than bounced off the left post and that goal was followed by a header by Deijah Swihart and another goal by Camryn Crill just over a minute later.  With over 31 minutes left it was 3-0 Clear Fork. 

“Time seems to go a little bit slower in tournaments and I didn’t realize we had three in nine minutes.  When coach Laux told me that at halftime I actually hadn’t realized we had done that.  Looking back on it we did talk about our offensive strike, missing Jordan (Helinski) right now, and that was an area we focused on.  That was nice to see,” said Clear Fork coach Brittany Bechtel.

          Helinski hurt her shoulder in that physical match with Ontario at the end of the regular season and isn’t expected to play for the rest of the year.  She was replaced, in part, by freshmen Hannah Homerick and Erin McKinley.  Bechtel complements their efforts.  “They have had conversations with Jordan, the team, and myself, and they definitely don’t want to bring the team down, and it brings the extra fire that we need.  You have young ones coming up that haven’t played a whole lot of varsity.  They are getting that chance and they are making the most of it,” she told Swankonsports.com after the match, “Wow, what an opportunity for them, and what an opportunity for the team, to have those people that can come in and step up and play the way we have had those freshmen in the last couple of games.”

          I thought the Lady Colts did a solid job of possession, but Bechtel thinks they can do better.  “We hammered that at halftime.  We were doing a lot of great things, but the possession part of our game can always get better, limit your touches, one touch, get it done quicker.  The way to feed balls because this field is a lot different than what we are used too,” she said.  Community Stadium has field turf and Bechtel says that means you have to play a little differently.  “It’s faster and where you play the ball has to be different because it is going to be a keeper ball, it is going to be out of bounds.  The through ball can still be there, but it has to be at a different place, a different pace, and everything has to change.  It is like indoor without walls on turf except a little bit wider and a little bit bigger,” she said.

          Taylor Cook and Breezy Argenio added goals in the four minutes of the first half and Swihart, the team’s leading scorer, made the only second half goal.

          Overall Clear Fork has 28 shots on goal in the game.  Clyde had one. 

          As far as the rematch with Ontario, Bechtel says they can’t wait.  “We were born ready.  We have been waiting on this game for a while.  I am sure both teams will come and we will be ready to play it.  The games you live for are like Saturday,” she said.

          She looks for it to be another battle.  “We know them pretty well.  Our girls play with their girls.  They are a very team based team like us.  I am sure it is going to be about intensity and who is going to battle it out for 50-50 balls, and who is going to keep possession, who is going to strike it on net and put it in the back of the net in the end,” said Bechtel.

          In the first semi-final on Tuesday night, Abbey Brokaw scored three times in the first half against Norwalk, who did not get a shot on goal in the first 40 minutes.  Lady Warriors coach Larry Alkinson credits his midfield for an excellent job.  “That is the strength of our team, the midfield.  If we can control the middle we are going to have a very good chance of winning every game.  They are not big, but technically they are very strong.  Allie Alkinson is a very good distributor of the ball.  She is one that feeds the girls up front.  Katie (Earhart) does the mudding and fights for the ball in possession.  They work pretty well together,” said Alkinson.

          Both of Norwalk’s goals came in the final eight minutes of the match.  Alkinson says that was against some younger players.  “We want to get as many girls experience in a tournament game as we can, especially in a game like this.  Do we like giving up goals?  No.  I mean we haven’t given up a lot of goals all year.  We pride ourselves on shutouts and defense.  They played very well.  At the end of the game it was all freshmen out there,” he said.

          Alkinson says they are healthy and ready to go against Clear Fork on Saturday.  “We are healthy, that’s the main thing.  What everybody is concerned about once you get into tournament time is being healthy.  Last year at this time we lost one of our outside mids, the fastest girl on the team to a sprained ankle and she wasn’t available for us when we played in the state final game,” he said.

 

Published 10/23/13

© Swankonsports.com

 

 
 

Ontario is in a Must Win Situation

 

          Ontario likely has to run the table if they are going to win a piece of the Northern Ohio League title and have a chance to reach the post season this year.

          It was just a one point game in the fourth quarter last week before the Warriors put away the Shelby Whippets (22-16) to keep themselves just a game behind league leader Tiffin Columbian, who they play on week 10.  Coach Scott Kreger says they made the plays they had too.  “Our defense stepped up and did a real good job when they had to get stops.  We gave up a couple of passes, but again credit them for making plays.  Our kids have really stepped up to the challenge week in and week out.  The competition in the “NOL” is just so much more stiff than what we have seen before and you know you are going to be in for a battle every week and we have had that every week.  I’m proud of our kids for going though it and getting the win.  You get you win whether it’s one touchdown or two touchdowns, you will take it any way you can get it,” said Kreger.

          Jordon Campbell returned to the lineup last week for the Warriors and Kreger thinks they are going to be close to 100 percent for their match-up this week with Bellevue.  “It has been a week by week cycle for us.  We have had a lot of dings and a lot of injuries, muscle pulls and this and that and things we haven’t had to deal with over the last four years.  We will have the team we have had over the last five, six weeks.  I would say we are at full strength.  We have the kids we are banking on and counting on.  Everybody that is healthy is going to play.  We will basically go with the same lineup we have had over the last four or five weeks,” he said.

          Ontario (5-2,2-1) plays host to traditional power Bellevue (3-4,1-2) in an “NOL” game at Copeland Field on Friday night.  Kreger says he understands what Bellevue brings to the table.  “Coach Nasonti does an outstanding job with his program he has been coaching for 20 plus years.  With my time at Shelby I know what Bellevue is all about and the tradition they have and those kids are very proud.  I was telling our young men about because they are new to the whole situation,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Basically this is the king of the “NOL” as far as football goes in the “NOL.”  I believe they have 23 league championships since 1944.  So, they have pretty much put the standard on that.  I know Tiffin and Shelby are right behind them.  They just get better and better every year.  They just have kids that carry on that tradition.”

          They may not have Jalen Santoro any more, but Kreger says the Redmen can still do a lot of things on offense.  “Their big guys up front do a great job of getting off the ball and getting movement.  This is probably one of the most physical and best offensive lines that we have seen this year and that is going to be a rough challenge for our defense.  They do a good job of being balanced as far as run and throw.  They are pretty explosive with the plays they make on the outside.  Number 14, that young man is very good, they put him in the wildcat and they look to take advantage of his speed and athleticism.  Across the board they are just a very good football team,” said Kreger.

          If there has been a weakness this season for Bellevue, it has been on defense.  They gave up 51 points in a loss to Norwalk last week.  Kreger hopes they can take advantage.  “We have to sure things up on our side.  You look at them and they have four losses this year and the teams that have beaten them have a combined four losses between them.  They are an extremely good football team.  We know we are going to have our hands full.  We have to go out and execute on both sides of the ball.  We have to make sure we block up front and make sure we are not making silly blocking assignment errors,” he said.

          If they are to accomplish their goals Kreger knows they have to have a win this week over Bellevue.  “It has been that way for us since Norwalk beat us.  We know going in that this is our playoffs right now.  Every week is a playoff game for us whether if it is an “NOL” championship for us or the possibility of playing on week 11.  We are doing a good job this week preparing for Bellevue and getting our kids in the mindset and getting ready to go Friday night because this is the second to the last time these young men, these seniors, will ever come out of that field house and on to Copeland Field and I know they are looking forward to it,” he said.

 

Published 10/17/13

© Swankonsports.com

 

     

 

 
 

Ontario Must be Ready For Whippets

 

          With Bellevue coming up next week and defending Northern Ohio League champion Tiffin Columbian on week 10, this week’s game against the one-win Shelby Whippets could be a gotcha game for Ontario if they aren’t careful.

          Last Friday quarterback Tyler Boatwright threw three TD passes and the Warriors defense adjusted to Vermilion’s wing-t offense and they beat the Sailors (21-14) in non-conference play.  Coach Scott Kreger felt they played better in the second half for sure.  “They lined up in old school wing-t football and kind of lined up and ran at us, which we knew they were going to do.  We did a good job the second half of aliening correctly, number one, and doing a good job of tackling.  In the first half we really struggled with our alignment for some reason and we didn’t tackle really well, but we rebounded and did a good job in the second half,” he said.

          Kreger told Swankonsports.com during the preseason that he thought the defense was going to be key to their success this year and he believes that unit continues to get better.  “Up until this week we tackled really well.  We had done a good job of communicating up front and getting off blocks and staying flat and maintaining our gaps and making plays when we had opportunities.  Our linebackers have gotten better each week, but we are still a little too inconsistent, both on the inside and the outside.  Our db’s, Tyler Boatwright and Logan Armstrong have both been phenomenal as safeties, coming up and making plays when we need to.  We knew what we were going to get out of them and we are getting that and them some.  We continue to improve as far as a unit.  It’s a big week for us as far as stopping the Whippets and we have to do a good job defensively,” said Kreger.

          Shelby (1-5,1-2) won their first game last week, beating Willard (12-8) in an “NOL” game.  The Whippets have sputtered a lot on offense, 12 points is their highest output on the season.  Kreger says they have been their own worst enemy.  “We have seen a lot of stuff from them in the pistol and running stretches and coming out in the spread and throwing the ball around.  They have killed themselves with turnovers this year.  They moved the ball on people and just have not put many points on the board and we hope they continue that this week.  It is not case of what other teams did to them it is a case of what they did to themselves,” he said.

          In way Kreger believes the Whippets are dangerous because there is going to be a night when they don’t shoot themselves in the foot.  “Unfortunately they lost their quarterback the last scrimmage of the year, that is somebody you are really counting on and that is a huge hurdle to overcome.  They had to throw a young man in there that I don’t think was ready for to be a quarterback and that is a lot of pressure to put on anybody let alone a high school kid.  If they don’t turn the ball over I think some of their games would have been a little different than what they are.  You can’t change those and hopefully we can go out and force them into a couple of turnovers and take advantage of that,” said Kreger.

          Ontario (4-2,1-1) is the favorite in this game, but Kreger knows the Whippets have a pretty good defense and they will play them hard.  “They are very aggressive.  They are always bringing somebody blitzing somewhere.  Shelby traditionally has very tough hardnosed football kids.  We know that coming here and we know we are in for a battle.  They are going to give us their best game.  They have ever since I have been here and I expect they will continue to do that,” he said.

 

Published 10/8/13

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Ontario Ready to Slug it Out

 

          Ontario is taking a break this week from Northern Ohio League play for a trip to Vermilion to face the Sailors in a non-conference game on Friday night.

          After beating Willard (45-14) two weeks ago, the Warriors were thumped last week by Norwalk (40-12) to drop to 1-1 in their first year in the “NOL”

          Norwalk scored four times before halftime and Ontario coach Scott Kreger says they were never really able to get back in it.  “We were behind the eight ball really quick with their quarterback making some good plays.  We were unable to contain him and do a good job of forcing him into situations.  He really exploited us throughout the game.  The kids did a good job battling back and put us it a better situation at halftime, but they cam out and made a couple plays in the second half and that was the difference in the game,” he said.

          They didn’t make as many plays as the Truckers last week, but Kreger doesn’t think it is that big of a concern.  He says they seemed to be just missing all night.  “It was the first time in five weeks that we didn’t tackle real well defensively and we didn’t catch the ball offensively, so that hurt us.  We had over 400 yards of offense.  When you have that much yardage and don’t turn the ball over much and only score 12 points.  There were just some situations there that really didn’t go our way, and needed too, and had the previous four weeks,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It was just little things here and there that didn’t go well.  We dropped some big passes.  There were a couple of plays that were an inch or two from being big plays for us and it would have been a completely different ballgame, but credit Norwalk for coming out and playing well and making plays.  They made them and we didn’t, so it is nothing to pout about or whine about we just need to come out and be better this week.”

          Vermilion (2-3) was a team that was in the “NOL” for a couple of months, never played a game, and then backed out.  Kreger says the Sailors are old school.  “You know five years ago once we got through week five we would have played four or five teams that were straight wing-t teams that were lining up and grinding it out and this year we haven’t played anybody that hasn’t been in spread.  We face Vermillion on week six and they are out in the wing with two backs and under center and grinding the ball out.  We are getting back into old school football and reading our adjustments and reading our alignments and making sure we do everything n the defensive side to stop their running game,” said Kreger.

          He says this will no different than any other week so far.  The line of scrimmage will tell the story.  “We have stressed that to our kids it has been that way every week for us as far as battling up front and trying to do a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and our guys have done a pretty good job of that so far, so we will continue to do that and try to win the game in the trenches,” he said.

 

Published 10/2/13

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Ontario Faces Athletic Norwalk

 

          Ontario found success in their first ever Northern Ohio League game last Friday against Willard, but the challenge will be tougher this week as they host the Norwalk Truckers.

          Both teams are 3-1 in all games, but Ontario beat Willard (45-14) in the “NOL” opener while Norwalk lost to defending champion Tiffin Columbian (24-20) on a big play near the end of the game.

          Ontario coach Scott Kreger thought they played a well balanced game against Willard and the key was getting off to a great start.  “We came out offensively and were able to establish both the running game and the throwing game from the get go.  We were able to put up 23 points in the first quarter, which is always big when you can get that many points and get off to a good start.  Our defense was extremely, extremely good.  We were able to shut down and really limit their offense and we made them one dimensional.  We are proud of our young men improving week to week,” said Kreger.

          The Ontario coach thinks his team is improving and playing more consistently.  “Our goal is every time we come out to practice and every time we come out on Friday night.  We try to stress that Friday night is your test night.  You have been studying all week getting ready and prepared for that exam that you have on Friday and we want to improve each time.  I think it’s a lot of credit to the time we have put in in practice and what these young men are doing how well they are working as a team meshing and really taking care of some of deficiencies we have had,” said Kreger.

          Norwalk (3-1,0-1) almost got Columbian last week and Kreger says they are very talented football team.  “They are very good.  They are probably the best team we have see up to this point as far as just having explosive play makers in a multitude of positions.  They have great athletes across the board.  They have defensive lineman that can run, offensive lineman that can move and run, and do a great job across the board.  Their quarterback is probably one of the best athletes in our conference.  He has the ability to run and throw.  They have the leading rusher in the Turner kid and a great receiver out there in the Hinkley kid.  We are going to have our hands full on both sides of the ball because their defense is very physical up front and they have the athleticism to get to the ball,” said Kreger.

          Both teams have great speed and quickness.  Kreger says their defense has to be good tacklers and be able to stop the big play.  “We have to get out in open space and be able to limit their big plays.  That is something we have talked a lot about this week in trying to prevent their big plays and try to make them less dynamic and less explosive as we possible can by keeping the ball in front of us and getting as many people to the ball as we can so we are hopefully getting in there and forcing some turnovers, but number one you have to limit their big plays,” he said.

          The Warriors have made a number of big plays in the special teams this year and Kreger hopes they can get at least one Friday night without a big mistake.  “Anytime you come into a pretty balanced game, which I believe this is, special teams is always one of the neutralizers.  When you have athletes like they do and like we do back there touching the ball and anytime you can get them some extra touches that could hopefully go in your favor,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Our coaching staff does a good job each week in going out there and getting all four of our units ready to go.  Number one you don’t what to give up something like a blocked kick, a bad snap of a fumble and end up turning momentum against you, but number two you want to do that to the other team.  Special teams are big, as they are every week, and they could be the difference in the game.”

 

Published 9/27/13

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Ontario Must Run

 

          Ontario plays its first ever Northern Ohio league game on Friday night at Willard the result will likely be determined by which side runs the ball better.

          2011 division four state champion Norwayne handed Ontario its first loss of the season (42-34) last Friday at Copeland Field.  Coach Scott Kreger says they were obviously unhappy with the loss, but they did some good things too.  “It is always disappointing anytime you lose a game, but kudos to our kids they fought.  That was a word we used a lot Saturday in reviewing film.  They fought very hard,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We are not happy with the result we are very disappointed in the result, but as a coach I am very proud of our young men and we are looking to build on that.  We need to eliminate the mistakes that we did make so we aren’t in a bind being down 14 points and have to battle back like we did.”

          Ontario’s Cameron Mack returned a punt for a score last week and the Warriors have made some big plays in the special teams.  However, Kreger says they have allowed some big plays over the first three weeks.  “We have returned a kickoff and we returned a punt over the first three weeks.  It’s not just special teams, but the other team is turning our mistakes into touchdowns and we can’t have that.  We definitely have to eliminate that on the offensive side of the ball taking care of the ball and being a lot more efficient,” he says.

          Willard beat Bucyrus (27-20) last week for their first win of the season.  They run the triple option offense and Kreger wants his defense to be aggressive.  “We want to attack the ball as much as possible and get the ball out of their quarterback’s hands and make him make a decision right away so he is either giving or pitching.  If he is running we have to tackle him and wrap him up because he is by far the best athlete on their team.  They are very dangerous because their fullback hits the hole quick and if he gets to that second level we are going to be off to the races and we definitely want to avoid that,” Kreger said, but not too aggressive.  “You can’t afford to get too deep because you are going to get past the ball carrier and he is running by you and you are looking like you don’t what you are doing because you are in bad position.  We preach to our kids that you want to penetrate and then you want to sit and play your gap and play your containment and just be solid on the assignment side,” he said.

          Willard has some beef up front and they will be difficult to run against, but Kreger says that is something they are going to have to be able to do.  “They have an attacking 3-4 into multiple fronts.  They are very big up front.  Their front seven are very big.  They do a pretty good job of shutting down the run.  We definitely have to win the battle of the ling of scrimmage to be able to establish are running game and establish our passing game and try to be as efficient as we can on offense,” he said.

 

Published 9/19/13

© Swankonsports.com   

 

 
 

Ontario Meets State Power

 

          Ontario is going into a whole new world this year by joining the Northern Ohio League, where they will be one of the smallest schools, after being one of the bigger scores in the North Central Conference.

          They play host to state power Norwayne in their final non-conference game of the season on Friday night at Copeland Field.  The Bobcats won the division four state title in 2011 and lost in the semi-finals last year.

          Ontario (2-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, whipped Clear Fork (30-8) last week by forcing five turnovers, two which led directly to scores.  Coach Scott Kreger says they played well on defense.  “Our kids really stepped up on the defensive side of the ball Friday night and did a great job forcing turnovers.  We did a great job of tackling and we knew we had to do that to limit their big plays.  Kudos to coach Canfield and the defense as far as what he designed.  They had a great game plan and the kids went out and executed it,” said Kreger.

          Norwayne lost just their second regular season game in three years when Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy beat them (32-28) last week.  Kreger says the Bobcats will bring a lot of athletes.  “They are very athletic and very explosive.  They have an all state quarterback coming back this year.  He has a strong arm and can really air it out.  He has some great weapons on the outside, a couple of D-one recruits, one at Cincinnati and one at Bowling Green.  They are also big up front,” said Kreger.

          The Ontario coach says they are not just good on offense.  “Defensively they are very disciplined and do a good job of being very stout up front as far as stopping the run.  They put their athletes on that side of the ball and they do a great job of covering, getting in your face and making plays,” he said.

          Norwayne, #3 in our small school poll, plays with a lot of confidence and Kreger says there is a reason for that.  “You are talking about a team that has lost three games in the last two years.  Anytime you can do that with the tradition that they have and the pride they have in their program.  Coach Harbour does a great job there.  I saw him speak at a couple of clinics.  I know he has some great athletes.  It comes down to executing on the field and they do that week in and week out,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “That is a lot of credit to his kids and what they do and how they do it.  I know they are going to come out here very hungry after coming off a very tough loss last week.”

          A win over Norwayne coupled with what they have already done, Kreger says that would give them a lot of momentum heading into the “NOL” next week.  “All three of our preseason games have been great for us with the competition we will be playing in the “NOL.”  Playing Clear Fork, Lexington and Norwayne is going to be a great prep for Bellevue, Tiffin, Sandusky, Norwalk, Shelby. Willard, or anybody we are playing in that group.  It’s a good way to prepare our kids for the competition we will be playing later in the year,” he said.

 

 

Published 9/13/13

© Swankonsports.com      

 

 
 

Defense the Key for the Warriors

 

          Ontario certainly has one of the more talented rosters in North Central Ohio, but they know they have to plug a few holes as they head for Clear Fork on Friday night for a battle with the Colts.

          Last week they played likely the most exciting game in the area by rallying to beat Lexington (44-43) in overtime, scoring 29 points in the second half and executing a two point conversion in the extra session.  Coach Scott Kreger says they talked about the good things this week, but also what needs to be a lot better.  “That is what we talked about this week.  Showing them the things we didn’t do real well on Friday night and making sure we don’t make the same mistakes.  Just building on the positives that we had and basically eliminating the negatives.  Coming out and playing better football that is our goal,” he said.

          One of the differences between scrimmages and real games is their pace.  Kreger says last week they had some problems getting to right play to the huddle.  “Our communication was not good in either huddle, offense or defense.  We didn’t do a good job of relaying calls and signals and so forth.  We have stressed that this week.  We just talked about assignments and alignment.  Just going back to basics and busting out those week one jitters and getting out some of those kinks so that we can be, like we stress, a little bit more fundamentally sound,” said Kreger.

          Ontario will be at Clear Fork (1-0) on Friday night in the rekindling of a long time rivalry that dates back to the 1960’s.  Clear Fork beat Fredericktown (47-40) last week.  Kreger says the Colts have the ability to hit the home run.  “They are very, very explosive.  Their skilled kids are just very dynamic and have the ability to score from almost anywhere on the field,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Up front they are big and physical, a typical Clear Fork team as far as that goes.  Their skilled kids definitely take the spotlight whether it is on offense or special teams.  They have some very dynamic, explosive kids.  We have to win that battle up front so we can move the ball.”

          In his first start at the position, Clear Fork junior quarterback Kadin Chrastina amassed nearly 300 yards of total offense against Fredericktown.  Kreger says he is a playmaker.  “He is a very good athlete.  He makes good decisions with the ball.  Definitely the key to their offense is being able to control him and be able to reduce the big plays that he has had, so we are not put in a bad situation,” he said.

          Both teams scored more than 40 points last week and Kreger says the better defense wins the game.  “We have talked about that this week.  We wanted to go in and shore up some of the things we didn’t do well.  We have to fix those.  Like I have said before we are kind of relying on our defense.  We have a lot of starters back there and we definitely want to redeem ourselves this week after not a good showing week one,” said Kreger.

 

Published 9/6/13

© Swankonsports.com   

 

 
 

Ontario Counting on Defense

 

          Ontario wants to get its season started on the right foot against non-conference rival Lexington when they host the Minutemen in the high school football opener for both on Friday night.

          The Warriors have some experience and some new guys and coach Scott Kreger says they need good performances from those players that are new to Friday nights.  “We still have some holes to fill and hopefully we have filled those holes by the end of the week, but the real test will come Friday night.  I am very happy with the effort we have got from our kids, especially some of those kids that are coming in the first year or maybe playing a new position,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We know what we are going to get from our older kids, the kids that have been around, your Tyler Boatwright’s and Tyler Gorbett’s and Cameron Mack.  Those kids have had a lot of varsity experience.  It is going to be the other kids that will be looking to see how they did in the two scrimmages and how they have done in their two a days.  We are anxious and exited to see what we can do because we know Lexington is going to be pretty physical up front and so it will be a challenge for us.  We are looking forward Friday night to getting out their and banging some heads.”

          The Warriors have some explosive kids on offense, but Kreger says the defense may tell the story for them this year, especially early in the year.  “We have a lot of returners coming back.  We have a lot of experience in our defensive backfield with Boatwright and Logan Armstrong two playmakers at our safety positions.  Eddrick Holley played corner for us.  Matt Eichelberger saw a lot of time for us in the defensive backfield.  All four of our linebackers saw time for last year in Josh Plieninger, Cameron Mack, Bryce Kepple and Aaron Baker.  They all did a great job last year and continue to this year.  Up front we bring back Bronson Krull, who was an all-league player for us, and was an all-district player, did a great job for us as a sophomore.  Colton Sprague will be a senior nose guard for us.  I think our defense we are going to kind of hang our hat on it for a while.  Just because of the games played we are relying on them a lot right now,” said Kreger.

          Lexington quarterback Trent Richwine will be of the headline makers in the area this year and Kreger knows he is going to be difficult, if not impossible, to stop.  “He is one of the best athletes we will see all year as far as his ability to run and throw.  We have to try and contain him because I don’t think you can stop him.  He just has that knack of making plays and being very slippery and very elusive.  I know he killed us last year in the second half with his ability to scramble and he made us miss tackles and not look very good at times.  We have to go out there and really focus on tackling him and making sure we get him down so he doesn’t make those big plays,” said Kreger.

          Ontario surrendered too many big plays in a loss to Lexington (34-26) last year.  Kreger says they can’t afford turnovers on Friday night.  “Week one is about conditioning and it’s about turnovers.  When you go out there it’s live, 48 minutes, and we haven’t done that yet.  Nobody has as far as high school football goes.  You are going to have some nerves and jitters.  We are going to go out and try to make more big plays than they do,” he said.

 

 
 

Ontario Revved up and Ready to go

 

          Ontario has moved top a new conference in the Northern Ohio League and they are ready to compete.

          A media panel picked them to finish fourth behind Tiffin Columbian, Bellevue and Norwalk.  They had just two points less than the Truckers in the balloting of 20 media members.

          The schedule for high school football is a little different this year with just three weeks of two a days and the regular season starting a week later, but Ontario coach Scott Kreger says that has worked fine for them.  “We lose a week of two-days, which the kids probably enjoy by not being out there.  The worse case scenario is you lose that extra week of practice and preparation and ultimately conditioning.  Hopefully it keeps our kids fresh and ready to go.  It is kind of nice being in school the week before you start because it gets you used to that schedule.  We will run our preview like a game as far as being in school all day Friday and then having a game and going from there,” said Kreger.

          The Warriors play Lima Bath in their final scrimmage.  Kreger says they want to keep executing and he wants to stay healthy because the Warriors do not have a lot of depth.  “We want to get out of there with everybody healthy and everybody in good shape.  We are looking to improve from last week when we were at Crawford.  We want to get our young men that don’t have varsity experience a half of football against a pretty good Lima Bath team.  We want to get into game shape.  We need to shore up our tackling and shore up our blocking and the little things that it is going to take for us to be successful,” he said.

          Kreger especially likes this year the attitude his players have shown during the preseason.  He says they have worked hard to get ready.  “We have worked really hard and the young men have really bought into what we have been saying and what we have been doing defensively and offensively in practice.  Our kids have come out everyday ready to work for two, two and a half hours.  I’m very happy with the attitude we have,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “That is reflection of our senior leadership that we have.  We have been getting that not only from our captains, but the kids that the other kids on the team are looking up to.  The attitude has been a bonus and it has really been a pleasure coaching these kids for the last two and half weeks.”

          Kreger thinks the Warriors can compete with the heavy hitters in the “NOL” this fall.  “If we play and do everything we can to play up to our ability every week we have some very good skilled kids and we just have to develop some lineman and go from there.  Our schedule from top to bottom is one the best in the area.  That’s good and the young men are stepping up to that.  We appreciate that, but we want to go out and earn everything we get and we know that we have to.  We are looking forward to the challenge of the Northern Ohio League.  We are just looking forward to Friday nights and getting a chance to bang some heads,” said Kreger.       

 

 
 

Ontario Dealing With Numbers

 

          Ontario is pretty confident in the kids they will have starting games this fall, but what about those in reserve positions?

          Coach Scott Kreger says that will likely be the key to their season.

          He says they have seen great effort from all of their kids so far during the preseason.  “We have gotten great effort from our young men.  Everyday we have been out working hard trying to get better on both sides of the ball and getting in better shape.  Our kids are doing a good job as far as stepping up.  I am very pleased,” he said.

          Kreger says they don’t have much depth and they need to find some players that can step in and give the starters a break or in a worse case spell them in case of injury.  “Right now we are trying to find some of those second tier players that we are going to need on Friday nights to spell our starters.  We have some juniors right now that are working really hard and sophomores that are doing a really good job.  That is going to be a question for us because of some of our numbers.  We only have 45 out nine through 12, so that is going to be a question this year.  We have to continue to develop those young men.  Hopefully some of those kids step up and be able to fill roles where we need them,” said Kreger.

          The Warriors play former North Central Conference foe Colonel Crawford in a scrimmage on Friday night.  Kreger says they need to find out some things.  “They are very important because you finally get to go against somebody else’s number ones.  Unless you have 100 or 125 kids out it is hard to emulate game speed unless it is against somebody else’s starters.  We have to take advantage of this Friday against Crawford and next week against Lima Bath,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We know what we can expect from our returners and what they have done and where they have been and what they accomplished.  It goes back to those reserve roles and those kids that you will need on Friday night to fill in here and there.  We need to get them some varsity experience and see what they can do against some stiffer competition.”

          The preseason will be especially important for the offensive line.  The Warriors have only one starter back and they need to develop some players that can do the job there.  Kreger says tackling will be a key to Friday night.  “Our numbers are down, but I think that is a problem everywhere, not just here.  We are filling in some offensive line holes.  We have had problems.  We are replacing four starters on the offensive line.  Tyler Gorbett is the only one coming back.  He is a three year starter, which is great.  He is a good center up there and does a good job of making our calls and getting kids in the right positions.  On the defensive side of the ball it’s tackling.  We really haven’t tackled much other than in practice and things like that.  We’ll find out Friday when we get to hit somebody else’s kids at full speed and see how we do and see if we can step up and make some tackles and be in the right spot to make plays,” said Kreger.

          Tacking is something that is making the news, especially how to tackle.  Kreger says that is not really an issue with them.  “Our kids have been pretty receptive to what we do.  Our defensive coaches, led by Zach Canfield, our defensive coordinator, have done a great job as far as teaching the fundamentals.  The game has changed a lot.  They don’t want your arms out to the side because that causes a lot of shoulder injuries.  We teach our kids to drive up through the ball and things like that.  We still try to form them up and kind of wrap them like a forklift.  We want our power to come through our legs.  Our kids have done a very good job.  We have spent everyday at some time going through some kind of tackling drill and getting our kids to ready to be fundamentally sound so when it comes to game time and game speed they are able to do the job of wrapping up and make plays,” said Kreger.

 

 
 

 

Ontario Plays Bloom-Carroll Again in Regional

 

          The last time Ontario was in the regional baseball tournament they lost to Bloom-Carroll two years ago and it is those same Bulldogs they play in the regional semi-finals on Thursday.

          They beat North Central Conference rival Wynford (6-2) in the district finals last Saturday.  After beating the Royals twice in the regular season coach Dan Gorbett knew three times would be difficult.  “It is tough to beat a team three times and they have improved a lot from earlier in the year.  It was 1-0 going into the fourth inning.  We didn’t strike out, we were hitting the ball right at people.  Finally we were able to find some holes and made some things happens and scored a couple of runs,” said Gorbett.

          Ontario (27-3)), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll in the small school division, and number one in the stateside coach’s poll in division three, has been a very patient team this year.  He says they don’t make a lot of errors and at the plate they have done a good job of waiting on their pitch.  “Depending on the pitcher, I know Lexington had patience against that kid from Lima Shawnee who threw real hard.  They got his pitch count up.  That has kind of been a strength of ours.  We don’t swing at bad pitches.  We don’t strike out a lot.  Usually pitchers have a decent pitch count against us,” he said.

          Bloom-Carroll (23-4) has enjoyed another very good season.  However, Gorbett reveals they are going to be without one of their top pitchers for the regional game on Thursday at Elida High School.  “They are a very good team.  They play in a league with a lot of D2 schools.  They had a tough non-league schedule.  They will be ready to go,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It is kind of a growing baseball program.  They have a lot of open enrollment kids coming in there.  They have one of the best pitchers in their area, but he is ineligible this week.  He open enrolled as a sophomore.  We lost to them 4-3 two years ago, so we have played them before.  When you get to this level everybody is good.  It is usually who makes that one big mistake that is the difference in the game.”

          Gorbett says Bloom Carroll is just a good baseball team and they are hard to compare to other teams they have played.  “It’s hard to really compare.  Baseball you could have a bunch of small guys and be the best team in the league.  Basketball if you have a bunch of 6’8” guys that is obviously going to help you more.  In football if you have a bunch of big linemen.  Baseball is different because size doesn’t mean anything.  I have seen kids over the years that don’t seem very athletic, but they are great baseball players.  They are just a good, solid baseball team that doesn’t make mistakes,” said Gorbett.   

 

 
 

Ontario Claims Another Title

 

          For the second time this week, Ontario has claimed a title.  Tuesday it was a sectional championship and Thursday the outright black division title in the North Central Conference.

          Thursday they beat Galion (8-2) to finish off the conference.  The Tigers had beaten them (4-2) on Monday.

          Coach Dan Gorbett says they were able to get some quality pitching and then their bats came around.  “We were down 2-0 in the fourth inning and we got one run and then we got three and went up on them 4-2 in the fifth.  We got three in the sixth and one in the seventh.  It was a lot closer game than 8-2.  There was a walk and a hit and Wyatt Clemens hit a triple and that was a key hit,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We had a couple of back to back doubles.  We did some good situational baseball, moving runners over and getting a ground ball to score them and sac flies.  It was a real close game for four innings and then we came alive at the plate and made it happen.”

          Ontario has some pitching depth too.  Coming off a sectional win over Bucyrus on Tuesday and another “NCC” game against Lucas on Friday, Gorbett says they had to go to a variety of arms against Galion.  “Monday the Galion pitcher kept us off balance.  I don’t know if we were trying too hard or if it was just one those games that happens in baseball.  We found it and played well (Thursday) and got good pitching.  Wyatt Clemens went two, Paul Holman went three and we brought in McCrystall to close it.  That was kind of our game plan was to switch pitchers every two innings to try and keep them off balance with different looks.  We have a league game (Friday) too.  There have been a lot of big games this week, so we pieced together several good pitchers and they did a nice job,” said Gorbett.

          Next week Ontario (24-2), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll in the small school division, meets Oak Harbor (12-11) in the division three district tournament at Heidelberg College.  Ontario was upset by Edison in the districts last year.  Gorbett knows they have play very well to avoid that from happening again.  “We went up and watched Oak Harbor beat Western Reserve 5-4 (Wednesday).  They are a solid Sandusky Bay Conference team.  At this level you always have to play your best game and not make errors, get clutch hits and get good pitching.  Over in the other bracket you have Wynford versus Edison.  We are going to have to play well.  If we don’t we will go home early.  If we do we have a chance of advancing.  There are some pretty good teams up there,” he said.

 

 
 

Ontario Takes the Sectional

 

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Dan Gorbett

 

          Ontario did what most expected on Tuesday.  The grabbed the division three sectional title with a win over Bucyrus at Bucyrus.

          They had beaten the Redmen twice this year.  They beat them (15-1) in their regular season game at Bucyrus.  Tuesday night’s contest was similar in that the Warriors needed only six innings to polish off the Redmen (10-0) in the tournament game.

          Ontario coach Dan Gorbett says they did everything well, beginning with their pitching.  “Mitch McCrystall pitched an outstanding game.  He walked two and struck out ten in six innings.  The balls he threw that were not strikes were like on purpose.  He was throwing it out of the zone.  He was really sharp (Tuesday).  He pitched very, very well,” said Gorbett.

          Putting 10 runs up, Ontario hit the ball well, but Gorbett says they took advantage of some things too.  “We hit the ball well.  They had a couple of miscues and we took advantage of it.  They made some mistakes and we took advantage of it along with some good hitting on our part,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win.

          Earlier in the season on a couple occasions Gorbett had made clear his concern about their mental focus as a team.  He says he did not see any of that on Tuesday.  “I was pleased with our mental preparation coming in (Tuesday) and I think they realize at this point and time there is no tomorrow.  You can’t get caught sleeping.  Hopefully we build on this and come back and beat Galion on Thursday,” he said.

          Ontario (23-2,9-1), #1 in Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll in the small school division, can seal up an undisputed North Central Conference black division title with a win Galion on Thursday.   The Tigers (20-5,10-2), #3 in that poll, beat Ontario (4-2) on Monday giving the Warriors their first conference loss in more than two years.  Gorbett says they need to play almost error free ball.  “We have to play well.  We made some mistakes that we normally don’t do.  Their pitcher kept us off balance and pitched a very good game.  They took advantage of our mistakes Monday and we ended up on the short end of the stick.  They are a very good team,” he said.      

 

 
 

Ontario Rallies Past Lex

 

          Ontario scored seven runs in the last two innings and they rallied to beat non-conference rival Lexington on Thursday in a battle between two of the best teams in the state.

          Ontario (22-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll in the small school division, outlasted Lexington, #2 in the large school division, (10-9) in pick up a key win.

          Warriors coach Dan Gorbett says it was a very intense game between the two conference leaders.  “It was just a really fun game.  Last year was a great game for a non-league game for two years in a row it has been a pretty intense game.  Both sides playing hard with a lot of great players on both sides,” he said.

          There was a large crowd in attendance for a high school baseball game and Gorbett says it made the game even more exciting.  “It was “OYS” night, Ontario Youth Sports, and they had hot dogs for the kids and we probably had more than 200 people at the game.  We probably had about fifty students come to the game to cheer us on.  Both teams had good records with the crowd we had there everybody was pretty excited,” he said.

          It was a never give up attitude for the Warriors.  Gorbett says in the sixth inning some things began t happen for them.  “I kept telling the kids that there is no clock.  A couple the kids kept saying let’s just keep chipping away at it and we did.  We scored five runs in the sixth inning.  The bottom of the order came through.  We got three consecutive hits and I think we had a walk in there.  Then our number nine hitter, Aaron Baker, hit a triple and that made it 9-6 with no outs,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win on Thursday, “We got two more runs and then brought Mitch McCyrstall to pitch an inning.  He struck two of the four kids out.  The bottom of the order was up again.  They had a couple of errors.  Tyler Beal had a fielder’s choice and that got us the tying run.  Kyle Pasheilich with two out and a man on third took the ball to the opposite field for a base hit and we won.”

          Yes, it was a big win for the program, but Gorbett says they can’t stay on cloud nine forever they have a league game against Lucas to play on Friday.  “I would say it would have to give us some confidence.  The last thing I said to them is I am going to have to put a damper on this one.  We have to get refocused  (Friday).  We can clinch a tie for the league (Friday) with a win over Lucas.  That is the good and bad thing about baseball.  If you have a bad day you can come back tomorrow.  If you have a big emotional win you have to come back and play strong the next day,” said Gorbett.

          With another win over Lucas (4-20,1-9) the Warriors win no less than a share of the “NCC” black division title.  “That is what I told the kids.  Our number one goal is to win the league and that is (Friday).  This was a fun game. All of the kids know each other with neighboring schools.  Even though we are not in the same league in every sport we play each other it is pretty intense game for anon-league game,” he said.    

 

 
 

Ontario Starting to Turn it on

 

          Ontario has won all of its games but one this season, however, their coach has been questioning their approach.  His reaction was different after a lopsided win over Bucyrus on Tuesday.

          The Warriors (15-1,5-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll, hammered the shorthanded Redmen (15-1) on Tuesday to take first place to themselves in the black division of the North Central Conference.  Coach Dan Gorbett says it was one of their better efforts of the season.  “Their number two pitcher hurt his thumb so he wasn’t available, so they were struggling to find a pitcher.  They were kind of shorthanded (Tuesday) night, so the score was kind of deceiving.  That being said, I thought our kids did a nice job of being disciplined at the plate and staying focused.  The played a nice game in all facets of the game,” he said.

          Wynford beat Galion (3-2) on Tuesday to hand the Tigers their first “NCC” loss.  Wynford also has only one loss in the league.  Ontario hosts the Royals on Wednesday.

          Gorbett says the Warriors need to maintain their focus for these big games coming up on their schedule.  “I think we are coming around to where we were last year, at least we are making strides.  I have been, I guess you could say, a little frustrated throughout this season with where we are at.  I think we are staring to get there.  It was a big win (Tuesday).  Wynford has just one loss, and is one game behind us.  It will be a very tough game, so hopefully we come ready to play,” said Gorbett.

          With the record they have it might be difficult for some to understand Gorbett’s frustration, but he knows the Warriors potential.  “My standards are very, very high.  This is basically the same team we had last year.  Even though we were winning some games we weren’t playing up to our capability.  We were kind of just getting by.  I know that sounds kind of harsh when you have a really good record and you are not quite happy, but it is a process,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “Every game is tough.  Baseball is a tough game to play mentally.  You are playing a couple of games in a row then it rains and you are fighting all of that.  You have prom and graduation coming up.  It is a challenge that every baseball coach will tell you they have.  Hopefully with our senior leadership we can pull through that and continue winning ball games.”

          Ontario gave the ball to three pitchers on Tuesday and Gorbett says they all performed well.  “Tyler Beal was strong and we got Wyatt Clemens an inning and Paul Hoam and inning.  The hitting was solid.  We were solid in all facets of the game, fielding, pitching, hitting and mental preparation.  We just did a nice job with being focused and ready to play.”

 

 
 

Ontario  Needs Extra Innings to Beat Bucyrus

 

          Ability to win close games, especially when you may not be at your best, is sometimes what wins championships.

          Ontario did just that as they made two fielding mistakes and hit a batter allowing Bucyrus to send their North Central Conference black division to extra innings Monday night.  The Warriors though would respond and tally a run in the eighth to win (5-4) and remain unbeaten in the league.

          Coach Dan Gorbett says they almost gave it away, but responded to the pressure and earned the victory.  “We were up 4-3 going into the seventh and we just completely botched tow bunt attempts that should have been easy outs then we hit a batter to bring in the tying run.  Somehow we found a way to get out of that inning.  I told the kids that was our worst inning of the year, but they only scored one run, so that kind of shows something to be able to rebound and get out of that inning with the scored still tied,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Hopefully, we learned some things (Monday).  For us to have those kind of errors is not the team we are.  I don’t have an answer for it.  It’s two kids that are very, very sure handed.  It was just one of those nights.”

          Gorbett says he wants to give Bucyrus (3-8,0-3) a lot of credit for how well they played on the Warriors home field.  “We left a lot of guys on base.  The Bucyrus pitcher did a real nice job making clutch pitches when he had to.  They played great defense.  There were a couple balls in the outfield that I thought might go somewhere and their centerfielder made great plays.  You have to tip your hat to Bucyrus.  They played a very good game and took us to the limit there,” he said.

          Right now, Ontario (13-1,3-0) shares first place with Galion in the black division.  Gorbett knows this is going to be a tough race.  “Upper, we beat them twice, and they are a very solid team.  Wynford is playing well.  Of course, Galion has a really nice team.  Every game you have to be ready.  You can’t fall asleep on anybody.  I don’t like to look ahead.  We like to talk about each week as we approach it and keep that same philosophy as we go along.  You can’t forget about the teams in the in the small school division either.  There are some good teams over there. Colonel Crawford last week gave us all we wanted,” said Gorbett.

 

 
 

Ontario Shuts Down Upper

 

          Defending champion Ontario is in a share of first place in the black division of the North Central Conference after another win over Upper Sandusky on Wednesday.

          Tyler Beal threw a four hitter and the Warriors (9-1,2-0) beat Upper (7-0) and they share first place in the division with Galion, who beat Bucyrus (13-3) on Wednesday.

          In conference games, Ontario has had strong starting pitching.  Coach Dan Gorbett says that is what has carried them so far.  “Mitch McCrystal and Tyler Beal pitched two outstanding games.  It usually does start on the mound. We got great pitching.  We had two errors in each game.  We need to clean that up.  That is a little bit more than we have normally had.  Overall, we made some good plays.  In two games we picked four guys off base.  That was impressive,” said Gorbett.

          The last couple of seasons, Ontario has hit over .400 as a team.  That has not been the case so far this spring, but Gorbett says they have gotten some key hits.  “Our hitting has been timely.  It hasn’t been great, but we have been getting the hits when we need them and scoring enough runs to win,” he said.

          Even the pitching as bee a little more inconsistent than it was last year.  Gorbett says they need to find some other guys that can make their mark on the mound.  “Mitch and Tyler are both very good pitchers.  Mitch has been a little bit up and down.  He had a no hitter against Mansfield Senior, but was not as sharp against Fredericktown.  Even though we beat Willard he wasn’t really sharp.  He looked really good Monday and really pounded the strike zone.  He only threw 90 pitches,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, “Tyler Beal is really off to a great start.  He pitched very well against Shelby and Mt. Gilead.  (Wednesday) he only gave up four hits and had seven strikeouts and shut them down.  I am really pleased with the pitching part.  Now, as the games get pilled up here we need our three, four, five and six to step up.”

          With some other talented teams in the black division, Gorbett knows they are going to have to be ready every time they take the field.  “Galion is off to a good start as is Wynford.  Upper is a solid team and I was really pleased we were able to take two from them and we had to play real well to do that.  It will be a battle.  We have Colonel Crawford, who is the favorite in the silver division.  We have to bounce right back and play (Thursday),” he said.

          Ontario ran through the conference pretty easily last season, posting an unbeaten “NCC” record.  Gorbett knows the other schools remember that.  “We talked about that early in the year.  Quite frankly, I am more worried about us then what other people are thinking about us.  We need to get better and improve.  I try not to worry about that other stuff and about what other teams are saying and doing.  There are times when we have looked really good and times where it looks like we have a lot of work to do,” said Gorbett.

 

 
 

Ontario Has Been Mailing it in

 

          Ontario is a good baseball team.  There is a little question about that, but their coach says they have not been a team that given its best effort in every game.

          The Warriors have won six of the seven games they have played so far, including wins over Willard (5-4) on Monday and Mansfield St. Peter’s (14-2) on Tuesday.  Sounds like a good resume, but coach Dan Gorbett knows they can be a better.  “Our focus and our intensity was not there early.  A loss to Fredericktown I think woke us up.  We really played well Saturday in all phases of the game, mentally, emotionally, physically and I was really, really happy.  Then Monday we came out flat again against Willard.  We acted like we didn’t want to be there, just a very uninspiring performance.  We were bale to hang in there and rally and we did win.  We scored two in the bottom of the sixth to beat Willard.  Then we came back against St. Pete’s on Tuesday and played well,” said Gorbett.

          The talent is there, but Gorbett says the focus, especially mentally and physically, has been there and that has to change.  “We just have to get that emotional and mental part of the game on track.  We just have no consistency at all so far.  I am a little bit worried because baseball, especially if you get backed up by rain outs you have to ready to go every day.  As I told the kids last year that was our strength.  I can’t remember a game last year that we were not ready to go.  We were always focused and we have to get to that point pretty fast because the league starts Monday,” he said.

          Ontario’s only loss came last week to Fredericktown (11-1) and Gorbett says it is not the loss that bothers him.  “Fredericktown is a good game.  They are a very good team.  My disappointment wasn’t that we lost to them, it was our approach to it.  They are one of the best teams on our schedule.  They were a final four team.  We should have been excited.  It should have been a good game.  We just went through the motions.  Even if we were ready and played our best game I don’t know if we would have beat them.  I just wish we would have competed better.  When you give your best effort and you lose that’s one thing,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “When you are just not there mentally and emotionally that was troublesome.  I believe they realized that after the game that they were not ready to go.  Saturday, we were just a whole different team against Shelby.  Unfortunately against Willard we slipped back into the same thing.  It’s was like let’s roll out the ball and we will automatically win attitude.  That just can’t happen.  There are too many good teams that can beat us.  We have to come ready to play everyday.”

          Gorbett, a hall of fame coach, believes the leadership a team gets from its seniors is very important.  He says this year that leadership has been sometimes shaky.  “If you have ever been to my banquet that is all I talk about is senior leadership.  I think it is huge on a team.  I have stressed that with our team that emotions and being ready as a team starts at the top.  Most guys have to approach it that this is my senior year.  This my last year playing baseball and I have to come ready to play.  That has been up and down.  Our senior leadership has been inconsistent.  I do think that is a big key.  Those guys coming together and being ready to play everyday,” he said.

          Ontario, the defending champion, begins league play with two North Central Conference black division games against Upper Sandusky on Monday and Tuesday.  Gorbett says they will need that focus on all next week.  “Because of rainouts we play Monday, Wednesday, Thursday.  We have Colonel Crawford, from the small school division, on Thursday.  You can’t take a day off.  That is the bottom line.  I always tell the kids if you have a bad Monday in basketball or football the coaches make you run more, they yell at you and you go home, you didn’t lose a game.  If you have a bad Monday in baseball you just lost a game.  Teams have bad practices and nobody knows about it.  In baseball there are a lot of seasons when you only get to practice maybe once every two weeks outside because it is either raining and you are inside or you are playing a game,” said Gorbett.

 

 
 

Ontario Downs Northmor

 

          Ontario was the Associated Press division three baseball poll champion last year and they are poised to have another outstanding year this spring.

          They beat Northmor (13-1) in a non-conference game on Tuesday afternoon.  Coach Dan Gorbett was impressed by how his pitchers were able to keep their focus in the tough weather conditions.  “It was very, very cold and windy.  It was a tough day to pitch and Tyler Beal pitched an outstanding game.  He lost his control a little bit there in the third or fourth inning, but under the conditions he did very well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “Sophomore Paul Holman and junior Kyle Pesiledge came in and each pitched an inning and looked very good.  We got three pitchers some work (Tuesday) and they all did well under tough conditions.  I was very pleased with our pitching.”

          Gorbett feels that to be successful on days like Tuesday you have to have some pretty good intestinal fortitude.  “It was really cold.  I mean it was cold for everybody and you can’t use that as an excuse, so when they are able to go out there and throw strikes and play ball as if it were 50 or 60.  It takes something inside too.  You have to have some tough kids to be able to do that,” he said.

          The Warriors (2-0) scored 13 runs, but they had only four hits.  Gorbett says they took advantage of situations.  “Their pitchers had control problems.  They had like eight walks and I think every single one of those scored too.  We only had four hits (Tuesday) night, but they had four or five errors and all of those walks.  That has kind of been our strength.  We don’t make mistakes.  They had a slow roller, a walk, and an error in the first inning. They had the bases loaded and we got a double play and got out of it.  That could have been a big inning for them.  After that we played nearly flawless ball,” said Gorbett.

          On Thursday, Ontario pays a visit to Fredericktown (2-1) in a match-up between two of the better division three teams in the northern part of the state.  Gorbett says they look forward to the challenge.  “It’s a good test we are going to find out exactly where we are at Thursday because they are a very good team.  I know Clear Fork took it to them and they are a good team, but they are still tough.  It will be a good challenge for us,” said Gorbett.

 

 
 

Ontario NOT Focused

 

          Last year, Ontario won the outright North Central Conference black division baseball title and they return all of their pitching and most of their lineup.

          Good things, right?  And they might be in the end, but right now coach Dan Gorbett says this month the Warriors have not been focused like they need to be.  “We lost three seniors from last year and one of them was all All-Ohio in Drew Steinauer, who did a great job in the leadership category.  We are starting to come around now.  I was a little disappointed in how we started the year.  I thought we had some key people that were a little bit complacent.  Probably reading last year’s news clips a little too much.  It has gotten a little bit better here.  The key for us is we have to be hungry like we were last year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We have to understand that we are a game that everybody has circled on their calendar.  We are the team everybody wants to beat.  We have to embrace that, accept that, and go forward with that.  Last year, loosing six starters from the year before we kind of snuck up on a lot of people.  I think the potential is there, but I’m more worried about the mental aspect of where our team is at then the physical.”

          Gorbett says their pitchers have not been doing the things they did last year to get batters out.  He says they need to return to that formula if they want to be successful.  “We didn’t lose any pitching from last year, so all of our pitchers are back.  Early on we were not looking good in the gym, but that has improved a little bit here in the last week.  That is where we really need to focus and bear down and finish spring training strong on the mound because that’s everything.  Last year our guys threw strikes and kept the ball low and we played good defense.  It’s pretty simple formula, but if we are getting the ball up and they are hitting it hard or we are walking people we could be in trouble.  Our pitching really needs to get better from where we were two weeks ago,” said Gorbett.

          Ontario begins its schedule with a road game at Mansfield Senior on March 30.  Gorbett says their hitters have looked good inside, but that’s inside.  “So far I have liked our work ethic in the hitting part of practice.  We have really been getting after it.  It’s in a cage and everything, but I think we have improved our hitting.  All of our kids back have improved hitting.  I’m pretty optimistic that that could be a strength, but with all this weather that remains to be seen,” he said.

 

 
 

Defense and Rebounding Emphasized by Ontario

 

          Two of the more recognizable figures in coaching in North Central Ohio match wits on Thursday night as Ontario challenges Western Reserve in the division three district semi-finals at Willard High School.

          Ontario is coached by Joe Balogh, at the school since 1986.  Western Reserve is coached by Chris Sheldon, who has led Western Reserve out of the darkness and into the light.  He is the son of former Wynford coach Rob Sheldon, who Balogh faced in many battles.

          Ontario (19-4), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, allowed only 51 points in two sectional games last week.  Balogh says he couldn’t be happier with how they have played on that end of the floor.  “We were really pleased with how we played defensively.  We were really solid in the half court.  We were able to create some turnovers with our full court pressure and we rebounded the ball really well.  I’m not disappointed at all in our defensive effort last week,” he said.

          As far as offensive execution is concerned the Warriors have been good there too.  Balogh says as long as they remember where their shots should be coming from.  “We have been good.  When we share the basketball and look to put the ball inside in Cameron’s hands we are pretty good.  Shot selection is always a key when you get into the tournament.  You don’t want to be too decisive about shots because you want your kids to feel comfortable about the shots they take.  I think our kids understand what is our shot and what’s not our shot.  When we take our shots we are pretty good offensively.  That is what we have been able to do the second half of the season,” said Balogh.

          When Western Reserve (18-5), #3 in our poll, has the ball in its hands, Balogh says they have a number of dangerous shooters that have to have to be guarded closely at all times.  “Probably the most impressive thing is they have a handful of guys that can shoot the three.  Nate Good and the Boose kid really shoot it well, but they also have three or four other guys that are not afraid to shoot and can get on a run at any time.  We have to do a really good job at being able to close out and contest their threes.  They are not afraid to stick the ball inside either.  Their balance is the big key they have offensively.  They have a good balance of shooting on the perimeter and post guys inside,” said Balogh.

          Like Ontario, Western hangs its hat on its defense.  Balogh says they have to execute when pressured.  “They are going to get up into you.  They are going to be physical with you.  They are going to be aggressive on the basketball.  They are going to hit you inside.  They are going to put a body on you when the shot goes up.  They are very solid defensively.  They are very similar to us.  It’s going to be a contest of wills.  It’s going be what are you going to be able to take and what are you going to be able top get out of it.  That is going to be a big key how tough we can be, not just physically but mentally,” he said.

          There are going to be lots of factors on both sides in this game, but Balogh reminds us that in games like this it will come down to which players make the big plays.  “When they shoot the three well they are really good offensively.  We have to do a great job of getting out and contesting their three point shooting.  If they are missing threes, then you are going to have to pursue rebounds.  It’s kind of simple in a way defensively.  You want to try and take away their strengths and play to their weaknesses.  You really want to rebound the basketball at the defensive end of the floor,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Offensively we have to do the things that we have done well.  We can’t get away from that.  We are going to look to push the ball in transition when the opportunity is there.  We have to look to share the basketball and get it reversed to get a better shot.  If you aren’t making shots you have to get to the glass and rebound the ball.  Coaches put in a lot of things as far as sets and stuff, but it really comes down to players being able to make plays.  That is probably what it’s going to come down to on Thursday night.”     

 

 
 

Ontario Ready For Anything

 

          It just seems this year a number of underdog teams have tried some different strategies to slow down the pace when facing an opponent that has more talent.

          That might happen again when Ontario (19-4) faces Bucyrus (5-17) in the division three sectional final at Lexington High School on Friday night.

          Ontario, #1 in the final Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, belted Crestview (70-26) in a semi-final game on Tuesday.  Coach Joe Balogh says they did a lot of things well.  “We were really pleased with our effort on Tuesday.  He just talked about being ready to play and coming out and establishing our presence and I thought we really did that in the first half.  We really never let them get back into the basketball game.  We got to play a lot of kids.  I got to rest our starters some.  Now we are excited about getting a chance to play on Friday,” said Balogh.

          This has been a team that has been focused all year on goals and Balogh says there are a couple that a win Friday night would give them.  “The first thing on our mind right now is the sectional championship.  We also have a chance to win 20 games in a season.  I know we have two additional games, but that is something that not very many teams accomplish.  Not very many teams in the history of Ontario basketball have been able to do that.  That has kind been on their list now.  I think we will be ready to play when we go down their (Friday) at 6:15,” said Balogh.

          The veteran Ontario coach feels like Bucyrus might try to employ a different approach on Friday.  “We are kind of preparing that Bucyrus might try to do something different.  I told our kids even if they try to do something different than what Bucyrus has normally done.  We have pretty much seen every offensive scheme throughout the season and have taken the time to prepare for that.  I don’t think we will really be surprised by anything.  It is just going to come down to our effort physically and our focus mentally and if we do that I like our chances,” said Balogh.

          Basketball is many times a game of effort and Balogh says on Friday night they have to the team that is going to consistently play harder.  “They played us pretty tough the second time over there.  It was really a close ballgame through three quarters and we were able to stretch it out a little bit at the end.  I am not really sure how they would change.  The might add a set, something like that.  I think they are going to come in with a lot of energy.  We have to make sure that our energy level matches or is higher than theirs.  Bucyrus has a chance to win a sectional title.  That is something that is special for any basketball team.  They are going to come in with a great focus,” said Balogh.

 

 
 

Second Season Starts For Ontario

 

          Ontario, the black division champ of the North Central Conference and the top seed in their division three sectional starts its tournament drive on Tuesday night.

          They face Crestview (7-13) in the division three sectional semi-finals at Lexington High School.

          Ontario (18-4), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, has won nine straight games headed into the tournament.  Coach Joe Balogh feels they are playing really well, but there is still room for improvement.  “We have played well.  I don’t think we have played our best yet, but I think we have gotten better each week.  The thing for us is we want to be better on Tuesday than we were on Friday.  I think we are at a point that we really like our team now headed into the tournament.  The tournament is a little bit of a different animal.  You are not really sure how your kids are going to respond, but I think our kids will respond really well.  They have been though this last year and some of them were on the bench the year before when we made a run to the regionals.  So, I think they understand what it’s about in terms of preparation both mentally and physically to make sure we are ready to play,” said Balogh.

          Ontario beat Crestview (77-48) way back on December 4, but Balogh feels they are better now then they were then.  “They are a young basketball team.  They have even gotten a little younger here they later part of the season.  We are going to expect their best effort.  Last Friday night some things didn’t go well for them, but they have played better.  They played Norwalk St. Paul tough.  They played St. Pete’s really tough.  We just have to expect their best effort and we have to make sure we play with our best effort and hope that our best effort is going to be better than theirs,” he said.

          With Ontario being the top seed they are the favorite.  Balogh says they need establish some things early in the game.  “We talk a lot about the first three minutes of the game being extremely important and the first three minutes of the second half being really important.  In the first three minutes of the game you can establish a lot about how the game is going to be played.  We are going to come out and try and press.  If they are going to handle the pressure then we might have to make some adjustments.  You are not going to knock teams out in the first three minutes, but I think you can establish how the game is played,” said Balogh.

          Even with a good start, Balogh told Swankonsports.com on Sunday that the Warriors need to play four solid quarters.  “I think our kids need remember that it is a 32 minute game.  It not necessarily going to be what you do in those first three minutes, although we think that’s important, it’s going to be what you do through the course of the basketball game.  We like our chances with the depth that we have been able to have and guys that we have brought off the bench about where that puts us in the later minutes of the first half that we are able to do some good things,” he said.

          More times than not, the top seeded team takes a bye if its available, but Ontario chose to play.  Balogh thought this was a team that was eager to get going.  “Over the last ten years we have decided to take the bye.  I think this year you kind of look at your team and your schedule.  We just felt with the team we have we just thought it was best to come out and play on Tuesday.  We thought a couple of weeks ago that this was going to be a team that was going to be really hungry to get started in the tournament and try and get involved in that tournament atmosphere not watching it on Tuesday night, but being part of it.  We hope it’s the right choice, but I guess you never know, but that’s what is always interesting about the tournament.  You can put down on paper what you think is going to happen, but you have to play the game,” said Balogh.

 

 
 

Ontario Trying to Fine Tune

 

          Ontario has already accomplished some goals, but there may be some bigger things ahead if they can continue to improve. 

          Last week, they won the outright black division title in the North Central Conference when they rallied to beat Riverdale (78-67) on Friday night.  Coach Joe Balogh says they didn’t play up to their standards early, but they were able to put together a good, solid fourth quarter.  “The weekend was a good weekend for us.  We went up on the road at Riverdale.  We had been home for a while.  I think when you try to go on the road it’s a little bit different.  We didn’t play well early in that game from a defensive standpoint and I think we gave Riverdale some confidence,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We were never really able to put them away until late in the game.  I think when you look back on it that’s good because we need to understand how we need to play in situations where the basketball game is a one or two possession basketball game.  We did a real good job in the fourth quarter.  It was a two point game at the end of the third then we outscore them by 10 in the fourth.”

          On the back half of the double weekend the Warriors beat rival Wynford (67-40) on Saturday night.  Balogh says it was a solid overall performance.  “Saturday night we came back and were kind of typical of what we have been.  We had a 14 point lead at the half and then just really came out and played well in the third and extended that lead.  We were able to play a lot of kids, which I think is important, especially when it’s your last home game of the year,” he said.

          Ontario has been one of the better offensive teams in North Central Ohio this year.  Balogh says they been aggressive with the basketball in their hands and they have been making a lot of good decisions.  “We have tried to work the last five or six weeks just being a more aggressive team offensively in transition.  We just feel that if you push the ball in transition you don’t allow defenses to get set a lot.  That isn’t to mean to say we are just going to come down and throw up shots.  I think our point guards Lenell and Tyler have done a good job of being aggressive in getting the ball into the half court.  Then their decision making has been really good from the standpoint of can we attack them off the dribble or do we need to get into an offense and move the basketball.  I think that has really shown in our offensive production the last five or six weeks,” said Balogh.

          Not only do you have to have talent to be successful, you also have to have a good head on you shoulders.  Balogh believes they have a pretty high basketball I.Q.  “We have kids that have a pretty good understanding of the game.  That is something we try to work on in practice.  Pretty much every other day we put them in score and time situations.  Sometimes we really get involved in coaching them, but other times we let the kids be the decision makers to try see what they are thinking and what they want to do,” he said.

          With a chance to finish their final year in the “NCC” unbeaten the Warriors (17-4,12-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, are at Lucas (0-18,0-12) in what is a pretty sizeable mismatch on Friday night.  Balogh says they have to keep their focus.  “The big thing we have stressed to our kids is Ontario versus Ontario wherever we are playing.  I think what we have to do is play to the level we are capable of playing to.  If we do that good things have happened to us over the last four or five weeks,” he said.

 

 
 

Ontario Wants it Outright

 

          Ontario already has a share of the North Central Conference black division title and now they want it all to themselves and they can get that with a win at Riverdale on Friday night.

          The Warriors (15-4,10-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, earned a piece of the title with a win over Galion (75-41) last Saturday.  Coach Joe Balogh says they really played well, especially in the second half.  “Not that we played poorly in the first half, but in the second half we were just really efficient offensively.  We were 16 of 18 from the field, something like that.  I thought our defensive pressure really took them out of stuff they want to do.  We were really happy with how we played in the second half of that game,” he said.

          Over the last little bit, the Warriors have really picked up their play in the third quarter of games.  Balogh wants that to continue.  “I think about three weeks ago the guys that do our stats asked me what happens to us in the third quarter because our third quarters weren’t very good.  Ever since then we have sort of turned it around and really have come out and played well in third quarters.  I told our kids what ever we do warm up wise for the third quarter we need to continue to do that.  The kids have just responded to any adjustments we have made at the half.  We have just been successful, so we are hopeful that we can continue to build on that as we go here the last two weeks of the regular season,” said Balogh.

          Yes, winning the outright black division is important to Ontario, but Balogh says their goals go beyond that.  “Every year your goal is to win your conference.  We have grabbed a piece of it, but we don’t want to share it at all.  If we do what we need to do we will win a conference, but I think our kids have even more goals beyond the conference now.  They would like to try and go undefeated in the conference if we can.  I think anytime you can do that that really says a lot about your team,” said Balogh.

          Ontario has been one of the most consistent, if not the most consistent program, in North Central Ohio over the last 25 years and Balogh wants this year’s team to understand what they have a chance to do.  “We had a group of players come in last week that we recognized the 1999-2000 and the 2000-2001 teams.  For them to kind of see those teams and the legacy that those two teams left Ontario basketball.  This team has a chance to leave its own legacy.  They are hopefully focused on some of those goals as we go towards the end of this season,” he said.

          Riverdale (4-13,3-7) has had some times this year when they have been pretty good, especially at home.  Balogh says they have to realize that.  “They are a little scary over there because Crawford went over there and they made eight threes.  They have a handful of kids that will shoot the three at anytime.  The three can really be an equalizer in game.  We have to do a good job of really contesting three point shooters.  We hope that our pressure on the basketball in both the full and the half court will cause some turnovers and create some situations that we might be able to get some easy baskets,” said Balogh.

          The Warriors have talent and Balogh believes if they play to their potential they become a pretty difficult team to beat.  “The thing that we really have told our kids throughout this season that we were really going to decide how we played.  We put on our schedule Ontario versus Ontario at Riverdale.  I think as we have gotten into the second half of the season our kids have boughten into that more.  They have really started to understand that if we defend the way we know we can in the half court and we take care of the basketball offensively and make good decisions with it we are going to be a hard team to beat.  If our kids can continue to believe in that we will be a hard to team to beat,” said Balogh.

          Wynford (8-11,5-5) makes its final visit to Ontario for a conference game on Saturday night.  Balogh says this has been a special rivalry with the Royals.  “It has been a great rivalry in the league.  It is going to be sad to see that end.  We will still play them non-league and probably in future years we will see them in the tournament too.  I think league games are just different.  Usually your league teams you are a lot more familiar with, especially when you play team twice in the league.  That second go around both teams are going to make adjustments and you have to able to have your team adjust too the things that are going to change a little bit.  We expect that Saturday night’s game is going to be a really competitive game because all Wynford-Ontario games have been that way.  It’s a big game for us because it is the last home game of the season.  We are sending our seniors out and we want to try and send them out on a positive note,” said Balogh.        

 

 
 

Ontario Continuing to Excel

 

          Ontario isn’t standing still instead they continue to get better as a basketball team as they strive to clinch the last “NCC” black division title and make a nice tournament run.

          After blasting Crestline (78-28) on Friday night the Warriors put together another 30 point win (64-34) over Mansfield Madison on Saturday night.  Coach Joe Balogh says it has been their defense that has been leading the way.  “We played really well again.  We got off to a solid start and were able to build on that throughout the game.  We were really pleased with how we defended, especially in the half court.  Anytime you can hold somebody under 40 points and under 35 percent shooting from the field.  We are really happy with the effort that we had on the defensive end.  We also shot the ball pretty well offensively.  Overall, really a good night for us,” he said.

          One of the real keys to their success has been their depth.  Another good thing, according to Balogh, is there has not been any complaining about the lack of playing time.  “I think another thing that I give our kids credit for is they have been willing to sacrifice minutes of playing time because they know in order for us to play defensively at the level we want to play.  We just have to play a lot harder.  We have not been selfish in wanting minutes.  We have made quality minutes and we have been able to use our depth and I think that has really helped us,” he said.

          Next on the schedule for the Warriors (14-4,9-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, is the Galion Tigers (8-10,5-5) on Saturday night.  They had won four in row before a loss (71-56) to Shelby on Tuesday night.  Balogh says Galion can be a tough guard for them.  “They have won four of their last five and have played well before Tuesday night.  They pose a little bit of a match-up problem because they are more perimeter oriented than some of the teams that we play.  We are going to have to do a good job of defending them on the perimeter, especially Ridge Durbin is player that we have struggled sometimes defending,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I think a lot of it is the way Ridge plays.  If he gets off offensively early then they seem to have a lot of confidence offensively.  We have to have a good focus in defending him on Saturday night.”

          Again that defensive versatility works in the Warriors favor if they have to come out and defend the Tigers on the perimeter they have the guys that can do it.  “It doesn’t change us a lot because I think we are pretty versatile with the kids that we have to defend.  You have to do a better job of guarding your space trying not to allow them to create help situations for your defense where you have to help and they can pitch it to an open shooter.  The big thing we have to emphasize this week in practice is doing a better job of defending our space one on one and try to keep that penetration in front of us so we don’t need to have a lot of defensive help,” said Balogh.

          Sectional draw meetings will be held on Sunday.  Ontario is in division three and Balogh believes their play has given then a good chance at a seed.  “I hope that we are going to get one of the two seeds.  I think that we would deserve that.  New London will come in with probably two losses and we have four losses.  It will depend on if teams look at the schedules.  I think we will get one of the two seeds then we will go from there as far as making a decision on whether we take a bye or whether we play,” said Balogh.    

 

 
 

Ontario Still Improving

 

          Ontario has really been the team that everyone thought they would be this season as they sit on top of the black division standings of the North Central Conference heading into action this weekend.

          The Warriors (12-4,8-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, beat Buckeye Central (52-27) in a battle of division leaders last Saturday night at the O-rena.  Ontraio coach Joe Balogh believes they did a nice job of limiting what Buckeye could do in the half court.  “We are pleased with where we are at.  I think especially defensively we have been happy with how we have guarded in the half court the last two weeks.  With some illnesses and injuries that we have had we haven’t been able to do as much in the full court as we would like, but I thought Saturday we were just solid in the half court because we held Kaple to 15 after having 12 in the first half, he only gets three.  Austin Wurm we held him to two for the game, so we can’t be disappointed in any of that effort that we had in our half court defense,” he said.

          Depth was likely a factor in the game against Buckeye Central and Balogh says their bench has really given them a boost all season.  “Our depth has been really good.  I think that has been a key factor.  We talked going into the season that our depth would be something that would really help us and allows us to play maybe at a faster pace then we have played the last couple of years.  I think the other thing is the development of the depth early in the season has helped us when we have had some of the injuries and illnesses that we have had,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We have had different guys that have had to set out games that we have had guys who have come off the bench and stepped up and really played well.  We have been able to go eight, nine even 10 guys throughout the season and that has been important to what we have been able to accomplish.”

          Ontario hosts Crestline (3-12,1-7) on Friday night in conference play.  Balogh says it is an opportunity for them to work on some of their deficiencies.  “I think they have struggled and sometimes when you have an opponent come in that is struggling they can look at this game as something they can put a mark on.  One thing we have really tried to focus on this week is getting better at what we do.  That is really going to be an emphasis on Friday night.  We want to make sure that some of the things that we needed to get better at this week in practice that we apply those to Friday night.  We put a thing up early in the season that throughout our schedule was like Ontario versus Ontario at Ontario on February first.  The kids looked at me like it was kind of nuts, but basically the idea was if we focus on what we need to do well we have a great chance to have success and I think that is what we are going to try and do as we approach this game on Friday night,” he said.

          In non-league action on Friday night, Ontario hosts Mansfield Madison (1-13) of the Ohio Cardinal Conference.  Balogh says clearly the Rams are better now than they were earlier in the season.  “With Madison their record is really deceiving.  I have seen them play earlier in the year a couple of times on tape when Tim and I exchanged the tape.  I saw them play in person against Lex and I saw them on tape against Clear Fork.  The games last weekend were games that they really had chances to win and just weren’t able to make the final play to put it away.  I think also if you look at them they were really beaten badly early in the season by Mansfield Senior and then two weeks ago they played to within 11 of them.  Tim has done a really good job taking a young basketball team that had very little experience and getting them through a rough part of the season.  I think if you look around Christmas they were really struggling and he has found a little niche here where he is platooning groups of five players throughout the game.  Their kids play extremely hard and they seem to be playing with a lot of confidence.  The scary part is you don’t want to be the team that they break their total confidence out on and I think that is going to be our challenge on Saturday because typically Ontario-Madison much the same as Ontario-Lex or Ontario-Shelby  the records really don’t mean a lot it is just game in the area that you play for pride,” said Balogh.         

 

 
 

Ontario Faces Streaking Buckeye Central

 

          It’s a battle of division leaders on Saturday night in the North Central Conference as Buckeye Central is at Ontario.

          The Warriors lead the black division, the Bucks the silver division.

          Ontario (11-4,7-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball poll in the small school division, solidified their spot with wins over Upper Sandusky (51-40) and Bucyrus (49-37) last weekend.

          Coach Joe Balogh says they did an outstanding job in defending the others guys in both games. “I think the thing that we really came away from the weekend really pleased with was just how good we were defensively in the half court.  We have tried to create offense with our defense with pressure in the full court.  I think anytime you go into the second round in a league schedule and play somebody a second time it is more difficult to do that.  Teams do a good job of making adjustments.  I guess what we were really pleased with was how we were able to defend in the half court.  When you give up 40 points and 37 points on consecutive nights and hold both teams under 35 percent shooting and get 60 percent of all the rebounds in the game we really have to be pleased with what we did defensively,” said Balogh.

          However, the offensive execution still isn’t where the coach wants it to be at this point in the season.  “On the other hand offensively we were not as efficient as we wanted to be and that’s one of things that we concentrated on this week.  Just getting back and developing some confidence in our shooting because we had open shots we just didn’t make them,” he said.  Balogh says they started to miss some shots and then forced things rather than making the extra pass.  “The problem we had a little bit was we had guys shooting open shots, but when they missed one or missed two then they start to think about it.  The second part of that is we tried to get our kids to understand if you aren’t making shots than what we need to do is make extra passes to get a better shot.  We did that kind of in spurts on both nights, but it’s a thing where we have to have a better understanding if quick shots are not going early then we need to show just a little bit more patience to get a better shot by moving the ball side to side,” said Balogh.

          Buckeye Central (9-6,7-1) upset Colonel Crawford last week and Balogh says Bucks are really playing well here in the middle of the season.  “They are a hot team right now.  I think they have won five in a row and seven of their last eight.  If you take a look at their schedule even the losses that they have had against good teams, such as Seneca East and New Riegel, have been games they have been in to the very end.  I think the thing that Phil (Loy) has done with this team is his seniors have taken a leadership role and then his young players have stepped up. The Wurm kid is averaging 16 a game, the sophomore, and you balance that with the Kaple kid coming off the bench with 11.  Those two guys have been able to get others guts involved offensively, which has made them very affective,” said Balogh.

          Ontario has been a team this year that has wanted to run the floor.  Balogh says Buckeye wants that too in some cases.  “Buckeye is not afraid to push the ball in transition.  If we make shots then we will be able to get into our full court pressure and we have liked the things we have seen when we have been able to that.  I don’t Buckeye is necessarily going to look to slow the pace down.  I think they will attack when there are situations when the ball is in the right people’s hands.  They will show some patience in the half court, but I don’t think they will be fearful running with us because they have had success doing that,” said Balogh. 

 

 
 

Ontario Can Stretch Lead

 

          Ontario has a chance to put themselves in pretty good position in the black division of the North Central Conference with a win on Friday night over second place Upper Sandusky.

          Currently the Warriors lead the Rams, the defending division champion, by a half game in this year’s standings.

          In non-conference action on Tuesday night, Clear Fork, of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, beat Ontario (59-44) at Les Hauenstein Gym in the valley.  Ontario coach Joe Balogh says they were not able to limit the Clear Fork guards as well as they needed too, especially Ridge Winand, who had a career high 31 points.  “We knew going into Clear Fork that they were a basketball team playing well really since the first of the year and we knew we really had to do a good job controlling the three perimeter guys in Chrastina, Corbin and Winand.  We really thought going in from a coaching standpoint if we could really control two of them and maybe one of them would have a decent night.  Ridge had a tremendous night.  He had 31 on us.  If keep him in double digits or even 20 we are right in the basketball game,” said Balogh.

          Plus, when they had the ball in their hands against Clear Fork, Balogh says they didn’t make the right decisions.  “The disappointing thing for us on Tuesday is the things we did really well on Saturday at Crawford we really didn’t carry those over.  We really didn’t attack with our transition like we wanted too and in our half court offense we really never reversed the basketball.  When Clear Fork took that lead in the second half and got it to like six we came down and in three straight possessions and it was one pass and a shot, no passes and a dribble to the lane and a shot and the third one was one pass and a shot,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We are just not that good in those situations.  We are much better when we reverse basketball and show a little bit more patience in our half court offense.  That is one the things that we are trying to stress to our kids we need to identify who we are and do those things the best that we can do, so hopefully we make that improvement and play much better on Friday.”

          Upper Sandusky (7-4,5-1) has won its last six games going into the match-up with the Warriors (9-4,5-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll.  Balogh says the Rams are more healthy than when they beat them (42-31) at Upper Sandusky on December 14.  “They are playing very well.  I mean I told our kids that they are going to come in here with a high energy level and a lot of confidence.  This is a big game in the league as far as them putting themselves back in the league race and having control over what they want to do.  Joe Roile has been really consistent for them.  They have returned Stuart Young, who was out at the beginning of the year with a back injury.  I think his first game was the Galion game.  He has really stabilized them both offensively and defensively.  It is going to be a tough contest for us because they like to control the pace of the game and we try to get the pace a little more quicker.  It will kind of be a battle to see who can get the pace of the game where they would like it to be,” said Balogh.

          Upper truly plays like no other team in this area and Balogh says they have to be patient at both ends of the floor.  “We have to be patient defensively.  They want you to gamble and try and make a mistake and they try and make you pay for it.  Form an offensive standpoint in the half court you have top try and make their defense move.  If you come down and it is one pass and a shot their defense is really good, but if you move the ball from side to side you can get some open looks against their defense.  We have got to run what we need to run and put the ball inside whether it be off the pass or off the dribble and halve some good things happen for us.

This is the last year for the “NCC” and Balogh says if they are going to win that last title this would be a significant win.  “We really control our own destiny as far as being able to take care of a league title.  It’s a big game from that standpoint.  Upper has only one league loss and that has been to us, so it is an important basketball game.  If we are pursing that league championship this is an important game for us to win,” said Balogh.    

 

 
 

“NCC” Leaders Meet

 

          Ontario leads the black division and Colonel Crawford the silver division of the North Central Conference and they meet Saturday night in North Robinson.

          Ontario (8-3,4-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, belted Galion (72-53) in a black division game last Saturday.  Coach Joe Balogh says the Warriors played well early and late.  “We got off to a great start.  We were up 22-6 at the end of the first quarter.  I kind of reminded our kids that we were at this point in our previous game and really didn’t take care of business.  We led by 17 at the half.  You have to give Galion a lot of credit because they chipped away at it and got it down to 10 at the end of the third quarter and I really liked how we played down the stretch doing a good job of taking care of the basketball.  Most importantly we made free throws down the stretch that extended the game back to its final margin.  We are happy about getting another league win on the road and we have put ourselves in good position in the first half of the league, but we still have a long ways to go,” said Balogh.

          At 4-0 in the league Balogh says they have begun to establish position in their division.  “We have won at Upper, at Wynford and at Galion and those three teams are in our division and those are big wins anytime you can win on the road.  Now the thing is we have to continue to take care of business on our own.  We are not going to depend on anybody for any help, so we are happy with where we are at, but we still have to get a lot better,” he said.

          Colonel Crawford (11-1,5-0), #3 in the small school division of our poll, is in a very strong position in the silver division.  Balogh says the Eagles have tremendous balance with the ability to score on the perimeter and in the post.  “I think anytime you have had a successful season like they have had you have good balance.  They have really good perimeter play.  Their point guard is solid in McCreary.  All three of those kids can shoot it from the three point range.  They may be different from typical Crawford teams in the past in they have a pretty good post game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “The Jury kid has been really physical and plays well on the low block.  The Klingenberger kid can step outside and make jump shots, but he is also really athletic and can put the ball on the floor and get to the glass.  The thing I guess that you are always concerned about against really good teams is balance because you have to guard all five guys.  When you have to guard all five guys on the court it is hard to take something away and that is going to be a challenge for us to see what we can take away and what their weaknesses are and play to their weaknesses.”

          It is likely it will be a high energy and quick paced game and if that is the case Balogh says they have to be the ones that make better decisions with the ball.  “In their previous 12 games they have looked to press and try to create offense with their defense.  They will grab it off the glass.  They will push it in transition because a lot of times it’s easy to get open threes in transition and they have done a good job of that.  Probably what has impressed me the most is the ability of Jury to run the floor and get easy baskets.  I think Crawford will look to push it.  I don’t think it will be a slow down game.  I think it’s going to be a game that is going to have a quick pace to it.  If the game is a quick pace game it will come down to decision making and not turning it over.  It’s going to be a challenge to both teams in the basketball game is to be the better decision making basketball team,” said Balogh.

 

 
 

Ontario Looking for Better Offensive Execution

 

          Ontario continues to sit on top of the North Central Conference black division standings and can sweep the first round against teams in its own division with a win at Galion on Saturday night.

          Last week, the Warriors (7-3,3-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, lost to Lexington (58-50) at home in non-conference action.

          Coach Joe Balogh says they just didn’t take advantage of the early advantage and they didn’t make enough free throws.  “I think you give Lex a lot of credit.  We got off to a great start and put them in a deep hole and they did not panic.  We just didn’t put them away when we had a chance early.  I have been in coaching a long time and have an understanding if you jump out to a big lead it is hard to maintain that intensity throughout.  We did not do a very good job of stopping their run in the second quarter, but we still had a great chance in the fourth quarter.  We had the game tied on several occasions and went to the free throw line and just didn’t make some crucial free throws and then Lex made some big plays.  The reason we play teams like Lex every year is we find out a lot about our team, good and bad.  What we take from that game is take some things we did well and continue to build on those, but also take a look at some things we need to be better at and make sure those are things we focus on going into the second half of the season, which is mainly the league part of the season,” said Balogh.

          When it comes to Galion, Balogh believes the key is containing junior guard Ridge Durbin, something they didn’t do very well a year ago.  “They play really a guard oriented line up.  They really put five guys on the floor that can put it on the floor and step out and shoot it.  The key guy that they have is Ridge Durbin.  He was a guy that we really had a tough time controlling last year in both games.  The emphasis both times was to not let him get off to a great start and both games that we played them last year he got off to tremendous starts.  Our focus really has to be doing a great job with Ridge early in the game.  We are going to have to be solid defensively in terms of closing out and contesting three point shots.  You can’t just run their shooters off their spots because they are athletic enough to put it on the floor and get to the basket on the dribble.  It will be a challenge for us going to Galion and we understand that and especially with it still being the first round of the league.  We have won three games in the league and if we can go there and win another it puts us in a pretty good situation even though we aren’t finished with the first round of the league,” said Balogh.

          The Ontario coach says that Durbin can be a streaky shooter and it seems when he is going well, so are the rest of the Tigers.  “We talked about that last year when they beat us at our place at this same time last year and we also talked about later in the year when we went over there.  We lost him in both games.  He is the kind of player when he makes shots the basket get a lot bigger for everybody else on that team.  If he is going to make shots early they have to be tough shots and not easy open looks like we gave him a year ago,” he said.

          Another thing Balogh would like to see is the Warriors running their offense better and finding shots for players in the right places.  “That is one the things we talk to our team about.  When we have been good in our games in our first 10 games we have been able to get a lot of our offense from our defense.  Where we have struggled a little bit is when we have had to play half court offense and move the basketball.  We are getting a shot in one or two passes and we need to get a shot with four, five, six passes and reverse the court.  Then put the ball in people’s hand where they are comfortable scoring and we did not do a good job of that against Lex on Saturday,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “That has really been an emphasis of what we have been doing in practice this week is get an understanding of what our shots are.  We are going to press and try and get some easy baskets with our pressure, but we also need to understand where we need to put the basketball within our offense so we can get easier scoring opportunities.  Even more importantly we need to get to the free throw line a lot more than have the first 10 games and to do that you have to get the ball to the basket whether it be by the pass or by the dribble.”    

 

 
 

Ontario Needs to Refocus

 

          Ontario remains an outstanding basketball team, but the Warriors found out last week that they still have a some improving to do as they were drilled by Norwalk in a game played at the “House that Joe Built” at Ontario High School.

          The Warriors hosted the first annual “Ontario Holiday Classic” last weekend and they won the first game handily over Hillsdale (75-40), but on Saturday night they were handled by unbeaten Norwalk (63-39) in a game between the two #1’s in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll.

          Ontario coach Joe Balogh hopes they learned some lessons from that defeat.  “We did play well on Friday night, but playing Norwalk on Saturday was kind of a whole different animal.  I give Steve’s kids a lot of credit.  They were very, very good and we were not ass good as we needed to be.  I think a lot of that you give credit to Norwalk and just how they played.  When you shoot under 30 percent from the field you aren’t going to win too many basketball games.  A lot of that was because of their pressure.  We only turned it over I think nine times, but their ability to force us to take quick shots and contest the shots was really what made the difference in the game.  We take a lot from that game, but from the standpoint that we want to become an elite basketball team we have to take a look at some of the things that Norwalk was able to do to us,” said Balogh.

          Friday night renews the rivalry that has defined the North Central Conference over last 20 years as Ontario (6-2,2-0) is at Wynford (4-3,1-0) in a black division game.  Balogh says the Royals give great effort on the floor at all times.  “They play extremely hard and they play really well together.  They may not have the talent they have had in the past, but I think the tradition of Wynford basketball and the pride that those kids have in putting on that Wynford jersey makes a big, big difference,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We have to make sure that we are focused about going over there and playing because that has always been a tough place to play in our league.  It is going to be a tough place for us on Friday night.  If we want to continue to work to achieve the goals we set at the beginning of the season, the first is winning an “NCC” championship this is a big game for us going on the road here at Christmas time.”

          With many personnel changes form last year, Wynford has been forced to try many different things, but Balogh thinks they have settled on a pretty good combination.  “Mike Powers is really a key for them on the perimeter, but the kid that is really one of the most improved players in the league the Carter kid.  He has been really athletic going to the glass.  In fact, he is averaging a double-double for the year.  We really have to do a good job of controlling those two guys.  If you allow those guys to have big nights than usually what happens is one of the other three guys steps up and makes some crucial shots,” he said.

          This is the last year for the “NCC,” however Balogh announces that this will not be the last time they play Wynford.  “It isn’t the last time that we get a chance to play over there because Wynford is going to continue to play us non-league, so we just won’t be going there every year.  It is kind of sad to see that league rivalry die.  We will still have a non-league rivalry with them and probably also see them during the tournament.  The games between Ontario and Wynford will still be there, but maybe not with the same intensity that you would have playing twice during the season,” said Balogh.

          On Saturday night, the Warriors return home for an engagement with the Lexington Minutemen (5-3) in non-conference play.  Balogh says Lexington has the same kind of traits as Wynford.  “They are very similar to Wynford in they play very hard.  He plays a lot of kids off the bench.  Their effort is very, very high.  Ontario-Wynford is a big rivalry in the league, Ontario-Lex has always been a big rivalry in non-league games, so we have to make sure whatever happens on Friday that we come back and are really well prepared to play on Saturday just from an effort standpoint because they are going to give us tremendous effort in that game at our place,” said Balogh.   

 

 
 

Ontario Ready For Classic

 

          Ontario has played some outstanding basketball this season and now they get a chance to showcase that to a wider audience as they host the Ontario Holiday Classic this weekend at “The House that Joe Built.” 

          They play Hillsdale, the runner up last year in the Wayne County Athletic League on Friday and two time defending Northern Ohio champ Norwalk on Saturday.

          Last Saturday the Warriors (5-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball poll in the small school division, got a monkey off their backs by ending a 10 year losing streak to Shelby, beating the Whippets (61-59) in game that came down to the final shot.  Ontario coach Joe Balogh says it was just a great game.  “It was a very good win for us.  I mean we played them every year since I have been here.  They have just kind of had our number the last ten years.  These games have been close, we have had leads, not held those leads.  It has come down to a game where it was one or two possessions.  Saturday was really no different.  They jumped out early on us and our bench really did a great job of getting us back in the game at the end of the first quarter.  Then we were able to take the lead into the second quarter and into half.  Then really the game was just kind of back and fourth the rest of the way.  We made some plays, but they had a shot at the buzzer to win it and fortunately for us the shot was a little bit short and didn’t go in.  It was really a good high school game from the standpoint of kids just playing hard and kind of selling out throughout the game.  We were really happy that we were able to come out on top,” said Balogh.

          Even with their success the Warriors had not played very well in the second quarter, but that ended last week and Balogh says that was due to their bench.  “I told our kids after the game that that was one of the mistakes I made against Willard was I didn’t trust our kids coming off the bench enough.  I think that is a strength of this basketball team is our depth.  We got really good minutes, you know, Cameron West started on Friday for us because Cameron Mack didn’t play.  He came in and gave us really good minutes on Saturday and Lanell Shelby was really outstanding on Saturday for us because Tyler Boatwright was in foul trouble most of the night.  For a sophomore to have to play in that atmosphere he was really terrific for us.  Our bench has been good and we hope that continues to be a strength for this basketball team,” he said.

          Hillsdale (1-3) has not had the kind of season they have had in the recent past, but Balogh says they have a really good big guy that they will have to contain.  “They have been on the top of the Wayne County League for the last several years and have been a really good basketball team.  Right now they are struggling a little bit, but they really have a nice player.  A 6’7” kid inside that has really gotten better from a year ago.  Every coach I have talked to in the Wayne County League talks about how good this kid is.  I have seen him once and seen him a couple of times on tape and he’s a load for us inside.  We are going to have to do a real good job of keeping him out of the lane and away from the basket.  If we don’t that is going to be a problem for us.  Hillsdale would prefer to have a half court game where we would like to try and get the game going a little faster pace.  It might be a challenge of styles in that first game,” said Balogh.

          Norwalk (6-0), #1 in the large school division of the Swankonsports.com poll, meets Ontario in the makings of a great game on Saturday.  Balogh says Norwalk has everything you want in a basketball team.  “Steve (Gray) has done a great job at Norwalk in taking a program and turning it around.  They had a tremendous year last year and they are a very, very good basketball team this year.  They have a big kid inside that can score.  He can score on the block.  He can step out to 15 feet and make shots.  They have a wing player that is just really athletic that can take you off the dribble and can also shoot it.  Then they have a point guards that does a really good job of taking care of the basketball.  You put those three players and some really good role players, some kids that can shoot the three.  You try to take away too much there other post player is kind of a hard nosed tough kid, so they kind of have all of the ingredients of a really, really good basketball team.  Steve does a great job of developing tat talent and getting those kind of kids to play together,” said Balogh.

          The addition of two more regular season games allowed Ontario to put this tournament together and Balogh says it should be fun for the fans.  “This weekend is an exciting thing for our kids.  We get to play at home and there is going to be four really good perennially pretty good basketball teams playing in this classic.  We have been good in the “NCC,” Hillsdale has been really good in the Wayne County League, Norwalk has kind of been at the top of the “NOL” and Lex the last two years has been a team to beat in the “OCC.”  We hope it is a really good event not only for the players, but the fans who get to see some really good basketball over two days,” said Balogh.

 

 
 

Consistency a Key For Ontario

 

          Ontario may be one of the best teams around here, but that doesn’t mean they can’t improve.

          Ontario (3-1,1-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, beat Bucyrus handily (71-41) in their first North Central Conference game last Friday, but lost to Willard (63-49) on Saturday afternoon at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

          Ontario coach Joe Balogh says he liked the way they were focused against Bucyrus.  “We played really well on Friday night against Bucyrus.  We played well defensively.  I thought our pressure wore them down a little bit in the second half and we were able to extend a 10 point lead significantly in the third quarter.  Was really pleased with our effort on Friday,” he said.

          On the other hand in the game against the Flashes, Balogh felt Willard was more prepared for the game and played with more energy.  “The big thing was Willard simply out played us.  Dave had his kids much better prepared than we did.  They were a much more focused basketball team than we were.  They just played a lot harder.  We tried to figure out the reason why, but I give a lot of credit to Willard.  The big emphasis for us is we have to be better prepared every week.  We better make sure when we step on the floor we have a purpose.  If we do that I think we are pretty good.  I think we found out Saturday if we don’t do that we are just an average basketball team,” said Balogh.

          Upper Sandusky (0-1,0-0) will host the Warriors on Friday night in a key early season game and in the “NCC’s” black division.  The Rams play different than anyone you will play.  Balogh says they need to find a way to make them play faster.  “I think they are really going to try and control tempo.  They are going to be really solid defensively in their man to man in the half court.  From an offensive standpoint they are going to be patient.  They are not going to afraid to make 10 or 12 passes in a possession to try and get they shot that they want.  For us we are going to have to find a way to speed the game up.  They are going to prefer the game stay in the half court, kind of a grind it out game.  We are going to prefer the game become more faster paced.  It’s going to be a challenge for us going on the road, especially after the way we played on Saturday.  It is going to be interesting to see how our kids respond to going on the road Friday night and then coming back on Saturday night and going on the road again,” said Balogh.

          When you play against Upper you need to get the lead early.  Balogh says if you can then you are the one that controls the tempo of the game.  “We talk a lot about the first three minutes of the game being important because a lot of times the tempo is dictated in those first three minutes.  Especially with a team like Upper if you are able to get a lead it makes a big difference.  On the other hand if they are able to get a lead then they are able to toy with you a little bit more and show even more patience and frustrate you defensively.  Yeah, the start of the game is going to be important,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “The other big part is we just have to work harder on being a more consistent basketball team.  We have played well in the first quarter of our games.  Where we have struggled quite a bit is in that second quarter.  We really haven’t taken a lead and extended it.  We have to be a lot more consistent is those second eight minutes of the first half.”

          Ontario hits the road again on Saturday to play the Shelby Whippets (3-1) in non-conference play.  Balogh thinks this game is important to the program.  “Shelby is going to attack the basket when the situation arises, especially if it is in Austin Rhode’s hands or Grant Fenner’s hands.  If they get out in transition and one of those guys is ahead they are going to put it in their hands.  The last few years they have been more of a dribble drive team.  This year they have gone to a little Princeton action, which is kind of a 2-1-2 set.  They look to make some cuts off the high post and back door you.  The focus for us Saturday is we have to do a good job controlling Rhode and Fenner because they are their two key offensive options. If you let those guys have big nights some other guy will step up and have eight or ten and then you are in a struggle.  Playing at Shelby is difficult.  We have not won there in a significant number of years.  It has kind of been a monkey on our back,” said Balogh.

 

 
 

Ontario Good, but Still Wants to be Better

 

          Ontario played an excellent game in their first, but there is still room for the Warriors to get better.

          They walloped Mansfield St. Peter’s (79-47) in their opener last week and coach Joe Balogh was happy with how his bench played in the game against the Spartans.  “We were happy with how we played.  We played a lot of kids, which is something we think is going to be a strength of our team, our depth.  We felt that we wore them down a little bit.  We were up seven at the half and then made a big run in the third and really kind of took control of the basketball game.  We were very, very pleased with how we played in the first game, but we remind our kids that it is the beginning of a long journey and we have to make sure we take steps each week to get better,” said Balogh.

          They were able to get some scoring off the bench, but Balogh was most happy with what they got on defense.  “Brandon Wagner came off the bench and scored 16 for us.  We were really, really pleased with that.  It was just our pressure defensively that we got from our kids off the bench and the effort that we had that we were really pleased with,” he said.

          This is team that is going to have to get some points off their defense and Balogh says they must understand what they are supposed to do when they are trapping.  “From a defensive standpoint we weren’t very happy with how we were in our traps in the full court.  We would just reach with our hands a lot and try to get steals in the traps rather than allowing when we get good traps with bad decisions that other teams make that we can get steals out of that,” he said.

          When they have the ball in their hands, Balogh wants his team to reduce turnovers and finish more efficiently when they get the ball to the basket.  “From an offensive standpoint there are really two things.  We need to do a better job of making good decisions with the basketball.  We had 18 turnovers and when you are playing at the pace that we are trying to play at that isn’t necessarily bad, but we would like to cut that closer to ten.  We have to make sure we finish plays.  In the first half we feel we missed seven or eight scoring opportunities right at the rim because we weren’t strong enough going to the basket with it or we didn’t make a very good decision of finishing at the rim,” said Balogh.

          Ontario plays host to Crestview (0-1) on Tuesday night in another non-conference game before they open the North Central Conference for a final time against Bucyrus on Friday.  Crestview was hammered by Clear Fork (69-36) last Friday and Balogh says they are an inexperienced team.  “They are really young and really inexperienced, but they have really good size,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I don’t think they return anybody that has any varsity experience form a year ago, but as you look at their roster you see 6’7”, 6’5”, 6’4”, 6’3”.  Their leading scorer against Clear Fork was a freshman that hit four threes in Kegan Greyville.  I think they are going to be a basketball team that as the season progresses is going to continue to get better.  They scary thing with a team like this when you are young and inexperienced you really don’t know your capability.”

          Balogh says the Cougars have more potential than they showed against Clear Fork and he has tried to warn his players about that.  “We have tried to remind our kids that they may have not played very well in that first game against Clear Fork, but in a couple of their scrimmages we have been informed that they played pretty well.  We have to make sure that we come out and kind of play to our level.  That’s an emphasis that we have this year that we have to take a look at what our team does and try to make sure we do the things we need to do and not always be so concerned about what our opponents are doing,” said Balogh.

          With Crestview dealing with confidence issues a little bit, Balogh knows the beginning of the game is going to important, as it always is.  “We talk a lot about the first three minutes of the game and then the first three minutes of the second half being really important parts of the game.  The first three minutes of the game is about how you set the tempo for the game.  Not that you are going to win or lose the game in the first three minutes, but last Friday against St. Pete’s we thought we were able to set the tempo of the game and we got the pace of the game going like we wanted it too.  Even though it was only as seven point game at the half we felt comfortable that we had the game going at a fast pace.  That’s the kind of thing we will be looking at on (Tuesday) night is to see if our pressure can create a faster tempo and allow us to use our depth to our advantage,” said Balogh.   

 

 
 

Ontario Chomping at the Bit

 

          Ontario on down seasons is still a threat to win conference titles and in good years they are a threat to arrive in Bowling Green in March if not Columbus.

          Veteran coach Joe Balogh says things have went pretty well during the preseason and he thinks they are really ready to go as they approach their home opener against Mansfield St. Peter’s on Friday night.  “We have taken steps to get better each day.  I like the attitude of our players.  I like the effort.  I like the way we have learned from our scrimmages and have improved from each scrimmage.  I think we at the point know that we are ready to go.  We are not going to have everything we want in, but of course at this time year you don’t, but I think our kids are excited about the opportunity to begin the season to kind of see where this journey is going to take us,” said Balogh.

          One of the keys for the Warriors on offense will be their ability to score the ball inside and outside this year.  “I think we have good balance.  We are not tremendously big inside.  The kids we are playing inside are 6’2”, 6’3”.  We have a couple of kids that are really athletic, Cameron Mack being one and Mitchell Phelps being another one.  We have some length on the perimeter.  We are 6’2” to 6’4” at our positions on the wing.  Then we have some quickness at our point guard position.  We like the balance that we have both offensively and defensively,” he said.

          Balogh thinks they are prepared for Friday night and now it just a matter of sharpening the stuff they have in on both offense and defense.  “When you get to this point you are always concerned about what you have in and what you don’t have in.  I think with this basketball team this year I think we are just ready to go.  We are not going to be perfect or anything and you don’t expect to be.  We will have two more days of practice that we think will be high intensity and focused on what we have to do.  We have enough stuff in that we have to execute what we have in and really try to do a good job with that,” said Balogh.

          Mansfield St. Peter’s won six games last year, but Balogh thinks similar to his team the Spartans are going to be a lot better than they were last year.  “I think they will be a lot better.  They return Andy Bacon and Tre Howell, two legitimate three point threats.  They hurt us early in that basketball game last year.  They have a 6’8” kid in Cole Phillips that has really grown as a player.  They have another kid in Joe Rall that started for them last year as a sophomore.  He is just one of those hard nosed kids that St. Pete’s has had over the years,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “At the point guard I think that Bobby Cowen has developed into a consistent player there.  So, they bring him back.  I think they are coming back with a lot of confidence that they can be a pretty good basketball team.  We expect they are going to be a much better basketball team than we played last year.”

 

 
 

Ontario Expects to be Better

 

          Ontario returns some talented players and they expect to go after the black division title in the North Central Conference and make an extended tournament run.

          Coach Joe Balogh says the Warriors bring back some players that can play a little bit.  “We return quite a few players.  We return Cameron Mack, who was an all-district player and a first team all-league player.  We return our wing players in Blake Balogh and Wyatt Clemens along with our point guard Tyler Boatwright.  Also we have a post in Mitchell Phelps, who came off the bench for us last year.  So, we return a bulk of players off a team that was not a great team and had some ups and downs, but was able to win a sectional title and gets us into the district,” said Balogh.

          The Warriors have shown some good attitude and effort and Balogh says now they need to figure out who plays where and how much they are one the floor.  “Our preseason went well.  Of course, you don’t have football guys, but the guys we had in played extremely hard.  We have had everybody for just over a week now.  We’ve had 13 practices right now.  There are a couple of days when we have come in the morning and gotten some extra shooting in.  It has gone well.  Our effort has been really, really good.  Our team attitude has been really good.  Now for a coaching standpoint you’ve got those pieces of the puzzle and you try to take those pieces and see where they fit in,” he said.

          Balogh coached teams have always been good on defense and the coach thinks this one will be too, especially in the full court.  “I think the thing we think we can do at the defensive end is be a little bit more full court pressure oriented than maybe we were a year ago.  We are really trying to work hard on that.  We think our depth is going to be important from the standpoint if we want to be able to play like that, but also with our schedule, especially in December when we open up on a Friday, then play Tuesday and then we have doubles the rest of the month,” said Balogh.

          A team is always looking for balance on the floor.  Balogh thinks they have the ability to score from a number of different spots on the floor.  “On the offensive end we think we have different guys that can score in a variety of ways.  We feel we can put two to three really good shooters on the floor at a time and match that with some athleticism at some different spots.  We like the versatility that this team has and hopefully that is going to play to our advantage,” he said.

          Ontario is as consistent a program as there is in North Central Ohio and Balogh says their goals for this year have not changed.  “Our first goal always is to win the league.  That is a high priority right now.  The next goal is you want to make sure you are getting better every day and every week.  Then you hope at the end of the year that you are playing your best basketball and you have that chance to make those runs in the tournament.  Those goals never really change.  How you try to put those teams together to achieve those goals may change over the years.  Our goal is to win the league and then hopefully make a run in the tournament,” said Balogh.     

 

 
 

Win and it’s a Division Title for Ontario

 

          After a slow start to the season the Ontario Warriors have played some very good football over the last half of the season, including that big win over Wynford, breaking their 63-game winning streak.

          A victory at home against first place Galion (8-1,6-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the small school division, will give the Warriors a share of the black division title with the Tigers.

          Ontario (6-3,5-1) pounded winless Crestline (54-0) last week to win their fourth straight game.  Coach Scott Kreger says they maintained their focus against the Bulldogs.  “We stressed that with our kids.  You have to go out and take care of the business at hand without looking ahead because that’s when something disastrous happens.  If you don’t take care of business week nine then week 10 is completely irrelevant.  Our kids went out and did a very good job,” he said.

          With the game scheduled for the final week of the regular season, Kreger says they knew this had the makings of a very important game for both sides and that is exactly what we have.  “We have had this marked on our calendar since day one planning that hopefully it would come down to us playing them for a league championship and chances for the playoffs.  This is three years in a row that our week 10 has meant something as far as league championship or playoffs,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “That says a lot about our kids and what they have done and how they have bought into the program.  It is always fun to go out on a Friday night and it is especially fun going out on a Friday night when everything is on the line.”

          Going into the final week of the regular season, Ontario stands in 13th place in division four, region 14 of the playoff rankings.  Galion is fourth in the same region.  Only the top eight make the postseason.  Kreger says they will need some things to happen for them to play on week 11.  “We are going to need some help.  I think we are sitting 13th right now.  We are going to need some help one way or another.  Our focus right now is Galion.  We can’t get caught up worrying what other teams are doing because if we don’t go out and do our job it’s a lost cause.  They are a great opponent with great athletes,” he said.

          Galion has also been hot as they have put eight straight wins together after losing week one to Mansfield Senior.  Kreger says they have athletes all over field on offense.  “They do a real good job whether it is the Prosser kid at quarterback or it’s Watkins and quarterback.  They have athletes all over the field.  David Ney is a special player.  You know, going over 2,000 yards last year and he right up there again this year with his yardage.  He runs you over.  He has speed.  He is somebody that you need two, three, four people around him every time to tackle him.  We know that we are going to have our hands full with him.  They have done a good job of putting Darien out at the receiver spot and running him at quarterback and finding different ways to get him the ball, so he can make plays and use his athletic ability to beat you.  We definitely have to be on our toes defensively in order to beat them,” said Kreger.

          Galion does a lot of things with motion and personnel groupings and Kreger says it will be important for them to realize who is on the field and where they are before the snap.  “Alignment defensively is something we have really stressed over the last half of this year.  Lining up correctly I believe is probably 80 to 85 percent of the success you have on defense is based on that.  Then it goes into reading your keys and then ultimately into making the play.  We are going to try and keep things as basic and simple right down to what we have been doing all year with our kids,” he said.

          Galion held Wynford to just one score last week (15-7) to hold on to the black division lead.  Kreger says the Galion defense is also very sound.  “The Holis kid up front is the key to their defense, their nose guard.  He doe a lot as far as going through and getting penetration and reeking havoc on your offense and doing things to your offensive line that make you feel uncomfortable.  Nate Katz in the middle is just a tackling machine.  He has been phenomenal the last couple of years.  He doesn’t miss tackles.  Those are people that we have to account for so we can have some success running the ball,” said Kreger.    

 

 
 

Ontario Must Avoid Letdown

 

          Ontario has put itself in position to win a black division title in the North Central Conference if they can beat Galion next week, but first they must stay focused as they host winless Crestline this week.

          The Warriors (5-3,4-1) have put together a three game winning streak, including a (48-14) win over Buckeye Central last week.  Jordan Campbell had nearly 300 yards on the ground and coach Scott Kreger says they were able to get that ground game going.  “We were really good at running the ball, as we have been all year.  Jordan Campbell had a good game.  Tyler Boatwright had a good game.  We were really good throwing the ball.  We should have been seven for seven or eight for eight, I can’t remember what it was, passing the ball, but we had a dropped pass.  We were real efficient offensively and put up points.  I am pretty sure our varsity scored on every one of their possessions and that is what we are focusing on, going out and being efficient,” said Kreger.

           Three weeks ago Ontario made a change at quarterback as they inserted Tyler Boatwright and put Mitchell Phelps at wide receiver.  Kreger says that has resulted in some good things.  “I feel we are a better offense with Tyler running quarterback rather than Mitchell.  He has done a good job going out to wide receiver and playing some defense for us.  It was just a team decision and doing the best for our 45 kids on our team.  I think it was a good change for us because Tyler is a little bit better of a runner.  It was something that just played out.  It was an adjustment that as a coaching staff we thought needed to be made.  We did and we have been pretty successful since doing that,” said Kreger.

          They also installed a new defense back in the summer time.  Kreger thinks the new look is starting to pay some dividends.  “It’s been a new team this year and coach Canfield has done a great job for us as far as bringing this 3-4 concept in.  Weekly we have tried to go out and keep things simple.  The kids are able to play fast without thinking and make plays,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Last week was as good of defense that we have played.  Buckeye went down and scored on the first possession and they scored their last possession against our JVs.  Our defense did a real nice job and has come along nicely.  We are pretty young.  We have seven kids that are first year players on defense this year, so they had some growing up to do.”

          Crestline (0-8,0-5) pays a visit on Friday night.  Kreger says despite their record the Bulldogs have an excellent quarterback.  “They are focused on Nick Reynolds at quarterback and what he does.  Offensively they are a spread team.  Sometimes they line up in the eye and run it.  They are going to go as he goes.  He is a very good athlete.  He throws the ball well and runs the ball well, so we have to control him.  I know when he drops back to pass we want to put as much pressure on him as we can.  We have to stay in our lanes and play disciplined football defensively,” he said.

          Right now, Ontario is tied with Wynford for second place in the division, a game behind Galion.  They are also number 11 in their computer region and they need to jump up a couple spots.  Kreger says they can’t lose their focus against Crestline.  “We have talked about that Saturday.  We have talked about it all week.  We have had a good week of practice so far.  Our kids have been upbeat and ready to go.  We are doing many of the little things that we need to shore up to be a better football team.  You know, eliminating penalties and taking care of the football and winning turnover battles and just becoming a good football team.  I am not worried about that, I think our kids are going to be ready this Friday against Crestline because we have respect for them and what they do.  We are going to come out and play hard for 48 minutes and see what happens,” said Kreger.    

 

 
 

Another Focus Game For Ontario

 

          After playing three of the their black division rivals in Bucyrus, Upper Sandusky and Wynford to begin the league schedule the Ontario Warriors are now in a portion of their schedule when they should be considered the favorite.

          They outscored Lucas 28-6 in the second half last week to beat the Cubs 40-21.  Coach Scott Kreger felt they were a little sloppy in their execution in the first half at Lucas.  “We didn’t play real well the first half.  They came out and battled with us really well as far as to control the front.  We made a couple of mistakes in the first half that really hurt us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday night, “We made some adjustments at half time and came out and I thought the kids responded very well as far as stepping up to the challenge in the second half of controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and making plays when we needed to.  Our defense really keyed us as far as shutting down their running game for the most part and putting our offense in positions to score.”  He said at halftime they just reviewed what they needed to do and the players did a better job of executing consistently in the second two periods.  “It was really just doing what you are coached to do and doing it every single play, not two out of three times or three out of four times, it has to be every single play.  We played with a lot more intensity and a lot more heart in the second half as well,” said Kreger.

          Buckeye Central (2-5,1-3) plays host to Ontario (4-3,3-1) on Friday night in an inter-divisional game in the “NCC.”  Buckeye broke a five gave losing streak with a (36-7) win over Crestline last Friday.  Kreger says the Bucks have shown solid improvement.  “They lost a lot from last year from the state finals team.  They did have a lot of young kids playing at the beginning of the year.  Those kids now have over a half a season playing, so they really aren’t considered young any more.  They have do a real good job each week of getting better, becoming more physical and learning how to play at the varsity level.  They will provide a great challenge to us and we have come out and play great football,” said Kreger.

          Michael Adkins ran for 192 yards and four touchdowns against Crestline and Kreger says the Bucks will give him the ball a lot against them too.  “He was key to their team last year with all of the stars they had last year he provided most of their running game and he is doing a good job this year with that.  He is a very good player on both sides of the ball.  He is a great linebacker.  They are definitely going to try and get him the ball.  If they can run the ball it will open the passing game.  I am sure that is what they are focusing on doing,” said Kreger.

          Ontario, along with Wynford, trail Galion by a game in the black division standings.  The Warriors play Galion on week 10, but Kreger says they can not have their mind on that game yet.  “We need to focus these next two weeks with Buckeye Central and Crestline before we even start to think about Galion.  We really have to focus on Buckeye Central they are a good football team and improving each week.  They are going to be a great opponent for us this week, so we have to have a great week of preparation and go out and compete on Friday night,” he said.

 

 
 

Ontario Can’t be Satisfied

 

          Last week, Ontario ended Wynford’s 63 game regular season win streak and it will be a highlight of their season, but they don’t want it to be their only highlight.

          Coach Scott Kreger says so far there are no signs of a letdown when it comes to the Warriors.  “It’s been really good for our kids.  We have been positive and up beat.  They have worked pretty hard so far this week in practice.  They understand that the hard work they put in last week was the key to their success.  We want to continue that momentum and build on that momentum and focusing for a very good football team in Lucas,” he said.  As much as they gained last week they are still a game behind the Galion in the black division standings in the North Central Conference.  “We have stressed to our kids and we started talking about it last week basically our playoffs have started.  It’s got to be every week.  It has to be a one game playoff.  We have to focus and do everything right on Friday as far as going out and accomplishing our goal,” said Kreger.

          Ontario (3-3,2-1) is at Lucas (1-5,0-3) in conference play on Friday night.  Lucas has averaged over 30 points a game the last two weeks in loses to Colonel Crawford (48-34) and Bucyrus (31-30) in conference play.  Kreger says they are tough to prepare for.  “It’s tough to line up with the double wing, double tight.  We have gotten a pr