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Mansfield St. Peter's Boys' Basketball Schedule

(24-2,12-0)

#1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll, small school division

 

 

 

12/2

South Central

58

@ Mansfield St. Peter's

76

12/3

Mans. St. Peter's

60

@ Ontario

67

12/9

Mans. St. Peter's

92

@ Loudonville

56

12/10

Mans. St. Peter's

54

@ Mansfield Senior

48

12/16

Mans. St. Peter's

76

@ Kidron CC

56

12/18

Mans. St. Peter's

72

vs. St. Thomas Aquinas

54

12/22

Lucas

51

@ Mansfield St. Peter's

76

12/28

Cardinal Stritch

51

@ Mansfield St. Peter's

58

12/30

Mans. St. Peter's

76

@ Mansfield Christian

42

1/3

Mans. St. Peter's

84

@ Ashland

67

1/7

Mans. St. Peter's

43

@ Canton CC

51

1/13

Mans. St. Peter's

71

@ Danville

51

1/14

Plymouth

36

@ Mansfield St. Peter's

77

1/20

Loudonville

55

@ Mansfield St. Peter's

71

1/21

Shelby

65

@ Mansfield St. Peter's

76

1/24

Crestline

44

@ Mansfield St. Peter's

83

1/27

Kidron CC

41

@ Mansfield St. Peter's

77

2/3

Mans. St. Peter's

81

@ Lucas

64

2/4

Mans. St. Peter's

84

@ Crestline

59

2/10

Mans. Christian

42

@ Mansfield St. Peter's

63

2/11

Col. Watterson

39

@ Mansfield St. Peter's

46

2/17

Danville

67

@ Mansfield St. Peter's

106

2/28

Mans. St. Peter's

76

Danbury Lakeside

48

3/3

Mans. St. Peter's

68

Monroeville

46

3/7

Mans. St. Peter's

79

South Central

41

3/10

Mans. St. Peter's

59

Colonel Crawford

42

3/14

Mans. St. Peter's

72

North Baltimore

45

3/17

Mans. St. Peter's

 

Delphos St. John's

 

 

 

St. Peter’s in Regionals Again

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s is playing in the division four regional finals for the second straight year and a win Friday night will advance the Spartans to their first final four since 1990.

          They play Delphos St. John’s (20-4) Friday night at the University of Toledo.

          After tailing (10-4) early on Tuesday night, the Spartans went on a 17 point run and never looked back in beating North Baltimore (72-45) in a semi-final game.

          Coach Joe Jakubick has consistently said that once a game is over they move on to whoever is next.  “We talk about that going forward.”

          Not that they can’t play the half court game, but St. Peter’s is very good at filling lanes and getting down the floor for layups or open three point looks in transition.  “We have been able to get the games more in our tempo,” said the coach.

          Delphos St. John’s beat Holgate (40-25) in their semi-final Tuesday night at the Stroh Center on the campus of Bowling Green State University. Their defensive average in the tournament is just over 30 points a game. “Our guys trust in the scouting report and understanding the other team’s strengths and weaknesses and has been as good as any team we have ever had in doing that,” St. John’s coach Aaron Elwer told the Lima News after their semi final win.

          They have allowed more than 50 points only three times this season.  The Spartans have scored at least 70 points 19 times this year, 80 six times, 90 once, and a high water mark of 106 against Danville in the regular season finale.  So, tempo is going to be a real key in this game.

          Tim Kreeger, a 6’9” center for the Blue Jays had 14 points and six blocked shots on Tuesday night.

          St. Peter’s has handled height before.  An (84-67) win over Ashland, which featured four starters over 6’4” is a good example of that.  The Spartans have also played and excellent schedule, including division one Mansfield Senior and division two Ontario and Columbus Watterson.

          St. John’s in part of the loaded Midwest Athletic Conference, which includes the likes of Versailles, Minster, Coldwater, St. Henry and Marion Local.  They have only one loss since the new year and that came (55-47) to Marion Local on February 10.  They beat Elida (48-45,) who plays for a division two regional title Saturday against Wauseon, early in the season.

          St. Peter’s features four all district performers in Mason Campbell, Jared Jakubick, the son of the coach, Tyson Kent, and Elijah Cobb, all of whom average double figures.  They have had a short bench all season, normally only subbing two players during the course of the game.

          The Spartans (24-2) obviously have great talent, but coach Jakubick told Swankonsports.com earlier in the season that is not the main reason for their success.  He says they have “showed some good character on the part of our young men.”

          Our basketball analysis Roy Shoulders, a former head coach at St. Peter’s, and a teacher at the school, says he believes this year’s players are very focused.  “They are very driven in what they want to do.  They have t-shirts on that say “Unfinished Business” and they don’t mean that in a cocky way, but they really feel with this year with the experiences they had last year they feel they have a real good shot at being regional champions,” said Shoulders.

 

Published 3/17/17

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Shoulders Says St. Peter’s All Around Team

  

          Former coach Roy Shoulders, a member of the Swankonsports.com team, says Mansfield St. Peter’s is a team that has a lot of skill and is driven to succeed.

          They are scheduled to play North Baltimore (16-10) out of the Blanchard Valley Conference, in the division four regional semi-finals at the Stroth Center on the campus of Bowling Green State University of Tuesday night, weather permitting.

          After trialing by one at the half they went on to beat Colonel Crawford (59-42) in the district final last Friday night at Willard.

          Shoulders says right now the Spartans (24-2) are playing excellent basketball.  “I am telling you right now just matching first five versus first five I am going to be hard pressed to say that there is going to be somebody in the regional that will be able to put five players on the floor that are better.  What might hurt St. Pete’s is if they have to get down to the bench because they are not a very deep squad.  St. Pete’s is a very good defensive team with very quick hands.  They don’t get in foul trouble.  You keep your fingers crossed that those are not things that come bite them in the butt.  They are very unselfish.  They pass the ball well, move the ball well,” he said.

          All year long they have gone pretty much with their starting five in Mason Campbell, Jared Jakubick, Tyson Kent, Elijah Cobb and Jake Gurski.  Shoulders says they aren’t well deep, but they have done a good job staying out of foul trouble.  “That is a thing they have done well all year is to be able to play aggressive defense and not get in foul trouble.  Some teams don’t do that well.  It almost seems like every game there is someone in foul trouble, but not St. Pete’s.  They have been able to play very physical defense, not just on ball, but off ball, bumping cuts, getting out in passing lanes, making sure catches are pressured, doing a very good job of defending the dribble, physical block outs to get rebounds and get fast breaks started.  Friday night they played five guys until the last minute, 1:20, when both teams emptied the bench.  Literally it was five guys and no one else,” said Shoulders

          The other side of regional bracket has Holgate (21-4) against Delphos St. John’s (19-4).

          Shoulders believes the Spartans are a team with clear goals and they are not going to be taken up in the moment when it comes to the regional tournament.  “This is a very focused group of young men that are happy to be district champion, but that is not the ultimate goal.  Being a regional champion is the goal.  Not just getting to the state and being happy to be there.  They are very driven in what they want to do.  They have t-shirts on that say “Unfinished Business” and they don’t mean that in a cocky way, but they really feel with this year with the experiences they had last year they feel they have a real good shot at being regional champions,” he said.

          Shoulders sums it up by saying that St. Peter’s is a very focused team that is very well coached by Joe Jakubick and his staff.  “St. Peter’s is a very sound, fundamental basketball team and that just goes to show all of the hours being put in coaching and teaching with these young men.  They are a very well coached basketball team.  They are very good in the half court.  A lot teams may be very good in transition and they score out of transition, but if you get them into a half court game they struggle.  Some teams they want to play a half court game and if you can speed up the tempo that is not their style and they struggle.  St. Peter’s is comfortable playing anyway you want to play.  They are tough to press because four guys on the floor handle the ball extremely well.  If they face zone they have guys that can penetrate the zone and kick out.  You have guys that can catch and shoot.  You have guys that can catch and put the ball on the floor and clear space.  Joe does a very good job of coaching these guys.  As much as we have made point of the talent of these guys let’s not forget too that this is a very well coached basketball team,” said Shoulders.

 

Published 3/14/17

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St. Peter’s Routs South Central

   

          South Central’s Ben Lamoreaux hit a three pointer in the first 15 seconds of the game, but Mansfield St. Peter’s scored on back to back possessions and had the lead before a minute was gone and they never looked back never trailing again.

          The state ranked Spartans (23-2) went on to drill South Central (79-41) in a division four district semi-final on Tuesday night at Willard High School.  They return Friday night to face Colonel Crawford (18-6) for the district title.  The Eagles beat Norwalk St. Paul (57-49) in overtime.

          Coach Joe Jakubick feels they had good focus.  “You never know what’s going to happen in games, especially what you get into the tournament.  After what happened in the second half against Monroeville I just mentioned two things that we have to have better focus and if not South Central, who is an extremely talented and dangerous team, you will be going home, it will be over.  If you don’t come out ready to play this team is dangerous.  They have offensive weapons.  You saw what they did to Wynford.  I think they shot almost 80 percent from the field in that game.  They were 10-21 from the three point line and 22-27 inside the arc.  Those are numbers that are scary.  I don’t care who you are playing and Wynford is a solid team, a team that finished above .500 and a quality team.  We knew we had to be at our best (Tuesday) night and fortunately we came out on top,” said Jakubick. 

          The score grew to (27-11) after the first quarter and (48-16) at the half.

          South Central coach Bret Seidel says they really had no answer when it came to defending the Spartans.  “The first quarter hurt us.  We came out and hit the three out of our secondary break and it felt good.  It’s a good feeling and then they hit like six in a row, pull ups, to the rim, they did whatever they wanted through the first quarter.  We had no answer for driving lanes, we had no answer for their pull ups.  They made shot after shot in the first quarter.  To play from behind against a team like that with that talent and that caliper is tough.  I really appreciate my kids.  I am proud of them because they played with class to them end.  I am proud of that,” said Seidel.

          St. Peter’s, #1 in the final Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, scored repeatedly in transition.  Seidel says it is almost impossible to get ready from the things that St. Peter’s does.  “They leak out and we practiced that with two guys back every time, bit it is hard to replicate them getting out in transition.  We talked about it, reped it, but being able to replicate it is difficult to do,” he said.

          Elijah Cobb led the Spartans with 22 points, Jared Jakubick added 21, Tyson Kent had 18 and Mason Campbell added 14. 

          Campbell did not play last week against either Danbury Lakeside or Monroeville due to injury, but he played most of the first three quarters on Tuesday.  “Mason did really well.  He had be chomping at the bit… he had been chomping at the bit,” said Jakubick.

          With Campbell out last week, Jakubick says it allowed some other guys, particularly freshman Jonah Remy, to expand his game.  “I will say it was really good for Jonah Remy.  Jonah has really picked up some confidence and for him to play in a couple of tournament games and for us to win he had solid moments in those games.  Now given the situation when he is called in for what ever minutes hopefully he will be productive,” he said.

          South Central finished (15-10) and they were led Tuesday night by senior Jason Hale, who finished with 10.

 

Published 3/08/17

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Confident Lady Spartans Play St. Paul

  

          Mansfield St. Peter’s girls’ basketball team is old school.

          For many years St. Peter’s was not in a conference and more than other teams put all of their energy into getting ready for the tournament and being successful.

          Although they are in the Mid-Buckeye Conference now, the Lady Spartans are clearly playing their best basketball in the tournament.

‘        They downed South Central (58-41) and New London (52-36) in tournament play last week.

          Coach Shani Rush likes what she sees.  “We are playing pretty well right now, but we can always improve.  We have practice to improve on some things and continue to do the things that we know how to do and do them correctly.  Our girls have great attitudes right now and are ready to play on Thursday,” she said.

          They face Firelands Conference co-champ Norwalk St. Paul (20-3) in the division four district semi finals on Thursday night at Seneca East High School.

          Rush says they aren’t going to make any changes.  She says they are going to do what they have been doing in this five game winning streak they have put together.  “Sometimes as coaches we try to over think things.  We just need to keep it simple.  We are going to do what we do.  We will go over a few things that they do and the strengths that they have.  Other than that we just want to focus on ourselves do what we do right and do it to the best of our ability,” she said.

          St. Peter’s (13-11) lost to St. Paul (57-40) on January 5 at home.

          However, Rush says they are a different team now and they are ready to compete with the Lady Flyers.  “They are a good team.  I feel they are a lot like us other than they have some more height.  They are a senior loaded team and we have a veteran team as well,” she told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We have been playing them for the last four years.  They beat us the first time around, but I feel like we are a totally different team than when we played them the first time.  We were in the ball game until the last two minutes of the game.  I think we are going to have a different look and hopefully it will be a good game.”

 

Published 3/01/17

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Lady Spartans Playing Good Basketball

  

          Mansfield St. Peter’s takes a three game winning streak into a first round division four tournament game against South Central on Wednesday night at Shelby High School.

          St. Peter’s (11-11) picked up wins last week over South Central (65-40,) Colonel Crawford (43-38,) and Lucas (40-25) and coach Shani Rush says she is pretty happy with how they are playing.  “We had a good week this past week.  We had three games, which was a lot.  By Saturday we were pretty tired, but having the day off (Sunday) and getting to sleep in (Monday) I am pretty sure they are rested up,” said Rush.

          Of course, they just played South Central last week, but Rush says there will be a lot more riding on this one.  “It is the tournament atmosphere, so things are going to be different.  Both teams are going to be battling nerves.  We are just going to prepare like we did before and hopefully the outcome will be the same,” she said.

          South Central (1-21) has battled injuries all season, but Rush says they play with intensity and she is looking for them to be better defenders on Wednesday night.  “They work hard.  They have a nice guard, the Albert girl.  She is going to be a good player here in the next few years,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “She has a nice outside shot, so we need to contain her a little bit more and really turn up our defense and try and pressure them to get some turnovers to make our offense a lot easier.”

          Yes, St. Peter’s is the favorite in the game, but Rush says they have to be ready to go and she believes they will be due to some solid leadership she is getting.  “That happened to us last year we had jitters in the first few minutes and dug ourselves a hole, but we have a good returning group.  They are very experienced.  I think they are ready to win.  They are not ready for our season to be over.  They are a great group of girls who love each other and want to keep going,” said Rush.

 

Published 2/21/17

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Spartans Finish Regular Season With Danville

  

          Mansfield St. Peter’s, the Mid-Buckeye Conference champion, finishes its regular season with a game against Danville on Friday night and then gets ready for the postseason tournament.

          Last week, the beat rival Mansfield Christian (63-42) in “MBC” action and then earned a quality win over division two Columbus Watterson (46-39) in a non-conference game on Friday.

          Coach Joe Jakubick says they were able to get out to good start, something they have done a lot this year, against the Flames and then put together a strong comeback against Watterson.  “Defensively I thought we played really well in the first half against Mansfield Christian.  We sot of forced tempo.  They have become a very, very patient team.  I think we were up 29-8 at the half.  Then the second half they did a good job of being patient and yet attacking.  Like their game with Ontario, which was a low scoring game they can be a very challenging and patient team right now, which kind of helped prepare us for Saturday for Bishop Watterson, who plays in an extremely challenging conference in the league they play in Columbus with the other catholic schools,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They were coming off a tough loss to a St. Charles team that was undefeated in their league.  They got beat the previous night 38-36.  In my years of coaching either on the young ladies side or the young men’s side Bishop Watterson is the most patient, disciplined team that I have faced.  We got down early 22-12, which is really like being down 15-20 to the average team.  To come back from that showed some good character on the part of our young men.  It’s a nice win, but it is on to another week and we have Danville this week.”

          St. Peter’s (19-2,11-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, plays Danville on Friday night.  They handled the Blue Devils (71-51) the first time this year, however, Jakubick thinks Danville will make it tougher.  “They have the weapons to be dangerous on a given night.  A majority of teams do.  We talk about that going forward.  I feel this, at least in the conference, when you are facing teams for a second time they are going to be more prepared to handle things that you do offensively and defensively.  I really felt against Watterson we played really well defensively and hopefully we can continue that,” he said.

          St. Peter’s is the top seed in the division four district tournament and will play Danbury Lakeside in a first round game at Lexington.  Jakubick says when it comes to the tournament you have to wipe the slate clean.  “It is a complement to be the number one seed, but like I told my team it doesn’t get you one point. We are focused on Friday right now, but after that it is a new season for us.  Our first game is against Danbury and I have watched a little bit of them, not a whole lot.  Records can be so misleading and deceiving and it can be fool’s gold if you fall into that trap.  On a given night everybody is dangerous.  They were beating Cardinal Stritch at halftime this year.  If anybody thinks it can’t happen or won’t happen it just won’t be like that.  We will focus on Danbury come Saturday morning.  As far as the tournament draw I worry about Danbury and Monroeville, but you look at the bottom part of our bracket at Lexington you have got South Central, who I have so much respect for, an extremely dangerous team.  You have Wynford down there with Mansfield Christian, that I think is a very interesting game.  Crestline they have talented, they are a very dangerous team.  A week or two ago they were playing Wynford and were leading going into the fourth quarter.  Just on our side of the bracket every team is capable and can be extremely dangerous on a given night,” said Jakubick.

 

Published 2/17/17

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“St. Peter’s Gets a Preview”

  

          Mansfield St. Peter’s will play South Central twice in the next week as they host the Lady Trojans in a non-conference on Tuesday night and then play them again next week in the first round of the division four tournament.

          They challenged a very good Loudonville team on Saturday before losing (53-45) in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game.

          Coach Shani Rush says Saturday was clearly a good sign.  “We had loss against Bucyrus where we just didn’t play very well. We bounced back and played a really tough Loudonville team right to the wire.  The girls are still working really hard and they are getting excited for tournament time,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We are going to find out where we are at (Tuesday) at South Central.  We need to know what we need to work on getting ready for tournament.”

          They play Colonel Crawford of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference in a non-league game on Thursday.

          Playing the same team within such a short period of time is not unprecedented by any stretch of the imagination, but it doesn’t happen a lot.  Rush says they are not going to hold anything back for next week.  “We are just going to play our game.  We are not going to do anything different.  Let the outcome take care of itself.  Our plan is to just go in and do what we always do and work hard and take care of the process,” she said.

          South Central (1-19) has struggled a lot, mostly with injuries this season, but Rush says they know the Lady Trojans are going to give great effort.  “South Central has always worked hard.  They are scrappy players.  We are going to need to get on the boards and box them out.  I know they lost Summer (Sweeting) and she is an outstanding player.  I know they have had some injuries.  We are just going to concentrate on what we do and keep focusing on that,” said Rush.

 

Published 2/14/17

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With Two Wins St. Peter’s is Champion

  

          Mansfield St. Peter’s can claim another Mid-Buckeye Conference title with wins Friday night at Lucas and Saturday night at Crestline.

          A share comes with a split.

          Last Friday, the Spartans drilled Kidron Central Christian (77-41) to remain unbeaten in conference play.

          Coach Joe Jakubick says they were able to get an early lead and force the Comets to play faster than they want to.  “Against them you don’t want to try and play half court all of the time and that is what they try and do with their zone.  Our kids did a great job of moving the ball against their zone and getting shots.  If you make shots they think they have to score and that sped them up a little bit.  When you get behind it is hard to be patient.  We got off to a good first quarter and I think the score was 19-6 after the end of the first quarter.  Then we followed it up with a good second quarter.  It is nice to get a win against them.  In my very first year here, they weren’t in the league yet, but we played them up there and they beat us in a real slow down game.  We sort of learned from that game and in the last two years we have been able to get the games more in our tempo and more importantly execute well against their zone,” said Jakubick.

          St. Peter’s (15-2,8-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, plays at second place Lucas (11-5,7-2) in a conference game Friday night.

          Lucas would have had the chance to move into a tie for the lead had it not been for a loss at Danville (53-47) last Friday that dropped the Cubs two back.

          Jakubick says this is a Lucas team, and a program, that has got nothing but better.  “In the few years I have been here I feel it is their best team.  Coach Taylor Iceman has done a tremendous job with them.  We know they are going to be ready for us it is going to be a tremendous challenge going into their gym.  Hopefully we will be ready and be able to come out of there with a win,” he said.

          It was a close game at the half in their first meeting, but a (25-2) run in third quarter gave the Spartans a big lead and they went on to beat the Cubs (76-51) on December 22.

          Jakubick says the Cubs are a team that has become not just physical, but skilled on offense.  “I feel like this team versus teams they have had in the past, even last year they did really well, I know in the tournament they gave Sandusky St. Mary’s a really good run for their money.  I felt they were more physical last year than this year and I think they are better skilled this year too.  It is a much improved team in every area.  I mean the record speaks for itself,” he said.

          St. Peter’s just beat Crestline (83-44) last week and these are teenagers, but Jakubick says they preach focus and maturity and he believes his team will be ready no matter what the situation.  “When we have Friday and Saturday games we just focus and talk about Friday.  That is all we are really looking at.  As coaches you try to put a couple of different game plans about that you may want to do or try to do.  I would hope we talk about it all of the time about maturity, about focus, about understating that we are the hunted and we have to be prepared for every game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We will talk about that after Friday because right now we are focused on Friday and we know we are going to have to be prepared because we are going into a hostile environment on Friday and hopefully our guys are going to be prepared game wise, but also mentally.”

 

Published 2/01/17

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Spartans Working on Things

  

          Mansfield St. Peter’s holds a one game lead on Lucas in the Mid-Buckeye Conference standings and they play host to Kidron Central Christian in a conference game on Friday night.

          They play Lucas next week.

          Elijah Cobb poured in 24 points and Jared Jakubick added 21 as the Spartans drilled Crestline (83-44) in a conference game on Tuesday night.

          Coach Joe Jakubick says it can be difficult to get ready for those Tuesday night games, but they were able to come out and play well against the Bulldogs.  “Sometimes you never know playing games during the week.  You want your team to be focused and ready, but it is always a concern of mine.  I felt that we came and showed petty good energy and we were able to make the necessary plays to the get the win,” he said.

          Mason Campbell and Tyson Kent are also big time scorers for the Spartans, but Jakubick says he has seen good improvement from the other kids that get playing time.  “Jake Gurski he just goes unnoticed.  Jake just does a tremendous job not only defensively of really protecting the rim a little bit and he is a very capable scorer even though maybe some people haven’t seen that yet.  When he gets his shots he is very good.  I think he is shooting 65 percent from the field right now when he does get looks,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I saw some pretty good minutes from the freshman Jonah Ramey the other day against Crestline.  Jake got into foul trouble and Jonah had to come in and played very, very solid.  I see his development really every day.  James Rahl coming off the bench at times he can be a little inconsistent, but I have seen a better stability out of him over the last couple of weeks.  You continually try to develop players and give us solid minutes.”

          St. Peter’s (14-2,7-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, plays at home against Kidron Central Christian (5-7,4-3) in a conference game on Friday night.

          The Spartans have been one of the few teams that has been able to get the Comets to play faster this season when they beat them (76-56) back in early December.  However, Jakubick says that is what they are going to try and do.  “That has sort of been their game over the last two plus years.  They are going to come and they are going to play their zone and they are going to try and spread it out and be sort of very selective offensively.  Offensively we are going to have to move the ball and get the ball to whoever may be open and knock down some shots.  Then on the defensive end be aggressive, but solid at the same time,” he said.

 

Published 1/27/17

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Spartans Spurt Past Shelby

   

          St. Peter’s outscored Shelby (14-0) over a three and half minute stretch of the fourth quarter and the Spartans went on to down the Whippets (76-65) in a non-conference game Saturday night at the Franciscan Activities Center in Mansfield.

          The Spartans (13-2), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, led Shelby (60-54) with almost seven minutes left in the game when Shelby guard Brock Kehres was hurt on a play under the basket.

         St. Peter’s coach Joe Jakubick says that allowed them to catch their breath a little and refocus.  “We were up six and we felt we took a quick shot.  They got a run out and we fouled them.  That is when Kehres got hurt and there was a delay.  So, I was going to call timeout, but that sort of did it for me.  We just said we had to settle down and we have got to make plays.  Let’s just make smart decisions.  We were able to get a couple of quick buckets and it led to a real good run.  We locked down defensively.  They hit some shots, but I was really proud overall how we defended.  They can hit threes.  I am really proud of Elijah Cobb and the job he did on Davey Hipp,” said Jakubick.

          Mason Campbell and Jared Jakubick converted back to back fast break baskets to start the run and Tyson Kent scored six points during the run.  Campbell’s hoop with 2:20 left gave the Spartans a (74-56) advantage.

          Shelby coach Troy Schwemley says Saturday night’s game was kind of a microcosm of how their season has been this year.  “I just got done telling the guys it is were we are at this year.  In so many of our games against great teams, and St. Pete’s is a great team, they have a lot of talented individuals that play well together, so they work together, but in these big games against great teams we will do that,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “We cut it to four and I thought we were starting to defend and valuing every possession and then we just completely break down.  It happens too often.  (Friday) night our game went from we are up five to zero just like that in a span of 10 seconds.  (Saturday) night we have the ball and we are down four and thought we were doing a good job of attacking and we lose our minds and I look up and it is 12 just like that.”

          Shelby (7-7) lead “NOL” leader Sandusky by seven with three minutes to play on Friday night and the Blue Streaks out scored them (16-2) down the stretch to win (67-60) and knock the Whippets two games back in the league standings.

          The Whippets are one of the better perimeter shooting teams in the area and Jakubick thought they did a good job of slowing that down a little.

“Our goal was, even though they got to the paint a little too much, let’s make them hit two point jumpers.  They are so talented and all of their guards are lightning quick.  This was a great game for us really preparing us defensively,” he said.

          Shelby finished with six threes on the night.

          St. Peter’s led (27-16) after the first quarter and that quick start was fueled by some great perimeter shooting, including four threes, two each for Jakubick and Campbell.  Coach Jakubick thought they would have a pretty good night shooting the ball.  “(Friday) night in particular Mason (Campbell) and Jared (Jakubick) didn’t have their best night and I could just see (Saturday) in shoot around that they were a little more focused.  You never know if shots are going to go in or not, but I felt they were going to be ready to compete.  Anytime you get back to back nights like they had, and we had, when you get in the second half it is a little harder to knock down perimeter shots,” said Jakubick,

          Jared Jakubick and Kent both finished with 20 points on the night, while Campbell had 19.  Brady Hill led Shelby with 17 makers.

 

Published 1/21/17

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St. Peter’s Remains Cautious

  

          Mansfield St. Peter’s is the leader of the Mid-Buckeye Conference and one the best teams in the North Central Ohio area, but they need to keep their head on straight too.

          Good teams are ones that are never satisfied and that is certainly the case with their coach.

          The Spartans beat Danville (71-51) in a “MBC” game last Friday and wiped out Plymouth (77-36) in a non-conference game on Saturday.

          However, coach Joe Jakubick says there is still a lot of room to get better.  “We did better, but we still we can still find areas that we can improve as a team.  We better remain focused because this week we have a Loudonville team that I think is extremely dangerous,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They lost a very, very close battle with Clear Fork and I know Clear Fork recently beat Mansfield Senior.  Obviously we have to be focused and be ready to play it is a big league game and we have a one game lead over Lucas, so we better come prepared and understand the task at hand.”

          St. Peter’s (11-2,5-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, drilled Loudonville (2-10,1-5) by 36 points (92-56) back on December 9.  Jakubick hopes they come out Friday with the same focus.  “You have to remember that last time when we went down there we were just coming off a loss to Ontario, so our kids were like, okay, we lost here to Ontario we are coming to a place where we had lost last year, so we had a pretty good understanding and a good mentality at that time.  Hopefully, that will take place this Friday,” said Jakubick.

          The Spartans host Shelby (7-5) of the Northern Ohio League on Saturday night in a non-league game.  The Whippets beat them last year.  Jakubick says Shelby has a number of very good perimeter shooters and that makes them very dangerous.  “They are as challenging as any team I can think of to try and guard.  All five of their starters can shoot the three.  They are extremely dangerous every night.  On a night when they are all hitting their threes you might have to wave the white flag.  With a game on Friday and come back on Saturday with Shelby that is not going to be a picnic,” he said.

 

Published 1/19/17

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Mansfield St. Peter’s Finds its Stride

  

          Mansfield St. Peter’s seems to be heading in the right direction as the girls’ basketball season heads into the final month before of regular season play.

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

          Coach Shani Rush likes the direction they are heading right now.  “The last two games I think we are really starting to come around.  We started off slow.  We weren’t shooting the ball well, just not finding any kind of chemistry.  In the last few games, even though a couple of them have been losses, we are really starting to find some chemistry on our team and we are starting to shoot a little better,” said Rush.

          The coach says she believes this can be a solid season for the Lady Spartans (5-6) and nothing has happened to change her mind.  “I have our expectations high and I haven’t lowered them at all even though our record isn’t showing the things that I think we should be, but I also feel that we are going to peak at the right time.  We have good experience and with the girls coming back that we have I really feel like our time is coming,” she said.

          St. Peter’s plays in the Mid-Buckeye Conference, which has some good teams, plus Rush says their non-conference schedule prepares them well for post season.  “The top three teams with Central Christian, Loudonville, who is playing really well right now, and Danville, and us, are all kind of fighting for the top in the conference,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We have our battles there and then playing Shelby, who is an excellent team, we lost by four (51-47) there and played Norwalk St. Paul.  We have a challenging schedule, but I think it is helping up prepare for the tournament.”

          Plymouth has had its struggles this year, but Rush says they owe them one from last year, plus she says they want to concentrate on how they get better at what they do.  “I tell them that we want to take care of what we want to do.  We can’t worry about anything else.  Plymouth beat us last year, so we are looking to take that back and get one this year against them,” she said.

 

Published 1/17/17

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Spartans Need to Learn Going Forward

  

          Mansfield St. Peter’s lost for just the second time this season on Saturday night to Canton Central Catholic and they need to learn from that and continue to build.

          They travel to Danville for a Mid-Buckeye Conference game on Friday night and host Plymouth in a non-conference game on Saturday night.

          Central Catholic beat St. Peter’s (51-43) last Saturday and coach Joe Jakubick says they didn’t have the sort of focus they needed to have to win those kinds of games.  “Hopefully we learn from it.  I mean that is the bottom line.  It was disappointing from the standpoint that I just don’t think from a team standpoint that we had the focus that we have had in other games.  Canton Central Catholic is a team that is going to play hard and play tough defense.  We just didn’t have focus and we didn’t finish shots.  It was by far are worse shooting performance of the year.  Not even close to any other game.  We ended up not getting a win.  There are a lot of things that can be learned from that game and time will always tell.  I hope it proves to be a good learning experience for our team,” said Jakubick.

          It was a poor shooting night for the Spartans, but Jakubick says it wasn’t because they didn’t get good looks that the basket.  “We have gotten really in all of our games this year I feel we have gotten good shots.  You are always going to have a couple of quick shots in a game it is just the nature of the beast.  For the most part we had good shots and we didn’t make them.  That is going to happen in games,’ he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “You would never think that all four of your key perimeter players and scorers would all struggle on the same day, but it sort of played out that way.  Even though we were up at the half we didn’t shoot the ball very well in the first half and it got worse in the second half.  I not saying Canton Central Catholic didn’t do a good job, but I just feel we could have been a lot more focused going into the game.  Each game in a new learning lesson and a new opportunity for you team and hopefully we will grow from it.”

          St. Peter’s (9-2,4-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, plays at Danville (3-6,2-3) in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game Friday night.  Jakubick says the Blue Devils are going to make it tough.  “They are going to be physical and they are going to dictate the way the game is going to be played.  Obviously their football program has been tremendously successful and I think that translates to the basketball court.  Last year I believe they went to the district finals and got beat by Africentric in a very competitive game.  These guys have had success on the basketball court and compete.  Anytime it is on their home court it is going to be that much more difficult,” he said.

 

Published 1/12/17

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Spartans Continue to Impress

  

          Mansfield St. Peter’s just might be better than any of us thought they would be at the beginning of the season and we thought they would be pretty good.

          They have won all of their games except one this year.

          Tuesday night, Mason Campbell threw in 33 points and the Spartans handled Ashland (84-67) in a non-conference game played at Arrow Arena in Ashland.  It was the Arrows second loss of the season.  The other one came by one to Lexington.

          Coach Joe Jakubick says they were pretty pumped up for the game.  “The kids get excited for the opportunities.  I felt they came prepared and had good energy.  Obviously we shot the ball well.  It was a nice win, but for us it was just game 10 of the season and we have a lot of games left to play and we also found areas that we can get better,” said Jakubick.

          St. Peters, the Mid-Buckeye Conference leader, hit 13 three pointers in the game, two coming at the end of quarters by Jared Jakubick, the son of the coach.

          They have been a spectacular perimeter shooting team this year, but coach Jakubick is still harping on defense.  “We have kids that have pretty good ball skills and can create and they are capable of hitting outside shots.  Obviously at end of day we still have to get better and try to become as consistent as possible defensively,” he said.

          St. Peter’s (9-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, plays at Canton Central Catholic in a non-conference game on Saturday night.

          Jakubick expects a physical battle.  “They are an extremely well coached team.  A lot of the guys that play on the state championship football team play basketball, so they are going to be very physical an they are going to compete,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It is going to be a really good test for us, especially there.  They are a really challenging team on their home court.  We are going to have to be focused to give ourselves a chance to win.”

 

Published 1/05/16

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Spartans Play Biggest Rival

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s travels down South Main to Logan Road, just a few miles, to play the biggest rival on its schedule in Mansfield Christian on Friday night in Mid-Buckeye Conference action.

          The Spartans lead the Flames by a game in the conference standings.

          St. Peter’s (7-1,3-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, beat Oregon Cardinal Stritch (58-51) in a non-conference game on Wednesday night.

          Coach Joe Jakubick says they played pretty well early and then sort of hung on to get the win.  “I thought the first half we did a tremendous job defensively and we did a nice job offensively.  We came out in the third quarter and we lost a little bit of focus I felt and a lot of credit to them too. They cam out after halftime and played a really good third quarter and put some pressure on us, but we were able to make a couple of nice plays to win it,” he said.

          Winning seven of their first eight is pretty good, but like any coach, Jakubick wants to get better, especially on the defensive end.  “I think we need to continue to improve on the defensive end.  That is something that can show up every night.  At every level there are going to be times that you struggle at the offensive end, so if you can continue to be solid on the defensive end and make it as challenging as possible for the other team to score it gives you a chance and that is all you can ask for,” said Jakubick.

          Mansfield Christian (3-4,2-1) comes in with a two game losing streak.  Losing to Kidron Central Christian (47-30) in a conference game last Friday and a (70-50) set back to Hillsdale in a non-conference game on Tuesday.

          However, Jakubick knows the Flames will be at their best for this game.  “It such a rivalry game and you know both teams are going to compete and play hard and be at their best.  They always play extremely, extremely well and I would expect no different on (Friday) night,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They are a team that always plays extremely well at their home gym.  So, I know we are going to get their best effort and we are going to have to be prepared if we want to come out with a win (Friday.)”

          With rivalry games like this there is going to emotion, but Jakubick says you can not let it overdrive your decision making.  “What I try to tell our team is it is a 32 minute game and you can’t let emotions at anytime of the game affect your decision making and you need to go about competing in the game.  Obviously with a rivalry the kids are going to be excited and that is going to be part of the game, but you still have to keep your focus and it can’t affect your decision making at both ends of the court,” he said.

 

Published 12/30/16

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Spartans Ready For Lucas

  

          Mansfield St. Peter’s and Lucas are co-leaders in the Mid-Buckeye Conference and they play each other Thursday night at the Franciscan Center at St. Peter’s.

          Last weekend, the Spartans beat Kidon Central Christian (76-56) in an conference game on Friday and Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas (72-54) in a special Sunday afternoon game at Canton Central Catholic.

          The scores were similar, but coach Joe Jakubick says they were really two different games.  “On Friday against Kidron we were very efficient on offense, but we did not play really well defensively in that game.  I felt we were very lackadaisical.  We played tremendously well on the offensive end.  For the game we shot 67 percent from the field.  So, we were very efficient and got good shots, but I just felt we were lazy on defense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “On Sunday, versus a very good St. Thomas Aquinas team I felt we played really, really well defensively other than the second quarter where they hit five of six three pointers.  We were ahead at the end of the first quarter and they took the lead in the second quarter.  I felt we played really well defensively.  St. Thomas is a very well coached team and they took Tyson (Kent) and Jared (Jakubick) out of the game, but it left so many opportunities for Mason (Campbell) and Elijah (Cobb) and they really capitalized.  Mason was our leading scorer with 25 and Elijah chipped in with 22.  We have multiple people that can really step up and be a go to player for us on any night.”

          St. Peter’s has played a very good schedule and Jakubick thinks it prepares them well for whatever this season has to offer.  “I think every game provides a test.  Not only St, Thomas, Mansfield Senior or Ontario, but also going to Loudonville.  On their court they really present a lot of problems.  We hadn’t played well there and Kidron Christian.  They play their 2-3 zone and they are going to match-up out of it and we don’t see that a lot.  South Central, I’m telling you right now I have nothing but respect for what they can be and what they are. We have faced six opponents that challenge us in some areas,” he said.

          This is probably the biggest game that Lucas has played in while and Jakubick knows they will be ready and the Spartans better be too.  “Our team is very much away, okay, of Lucas.  Last year, they were beating us at halftime at their place.  Our kids realize we are taking things one game at a time and it is the only way you can approach it.  They are a dangerous team and they are going to come in and we know we are going to get their best effort and we are going to have to be ready to play or it will be a really challenging game and more ways that one.  Lucas over the last two years under coach Iceman is just continually improving and we better be ready to play or they will take it to us,” said Jakubick.

 

Published 12/22/16

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St. Peter’s Faces Different Kind of Challenge

  

          Mansfield St. Peter’s returns to Mid-Buckeye Conference play with a game on the road against the Kidron Central Christian Comets on Friday night.

          St. Peter’s is the defending conference champion and they laid waste to Loudonville (92-56) last week.

          On Sunday, they play Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas in game played at Canton Central Catholic High School.

          In non-conference play last Saturday, the Spartans railed from 15 down to beat division one Mansfield Senior (54-48).  Coach Joe Jakubick was most pleased with how they handled adversity in that game against the Tygers.  “I guess we will see down the season how it plays out.  I guess the most positive thing is we had 11 turnovers in the first half against Senior High and obviously they bring tremendous pressure.  I thought the big key was how our team fought through the adversity of being on the road in the first half and being down.  We were down as much as 15 in the third quarter.  We still had the focus and kept battling and working our way back into the game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “That was a positive evening for us.  The thing is we got down because of mistakes we made and we have to do our best to try and correct those.  Overall for the weekend I though we improved from the first weekend in our decision making.  Hopefully we can continue to go down that path.”

          St. Peter’s (3-1,1-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, travels to Kidron Central Christian (0-2,0-1,) who lost to Lucas (37-31) last week,

          Jakubick says the Comets want to limit the possessions in a game if they can and if they do they are dangerous.  “At least in the past, you never know if they are going to try something different, they going to show some 2-2-1 pressure.  They like to play zone the majority of the game.  At the end of the day whatever style we end up playing we have to be efficient and find a way to win,” he said.

          Now, Jakubick says Central Christian wants to take you out what you normally do and you have to be resistant to that.  “If we get our shots we have to take it.  You don’t want your kids thinking differently, especially at the start of a game we will see how it plays out.  Hopefully you find ways to at least, I know their game against Lucas was played in the 30’s.  If it is played to the 30’s that is to our advantage.  You try to do things to speed the tempo of the game up, but you can’t do it at the risk of giving them easy baskets.  So, we will try and just play our game at both ends of the court.  Whatever adjustments we have to make throughout we’ll go that route,” said Jakubick.

 

Published 12/16/16

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St. Peter’s Reels in Tygers

  

          Mansfield St. Peter’s outscored Mansfield Senior 32-11 over the last 13 and half minutes and the small school beat their cross town division one rivals (54-48) on Saturday night in non-conference play at Pete Henry Gym.

“The kids they just showed tremendous tenacity and heart,” St. Peter’s coach Joe Jakubick told Swankonsports.com after the game.

          After trailing (37-22) with 5:35 to play in the third quarter, St. Peter’s went on a 16-2 run, keyed by eight straight points by Mason Campbell, to close the period and reduce the gap to just one (39-38) heading to the fourth. Game on.

          “We literally stopped playing and didn’t rebound and that was the game,” said a despondent Mansfield Senior coach J.T. Reese in his office.

          The Spartans (3-1) took their first lead of the second half (41-40) on Elijah Cobb’s three pointer with 6:49 to play.  B.J. Patrick’s lay in with 4:22 left gave the Tygers their last lead (44-43) as St. Peter’s closed the game on an (11-4) run.  The closest they would get the rest of the way was (47-46) one point after another Patrick hoop with 2:45 left, but Campbell drilled a three on the next possession to make it a (50-46) four point bulge.

“I said let’s just get regrouped and go out in the second half and give ourselves a chance to win and every kid stepped up and made big plays.  You don’t come back for 15 down against that team and come back.  It showed a lot of heat on their part,” said Jakubick.

A key moment in the first half came with just over three minutes to play in the second quarter when Mansfield Senior held the ball with St. Peter’s in a zone down (27-18) by nine.  After almost all of the time clicked off the clock Mansfield Senior’s DaQuan Hilory tossed in a 35 foot three pointer at the halftime horn.

          Jakubick felt he had no choice but to stay in the zone and let the clock run due to foul trouble and lack of depth.  “Obviously the way the first half ended wasn’t the way we scripted it.  I had Mason (Campbell) and Jake (Gurski) with two fouls and Jonah (Ramey) who is a big part of our team got hurt in warm ups with his knee and couldn’t go, so we really didn’t have any depth, especially inside.  I just felt at that time I couldn’t afford to have Mason or Jake get their third foul in the first half.  So, let’s just roll the dice and if we go down nine at half okay and will try and come out the second half and regroup then he buries a three from like 35.  We came in and we said we have a lot of respect for them, but I told them we have to go down fighting because we were just too tentative.  I mean we have ball handlers and it didn’t look like it in the first half and we didn’t attack them when we had opportunities I felt.  I felt Elijah (Cobb) was tentative and wasn’t what we would expect from Elijah,” said Jakubick.

          Holding the Tygers (1-2) to just 18 points in the second half Jakubick says they had to become more aggressive in their man to man defense.  “We played man in the first half too, we just sagged a little more.  Being down we had to be a little more aggressive out of it in trying to force some things.  We made some shots, they missed some shots and we were fortunate to come out on top,” he said.

          St. Peter’s junior guard Jared Jakubick led the Spartans with 22 points on the night.  Campbell added 19, 17 in the second half.  Hilory had 19 for Mansfield Senior, but only one point in the final 14 minutes.

          Jakubick says this is a win that that is going to make them a better team as the season goes on.  “Let’s be honest here they had a very difficult game last night and to maintain pressure like that back to back nights can be a little challenging.  I just felt once we settled down a little bit we would have a chance.  We don’t face athletes like this game in, game out.  I think it helps us become a better team in the long run win, lose or draw.  This is good for them and hopefully we can build on it.  This is only the fourth game and there is a lot of basketball to be played and there are a lot of areas of the game that we have to better,”  said Jakubick.

 

Published 12/10/16

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Spartans Looking to Improve

  

          Mansfield St. Peter’s is one of the smallest schools in North Central Ohio, but they are not afraid of competition.

          After beating South Central, the defending Firelands Conference champion, on Friday night (76-58) they lost (67-60) to Ontario last Saturday.  Now, this week they open defense of their Mid-Buckeye Conference title at Loudonville and then head around the corner to play Mansfield Senior on Saturday night.

          Coach Joe Jakubick thinks their play was inconsistent last week and he points out a couple of elements.  “We played well at times, but I wasn’t very pleased overall with our performance.  I thought defensively we let teams get to the paint way too much.  Then I thought offensively I thought our shot selection really let us down and needs to be improved, especially when you are facing the quality competition that we are facing game in and game out,” said Jakubick.

          Guard Elijah Cobb left the Ontario game late in the third quarter.  Jakubick says thankfully it was just cramps.  “He is fine.  It was just cramps.  It was a situation where dehydration set in.  We need to make sure we correct that throughout the whole week and just get him on a better diet,” he said.

          Loudonville (0-2) has losses to Hillsdale (64-54) last Friday and Crestview (68-51) on Tuesday.  Jakubick says they know from personal experience how good the Redbirds are at home.  “They have scorers with Swindall and as long as he is on the court you know they are dangerous.  They have just played really well at home in the past.  Last year we went down there and they beat us.  Hopefully we will be prepared.  We are going to have to be prepared to play solid defense or it could be a long evening for us,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior (0-1) also lost to Ontario last week (68-60) in triple overtime.  Jakubick knows it will be a tremendous challenge playing the Tygers.  “They are loaded with athletes.  I remember seeing B.J. Patrick since he was a freshman and he is a tremendous athlete.  I just feel his upside is so tremendous on the basketball court.  He can attack and shoot it.  He is so long.  Deshawn Hill we have seem him shoot it.  He is in range as soon a he enters the gym,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Jornel Manns is a tremendous athlete.  When we played “AAU” ball he and Norian Lindsay played with Jared (Jakubick) and Mason (Campbell) so they are familiar with each other.  I really like Deshawn Harris with what I have seen of him, just some really great toughness.  Our kids have faced pressure before, whether they have faced it like Senior High might be another story, maybe in the “AUU” circuit a little bit.  Obviously that is going to be a difficult task.  One hopefully our kids will be ready for and if not learn from it and move on.”

 

Published 12/08/16

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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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Mansfield St. Peter’s Starts with South Central, Ontario

  

          Last year, Mansfield St. Peter’s was the best small school boys’ basketball team in the North Central Ohio area having won the district title in division four and they return a number of players from that unit.

          However to coach Joe Jakubick that means next to nothing.

          He says right now he does not consider the Spartans the same kind of team, not yet.  “We return some experience obviously, but to think that we could even come close to matching what we did last year at this time is a pipe dream.  First of all our schedule is extremely challenging starting this weekend.  To think about anything beyond South Central right now would be ridiculous on our part,” he said.

          Back are the four leading scorers from last year’s team in Mason Campbell, Jared Jakubick, Tyson Kent and Elijah Cobb.  Coach Jakubick says that is a plus, but there are so many elements that make up a team and it hasn’t been proven that they have any of those.  “Each team as the season goes on will take their own identity.  How teams handle adversity.  There is just a lot of development of everything throughout the year and what course that takes,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “One key is to always have good team chemistry and having good leadership.  That is one thing I know we had last year with Ryan Payne and Kyle Osgar and Charlie Maxwell and Anthony Mulherin.  Those guys provided great leadership.  Hopefully our seniors and returning players can help provide that this year.”

          St. Peter’s plays at Ontario on Saturday night in a non-conference game.  Last year, the Warriors won when Quan Jackson converted three free throws with less than a second remaining.  But, Jakubick says that is in the future.

          He says their total focus is on South Central, the defending Firelands Conference champion and that is the way it should be.  “They are always going to have good athletes and guys that can put the ball in the basket.  They can shoot it.  I mean they are a well coached team and they are going to be a very difficult challenge to start our season with.  The last two seasons we have played them the games have come right down to the final minute.  I know we are going to have to really be prepared if we want to come out on top,” said Jakubick.

 

Published 12/01/16

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Lady Spartans Looking at Good Year

  

          Last season was a step in the right direction and with more depth this year the Mansfield St. Peter’s Lady Spartans are looking to get even better.

          A season ago the Lady Spartans finished with a (12-11) record and were runners up in the Mid-Buckeye Conference.

          This year, coach Shani Rush says with some improved depth this has the makings for a pretty good year at St. Peter’s.  “We have five seniors this year, two are coming back from “ACL” injuries, so they are getting used to going through the motions again with basketball.  I am pretty excited because this is the first year that I have had in the four years at St. Pete’s that we have some depth.  I fell like this is the first year that we aren’t starting over.  So far, we have had a little bit of nagging injuries, but slowly but surly those are clearing that up a little bit.  I feel like this can be a really good year for us,” said Rush.

          Depth is a big factor in seasons and games and Rush says in practice too because it allows you to work on some things and have good competition.  “This year we can scrimmage five on five.  Last year, sometimes we didn’t even have 10 to practice.  Right now, we don’t have a superstar on our team and I think that is going to be a blessing for us because anybody on any given night can step up and score.  I think that is going to be one of our biggest assets this year.  There is not one person to key on we are all capable of scoring 10 points a game,” she said.

          Good teams always have talent, but great ones have chemistry too and if you can have players that get along and work for each other you can almost always have at least a good season.

          Rush says team chemistry was a huge factor for them last year and they are starting to develop that again this year.  “I think that is where we were last year.  We didn’t have some of the starters we thought we were going to have because of injury, but our team chemistry was just phenomenal last year.  I am a big preacher of focusing on the positives and things you can control,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Towards mid season we were really playing well.  This year we have six freshmen and getting them used to it and I think our chemistry is coming along.  Our seniors have played together for a long time and they are really our leaders.  They get everybody going and I think we will have some good team chemistry.”

 

Published 11/10/16

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Spartans Need Confidence and Composure

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's returns to the Stroh Center on the campus of Bowling Green State University on Friday night to play Lincolnview for a division four regional championship.

          The Spartans (24-3) beat McComb (68-50) on Tuesday night.  The Lancers beat Fayette (36-29) to advance.  They are teams with different strengths.

          They aren't a big team, but they are fast, quick and skilled.  Coach Joe Jakubick feels the bigger floor at Bowling Green probably enhances the Spartans skill set.  "I feel the bigger court helps us just because of the skill level of our young men.  We are not as physical and strong as a lot of teams.  If we can be a little more finesse with a little more space on the court it could be a better opportunity.  Physicality is still going to play a huge part in the game, but maybe is lessens it to some degree," said Jakubick.

          Lincolnview (25-1,) their only loss coming to Lima Central Catholic (62-44,) a regional finalist in division three, was the state's number one team in the final AP media poll.  Jakubick says they are going to want to pound the ball inside.  "They have great overall height.  They are really long.  They like to play physical.  They like to get to the paint, whether it is by posting up or attacking.  They have quite a few capable shooters.  They are a very challenging team to defend," he said.

          Lincolnview has played a lot of games in the 40's and 50's this year and they are going to play with some patience on Friday night.  Jakubick says they must be solid on defense.  "They are normally not a team, that likes to get up and down the court and score a lot.  They will take their opportunities if they get them," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "They are going to play a more patient game and make sure they get a good shot.  Their game the other day it wasn't like they were playing in the 70's.  They will be patient if they need to be.  We just have to be prepared to play solid at both ends of the court."

          In a contrast of styles, St. Peter's has been most successful at getting out on the fast break and getting some easy looks.  However, Jakubick says if it becomes a half court game they will have to do their job.  "At the end of day if the final score is 10-8 and we win it is good.  Whatever we have to do to get out of there Friday night with a win is what our team has got to do.  They are a senior dominated team and obviously they have a lot of experience.  We will try to work hard at both ends and do what we have to do," he said.

          Pressure?  What pressure?  Jakubick says he want his kids to have fun because you don't get opportunities like this all of the time.  "I don't understand the pressure part.  I guess if you read a lot in the newspaper clippings I guess that would put a lot of pressure.  I try to from my experiences to convey to the young men that I don't care what anyone says about things or whatever it is about going out and playing.  It really should be fun.  This is why you work hard and play basketball to play in games like Tuesday night and last week.  You have to be relaxed and go play.  You have to have confidence in you ability as player.  You have to have confidence in your teammates.  You go as a unit and you play together.  I think it is important to understand the situation that you are in and be composed.  To lose a game for other reason you will kick yourself down the road," said Jakubick.

 

Published 3/11/16

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Spartans Advance to Elite Eight

  

          Four different players scored in the first quarter as Mansfield St. Peter's took a six point lead (15-9) and went on to down McComb (68-50) in a division four regional semi-final on Tuesday night at the Stroh Center at Bowling Green State University.

          They return Friday night to play Lincolnview for a ticket to Columbus.

          Coach Joe Jakubick said after the game he thought their young kids, the Spartans start two sophomores and a junior, responded well to the pressure of a regional game.  "Obviously it was a nice performance by our team.  It seems like we are one of the few teams up here that have a lot of underclassmen on the court and in any big game you don't know how they are going to respond.  I thought they did a good job coming out and playing.  Our team is about sharing the ball and we have very good balance and this is sort of how we play.  I thought we did a really nice job defensively up until the third quarter when we sort fell into a lull.  Teams are going to make runs on you that is why they are here," said Jakubick.

          The Spartans never trailed in the game.  McComb coach Nick Latta says they were hoping the Spartans would crack a little with a young roster and that didn't happen.  "They are a balanced team with a lot of weapons.  They did a great job of shooting the basketball.  We came in thinking that if we gave them a little space because we knew they could get to the basket and maybe their younger guys would fold under the pressure and they didn't," he said.

          Playing on a bigger college floor at the Stroh Center helped St. Peter's.  Jakubick says especially kids like Tyson Kent, Elijah Cobb and Kyle Osgar.  "Playing in a college court like this there is a lot of space and I have a lot of kids that I feel are pretty skilled and it sort of gives us some room to operate.  Fortunately we were able to make plays.  These kids have shown great resiliency when they have faced adversity.  Even when teams make runs on us.  We have faced that before and they normally settle down and come out and do pretty well with it.  I know Tyson Kent didn't score much, but I thought Tyson was huge in just setting the tone starting the game.  No just scoring and hitting the three.  I just thought defensively they didn't get into their things as easy.  We have a lot of young men on our team and where we are right now is a great opportunity.  Obviously Friday is going to be an animal of a different color and we will face that on Friday," said Jakubick.

          The Spartans (24-3) made half of their field goals (23-46) and half of their three point attempts (6-12) on the night.  Jakubick thought they got a lot of good looks, which is typical of them.  "It is sort of crazy because for the year we shoot 50 percent from the field.  I have kids that can shoot the three.  We don't take a ton of threes, but if you give it to us we will take it.  We try to get to the paint and do some things.  I thought offensively we stayed patient, which is how we normally play.  You normally don't see us jack up some crazy shot," he told Swankonsports.com, "You are always going to have one of two.  Anyone that has seen us play throughout the season would say we get good shots.  At the end of the day I can't really say how proud I really am of Kyle Osgar and Ryan Payne because they are our two seniors that play the most and they are just great leaders.  They do it quietly, but they really are."

          Sophomore Jared Jakubick, the son of the coach, scored all 10 of the Spartans points in the final five minutes of the second quarter.  He gave them a big boost with a fall away three at the halftime horn.  "That was a huge three.  We were playing zone and we knew they were going to try and run something against the zone.  We called man to man really quickly and matched up with them quick.  He took a couple of dribbles and took a three from about three feet behind the line," said Latta.

          Jakubick led four Spartans in double figures with 16 and Mason Campbell added 14, but St. Peter's also got 14 off the bench from Cobb and 13 from Osgar, despite early foul trouble.  "People might not know Elijah Cobb, but in the next few years you will hear about him.  He is an extremely skilled young man.  He is another one that benefited from this being a bigger court.  I told Kyle (Osgar) that I thought this court was made for him because he is athletic and can get up and down the court.  He is unselfish and he sees the court.  People may not think this, but he is an extremely capable shooter.  I was extremely proud of Kyle because he got two quick fouls.  If you get on this stage and you get two quick fouls and you have to come out of the game for a little bit.  When you go back in the game you might get a little overly aggressive, you might try to force things.  I thought he was extremely patient and let the game come to him.  We preach great composure.  At the end of the day it is a 32 minute game.  Stay focused and stay the course and hopefully we come out on top," said Jakubick.

          St. Peter's will face Lincolnview (25-1) the number one team in the state according to the AP on Friday night.  A (36-29) winner over Fayette on Tuesday night.  Jakubick says the Lancers are physical, but he hopes to give them some problems in the open floor.  "They are number one in the state.  They are a real physical team.  They seem to me to want to play in the paint a lot.  We have played some teams through the year that I feel are sort of similar to them.  They are a quality team, they are well coached.  We are going to have to come ready to compete.  If we stay solid like we have been this year at both ends of the court we can give ourselves a chance to win.  I know they are big, strong and physical.  There is a big court out there and hopefully we can make them defend the whole court also," he said.

 

Published 3/09/16

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McComb the Next Step for St. Peter's

  

          Most of the St. Peter's basketball players weren't even in school the last time the Spartans were in the regional tournament, that was 12 years ago.

          They play the McComb Panthers, of the Blanchard Valley Conference, in the division four regional semi-finals on Tuesday night at the Stroh Center on the campus of Bowling Green State University.

          The rallied from eight down in the fourth quarter to beat Sandusky St. Mary's (57-52) in a the district final at Willard on Friday night.  Coach Joe Jakubick says they were a good fourth quarter team.  "We definitely (were) the other day.  I feel that our kids have been pretty consistent this year.  I think they realize throughout the game you have to make good decisions and it is crucial come the fourth quarter to do the right thing offensively and defensively to give yourself the best chance to win," he said.

          Sophomore Mason Campbell led the Spartans (23-3) with 20 points.

          This group of kids has never been to the sweet 16 and Jakubick says their preparation has to be the same as it has all season and he believes last year's experience helps.  "I think you have to go about things the same way.  I don't think you change that.  The game needs to be played the same way there is just a lot more importance with the game.  I mean the kids know that.  Both teams are dealing with it, it is not like it is one sided.  You have to try and be focused and at the end of the day approach the game and play the game with composure.  That is what I do my best to explain to the kids.  Last year, I don't know if people expected us to get to the districts or not.  I know playing Plymouth I know people didn't expect it to be as close of a game as it was.  I think our kids hopefully learned from that," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "That game we played last year in the districts, even though we lost to Plymouth, I think it helped us a lot this year.  Just being in the environment, the gym and the crowd, and the intensity.  Obviously going up to Bowling Green it is a little different.  You are going to be in a bigger arena, but both teams are going to have to deal with it.  As I told our kids against Sandusky St. Mary's you are going to have to play with composure to give yourself a chance to win.  The same will have to take place (Tuesday.)

          McComb (14-11) beat New Riegel (59-47,) runner-up to Sandusky St. Mary's in the Sandusky River League, in their district final last week at Liberty-Benton.  Jakubick says they have some seasoned players that are good outside shooters.  "They are an experienced team.  I believe they will start four seniors.  Obviously they have a lot of weapons.  They have a lot of people that can shoot the three.  They like, for the most part, to play a very open post type offense and penetrate and kick and play off of that.  It is just another team that has a lot of weapons.  We will have to play well defensively to give ourselves a chance to win," he said.

          When you prepare for squads that are unfamiliar to you, you look for some comparisons and Jakubick has found some.  "They like to keep the court spread a lot.  They have some tendencies that remind me of a couple of different teams, a little bit of Loudonville, a little bit of Wynford in that they do like to spread you out a little bit and drive and kick.  They resemble different teams.  They don't really have a go to post player.  They are going to difficult to guard in their own right.  Obviously they are playing with a lot of confidence right now. At the end of the day you have to hope that you can cause some problems when they have to guard you also.  We will see how it all plays out," he said.

          Sometimes when you get to the regionals you relax and become satisfied.  Jakubick says there has been none of that at St. Peter's this week.  "If there is anyone on our side that is happy and satisfied then they are fooling me.  It is all well and good, you enjoy the game that day, and then it is back to work.  I told them when we started our tournament against Monroeville there are 32 minutes left in your season and how you want to go about it is your decision.  There are 32 minutes left, so you decide.  You have to understand the sense of urgency that you need to play every tournament game with," he said.

 

Published 3/07/16

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Mansfield Peter's With Clean Slate

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's will be attempting to make it to the regional tournament for the first time since 2004 as they face Sandusky St. Mary's in the division four district final Friday night at Willard High School.

          Mason Campbell led four Spartans in double figures as they beat Wynford (72-59) on Tuesday night in semi-final play. 

          Coach Joe Jakubick believes his team is one that continues to get better and that is a must, especially at this time of year.  "That's a goal," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Every game you have go to get better.  I always feel you are never staying still you are getting better or you are regressing.  Obviously come Friday night we better get a lot better because we face a very formidable opponent that I have a tremendous amount of respect for.  We will be at our best if we have chance to win."

          The balance the Spartans showed against Wynford is not uncommon for them.  That has been the story for most of the season.

          St. Mary's (22-3) beat Colonel Crawford (48-42) on Tuesday, holding the Eagles scoreless for almost 12 minutes in the second half.  Jakubick describes the Panthers as a complete team.  "They have an inside game.  They have got size with their post player Zimmerman and Mormina, if you want to call him a four, he can play anywhere from a one to a four.  They've got shooting.  They have athletes.  They can attack the rim.  Defensively they are long an athletic.  Really they have everything you need and that is why they are where they are," he said.

          Both schools are outright conference champions St. Peter's in the Mid-Buckeye Conference and St. Mary's in the Sandusky River League.

          Back on December 28, St. Peter's (22-3) beat the Panthers (71-64) in a non-conference regular season game.  However, Jakubick says the result of that game is irrelevant and has no affect on Friday night's game.  He says every night it is a clean slate.  "That game means absolutely nothing and we are very much aware of that.  We are going to have to come out and defend them.  It is not going to be easy.  You have to make them work for everything they get.  At the other end you have to execute offensively against whatever defense they are in.  I'll be honest what took place in the previous 25 games absolutely nothing, at least from our perspective.  It all comes down to Friday and executing at both ends to give yourself a chance to win," said Jakubick.

          The winner advances to the regional next week to play either New Riegel, runner up to St. Mary's in the "SRL" or McComb.

 

Published 3/04/16

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Spartans Run Past Wynford

 

          Mason Campbell's 22 points led four St. Peter's players in double figures and the Spartans dumped Wynford (72-59) in a division four district semi-final at Willard High School on Tuesday night.

          Trailing by two (11-9) after Wynford's Braxton Tea scored with 4:11 to play in the first quarter, the Spartans went on a (10-0) run culminating with a Tyson Kent floater with 1:17 left.  Coach Joe Jakubick says their defense got them going.  "That is a lot of our 'DNA' I think all starts with being able to get defensive stops though.  If you don't get defensive stops you are not getting the ball out.  I really felt that fist half we did a nice job defensively.  In the second half we came out and I thought we picked it up.  I think we got up 19 and a credit to them they are never going to stopped battling.  I think we lost some of our focus.  They are going to make shots.  They are a dangerous team.  We weathered it and we move on," said Jakubick.

          That pressure continued in the second quarter as St. Peter's out scored Wynford (14-2) over the final 3:33 of the quarter.  Jakubick says they tried to make it difficult for the Royals to get in any kind of rhythm.  "We tried to make it difficult for them.  You are going to face quality teams and they are going to be able to make shots and you have to make it challenging and difficult for them.  I thought we did a good job hustling.  They have some perimeter players.  They have some good size underneath.  I thought Ryan Payne just did a tremendous job," he said.

          Wynford coach Jason Engel says the pressure got them discombobulated and they made some bad decisions with the ball.  "Their one the ball pressure killed us.  They didn't necessarily steal the ball on us, but it was enough pressure to force us to make bad passes and bad decisions.  The second quarter just killed us.  At one time it was 27-23 and at halftime we were down 16 in no time.   We definitely turned the ball over a little too much in the first half," he said.

          Kent added 16, Kyle Osgar 14, and Ryan Payne 13 for the Spartans.

         Jakubick says they were able to figure out some ways to score more affectively in the first half.  "They came out in that inverted triangle defense and it took us a while.  That is something I haven't really seen.  In the second quarter I saw some different things I thought we could do to attack.  Just have Jared (Jakubick) handle the ball and create some mismatches and they double teamed and it led to some easy looks," he told Swankonsports.com after the game, "After that Mason Campbell was tremendous.  He hit some big shots for us.  They went into that 1-3-1.  Jared did a good job of attacking the gaps and kicking it to Mason.  I'll tell you right now when Mason hits a three it is sort of like playing with dynamite.  He just explodes.  I thought he did a nice job for us offensively."

          Jack Reed scored 23 of his game high 28 points in the second half and Royals were able to cut the St. Peter's lead to nine (58-49) after a Reed three with 5:17 left, but could get no closer.  "In the second half they had like six turnovers in eight possessions and I thought we were going to get back in it.  So, that was encouraging.  They never quit and I am very proud of the seniors," he said.

          St. Peter's (22-3) plays Sandusky St. Mary's (22-3) for a district title on Friday night at Willard.  Jakubick says the Panthers are a combination of height and perimeter shooting.  "They are a beast.  It starts with (Trenton) Zimmerman.  They have athletes around him.  (David) Miller, I'll be honest I think he is one of the best catch and shoot shooters I have seen this year.  I know this I don't care what happened the first time we played them.  I mean that's out the window.  We are going to have to be at our best.  We are going to have to be ready to play on Friday.  Our kids have really come and battled every game this year.  Hopefully, we can be ready to play and make them work hard," he said.

          St. Peter's beat St. Mary's (71-64) on December 28 at the Franciscan Activity and Events Center.

 

Published 3/01/16

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Spartans Have to Guard Whole Floor

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's lost in the district semis last year and they don't want a repeat.  To advance to Friday night's final they have to beat streaking Wynford in the semi-final on Tuesday night at Willard High School.

          The Spartans (21-3), #3 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, destroyed Danbury Lakeside (85-34) in the sectional final on Friday night at Lexington.  Coach Joe Jakubick says they were prepared for the Lakers changing defense.  "They came out and they threw multiple different defenses at us.  They started off in a box and one and then they went to some triangle and two, but we work against all defenses, so it was nothin' we worried about.  We went about our things.  We were able to perform well.  I thought defensively we were able to get some stops and get out in the open court.  Obviously, the game went pretty well for us.  (Tuesday) is going to be a totally different task," said Jakubick.

          Wynford (15-9) beat "N10" rival Buckeye Central (67-58) on Friday.  Jakubick says the Royals can do a lot of damage on offense and they will probably continue to make them execute against combination defenses.  "They have a lot of weapons that can hurt you from the perimeter.  They can also get to the paint on you.  Defensively they present a huge challenge.  I know they have played a lot of box and one on Friday.  With what they bring to the table we just have to be prepared or they will be able to get some good looks against us," he said.

          With guards like Alex Crall and Braxton Tea Wynford has been able to score some points.  Jakubick says they will have to be on top of their game on defense.  "There is no doubt you have to be able to defend them.  They make you defend a large part of the court.  We are going to have to be at our best on the defensive end if we hope to win (Tuesday,) he said.

          In Wynford's (66-52) win over Mansfield Christian in the sectional semi-final 6'4" James Ort had 18 points.  Jakubick says the Royals were able to create some match-up problems and they hope to avoid that.  "I thought their big guys were affective against Mansfield Christian when Trueblood got in foul trouble.  Then Mansfield Christian went small.  I know they had Mount guarding their big guy and that's a tough match-up," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "In that situation that is a huge advantage for Wynford.  We are going to have to be prepared and make them earn every point that they get because they are an extremely talented offensive team."

          With a big crowd expected for the district doubleheader on Tuesday, Colonel Crawford plays Sandusky St. Mary's in the first game, Jakubick says it should be a fun night.  "I talked to our team before the start of the tournament and I communicated to them that I think the Ohio High School Tournament is just one of the most tremendous sporting events there is and to be able to participate in it is an exciting time for young basketball players," he said.

 

Published 3/01/16

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Spartans Want to Run

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's meets Danbury Lakeside in the second round of the division four tournament at Lexington High School on Friday night.

          The Spartans (20-3), #3 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, scored 31 points in the first quarter and went on to beat Monroeville (82-48) on Tuesday night in their first tournament game.

          Coach Joe Jakubick thought getting off to a good start alleviated some of the tension the kids feel in a tournament game.  "With first tournament games, well all tournament games, but especially the first one, you can anticipate the anxiety, the anxiousness, so it's good to get out there.  We were fortunate to get off to a good start, especially offensively and that really carried us through the first game," he said.

          Danbury (11-11) is having one of their better years in recent memory.  Jakubick expects they will change defenses a lot and they are also going to try and limit the possessions.  "I think they are going to mix up a variety of defenses.  I think they will probably be patient on offense.  No matter what kind of tempo the game is dictated at we have to come prepared ready to play.  I don't care, I told the kids, they have played very well against some very good teams.  Obviously they are going to come in there very motivated, very anxious to play.  We are very much aware they are going to be dangerous," said Jakubick.

          The Lakers tested Old Fort and beat Tiffin Calvert and Jakubick says this is not a team that can be taken lightly.  When comes to facing changing defense he believes they are prepared for that.  "We have faced teams that have done that and that prepares us for that.  Every day is a new day and you never know how it is going to play out.  That is something we have seen before.  I know they do a variety of defenses.  We go against a variety of defenses everyday in practice," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Every week we prepare for anything we could potentially see.  At the end of the day to me it all comes down to defense, it comes down to getting stops, and if we are able to do that then we should be able to get the ball out in the open court and that is when we can be at our best I feel."

 

Published 2/26/16

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Spartans Expect Great Effort From Monroeville

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's is the outright Mid-Buckeye Conference champion and has only lost three games this year, only one by more than four points, but they are wary of their first round tournament game.

          The Spartans (19-3), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, play Monroeville (3-19) in a first round division four tournament game at Lexington High School Tuesday night.

          St. Peter's coach Joe Jakubick says that really means nothing now.  "I always feel that each game is a new day.  It's how are you going to play that day?  I guess you can always feel based how played in your last game or how you have played in the last part of the season.  I'll be honest I don't put a lot of stock in how we played last game or last week or the last month because tomorrow is a new day, a new animal.  How are you going to approach it?  Are you going to be ready?  Is your opponent going to be able to dictate what they want to do?  Are they going to be able to control us for some degree?  They have some size.  They have some kids that are extremely capable of putting in some shots," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "Like I tell our kids everybody is 0-0 and you better be ready because someone out there is going to get surprised and shocked and upset and you never know who it is going to be and if you don't come ready to play it could be you."

          Monroeville has gone through some turmoil with their coach Jeremiah Diebler resigning last week.  However, Jakubick says he expects the Eagles to come out and give great effort.  "They played Crestview very tough the other night, so I would expect them to play their best game.  I think anytime you get into the tournament no matter how a team's season has went, especially at the start of the game, they will be very excited to play.  How it plays out from there it can go down a lot of avenues then.  I would expect nothing less than to get Monroeville's best effort (Tuesday) night," he said.

          The Spartans lost in the district semis last year and return many of the same players with that experience in hand.  Jakubick hopes that is a plus for them.  "I think it was a good thing that we got some tournament experience, but it is like with everything.  You hope as a coach that they have learned from that and they can gain some advantage based on that.  At the end of the day I guess only time will tell because we always try to learn from past mistakes.  Sometimes kids pick up pretty darn quick from mistakes they have made in the past and other times it takes them a time or two. So, hopefully we will be focused and ready to give great effort and able to get a win (Tuesday) night.  Like I said I expect Monroeville to be a very dangerous team," said Jakubick.

 

Published 2/2316

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St. Peter's Plays Biggest Rival For Title

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's is one step away from winning their second straight outright Mid-Buckeye Conference title, but that step is a big one as they must beat Mansfield Christian at "The Furnace" on Friday night to do it.

          They earned no less than a share of the title with the Flames by beating Lucas (73-45) on Tuesday night.  Coach Joe Jakubick says they were focused and ready to play.  "To me they are extremely dangerous team.  They have been playing everybody very, very tough.  When we played over there in January in the first half they had the lead on us.  I tried to convey to our team that we better come prepared and come out ready to play or they could sneak up and bite you.  I really thought our kids came out and played with a very good intensity and fortunately we were able to get the win," said Jakubick.

          The Spartans (18-3,10-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, beat Mansfield Christian (54-50) January 15 at the Franciscan Activities Center.  Jakubick thinks this game will be just close.  "I think anytime you get these two schools together it is just an intense rivalry and the kids are going to compete to their highest abilities.  It normally plays out that it is a game that is going to come down to the last minute or two," he said.

          Mansfield Christian has won eight of 10 since losing to St. Peter's.  Jakubick says they will have to handle the Flames tough on ball defense.  "Obviously you never know during different stretches of a game what decisions your team is going to make.  I feel most of our kids are very, very skilled and normally we do a pretty good job of handling any type of ball pressure and hopefully we will be up to that task on Friday.  If we turn the ball over and we don't get shots that is enough to be the difference in this game," he said.

          There is a lot riding on this game, but Jakubick says they want to approach it like any other game they have played and will play this year.  "(Tuesday) bight we approached it like it was the biggest game of the year and now it is Friday.  We approach every game we go into regardless of who our opponent as the most important getting a win that night and doing what is necessary in getting us the win.  There is just a little more reward if we are able to get the win there.  We know we are playing a quality team and they are going to be ready for us.  We are going to have to be at our best to get a win there on Friday," he said.

 

Published 2/18/17

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Lady Spartans Open Tournament with South Central

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's gets a chance at revenge right away as they face South Central in a first round game in the girls' division four tournament on Wednesday night at Shelby High School.

          Coach Shani Rush says she thinks they are doing some good things heading into the tournament.  "I think we are doing okay.  We have had a week and half to prepare, we just played them in the last game of the regular season, so we know what to expect," she said.

          South Central (11-11) beat St. Peter's (12-10) last Tuesday (62-46) in a regular season game.  Rush says right now they are battling some injuries, but they just have persevere.  "We are dealing with a couple of injuries just like at the beginning of the season.  Hopefully they will battle through those and we can finish strong," she told Swankonsports.com on Monday.

          When it comes to what has to be different on Wednesday when compared to last week, Rush says they have to shoot it better and just play harder.  "In the last game we just didn't shoot well.  I don't think we put the kind of effort we could have into the game, but I think we are ready to play on (Wednesday,) she said.

 

Published 2/17/16

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Spartans Still Getting Better

 

          A goal for Mansfield St. Peter's all season is to defend their Mid-Buckeye Conference title and they are on the verge of doing just that.

          They lead arch rival Mansfield Christian by a game with three left to play over the next week.  They play Kidron Central Christian on Friday, Lucas next Tuesday, followed by the Flames on a week from Friday.

          The Spartans are coming off a (84-37) win over Crestline in conference play on Saturday and a (82-52) destruction of Mansfield Temple Christian on Tuesday night in non-conference play.

          Coach Joe Jakubick says they have been able to get out and run the floor and gets some easy opportunities to score, which they have been able to take advantage of.  "We have been fortunate to score points here.  You never know, but the nice thing, I guess, we have a lot of people that are capable of scoring," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "So, hopefully, when you play, and you work, and you get good shots, and as long as you have people that are capable of making them, you take your chances.  We have been fortunate, that especially here lately we have been able to get out in the open court and I feel that is when we are at our best when we can get in the open court."

          Defense has been the biggest concern of the coach this season and Jakubick says they still have some work to do.  "Still in certain possessions in certain games.  We do well for periods of time and then we have some loose possessions.  We are still trying to work on that.  Sometimes when we have gotten leads here we sometimes play to the scoreboard I feel in those games.  But, we have some very challenging games coning up, so I don't think that is going to be an issue," he said.

          St. Peter's (16-3,8-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, plays host to Kidron Central Christian (8-9,7-4) in a "MBC" game.  The Spartans have been one of the few teams to get the Comets out of their deliberate style when they beat them (58-34) on January 8.  Jakubick says the way you do it is defense.  "They want to make you work on offense and make you have to move the ball around the perimeter.  The last time we did a good job of attacking their zone and also applying good defensive pressure.  When you are able to get stops you can hopefully get the ball in transition before they can set their defense up.  So, there are multiple ways to go about it.  Really at the end of the day just being prepared to play well defensively I think that is way you want to go," said Jakubick.

 

Published 2/12/16

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St. Peter's Striving to Maintain Lead

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's leads rival Mansfield Christian by a game in the Mid-Buckeye Conference standings and they must play two games away from home this weekend.

          They are at Danville on Friday night and Crestline on Saturday.

          The Spartans (13-3,6-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, are coming off one of their better efforts in league play this year when then belted Loudonville (72-49) on Friday night, a team that had handed them their only conference loss (68-64) earlier this year,.

          Coach Joe Jakubick says they executed well on offense, but it certainly wasn't a perfect game from any stretch of the imagination.  "I thought we gave a good effort.  There are some things that we have to strive and get better at, but I think we were fortunate that we shot the ball pretty well and was able to execute very well.  I think also we were fortunate that Loudonville missed some shots that maybe they would normally make.  You have to come to play and find a way to win and we were fortunate to do that," said Jakubick.

          St. Peter's beat Danville (82-65) back before Christmas, but Jakubick says eastern Knox County is not an easy place to get a win.  "Danville is probably as tough as any place in our conference to win on the road.  They have some very capable players.  They play extremely physical and we are going to have our work cut our for us (Friday) night," he said.

          Danville (10-7,5-3) beat Loudonville (88-84) in four overtimes on Tuesday night in a conference game.  Jakubick says the Blue Devils have a number of guys that can put it in the basket.  "Really all five of their starters can hit threes, four them I feel are extremely dangerous.  If you let your guard down they can also bully you and get to the basket.  They are sort of multi dimensional.  They have a few guys that will post up hard.  They have guys that will score in multiple different ways.  They can be a extremely difficult guard on a given night," said Jakubick.

          Crestline (1-16,1-11) has a lot of youth on its roster this season and the Spartans beat them (83-36) the first time.  However, Jakubick says that is now always a good predictor.  "When we have back to back games I don't do a whole lot with the Saturday game until the Friday game is over with.  We do it during the day on Saturday.  Crestline is an extremely young group that has some capable players there is no doubt they can play teams tough and give themselves a great chance to win.  We have seen it in high school basketball already this year," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Where a team might beat another team pretty handily the first time around, but the second time around it doesn't work that way.  I know Saturday we better be focused and ready to play or else we could get woken up pretty quick."

 

Published 2/05/16

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St. Peter's Looks to Defend League

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's holds a one game lead on Mansfield Christian and Kidron Central Christian in the Mid-Buckeye Conference heading into action this weekend.

          The Spartans host Loudonville (7-6,4-3) in a conference game on Friday night.

          Loudonville has handed St. Peter's its only conference loss this year so far (68-64) in December.  Coach Joe Jakubick says they have to play better defense this time.  "I think it all starts on he defensive end.  We have to do a better job of guarding them and defending shots.  They huts us, they had good looks, and they finished shots.  Not only with their initial shots, but they hurt us with some long rebounds.  To me defense doesn't end until you rebound the ball.  We are going to have to be ready to play some complete defensive possessions.  Hopefully that will lead to better offense for us," he said.

          The Redbirds are coming off a (53-45) win over Kidron Central Christian last Friday.  They have been somewhat inconsistent this year, but their potential is very good and Jakubick says they have seen that up close and personal.  "We have a lot to prove they beat us the last time.  We have to be focused.  Right now we are in sole possession of first place in our league, but there is a lot of basketball yet to be played and we have some tough games coming up and it starts this Friday with Loudonville.  They have several people that are very difficult to guard.  They are dangerous in the open court, on the perimeter, and they can also get to the basket on us.  We are going to have to be prepared to play well defensively," said Jakubick.

          They are the defending champs and they are in first place, so Jakubick says the Spartans (12-3,5-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, have a target on their chest and he says the players have to understand that.  "I look at it from this prospective.  If you are in first place or near the top you are going to have a target on your back no matter what.  It is very difficult and challenging, especially at the high school level to get young men to understand that," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "There are some games when I think they get a little more self motivated and focused than other games.  We will see what happens.  After the Shelby game on Saturday and how the last 10 minutes of that game played out we are going to see what we are made of that's for sure come Friday."

 

Published 1/28/16

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St. Peter's Playing Some Good Basketball

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's has started to play some pretty good basketball and that has resulted in a five game winning streak going into a non-conference game at Mansfield Madison on Tuesday night.

          The season began amid injuries, but coach Shani Rush says they have now rounded into a pretty good basketball team.  "We have been really coming along.  I have been really happy with how we have been progressing.  This week is going to determine a lot with three tough games this week Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  It is going to be tough for us.  Hopefully, we can come out on top," said Rush.

          A real key for the Lady Spartans has been their ability to play together as a team.  Rush says this is not a team that relies on just one player to carry them.  "We don't have a superstar on our team.  That has been an advantage to us.  We really work well as a team.  Our girls get a long fantastic.  As a coach I couldn't ask for a better group of girls.  I think that is what is helping us come on top in these games," she said.

          St. Peter's (6-5) plays at Madison (0-12) on Tuesday night in non-conference play.  Rush says despite their record the Lady Rams are a good team and she knows they will give them a game.  "I went to watch them this past weekend and they are tough.  I know their record doesn't show it, but I know they are going to give us a game," she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "They are physical.  They have some quick guards.  They have a good post player inside.  We are going to have to bring our "A" game.  We have to bring on "A" game every game.  We are just looking forward to playing Madison.  It's a good rivalry with both teams being from the Mansfield area."

          The Lady Spartans play Shelby in a non-league on Thursday and then meet "MBC" leader Danville in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game on the road on Saturday,

 

Published 1/12/16

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Controversy at St. Peter's

 

          If there were video replay in boys' basketball in Ohio there would have been an extra session at the Franciscan Activity Center on Saturday night, but that is not case.

          Nick Smith's rebound basket was ruled after the buzzer, but video of the play shows that the ball was out of his hand before the horn nevertheless Mansfield St. Peter's held on to beat Mansfield Madison (49-47) in a non-conference boys' basketball game on Saturday night.

          "It's a bad call.  I guess it's human error.  It looked like it was through the net when the buzzer went off.  I give our kids credit.  We didn't play our best basketball game, I guess you can attribute a little of that to St. Pete's.  We looked a little tired and didn't make some shots, but I'll tell you the will at the end to cut it back at the end and then to have the rug pulled out from under them it's a tough pill to swallow.  I fell for my kids deeply.  I feel so bad for them.  It's unbelievable," said Madison coach Tim Mergel.

          Without the benefit of seeing any replay St. Peter's coach Joe Jakubick told Swankonsports.com after the game it was a tough call for the officials.  "It was a bang, bang play.  I'll be honest, I thought I heard the horn, but I wasn't looking at the clock.  It is so loud in here.  I thought with seven seconds and Ajian shooting it and dribble the length of the court.  I thought we did good job of making him weave a little bit.  His shot was way off balance.  I could tell it was going to be long.  At least from my vantage point.  I can't say one way or the other with a lot of confidence.  The ref is in position to make that call and he is in perfect position and he made it right away," said Jakubick.

          Despite being saddled with foul trouble all night forcing him to set for large portions of the second and third quarters Madison's Tyrell Ajian led the Rams with 15 points.  Mergel says he was not the only one on the bench.  "When it rains it pours.  We didn't catch any breaks as far as fouls.  I'm not saying we don't foul, we foul, but when you have Ajian with three in the first half, and Buckley with two, Cal Rickert with three in the first half, Nick Smith with two.  I thought about looking in my book to see if I had any JV kids that didn't have a uniform on.  My kids battled with lineups and things like that I couldn't be more proud of them," he said.

          Mason Campbell had 16 points and Tyson Kent added 14 for the Spartans.

          St. Peter's held a (48-40) lead with 1:15 to play after two free throws by Kent.  However, Jacob Kohler scored with 1:04 to play and the Rams stole the inbounds pass and Billy Buckley drained a three pointer to cut the lead to (48-45) with :56 left.  Another Kohler basket with :24 left cut the Spartans led to (48-47).  Madison had a chance take the lead after they rebounded a Ryan Payne missed free throw, but Elijah Cobb stole the ball at half court and was fouled with :07 remaining.  Cobb made the first free throw to increase the lead to (49-47,) but missed the second, which led to the final play.

          St. Peter's went into a spread, four corners look, with about four minutes to play and Jakubick thought they executed pretty well.  "I thought we did really well, I mean we ended up getting an eight point lead.  I think we kind of melted against the full court pressure.  It was just making decisions.  There are several things that we could have done differently and we talked about it in the locker room.  Mason, if can't get it in, then call time out.  Elijah, even when he made a great steal, you don't have to take that shot, you can dribble the clock out.  It is decisions like that that we have to be better at.  I am proud, our kids battled and it reminded me of the Ontario game all over again.  As I told our kids that night, we have to play 32 minutes and every play matters, fortunately this one went our way," said Jakubick.

          Mergel said they had some opportunities in the game that they didn't take advantage of.  "I think we are a little tired.  (Friday) night was the first night we had been home in a month, so we have been on the road a lot.  We went to Massillon and played in the classic, in the NOL/OCC, and it caught up with us a little bit.  It is disappointing because we can beat them off the dribble and get to the basket, we just failed to do so.  We settled for some outside shots, but once again we played extremely hard," he said.

 

Published 1/09/16

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St. Peter's With Two Big Games

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's used the holidays to become a better team and they face a couple of big games this weekend, one in league play, and the other in non-conference action.

          They play at Mid-Buckeye Conference leading Kidron Central Christian on Friday and are host with Ohio Cardinal Conference member Mansfield Madison on Saturday night.

          Last week, the Spartans (7-2,2-1,) strung together wins over Sandusky St. Mary's (71-64,) Cardinal Stritch (56-46) and Crestline (83-36) in "MBC" play.

          Coach Joe Jakubick says those were nice wins, but they are in the past now and they still have to get better.  "Especially playing Sandusky St. Mary's, who is a top team here in Ohio in division four and being able to get a win against them is very big.  Anytime you go on the road and get a win against a team like Cardinal Stritch you have to be satisfied with that and then a league win against Crestline.  Overall, it was a very productive week," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "But, there is no rest for the weary because we come back Friday with Central Christian, a team that is undefeated in our league, a huge game on their court, and obviously being a league game that is where our concentration lies.  The next night playing Mansfield Madison, they are playing really well, beating Norwalk and Ontario on back to back nights last week.  So, it is going to be a very challenging week and we are going to find our more about our team this weekend."

          Central Christian, unbeaten in league play, and in first place, is at St. Peter's on Friday.  Jakubick says the Comets like to be patient, but they can deal with that.  "There is no doubt we would like an up tempo game, but at the end of the day we went up and we played Cardinal Stritch and they are a team that plays a slow tempo game too.  So, that was a good game for us to play because I feel their style is very similar to Kidron Christian, so if nothing else that was good preparation for that game because they do play a very similar style.  They are very methodical on offense and defensively they play a lot of 2-3 zone.  So, that was a good game for us," said Jakubick.

          When it comes to their offense, Jakubick says, yes, they have to be patient too, but more so he wants the Spartans to play their game.  "You have to be selective, but at the end of the day I don't want kids passing up shots that are good shots.  We have to take the shots that we take because I feel the kids will shoot the ball with more confidence.  I don't want kids hesitant in taking shots.  We have to get stops no matter how long we have to play defense.  We have to work the ball around and make sure we get a good shot," he said.

          Jakubick is a 1979 graduate of Madison, but he says Saturday night is really just another game for him.  "To me it is no different.  It doesn't really add or subtract from it one way or another.  At the end of the day I have a lot of friends over there at Madison that live in that community, so I have nothing but respect for them.  I know that at the end of the day it will be a very challenging game because of the how good their players are and the way they have been playing as of late.  It will be a tremendous challenge for us come Saturday," he said.

 

Published 1/06/15

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St. Peter's Downs Clear Fork

 

          Makenzie Henderickson scored nine of her game high 14 points during a (9-0) St. Peter's third quarter run and the Lady Spartans downed Clear Fork (38-26) in a non-conference girls basketball game at Les Hauenstein Gym on Wednesday night.

          St. Peter's (3-5) led (15-14) at halftime and coach Shani Rush says they turned the screws up on their defense during the third quarter and that was the difference.  "We ended up moving our defense up a little bit to pressure so we could cause more turnovers.  The game was kind of slow paced and we wanted to speed it up a little bit because our quickness is one of our better aspects of our game.  It seems to work there in the third quarter.  We got a lot of turnovers, a lot of quick points on the fast break," said Rush.

          Clear Fork (2-8) has had trouble scoring points this year, having only scored more than 40 once this season.  Lady Colts coach Heidi Roush was disappointed her was their lack of effort on the glass.  "I think initially we were getting great shots and we weren't converting and then we started to tighten up a little bit.  If you miss a shot fine, but you have got to get in there and rebound and there were times (Wednesday) night we only had one or two kids going hard for the rebound and everybody else was content to watch and you aren't going to win games playing like that," she told Swankonsports.com after the game.

          Sarah Swank led Clear Fork scorers with eight, including two first half three pointers.

          Rush says she wasn't always pleased with their offensive execution, but they did a lot of things well.  "Our offense, still I wasn't very happy with.  In the first quarter, I thought we were running our sets well and then at the end we were just trying to run some clock off and get some layups.  Overall I thought they did a really good job," she said.

 

Published 12/31/15

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St. Peter's Rallies to Give St. Mary's First Loss

 

          Jared Jakubick scored 19 points and Elijah Cobb scored all 11 of his in the fourth quarter as Mansfield St. Peter's rallied in the second half to hand Sandusky St. Mary's there first loss (71-64) of the season.

          St. Mary's (7-1) took a (42-33) lead with just over four minutes to play in the third quarter on a three pointer by David Miller, but the Spartans would outscore them (13-2) over the final 3:22 of the quarter to take a (46-45) lead into the final stanza.

            "We ended up doing a little bit of pressure and they rushed some shots and we got a couple of steals and maybe some shots that we were fortunate that didn't go in, but we were able to capitalize.  I think we just got a little burst there and were able to finish some shots.  We made enough to get ahead there and I think it was a big confidence builder for our team.  In all of our games, even the games we lost to Ontario and Loudonville, to date we have shown good energy and resiliency that we are going to keep fighting and trying to come back.  Hopefully, we can continue that.  This was a nice win, but we have a tough game Wednesday night and we have to be ready to play," said St. Peter's head coach Joe Jakubick.

          St. Mary's took a (50-47) lead on a dunk by Hayden Snow with 5:51 left to play, but Jared Jakubick tied with a three six seconds later.  That was followed by another three my Mason Campbell with (5:10) left to play.  After a Miller FG, Cobb connected on a three for his first points and a (56-53) lead.

          "There was one where they had just scored on a dunk to go up three and we kicked it right down and I think Jared was able to hit a three to tie it up then we come down and it another one.  We have some kids that are capable of knocking down some shots.  Those are big shots and fortunately they went in (Monday) night," said Jakubick.

          Trenton Zimmerman scored 13 points in the first half for the Panthers, but Jakubick says they were able to limit his touches in the second half of the game.  "In the second half we did a better job of containing Zimmerman.  I think he only scored four points in the second half.  They have other weapons, but he is a difficult guard.  He is a big guy, he is athletic, and he just brings a lot to the table.  Fortunately we made him work hard and other people take some shots," he said.

          St. Peter's (5-2) travels to Cardinal Stritch for another non-conference game on Wednesday.  St. Mary's plays unbeaten Edison on Saturday night.

 

Published 12/29/15

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Spartans not Satisfied

 

          After losing their first Mid-Buckeye Conference game to Loudonville, Mansfield St. Peter's responded to crush Danville in a league game last Friday night at their place.

          They host Plymouth in a non-league there there Tuesday night.

          When looking back at their (82-65) win over the Blue Devils, coach Joe Jakubick only wanted to look forward in hopes his team would continue to get better.  "It was a positive step we took forward.  The bottom line is we have to keep working hard and try to get better at both ends of the court because it is a long season.  We have a lot of room for improvement and we just have to keep pushing," he said.

          Mason Campbell scored 26 points in the win over Danville and Jakubick admits they have some kids that can put the ball in the basket, but they have to become better on defense.  "We have an idea that we have very good offensive talent and it is spread out.  Even our younger players have some good offensive skills.  We just have to keep pushing and trying to improve at both ends of the court, offensively, but more importantly defensively," he said.

          Plymouth (1-5) is at St. Peter's (3-2) for a non-conference game at the Franciscan Center on Tuesday night.  Plymouth has shown some glimpses this year, but Jakubick says their reliance on the outside shot has led to some inconsistent play.  "I think they are a little more perimeter oriented this year than what they were last year.  A lot of times if you shoot more perimeter shots that sometimes leads to being a little more inconsistent.  It is hard to hit threes on a consistent basis or any shot from the perimeter.  To me they are a dangerous team if they get going offensively.  They have some people that can knock down shots there is no doubt about that," said Jakubick.

          The Big Red gave up 83 points to Western Reserve last Friday and they have had some defensive liabilities this year, but Jakubick says that could change on a dime.  "I feel that especially early in the season you will see teams that might struggle defensively in a given game, but I think there can be great improvement from game to game.  I think there is always great potential, especially early in the season," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "I think teams grow in the areas where they see, and coaches work on the areas where they see deficiencies.  I have seen them play games where they where right there along the way and it sort of got away in the fourth quarter.  We have to be prepared.  I would be very surprised if we don't see a tremendous effort and I hope our young men are ready to play (Tuesday.")

 

Published 12/22/15

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Spartans Need Win

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's is the defending Mid-Buckeye Conference champion.  After losing their first conference game last week to Loudonville, the Spartans can't afford another Friday night when they travel to Danville.

          Loudonville beat St. Pete's (68-64) last week and coach Joe Jakubick says there have been some tough practices this week in getting ready for the Danville game.  He says they have to do a lot of things better.  "I would say it has been fairly intense just trying to focus on getting better at the defensive end and just better at the offensive end too.  It is just a process and you want to make sure your team is continually making positive steps forward.  Anytime you lose it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.  We are anxious to get on the court (Friday) and compete and hopefully find a way to win," he said.

          Danville, who lost in the state semis in football three weeks ago, played their first basketball game on Tuesday, a non-conference win (78-70) over Cardington.

          Jakubick thinks the Blue Devils revolve around 245 pound Ridge Durbin, who was the division seven offensive player of the year as the Danville quarterback.  "I think everything will be around Ridge Durbin, there one guard/forward.  He is a very impressive offensive player, he is difficult to guard, he is well built, he has very good skill, and he has a toughness and a mentality to keep coming after you.  They have players around him that are extremely capable of hurting you.  So, it is going to be a good test for us defensively.  They are a very physical team.  Hopefully we will be ready for them on (Friday,") he said.

          With that football success many of the same players make up the Danville basketball team and Jakubick says that makes them scary when they take the floor.  "Success breads success.  I'm sure they have a lot confidence given the football season that they had.  I feel that carries over to other sports, especially when you have the same kids that are competing.  It just offers another challenge," he said.

 

Published 12/18/15

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St. Peter's With Back to Back Games

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's hasn't played for almost two weeks and now they have back to back games.

          They host Buckeye Central in non-conference play on Thursday and travel to Loudonville for a Mid-Buckeye Conference game on Friday.

          Coach Joe Jakubick is concerned with their long layoff.  "It feels like we are starting the season all over again.  Being off for that long of time we have tried to do some things just playing against each other and doing some things to simulate some possible game situations, but it's difficult.  I feel we need to get out there and play," he said.

          The Spartans (1-1) beat South Central (71-67) and lost to Ontario (57-56) in their first two games on the opening weekend.  Jakubick liked the toughness he saw in those games, but the execution needs to be better.  "We played our first two games and their are a lot of things we need to improve on no doubt.  I felt that our kids gave very good effort," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They have shown in those first two games in different situations that they can really fight through adversity and show some good toughness, but we see so many areas when we watch film that we could improve on.  With two challenging games to say the least against Buckeye Central and Loudonville we are going to see if we have improved in different areas."

          Buckeye Central (2-1), of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference, will be in Mansfield on Thursday to play St. Peter's and Jakubick says he expects the Bucks to try and slow the tempo down.  "Obviously with two returning starters they lost a wealth of experience.  Obviously they want to be solid at both ends of the court so they can get some of their players some more game experience.  It is good to be able to start that with your returning point guard and returning inside and outside player in Grant Loy," he said.

          The Spartans are the defending "MBC" champs and they begin that defense at Loudonville (1-3,0-1) on Friday night.  Jakubick says the Redbirds have the potential to make a lot of three pointers and they have to defend them there.  "You talk about back to back games with two contrasting styles.  You go from one extreme to the other.  They start five guys that flat out shoot the three.  So, they are all threats and you have to guard them basically once they cross half court.  They offer a whole different set of challenges and issues," said Jakubick.

 

Published 12/10/15

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Lady Spartans Looks For First Win

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's continues to battle with injury problems, but hopefully that situation gets a little better this week.

          Coach Shani Rush says they may return a player to their roster this week.  "Hopefully we get one more girl back maybe at the end of the week.  She has been out with a concussion since soccer season.  She just got cleared by the doctor, so hopefully she can help out when she becomes ready to play.  My freshmen and still playing like freshmen right now," she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "I have gotten some good production our of my two returners.  We just need some more help from our freshmen right now.  Hopefully, if the other two come back from injury they will help us to put up some points on the board."

          St. Peter's lost two players to transfer since last year and three more to injury.  Rush says that has really hurt them on the offensive end of the floor so far this year.  "Right now we just need another scorer.  Our two girls that are scoring right now are going a good job we just need that third person to step up and score some points.  That is were we are lacking right now.  We really don't have that third one.  Hopefully we will find that person soon and have someone step up and help us out there," she said.

          Tuesday night, the Lady Spartans (0-2) play host to Kidron Central Christian in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game.  Rush says it will be another tough challenge.  "They have a girl that is a pretty good post player.  She has some height and that will probably hurt us because, obviously, we are not very tall.  I think we will be stronger than she is in the blocks.  They have some good guards.  It will be an interesting match-up if we can play hard and play smart and hopefully if will work out for us," she said.

 

Published 12/01/15

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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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St. Peter's to be Tested Early

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's, the defending Mid-Buckeye Conference champions, will begin the season with a couple of tough non-conference games this weekend.

          They play at South Central, the Firelands Conference favorite, on Friday night, and then host defending Northern Ohio League champion Ontario on Saturday night.

          This all on a week that includes Thanksgiving on Thursday.  Coach Joe Jakubick says that doesn't bother him too much.  "I am not really concerned about focus.  I know from my years of coaching the young ladies at St. Vincent/St. Mary a lot of times we opened up over Thanksgiving week, so I am accustomed to it.  I think the most concerning thing is with kids being so excited to play and making sure they keep their composure and understand the task at hand," he said.

          As far being ready to hit the ground running, Jakubick says you are never sure what you have until you play a game for real and that is what has him a little uneasy about this weekend.  "Every game you are a little concerned, but once you get your feet into it, you have a few games under your belt, the kids know a little more of what is expected of them and what is expected in that particular game plan," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "You are ready to get the season going, but you never feel like you are really ready, especially going against the two teams that we have this weekend.  South Central and Ontario, both programs, both coaches do such a tremendous job.  As far as myself, and our team, its just makes things a little more on edge for us."

          South Central awaits on Friday night and Jakubick knows the Trojans have a lot of guys that can score.  "They have a lot of weapons I feel.  I think they are a team that is going to be reckoned with throughout the season," he said.

          Ontario appears to have a pretty good lineup again this year and Jakubick knows that veteran head coach Joe Balogh is going to have his team prepared for the season.  "They are another program that is so well coached.  They have good athletes and you know they are going to come in and they are going to execute.  They are going to have the players that are going to be able to get up and down the floor," he said.

 

Published 11/25/15

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Injuries Hurting Lady Spartans

 

          Last summer what looked like a promising season has turned into nightmare with two season ending knee injuries for the Mansfield St. Peter's Lady Spartans.

          Playing a young team last season St. Peter's was going to bring a lot of that talent back to the floor this year, but coach Shani Rush says they have been devastated this fall by injuries.  "We have had a pretty rough start to our season with some injuries.  We have had two starters go out with "ACL" tears, one was during the volleyball season and then we just had one last week.  We are down two starters, our two leaders, being juniors, and returning starters," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We have another player out, a returning player too.  So, right now we are trying to fill some spots.  Maybe one of the girls can come back and be healthy, but the two girls that tore their "ACL's" are obviously out for the season."

          The only returning starter for the Lady Spartans is their point guard and Rush says they are trying find other players that they can add to the mix at the beginning of the season.  "Right now we only have one returner starting for us and that is our point guard Caroline Blunk.  We have some freshmen that are going to have to come in and fill some spots and a couple girls that played JV for us last year that are sophomores that are going to have to play a role here that they are not familiar with.  They are doing a pretty good job, it is just a matter of learning.  Playing at the varsity level is just going to be a challenge right now," said Rush.

          St. Peter's plays host to Fremont St. Joseph in their opening game on Saturday night.  Rush says she has a team that is going to have to show consistent improvement during the season.  "This year I didn't think we were going to have that growth period, but with some things happening with some players transferring out and now with injuries the younger underclassmen are going to have to step up and be the players they can be by February," she said.

 

Published 11/17/15

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Big Red Survives Scare From St. Peter's

 

          Plymouth survived a scare from Mansfield St. Peter's in semi-final play Tuesday night and advances to play Buckeye Central in Friday night's division four district final at Willard High School.

          The Big Red downed St. Peter's (48-41), it was their 22nd win in a row.

          District player of the year Tyrell Edmiston scored 10 of Plymouth first 16 points and had 16 points at halftime.  However, with almost 6:00 left in the third quarter and his team leading by seven (31-24) Edmiston picked up his fourth foul and returned to the bench for the remainder of the period.  The Big Red would score only four points the rest of the stanza and clung to a one point (35-34) lead.  "We didn't play real well, but I think we played well enough to keep the game in check where I could bring him into the ball game at the beginning of the fourth," said Plymouth coach Troy Keene.

          Edmiston, who finished with 21 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocks was able top play the rest of the game without fouling out.  Keene said he had no worries about putting Tyrell back in the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter.  "Tyrell is a pretty smart basketball player.  That is why I was pretty amazed that he picked up his third and fourth really quick to start the third because that is just not the Tyrell that I know.  I don't think we had the focused Tyrell (Tuesday) night, but we had the Tyrell that will get the job done," said Keene.

          Plymouth beat the Spartans (52-35) on January 13, but coach Joe Jakubick said after the game he knew it would closer this time.  "We have come a long way since then.  I knew we were going to compete," he said.

          Point guard hunter Hunter Bailey connected on two three pointers in the game's first three minutes, but the Big Red made only two more the rest of the way and none in the second half.  Keene says their perimeter shooting was a little inconsistent and their shot selection wasn't always good.  "That is us we are a little streaky.  In the first half we are up 13 and we come down and take three bad shots in a row.  To me if we are up 13 we need to work it for a great shot and get up 15.  We come down with one pass and chucked it up three times.  We addressed that at halftime and we will be much better coming out Friday," he told Swankonsports.com after the win.

          Freshman Mason Campbell paced St. Peter's scorers with 13 makers, while Jared Jakubick, the son the coach and also a freshman added 10. 

          Keene thought they let the Spartans get to the rim too often.  "That is all we wanted to do all night is take contested shots.  Our game plan all night was to keep them out of the lane and make them shoot contested jump shots and we didn't do a good job of that in the second half and we will be better come Friday," he said.

          Two Edmiston field goals gave Plymouth a five point lead (39-34) with 6:35 left in the game, but the Spartans were able to cut the lead to two (43-41) with 1:11 to play on Tyson Kent's steal and score, but they could get no closer as Plymouth cashed in on five of eight free throws in the final minute.

           "That is all it is whether you win by one or 40 it is just survive and advance and that's what we did.  We were plumb dumb all night, but I'll take it and we are coming back Friday," said Keene.

 

Published 3/10/15

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St. Peter's Facing Huge Challenge Defensively

 

          Last week, Mansfield St. Peter's won their first sectional title in seven years and now they must face the number one seed in the district, the Firelands Conference champion Plymouth Big Red, in the district semi-finals on Tuesday night at Willard High School.

          In the sectional final after leading (39-13) at the half, the Spartans blew out Fremont St. Joseph (60-42) to win the sectional championship.  Coach Joe Jakubick says they just continue to grow in confidence.  "There is no doubt we got off to a good start and it brought a lot of positive energy for them for that game and really set the tone for us.  So, it was really big for our players to build confidence that they can have some success here in the tournament.  It has been a while since St. Peter's had won a sectional championship.  Obviously, it was just a positive thing to happen for our program," he said.

          District 6 player of the year Tyrell Edmiston scored 30 points and hauled in 11 rebounds in the Big Red's (86-41) win over Seneca East last Friday.  Jakubick says he forces defenses to make a decision.  "I don't know really... I mean let's be honest he is just a tough guard.  How do you guard him?  He is a man among boys in the paint.  He is a tremendous distributor.  Their players move so well without the ball because they know if they do he will get it to them.  They've got guys that can shoot the three.  They have so many different ways they can hurt you.  They are just a difficult team to guard.  At the end of the day it all works through him," said Jakubick.

          Plymouth (23-1), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball poll in the small school division, is very good, but Jakubick thinks their schedule does prepare them for what they will encounter on Tuesday night.  "You can not let him score down low.  You have to defend, you have to rebound.  You've got to be so solid in every phase defensively and then you have to pray they miss.  I know our kids are excited by the opportunity to play.  I know we will compete and play hard.  Playing Ontario at the end of the year.  I think games like that prepare you for this the best that your can be," he said.

          St. Peter's (16-8) lost to Plymouth (52-35) on January 13, but that was before they added Tyson Kent and Kyle Osgar to their rotation and those players make the Spartans much deeper.

          Even though tournament games tend to be lower scoring, Jakubick feels like they are going to have to score points to win.  "There is no doubt that you are going to have to score points if you are going to beat them.  Generally, as you go further along in the tournament games just tend to be a little more low scoring.  They have so many weapons, they have so many ways to hurt you.  When you have four or five guys that are capable of going off on a night and really help provide the scoring for your team it makes things very challenging for a team trying to prepare a defense," he said.

 

Published 3/10/15

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Spartans Play Fremont St. Joe

 

          It has been while since Mansfield St. Peter's has enjoyed a lot of tournament success.  They want to change that this year.

          They face Fremont St. Joe (6-14) in a division four sectional final on Friday night at Ashland Univerity.

          The Spartans (15-8) won their tournament opener on Tuesday night in beating Norwalk St. Paul (61-48) in a semi-final match up.  Coach Joe Jakubick says it was good to get their feet wet.  "Anytime you get a tournament win it is a good win.  Norwalk St. Paul, those kids played hard.  Some shots didn't fall for them and we were able to get the win.  I just think for our team to get a win under your belt I just think it is a good thing.  It helped their confidence hopefully for our next game on Friday night," he said.

          On this year's team, the Spartans have a good mix of youth and experience.  Jakubick says they are counting on their seniors to give them leadership here in the tournament.  "There is no doubt they have played in tournaments, but St. Peter's hasn't won a sectional championship since 2008.  So, it has been a while.  Hopefully, we can be a little bit more successful in the tournament.  They have played in tournament games.  All of the kids contributed on Tuesday, we had four kids in double figures.  I believe Adam (Blunk) and Michael (Berick) gave us just a solid effort and helped build a solid foundation throughout the game on plays they made that we could really lean on," he said.

          In terms of knowledge of St. Joe, Jakubick says they take one game at a time, but he knows the Crimson Streaks have some guys that can make plays.  "I don't look ahead in any way.  (Tuesday) I just sort of enjoyed that and (Wednesday) we will look into Fremont St. Joe.  I know they have some shooters that are dangerous from the three point line.  I know they have a young guard, even though he is a freshman, has been playing really, really well over the second half of the year," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "The end of the day we have our work cut our for us and we are going too have to be prepared to make things difficult for them on the offensive end.  As far as defense I think they will mix it up.  It looks like they play a lot of zone, so we will have to be prepared for whatever they throw at us."

 

Published 3/05/15

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Spartans Can Put it Away

 

          With a second win this season over arch rival Mansfield Christian, Mansfield St. Peter's wins the outright Mid-Buckeye Conference title, however, if the Flames win this time the two schools will share the championship.

          They play Friday night at St. Peter's Franciscan Center.

          St. Peter's won the first meeting (55-53) January 15 at the Furnace.  St. Peter's coach Joe Jakubick expects that Christian might change a few things on defense, but mostly they are going to go with what works for them.  "Anytime you face a team a second time there are little adjustments and corrections you wan to make.  I think offensively I don't think they will do anything different.  A team's make up is what they are.  I always think that maybe you guard people a little differently," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "At the end of the day it is a little bigger court, so that changes things right off the bat as far as spacing for our guards and that will be more difficult on a bigger court.  I guess the only thing you know for sure is there is going to be a lot of intensity in the game."

          There is likely going to be a full house at the Franciscan Center and a lot of emotion.  Jakubick says they have to be focused.  "I told them it is a 32 minute game and you have to play solid for 32 minutes and you have to keep your focus.  Yeah there is going to be a lot of energy and enthusiasm, but you have to block that out.  You have to know what your keys are and what you are accountable for and you need to understand and execute.  You have to keep you mind on the task at hand," he said.

          The best players have to have to have big games in games like this.  Jakubick says they have a lot of options.  "I don't know who our best player is.  We have multiple players that can step up.  I have eight players that are averaging between 6.5 and 10 points a game, so we can come at you in a lot of different ways.  The other day it was Mason Campbell for, but I have had every single one of our players from Adam Blunk to Michael Berick to Ryan Payne to Jared Jakibuick to Richard Shaw to Tyson Kent they have all taken turns stepping for us and making plays and playing big for us," said Jakubick.

          That balance has been a big factor for the Spartans this year and Jakubick says that make them hard to guard.  "Obviously you have to play the cards you are dealt.  When you have a team that has so many different people that can step up and score on a given night it makes you feel better as a coach because I have some options.  If you really rely heavily on a player or two things can go a rye pretty quick.  Not only maybe that night they are having difficulty getting shots to fall, but they could get in foul trouble and they aren't in the game and your offense might not have the same look," he said.

 

Published 2/20/15

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Campbell Leads Spartans Rally Past Colts

 

          Mason Campbell scored 11 of his game high 27 points in the third quarter as Mansfield St. Peter's outscored Clear Fork (19-8) and went on to beat the Colts (57-50) in a non-conference boys' basketball game on Tuesday night.

          Clear Fork led (25-21) at halftime, but Campbell's three gave the Spartans the lead (30-29) with 2:50 left in the third quarter.  He would hit two more within the next 45 seconds.   "We just tried to tweak a couple of things going against their zone and letting kids know hey have confidence, take your shot with confidence.  We have some kids that can knock down shots.  Obviously Mason (Campbell) got us over the hump here.  I thought we did a good job finding him.  Kyle (Osgar) did a nice job of attacking the gap and then kicking to him. Jared (Jakubick) did a good job of kicking it back to Mason.  I think we have a very unselfish team and when they find someone that is hot they are going to do their best to get them the ball," said St. Peter's coach Joe Jakubick.

          All three of the Campbell jumpers came from the left wing and Clear Fork coach Steven Bechtel says probably left too wide open.  "When he took his fourth one, he missed it, he was out a little bit further.  I don't think we played the greatest defensively, but you have to him credit for hitting shots like you are supposed too," he said.

          After trailing by as many as nine with 7:45 to play in the game, Clear Fork was able to get as close as two (47-45) with 3:31 left after a pair of free throws by Kadin Chrastina, but couldn't close the gap any further.  "Especially down the stretch we got a steal.  We attacked the basket and usually those go in, but unfortunately (Tuesday) those shots just weren't going down for us," said Bechtel.

          Chrastina ended up with 19 points to lead the Colts.  Jakubick says they tried to make him work hard for his shots.  "We tried our best.  I really feel the only person that stops him is himself.  We wanted to make him use as much energy as possible and try to get the ball out of his hands as much as possible.  The kid can just hit tremendous shots.  I don't know if we weren't just fortunate that he missed a few," he said.

          Griffen Robinette was held to 10 points, six coming in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter.  He sat the majority of the first half in foul trouble and Bechtel says that hurts them.  "Not having Griffen on the floor always makes it a little more difficult because of what he can do inside and outside offensively and well as what he can do defensively for us.  I thought we handled it fairly well in the first half.  I was just that third quarter that kind of got us.  The Campbell kid hit three threes right there in a row.  That was hard to bounce back from," said Bechtel.

          The Spartans also won the war on the boards 29-25 and Jakubick thought they got some key put backs.  "I think once we started hitting some shots I think they were worried about getting out on people and that left some holes there, some gaps for us and we were fortunate to get a couple of baskets that way," he said.

          St. Peter's attempts to win an outright Mid-Buckeye Conference title on Friday night when they host arch rival Mansfield Christian.  They lead the Flames by a game in game in the conference standings.  "The intensity will be pretty high in that game.  We have a couple of days to try and get ready.  We know that they are going to bring their "A" game, so we better be ready.  I hope we are," said Jakubick.

 

Published 2/17/15

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Spartans Must Maintain Their Focus

 

          They have been a pretty focused team over the last month and that is the reason the Mansfield St. Peter's Spartans have won five of their last seven games.

          With a win over rival Mansfield Christian next week, the Spartans will claim an outright Mid-Buckeye Conference title.

          However, coach Joe Jakubick says they have be focused on their non-conference game on Friday night against the Mansfield Temple Christian Crusaders.  "Obviously that is going to be a huge game when we play Mansfield Christian again and there is going to be a lot riding on it.  I believe Mansfield Christian has Loudonville this Friday, so I know they have to concentrate on that and we have to concentrate on Temple Christian," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "To me they are a very dangerous team.  We are big game for them.  I know in a game earlier this year they played Loudonville and they were up in third quarter at Loudonville.  So, they are extremely capable.  We have to make sure we aren't looking ahead at any other big game down the road, we better be focused on Temple Christian on Friday or they could come in and make us pay for that."

          Temple Christian, not a member of the Ohio High School Athletic Association still plays a lot of schools that are.  Jakubick says this would be one the most important games on their schedule.  "Sometimes it is a learning experience for young men to understand that you have a target on you right now.  So, you have to understand that you have to be focused.  You have to be ready to play your game.  You have to know what you have to do and your responsibilities on the offensive and defensive end of the court and you can't lose that focus.  That is my message to our team this week," he said.

          The Spartans (11-7) are a team that has gone through a lot of changes in personnel this year, but Jakubick says things really seem to be coming together for them.  "I feel each day we become a better team and we become more solid at both ends of the court.  We really have to do that to have a chance to become the best team that we can for each game and for the tournament and for the rest of our conference games and our regular season games.  A matter of fact I mentioned this (Tuesday) I know we only have four games left, but in my mind we still have a lot of basketball left.  We can't let our guard down.  We can't walk in the gym and not have the understanding of what can I do to get better today," said Jakubick.

 

Published 2/11/15

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Lady Spartans Host Unbeaten South Central

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's will be at home for unbeaten South Central in a battle between the two small school girls' basketball powers on Tuesday night at the Franciscan Activities Center.

          Twice beaten Danville topped St. Peter's (56-52) in a game Saturday that gave the Mid-Buckeye Conference title to the Lady Blue Devils.  Lady Spartans coach Shani Rush liked the way her girls' played, but says they just couldn't get over the hump at the end.  "Danville is a really good team.  They have Bri Stats and she is an All-Ohio player and a tremendous shooter.  They don't get a lot of coverage, but they are one of the best teams I think, but we played pretty well.  We had it to within two points and just couldn't finish it off," she said.

          South Central (18-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com girls' basketball coaches poll in the small school division, is paced by the play of Anna Hintz, who scored 33 in their Firelands Conference showdown with Crestview last month.  Rush says Hintz, the daughter of South Central coach Becky Hintz, is a tremendous player, but she is not all the Lady Trojans have.  "The Hintz girls makes them pretty good.  She is an outstanding player.  She can do it all from dribbling up the court, to posting up, to shooting the three, to taking you off the dribble," she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "They have a great supporting cast around her with their point guard, their three point shooter, and they also have another post player that can produce.  They have all of the tools of a great team and obviously they are playing very well right now.  We hope to be competitive with them and be able to stay in the game and finish one off."

          South Central beat St. Peter's (49-44) last year in a season in which the Lady Trojans advanced to the district finals.  Rush says they hope to be able to take away some of Hintz's touches, but it will not be easy.  "Last year when we played them we pretty much held her under her average.  I think she had six points.  We played a box and one on them.  We had Kim Tomchak guard her, but Kim is out with a concussion for our game on Tuesday, so we are looking for someone else to step up and guard her.  We hope to limit her touches and make somebody else step up," she said.

 

Published 2/10/15

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St. Peter's Continues to do the Job

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's added two more wins to their total and both in close games last week.

          They beat Mansfield Madison of the Ohio Cardinal Conference (64-62) on Tuesday and Loudonville (48-47) in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game on Saturday.

          That gives the Lady Spartans seven wins in their last eight games.  Coach Shani Rush says things are really coming together as a team as we get into February.  "We are starting to play better as a team.  We are really working hard in practice right now.  Things are coming together and I couldn't be more happy about our play right now," she said.

          The Lady Spartans are starting to score more points and Rush says that is because they are getting more balance.  "We have Emily Yeager that is our leading scorer and we have other people stepping up and scoring double figures and it is not the same person all of the time.  We can have three people in double figures and even sometimes we have four," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "Finding those other scorers is something we need to keep doing.  Our defense, I feel, is what has got us through the game against Loudonville.  In the third quarter we really turned on our defense, got a lot of steals, and our defense became our offense."

          Rush says they are starting to execute better in clutch situations and that comes with experience.  "In the beginning of the season we lost a couple of close games to Crestview by three and Mansfield Senior by three, but now as the season has gone on we have started to finish games.  We are making our free throws down the stretch, which is really important and then hanging onto the ball at the end of the game and making good choices.  That goes with the growth of the team as the sophomores on the team and the freshmen get more experience," said Rush.

          St. Peter's (9-6) will play host to the Norwalk St. Paul Lady Flyers (7-8) of the Firelands Conference in a non-conference on Tuesday night at the Franciscan Athletic Center.  St Paul lost a close one to unbeaten South Central (55-52) earlier this month and Rush says the Lady Flyers are always a good team.  "Norwalk St. Paul is always good and a tough challenge.  They have a nice guard and then they have a decent post player.  We are going to try a couple of different things.  As long as we play our game and play as a team I think we will do well," she said.

 

Published 2/03/15

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Spartans Must Move Forward

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's is in first place in the Mid-Buckeye Conference and they took a state ranked Sandusky St. Mary's team to four overtimes before losing last Saturday, but still there is a lot more potential in these Spartans.

          They beat Lucas (64-39) last Friday in a league game and coach Joe Jakubick says they had a every chance to win against St. Mary's too before falling (93-90) in four extra periods.  "We played well last weekend and got a good conference win on Friday night against Lucas.  On Saturday night we lost in four overtimes to Sandusky St. Mary's, who is ranked in the state.  Obviously we played very well at times, but there were opportunities and plays we should have made to win that game.  Obviously they are a quality team and they found ways to get it done," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "There were some positive things that happened, but there are things we need to continue to build on and get better at for the upcoming games that we have left here in the season."

          With the addition of Kyle Osgar and Tyson Kent to the rotation a couple of weeks ago Jakubick says that allows them to play harder as a team because they have more depth.  "We have a lot better depth so the minutes are shortened for everybody, but at the end of the day hopefully everybody is able to raise the bar and play with a little more intensity.  I think Kyle (Osgar) and Tyson (Kent) bring a lot to the table, but they are still getting their game legs underneath them," he said.

          St. Peter's (8-6,5-0) travels to Loudonville (5-6,2-2) for a "MBC" game on Friday night.  It was a (54-49) win for the Spartans in their first meeting and Jakubick says they need another solid effort if they are going to win on the road.  "They scare me, they have athleticism, they have kids that can get up and down the court, they have kids that can make plays, they have some size.  We are going to their place and we better be ready to play.  It is a conference game and it is a big game for us.  Anytime you are facing a team for the second time you know they are going to be waiting for you.  We are focused on Loudonville and are going to try and go down there and get a win," he said.

 

Published 1/30/15

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Team Play Leading to Lady Spartans Success

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's has won five of its last six games and Lady Spartans are starting to put things together heading into a non-conference match-up at home with Madison on Tuesday night.

          One key for the Lady Spartans (7-6), according to coach Shani Rush, has been that they are finally getting healthy after a lot of injury concerns and sickness this year.  "We are starting to get everyone back and people healthy.  We have a varsity player that splits time between varsity and JV that is finally back.  We still have one more that is injured.  I told the team once we get everybody healthy we are going to start playing better.  I think a lot of that has to with the fact that the team is really buying into team play, especially in our Shelby game.  I thought we played very well with a whole team effort." said Rush.

          St. Peter's blasted Lucas (52-16) on Saturday in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game.  That was on top of a quality win over Shelby (64-55), of the Northern Ohio League, on Thursday in non-conference play.  Rush says they gained a lot of confidence from the win over the Lady Whippets.  "Most of our losses have been very close, a couple of them have been three points, seven points, so we have been right there in the games.  With the Shelby game we just decided that we need to start finishing games," she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We had a 27 point fourth quarter at Shelby and everybody was scoring.  It was really fun to watch and it was fun to see the girls come together.  I couldn't be more proud of the way they finished that game and that is a mark of becoming more mature with a bunch of freshmen playing and sophomores, even our seniors as well."

          Madison (5-8) plays a tough schedule in the Ohio Cardinal Conference and Rush knows that it will be a real challenge for her team.  "They are a very athletic team.  We know it is going to be a battle.  They all know each other being in the same area.  We always have good games against them.  We are just going to go out and try to play like we have been, playing hard, and playing as a team and hopefully we will come out on top," she said.

 

Published 1/27/15

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Spartans on top; Not Satisfied

 

           A win over arch rival Mansfield Christian on Friday night has given the Mansfield St. Peter's Spartans sole possession of first place in the Mid-Buckeye Conference after the first half of the league schedule.

          Adam Blunk's driving lay up with a little over a minute to go gave the Spartans a one-point lead, the Flames missed a shot with four ticks left, and St. Peter's hung on for the (55-53) win at the Furnace.

          Coach Joe Jakubick says it was an important win for them.  "Obviously it was a big win in the conference, both of us were undefeated.  To be able to win that game on the road in that environment it was a big win.  Hopefully, we can build on it, but like I told our kids after the game you can enjoy it tonight than we have to get ready for Lucas," he said.

          A couple of players that transferred from other schools were available first time in the Mansfield Christian game and Jakubick says they make a difference on the floor.  "The two kids that had to set out the first 11 games Kyle Osgaurd and Tyson Kent bring some athleticism to our team and it makes our team a lot different.  I believe it gives us a lot more weapons on the offensive end," he said.

          There has been a lot of newness this year with St. Peters, with a new head coach and some different players, and Jakubick says they are starting to put it together.  "When you look at the game we were able to win Friday against Mansfield Christian.  It was a hard fought game and could have gone either way.  If you saw us the previous 11 games we are a little more athletic and we get a little more deeper.  We can go down our bench and I'm not sure there is much that separates our top eight, nice, 10 players.  I think that is what makes us better instantaneously," he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, "As with all teams and coaches you get a chance to work with your kids day in and day out they just understand the fundamentals you are trying to stress offensively and defensively.  I think we have gotten better, but we have to continue to work.  Even on Friday night against Mansfield Christian defensively we made some mistakes and we were fortunate enough they missed some shots."

          St. Peter's (7-5,4-0) plays host to Lucas (2-7,0-3) in an "MBC" game on Friday night.  The Cubs earned their first two wins of the season last week over Gilead Christian (74-49) and Mansfield Temple Christian (65-56) and Jakubick says the Cubs can not be taken lightly.  "I know when we played Lucas the first time they have some players that can get up and down the court and they are a dangerous team.  They have won their last two games so they are going to have some confidence.  Anytime you get a league game and you get a team that is coming off a couple of wins they are going to have a little bit more bounce to their step and we have to be prepared for that come Friday," said Jakibick.

 

Published 1/19/15

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Spartans Square off With Flames

 

          The co-leaders in the Mid-Buckeye Conference lock horns on Friday night as Mansfield St. Peter's makes the short trip to face arch rival Mansfield Christian.

          Both schools are unbeaten in the conference and the winner takes the lead to themselves.  The Flames won the conference title last year while St. Peter's was second.

          St. Peter's lost to Firelands Conference leader Plymouth (52-35) on Tuesday night.  Coach Joe Jakubick says they just didn't get much done on offense.  "We had a difficult time offensively, especially in the second quarter.  That is really what set us back for the game.  I thought we did an antiquate job defensively in the first half, but at the end of the day we just game them to many easy buckets.  Hopefully we will learn from it," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "They are a senior laden team and you can tell their experience.  Edmiston, I know he scored 14 points, but his impact on the game is a lot bigger than just the 14 points with what he does defensively.  Their whole offense runs through him and he really played well (Tuesday) and helped to dominate the game for Plymouth."

          Mansfield Christian (5-3,3-0) beat Loudonville (57-45) on Tuesday night in "MBC" play.  Jakubick says the Flames are a team he believes has an unselfish nature.  "Obviously they are very well coached and they have a lot of weapons and those kids are very unselfish with each other as far as sharing the ball.  We understand that after (Tuesday) night we have to get back in the gym and we have to work hard, so we can go down their and be really competitive with Mansfield Christian," he said.

          Christian is known for its aggressive defense, but Jakubick says one of the strong points of his team this year has been the way they handle the ball and he thinks they will be okay.  "For the most part that is one thing that we have done very well this year is really limiting our turnovers and getting shots.  Obviously that is a big key if we hope to be successful against them we are going to have to take care of the basketball," he said.

          This of course is a rivalry game and those tend to be a lot more emotional.  Jakubick says he knows all about these kinds of games.  "Sometimes younger players can get too keyed up.  When I was at St. Vincent/St. Mary we had two of these every year with Hoban and Walsh.  Every time those schools get together the intensity just goes up a level.  Obviously it is the same thing with Mansfield St. Peter's and Mansfield Christian.  There is always a concern that kids get a little bit too emotional and let that affect them and it's important to stay grounded and focus at the task at hand.  At the end of the day it is just another team that is wearing another uniform," said Jakubick.

 

Published 1/15/15

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St. Peter's Gets Better in Loss

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's wants to play a tough schedule and when you are a division four school sometimes you are going to get pounded on a little bit and that's what happened to the Spartans last Saturday night.

          Madison, the Ohio Cardinal Conference co-leader, belted the Spartans (62-40) in non-conference play.  St. Peter's coach Joe Jakubick says they weren't on the same plane as the Rams.  "I felt that we played in spurts.  We weren't very consistent at the defensive end and gave them too many good looks at the end of the day.  I was just disappointed because we didn't compete at the level we need to compete at.  But, I don't want to take anything away from Madison because they have some athletes and if you give them looks they can knock down shots," he said.

          Jakubick believes with good competition you are going to find out where you need to improve and get better and he thinks that is going to happen this year too.  "At the end of the day, and I have always been this way since I have been a head coach at the high school level, I want to play the best competition that is out there and if you get beat, you get beat.  I feel we need to be challenged on every possession on the court.  In the end of the day that is how you are going to become better," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "You can't back down from anybody in any situation.  I felt our kids a little bit, I think it has been a while since they played Madison, and I felt they were a little taken back at times.  I think we will learn from it and I think we will become a better team because of it."

          St. Peter's (5-4) will be at Crestview (1-7) on Saturday night in a non-conference game.  Jakubick says he doesn't know a lot about the Cougars yet, but he feels they have some athletes.  "I haven't had a chance to look into them a lot.  I sort of get into that a couple of days before the game.  But, from some people that have looked at them they do have some size and they do have some athleticism and I know they are a very dangerous team.  I know in their game against Loudonville through three quarters they were right there.  They are a team that we are going to have to be ready to play and that's to say the least.  It is going to be a very challenging game for us on Saturday," said Jakubick.

 

Published 1/08/15

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St. Peter's Winning While Taking Steps

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's is in a share of first place in the Mid-Buckeye Conference after a win over Loudonville last Friday and they continue to move forward as a team.

          Mason Campbell had 12 points and Michael Barrick added 12 in the Spartans (54-49) win over Loudonville last Friday.  That was after beating Crestline (47-34) on Thursday.

          Coach Joe Jakubick says they did a nice job of maintaining their focus and their effort in both games.  "Our kids did a nice job.  Each game we know we have to get better.  We had a tough game with Crestline the night before.  I was concerned when you get back to back games in the middle of the week when they have school and everything.  You are always concerned with what effort they may bring.  We did a nice job of bringing effort against a team that can be very physical and athletic in Loudonville," he said.

          With a new coach especially leadership is going to be important for the Spartans.  Jakubick says they have gotten some of that, but they need to have more.  "We are still searching for that.  I think there are times we are better with that in spots where we would like that.  You are going to be in spot where things are difficult and you are going to face adversity and I told them the other day that nobody is going to feel sorry for you and you have to play your way through it," he told Swankonsports.com, "I thought we showed a good sign of that on (Friday) night.  Loudonville got some shots that we weren't really happy with, but we were fortunate that some of them didn't fall.  I though we did a nice job defensively and battling them physically, which is something we have to get better at game in and game out."

          St. Peter's (4-2,2-0) has a mix of seniors and underclassmen with Barrick, Adam Blunk and Richard Shaw all seeing considerable minutes last year and freshmen like Campbell and the coach's son Jared Jakubick.  The coach says they are going to be a team that is in constant change, hopefully for the better.  "I feel bad sometimes because I know some of the seniors, and I know they are learning stuff that is a little different for them than what they have done in the past.  That's not good or bad, that is just how it is.  You have different coaches and their and different thoughts and philosophies, offensive, defensive, things like that.  This year we are just in a constant state of progress.  I also have a couple of kids that are setting out here that will be eligible after 11 games.  This year we are just going to be a work in progress," said Jakubick.

          He still feels this is going to be a lot better team in February than it is now if they cane keep learning how to play together.  "I am probably a little different than most of the coaches they have had in the past.  I am sure they are adapting to me as I am with them.  Each day it is a learning process and I feel we have made strides.  You take a step backwards and you take two forward.  As long as we are showing some improvement that is a good thing.  After last weekend, Shelby just manhandled us.  I told the kids at the end of the day if we don't learn from it than shame on us.  I though we showed some positive signs in the Crestline game and the Loudonville game and we found ways to win the game,"  said Jakubick.

          The Spartans play at Danville on Saturday in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game.

 

Published 12/22/14

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Spartans Making Progress

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's shares the lead in the Mid-Buckeye Conference after beating Lucas last weekend and they face another pair of games Thursday and Friday.

          They host Crestline, in non-conference play, on Thursday, and Loudonville, on Friday, in Mid-Buckeye Conference action.

          St. Peter's beat Lucas (61-46) in "MBC" action last Friday and then lost to Shelby (62-49) in a non-conference on Saturday.

`        Coach Joe Jakubick thinks his team is progressing about like they should be.  "I do think we are getting better every game like most teams should be at this time of year and even in games that we haven't produced as well on the scoreboard I still feel that we are learning things and we are growing really everyday now, which is essential for us if we want to reach our full potential," he said.

          Jakubick, in his first year as St. Peter's coach, says he wants to be tested by the best competition that they can find.  "I am not too familiar with who the other teams may play out of their conference, but I have always felt no matter where I have coached, and I haven't had as much impact on the schedule as going forward, but I always want to schedule teams that are going to be a challenge for us," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "I think it is going to be good.  I hope we learned a lot from the Shelby game, I guess only time will tell because they were very physical with us.  The only way to get better is to be challenged and to play teams that are better than you."

          Crestline (0-2) has struggled a bit to score the ball, but Jakubick says he expects the Bulldogs to be physical.  "I know they lost a one point game to Bucyrus.  They have some athletes.  They have some players that can shoot the ball if you let them get good looks.  Their post player to me is very physical and is a very talented player," he said.

          Loudonville (1-1,0-0) got a late start due to their long football run.  They drilled Crestview (58-37) last Saturday and then lost to Mansfield Madison (55-28) on Tuesday night.  Jakubick knows the Redbirds will bring some intangibles.  "You are always trying to get your kids to learn how to win and believing they can win no matter what the circumstance the team is under at the time.  I haven't had a chance to fully look into Loudonville yet because we take every game serious and our focus really right now is Crestline.  With Loudonville I don't know how many of those kids crossed over and played football, but I believe they are going to bring a physicalness.  With them having such a successful year in football I sure some of that carries over," said Jakubick.

 

Published 12/18/14

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Lady Spartans Trying to Get Healthy and Improve

 

          After a win over Lucas on Saturday, the Mansfield St. Peter's Lady Spartans evened their record at 2-2 for the season.

          In order to continue to improve coach Shani Rush says they need to get healthy.  "We are finally getting some people back.  St. Peter's was plagued with sickness and they even closed school because of it.  So, we have been short on numbers the last week.  We are getting some back from injury.  We got Emily Yeager back this last game and hopefully we will get Kim Tomchak back by Tuesday," said Rush.

          Right now, St. Peter's is either the second or third best team in the Mid-Buckeye Conference behind Danville and maybe Loudonville.  Rush says they certainly have the potential to get better.  "We have a lot of potential it is just us getting to that point of being consistent.  We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores," she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "Our freshman has really been doing well and stepping in where our sophomores are hurt and a senior.  As soon as we get everybody back and healthy at practice and we can go five on five that would be great."

          St. Peter's travels to Crestview (5-0) for a non-conference girls' basketball game.  Crestview is led by the high scoring Renee Stimpert, who broke the school single game scoring record with 38 in the season opener against Hillsdale.

          Rush says they have to make somebody else beat them.  "She is a great player, a great shooter.  We are going to have to limit her touches and make someone else have to step up and take the lead.  She is a nice player and we are just going to have to find a way to shut her down," he said.

 

Published 12/16/15

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Spartans a Work in Progress

 

          There is a lot new with the Mansfield St. Peter's Spartans this year and that means there are going to be some growing pains.

          So far, it is one up and one down for the Spartans with a win over South Central (48-43) last Friday and a loss to Buckeye Central (53-27) on Tuesday night.

          St. Pete's has not shot the ball very well this year and first year coach Joe Jakubick says they need be more patient, plus the players are still getting used to his offense.  "We haven't shot the ball well.  There are some situations where I feel we are getting good shots.  I think in a lot of situations it's about making one extra pass to get a little better shot.  We have some players and I feel we have some younger players here and even players that maybe even though they are juniors just haven't had very much playing time varsity wise.  I just think they are getting their feet wet.  I feel we will be fine," said Jakubick.

          There are a couple of freshmen on the varsity and Jakubick says there are a lot of new things even for the seniors they have.  "There is a learning curve for everybody here, including the seniors, Adam Blunk, Richard Shaw, Michael Barrick, even for them.  We will keep plugging away and we do have to get better offensively, but I think these guys have the right mindset and we will get there," he said.

          The Spartans are at Lucas (0-1) for there Mid-Buckeye Conference opener on Friday.  Jakubick says he knows the Cubs will give great effort at their place.  "I know they are going to come after us.  I know they have some nice athletes.  Hey, it's a conference game.  I know they are going to be very excited in their own gym and we have got to be prepared," he said.

 

Published 12/12/14

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Spartans Must Play Excellent Defense

 

          A Mansfield area legend makes his official return Friday night as coach Joe Jakubick leads his Mansfield St. Peter's Spartans into their opener against the South Central Trojans.

          Jakubick stared as a player at Madison before leading the nation in scoring at the University of Akron and then coaching the girls' team at Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary for a number of years.

          He told Swankonsports.com on Thursday that he wished he had more time to polish the team, but the schedule won't allow it.  "I think early in the season, especially when you have a new team, you are hesitant and you don't feel like you are ever really ready.  It's time to play games and we will show up (Friday) and see how it plays out," he said.

          It is not only the opener, but Homecoming at St. Peter's, so there is going to be a lot of hoopla.  Not to mention that last year's St. Peter's head coach Pat Durham is now the varsity assistant at South Central.  Jakubick agrees the team that solves the opening game jitters first is going to have a pretty good chance of winning.  "I think there is no doubt that there is going to be some over anxiousness.  The kids are very excited to get the season started.  There is no doubt the team that can play with a focus and a composure from the start is going to have an advantage," he said.

          South Central returns its top eight players from last year, and Jakubick says he is going in a little blind, but he expects a South Central team that and can shoot and attack the basket.  "I'm really not familiar with the teams around here right now, but from what I can gather they are going to want to play fast.  It seems like they definitely like to shoot the ball from the perimeter.  Our perimeter defense is definitely going to be tested.  They do have the ability to get to the rim too.  I think they are a very difficult team to guard," he said.

 

Published 12/05/14

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Lady Spartans Young, but Improving

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's had a rare down year last season, but look for them to be better this year as the girls' basketball season gets started this weekend.

          They play their first game at Fremont St. Joe on Saturday night and then host Clear Fork on Tuesday night in their first home game.

          Coach Shani Rush says they have had an interesting preseason, but she thinks they are adjusting pretty well considering.  "Our preseason has been a little crazy.  We have had a lot of injuries so far and a lot of sickness. We had a scrimmage cancelled.  We are adjusting and hopefully everybody will be healthy and ready to go by Saturday," she said.

          There is quite a bit of youth with the Lady Spartans this season and Rush says they have been working hard to indoctrinate those members of the team to varsity basketball.  "We have been doing well at practice.  We have been going hard.  There has been a lot of learning, we are a very young team, a lot of sophomores and freshmen.  We do have three seniors, one that will start, but other than that.  We are just trying to teach these girls the system and putting in new stuff," she told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "It is a lot different than eighth grade basketball last year.  We are moving along.  In our scrimmages we have done really well.  In our preview of Friday I thought we played very well.  Once we get everybody healthy down the stretch we will be good to go."

          Rush thinks that this year's team is going to be a lot better in February than they are at the beginning of the season because the young players have a such a learning curve.  "We will probably have a freshmen starting for us and she is a very athletic girl.  She doesn't play like a freshman, but she does make some freshman mistakes.  Hopefully by mid-season she will be stepping up and playing her role on our team," she said.

 

Published 11/26/14

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It's going to Take a Little Time at St. Peter's

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's has a new coach and a new core group of players this year and as a result it might take a little time for them to reach their expected level of performance.

          Joe Jakubick takes the reins as the Spartans head coach after Pat Durham retired form head coaching after last year.  He is now an assistant at South Central.  David Hall, who would have been the Spartans leading scorer among returnees, transferred to Mansfield Senior.

          With a new coach there is a different philosophy and Jakubick says they have been busy installing new things.  "Time goes buy too quick.  We have had almost couple weeks here.  I think as all coaches, at least I feel, especially being introduced to a new situation, we need more time.  I will say this they are working really hard.  The effort they have put forward has been tremendous.  Each day we are just trying to work hard and get better," he said.

          As the season progresses, Jakubick believes they will have some depth at the varsity level.  "We have a couple kids that are sitting out right now for the first 11 games.  I do think when it is all said and done by the end of the year one thing I really like is our depth.  I think we will have a lot of kids that can step in there and contribute.  For the first couple of weeks that is thing that sort of stands out is that we have a number of kids that are capable of helping us on a given night," said Jakubick.

          Jakubick, who comes back to Mansfield from Akron where he was girls' coach at Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary, says he feels this is a team that is going to get a lot better as the season goes on.  "They are just getting used to new offenses and different types of defenses, etc.  There is just a learning curve.  I know in practice I just feel like we need more time.  They are working really hard and I think by the end of the year we a lot different team than we will be here at the beginning of the year," he said.

          The Spartans open the season December fifth by hosting South Central.  Jakubick says by that time he hopes the team is better at running their half court offenses.  "I would say right now being able to run more consistent half court offense when the situation dictates it.  It takes time when you are running something different.  I do feel like everyday we do make progress and that is the one good thing.  A lot of times as a coach you are dealt the cards that you have and the one thing that we have is these kids want to learn and they want to get better," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "When they come to the gym they have a real good work ethic and at the end of the day that is going to hopefully reap its benefits."

 

Published 11/21/14

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Durham Retires

 

          Longtime boys' basketball coach Pat Durham made it official on Friday, he told Mansfield St. Peter's he was retiring and would not be returning to the sidelines for the Spartans next year.

          "My heart is still in coaching and I love St. Peter's, but I have to use my head," Durham told Swankonsports.com, "I still want to be involved in basketball in some way if my health will let me."

          Durham, 70, has been a coach at some level of high school or junior high athletics since 1966.  He is a 1965 graduate of The Ohio State University and a 1961 graduate of Columbus Holy Family.

          A winner of 347 games at the varsity level.  He coached at Clear Fork from 1981-1986, two stints at South Central 1987-2001, when he retied from teaching and again with the Trojans from 2007 to 2009, and then the last four years at St. Peter's. 

          He guided the Spartans to a 13-11 record this year and a runner-up finish in the Mid-Buckeye Conference this season.

          "I am not sure at my age I can bring all of the energy that is needed to be a varsity coach on a daily basis in this day and age.  The hours you must put in are enormous," Durham said. 

          Durham coached South Central to seven Firelands Conference titles.  Clear Fork was not in a league when Durham was the varsity coach there and neither was St. Peter's until this year.

          He was also a junior varsity and freshman basketball coach at Clear Fork.  Was junior basketball coach at Bellville Junior High.  He was also boys' and girls' tennis coach at Clear Fork.  Plus, was an assistant high school football coach and junior high football coach in the Clear fork system.

          Durham also coached varsity and junior varsity baseball at Clear Fork and varsity baseball at South Central, leading the Trojans to the division four state runner-up finish in 1995.

          His daughter Susan lives in Honolulu and is married to Dan Moloney.  He is a doctor in the U.S. Navy.  They have six children.  Son Rob, and wife Beth, live in St. Louis, where he teaches and coaches.  He is also a nationally known comedian.  Son David lives and works in the Columbus area. 

              

 
   

St. Peter's Gets Another Crack at Buckeye

 

          Joe Rall had 16 points and seven rebounds and the Mansfield St. Peter's Spartans sprinted past Crestline (71-51) on Tuesday night to set up a re-match with Buckeye Central in the division four sectional final at Ontario High School on Friday night.

          Michael Berick had 12, Ryan Payne 11 and Adam Blunk had 10 for the Spartans.  Coach Pat Durham says they did a very good job in a lot of areas of the game.  "We had good scoring balance with four guys in double figures, 22 steals, forced 31 turnovers, had 15 offensive rebounds, and generally played pretty well.  We were a little shaky at the start and missed some very makeable shots in the first half and pretty much got that straightened out as the game wore on," he said.

          As the season has gone on they have done a better job of rebounding as the Spartans have worked to replace the injured Cole Phillips, a 6'10" center that led them in rebounding last year.  "We have gradually cut into our rebounding deficit through the year.  We are still behind in total rebounds.  We have pretty much caught up in offensive rebounds.  We are going to the glass a lot better than we used to as the result we are getting some good second shots scoring opportunities and a lot of stick backs," he said.

          Buckeye Central (20-2), #1 in the final Swankonsports.com boys' basketball poll in the small school division, and outright North Central Conference champions, beat St. Peter's (67-47) on the second week of the season.  Durham says they are really good on defense.   "They along with Ontario are probably the two best defensive teams we have faced.  They are very sound and do a great job of pressuring the ball and protecting the basket.  They get great help.  They do a nice job of rebounding.  they have a couple of kids that are really good on the ball defenders and really make it difficult to run your offense," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "That is what happened to us in the first game when we played them this year, particularly in the first half of that game they disrupted our motion offense quite a bit and forced a lot of turnovers early and forced us out of the game early."  The veteran coach says they have been able to improve on those areas that led to those turnovers.  "We had a lot of footwork turnovers and a lot of fumbles.  The are aggressive and have quick hands on defense.  I think we have corrected that through the year.  We have gotten much stronger with the ball and a lot more steady with our footwork.  I don't think that will be a problem this time," he said.

          Cade Kaple leads the "NCC" in assists this year and is the Bucks second leading scorer.  Durham says he is particularly dangerous on the break.  "Kaple is their point guard.  He is their best all around player.  He is their number two scorer.  He leads the team in assists and he is an excellent passer in transition.  Their fast break points generally come though him," he said.

          Buckeye beat St. Peter's (64-53) in this same game a year ago.  To win this time, Durham says they have to reduce their turnovers and do a better job on Austin Wurm than they did in December.  "We need to cut down on our turnovers.  We need to rebound a little better.  Austin Wrum had a very good game against us.  We need to be more conscious of where he is and do better job of covering him and limiting his touches.  He is their leading scorer and their best outside shooter, but he also probably shoots the most free throws on their team.  He is a tough match-up for us," said Durham.

 

Published 2/27/14

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Spartans Must Play Better Defense

 

          For the second straight year Mansfield St. Peter's will play Crestline in the division four sectional semi-finals and if they win they play Buckeye Central.

          St. Peter's (12-10) had won five of their last six before loosing to division two schools Ontario (83-47) and Clear Fork (56-53) to close the season.  However, coach Pat Durham says they did some good things in those games.  "Over the last month or so our offense has clicked a lot better then it did earlier in the year.  Defensively we are still a little inconsistent.  I felt those two losses were against two quality teams.  We did play hard the whole game in both and did some things well, so I am happy," he said.

          The Spartans beat Crestline (75-71) back before Christmas.  Durham says they did some good things on offense, but they have to be a whole lot better when it comes to defending the Bulldogs.  "They have two guards who are good scorers in Lee Hurst and Blake Hunger.  We did not do a good job defensively against those two kids in the first game.  If was unusual I don't think we were ever behind.  The 71 points is third most we have allowed this year.  That was alarming at the time.  I think we have improved considerably defensively since then," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We have taken some steps to adjust some things we did not do well in that game.  We did not stop penetration very well.  We did not box out on rebounds very well.  We did force 22 steals in that game.  I don't think it is realistic to look for that kind of performance again.  It was a game where if we didn't steal the ball they ended up shooting a layup or an open three pointer, so we are going to try and make sure we are playing much more solid defense."

          Crestline (3-19) can score the ball and they look to push the pace, but Durham says they like to do that too.  He says the Spartans are better when they are running the floor.  "We prefer and up tempo type of game where we can get out and run and use our defensive skills to create some offense.  We seem to function a lot better in that kind of game and with that kind of pace.  Hopefully that is how it is going to be," he said.

 

Published 2/25/14

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Spartans Play Another Bigger School

 

          Despite a loss to an unbeaten school, Mansfield St. Peter's continues to build momentum heading into next week's post season tournament.

          They have won four of their last six.

          They won probably their biggest game of the season last Friday when them dominated the second half and won (62-48) the second edition of the "Holy War" against Mansfield Christian to finish second behind the Flames in the Mid-Buckeye Conference.

          Coach Pat Durham says a couple of big runs in the second half put the game on ice at the "Furnace" last Friday.  "We were frustrated that the last five times we had played them they had beaten us, the last two were by a single point when we had a chance to win the game and didn't.  So, we got that monkey off our back.  The second half was outstanding.  We started it with a 16-2 run.  We started the fourth quarter with a 14-0 run and pretty much put the game out of reach, so I was really happy with that outcome.  Certainly one of our best games of the year against a quality team," he said.

          On Saturday night, they competed early, but got handled in the second half by unbeaten Ontario (83-47) in non-conference play.  Consistent with his personality Durham is not going to make excuses.  "That is to their credit.  Let's not look for excuses of things we could have done.  They are an outstanding team and they are not 21-0 for no reason.  They play great defense.  They have good depth, they have shooters, they have size, they rebound it really well.  I thought we attacked the basket very well, but in the first half in particular we were fouled and we didn't finish by making a high percentage of free throws.  I think we were only 8-17 in the first half.  We were down seven, but they finished the half on a 6-0 run.  In the long hall we were averaging about 62 points a game.  For us to get that against Ontario we would had to shoot better from the field and the free throw line and we didn't get that," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "We didn't turn the ball over that much.  Certainly the effort was there, but I think we left something on the floor on Friday night.  We played our hearts out then and probably didn't have enough legs left to go the whole four quarters on Saturday night against a team like Ontario.  It looked like a couple of our kids were really tired in the fourth quarter.  With a seven man roster and then playing eight or nine and rotating them it was difficult.  We knew they would be tough and we had to play a lot better, but the effort has been there all year no matter who we've played."

          Now on Tuesday night, St. Peter's (12-9) plays host to Clear Fork (9-9) out of the tough Ohio Cardinal Conference.  The Colts lost to West Holmes (69-57) on Monday night.  Durham says they will be athletic and they will be a big challenge defensively.  "Last year when we played them it was a three point game and we missed a tying shot with five seconds to go.  We held Chrastina to nine and I think last year he averaged about 13.  Winand last year averaged 18 and he got 18 against us.  The wildcard in the mix was Keith Corbin, who averaged about 13 and he went off for 23 that night.  Other than Keith and Evan Van Orman I believe they return everybody from their roster last year.  Some of these kids are now four year varsity players.  Luers, Ridenour, Chrastina, Winand have played partly on the varsity for three and even four years.  Griffin Robinette is a junior that has really come on offensively lately and he is in his second year on the varsity.  They are an experienced and they play a really tough schedule in their league.  It will be a tough test.  I don't think we have beaten them for at least eight or nine years," said Durham.

 

Published 2/18/14

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Spartans Want to Attack Tough Weekend

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's has won four of its last five games, several in impressive fashion, but this weekend will be one of their toughest of the season as they face traditional rival Mansfield Christian at "The Furnace" and the host unbeaten Ontario.

          Last week, the Spartans (11-8,6-3) buried back to back opponents in East Knox (70-46) in Mid-Buckeye Conference play on Friday night and Crestview (82-53) in a non-league encounter on Saturday night.

          Coach Pat Durham says they really put some things together on offense in recent games.  "We have put together several good quarters offensively and a few defensively.  Against Crestview I thought we let up on defense a few times more times than I like, but offensively we did everything we wanted to do," he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, "The night before against East Knox it was similar and even last Tuesday against Colonel Crawford we were able to execute our offense at times very well, so I am pleased with our progress there.  We will need to do that in the games this weekend."

          Mansfield Christian (13-6,9-0), the outright "MBC" champion, beat St. Peter's (53-52) at the Franciscan Center on January 10.  Durham says they just need to make a few more plays this time.  "They built up a 12-point halftime lead and we were able to cut into that and catch up.  The fourth quarter was kind of a back and forth struggle.  As I recall their winning points came on free throws after we fouled a kid driving and he made a one and one.  They fouled us on a defensive rebound and we missed a one and one.  The difference there was very small," he said.

          Free throws cost the Spartans a couple of games early in the season, but Durham says they have become better at converting those charity tosses.  "Our season percentage is over 60 now.  Of the seven kids we play I think five of them are between 65 and 75 percent.  The other two are under that level.  It has gotten quite a bit better and we are shooting more free throws than our opponents generally," he said.

          Ontario (20-0), no less than co-champs of the Northern Ohio League, #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the league school division, comes calling on Saturday night.  Durham knows what they are up against.  "It will be a very stiff challenge.  This is the third year of the contract with them.  We have competed with them basically for about half of a game each of the previous two years.  Two years ago we kind of alternated between good and bad quarters and ended losing by about 19 and that was at home.  Last year at Ontario we were down seven at halftime with two of our leading scorers sitting down for much of the second quarter with foul difficulties.  Then for whatever reason they came out and smoked us in the third quarter and it wasn't competitive after that.  So, we are hoping to stay with them.  We have nothing to loose except for the game.  We will try to approach it that way.  We are going to try and compete with certainly one of the top two teams in the Mansfield area."

 

Published 2/12/14

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St. Peter's Hits High Note

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's has struggled with inconsistency and in some cases meritocracy this basketball season, but they come up with maybe their biggest win yet this week.

          They downed Colonel Crawford, the second place team in the North Central Conference, (54-48) on Tuesday night in non-league action.

          Coach Pat Durham says they were able to do some things on offense, but really the difference in the game what they did on defense against the Eagles.  "We were concerned with their outside shooting, particularly Conner McCreary and did a nice job guarding him.  David Hall, who gives us some length on the perimeter was able to contest most of Conner's shots, holding him to one three pointer, I think he ended up with 10 points.  We didn't do a whole lot offensively," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We executed our offense.  We didn't have much scoring balance for a change.  Richard Shaw erupted for 23 points, which is 14 over his average.  He had been in somewhat of a slump over the last couple of weeks.  I was glad to seem him snap out of it.  Joe Rall added 16 points, which was a pretty typical game for him.  I was very happy with the win.  We hadn't beaten them, this is a three year series, we had competed for part of the game each of those first two years, but this time we really shut them down in the second half and were able to pull away and win."

          St. Peter's (9-8,5-3) plays host to East Knox (6-11,5-3) at home on Friday night in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game.  The Bulldogs beat them in their first meeting (56-55) and Durham says they just got out played that night.  "We finished that game with two of our starters fouled out, Richard Shaw and David Hall, which really hurt our defense in the fourth quarter.  They were able to take advantage of some situations and made some clutch shots, and we kind of let a 10 point lead get away at halftime.  They out played us to be perfectly honest.  They were more physical that day than we were," he said.

          The division four sectional draw comes up on Sunday and there are some very good teams there including "NCC" leader Buckeye Central, Firelands Conference leader Plymouth and "MBC" winner Mansfield Christian.  However, Durham believes they can compete.  "We can't win our conference, we can come in second.  I believe right now we would be tied with East Knox for second place.  The tournament has been one of our long rang goals all year.  That is a very viable and reachable goal, at least the sectional championship.  We are not going to be one of the top seeds, we are probably looking at a number four seed out of six teams.  The difference between the seeds is not that great and we have played everybody in our sectional.  We are fairly confident if we play well, and we are still trying to build on that big win over Crawford, if we do not get satisfied and work a little harder in practice, particularly on defense, I think we have a chance," said Durham.

 

Published 2/07/14

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Spartans Still Look Consistency

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's has shown they can play very well this year, but they have also shown they can be pretty bad too and it's that lack of consistency that is plaguing the Spartans right now.

          With the winter the way it has been it has been difficult to get kids in the gym for practice sometimes.  Veteran coach Pat Durham says when you get to this time year everyday practices aren't necessary, but sometimes it really hurts you by not allowing you to go through scouting reports.  "I felt that was a factor when we played East Knox a couple of weeks ago.  We scouted them pretty toughly, but we weren't able to work on their sets and some of their other stuff during practice, we did it in a walk through situation.  In a one-point loss they scored a couple of buckets off their sets that we might have otherwise prevented.  At this time of the year you really don't have to practice every day I don't think.  Traditionally I have taken a lot of Mondays off this time of the year, especially after a double weekend.  This week we were off Monday and Tuesday, so it will be catching up on Wednesday and Thursday," said Durham.

          The Spartans (7-7,4-3) play at Danville (6-8,2-5) on Friday night in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game.  They beat the Blue Devils (54-43) on December 20.  Durham says they have to do a good job on leading scorer Andy Payne.  "He is a really good, strong inside presence and he can step outside and shoot threes.  We held him to 11 points the first time and they were pretty evenly distributed throughout the game.  Durbin I think scored seven all in the first quarter.  of course, he is out with shoulder surgery," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "We haven't been able to scout them.  I was scheduled to go there earlier this week, but they were postponed.  We are just going to go on our film and what we know they have left and hopefully we can do our best to play a little better down there."

          With a young team this year, Durham says even this far into the season they are still struggling with consistency issues.  "Consistency during games certainly is an issue.  Against Loudonville last Friday we started out reasonably slow taking some shots that we ill advised in terms of shooting to early and maybe not working it another pass or two to get a better shot.  That put us in a deep hole at halftime, which maintained itself through the third quarter.  In the fourth quarter we outscored them 28-16 and had a three rim out with two seconds to go to tie.  We are still inconsistent from game to game and quarter to quarter," said Durham.

          On Saturday night, St. Peter's returns home to host Kidron Central Christian.  A team that Durham says is excellent and they will need an excellent effort.  "They are one of the few Christian schools we keep on our schedule.  They have two four year lettermen and a three year letterman who is a junior.  I think we beat them by seven or eight last year at Kidron.  It was a tight game down into the last minutes.  The games have been generally close over the years.  I know we will have to play one of our better games to beat them.  It will be nice to play on our home court again.  The Danville game will be our fifth straight road game," said Durham.

 

Published 1/30/14

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Spartans Getting Better

 

          Mansfield St. Peter's has been forced to place some inexperienced players in key rolls due to injuries and an overall lack of depth, but those players are beginning to feel more comfortable at the varsity level and it is starting to show on the floor.

          They drilled Lucas (87-38) in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game last Friday and then beat Shelby (56-52) for the second straight year, this time at Shelby's new gym.

          Coach Pat Durham, who likely has t-shirts as old as many of his players, or twice as old probably, has been a coach, at some level, since 1966.  He says last weekend they were finally able to play with come consistency.  "We were able to play very solid defense both nights and stayed out of serious foul trouble and probably put together our two best games in succession all year," he said.

          6'9" senior Cole Phillips injured a knee in the Spartans first game of the year and is out for the season.  Durham says they had to remake themselves and they have now reached the point where they have found their identity.  "We started with four lettermen, only two of who were seniors in Cole and Joe Rall.  Basically I underestimated the youth factor with the other kids. Adam Blunk was a full time player last year as a sophomore and he has been solid for us all year.  He has been one of our most valuable players," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "The other kids were making the step up from JV to varsity and that is a big step.  From a physical standpoint some of them weren't quite ready.  They have made that step now and our bench is contributing more than before, so I am very pleased with our progress."

          Friday night the Spartans (7-6,4-2), in second place in the "MBC" behind Mansfield Christian, play at Loudonville (3-10,2-3) in conference action.  St. Peter's won the first game (61-52) in December.  Durham says the Redbirds are dangerous.  "They run a variety of sets involving a lot of screening, so you have to play good solid man to man again them.  They are still a young team they are a little bit erratic defensively.  They tend to foul a lot.  They play very aggressively.  If their three point shooters are left open they can be very challenging offensively.  They do start three sophomores.  They are a team to be reckoned with in the second half this year and certainly next," said Durham.

 

Published 1/23/14

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Spartans Face Talented Plymouth

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s has lost its last three games in aggravating fashion in the last minute of play, two of them by one point, including last week to rival Mansfield Christian.

          The (53-52) loss to the Flames dropped the Spartans two games behind their rivals in the Mid-Buckeye Conference standings.

          Coach Pat Durham says they just needed one more play somewhere in the game to go their way.  “We expected it to be a tight game.  It is a rivalry game and psychically they don’t over match us.  The edge in a one-point game could be determined about 20 different times during the game.  We got down 12 at halftime.  We had some foul trouble the first half.  They outscored us I think 23-8 the second quarter to build that 12-point lead.  We cut that to four by the end of the third quarter and traded it back and forth down the stretch.  As I tell our kids we are about two defensive stops or two made shots away from being 5-0 in the league, but that is what if?  Or coulda, shoulda, woulda,” he said.

          Although they missed the front end of a one and one in the final ten seconds that would have given them the win, Durham says that was not necessarily the difference in the game.  “The points they scored before the winning basket were the result of free throws.  The kid drove and we fouled him while he was driving and he hit a tough one and one.  Had we been able to maintain the lead I think we could have spread the floor, milk the clock, and maybe draw some fouls.  Again it would have come down to the free throw line,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Our lost to Calvert and certainly the loss to Mansfield Christian the thing you remember are the missed free throws, but to put it into perspective we try to teach our kids to play every play.  A missed shot, an error, a turnover in the first quarter is just as important in a tight game like that as one in the last quarter, so it has come down to free throws and turnovers.  We are working hard on that.”

          St. Peter’s (5-5) does not have a lot of experience and sometimes that shows up late in games, according to Durham.  “To our defense, we are basically a young team.  Joe Rall is a senior and three year starter. Some the kids are second year varsity players, but half of them are still first year varsity players.  We are still battling some inexperience, especially in those late game situations,” he said.

          Things do not get any easier for the Spartans as they play at Plymouth (10-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boy’s basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, on Tuesday night.  Durham says the Rid Red is loaded.  “Their post player Tyrell Edmiston is six foot four and probably 190 or 200 pounds and very, very athletic.  He is a jumper, physical and a great offensive rebounder.  They surround him with two or three good shooters in Tyson Beebe, Dodge Collins.  Their point guard Hunter Bailey is a very good ball handler, who also can score inside when the need arises.  He runs the offense for them very well and he is a very aggressive defender.  They play very good man-to-man defense.  They use a couple of different full court presses, with which they are very aggressive.  They run a very simple offense.  Besides his athletic ability, Tyrell has become an outstanding passer out of the low post area.  If you help off of your man he will find him for an open shot.  They have all of the tools on both offense and defense.  Their weakness could be depth.  If we could get Tyrell to set out for a why in foul trouble, which we haven’t managed to do before and be able to help on the other kids on the outside it would greatly enhance our chances of winning,” said Durham.

 

Published 1/14/14

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Spartans in Must Win Situation

 

          Trailing arch rival Mansfield Christian by a game in the Mid-Buckeye Conference standings, Mansfield St. Peter’s hosts the Flames on Friday night in am almost must win for them.

          St. Peter’s (5-4,3-1) fell out of a tie for first place when they lost to East Knox (56-55) last Friday and then lost another close one to Tiffin Calvert (62-57) in non-conference play on Saturday night.

          Coach Pat Durham says both were heartbreakers.  “We were unable to finish either game with any authority and it cost us dearly.  We fouled with three seconds to go against East Knox and the kid hit one out of two free throws to beat us. At Calvert we have a five point swing in about in a 10 second span and went from three ahead to two behind and that was the game.  So, it was a very disappointing weekend.  Again the effort was there, but late game execution was sorely lacking,” said Durham.

          Durham says the John Kurtz coached Flames (6-3,4-0) really make you execute when you have the ball in your hands.  “They are probably one of the better man-to-man defensive teams in the area in any division.  They are very well drilled and very fundamentally sound at the defensive end.  It is hard to get easy baskets against them,” he said.

          To get good shots against the Flames, Durham says you have to handle the ball and they have to be able to rebound the basketball.  “You can not turn it over a lot.  You have to be strong with the ball.  You have to cut down on those fumbles and those plays where they slap the ball away and they wind up with it.  You have to be really good in your passing angles.  You have to use some pass fakes,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They are not really big, but they do contest shots very well and they rebound very well.  We need to cut down on our turnovers and we need to crash the offensive boards and get more shots.  We did that well, the rebounding standpoint, at Tiffin, but we haven’t done that consistently all season though.”

          Having won six conference titles in his time at South Central, Durham says a win is not an absolute, but it almost is, especially with the smaller league in the “MBC” this year.  “This is a six team league, so you only play 10 league games.  Should we lose we would have to beat Mansfield Christian the second time and hope for some help from some other team, which is not impossible, and that gets us a tie, so we are putting it all on the line (Friday),” said Durham.

 

Published 1/10/14

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Spartans Return to League Play

 

          Mid-Buckeye Conference co-leader Mansfield St. Peter’s returns to conference action as they travel to East Knox on Friday night.

          Last Saturday night, the Spartans (5-2,3-0) lost just their second game of the season when Sandusky Bay Conference co-leader Sandusky St. Mary’s downed them (65-55) at the Franciscan Center.

          Coach Pat Durham says turnovers and offensive rebounds cost them the game.  “They controlled the backboards particularly in the second half and that was the difference.  Our stats had it 47-20 in terms of rebounding and they had 20 offensive rebounds, which way too many, while we only had three.  We were able to attack them in the half court pretty well.  They played a trapping zone most of the game and when we handled the traps we were able to get easy shots and we didn’t it was a turnover,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “The difference was probably the points they got off of turnovers and their second chance points off rebounds.  The effort was there, they are a big strong team with their best player is a four year starter and a 6’4” guard and he is a tough match up for just about anybody.”

          East Knox (2-5,1-1) lost on Monday night to Highland (69-39) of the Mid-Buckeye Conference in a non-conference game.  Durham says they have some guys that can make outside shots.  “They beat Danville I think by five points and they have lost to Fredericktown and a couple of other teams.  They have a couple of good shooters.  Their game with Danville was a high scoring affair something like 77-72 and they have a couple of good three point shooters that we have to be very conscious of,” he said.

          On Saturday night, the Spartans travel to Tiffin Calvert (2-4) to face the Senecas.  Durham anticipates seeing some pressure from Calvert and says they have to handle the ball better than they have been in recent games in order to have success.  “It’s a road game on a Saturday so you never know what to expect and how much your Friday game will take out of your legs.  They are not any bigger than us thankfully.  They have two starters back from last year and two of their top subs from last year are back and are starting now.  They will pose a threat on their own court, so hopefully we can handle the ball a little better than we have lately and take care of any pressure they can supply.  It should be a tough game,” said Durham.

 

Published 12/31/13

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Spartans Play Talented St. Mary’s

 

          After three games rivals Mansfield St. Peter’s and Mansfield Christian share first place in the boys’ basketball standings in the Mid-Buckeye Conference and they meet first time in a couple of weeks.

          Last Friday, St. Peter’s (5-1,3-0) beat Danville in “MBC” action (54-43) behind 15 points from Richard Shaw and 12 points and 10 rebounds by senior Joe Rall.  Coach Pat Durham likes the fact that they out rebounded Danville 39-37 in the win.  “We are making progress.  We are kind of shorthanded still and are feeling our way in a couple of positions, but we stepped up and rebounded much better against Danville than we had in the previous four games,” he said.

          The Spartans are without 6-9 senior center Cole Phillips for the rest of the year.

          Rebounding was better, but the ball handling not so much.  Durham says they have to make better decisions with the ball or it is going to end up costing them.  “We are still tuning the ball over at a rate of about 17 times a game.  I think we had 18 against Danville.  They are not really forced, some of them are just careless passes or ball handling mistakes,” he said.

          St. Peter’s will receive one of their biggest challenges of the season when Sandusky St. Mary’s (5-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the small school division, and co-leader in the Sandusky Bay Conference, comes to the Franciscan Center on Saturday night.  Durham says they Panthers are experienced and they have really good talent.  “I think they are 5-0.  They got off to a late start because some of their opponents were in the football playoffs and I think they got snowed out a game too.  They have managed to play five and win them all.  The night I scouted them against division two Port Clinton they looked really good.  They return I believe three starters and Denarius Harris is a four year starter.  Melvin Jackson is a junior and he is in his second year as a starter,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They bring three quality substitutes off the bench in a guard, a wing shooter, and a 6’6” post player, so they are going to be a handful in that they are probably bigger than us at every position and they share the ball well so you can’t key on one guy.”

          Durham says St. Mary’s likes to press and that means they are going to have to handle the ball better than they have been this year in order to have a chance to win.  “They play a very affective full court trapping game out of their man to man and zone.  We are going to have to really tighten up our ball handling against that and attack the basket aggressively when we get out of traps.  We are going to have to limit their shots, like I said they have good size and if we give them more than one shoot in a possession it is going to be tough,” he said.

 

Published 12/24/13

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Spartans Face Crestline, Danville

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s has a chance to maintain no less than a share of the Mid-Buckeye Conference lead with a win over Danville on Friday night, but first they have to deal with Crestline on Thursday night.

          They improved to (2-0) in “MBC” competition when Richard Shaw had 19 and Adam Blunk 17 in a come from behind (61-52) win over Loudonville. 

          Coach Pat Durham says after a slow start they adjusted to style of play and were successful.  “We got off to kind of a slow start and gave 17 points in the first quarter.  They seemed a step a head of us that whole quarter.  A kid named Garrett Quickle came out and hit a couple of three pointers right off the bat with a hand in his face.  They were beating us down the floor for about the first 10 minutes of the game.  Then we were able to adjust to that pace and run our offense a little better.  We were very competitive after that and finished quite strong,” said Durham.

          With Cole Phillips out for the season, the Spartans (3-1) are turning up the tempo a little bit and Duaham says he has always instructed his players to play like that.  “I have always preferred an up tempo type of pace.  I like to watch that kind of basketball, I liked to play that kind of basketball and I have enjoyed coaching it that way.  It hasn’t always worked out according to plan.  I think kids enjoy playing that way.  As long as you are winning that is a good style to play,” he said.

          Crestline (2-2) has the Spartans at their place on Thursday night.  Durham says this is a much better team than what they have been like in recent years.  “They are going start two sophomores Hurst and Hunger and those are two of their leading scorers.  These are kids they didn’t have last year.  I have seen them play once this year.  They are very affective offensively.  They attack the basket very well and like to get up and down the floor,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “The night I scouted them they were kind of overpowered inside by Mt. Gilead’s post players, who are very good players and are much taller than anybody Crestline has.  It will be interesting to see how well they can defend us and if we can get something going inside against them.”

          Danville (1-3,0-2) plays the Spartans on Friday night.  They lost to “MVC” co-leader Mansfield Christian (64-56) on Tuesday night.  Durham says Andy Payne is going to be a player to guard for them.  “He is a football player.  I don’t know if he is a linebacker or defensive lineman.  He is even a little bigger than he was last year.  He goes about 6’3” and I would say at least 230 or 240.  He did score 38 points the other night against East Knox, a game that they lost.  He gets fouled a lot because he goes to the basket strong.  He does like to step out and shoot the three.  I saw him play last year and he shot seven or eight three pointers.  I think against East Knox he attempted eight or nine and made two of three.  He is a match-up problem for us,” said Durham.

 

Published 12/18/13

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Spartans Need Better Effort

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s was the preseason choice to win the Mid-Buckeye Conference boys’ basketball title, but now that may be a lot tougher challenge.

          The Spartans have lost 6’9” senior center Cole Phillips for the season with a knee injury.

          Without him the Spartans (2-1,1-0) drilled the Lucas Cubs (80-27) in their conference opener last week.  Coach Pat Durham says they pretty much did what they wanted.  “We played really well. We were able to execute our offense pretty well and did pretty much what we wanted with the ball.  Defensively, other than a breakdown here or there I was pleased with the effort there.  The outcome was about what I expected,” he said.

          St. Peter’s lost their first game of the season last Saturday to Buckeye Central (67-47) in non-conference play.  Durham says Buckeye Central out played them in every way.  “They came out very well early.  I think we were ahead 4-2 and they were ahead 17-8 at the end of the first quarter.  We had turned it over a few times and taken a few ill advised shots.  We started to cone back over the first half of the second quarter.  I think we cut it to 19-13, it looked like the game I expected, and then they were able in the last four minutes of the first half to outscore us 14-2.  It wasn’t so much what we did, I thought they played very well.  We were plagued by turnovers and one and outs in that quarter.  We only ended up with five offensive rebounds for the whole game and I think we got three of those in the fourth quarter.  They out played us in about every phase of the game.  In the second half we executed our offense a little better and pretty much matched them point for point in the second half.  It was that four minute stretch at the end of the first half I thought did us in.  I was really disappointed in our defense and our offense,’ said Durham.

          The injury to Phillips according to Durham has forced a lot of changes in their approach to the game.  “We basically had a seven man roster, including Cole and all of the pieces fit together nicely.  We had the post covered, Joe Rall is outstanding on the wing, Adam Blunk was doing a nice job at the point for us, and the other kids were playing well, particularly David Hall, who had two 17 point games leading up to Buckeye Central.  Like a lot of sophomores he got a dose of reality.  Buckeye Central is an excellent defensive team and we weren’t able to get the easy baskets we had gotten in the first two games.  It was a good learning experience it shows what we have to do now that we don’t have Cole.  The main area that we missed Cole was on the boards.  They out rebounded us by about 15 and they really aren’t that much bigger than us.  I was really disappointed with our rebounding effort,” said Durham.

          Loudonville (0-1,0-0) will be at the Franciscan Center on Friday night for a league match-up.  Durham says the Redbirds have some shooters.  “I think they will start three sophomores, two of whom had really good offensive games in the game I saw against Norwayne.  They have a 6’6” post.  They do start one senior and I think he had 13 or 14 points.  Norwayne was playing their third game, it was Loudonville’s opener and that’s what it looked like,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “The two teams tried to make it a Helter Skelter up and down kind of game and Norwayne thrived in that sort of pace.  Loudonville turned it over a few too many times.  They do have two or three kids that look like they can really shoot it.  I expect a tough game I really can’t evaluate how good they are because of the way the game was played.”

          Durham says his experience, he has been in coaching since 1966, tells him this is going to be a good race in the “MBC” this year.  “I thought when we found out we were in this league I thought the championship would come down to us, with what we had returning, and Mansfield Christian.  Both of us have been hurt by injuries, us losing Cole Phillips, and them losing Ryan Smith.  That brought both of us back some I think.  I think Danville still have enough left from a district championship team to compete.  Loudonville, from a physical standpoint, it looks like they can compete.  I haven’t yet seen East Knox and Lucas is still in a rebuilding phase.  It would appear to me that this league is wide open now and it is important to win the home games.  At first glance I thought we would win it with a 10-0 or 9-1 record, but now we have come back to the pack.  It looks like every game might be a dogfight in this league,” said Durham.

 

Published 12/12/13

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Spartans Have to Retool

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s appeared to be on their way to an even better season than last, and they still may be, but they are going to have to do it in a different way.

          Pending his surgery on Friday, senior center Cole Phillips, 6’9”, and with a solid overall game, may be done for the season.  He suffered a knee injury in the Spartans (63-61) overtime win over South Central last Friday. 

          In that game David Hall scored 17 points, including the game winner on a driving layup at the horn.  He was not that impressed with their overall performance, but coach Pat Durham, says they made the big plays they had to make them.  “We were able to get stops at the end of regulation and at the end of the overtime when we absolutely had to have them.  Accentually our problem was we left some of their good three point shooters open for too long of a time and let them set their feet and get shots off.  We didn’t defend the three point line very well at all,” he said.

          St. Peter’s (1-0) hosts Lucas (0-2) in its first ever conference game on Friday night.  The Spartans have joined the Mid-Buckeye Conference.  The Cubs got off to a slow start with losses to Fredericktown (62-16) and Plymouth (97-50) last week.  Durham says they have  to come out and play their game.  “They are still relatively young.  I think they are on their third or fourth coach in four years.  It is a program that has kind of been in a state of transition.  I have heard some good things about them.  I think this guy is doing things the right way,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It wasn’t so long ago that they were a big win for us in the tournament.  Since then they have kind of fizzled, but we are trying to play up to the standard of the game.  We always tell our kids it’s not who you play, but how you play regardless if we are playing a bigger school like Ontario or someone struggling right now like Lucas we want our effort to be the same.”

          On Saturday night, the Spartans host Buckeye Central (2-0), who is off to a great start with wins over Plymouth (63-49) and New Riegel (57-25) last weekend.  Durham says they have the whole package.  “They return almost everybody from last year.  They graduated a couple of senior guards, who were pretty solid role players and defensive players.  They’ve got a lot of firepower.  Some of their kids have gotten a little taller now.  They have gone with a lot of sophomores and juniors the last couple of years and those kids have grown up now.  They are really tough.  They have three or four really good shooters.  They are a really good defensive team.  I was impressed with their defense against New Riegel on Saturday.  We will have our hands full there and it should be a good game,” said Durham.

          Durham says the injury to Phillips will change the identity of the team, but whatever happens Friday he believes they can still have strong team.  “He suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee with about two minutes left in the game the other night.  It was not a catastrophic looking injury.  He tore that cartilage and will have surgery on Friday.  It is kind of unusual if they can repair it he will miss the season with about a three month recuperative period.  If it is damaged so bad that they can’t repair it and have to remove it that will allow him to play sometime this season.  I don’t understand that, but it is a big blow to our team.  We finally had all of the pieces in place to make a run at the district championship.  If he is not available I think we will still have a solid team, but it changes our lineup dramatically because he was a solid post player that is bigger than anyone else in this area, now we will probably have to put Joseph Rall back in the post more than I wanted to because he has developed him perimeter game quite a bit and has given us a lift out there, so we will figure it out.  It is kind of a crippling blow for now, but long term we will overcome it somehow,” said Durham.

 

Published 12/5/13

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St. Peter’s With Some Potential

 

          In a season where they are joining a league for the first time, the Mansfield St. Peter’s Spartans have at least the potential to be a very good basketball team.

          They are now affiliated with the Mid-Buckeye Conference and play their first league game in two weeks against Loudonville.

          Veteran coach Pat Durham says they have good players, but they are behind in terms of especially defensive development due to several factors.  “Our preseason has been slowed by due to absentness due to illness, educational or family commitments.  Out of the 18 or 19 days I have only had my whole team five or six days.  We have just been kind of piece milling things together.  We are a little farther behind in our defensive development than I would like to be,” said Durham.

          There is quite a bit of experience associated with this team of Spartans.  Durham has Joe Rall, one of the best players in the Mansfield area, and two other kids that played a lot last year.  “Joseph Rall is starting his third year.  Cole Phillips and Adam Blunk did not start last year, but they played as much as the starters.  By the end of the year Adam Blunk was playing more than the starting point guard.  Phillips probably averaged 18 minutes a game was our leading rebounder and free throw shooter,” he said.

          One of the keys this year for the Spartans will be the play of 6-8 senior Cole Phillips.  Durhan says he has developed into a real force down low and is able to do some more things.  “His stamina has increased.  He will play a lot more minutes this year.  His mobility is better, especially on the offensive glass,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We are trying to get him to be a little more of a shot blocker on defense and he had kind of taken to that and has come along.  He gives us an edge in that not a lot of teams around here have size that will match him inch for inch.  He is playing bigger than last year also, so I am happy with his development.”

          St. Peter’s begins its season on the road on Friday night against South Central of the Firelands Conference.  Durham, who once coached at South Central, and his responsible for a lot of their basketball program’s success, including six conference titles, says this year’s Trojans are young, but have some good talent and experience.  “They return five lettermen only one of whom is a senior.  They have basically two juniors, one a full time starter, and the other and on and off starter, and they have two sophomores that play quite a bit of varsity.  They also will dress and play three freshmen that I understand are pretty good players.  It will be a young team, but kind of like ourselves they have some experience.  They are not very big, but they have quite a few pretty dependable outside shooters, so we are going to have our hands full defensively,” said Durham.

 

Published 11/28/13

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Lady Spartans off to Good Start

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s just knows how to win.

          They lost Randa Payne to graduation and they just continue to win.  They have a team made up mostly of freshmen and they just continue to win.  They have only 11 players and no JV team and they just continue to win.

          Last Friday, they opened the season with a (58-31) win over Fremont St. Joseph in a non-conference game.  Yes, I know it used to be every St. Peter’s game was a non-conference game, but don’t forget this year they are in the Mid-Buckeye Conference.  First year coach Shani Rush says they didn’t get off to the best start, but they got better.  “We started out a little slow, but the second half we really turned it on.  I felt the girls did a wonderful job.  They worked extremely hard.  I was really proud of them.  We had a couple of freshmen step up.  Our upperclassmen did a good job.  It was just a great team win,” she said.

          St. Peter’s is counting on some freshmen to be major contributors this season and Rush thinks their nervousness contributed to their slow start.  “The first half I think the jitters where there.  I think everybody we were just playing uptight and we were missing layups, but in the second half our defense turned it up and we got a lot of steals and converted them.  Once the freshmen hit a couple of shots they started to settle in and the same with our upperclassmen as well,” said Rush.

          Tiza Jones led the Lady Spartans with 18 points against St. Joe.

          Not that they can’t score in half court situations, but Rush believes this season their best offense will come from opportunities created by their defense.  “That is what I am hoping.  I always say let’s let our defense create our offense.  We have a little full court pressure and some half court pressure stuff.  I would rather play that way, but sometimes you have to get in your half court sets and execute your offense as well,” she said.

          On Tuesday night, the competition will be tougher for St. Peter’s as they travel to Clear Fork to face the Lady Colts in their opener, weather permitting.  Rush says the Lady Colts have a number of very good athletes.  “Clear Fork is a really good team.  They will be tough.  They have a lot of returners back.  They have one of the best athletes in the area in Swihart.  They have a good group of juniors and seniors.  I know they are going to put a little pressure on us full court and I hope we can respond well to it,” said Rush.

 

Published 11/26/13

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Some Questions for the Spartans

 

          It’s the first year Mansfield St. Peter’s has been in a league and there is every reason to believe the Spartans can claim the title in the Mid-Buckeye Conference, but so far November has resulted in the more questions than answers.

          With their non-conference opener with South Central just over a week away Tuesday was the first day that all of the players that are penciled onto the varsity roster have been in practice.

          Coach Pat Durham has been a little frustrated, but he says all of the elements are there for a good season.  “We are a little behind because of absences, kids have had other commitments they have put ahead of basketball, some kids have missed a day here and there because of illness.  We haven’t installed as much of our defense as I would have liked too by this point.  From a purely physical standpoint we have been pretty good,” he said.

          What will be the identity of this year’s Spartans?  Durham says that is hard to tell at this point, but he believes this is a team that can do a lot of things.  “I haven’t had them all there enough to make that judgment.  I think we will be an up tempo team, that is what we have tried to play.  We won’t shoot as many three pointers as we did last year, maybe our percentage from the three point arc will be higher,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We do have a 6’9” post player who has developed each year and is now ready to really contribute at full speed.  Joe Rall returns for his third year as a starter.  He has been outstanding for two years.  I think we will have a team that will be very flexible as we have three or four kids that can play multiple positions.  We have a really good point guard in Adam Blunk, who can penetrate or shoot it.  The possibilities are pretty wide open right now.”

          Rall has been a varsity player for the past three years and a starter the last two.  Durham, a basketball coach since 1966, says Rall is as good a player as he has coached.  “He rates right up there with any of the all state caliper players that I had at South Central or Clear Fork.  He is a very hard working boy.  He’s about 6’2’ and has played primarily in the post for two years because he was so good in the post.  With the development of Cole Phillips we are expanding Joe’s role this year.  He is going to be expected to play on the perimeter quite a bit.  He has worked on his outside shooting.  He has always been one of our hardest working, more intense players.  He has become a real leader and I look for big things from him,” said Durham.

 

 

Published 11/20/13

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Lady Spartans Need a Boost From Freshmen

 

          High school athletics at a small school often goes through some ebbs and flows and this is definitely a transitional year for the girls’ basketball program at Mansfield St. Peter’s.

          The Lady Spartans are just two years removed from an appearance in the division four state tournament, but graduated is All-Ohio guard Randa Payne, now at Florida Gulf Coast and the Lady Spartans will not be fielding a junior varsity team this year.

          Former assistant Shani Rush takes over as the head coach and she says they have a small, but talented group this year.  “We are short on numbers a little bit this year.  We have 11 girls out, but we have a good solid core of 11.  They are working hard,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have some injuries already and some sickness coming on in the first three weeks of practice, but hopefully we can get through that before we start the season next Friday.  Everybody should hopefully be healthy.”

          There will not be any testing the water for the freshmen this year, Rush says they are going to have to be able to jump into the deep end and be ready to go.  “We have six freshmen and they are getting a lot of experience right now in our scrimmages.  They have to step up and play like upperclassmen because they really don’t have a choice.  They are responding pretty well to the challenge.  They are only going to get better,” she said.

          The Lady Spartans open the season on November 22 at home against Fremont St. Joseph of the Midland Athletic League.  Rush they need to get healthy because they are going to need all of their players.  “One of our freshmen is out right now with a knee injury.  Another player is going through some sickness, hopefully she will be ready here in the next couple of days.  We just haven’t had a full squad ready and going everyday, so that has been a struggle right now.  If we can get them by next Friday that would be great,” said Rush.

 

Published 11/14/13

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Spartans Win Big One

 

          For weeks we have talked about how this has been a better season for Mansfield St. Peter’s, but I’m sure there were some unbelievers.  That likely ended this week.

          On Tuesday night, the Spartans (7-8) beat Seneca East (13-3), #2 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll in the small school division, (6-5) in a non-league game.

          Coach Tim Failor says it was a landmark win.  “I am absolutely thrilled for the kids.  Of course, I feel good too, but I feel good for the kids.  It was a tremendous win.  It was great for the program and great for building enthusiasm.  We hit a bump in the road the last few games.  We hadn’t been hitting the ball.  We gave up some runs.  Through the first five innings (Tuesday) night I thought it was the same.  We scored a lot of runs late.  It was a lot of fun,’ said Failor.

          A main difference for the Spartans this year is confidence.  Failor says they believe they can win in the late innings.  “Five of our wins have been come from behind wins.  The kids know that they can do that.  They just have to believe they are going to do it again and by golly (Tuesday) night they did,” he said.  Failor says in previous years they did not have that same confidence.  “It is a change from some prior years.  In a lot of prior years when we would get down we would be down for the next game and the game after that.  This year, they are down after they lose, of course, but it seems like they know they have the ability to win and they just keep playing hard, which is very rewarding,” he said.

          Thursday afternoon, St. Peter’s travels to Plymouth to play the Big Red (13-3) in another big game.  Failor says they will be ready.  “That is going to be an interesting game.  I guess that is a good way to say it.  They are really playing good baseball.  We used our number one (Tuesday) night, so number two has to come through for us at Plymouth, but the kids are excited,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We don’t have a lay down schedule. We are division four, but we play Clear Fork, we play Colonel Crawford, we play Wynford and we play New London.  The kids are excited we play good teams that play good baseball.”

          The sectional tournament draws will be held on Sunday in the Northwest District.  Failor believes they have a good opportunity to earn a bye.  “In our sectional, we don’t have the best record, Colonel Crawford does.  We have beaten every team in our sectional.  We beat Colonel Crawford, we spilt with Buckeye Central, we beat Crestline, we are beating in a suspended game Mansfield Christian.  I don’t know how that’s going to go.  Now a win against Seneca East, that’s a statement game.  That’s a big win, so I hope the drawing goes as well as I hope it goes.  I would like get a bye, we will have to see if that happens,” said Failor.     

 

 
   

Depth is a Concern For St. Peter’s

 

          There is no question that Mansfield St. Peter’s is a better baseball team, but they still have some hurdles to clear and they found that out on Monday.

          Clear Fork, of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, the best baseball league around here, punished the Spartans (11-1) on Monday in a non-league game.  St. Peter’s coach Tim Failor says they were kind of afraid that would happen considering their pitching rotation.  “The attitude has remained good.  We knew going into the Clear Fork game that we were at the end of our pitching.  We threw a young kid that got his baptism under fire.  We didn’t want that to happen, but we thought it could and it did,” he said.

          After not playing since Monday, the Spartans (6-5) are embarking on a tough part of their schedule.  Failor says they better be ready to compete.  “We are looking at a weekend where we are going to have to play good baseball.  South Central is a good team.  We have a doubleheader with Northmor on Saturday and they are a very good team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We are making up a portion of a suspended game with Mansfield Christian on Monday.  We need to win that because they are in our sectional.  Then we have Seneca East, which is awesome, on Tuesday.  We will be tested coming up here in the next few games.  We have to play our best.”

          Like with every team pitching depth is a concern for the Spartans. Failor says they are working on developing that depth.  “We feel one through three we are pretty darn good.  Four is okay.  Five needs a lot of work and six needs a lot of work.  We need that pitching depth.  Every team does.  At every level it’s pitching that carries you,” he said.

          The offense had been pretty good for the Spartans until the Clear Fork game.  Failor says they needed the sticks to step up and that did not happen.  “That is what we told our kids about out last game.  We may have had a let down in pitching, but we also had a letdown in hitting.  Hitting fills a lot of cracks.  When you are hitting the baseball that makes up for a lot.  It makes up for errors.  It makes up for a weakness in pitching,” said Failor.

          The weather has been a thorn in the side of most, if not all of the teams in North Central Ohio this year, and Failor says this one has been particularly difficult to do deal with it.  “This is ridiculous.  What is it out there today 45?  It’s the 25th of April.  I guess it’s spring in Ohio in all its glory.  I hope it turns around soon,” he said.  

 

 
   

St. Peter’s Want to Take it to the Next Level

 

          A win over Wynford on Wednesday night was the fifth of the baseball season for Mansfield St. Peter’s.  That is more than they have won in recent whole seasons.  Things are looking up for the Spartans.

          Coach Tim Failor says they can still be a lot better.  He says they are missing some scoring opportunities and if they take advantage there they can become an even more dangerous ball club.  “They are getting better, but we still have a ways to go and we are only a third of the way into the season.  I am very happy with our progress, I don’t want to sound like I’m not.  We do have the tendency to leave too many men on base.  They Wynford game we had 17 hits and we scored seven runs.  We left a lot of people on base, which is a problem.  You have to do your job when you get up to bat with runners in scoring position.  Our pitching has been strong.  We have won three of our five games in our last at bat, so that is a good sign.  They are not giving up,” said Failor.

          Clutch hitting can be one of the more difficult aspects of baseball, kind of like free throw shooting in basketball.  Failor says they have to be more patient.  “I don’t know if it is nervous or anxious, trying too hard, not being patient, wanting to get the key hit and driving the run in, and you forget to have a patient at bat,” he said.

          Until next season when they join the Mid-Buckeye Conference, Mansfield St. Peter’s is an independent.  Failor says that can be difficult when it comes to rescheduling baseball games.  “The season is very compressed and most leagues play two nights a week and then save another night for rainouts,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It is not difficult to get games scheduled before the season, it is difficult to get games scheduled when you lose a game to weather, against a team that is in a conference because they have to play their conference games and make up their conference games before they play their non-conference schedule.  That’s where the pinch comes in.  You are libel to get crossed off their schedule so they can get a conference game in.”

          Failor says they have already been forced to move some games around this spring.  He says it can make a guy feel older.  “We have had some bad weather so far this season.  The Wynford game from (Wednesday) night was a make-up game from a week ago.  We got two innings in against Mansfield Christian, our cross town rival, on Monday, so that is rescheduled to make up the final five innings next Tuesday.  We play Mansfield Senior (Friday) night and it looks like we are going to have bad weather.  We go to Buckeye Central Saturday and that could be affected by bad weather.  Coaches in their sixties get gray real fast,” said Failor.

          The Spartans (5-3) host Mansfield Senior (3-6) and winner of their last two, on Friday, weather permitting.  Failor looks for a good game.  “They are better, we are better, it could be a lot of fun,” he said.

 

 
   

St. Peter’s is Better

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s has long strived to produce a consistently strong baseball team.  The biggest concern over the years has been numbers with the program because upperclassmen sometimes don’t go out because they are afraid they won’t win.

          That is changing, at least a little bit.

          The Spartans (0-2) have lost to Mt. Gilead (3-0) and New London (14-4) in their first two games.

          Coach Tim Failor, also the school’s athletic director, says they have been battling hard and he expects that will continue.  “We did not get a scrimmage in.  We played tough for 12 innings and we had to play tough for 14.  We lost the first game 3-0.  We had seven hits, but they were scattered.  We went up to New London and they are a very good club.  We played with them for five innings.  It was 7-4 and the pitching blew up a little bit.  We have had our baptism of fire,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We have Colonel Crawford on Friday at Crawford and we have Monroeville Saturday for a doubleheader at home.  We think the season is going to be fine.  We think we are going to be competitive.  We have good pitching.  Right now we have too many outs in our batting order and we’ve got to shore that up.  Hitting eventually catches up with hitting.  I am looking forward to a fun season.”

          Failor believes they are clearly better than they were a year ago and it’s because of the leadership they have seen from their seniors.  “We are better than last year.  We have more seniors than we have had before.  At St. Pete’s, and all division four schools, numbers is always a battle.  We have more seniors than we have had in a long time and those seniors want to play the game.  It’s just a matter to get the younger players to want to play the game with as much hunger and we’ll get there,” he said.

          Still wins are going to have to be earned with great effort.  Failor knows his players are going to have to have great effort.  “They have to stay focused.  They can’t break down because they lost a game or they let the other team score a run or somebody kicked the ball around.  We try to teach if you lose focus, you lose the game no matter what the score is.  The mental attitude is real important.  It keeps you in the game.  It keeps you focused.  That’s what drives you, that’s when you work hard, when you are in the proper frame of mind,” said Failor.

 

 
   

Spartans Must Eliminate Mistakes

 

          A chance at a little redemption would give Mansfield St. Peter’s is first sectional title in half a decade.

          The Spartans (16-7) take on Buckeye Central (14-8) in the division four sectional final at Ontario High School on Friday night.

          Buckeye beat St. Peter’s back on the second Saturday of the regular season on two free throws with less than a second to play.

          St. Peter’s advanced to the final with a (53-38) win over Crestline.  Coach Pat Durham admits it wasn’t their best effort of the season, but they did what they had to do to win.  “We came out a little bit flat or tight I guess.  Crestline pretty much dictated the pace of the game early.  It took us a while to adjust to that pace.  To their credit they played really good defense and limited our shot opportunities,” he said.

          Junior Joe Rall had 20 points in the win on Tuesday, but some of the other players didn’t reach their seasonal averages and Durham says the team needs to show more consistent effort.  “A couple of them took it to heart that they didn’t perform the best, not that they didn’t make the effort, but they didn’t perform their best.  They have assured me that they will correct that on their own.  We need to come out and play with intensity for four quarters.  We need to be a little more patient on offense I think and take when the defense gives us and Buckeye Central certainly is a good defensive team,” said Durham.

          Cade Kaple, the Bucks second leading scorer, did not play in their win (55-53) over St. Peter’s.  Durham says he definitely make them a better team.  “Last year Buckeye Central started five seniors pretty much the whole year and used some younger kids as their bench.  Cade Kaple being one of those kids.  He injured his knee in their opener this year.  I think he ended up missing their first eight games.  He certainly posses more problems in that he can play in the post or he can be the point guard.  That adds to the problems that they already presented,” Durham told Swankonsports.com on Thursday.

          Buckeye is a team that features and number of players that can have an impact on the game and so do the Spartans.  Durham says Buckeye has a good mix.  “They have had a number of kids reach double figures as have we.  Their main scorers are Austin Wurm, who I think had 22 points against us the first time, mostly from the free throw line.  Kaple averages about 15 I think.  Grant Loy, the coach’s son, is a designated shooter.  He is a really good perimeter shooter.  Stone Wurm is a guard who is very athletic and is very streaky as a shooter.  They are not a very big team, but they play bigger than they are,” said Durham.

          In order to be the team that wins this time, Durham says they must final the Buckeye Central scorers and be able to handle the ball without a bunch of mistakes.  “We can’t let their shooters get off.  We have to know where Kaple and Wurm are at all times.  We can’t allow them any opening, both are excellent three point shooters and drivers.  We have to be really solid handling the ball.  We need to value every single possession.  In our close losses this year, and I pointed that out to the kids after the game, in a close loss every turnover, every blown defensive assignment, every sloppy pass could be the difference between winning and losing.  We have reduced out turnovers throw the year.  We are still having a few of what in Tennis you would call unforced errors, so we are trying to eliminate those,” said Durham.

 

 
   

Spartans Seeking Tournament Win

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s is seeking a return to the district tournament for the first time in five years and it begins with a sectional semi-final game in division four against Crestline on Tuesday night at Ontario High School.

          The Spartans won 15 games this regular season, but the lost their last two to New London (57-47) and Clear Fork (62-57) last week.  Veteran coach Pat Durham says they really played well in both games against quality competition.  “We lost to New London on their court and Clear Fork on their court.  I think both of those teams have s shot at winning their sectionals at least and maybe even the district.  Defensively those are two of the better teams we are going to play and we competed very well with both of them, so even though they were losses I think we will bounce back from that and play well,” he said.

          Junior Joe Rall was named to the second team by coaches in district six in division four.  He averages 13 PPG and Durham says he gives the team a physical nature wherever he plays.  “Joe has been excellent for two years now at going up through guys and finishing shots and banging around in the paint.  We are playing him much more on the perimeter his year, but he still spends a lot of time going to the basket.  In terms of rebounding, we did out rebound the Colts.  We had a size advantage on them most of the time and I expected we might.  Hopefully we can use that in our tournament game against Crestline,” said Durham.

          Already winning nine more games than they did last year, Durham says their bench has been one of the reasons and it should be an advantage against Crestline.  “We have good depth.  Crestline, basically, is going to play four seniors and a sophomore.  The sophomore is Nate Coffman, their leading scorer.  Their bench is composed of kids that have played JV all year and are kind of limited in what they can do.  What they can bring off the bench.  In the course of the whole game our bench depth should be a tremendous advantage for us,” he said.

          St. Peter’s (15-7) beat Crestline (73-43) a couple days before Christmas.  However, Durham says that may not be a real good predictor of Tuesday night’s outcome.   “The 30 point margin I was happy with that the first time.  We didn’t Cole Phillips.  He was ill that day and didn’t attend school.  Nate Coffman didn’t play for them.  So, that is two unknown factors for us to consider,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Coffman is a post player that can step out onto the perimeter and make three pointers.  He poses a match-up problem.  He also handles the ball quite a bit versus pressure.  It will be much more competitive than the first time I’m sure.  I feel like if we play up to our potential over all of the 32 minutes we should come out ahead.”

          Fast starts can be important in tournament basketball, but Durham says if they get behind on Tuesday night early he doesn’t think they will get too nervous.  “When we played the first time they actually led after the first quarter 16-13.  We were sloppy handling the ball, a little impatient on offense and dug ourselves a little hole, which we climbed out of quickly.  I think in the tournament that is important with a young team.  We are going to start four seniors and a junior, who started as a sophomore, so a bad start doesn’t necessarily have a bad effect on us this year.  That is probably one of the differences between our team this year and last year,” said Durham.  

 

 
   

Spartans End Regular Season With Clear Fork

 

          This has been a season of change for Mansfield St. Peter’s.  After four seasons of sub-.500 records, the Spartans have returned to being one of the better small school teams in the area. 

          They had a nine game winning streak snapped, which included wins over the likes of Shelby and Marion Pleasant, last Saturday when they lost to Firelands Conference co-leader New London (57-47) in non-conference action.  Coach Pat Durham says some poor shooting numbers probably did them in.  “We actually led at the end of the first quarter 19-16 and then both defenses tightened up somewhat and transition opportunities were less.  We didn’t shoot well from the foul line all night.  We were five of 13 and I think we ended up only four of 19 on three pointers.  We shot around 60 percent on our two pointers.  We had trouble from the ach and the line.  All in all if there is such a thing as a good loss it was a good loss.  We competed with a championship caliper team.  They gradually built the lead up through the last three quarters.  We were never able to catch up and make it a one possession game,” said Durham.

          Getting to the foul line had been a concern for the Spartans earlier in the year, but Durham says due to aggressiveness they have been shooting more lately.  “The lat few games we have done it quite well.  The Crestview game we shot 37 free throws, which is a season high.  We have been getting the ball inside a little better and more consistently and as a result have gotten to the line a little more,” he said.

          The Spartans (15-6) ends their regular season on Wednesday night at Clear Fork (11-10) of Ohio Cardinal Conference.  Durham says the Colts are going to be hard to guard.  “They have good shooters at every position.  They bring two 6’3” kids off the bench now to provide some size.  Basically they have a five guard starting lineup and all are capable of shooting outside and are capable of taking the ball to the basket.  They are very good passers and they execute their offense very well,” said Durham.

          Ridge Winand, Keith Corbin, and Kadin Chrastina have scored a majority of the Colts points this year.  An “OCC” coach professed earlier in the season that their goal was to tray and take away one of those players and hope the other two couldn’t score enough.  Durham says that would be difficult to do and they would be unlikely to go that route.  “That sounds good in theory, but I don’t know how you take them completely away.  They feed over one another very well.  They are unselfish.  They will take the open shot when its there.  They have demonstrated some patience.  They are good passers, so you can’t hope that one of them is going to have an off night or that you can completely shut him down,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “If they were just one dimensional players, just spot up shooters, it would be easier to do, but all three are capable of being one-on-one players driving and shooting outside, and shooting the pull up jumpers in between.”

          Starting with Marion Pleasant and New London last week, the Spartans have played some talented and physical teams.  Durham says Clear Fork is the same.  “I think four of their five starters played football.  They are still a young team.  Corbin is a senior and Evan Van Orman is a senior.  The rest of the kids are underclassmen.  I don’t think Winand played football this year, but he was a starter as a freshmen and sophomore in football.  They are going to be physical.  In the tournament they tend to let things get a little more physical.  I have told the kids that our last two weeks of games, the placement of games mid-week and weekend, and the type of teams that we were going to play would prepare us the tournament,” said Durham.    

 

 
   

 

St. Peter’s With Two Tough Tests

 

          The eight game winning streak the Mansfield St. Peter’s Spartans have put together is the school’s longest in nearly a decade, but things are going to get more difficult for the Spartans starting this week,

          Coach Pat Durham says they have sharpened their game in a number of areas since the beginning of the year.  “We are making some clutch free throws, we are taking care of the ball a little better, and we are getting defensive stops more regularly.  All of the things that are important in winning the close game,” he said.

          In their latest success story on Saturday night the Spartans (15-4) downed Seneca East (67-59) as five players reached double figures.  Seneca East post Ben Hahler had a big game against St. Peter’s a year ago, but Durham says they did a better job on him this time.  “He was a load.  I think he ended up with 21 points, but we looked over our film and realized he got three baskets on what you would call garbage where the ball bounced off two or three guys in the lane and found its way into his hands for open lay ups, so I can’t fault our defense for that.  We made him work for everything he got and his counterpart Joe Rall scored 18 points and only missed one shot, so we were pleased with our effort against him,” said Durham.

          On Thursday night, St. Peter’s entertains another team of Spartans in Marion Pleasant, the blue division champions of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.  Durham says Pleasant (15-4) is very good, especially at the guard position.  “They have outstanding guard play. Devlin McDaniel is a three year starter.  He had 24 points in a game against us as a sophomore.  He was instrumental in them beating us by five points two years ago.  I think he scored 20 of those points in the second half.  He is an excellent jump shooter.  He is a good three point shooter.  He is very athletic.  He is a handful,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Their point guard is a sophomore.  He is about a six foot do everything kind of guard.  He is a good outside shooter, very good penetrater, a good distributor.  He will be a difficult assignment.”

          Then in Saturday, they play at New London (15-2) of the Firelands Conference.  Durham says the Wildcats, a regional participant last year, has all of the tools.  “They are very solid at both ends.  They feature a four year regular in Dane Held, who had eight three pointers the other nigh against Black River.  He has been one of their best players for those four years.  I believe he will be the front runner for the Firelands Conference player of the year.  He is very solid in every part of the game.  They are not as big as they have been, but they play bigger than they are.  They are very well disciplined in running their offenses.  They change defenses periodically to keep you off balance and they do rebound very well for their size,” said Durham.

          St. Peter’s plays as difficult a schedule for a division four school anywhere in the district and Durham believes their last three games, including a game February 20 at Clear Fork, will prepare them well.  “Our schedule has been kind of back loaded the last couple of years.  It features some tough games at the end.  I think last season we finished the year losing six in a row because of that and a couple of those were really tough.  I don’t think anybody in our sectional bracket will be any stronger than any of these teams.  It should prepare us.  We are trying to win as many games as we can before we get to that sectional just trying to go out and compete against some really good teams,” said Durham.

 

 
   

Lady Spartans Must Rebound

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s backs way from no one when it comes to their schedule.  They simply play the toughest division four schedule in North Central Ohio.

          They play their fourth Ohio Cardinal Conference team on Tuesday night as they play at Mansfield Senior (10-10) in non-conference play. 

          The Lady Spartans (15-5) have lost their last two to Mansfield Madison (57-51) and Tiffin Calvert (67-45) on Saturday.  Coach Bill Tomisch says injuries have reduced their depth.  “Our starting post player Della Hall was injured about four, five games ago and she isn’t cleared to come back yet.  We hope to gte her back for the tournament.  We started out fairly thin to begin with numbers wise.  So, it’s been a little bit tough on us.  When somebody gets injured though it does give opportunities to other players and our sophomore post player Kim Tomchack has stepped up and is getting valuable playing minutes and is coming along nicely we are pleased with her progress.  We are not at full strength yet, so we will have a real tough test on our hands on (Tuesday) night,” said Tomisch.

          Earlier this month, senior guard Randa Payne became the all-time scoring leading in the storied history of St. Peter’s girls’ basketball.  Tomisch says Randa has worked hard to become more than just a scorer.  “She has started every game since she was a freshman.  The whole team the last three or four years have all been special, but Randa has become a complete player.  She has always been a tremendous scorer, but she has worked so hard on her game over the last few years she is truly a complete player.  She is a tough defensive player.  She is not just a three point shooter any more. She can score off the drive.  She has a nice combination of moves.  She is a good passer.  She has earned all of the accolades that have come her way,” said Tomisch.

          This year’s seniors have won three straight district titles and last season they advanced to the division four state semi finals.  Tomisch says they have been a very focused group.  “They haven’t been necessarily working on basketball 12 months out of the year, but nine, 10 months.  They play AAU and they come into the gym whenever possible and work on their own.  They have taken it serious, starting in junior high they have had goals.  They really have obtained most of those goals already,” he said.

          It’s been an up and down season for Mansfield Senior, but Tomisch says he believes they are starting to peak at the right time.  “I think you could say that Todd has done another tremendous job this season.  They start off and they play in such a tough conference there is really never a nigh off.  I think if you look at how they have progressed throughout the year they have become tougher and tougher.  I expect them to give some challenges in the division one tournament,” he said.

          If St. Peter’s is going to win the game, Tomisch says they must at least compete on the boards and it they don’t it could be a blow out.   “We have quite a bit of speed and quickness on our team as well, but one of the things that has been a let down the last couple of games is has been our rebounding,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “The Lady Tygers are just a tremendous rebounding team, so if we can’t at least hold our own on the boards it could be a very long evening for us.  The girls are going to have to check out.  They are going to have to play with a lot of heart.  It’s a big rivalry so I’m not too concerned about how hard our kids will play, but these are very athletic leapers that Senior High has and if we don’t get a body on them and keep them off the boards it could be a very long evening for us.”  

 

 
   

Mansfield St. Peter’s Plays Crestview on Wednesday

 

          The tournament is what really matters at Mansfield St. Peter’s and it appears that maybe the Spartans are starting to peak as the tournament begins in three weeks.

          In one of their better efforts of the season last Saturday, the Spartans drilled Northmor (84-46) in non-conference play.  Coach Pat Durham says they executed very well on both ends of the floor.  “We moved the ball really well and made the very makeable shots that we had been missing the last couple of games.  I think we had 25 assists, which is a season high.  We shot 34 for 46 on two pointers, which is 74 percent.  We shot the ball really well and our defense I thought was real good too.  We were very conscious of their three point shooters.  I think in the first half they only made on three point shot.  I was very happy with the overall effort,” said Durham.

          This season St. Peter’s (12-5) has been able to develop some depth.  Durham says they now have a number of players they can turn too for points and other things.  “We have basically a 10 man varsity roster.  Mike Barrett plays a couple of quarters JV so they have enough kids to compete.  Nine of the 10 have reached double figures in a varsity game this year and Michael had six points Saturday night just playing two quarters.  He has been the JV’s leading scorer for most of the season.  We have scoring balance and it’s nice that we don’t have to rely one guy to supply points.  Saturday night I think five different kids, including Cole Phillips did reach double figures,” said Durham.

          In a rescheduled game, St. Peter’s plays at Crestview (6-9) on Wednesday evening.  Durham says unlike last year, the Cougars are made up mostly of underclassmen.  “They played I think 10 or 11 seniors 95 percent of the time last year.  Basically this year’s edition is last year’s JV team pretty much.  They will start two, maybe three sophomores.  They have a freshman that plays quite a bit and may start.  I think that have only two seniors, so it is the polar opposite of last year’s team,” he said.

          Seneca East (9-8) will be at St. Peter’s on Saturday night for non-conference play.  Durham says they feature big Ben Hahler, who was a load against them last year.  “He is one of the better posts in this area.  He is about 6’5’”, 210 pounds.  He is very physical, yet skilled, not just a big body.  He is a very good shooter and an exceptional offensive rebounder.  We are going to have to do a much better job on him this year than we did last year,” he said.

          St. Peter’s would like to return to tournament success, something they have not had in the recent past.  The sectional draw meetings are Sunday and Durham feels they will likely be in the opposite bracket from expected top seed Colonel Crawford, it is just a matter of where.  “We are going to be seeded anywhere between second and fourth I would think out of six teams.  That has kind of been the expectation all year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Now we lost a game to Buckeye Central earlier, much earlier and a close game to Mansfield Christian.  Mansfield Christian is kind of decimated by injuries.  It will be interesting.  I know those two teams play each other this week, so that should shed some light on it.”    

 

 
   

Lady Spartans Limping a Little

 

          Success is something that is expected with the Mansfield St. Peter’s girls’ basketball program and this year is no different.

          The Lady Spartans have won 15 and lost only three going into a Tuesday night match up at home with Mansfield Madison.

          It has become a numbers game at St. Peter’s as due to injuries and other factors they have been forced to cancel the rest of their junior varsity schedule.  Coach Bill Tomisch says it has affected the varsity level as well.  “We do have an injury problem.  We lost Della (Hall) for an extended period of time, our starting post player.  We really count of her for her defense and she is a tremendous rebounder.  We hare hoping to get her back come tournament time,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We are so thin we have been fairly fortunate throughout the season as far as sickness with the flu bug going around, now it is starting to hit the team.  We played Saturday at Crestview without a post.  We did what we had to do to get the win, a win is a win.”

          However, with a group of outstanding players, led by All-Ohioan Randa Payne, Tomisch says they have still been able to maintain a level of excellence.  “We have a core of players that are really talented.  They have worked a long time on their skills.  I think the other thing that ads to our success rate is they expect to be successful.  They have been that way since they have started four years ago as freshmen.  Most of our seniors did start for us as freshmen.  This is their fourth year of varsity basketball and they have had tremendous success making it to regionals, the state last year.  Anytime we step on the court we do expect to win and I think that puts you a little ahead of the competition,” said Tomisch.

          Madison (5-14,1-12) is in seventh place in an eight team Ohio Cardinal Conference, but they have started to improve their play, including a five-point loss to highly regarded Orrville last week.  Tomisch says they have some players with talent.  “Madison comes in with a record I’m sure they aren’t pleased with.  You just can’t overlook them they are extremely talented.  They have one of the best point guards in the city in Molea Thompson.  She is extremely quick.  Last year, she was out with an MCL injury, but she is back this year.  She can penetrate, she can shoot the three, she is a great passer, she is just an all around basketball player.  Fantasia Hood the last three years has been extremely potent.  She is a great outside shooter and she can also penetrate,” said Tomisch.

          Madison features an aggressive style and Tomisch says they know what to expect.  “They are a team that is coming together.  We remember Brian Carr from his days at Plymouth.  Actually his assistant is Scott Speicher, who followed him as coach at Plymouth.  Both are excellent coaches and I’m sure they are going to have the team ready to go (Tuesday),” he said.      

 

 
   

Mansfield St. Peter’s Good, Can be Better

 

          With about a month left in the regular season Mansfield St. Peter’s is beginning its push to what the Spartans hope is lengthy postseason run.

          Last Saturday, they needed overtime to down (58-54) Plymouth of the Firelands Conference.  Coach Pat Durham was pleased that they were able to secure a win when they had to make big plays in the end.  “That is what I told the team.  We had a history last year and earlier this year of letting those kinds of games get away.  It turned out to be what we usually call a trap game.  They were playing without their best inside player in Tyrell Edmiston.  Whether or not we let down mentally or not I don’t know.  We did not shoot the ball particularly well in stretches when we had a chance to  get some space.  We let them keep the game close.  To our credit we were able to get some stops down the stretch when we needed to, especially in overtime,” he said.

          The Spartans (10-5) will try to put together their fifth straight win when they host Canton Heritage Christian on Friday night at the Franciscan Center.  Durham says they don’t have many numbers, but they do have some guys that can play.  “Their home court in Malone University.  Their numbers have dwindled through the years.  They do not have a JV team.  I think they only have a seven or eight man roster.  They have a couple of nice players.  Their athletic director’s son, his name is Martin, is a veteran point guard.  He is a good penetrater, good quickness, a good shooter, I think he is a junior now,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They do have a 6’6” post player, who is a scoring threat inside.  Beyond that their team is basically role players, who do a good job of setting those first two up with scoring opportunities.  I’m not sure what their record is.  I saw them lose a close game to Kingsway Christian earlier in the year.  Last year, I think we beat them by 18 points and it was an opportunity to let everybody play.  I am hoping for that same sort of game this year, but you never know.”

          Northmor (6-10) of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference comes calling on Saturday night.  Durham says Golden Knights have a number of good shooters and they will need to defend those guys.  “I have seen them twice.  I saw them lose a 10 point game at Colonel Crawford, in which they were very competitive.  Last year, they beat Colonel Crawford.  I also saw then get handled pretty easily by Mt. Gilead the other night.  Mt. Gilead is having a fine season and has some nice size inside and some good guards.  I’m sure they are disappointed in their record.  They have lost a number of close games.  They are a dangerous team.  They do shoot the ball well.  They have two guards Wiseman and James Donner, who are exceptional long range shooters.  They will shoot the ball a little farther out than the average high school kid will and both are good at driving and penetrating to the basket.  They are a little bit under manned.  One of their starters Daniel Donner broke an ankle is probably not going to play,” said Durham.

          Northmor is not a team that is going to score much inside, but Durham says nearly everyone on their team is a solid perimeter threat.  “They pose some match up problems in their post player, a 6’2” kid named Karcher, will rotate to the perimeter and has shown the ability to hit three point shots himself.  Luckily for us it is a home game.  I think the kids will be fired up to play and hopefully if we continue to play with defensive intensity we will be able to handle them,” he said.

          St. Peter’s has not had much success in recent years in the tournament.  They hope to change that this year and Durham says they are working toward that goal.  “We are still ruing the fact that we let three games get away earlier this year in the last possession or two that would have given us an outstanding record that would have assured a high enough seed that we would have had a chance to take a bye if we wanted to, now I don’t think that is the case.  We are trying to tack on as many wins as we can.  We are playing pretty well right now.  I think we can still play better and the kids are continuing to work hard to get better.  Our emphasis for this weekend is individual defense.  We are going to have to be able to guard particularly Donner and Wiseman from Northmor to be able to win that game.  We are going to have to stop them one on one and that’s tall order,” said Durham.      

 

 
   

Spartans Finding a Rhythm

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s is starting to drive towards what they hope is an excellent postseason tournament.

          The added a pounding of Lucas (70-24) on Tuesday night to their best effort of the season in a win over division two Shelby (57-51) last Saturday.

          Coach Pat Durham says this is a team that has shown some pretty good improvement and he likes what he sees right now.  “Our emphasis is always getting better every week, hopefully peaking late February, early March.  It will be nice to be in a league next year that gives you some tangible goals during the regular season.  We were able to play four good quarters against Shelby.  Other than some missed free throws and a couple of really careless turnovers I really liked the way we played,” he said.

          Last Saturday, the Spartans (9-5) beat Shelby and did it by finishing a good start in the fourth quarter.  Durham says that is something they have struggled with in the past.  “This was the biggest win I have had here in the three years I have been head coach.  Just two years ago the highlight of our season was a last season tournament win over Lucas.  We haven’t beaten too many teams with winning records and we have lost a number of games, I would say eight or nine over the last season and a half, of this type of game where we are in the game for three quarters and then didn’t hold the lead for whatever reasons.  So, I was very proud of the effort the kids made and the fact that we were able to finish a game against a quality team,” said Durham.

          This Saturday, St. Peter’s hosts Plymouth (6-7) out of the Firelands Conference.  Durham says despite the sub-.500 record, the Big Red has a lot of guys who can play.  “They were in the district tournament last year playing three freshmen and those three freshmen are now sophomores.  They had a couple of seniors back from that team.  I am surprised they haven’t done better.  I saw them lose to South Central a week ago.  A game they dropped down, I think 17 points, in the fourth quarter, and then took it down to the wire scoring the last 11 points of the game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They lost to Mansfield Christian then the next night.  They have been kind of up and down, inconsistent, but they are still very dangerous.  Tyrell Edmiston is still one of the best rebounders, especially offensive rebounders in the area, and they have some shooters around him.  I am not expecting an easy game.  I hoping we can continue our growth and put together four good quarters against them.”

          Any team that plays Plymouth needs to determine how they want to guard Edmiston, an athletic 6’5” sophomore.  Durham says they are going to start the game in man.  “Last year, we played a 1-1-3 zone with the hope of surrounding him and limiting his touches and limiting his offensive rebounds.  It worked for about two and half quarters and then we encountered some foul trouble and they adjusted very nicely and a couple of their shooters came through in the clutch for them.  This year we are predominantly man-to-man and I think we are going to approach it that way.  We can play zone if we need to, but the games I have seen on film, and in person, those teams that have had success against him did it by playing man-to-man,” he said. 

 

 
   

Spartans Need to Score Inside

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s likely plays as tough a schedule for a division four school in the North Central Ohio and another illustration of that is Saturday night when they host the Shelby Whippets of the Northern Ohio League.

          Last Saturday, St. Peter’s (7-5) destroyed South Central (74-44) in non-conference play.  Coach Part Durham says they showed some pretty good depth.  “We played well, our bench in particular played well.  As it turned out the five bench players outscored the five starters by four points, so I was very happy with their performance.  We struggled shooting the ball early, but bounced back are really played well the last three quarters,” Durham said.

          Outside shooting has been a plus for the Spartans this year with the abilities of Andy Bacon and Tre’ Howell, but Durham says he wants more balance.  “We have shown sings this week in particular of being a little more consistent, a little more patient, a little more willing to get the ball inside and finish shots inside, so I’m pleased with that,” he said.

          Saturday night, they host Shelby (8-3), the second place team in the “NOL.”  Durham says they have a number of good players they will have to defend.  “They got off to a nice start this year.  I believe on opening weekend they won both of their games by a single point, so I’m sure that boosted their confidence early and they have built on that.  Other than getting beaten pretty bad by Norwalk they have been competitive even in the other games they have lost.  Grant Fenner is a 6’4” play everywhere kind of kid, who I think ended up being their number two scorer last year, so he is back.  Some kids off their bench last year, who have had to wait their turn have stepped up and are playing very well this year, Austin Rhode in particular,” said Durham.

          Shelby is one the biggest schools that St. Peter’s will play this season in terms of enrollment and Durham says they will be physical.  “Two of their starters Todd Karias and Andrew Baird were two of their key football players.  Karis is about 6’2” and weighs over 200 pounds and Baird is very athletic and quick.  I think physically they are pretty good.  I don’t know how big the other kids are.  A.J. Beal is a big kid.  Just a division two type schedule that they play demands that they play physical and their kids are used to that from seventh grade on.  They are going to be one of the more physical teams that we are going to see,” said Durham.

          To win on Saturday night, Durham says they must limit the scoring of Fenner and they must get to the foul line.  “It’s like any other game you have to limit their second chance opportunities.  If they miss outside shots we can’t give up rebound baskets.  We continue to work on that and it’s work in progress.  We are obviously going to have to contain Fenner.  I don’t know if we will hold him down, but we can’t let him get much over his average.  We can’t let Rhode roam around free.  Those two have the most of our attention,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “The other kids know their roles and are scoring well within their offense.  We are going to need to shoot a good percentage.  We are going to have to get the ball inside.  In two of our losses against Mansfield Christian we only shot four free throws and Colonel Crawford we only shot five free throws.  We need to get to the line more and shoot a good percentage.  We have emphasized more getting the ball inside this week than we have all year.”    

 

 
   

Lady Spartans Not Improving

 

          With wins in 12 of their first 13 games it would seem that you would be having a pretty good season, but the Mansfield St. Peter’s girls’ coach wants to see a lot more from his players. 

          Coach Bill Tomisch says he is not seeing the sort of improvement from his players that he wants and expects.  “The record doesn’t always represent everything and in our case I don’t think it represents everything.  Or main goal is while you want to win every game our main goal is to get better every game as we progress towards the state tournament and I don’t see that happening or at least not to the degree that we hoped for.  We are winning games, but we have had a difficult time putting four quarters together.  In some areas I believe we have digressed.  We just have to fight through it, so we keep working hard everyday in practice.  As long as we do that I think eventually we will get it straightened out,” said Tomisch.

          St. Peter’s advanced to the state semi-finals in division four last season and they have been the most consistently successful girls program in North Central Ohio over the last decade, so there are high expectations.  Tomisch says right now they are not meeting those at either end of the floor.  “It can be anywhere from taking things too lackadaisical in practice or even in games.  Sometimes you play down to your competition.  It’s just hard to get up with these many games, especially if you have a history of doing well against a particular team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “You say you don’t want to take them for granted you go out and you aren’t getting the sharp execution in the things we know we can do.  It would one thing if we had never shown we could do these things, but the things that we are normally very good at offensively and defensively we are not meeting those expectations.  We have to be more demanding as coaches.  Our players have to be more focused.  We just have to get on with it.”

          With district player of year Randa Payne returning for her senior season, St. Peter’s was looking for some secondary scorers and Tomisch believes they have found them.  “We have three players basically averaging double figures.  Felicity (Alt) is right there and can really take up the slack or be that second scorer in the 20 range if they are in a box and one or really face guarding Randa.  Tisa Jones has also done just a tremendous job. She can not only get the basket from the guard position, but also contribute some outside shooting,” he said.

          The Lady Spartans host Plymouth (4-9) on Tuesday night.  Tomisch says the Lady Big Red is big and will give great effort.  “I expect them to play hard for 32 minutes.  They have great size.  She has been injured for most of the year, but is back now, the Brown girl is 6’3”.  They also have a girl coming off the bench at 6’5”.  We are not that tall.  I do feel from an experience standpoint they are very young and we probably have the edge there.  If we play up to our abilities we are probably a little more skilled.  You just never know.  We will be ready for them.  It has been a nice rivalry over the years, so I don’t expect anything less (Tuesday),” said Tomisch.        

 

 
   

Spartans Need Shooting Touch

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s has hit a little lull in their season and it is mostly because they just haven’t shot the ball as well as they did earlier in the year.

          Last Saturday night, Mansfield Christian hit two free throws with just over 20 seconds left to give the Flames a (43-32) win.  Spartans coach Pat Durham says there were a number of factors that led to the loss.  “We did not shoot the ball particularly well in that game and still had plenty of chances to win.  Joe Rall, who is one our key players sat the better part of three quarters with serious foul trouble.  That was a major factor in that game, but to Christian’s credit they hit a couple of clutch free throws near the end to win the game.  We had a decent shot with about five seconds that didn’t fall or we would have won the game.  It was close and we have had two or three like that got away, but Christian won the game,” said Durham.

          Colonel Crawford, one of the better small school teams in North Central Ohio, beat the Spartans (56-38) on Tuesday in a game that Durham says they just didn’t shoot it very well.  “They surprised me with their inside strength, particularly in transition.  Last year, their point guard Conner McCreary got off for 24 points.  He has been very tough this year in a couple of games were we scouted them, so our thrust was on making sure he didn’t get a lot of open looks.  I think we did a decent job of that.  I was not expecting their posts to be as effective as they were and that turned the tide for them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “The main negative was it was our worst shooting game of the year.  Part of that could be attributed to their defensive effort and part of it to just cold shooting.  We hit four three pointers in the first quarter and didn’t hit any more after that.  It was a game that we kind of expended a lot of energy early and we were still in it for the better part of three quarters and then they just gradually wore us down and we only made one outside shot the whole second half.”

          This Saturday, the Spartans (6-5) visit South Central (2-8) for a non-conference game.  Durham says the Trojans have the potential to make a lot of shots.  “They start two seniors, sometimes three.  Those kids played a lot last year.  Their young kids, as you would expect, are very inconsistent.  They have shown a good shooting touch from time to time.  They will play hard.  Defensively they switch it up a little bit from man to zone.  They run a couple of different presses and we are going to have to recognize that and adjust on the fly.  Defensively, I think if we can locate their shooters as we did at Colonel Crawford that would be one advantage for us.  I think we can pound the ball inside against them.  I’m optimistic, but realize we are going to have to correct our shooting problems from the last couple of games,” said Durham.

          St. Peter’s plays a tough schedule for a division four school.  They play Shelby next week and Durham knows that will be a big challenge for them.  “We play this Saturday and we only have one game next week the following Saturday we host Shelby.  I think they play Norwalk the night before they play us.  I would think their preparation that week is going to be on Norwalk.  I am sure we are not going to sneak up on them.  We were very competitive with them last year.  It was as close as four points halfway through the fourth quarter last year.  Unlike a couple of previous years when they might have taken us lightly and it didn’t even affect them I am sure we have earned their respect,” said Durham.     

 

 
   

Spartans Face a Double Weekend

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s is just a razor thin margin from being a one loss team and the Spartans continue to play some pretty good basketball heading to the halfway point of the season.

          Last Saturday, they lost a 78-75 decision in overtime to Sandusky St. Mary’s on the road.  They also lost by two to Buckeye Central early in the season.  Coach Pat Durham says their 5-3 record reflects how well they have played this season.  “We have let a couple of games get away late that we could have won with a little better execution and made a couple of free throws here and there, but we didn’t get the job done so we are where we are,” he said.

          St. Pete’s heads for Kidon Central Christian in Wayne County for a match-up on Friday night.  Durham says the Comets have some experienced players with some ability.  “The school itself is comparable to Mansfield Christian in size.  They have a couple of really outstanding junior players, who have been on the varsity three years now.  They are pretty well developed,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “One is a 6’3” guard that plays just about everywhere.  The other is a 6’4” post that is pretty strong inside.  We have been following them for three years now and they are excellent players.  It will be a good contest in their gym.  We have beaten them the last four years, but the games have been very competitive.”

          Durham says Kidon will score and that means they have to make shots.  He adds they are going to have to work hard on defense too.  “We are going to have to execute our offense.  We have been able to cut our turnovers down over the last couple of games and we need to continue doing that.  We are going to have to make some shots.  They run a very well designed motion offense with continual cutting and screening and we are preparing for that.  We will need to handle their screens,” he said.

          The Spartans biggest rival in Mansfield Christian (6-2) makes a visit to the Franciscan Center on Saturday night.  Durham says the Flames have a nice line-up.  “They have some younger veterans.  Kaleb Young is a junior that played a lot of varsity last year.  Brian Smith is a sophomore, who I believe was their number three scorer as a freshman.  Bryce Ernsberger is a senior, who is their leading scorer.  All three of those kids are really good shooters.  Their point guard is Jacob Brown, who sets up the offense real well and a very aggressive defender,” said Durham.

          Last season, Christian shot the lights out against the Spartans.  Durham says they must play very good perimeter defense.  “Last year at about this time they were struggling to score and were not scoring much at all and then they erupted for 65 points against us and seemed to make everything they shot and some of those were petty contested I thought.  They do have excellent outside shooters and we will need to be aware of their locations and making sure we are not giving them uncontested looks,” said Durham.  

 

 
   

Spartans Continue to Develop

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s picked up two more wins last week and have a chance to get two more this week as the Spartans continue to develop into a pretty good team.

          Last week, they drilled Marion Catholic (85-33) on Tuesday and then pulled away in the second half to beat Crestline (73-43) on Thursday night.  Veteran coach Pat Durham says they are starting to do some things better than they were earlier in the season.  “We have become a little more consistent in our execution of our offense and a little more consistent on defense and that along with the caliber of the opponents has allowed us to put together a modest four game winning streak,” he said.

          Durham hopes they don’t lose the momentum they have built up over the last two weeks during the holidays, where workouts have been inconsistent.  “You would like to stick to an established routine, which you can’t do during the holidays.  With the placement of Christmas on Tuesday this year it has kind of been hit and miss with our practices.  Our last game was last Thursday.  We practiced Friday and Saturday.  Our practice (Wednesday) was cancelled because of weather.  Hopefully we can get a workout in before we get on the bus for Crestview,” said Durham.

          It will be an early bus as the Spartans (5-2) and Cougars play starting with the JV game at 1PM at Crestview on Thursday afternoon.

          Crestview (4-3) after tough losses to start the season to Clear Fork and Ontario has played improved basketball.  Durham says they have become more experienced.  “They have replaced nearly their entire roster.  They were a senior dominated team last year with several two year and a couple of three year starters.  I think they anticipated some early hardships.  They have seemed to improve through the season.  They have gotten some consistency out of their guards now, early on they had some ball handling difficulties.  I think they have probably corrected most of those by now,” he said.

          There is a potential for the Cougars to be able to balance the floor on offense and Durham knows they will have to play well to win the game.  “They have some size in the post.  They have some guards that can penetrate very well.  They have a couple of really good outside shooters.  I think one of them is a freshman kid named Greybill that I think has made more threes than twos.  They have got the inside, outside game devolving.  Their kids have always been reasonably athletic and very aggressive kids, so we don’t anticipate and easy game there certainly.  It’s one where we will have to execute our offense and be pretty solid on defense if we hope to win,” said Durham.

          On Saturday night, the Spartans visit Sandusky St. Mary’s (5-1) to meet the Panthers.  Durham describes St. Mary’s as one of the better teams they have played.  “I was able to see them against Clyde a couple of weeks ago.  They won the game going away by 17 points and looked real good doing it.  They have a player named Denarius Harris, who is a third year starter as a junior.  He seems to be much more consistent this year.  He has been a pretty good player for them for two years, but he had his moments of inconsistency.  This year he seems to be a consistent scorer and ball handler.  He seems a little bit bigger.  He is 6’3”, maybe 6’4”, and he can play point guard or post.  He posses a match-up problem,” said Durham.    

 

 
   

Spartans Coming Together

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s has produced its first two game winning streak in more than two seasons and they are looking to make it more with games with Marion Catholic on Tuesday and Crestline (2-4) on Thursday.

          Last Friday night, Andy bacon scored 18 points and the Spartans hung on to beat Fremont St. Jose (72-65) in a game that coach Pat Durham says was a quality win against a good team.  “On their home court, which is a small court, they are very tough.  Like I said last week, they have a veteran back court, three guards, two of them are three year regulars and one of them is a four year regular.  We were able to contain them somewhat and maintain our offense for four quarters, which is something we haven’t been able to do on a consistent basis.  So, I was really happy with the way we finished that game,” said Durham.

          With Bacon and Tre’ Howell able to score on the perimeter the improved inside game is giving the Spartans more weapons.  “We have a good post game with the addition of a 6’8” kid, Cole Phillips.  He gives us a dimension that we really haven’t had before.  Joe Rall, we are trying to use him all over the court this year rather than just in the post.  He is still our most consistent post scorer,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, “He is averaging 11 points a game and shooting 67 percent from the field.  He has picked up right where he left off last year.  Cole Phillips gives us a defensive presence in there we haven’t had before.  Now our perimeter players are getting better looks and have shot the ball more consistently this year, so we seem to be developing into a pretty good inside-outside team.”

          On Saturday night, the Spartans buried Tiffin Calvert (63-32) in a home game.  Durham says they took care of business against a team that is hurting a little bit.  “Calvert is missing their district player of the year in Nick Warnament.  He broke a wrist in his second playoff football game.  He is the motor that runs their team.  He is a very talented player and they really don’t have anyone that can replace him.  As happens in these situations the rest of their kids really were playing out of position.  They are struggling.  They don’t have a floor general as such.  They aren’t as big physically as they have been in the past.  We thought we could hurt them inside, which we did, and we were able to handle their zone defense the whole game.  I was very pleased with that outcome,” said Durham.

          It’s another home game for St. Peter’s as they host Marion Catholic on Tuesday night.  Durham says they want to throw the ball inside.  “I think they will return three starters.  We haven’t been able to scout them personally.  The only nights they played, we also played.  I don’t have any film on them or personal scouting reports.  I have talked to a couple of coaches that have played them.  They are not big.  They have some three point shooters.  They appear to be emphasizing their perimeter offense.  Last year, we had a fairly easy game at Marion.  They are going to compete hard, but we have a really good inside advantage on them, which I hope we will be able to use,” he said.

          With a good performance the Spartans can get on a little role here.  Durham says that is what he has been telling the kids.  “That is what we are hoping for.  I am still kind of kicking myself for losing at Buckeye Central.  I think Fremont St. Jose was more talented and much more experienced than Buckeye Central.  You have to show up and play every night.  A two game winning streak is a first since I have been at St. Peter’s.  The first year I was here I think we won two early in the season, when I was an assistant.  The last two years we haven’t won two in a row.  That has been an emphasis last week and this week,” said Durham.     

 

 
   

Spartans Still Looking For Formula

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s has a more veteran team that is making some plays, but they need to find a way to make more to beat the good teams on their schedule.

          Last Saturday night, Buckeye Central cashed in on some free throws with less than a second to play to beat the Spartans (55-53) in a non-conference game.  Durham says the loss was very frustrating because they had every opportunity to win it.  “It was probably my toughest loss at St. Peter’s other than our sectional tournament loss to Crestline last year.  It was a game when we had two or three chances to put it away in the last minute and were unable to do it.  Buckeye Central was able to pull it out and execute when they had to.  As it turned out the difference was at the free throw line where we only made six out of 16.  All things considered that was the key factor in the game,” he said.

          Durham, the winner of more than 300 games as a coach, says they need to make more free throws, limit their turnovers and rebound the basketball better to win more consistently.  “We are playing hard.  We play with a certain amount of intensity.  We are starting to get better in team defense in terms of helping teammates and put more pressure on the ball.  Our weaknesses right now are obviously four shooting and I am surprised our ball handling has been as bad.  We are averaging about 19 turnovers a game and I didn’t expect that.  It wasn’t something that showed up in our five preseason scrimmages and we faced a variety of teams and a number of different defenses in the preseason and handled the ball pretty well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “So, we are working extra hard on that.  Our rebounding probably still needs to be better.  Our leading rebounder is 6’8” Cole Phillips.  He is playing about 16, 17 minutes a game and averaging about 7.5 rebounds.  He has been a very nice development for us.  We need some of the more experienced seniors to pick up the rebounding and I’m pretty sure that they will.”

          On Friday, the Spartans (1-2) travel to meet Fremont St. Joe (3-0) in a non-conference game.  Durham says shooting woes led to a loss to them last year.  “They are a veteran team.  They beat us last year 50-36 at St. Peter’s.  A game we led 23-22 at halftime.  In that game I was pleased with our defense throughout, pleased with our effort, we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket at all in the second half.  We didn’t even score the last four minutes of the game,” he said.

          Durham knows that the Crimson Streaks are very solid are have players with vast experience and talent.  “This year St. Joe returns three regular guards.  One is a four year regular, Conner Dudley, he was their sixth man as a freshman and started the last four years.  Jordan Sessler, who is a wide receiver, defensive back, in football, is their point guard.  He is a three year starter.  Zach Yeckley, their quarterback, is a two year starter on the wing, very athletic, very physical wing player.  Those three were probably responsible for beating us last year.  They are not overly big.  They bring in a veteran team.  A team that can score points.  A team with multiple threats.  A team that will test us in every way,” Durham said.

          Tiffin Calvert (0-3), also from the Midland Athletic League, comes to the Franciscan Center on Saturday night.  Durham says they might be missing their best player, but they will still be good.  “They were going to return just one starter, Nick Warnament, their point guard, who is a two time all district player.  He broke his left wrist in their last playoff game on November 10.  When he is able to return I’m sure that their offense will really perk up.  He is a really a tough match-up for anybody.  I scouted them against a pretty good Hopewell-Loudon team in a game they end up losing by 10.  They played very hard and pressed very aggressively to cut the led to six points.  I think it had been at 15.  Some of their kids that have kind up waited in the wings for their turns are stepping up now.  They have some firepower, but they haven’t been very consistent,” said Durham.   

 

 
   

Spartans Have to Get it Together

 

          They were playing a very good team, but Mansfield St. Peter’s hurt themselves a lot too in an opening night loss to the Ontario Warriors.

          Ontario pulled away in the second half and belted the Spartans (79-47) last Friday.  St. Peter’s coach Pat Durham says some very poor play right after halftime spelled doom for them.  “It was very disappointing.  The first half my two best outside shooters Andy Bacon and Tre Howell both picked up two fouls very early and had to sit virtually the entire second quarter and yet our bench players answered the bell and kept us in the game.  We only trailed by seven at halftime.  We did have a couple of dry spells and maybe if those starters were in we would have scored a little more.  The starters played the second half and they were in there when we were getting blown away.  We got very careless for about a two minute stretch against their full court press to start the second half.  The lead went form seven to 14 and things sort of snowballed from there,” said Durham.

          Facing the Ontario pressure, Durham says they committed too many turnovers to give themselves a chance to win.  “Their depth wore us down.  They had good contributions from their bench and I thought our bench played pretty well all things considered.  We didn’t shoot very well and we turned the ball over way too much.  Other than the spell against the press we had what you would call in tennis unforced errors.  I was really surprised by that because in our preseason scrimmages we hadn’t had turnover problems and we had faced quite a bit of full court pressure,” he said.

          Too add to things, Durham says they got beat up pretty badly on the boards and they didn’t play very good individual defense in many cases.  “They just pounded the offensive glass and as a result got a number of stick backs.  I felt we had some individual breakdowns on defense and just gave up straight line drives to the basket.  Ontario in the second half beat us in every phase of the game.  I thought they would be one of the three best teams on our schedule if not the best.  We certainly made them look that way the second half.  To their credit they played very well,” added Durham.

          The Spartans host Kingsway Christian at the Franciscan Activities Center on Friday night.  Durham says due to a couple of factors they really don’t know a whole lot about them.  “In the past we have been able to scout them in person and that hasn’t worked out this year.  I am still waiting on a couple of return calls from people who have played them.  We have been successful against them in that we have been able to pressure them full court and force a lot of turnovers.  Even when we haven’t shot the ball well we have been able to force them into turnovers.  They do return five players from last year and two of them were starters and are pretty good players.  They have four new players on their roster.  They only have a nine man roster.  They don’t have a JV program.  I really don’t know much.  I know their tallest player is 6’1”.  He is a junior post who is pretty good.  If we play well and take care of things on our end we should be successful,” said Durham.

          A team the coach does know a lot about is Buckeye Central.  The Spartans travel to New Washington on Saturday night to face a team that has played really well so far.  “I scouted the New Riegel game.  Buckeye had the ball with a minute to go and the score tied and turned it over for a layup and had a shot to tie and missed a mid range jumper and then fouled the rebounder who made two free throws for the four point margin.  They did graduate all of their starters,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Their leading scorer is Austin Wurmm, who is a 6’2” sophomore, who scored 16 points against us last year as a player that was splitting time between the JV and the varsity.  He is a really good three point shooter.  He is one their best ball handlers and one of their better rebounders.  A really good all around player.  They have come together very quickly.  It is basically some of the kids off of last year’s bench and some of their JV kids.  They are doing a good job.  The score against Plymouth was very surprising.  The play some zone.  They play some man.  They will press a little bit.  They run a lot of screening type sets.  It’s going to be a challenge and it’s on the road.”

 

 
   

Lady Spartans Looking for Better Defense

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s always seems to be able to find a way to win games and that has been the case again so far this year.

          They are unbeaten (2-0) early in this season with wins over Fremont St. Joe (78-61) and Clear Fork (64-54) so far this year.  Coach Bill Tomisch says they played pretty well in the fourth quarter of their opening night victory over Fremont St. Joseph.  “Both games were actually a tremendous struggle.  We showed a signs of brilliance and we showed signs of needing more work, which is common for this point in the season.  Fremont St. Joe played us close through three quarters.  They always do, that is a tough place to come out with a victory.  We had a very strong, productive fourth quarter to win by 17.  I felt pretty good about that,” said Tomisch.

          Last week, they beat a young and improving Clear Fork team and Tomisch said they sort of had to hold on to do it.  “Against Clear Fork at home we got a big lead.  She has a very young squad with a new coach and they really bought into their game plan and they drove us crazy into the fourth quarter and almost caught us.  We were lucky to win that game.  You need tests like that.  That’s what makes you stronger,” he said.

          In order to be the kind of teams that can win district and regional tournament games, Tomisch says they have to be a lot better on defense.  “In the past we have really built on program on defense, with 60 or 70 percent of our offense coming from out defense,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We have a ways to go as far as technique.  It is not a matter of effort, but a matter of perfecting our defensive techniques and strategies and rotations.  If we can create more turnovers.  We are still a very fast team, so there is no reason we can’t get the majority of our points through transition.”

          The Lady Spartans return senior All-Ohio guard Randa Payne, but Tomisch says a lot of their other players are younger.  “We graduated three starters last year and four total seniors, but we still felt very good because of the nucleus that we returned.  Our sixth and seventh men contributed a lot to our team last year and they are starters now.  We have some JV players that are swinging both ways.  One of the problems is our numbers are very, very low this year.  We did not have an eighth grade team last year.  We did have one freshman go out for basketball this year.  She is a soccer player and a tremendous athlete.  She has done very well for never having played basketball before.  She has really been impressive,” said Tomisch.

          St. Pete’s hosts Buckeye Central (0-2) in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.  Tomisch admits they are kind of going in blind.  “I did not get to scout them.  Our schedule didn’t allow it.  We did get to see them at the Shelby preview against Clear Fork.  I do truly believe she didn’t have her volleyball players.  I’m not sure how many cross over.  It looked like they were missing quite a few.  They are always aggressive, tthey have some height last year.  I think they even have a 6’2” freshman.  They are at our place though so we will go out and play as it goes and do what we have to do,” said Tomisch.

          Last season, Payne broke the St. Peter’s single game scoring record with 42 points against Buckeye.   

 

 
   

Spartans Showing More Depth

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s has shown in their preseason play that they have the potential to be a much improved basketball team this winter.

          They will be challenged right off the bat as they travel to Ontario to meet the “NCC” black division favorite Warriors on Friday night.  Coach Pat Durham says it’s going to be a good opener for them.  “They are probably if not the best one of the best teams on our schedule.  It is a tough opener.  We have been very successful in our preseason scrimmages.  We had a good summer involving shootouts, open gym scrimmages and stuff like that.  It will probably be a nice crowd.  It’s at Ontario and they are going to be big and strong and they will be fired up and I’m sure you will be too,” said Durham.

          His Spartans have high expectations too with a lot of the same players returning.  “Just from normal maturation from juniors to seniors.  The second varsity season for most of these kids, so we have high expectations.  We lost a number of close games, which we let get a way in the second half or fourth quarter a lot last year.  We are looking to reverse that trend if we can,” he said.  St. Peter’s has most of its starting lineup and some important additions to the roster too.  “We return four starters and our back up point guard from last year and we return our eighth man.  We do have six lettermen.  We have a lot of kids that have played.  We have lost a couple of kids along the way.  We basically have those six and then five up from last year’s 12-7 JV team,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Some of them played a little bit of varsity last year.  We do have depth and we do have the flexibility in our roster to go with a big or small lineup.  We do have a 6’8” post in Cole Phillips, who is a junior.  He started in our program as a 6’4” freshman and has improved dramatically each year.  He gives us some different options that we haven’t had before.”

          Ontario beat St. Peter’s (73-54) in the first game last year and Durham says that the Warriors also return a number of players to their squad.  “They have six lettermen.  They return four starters and their other two kids played quite a bit.  In fact, Wyatt Clemens was their sixth man and was leading scorer against us last year.  I’m sure he will be a starter this year.  They are experienced and also have some kids up off their JV team,” he said.

          A year ago Ontario was able to hurt the Spartans with their pressure and Durham feels they are going to see a lot of the press again on Friday night.  “They pressed us basically buzzer to buzzer last year.  It hurt us a little bit early in that it threw us out of our offensive flow.  We had two or three turnovers early, but they weren’t the kind where we were throwing them the ball for lay ups.  I think we will be a little more settled at the beginning of the game this year and maybe avoid that kind of setback.  I expect them to press a lot.  They are physical.  They are strong.  They are not overly tall, but they have good overall size.  Cameron Mack is probably their best player and they list him at 6’2”, but he plays a lot bigger than that.  He weighs about 205 pounds.  Their point guard will by Tyler Boatwright, who was a defensive back and split end and then converted to quarterback.  They list him at 5’10”, 180.  He is 15 to 20 pounds heavier than last year and it’s probably all muscle.  They gave us problems last year with their pressure in that it wore us down physically.  Our guards are kind of small still and that was a problem last year,” said Durham.

 

 
   

What do Lady Spartans do for an Encore?

 

          Last season, Mansfield St. Peter’s qualified for the division four state semi-finals.  What can they do this year?

          Well, only time will tell.

          What we do know is they return one of the top two or three individual plays in the region in senior guard Randa Payne, who will graduate with most of the scoring records in the storied history of the program.

          Coach Bill Tomisch says he believes the new mix of players have come together pretty well since last March.  “We had a tremendous summer.  I think the girls worked extremely hard improving their skills.  While we did lose three starters and one additional senior we did return a very good nucleus.  Things have looked very good so far,” he said.

          Payne saw a lot of combination defenses last year designed to take her out of the game.  She will likely see more that this season, but Tomisch thinks that will work to their advantage.  “I think from an outside shooting standpoint.  Randa has worked hard on all parts of her game.  She is not just an outside shooter.  She can do a lot of things off the dribble, even much better than she was last year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I think with the team that we will put on the floor this year we are little more dangerous from the outside from other components.  While teams may try to minimize Randa’s touches and her looks at the basket I think we have developed two or three other players that will be extremely affective that will make that difficult this year.”

          Pressure defense is going to be a big key for the Lady Spartans this year.  Tomisch says they need to turn steals into points as often as they can.  “That is the area we have been working the hardest on.  If we can get 50 to 60 percent of our offense coming from our defense I will be very pleased.  We are still very fast.  We are very strong and if we can complete our transition I think we should be in good shape,” said Tomisch.

          If they can’t get those transition hoops, Tomisch says they must be a better team when it comes to scoring in the half court.  “We have never been, at least during my years, what I would consider a tremendous half court offensive team.  We are working hard at improving those areas.  We just aren’t patient enough, but layups are a much higher percentage.  Anytime we can get out and run whether it be off of a rebound or steal or even just after they score by getting the ball in quick and pushing it up the court I think it benefits our team,” said Tomisch.

 

 
   

St. Peter’s With Better Depth and Skill

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s appears ready to make the leap to being a basketball team that can win more than it loses.

          Veteran coach Pat Durham says they have shown progress from last year, when the Spartans finished 6-15, but they still have a lot of improvement to make before the season starts in a little over two weeks.  “We are making good progress.  We are trying to be a little more up tempo this year, especially defensively and extend our half court and man to man a little further.  So far that is a work in progress.  We are little bigger than last year and hopefully we have a little more depth so that is one of our goals based on our work last summer.  So far I’m contented, but I’m not satisfied.  We still have a long way to go,” he said.

          Durham says he thinks they played pretty well in their first scrimmage of season last week when they played six teams in Columbus.  “We were in a mega scrimmage in Columbus, which involved us playing six schools one quarter each.  We won four of those by double figure margins and lost a one pointer to division two Licking Valley.  We had three shots within five feet in the last five seconds and lost by one.  We finished by playing Groveport, who is a division one team, and by then we were kind of out of gas.  I was missing two starters.  We lost that one by eight.  All and all I was pleased by that day,” said Durham.

          Last season, the Spartans had a number of games when they held second half leads only to let them slip away.  Durham believes that improved depth will help them in that regard.  “In the past we have been about a seven man rotation.  Once we were forced either by foul trouble or fatigue to go beyond that against the better teams on our schedule that was a telling point.  In the NBA it would be like a team’s second unit being outscored by the other team’s second unit.  That is something we are really working towards developing and so far it looks pretty good,” said Durham.

          The Spartans personnel this year leads them to improved flexibility when they have the ball and when they don’t.  Durham says they will be a bigger team.  “We can run that ball.  We have pretty good perimeter shooting.  We have a little more size this year.  We have Cole Phillips, who was on the JV team last year and he is 6’8” and he developing rapidly.  With him in the lineup that makes us much bigger.  We can go 6’1”, 6’2” across the board after that.  Our point guards are small.  We have a lot of flexibility in our lineup both offensively and defensively this year, so we can do some different things.  The main thing is when we go to the bench it won’t be a big drop off,” said Durham.

          St. Peter’s plays as aggressive a schedule as any division four school in this area.  Durham says they face a tough season opener against Ontario.  “We try to play some of the local schools for travel purposes and gate purposes.  Our opener may be our toughest game.  We are at Ontario on November 30.  They return quite a bit as we do.  It was one of those games last year that I eluded to that bench personnel eventually decided the game.  I think their leading scorer in the game, if I’m not mistaken, was Wyatt Clemens, who at the time was their sixth man.  He gave them a real boost off the bench and my bench kind of struggled,” said Durham.  

 

 
   

St. Peter’s Gets First Win

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s won only one baseball game a year ago, but it certainly looks like they are going to do better than that this spring.

          They railed in the bottom of the eighth to beat Crestline 5-4 on Monday night to pick up their first win of the year.  Coach Tim Failor says it was a win that the Spartans really needed.  “It really pumped the kids up.  It was real rewarding.  It was lots of fun and we hope it starts a trend.  It was a big win,” he said.

          Spartans (1-6) starting pitcher Torrey Sams was the star for St. Peter’s.  Failor says he pitched a beautiful game and had the game winning hit in the eighth as well.  “It was eight innings.  A kid that is our number one or two starter pitched eight innings.  In the bottom of the eighth we are tied 4-4.  We get a man on third.  A towering fly to right field becomes an adventure.  It’s sunny, windy, it blows back in fair play and drops in.  The kid is standing on third base.  The pitcher who pitched all eight innings is up to the plate.  He takes strike one swinging and on the second pitch finds a hole on the right side, it makes it out to right field and we score the winning run in walk off fashion,” said Failor.

          Wins in baseball have been few and far between for the Spartans, but Failor says this year’s team has really played some pretty good baseball going into the win on Monday night.  “We play our cross town rival Friday, Mansfield Christian, so it’s a good time to be fired up before we play them.  Actually we haven’t been playing bad baseball.  We have been getting beat badly, but oddly enough we haven’t been playing bad baseball.  We started 0-6, but we feel we could have won three of those games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Two of them we lost by one run, one by one run in extra innings.  We played Ontario and they are undefeated.  We go 2-0 in second inning and 4-0 in the fourth inning.  We don’t want to burn up pitchers so we put a young kid in and end up getting beat 10-0, but we played with them for four innings.  We don’t feel we have a bad team we just have a bad record.  We were excited to get that first win and we are excited about Mansfield Christian coming over to our place Friday.’
          Failor believes the work ethic will result in a better record for his Spartans this year.  He says a win will do wonders for the physic of the players.  “They are working hard.  We have some new helpers on the staff that are working hard, not that the other ones didn’t.  We have some new blood in the staff.  It’s more fun, everyone is enthused.  And again that first win just makes everyone more enthused,” he said.  

 

 
   

Hitting the Key For Spartans

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s won just one baseball game last year, but they have the potential to win a lot more this year just because the Spartans are just more experienced.

          Spartans coach Tim Failor believes his kids are now ready to compete at the varsity level.  “Instead of sophomores and freshmen we are juniors this year.  We have a few underclassmen sprinkled in.  The last couple of years we haven’t had any upperclassmen.  We have no seniors this year and we had only one last year.  With that strong junior contingent they are now varsity players and not JV players anymore,” said Failor.

          They opened the season on Monday night with a 4-3 loss to the Mt. Gilead Indians of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.  Failor says they played well and had a real chance to win the game.  “We did open up (Monday) night with a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Mt. Gilead, but we really played well.  We had one error, it was a throwing error.  We are a much improved team,” he said.

          St. Peter’s plays two conference favorites this week at home as they entertain New London of the Firelands Conference on Wednesday and are at home for Colonel Crawford of the North Central Conference on Thursday.  They play the Monroeville Eagles, also of the Firelands Conference, on Saturday.

          Failor believes they are an improved team because the players understand the game better and they have improved their skills too.  “You can’t teach experience.  You can develop the five tools, but if you don’t have something to start with you don’t have anything to develop.  It’s experience, it’s skills.  It’s playing the game and being in those situations before having seen it before.  It’s all that stuff.  Experience is really what it takes,” he said.

          If they are going to be a more competitive team on a consistent basis this spring, Failor says they have to hit the ball better.  He says they have to score more runs if they are going to be able to beat the better teams that are on their schedule.  “We have got to hit the baseball.  Monday night, that is one thing that we didn’t do well.  I suppose that was because it was early, I suppose that was because it was cold.  There are a lot of I supposes, but the fact is we did not hit the baseball.  We didn’t hit it well last year.  We have worked very hard the last few weeks hitting the ball and I expect that to come around.  That is a weakness that we have got to improve upon,” said Failor.  

 

 
   

St. Peter’s Goal is to Win

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s is making its fifth appearance in the state tournament since 1999, but they are trying to bring back their first state title since 1980.

          The Lady Spartans (21-4) meet Arlington (24-1) in the division four semi-finals at 1PM on Thursday at the Value City Arena on the campus of the Ohio State University.

          The players have been goal oriented from the beginning of the season and coach Bill Tomisch says they still have one goal left to accomplish.  “The one thing I can guarantee is getting to state was not our goal, so we have unfinished business to take care of.  If things don’t go out way, why I will be just as proud as ever of our girls,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Throughout the season and in the tournament they have given us absolutely everything that we have asked for.  I feel we are peaking at the right time.  I like where their minds are at.  They know they have business to take care of.  We are not going down on a shopping trip here.  We are excited to be there.  I know they are going to love playing in “The Shot,” but our goal is to get to championship Saturday and finally bring a championship back to St. Peter’s after 32 years.”

          This is a team that has been building its momentum toward the end of the season and Tomisch says success in the postseason is always at the top of the Lady Spartans list.  “I think it starts with a mindset and not just with our starters, but our role players.  I see the intensity in our practices the last few weeks just escalate tremendously.  People who don’t get their names in the papers are pushing our girls tremendously hard in practice.  It’s truly a team effort,” he said.

          Arlington, out of the Blanchard Valley Conference, took out New Riegel in their regional final (43-25) and Tomisch says they are a lot like the Lady Spartans in their personnel and approach.  “They are about as close to us as we are going to find.  They are very, very similar to us.  They love the transition game, they love to press.  They have good outside shooters, they have an extremely talented post player.  She is only 5’9”, but she plays a lot larger than that.  From a height wise, we match-up well, from a speed wise, we match-up well.  Both teams obviously want this, so it’s not going to be a matter of you plays harder then the other.  It’s going to be a matter of who executes better than the other.  It’s also important who controls the boards,” said Tomisch.

          Confidence never seems to be a problem for St. Peter’s, but Tomisch says it will be important to make some shots early in the game Thursday afternoon.  “Getting off to a strong start is extremely important.  Not because of the points you are down, but from a confidence level.  I’m little afraid you might start questioning yourself a little bit.  Can I compete at this level?  If you do get down by double digits in the first few minutes.  We have typically come out strong.  One thing that I do know is if we do get behind, again there are no weak teams at the state, we have the confidence.  We have been down in our last couple of games by a few points, eight, maybe 10, and have been able to work ourselves back into it because of our experience and our confidence,” said Tomisch.

          Randa Payne (22.7 PPG) in the district player of the year and Shabree Rawls (15.8 PPG) is one this area’s best post players.  Tomisch believes they have been developing more balance.  “Everybody can have an off shooting night, but you can always play strong defense.  If one of our leading scorers isn’t hitting her shots like she normally is than we are really expecting her to step up her efforts defensively.  We have had huge contributions from other people other than our main scoring people,” he said, “We wouldn’t have gotten out of the regional semi-finals without the contributions of Felicity Alt, who had a career high 23 that night.  Randa couldn’t buy a basket, but Felicity stepped up.  We consider her the “X” factor.  When she is on we are hard to guard with two outside scorers and Shabree in the post.”

          Sometimes teams who press, like St. Peter’s, don’t like to be pressed and Tomisch knows they will have to handle it against Arlington.  “The only thing that we are a little puzzled about, or concerned about, would be pressure.  We are not used to people pressuring us for long periods of time simply because it is a scoring opportunity for us.  They are a pressing team like we are.  We don’t back down from anybody.  We are a pressing team and we usually press for the majority of the game.  I am excited to see how we will do against a team like us.  I think our guards will be stronger than their press and we will use it as a scoring opportunity.  That is really something that is unknown at this point,” said Tomisch.  

 

 
   

St. Peter’s in a League

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s has a long and rich tradition of success in basketball, both boys’ and girls’, both have won state titles, but the school have never been part of an official league… until now.

          A source at St. Peter’s has told Swankonsports.com that St. Peter’s, and fellow small school rival Mansfield Christian, will be part of a reconfigured Mid-Buckeye Conference, starting with perhaps the 2013-2014 school year.

          The two small schools from Mansfield, along with Lucas, sent packing when six of the current North Central Conference members bolted to form their own league, will join current “MBC” members Loudonville, East Knox and Danville.

          “We are very solid in our commitment to this new league,” said the source at St. Peter’s.

          The Spartans and Mansfield Christian will not play football.

          How long East Knox will stay as part of the mix is unclear at this point.  They have also applied to the ever expanding Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

 

 
   

Lady Spartans Back in Regional

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s being in the regional tournament is like saying the buzzards are coming back to Hinkley or the person that pulls our in front of you will then drive five miles per hour under the speed limit.  It almost always happens.

          For 10 of the last 12 years the Lady Spartans (19-4) have made it to the division four regional tournament.  That is the case against this season as they play Reedsville Eastern (18-5) in the regional semi-finals Thursday night at Pickerington North High School.

          Although they have been through it almost every year, St. Peter’s coach Bill Tomisch says it never gets old.  “It is exciting every time.  We do unfortunately take it a little bit for granted.  There are many schools that have never been to a regional.  For us to make it, at least in my time, for six out of the last eight years it’s pretty amazing and it’s exciting for not only our players, but for our school and our community,” he said.

          Tomisch says everything about their season is designed with the expectation that they are going to reach at least this level of the tournament.  “It’s not just the coaching staff, but all of the players and everyone associated with the team I think has the confidence because of our success over the years that we do expect to have these long tournament runs.  So, our goals are set extremely high before the season even starts,” he said.

          Reedsville Eastern beat a team in their own league, the Tri-Valley Conference, in Waterford, 47-43 in their district final.  They had lost to Waterford twice, 55-44 and 50-44, during the regular season.  Waterford also handed St. Peter’s one of its four losses this season (54-52) in a holiday tournament.  Tomisch says they are an outstanding team that gets most of if scoring from its guards.  “They play in the same conference as Waterford, which is the team we lost to by two points after leading the whole game.  The daughter of the coach is a sophomore.  He starts three sophomores.  She is All-Ohio.  She can do a little bit of everything.  She is very smooth, very fast.  She is their point guard, although she is also their leading scorer,” he told Swankonsports.com, “They also feature two six foot post players.  Most of their offense is coming from the perimeter.  It should be a very exciting game.  It should be very similar to when we played Waterford.”

          Reedsville Eastern, like St. Peter’s, is a team that likes to get out and run the floor as much as they can.  Tomisch says they will likely press them a lot too.  “They are a lot like us.  They like to push the ball.  They don’t really care about getting into a half court set.  They are just fine if they can score in offensive transition.  They play very good defense, so they are looking to contribute 40 to 50 percent of their offense from their defense.   It was the same with Waterford,” he said.

          Taking nothing away from the accomplishments of Eastern, Tomisch says they do not play the kind of challenging regular season schedule that the Lady Spartans do.  “One of the benefits I think we have, even in speaking with both coaches last year because they made the same regional.  Their conference is very weak.  They told me they have a guaranteed, I forget either 14 or 16 wins, by whatever amount that they want.  They do try to get into some tougher tournaments during their season and also schedule some independent games.  I don’t think for a schedule standpoint they will be quite as prepared as someone like us with our independent schedule,” said Tomisch.

          You don’t get the regional level if you don’t play hard every game.  Tomisch thinks this one is going to boil down to who executes better.  “They want it as much as we want it.  It’s not going to be who wants it more is going to win the game it’s going to be who executes, who makes good decisions and who can make plays, that’s going to be who wins the game,” he said.       

 

 
   

Lady Spartans Have Confidence

 

          Winning tournament games is just what the Mansfield St. Peter’s Lady Spartans expect to do.  They did it last Saturday and they have another chance to do it on Thursday night.

          The Lady Spartans (17-4) drilled Lucas (84-32) in the division four sectional final last Saturday.  They led by only five points after the first quarter, but they took control before halftime.  Coach Bill Tomisch says they shot very well from the field in the game played at Galion High School.  “I was very pleased with execution and the effort of our girls and that was all of the way up and down the bench.  Everyone had the opportunity to play and everyone gave us their best effort.  We shot extremely well,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We had two players, one was 9 for 10 and the other was 7 for 8 from the field.  We are not going to get much better than that.  We need to tighten up our defense a little bit.  We only had five turnovers.  This is my eighth year and I don’t think I can remember a game when we had only five turnovers.”

          On Thursday night, St. Peter’s plays Buckeye Central (12-10) in district semi-finals at Lexington High School.  This is not the first time the two teams have met this year and the last time will go down in the St. Peter’s record book.  On December 6, the Lady Spartans blasted Buckeye Central (78-44) and district player of the year Randa Payne had 42 points, a St. Pete’s record for points in a game.  Tomisch says Payne lets the game come to her.  “It was kind of quiet 42 to be honest with you.  I was shocked when I looked up at the scoreboard at one point and she had 36 and there were probably four or five minutes left.  She just goes with the flow.  We weren’t necessarily going to her on every play, but she works hard for her shots.  She works hard to get open,” he said.

          Since she had such a huge game against them last time, Tomisch expects that Buckeye Central will employ a different defensive strategy against Randa.  Could it be guarding her with two players and leaving another player free.  Tomisch hopes so.  “Actually in the first meeting against Buckeye Central they did run a box and one where they had one girl attempting to face guard her for a period of time.  I think we would actually drool if a team took two players and put them on her.  That would be easy.  I would think that would be easy.  We are deep and not just Shabree (Rawls).  She does a wonderful job, but Felicity Ault, Sahara does an outstanding job inside and our bench too.  That’s been very helpful,” said Tomisch.

          By the end of the regular season Buckeye Central had become competitive in the tough North Central Conference and Tomisch thinks that first year Buckeye coach Sarah Cybulski has done a fine job.  “What impressed us the most during our game and I told their coach, she is new this year, that I was very impressed with their team speed and aggressiveness.  They were one of the few teams this year that actually full court pressed us.  I know they have developed from there.  They have some nice wins.  They beat Seneca East.  They just beat St. Paul in the sectional championship.  We will have our hands full,” Tomisch said.

          St. Peter’s won the district and advanced to the regionals last season and they have a lot of players who know what it takes to win games at this level.  “I think we have a certain comfort level.  We expect to win when we step on the floor, it doesn’t always happen, but now, especially in tournament time we know what is at stake in a one and done situation.  We are going to work our hardest, but I think we do have a little edge in the confidence level going in,” said Tomisch.

 

 
   

St. Peter’s to Play Experienced Crestline in Sectionals

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s is used to playing physical teams and that should serve them well in the upcoming postseason tournament.

          The Spartans (6-14) play Crestline (5-15) in the second game of a sectional doubleheader Tuesday night at Ontario High School.  Mansfield Christian (8-12) and Lucas (0-20) play in the first game.

          St. Peter’s has lost its last five games (Sandusky St. Mary’s, Seneca East, Marion Pleasant, New London and Clear Fork) against teams that were for the most part bigger and stronger than they are.  However, veteran coach Pat Durham sees progress in his group as they have been pretty competitive for the most part.  “Other than not shooting particularly well down the stretch I think we made considerable strides.  We did finish the season playing some big, strong and physical teams.  Other than New London we were pretty much outsized by our last five or six opponents and they were able to use that size to their advantage,” he said.

          Crestline, with most of their players returning for a year ago figured the challenge in the smaller school, or silver division, of the North Central Conference.  However, the Bulldogs finished in a distant fourth place.  Durham says they have a couple of very good players and are also used to good competition.  “They started a number of underclassmen last season and brought most of their starting lineup back and had higher aspirations than what they have achieved.  They do feature Ben Hatfield, who is a four year starter at point guard and is real good long range shooter.  Steven Coffman is a three year starter.  He is a tough match for most teams.  He is 6-3, maybe 6-4, probably 190 pounds.  He is a really good outside and inside shooter.  Those two in particular are the focus of our defense,” said Durham.

          Mansfield St. Peter’s over the last 50 years has enjoyed considerable postseason season success.  For this year’s group to join that list, Durham says they must handle the ball better and get it inside.  “We need to eliminate a lot of the turnovers that have plagued us lately.  We have had an unusual number of turnovers in a couple of these last games.  Part of that was the physical nature of our opponents.  So, we need to do a better job of taking care the ball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday night, “One thing that stood out over these last few games is we didn’t get to the foul line very much or not enough.  We need to continue to try and get the ball inside to our post players and have them finish either at the four line or with some inside lay ups.  We are concentrating on that.  Our moral is good.  Our attitude is good.  It’s been a tough last few weeks by the nature of the schedule.  Looking for a positive I think that physical nature will have prepared us for the tournament.”

          Although not as much as Crestline, St. Peter’s does have some tournament experience and Durham says some kids that are eager for that chance.  “Henry Blunk was our backup point guard last year and played major minutes.  Joe Rall was a freshman last year and in only his second varsity game made the game winning basket in the sectional semi final game versus Lucas.  Auggie Scherer and Andy Bacon shared a spot last year.  I think Auggie started the first eight or nine games and Andy the last 12.  We have some experience and the kids that have moved up from the JV team from last year have blended in well and have been very important contributors all season,” said Durham.  

 

 
   

Lucas Won’t be Easy

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s has been the best small school girls’ basketball team in the greater Mansfield area for the last 12 years and that likely won’t change this season.

          The Lady Spartans (16-4), #3 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power poll for division three and four schools, is the favorite to advance to the regional tournament again in division four.

          After a loss to division two Lexington (41-35) last Tuesday, St. Peter’s responded with a big win (87-26) over New London of the Firelands Conference on Saturday.

          St. Peter’s coach Bill Tomisch says they may not be at their best yet, but they are getting there.  “I wouldn’t say we are at our best as far as what are abilities are, our potential, I think that is still to come.  I liked the way we finished out the season with a nice win against a fairly strong New London team.  We took a hard loss versus Lexington, but we bounced back with one our better defensive efforts versus New London.  So, I think we will be ready,” he said.

          St. Peter’s is lead by district player of the year Randa Payne (23.3 PPG) and teammate Shabree Rawls (14.9), a first team selection.  Their only loss this year to an area team came to Lexington last week.

          They play Lucas (4-17) in the division four sectional final on Saturday night at Galion High School.  Lucas beat Mansfield Christian (65-34) in a semi-final game on Tuesday night.  Tomisch believes this is best Lucas team that has hit the floor in a while.  “I think they are actually better than they have been in several years.  We had an opportunity to work with Nate in open gyms and he brought a group up during the summer and their girls worked out with our girls.  I was very impressed then,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It’s been a long time since they have been able to get people to a summer event.  Watching some of the talent on the floor we were very impressed and knew they were going to have a better year this year.”

          St. Peter’s beat Lucas (51-27) in a game played January 23 at Lucas.  Tomisch says the Lady Cubs actually had the lead after the first quarter that night.  “This is the second time that will have played Lucas.  We play them every year during the season.  They played an excellent game against us our first go around at their place.  We didn’t do a very good job of guarding them and we found ourselves down four or five points after the first quarter,” he said.

          The records tell you that St. Peter’s is the prohibitive favorite in this game, but Tomisch says they will take nothing at all for granted.  “I can guarantee you one thing we won’t be looking by them.  Anyone that looks by them is just asking to take a loss during the tournament because they have got the talent.  If they hit their shots they can play with a lot of people including us.  So, we are going to have to step up our defense and not let them get good looks that the basket and make sure we get to the boards and not give them second and third opportunities,” said Tomisch.

 

 
   

Spartans Need to Attack More

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s seems to be on the verge of being a better team, they just have to get a few more things done in order to start winning some of the games they have been losing.

          Last Saturday night, was one of the Spartans (6-11) poorer performances of the season as they were routed by Seneca East (71-50) of the Midland Athletic League.  Coach Pat Durham says they got beat up inside and were really never in the game.  “They have an outstanding post in Ben Hailer.  It wasn’t so much guarding him, but he was a force on the boards and defensively he blocked a number of shots and altered a number of shots and just upset our inside game.  The main fall out from his play was that our best post Joe Rall was saddled with two fouls halfway through the first quarter.  I elected to set him out the rest of the half.  As a result we didn’t have much of an inside presence at all in the first half.  It wasn’t a very good game from our standpoint.  We fell behind 10-0 and never really got any closer.  It was probably the only time this year where we really didn’t compete as I thought we would,” said Durham.

          St. Peter’s has shown the ability to make outside shots, but on some nights they haven’t made them consistently enough.  Durham believes they need to look to score inside more.  “We have kind of lived and died on three point shooting and died more often than not.  We haven’t maintained a good offensive flow through the whole game.  We need to address that and we have some sets designed primarily to get the ball inside and we do that with a couple of good post players that can finish inside,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “So, we are really stressing that and trying to get better at that.  Defensively, we can’t just concede the boards to some of these bigger, stronger teams.  That has generally been the edge that has hurt us in some of these close games.”

          It’s a double weekend for St. Peter’s.  On Friday night, they travel to Marion Pleasant (8-11) for a battle of Spartans.  Pleasant went unbeaten in the football regular season and some of those guys play basketball too.  Durham says again they will see big, physical posts.  “I have scouted them and I have looked at a couple of films.  They are a physical team.  Their posts are football kids.  Brady Whitting is 6-2 and about 275 is one of their leading scorers.  The other post is Jason Montgomery.  He is 6-5 and about 220.  They are really big and wide in the post.  We would like to be able to run the ball and tired them out.  Their replacements aren’t nearly as big.  Pleasant does run nine players in and out.  They are led by a junior wing Devlin McDaniel, who as a sophomore last year scored 21 points against us, in a close loss, and he scored 20 of those in the second half and kind of led them to the victory.  He’s an outstanding jump shooter.  They are not an explosive offensive team, but they are very solid defensively though,” Durham said.

          The next night, New London (13-3), the co-leader of the Firelands Conference, comes to Franciscan Activities Center to play the Spartans.  Durham says he knew the Wildcats were going to be good this year.  “They return quite a few players from a decent team of a year ago.  In the preseason I would have picked them to be a contender for the Firelands Conference championship, along with Crestview.  In that both of them returned four of their five starters, at least a lot of their regular lineup players.  They are led by Dane Held, who is a junior, and a three year starter, and Clayton Hall, who is a senior, and I believe he played some as a freshman,” he said.

          Durham says the Wildcats are a more guard oriented team, but they are one with a lot of skill.  “Unlike some of these other teams, New London is not imposing physically in terms of having large post players.  Their post players are more like ours.  They are in the 6-1 to 6-2 range, but they are well coached.  They are a veteran team and they execute their offense very well and are pretty good defensively too.  We competed very well with them for about three quarters last year and they put us away in the fourth quarter.  I think we are better offensively by far than we were a year ago.  Like some of the other Firelands Conference teams they have been known to have an off night here and there,” said Durham. 

 

 
   

St. Peter’s Facing Another Physical Team

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s has certainly made some strides in the right direction this season, but what has hurt them more than anything is being able to score against and defend players that are many times bigger than them.

          That will be the case again on Saturday night when the Spartans travel to Attica to face the Seneca East Tigers of the Midland Athletic League.

          Last Saturday night, St. Peter’s (6-10) led into the third quarter of the game before falling to Sandusky St. Mary’s (57-52) of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          St. Peter’s coach Pat Durham says they ended up not being able to keep the Panthers off the offensive glass enough and they didn’t make the shots they needed to in the fourth quarter. “It was a game where we stopped making shots about halfway through the second half.  We went five or six minutes struggling to score.  During that time they caught us and passed us.  I think it was still about a six point game with two minutes to go when we got to that point where we had to foul and stop the clock and they were able to make most of those free throws and ended up beating us by five points.  It was a tough loss and similar to three or four other losses we have had this year that was got out of the gate good and led at halftime and then weren’t able to hold on in the second half.  I had feared that their size was going to be a big factor and it was,” said Durham.

          Size has been a major hurdle for the Spartans this season because they just aren’t big enough sometimes to defend the post.  Durham says they are going to face many of the same challenges on Saturday night against Seneca East.  “St. Mary’s had a 6-6 post that was tough on us last year.  He is pretty limited.  I mean he stays on the blocks and they lob it to him and he does a nice job of offensive rebounding.  We have had a tough time with posts like that.  It’s going to be similar this weekend in that Seneca East has an outstanding post named Ben Heyward who about 6-5 and 200 pounds and very active inside,” he said.

          Seneca East (7-7) dropped a non-conference game to Plymouth (53-45) on Tuesday night.  Durham says they have a limited number of players, but the ones they do have are pretty good.  “They only have six actual varsity players.  Their roster is very small.  They will dress the whole junior varsity team, which is also six kids.  One of them plays about half of each game and the night I scouted them in person he scored pretty well.  I think he had eight points in the six minutes I was watching.  They shoot the ball well,” Durham told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have a guard named Billy Deim that is a really good three point shooter and good all around offensive player.  One of their wings, Schaffer, is a very athletic players and runs the court well.  He is about 6-2 and jumps real well.  He is going to be a hard match-up for us too.  I am hoping that maybe we can find our shooting eye back and maintain it for four quarters.”

          The Spartans have shown the ability to score some points this season and Durham says they are going to need to be able to do that against Seneca East.  “They use multiple defenses.  They will switch from various presses, full court, half court, somewhere in between, they trap some in their man to man half court.  Their base defense is a match-up zone, so I’m hoping that we can find some holes and knock down some shots and still get the ball inside as much as we need too,” said Durham.

 

 
   

Spartans Still Fine Tuning

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s has some talented young players, but they are still a work in progress on both ends of the court.

          They got off to a good start, but faded in the second half of a loss at Plymouth (77-65) on Saturday night.  Veteran coach Pat Durham says they got into some foul problems in the second half and Plymouth hurt them on the boards.  “It was a game of swings.  We played very well the first half in spite of having both of our post players in foul trouble.  I think we led 33-26 at halftime.  We played a zone designed to try and contain Tyrell Edmiston.  From the most part it worked.  To Plymouth’s credit they adjusted at halftime.  We upped our lead to 10 halfway through the quarter, but they finished the quarter on a 20-5 run,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “My best post player Joe Rall sat a lot of that quarter with foul difficulties.  It really hurt us rebounding more than anything else.  Edmiston got loose for several rebound baskets.  After that things sort of snowballed and we got out of that zone and into just a standard 1-2-2.  They were able to rebound the ball very well in that.  We had to try and use some full court pressure and they handled that really well.  They were able to put 51 points up the second half, which was very good on their part.”

          Offensively against Plymouth, again they were doing some good things, but their shot selection could have been better.  Durham says Plymouth was the better team that night.  “We had 14 turnovers in the first half against their press, which was kind of surprising.  I didn’t think we would have much trouble with it.  Their press was very affective or we would have 40 some points ourselves in the first half.  We had four players in double figures, but our two post players were throttled by foul difficulties.  To Plymouth’s credit I feel like they won the game, we didn’t just lose it, they totally out played us in the second half,” said Durham.

          Durham, a winner of over 300 games, says the Spartans are still learning what is a good shot and what is not.  “We are still in a process of figuring out when to back off on our three point shooting and try to work the ball in for a closer shot.  Again with our post players struggling with fouls it was kind of hard to do.  I do recall we kind of finished the third quarter taking some, what I felt were three ill advised three point attempts in our last three possessions,” he said.

          Friday night, St. Peter’s (5-9) visits Canton to take on Heritage Christian.  Durham says they enjoyed some success last year against them.  “Their home floor is Malone University.  To that end for whatever reasons that I have just been advised of Friday night the JV game isn’t going to start until 7:30 and the varsity game somewhere around nine o’clock.  There is something going on in Malone’s gym earlier so we can’t get in there at the normal time.  Two years ago they beat us by two at the buzzer.  Last year we were ahead 25-2 at halftime and kind of slogged through the second half and ended up winning something like 47-25,” he said.

          If they play like they are capable Durham is confident they should have some success on Friday night.  “They have been kind u up and down.  They are not real big.  They are reasonably young, they only have a couple of seniors that play regularly.  They will be competitive.  I thought last year they played harder than just about any of our opponents.  We played a pretty good game against them last year.  I feel like if we do our thing like we should then we should come out ahead,” said Durham.

          On Saturday night, St. Peter’s plays host to the Sandusky St. Mary’s Panthers (6-8) of the Sandusky Bay Conference.  Durham says they will come to Mansfield with a team that is well tested.  “They return four starters from last year.  Their leading scorer and rebounder last year was a freshman in Danarious Harris.  He missed the first two games this season with a football injury and then took two of three more games to round into basketball shape.  I think they lost all five of those games.  They are in a conference where they are division four and everybody else is two or three.  They have lost some very competitive games against the likes of Clyde and Sandusky Perkins,” said Durham.

          The Panthers possess a lot of talent and Durham says this will be one of their biggest tests of the year.  “I expect them to be very tough.  They have a 6-6 post that was a handful for us last year on the boards.  They return, besides Harris, two other guards that are three year varsity players.  Alex Offer is their point guard and also their leading scorer at 17 points a game.  We are going to have to outscore them.  I am worried about defensive match-ups because Harris a 6-2 play anywhere player who shoots three pointers and has a great pull up jumper and is athletic enough to get to the rim.  Their record is very deceptive and it’s going to be a really tough game,” he said.     

 

 
   

Lady Spartans Working on Things

 

          Once again, Mansfield St. Peter’s is as good a small school girls’ basketball team as there is in North Central Ohio, but the Lady Spartans know if they are going to advance very far down the tournament trail they have to continue to get better.

          They lost two games two weeks ago in a holiday tournament in Pickerington and they found out they need to get better, especially at rebounding, if they are going to grow into a very solid team.  Waterford beat them in their first game (54-52) and Lake Ridge Academy handled them in the second contest (62-47) in that tournament.  They beat Ontario last week (60-35) and coach Bull Tomisch says felt they learned some things from the two losses.  “We thought it would be a nice gauging point to see where we were at this far into the season just as we are getting ready for the tournament.  We found out we still have some work to do.  We lost a heartbreaker to Waterford.  We had led most of the game.  We were evenly matched and we both went at it extremely hard,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We were just overpowered by Lake Ridge Academy with their size.  We are not where we want to be.  We were able to find the areas that we need to work hard and improve on.  We have made significant strides in the practices since those games.”

          Tomisch says it is rebounding the basketball that the Lady Spartans have been concentrating on in practice over the last week or so.  “When you are playing really good teams for sure without a doubt you can’t afford to give them more than one opportunity at the basket as far as shots.  When we give a good team two or three opportunities, second chance points, you just aren’t going to beat many good teams.  We have worked extremely hard the last week and a half at improving that aspect of the game, being more consistent.  With rebounding most of it is just heart and effort, so you just have to make sure you take care of business on the boards,” said Tomisch.

          St. Peter’s (11-3), #4 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power rankings in the small school division, plays at Norwalk St. Paul (9-6) on Tuesday night.  Tomisch says the Lady Flyers are athletic and play with a great deal of intensity.  “I have only had the opportunity to watch them the other night when they destroyed Plymouth.  Plymouth has lost a couple of players, a couple of starters to ACL’s, so they weren’t at full strength.  They field a very nice squad with nice team speed, decent size and they play together well.  They have a new coach that seems to have the team’s energy level really high.  We are going to have to play a good game, especially since it’s at St. Paul,” said Tomisch.  

 

 
   

Spartans Playing to Win

 

          It’s getting to be late January and the Mansfield St. Peter’s Spartans are starting to play some pretty good basketball as the tournament approaches.

          That was even the case in a loss to Shelby, #5 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power rankings in the large school division last Saturday.  St. Pete’s coach Pat Durham says the game was still in question in the fourth quarter.  “Well, it was tremendous effort.  We were matching them basket for basket basically for about the first 12 minutes then they went on a 17-4 run to end the first half and give themselves a 13 point lead.  We had some foul difficulties.  At one time during that run I think I only had one starter on the floor, so it was understandable.  Then is the second half we hung tough.  With four minutes left in the game it was a two possession game.  I was happy with the effort.  Looking back we missed some very makeable inside shots and that along with our foul difficulties was probably the difference.  I did rate them as the best team we will play in the regular season this year,” said Durham.

          On Tuesday night, St. Peter’s (4-8) plays at Lucas (0-11) of the North Central Conference.  Durham says the Cubs have a couple nice players.  “They return two kids that played regularly last year.  Zac Moffett is a 6-5 wing who is their leading scorer and I would imagine he is also their leading rebounder.  He plays just about anywhere on the floor.  He has been playing the point quite a bit for them lately.  He is a real deep three point shooter and a very good penetrater,” Durham told Swankonsports.com, “Cruz Stepp was one of their back up post players last year.  He played quite a bit as their third post.  He is about 6-2 or 6-3 and is a very strong inside player.  The rest of the kids are relatively young, sophomores or juniors.”

          This is a season the Cubs are being forced to rely on some players that may not be ready for varsity basketball.  Durham says they have to make sure they limit the opportunities that Moffett gets to score the ball.  “I know they have been hurt by some roster limitations.  Some kids have quit or been injured.  As a result they use quite a few JV players to fill out their bench.  We are going to try and take advantage of that if we can.  We need to be very conscious of where Moffett is at all times and hopefully we can play good defense and have one of our better shooting nights against them,” he said.

          The veteran coach says they are in no position to take any wins for granted.  He says they need to play hard to win.  “We have stressed no matter who we play and we have played teams ranging from Shelby to a still developing Kingsway Christian team, who basically had only one senior.  My goal has been it’s not who you play, it’s how you play.  We are trying to play just against the standards of the game and not worry about who we are matched up with.  That has kind of been my philosophy all year and we are trying to stick with that,” he said.

          On Saturday night, the Spartans travel to Plymouth (6-5) to play the Big Red, who fields a veteran squad that has two very good freshmen.   “They beat us in a very tight game last year.  It was one that I though we had a real good chance to win and we didn’t.  They have added two freshmen to their rotation that are actually two of their best players.  Tyrell Edmiston is a 6-4 post player.  He is a very strong inside scorer and an outstanding rebounder.  He averages a double-double.  They have another freshman named Beebe, who is a pretty good perimeter shooter.  He’s a pretty good all around player, he is about a 6-0 guard,” he said, “They return three starters from last year.  Ryan Benfer, who is a cousin of Brook Turson, is probably one of their better players.  He is a very difficult match up.  He is about 6-3 and plays on the wing.  Craig Miller is their regular point guard.  He is a very good penetrater and distributes the ball very well.  They have a kid named Roberts, who is a good three point shooter and was a starter last year.  They have a post player named Hicks, who is about 6-2, 190 and is very strong inside.  So, they rotate eight or nine players fairly regularly depending on foul difficulties.  Other than the two freshmen they have all had varsity experience last year either as a starter or a front line sub, so they are going to be tough.”

 

 
   

Tough Defense the Key for St. Peter’s

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s is coming off one of its best performances of the season and now faces one of its stiffest challenges of the year this week.

          The Spartans (4-7) beat South Central, of the Firelands Conference, (73-58) last Saturday.  Tre Howell had 27 points to lead the scoring parade for the Spartans.  In terms of offensive execution, coach Pat Durham thinks it was one of their better games of the year.  “We attacked the basket very well.  We had 20 assists which is a season high.  We shared the ball very well and finished some inside shots and also shot very well from the three point arc.  I believe we were nine of 16, which is our best performance of year.  I was concerned about South Central’s size, but we were able to compete with them.  I think we out rebounded them by three or four.  I was very happy with that game, as I was very disappointed with the Mansfield Christian game,” said Durham.  Mansfield Christian had beaten St. Peter’s (65-57) the night before.

          When looking at this season, Durham, a winner of more than 300 games, knew they would have more skill on offense, however, their execution has been inconsistent this season.   “I thought we would average 65 to 75 points a game.  We aren’t, we are right around 59, which is still an improvement of about 15 points a game from last year.  We have been hot and cold.  Even against Mansfield Christian we missed some very easy to make inside shots.  I was puzzled by that because Mansfield Christian was one of the very few teams that we actually had a height advantage on, but they are a good defensive club and we didn’t get any easy ones against them,” said Durham.

          St. Peter’s travels to Shelby (8-3), #5 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power poll in the large school division, for a non-conference match-up on Saturday night.  Durham says the Whippets have a number of solid players, including the best point guard they will face all season.  “They are very versatile.  They play a very aggressive pressing style defense in the full court, three quarter court and half court.  They are a dribble drive motion type offense.  All of their starters have had double figure games, I believe.  Three of those starters have averaged double figures,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Arnold is the best point guard that we will face this year.  He is an outstanding player.  Nelson is a very tough match-up in that he is about 6’3”, which would make him bigger than any of our kids.  He is not strictly a post, he plays everywhere and plays even bigger than he is.  He is going to be a handful.  Fenner is their third double figure scorer has developed very well, so it’s going to be a challenge.”

          Shelby likes to run the floor, and the Spartans aren’t afraid to either.  What concerns Durham the most is whether or not they can defend the Whippets.  “It would be very hard for us to slow it down against them.  We don’t really slow the ball down no matter who we play.  If we have open shots, I have encouraged kids to take them.  What most concerns me about this match-up is our defensive effort.  We will have to have a very strong defensive effort.  We are going to have to cut down on any easy scoring opportunities.  If they blitz the nets from three point land that’s one thing, but if they are shooting lay ups then we are in trouble.  I have noticed that occasionally they do have an off night from the three point arc.  They will have a pretty intense game Friday night against Willard and maybe that will take something out of them,” said Durham.

 

 
   

Mansfield St. Peter’s Has to Find Shooting Eye

 

          Their coach thought the Mansfield St. Peter’s Spartans would be a much improved shooting team this year, but that has happened only occasionally and not with any consistency this year.  That has to change.

          The Spartans (3-6) are at Mansfield Christian on Friday night and entertain South Central, of the Firelands Conference, on Saturday night.

          Last Friday, after a shaky first half, the Spartans rallied to beat Kidron Central Christian (59-48) on the strength of better defense and outside shooting.  Coach Pat Durham says after some adjustments they were able to get things going in the third quarter.  “There were a couple of hiccups in the first half.  We tried some new things defensively in terms of trapping in the half court.  It didn’t work out real well, they were able to handle that pressure and hit some open shots against us.  As a result we were down six at halftime and then we righted the ship so to speak in the second half and pretty much handled them.  We had to make some big three pointers.  Tre Howell made two in a row to spark us to a double digit lead in the fourth quarter and we were able to maintain that the rest of the way.  I was happy with the outcome,” said Durham.

          Mansfield Christian (3-3) beat Lucas handily (56-35) on Tuesday night in a non-conference game.  Durham says the Flames have some youth, but they play very good defense.  “They play a freshmen and a sophomore as part of their seven man rotation.  They are somewhat young, but they have been pretty good defensively all year.  John (Kurtz) has a reputation as a defensive coach.  He has them playing his style of defense.  They basically only return two regulars from last year in Josh Stanford and Michael Ralph.  Those two are leading on the defensive end.  Ernsberger and Smith have been two of their more consistent scorers,” said Durham.

          Mansfield Christian has played only the one game in the last 17 days and Durham says they have shown some improvement since the beginning of the season.  “They are up and coming.  I believe they have won three games.  I saw them beat Lucas the other night and they were impressive in that win, so we are not expecting an easy game.  This is a team that we are actually a little bit taller than, which is rare for us and hopefully we will be able to use our inside game a little bit more than we normally do,” Durham said.

          Looking at the match-up with the school that is likely St. Peter’s biggest rival, Durham focuses in on a couple of things the Spartans are going to have to do if they want to win the game.  “We are going to have to shoot the ball well, which has been a problem all year.  We have been very inconsistent in that regard.  We will shoot it well for a quarter and then have a dry spell in the next quarter.  There have been a couple of games when we just haven’t shot it well period.  I’m not just talking about outside shots, I’m talking about inside shots,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We need to finish a higher percentage of our inside shots.  Defensively we have to make sure we account for their shooters and don’t give them too many open looks.  They are a very capable shooting team if you leave them open.”

          St. Peter’s plays host to South Central (5-4), a school Durham led to seven conference titles, in a non-conference game on Saturday night.  He says they hope to be able to force some turnovers from the Trojans.  “They return Austin Hintz, who is a first team All-Firelands Conference player.  He is a 6-5 wing that is a tough match-up for anybody.  The rest of their kids were bench players last year.  They are typical kids that have had to wait their turn.  They play a seven man rotation.  They play very aggressive on defense.  We are hoping to hurt them some with a variety of presses.  They have had some trouble in those situations this year,” said Durham.

 

 
   

Spartans Need to Play Better Longer

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s has improved from last season, but right now their record might not show that because they have lost some close games to good teams. 

          Last week, in fact, was a very good example of that when they lost home games to Crestview (50-41) and Buckeye Central (57-52) having the chance to be successful both times.  Veteran head coach Pat Durham says they will go a couple of minutes without scoring and that ends up costing them in the end.  “We have had a number of what I call 50-50 games.  Teams that have been beating us for the last three or four years that I thought we would pull even with or ahead of.  We have lost some close ones particularly last week.  In all of these losses there have been a couple of dry spells either due to bad shooting or careless turnovers that has prevented us from winning.  Our defense hasn’t been great, but it hasn’t been bad,” said Durham.

          It has been shooting that has cost the Spartans the most along with the fact that they have gotten some of their better players into foul trouble.  “Probably in terms of consistency we have started well our last few games, but we haven’t been able to maintain that through the course of the four quarters.  Sometimes foul difficulties have played a role in that.  Our two post players in particular in Joe Rall and Will Rhodes play extremely hard as a result they have picked up a cheap foul here and there.  That has hurt our efforts on offense.  Some inconsistency from with outside shooting from the other kids is an issue I am trying to address,” said Durham.

          On Friday night, the Spartans (2-6) play host to Kidron Central Christian in non-conference play in Mansfield.  Durham says Central Christian is improved from where they were a year ago.  “They have changed coaches.  We have managed to beat them the last three years although they have played us really tough in the two years I have been at St. Peter’s.  They don’t have a lot of size.  Their two best players are probably sophomores.  When we played them last year they were still splitting time between the varsity and the JVs and you could tell they were going to be good players and they are.  They represent their size at 6-3 and 6-2,” Durham told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Generally the edge we have had on them in the past has been defensively.  We have been able to shut them down and manage to scrape up enough points of our own.  It is true this is the best team I have seen them have in three or four years.  As I said they have changed coaches so their offensive system is quite different.  This is a game we could win or lose based on our own production.”

          This is another game on the St. Peter’s schedule that they need to win if they are going to prove that they are a better team than last year when they finished at 5-15 for the year.  “We are going to do our best to win.  You hate to plant that seed in a kid’s head that this is an easy game, this is a tough game.  We are trying to just get better ourselves each game.  This is a game where we could start to measure our progress.  We are trying to incorporate a few more things defensively and hopefully that will give us an edge,” said Durham.

 

 
   

St. Peter’s Hosts Two Veteran Teams

 

          An improving Mansfield St. Peter’s team will play host to two key games this week at the Franciscan Activities Center.  They play Crestview on Tuesday and Buckeye Central on Thursday.

          Last Tuesday, the Spartans (2-4) beat Marion Catholic 79-62 and coach Pat Durham feels they executed pretty well when they had the ball in their hands.  “We were able to make a high percentage of shots which had been our downfall the previous game against Fremont St. Joseph.  It was almost like somebody flipped a switch.  We scored 51 points the first half and shot the ball very well inside and out and overall played a pretty good game,” he said.  Last year, St. Peter’s went 5-15 and Durham believes they can be better this year because they have the talent and experience to do more on offense.  “We’ve had six different players reach double figures.  We have had two or three kids have double doubles.  We have had three of our starters have 10 or more rebounds in a game.  The potential is there.  Now, again if we can get them all firing on all cylinders we can be pretty tough that night,” said Durham.

          The most work has to be done of the defensive end of the floor for Spartans to reach their full potential.  Durham says they are still allowing the ball to get into the lane way too much.  “We are still a work in progress in that regard.  We give up too much penetration, dribble penetration and passing penetration.  Our field goals against percentage is much higher that I would like it to be.  We are working on that, we are addressing that in practice over the break and hopefully we can get that corrected,” he said.

          Crestview (4-3) will be at St. Peter’s for a non-conference game on Tuesday night.  Durham says the Cougars have a lot of varsity experience and led by senior Tyler George they can score inside and out.  “They are a veteran team.  They only have one junior in their top eight players.  The rest are seniors,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Their starters all played within a seven man rotation last year.  They are very aggressive defensively.  They play very good man-to-man defense.  Offensively they can score inside and out.  All of their starters are three point threats.  Tyler George is their best rebounder and scorer.  He is a three year starter in the post for them and he is the main source of concern for us this week.”

          In order to enjoy success against the Cougars on Tuesday night, Durham says they must handle the good pressure defense the Cougars play in the half court without turning the ball over all of the time, something they have improved this year.  “The last couple of years their pressure defense, not so much their full court press, but their half court man-to-man has disrupted our offense quite a bit.  We are concerned about that, so we need to handle the ball well within our half court offense, execute our offense, and make some shots.  If we do that I like our chances.  We are averaging about 60 points a game this year, which is up 18 or 19 over last year’s average.  I like to think we are better equipped to handle their pressure this year,” said Durham.

          On Thursday night, Buckeye Central (1-1) will be in Mansfield to face the Spartans.  Durham says they are a lot like Crestview in that they have veteran players that play well at both ends.  “They are very similar to Crestview.  They have a veteran team.  I believe four of their five starters started at times last year.  Tyler Erwin is a three year starter that has grown quite bit.  He’s about 6-4 now.  He used to be a point guard and now he is 6-4 and he is kind of a play anywhere type of player.  Paynter is their other guard and he is probably their most athletic player.  Both of them were very tough last year as starters.  They have a post player in Bryce Collins who is 6-1 and about 290, who was an All-Ohio football player and a space eater.  He’s played very well in their first to games.  They did overcome their football layoff pretty quickly and did look very good against Crestline last Friday,” said Durham.

 

 
   

Little Time to Get Ready for Crawford

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s picked up its first win of the season last Friday night and now there is a quick turnaround as they get ready for one the best in the North Central Conference in the Colonel Crawford Eagles on Monday night the Franciscan Activities Center at St. Peter’s.

          This is a game that was originally set for January 3, but Crawford moved a game with Buckeye Central to that date after the Bucks made the football finals and could not play earlier in the season.

          The Spartans drilled over matched Kingsway Christian last Friday night 77-38.  Sophomore Tre Howell poured in 27 points in the win.  “It was a nice break in what is an early schedule that we are facing that is really tough.  Kingsway is a small Christian school near Orrville.  A couple of their better players had transferred.  They played hard and played very scrappy, but we were able to outscore them,” said St. Peter’s coach Pat Durham.

          That break is over on Monday night as Colonel Crawford (2-1) comes calling.  The Eagles lost their first game of the season on Saturday night at Northmor (68-62) after handling Seneca East (72-48) and Mansfield Christian (62-27) in their first two games.  Durham says the Eagles have some great guard play with a variety of skills.  “I was able to scout them Saturday night against a pretty good Northmor team.  They lost the game by six or seven points.  I was impressed, they have three good perimeter players that they start,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday, “Metcalf is their leading scorer.  He is very strong, left-handed wing that attacks the basket very well.  McCreary is a sophomore that is a three-point shooter that also penetrates well.  They have a senior point guard in Shell that does a little of both.  They remind me in terms of skill of Tiffin Calvert, who beat us a week ago.  We have got our hands full.”

          St. Peter’s lost two games on the opening weekend to Ontario (73-54) and Tiffin Calvert (85-70) and Durham believes that Crawford is certainly on par talent wise with those two schools.  “Colonel Crawford is a veteran team.  I think they were all starters last year.  They have had a year in their system and they know what to do.  They are capable of running a variety of sets involving multiple screens.  I wish we had some more time to practice some of this, but we didn’t.  So, we are going to have to try and handle that.  They also press very aggressively in the full court.  After being down 11 or 12 late in the game against Northmor hey were able to cut that to two using their press and almost pulled the game out.  We are going to have to handle their full court pressure.  We are going to have to be able to run our offense and get some easy baskets and some open outside shots,” said Durham.

          Colonel Crawford coach David Sheldon told Swankonsports.com last week that they plan to press for 32 minutes and Durham knows they will have to be in the right position.  “We have capable ball handlers it’s just a matter of making good decisions and being in the right place in the press offense and not getting to sped up,” he said.

 

 
   

A Win is a Must For St. Peter’s

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s played fairly well in losses to Ontario and Tiffin Calvert over the past weekend, but they certainly need a win when they play at Kingsway Christian on Friday night.

          St. Peter’s (0-2) was in both games before fading in the fourth quarter and losing to Ontario (73-54) and Tiffin Calvert (85-70) on the opening weekend of the boys’ basketball season.  “We were able to score 54 on Ontario and 70 on Calvert and really didn’t shoot the ball that well, especially inside.  Against Ontario we missed 16 of 32 free throws.  At Calvert we went nine for 10.  We have been a little intimidated inside by some bigger kids.  We are working hard to get that corrected.  Defensively, we have lot of improvement to make we are still give up too many easy baskets,” said Spartans head coach Pat Durham.

          Scoring points is likely going to the best part of the Spartans game, but Durham, a winner of over 300 games as a coach, knows they have to be better on defense.  “Our defense on the ball hasn’t been too bad.  Our defense away from the ball has been slow to react and rotate,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We have been out rebounded both games.  Both opponents were bigger than us, so that’s part of it.  We have given up way too many offensive rebounds.  We have to get that corrected if we are going to beat any of the good teams.”

          It’s a trip to Orrville for the Spartans on Friday night and a date with Kingsway Christian, a 74-26 loser to Waynedale, of the Wayne County Athletic League on Saturday.  “They are still young.  They only had one senior last year.  They started I think three sophomores and a freshman against us last year and two of those kids have since transferred back to their public school.  They have a number of kids in the six-foot to six-two range.  They have always played us aggressively.  It can be as easy or as difficult as we want to make it be.  Last year we beat them 57-40 and we were three of 17 from the free throw line and two of 16 on three pointers.  Hopefully, we don’t have any shooting performances like that,” Durham said.

          Taking nothing away from Kingsway Christian, Durham believes this a game that must be a “W” for the Spartans.  “This is a game we fell we should win, but that’s why we play the games.  You go out and play the games and do the things you worked on and do them correctly.  We are fairly confident going in and yes it is important that we win this game.  We still have on the front end of our schedule some tough opponents and we don’t want to dig ourselves too big a hole in terms of wins and losses,” Durham said.

 

 
   

Lady Spartans Doing a lot of Good Things

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s has looked very good in their two games this season, plus they have perhaps the best player in this area in junior guard Randa Payne.

          St. Peter’s hammered Clear Fork 66-27 last week and they travel to Buckeye Central for a non-conference game on Tuesday night.

          Clear Fork had more turnovers (31) than points (27) in the game against St. Peter’s.  “The game against Clear Fork was a little more ragged, a little more aggressive, a little more intense on the floor.  Our shooting percentages were not as high, but I was happy with the results,” said St. Peter’s coach Bill Tomisch.

          With some speed at all positions, St. Peter’s is able to run the floor and get some good looks at the basket.  “If you look at our history as a team, I have been blessed with speed with most of my teams, and we try to take advantage of that.  Probably 50 to 60 percent of our offense comes from our defense.  We use a variety of half and full court presses,” said Tomisch.

          They lost in the regional semi finals last season, but Tomisch believes the potential is there for the Lady Spartans to be improved this year.  One reason is he feels more comfortable bringing players off the bench.  “I felt we would be deeper this year than we were last year.  We are getting a lot of minutes from some players that were mainly JV players last year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I thought Tysa Jones, a one or two guard, played just a tremendous game for us against Clear Fork, both on offense and defense.  Plus, our big post player Della Hall has come in and given our starting post players some rest.  She is very strong on the boards and a good outlet rebounder.”

          Of course all of that being said it’s pretty good to have a player that is averaging 29 points a game on your roster.  Randa Payne was an all-state player a year ago and she has strengthened her game even more this season.  “She is a very unselfish player, she would just assume have the assists.  One thing is she is a very smart basketball player.  She has worked extremely hard over the years to get to the skill level she has.  She’s not the fastest kid we have on the floor, but she makes the most of her skills.  She is a tremendous scorer and defensive player.  She sees the floor very well,” Tomisch said.

          The Lady Spartans will be in New Washington to face Buckeye Central (2-0) on Tuesday night.  Buckeye is coming off a 53-43 win at Plymouth last Thursday.  “I know they have a new coach.  I did get a chance to see most of their Plymouth game.  Both teams surprised me with the quality of their play.  I don’t think they are quite as fast as us, but I’m impressed with their fundamental skills,” said Tomisch. 

 

 
   

Spartans to be More Competitive

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s has the personnel on its boys basketball team to be more competitive and win more games than they did last year, but two of the Spartans tougher games are on the opening weekend as they host Ontario on Friday and then travel to Tiffin Calvert on Saturday.

          Ontario won the North Central Conference and advanced to the regional tournament last year and Tiffin Calvert lost in triple overtime in the district final.

          “We are making steady progress.  I’d like to see us be better defensively.  We have the tendency to pick up silly fouls here and there that will affect us when the games start to count for real.  We need to cut down on some of those.  Offensively we are a little bit ahead of where I thought we would be.  We are still making progress in that area also,” said St. Peter’s coach Pat Durham, a winner of over 300 career games.

          Sometimes with a small division four school like St. Peter’s numbers can be and issue, but that is not necessarily the case this year with the Spartans.  “We have a ten man varsity and a 12-13 man JV team.  I have two or three kids that will play some on both the varsity and the JVs.  We have had seven or eight kids that have produced pretty consistently through the scrimmages so far.  Right now I am comfortable with eight, maybe that will extend to nine or ten in the next couple of weeks based on what I see in practice,” said Durham.

          Ontario is new to the St. Peter’s schedule and Durham knows the Warriors are well coached and will be a tremendous challenge for his team.  “They have traditionally been very aggressive defensively and very fluid on offense.  They run a variety of motion type offenses.  Usually they have had some excellent outside shooters,” Durham told Swanlonsports.com, “The coach’s son, Blake Balogh, I saw him last year in a JV game be a very good perimeter shooter.  He’s a tough match-up.  He’s about 6-3.  They are very athletic on the perimeter.  A lot of their football kids are also basketball players.  They are going to be physical and strong and one of the better defensive teams we’ll play.”

          Tiffin Calvert was the Midland Athletic League champion from a year ago and they beat St. Peter’s 68-54 last season.  “They return four of their top six players, including their best post player and their point guard.  They’re a veteran team.  They have some good shooting.  They like to get up and down the floor.  We played them fairly tough last year.  They knocked us out with 13-0 run in the middle of the third quarter.  This year we have improved offensively, so hopefully they haven’t improved that much,” Durham said.

          Going into the opening weekend the thing that concerns Durham the most is the lack of varsity experience that most of his kids have.  “We are still relatively young.  I have two juniors, Auggie Scherer and Andy Bacon, who played full time last year as sophomores.  Our point guard Henry Blunk played regularly at point guard last year.  The other kids are those moving up from the JV team.  They are going to have to make the transition to the varsity level,” said Durham.

 

 
   

Mansfield St. Peter’s Looks to Score More

 

          Last season, Mansfield St. Peter’s got all they could out the talent they had on the roster and this year they should be better with personnel that will allow them to score more points.

          Veteran coach Pat Durham, a varsity coach for 30 years, believes they his players are doing what they need to do in order to win more games this winter.  “I have been happy with our preseason preparation so far.  The kids has a good summer of open gym play and shootouts and stuff you need to get done in the off season.  We are still relatively young, but we do have five lettermen back,” he said.

          Durham believes that they will be able to put more points on the scoreboard giving them a chance to improve on the 5-15 record they produced a year ago.  “What I have seen since the end of last season is an improved offensive team.  A team that seems to be able to shoot better inside and outside,” he told Swankonsports.com, “The kids last year played extremely hard, but we were offensively challenged.  That really held us back in terms of wins, so that is going to be our most dramatic improvement.”

          Likely not as athletic has most of the teams they play St. Peter’s is going top have to play good defense to give themselves a chance to win on most nights.  Durham thinks they have that potential.  “I think we had at least an average defensive team last year, if not a little above average.  The kids did apply themselves to it and played extremely hard for the most part.  We were physically mismatched in at least half or two thirds of our games.  This year I don’t think the defensive intensity is to that level yet, but it’s not a weakness.  It is something we will continue to work on,” he said.

          St. Peter’s, a small division four school, does not shy away from a tough challenge on its schedule and that is certainly the case this year.  They open the season at the Franciscan Activities Center against Ontario on December 2 and travel to Tiffin Calvert the next night.  “We open with Ontario and Tiffin Calvert.  Ontario at home, of course, won a division three district championship last year.  Tiffin Calvert lost in triple overtime to Wynford in a division four district title game.  Ontario has graduated most of those players, but it is a well established program over the last 25 years.  They don’t rebuild, they reload.  I know their JV team was very good.  A lot of the kids off that JV team will be the core of the varsity team.  Tiffin Calvert returns four of its top six players,” said Durham.

 

 
   

Mansfield St. Peter’s to be Better

 

          Mansfield St. Peter’s will be missing an All-Ohio guard from its lineup, but the Lady Spartans expect to be as good if not better than they were last year when they went to the regional tournament.

          St. Peter’s has been as consistent as any girls’ basketball team in this area over the last decade having qualified for the regional tournament in nine of the last 11 years.  Head coach Bill Tomisch expects this to be another good season for the Lady Spartans.  “We are extremely excited about this year.  We had some younger players really step up in summer league and put in the work to get better.  I think they will make huge contributions this year,” he said.

          St. Peter’s will be without the services of guard McKenzie O’Brien this season.  She and her family decided to transfer to Wadsworth where she will be playing basketball for the Lady Grizzlies.  “Anytime you lose a player whether it be transferring to another school or leaving town or whatever it does leave opportunities for other players,” Tomisch told Swankonsports.com, “In this particular situation we found two or three players that took a hold of the opportunity and put in the necessary time.  I looked at our performance over the summer and to be honest I think we will be a better team than we were last year.”

          Randa Payne was the second leading scorer for the Lady Spartans, and also an All-State performer.  Without O’Brien, Tomisch does not believe that Payne’s role will change a lot.  “She shared most of the scoring load last year.  Randa is a gym rat.  I don’t see her role changing that much on the team.  The other girls are going to have to step up their game from the scoring end of it.  Randa has added some new wrinkles to her game,” he said.

          A big addition to the line-up will be the return of Annie Lindsay from knee injuries that have kept her out much of the last two years.  She suffered “ACL” tears on each knee.  Tomisch thinks she will make them a lot better.  “She has been our true point guard, unfortunately she has suffered the two ACL’s.  She is back and she is healthy.  She wasn’t able to work out with us over the summer.  She was still rehabbing and not cleared to play.  She has had a great preseason so far.  I look for her to carry the team,” he said.

          Pushing the pace is something St. Peter’s has featured the last couple of years that is not likely to change this year, in fact it might be enhanced.  “We will be very similar to last year.  We will be built off speed and quickness.  We have great quickness at the guards and great quickness in the post.  While she’s not that tall, Shabree (Rawls) is 5-9, 5-10, she moves like a guard, so it’s going to be difficult for most larger posts to match up with her.  We will have to get a lot of our points off our offensive transition.  I think we will be a little deeper than we were last year,” said Tomisch.

          While there are a lot things the Lady Spartans do well, but they have not been the best rebounding team and that concerns Tomisch a little bit.  “Since we don’t have a lot of height, and we are a transition team, we are going to have to do a good job on the boards.  If we give the other team two or three chances to score that’s not good because it doesn’t give a chance to start our break,” he said.  

 

 
 

 

St. Peter’s Poised to be Better

           Last season, Mansfield St. Peter’s struggled to find wins on the baseball diamond with their only regular season win coming over rival Mansfield Christian.  The Flames then beat the Spartans 26-1 in the sectional opener for both teams that May.

          Coach Tim Failor believes they have a chance to be significantly better this spring.  “I think we’ve got some players.  How good we will be is up to the kids,” Failor told swankonsports.com on Wednesday.  Mansfield St. Peter’s has suffered on the baseball field mostly because of a lack of numbers of players.  Last season, they were able to field a junior varsity team and that will be a real plus for this year.  “Our junior varsity was well over .500 last year.  We have some younger kids that it will be difficult to keep off the field,” said Failor.

          If they are going to have success this year, Failor believes they are going to have to get solid pitching from more than one guy.  “We have four sophomores that pitch and I would say at this point two are pitchers and two are throwers, but they all have potential,” said Failor.

          St. Peter’s will play an aggressive division four schedule this season which will include games against defending division three state champion Clear Fork, North Central Conference contenders Buckeye Central and Ontario, and division one Mansfield Senior.  They open the season March 28 at Mt. Gilead.

 

 
   

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