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Ontario Holds off Lucas

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Joe Balogh

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Taylor Iceman

 

          Ontario never trailed in the game, although Lucas made things dicey in the fourth quarter, but the Warriors hung on to beat the Cubs (47-41) in a non-conference game on Saturday night at the O-Rena.

          Ontario (9-5), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, built a (21-8) lead after the first two quarters, but the Cubs outscored them (17-8) the third quarter and trailed by only four (29-25) entering the final eight minutes.

          Coach Joe Balogh says they played pretty good defense in the second half too, but they didn’t rebound the ball and gave Lucas too make second and third opportunities.  “I think what hurt us in the second half was their ability to get the ball in the lane and they created contact and I don’t know how many, they probably had three of four and one situations.  The other part we didn’t rebound the ball once we got stops.  We have to do better finishing possessions because that is just demoralizing.  They make you play defense for 20 to 30 seconds and you make them take a tough shot and you don’t rebound it then you are back to playing about 15, 20, 25 seconds and that makes it difficult.  I give our kids a lot of credit coming off a game that we had (Friday) night,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “Lucas, what did we say they have only given up 50 points in one game?  Defensively, they have been good.  The are hard to speed up because Sauder does a great job of handling pressure.  If they can’t attack and get the shot they want then they make you play half court defense for a period of time and that kind of wears you down a little bit.  We made enough plays when they had to come and get us to come out on top.”

          Lucas scored eight of the first 10 points of the third quarter, seven by Evan Sauder, their point guard, and got right back in the game.  “We came out asleep right out of the gate and didn’t play very well the first half.  You aren’t going win many games scoring eight points in a half.  I told the kids coming into this that I just wanted to feel good about (Saturday) night and that was not the case at halftime, but we played really good the second half and competed.  We will continue to get better with our young guys,” said Lucas coach Taylor Iceman.

          Lucas (6-5), the Mid-Buckeye Conference leader, got it as close as three (43-40) with 2:12 to play after a basket by freshman Logan Toms.

          Iceman says they turned up pressure in the second half in order to try and get back in the game.  “We got back into our full court pressure.  We were a little bit hesitant in doing that because of some guard experience that they have.  That was how the game was called (Saturday) night, there wasn’t a lot of fouls being called.  We just knew it was time to turn it up and try and generate some turnovers that way, which we did, but just too little, too late.  We played too bad in the first half to comeback against a good team,” said Iceman.

          Zach Mccristall scored all six of his points in the crucial fourth quarter for the Warriors.  He buried a three from the left wing with 5:53 to play to extent the Ontario lead to eight (36-28) and after Toms converted an old fashion three point play to cut it back to five (36-31) Mccristall canned another three from just left of the top of the key to make it an eight point lead (39-31) again.

          “Zach was big for us to make those shots.  That was really key for us.  Nolan Payne was able to finish around the rim in the fourth quarter and that was big also,” said Balogh.

          Payne’s lay in with 2:01 left game the Warriors a (45-40) lead.

          Payne finished with a team high 10 points for Ontario, senior point guard Griffin Shaver added nine and his running mate senior guard Kolten Kurtz added seven.

          Sauder led everybody for Lucas with 21 points, 15 the second half, and Toms added 13.

          Ontario has played well this year, but they have lost four of their last six, two to Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference leader Shelby, including (65-53) on Friday night, and one to Ohio Cardinal Conference power Ashland in overtime.

          Balogh says they need to improve on the boards and they absolutely must knock down some more shots.  “We really think we have been solid defensively throughout the whole year.  I thought we were solid defensively (Saturday) night.  Where we have to get better defensively is rebounding the ball at the defensive end and finishing possessions.  Offensively, we just have to find a way to make some shots.  We had open shots again.  We had some that were down and out.  We have to be better handling pressure early when they put it on us.  We had a couple of turnovers early against their pressure, but once we settled down we did a good job of attacking it.  We are just going to have to continue to get better and we are going to have to,” said Balogh.

 

Published 1/16/21

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Defense the Key for Ontario

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Joe Balogh

 

          Ontario gets a second chance as they host Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference leading Shelby in a conference game on Friday night at the O-Rena.

          The Whippets hold a two game edge on the Warriors in the conference standings and it is a must for Ontario if they are to have any chance at a league title.

          They fell two games back when Marion Pleasant beat them (61-54) last Thursday in a “MOAC” game, they would bounce back and beat Marion Harding (54-42) on Saturday.

          Coach Joe Balogh says they got behind Pleasant and the coaching staff didn’t make the right adjustments, but he was proud of how they came back and beat Harding.  “I think the thing you look at in league play is usually there are always a couple of games in the league that you observe as coaches like wow how did that happen?  You don’t want to be one of those teams and that kind of happened to us, but with that being said you give a lot of credit to Pleasant and (coach) Ben (Snively.  They are a young team and they were banged up a little bit.  When you go on the road, especially in the league it is usually difficult just because teams know you better and there is a confidence that you know what you want to do against that team.  We just kind of dug ourselves a hole and giving Pleasant a lot of credit they never let us out of it.  You hope for your kids that it is a learning experience.  Really from a coaching standpoint it was a learning experience.  We should have done things a lot better and made some adjustments in the first half that we didn’t do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “I give our kids a lot of credit.  We get home late Thursday night, we have a practice on Friday, and kind of a walkthrough practice on Saturday and they really responded and we played well.  We played really well defensively and we played well offensively where we played with some quickness, but we also showed that we could sit down and be really effective in our half court offense.  So, we are hoping we can build on that this weekend with two tough games here at home.”

          The Warriors host Lucas in a non-conference game on Saturday night.

          Ontario (8-4,4-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, is at home for Shelby (9-1,6-0), #3 in the poll, on Friday night.  The Whippets won the first match up (65-60) at Shelby on December 31.  It was a game that never had a margin of more than six points and the Warriors were within a basket with less than three minutes.

          Balogh says this time they must be more consistent.  “In games like this you just have to be consistent for 32 minutes.  As we look at the tape there are several possessions, especially in the fourth quarter where we are not quite in position defensively in transition where we don’t make a tag that we should make to check somebody out,” he said.

          The Whippets had to rally to win both of their games last week in River Valley (85-74) on Thursday and Clear Fork (77-64) on Saturday.

          T.J. Pugh leads the conference in scoring with (23.5 ppg) and Cody Lantz stands fifth in the “MOAC” with (14.5 ppg), those stats however don’t include last week’s games.

          Balogh says they have to contain those two without neglecting the other Whippets.  “I give Shelby a lot of credit with (T.J.) Pugh and (Cody) Lantz they have two very good players and when you are having the kind of year they are having you need those kids to play at a high level and that’s what they are doing.  Their role players have really understood what they should do.  When you have that you become a really tough team to beat.  So, we have to do a really good job of making things difficult for Pugh and Lantz.  We can’t let them have a game where they go off for 30 plus points.  We have got to make them earn it.  Then we have to make sure we defend those role guys also.  We have a big task in front of us, but I think our kids are really excited about the opportunity to play to see where we are at as we play them for the second time in just a little over two weeks,” said Balogh.

 

Published 1/15/21

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Ashland Wants to Force Tempo Again

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Jason Hess

 

          Ashland, a game behind Wooster in the Ohio Cardinal Conference standings, plays a home against Mt. Vernon in the first game of the second round of play in the double round robin on Friday night.

          The Arrows were especially outstanding in am (87-44) win over Mansfield Senior last Friday in conference play.

          Coach Jason Hess says they were able to extend the length of time of their good play against the Tygers.  “We have had definitely had spurts and moments of really good basketball and last Friday against Mansfield it lasted a little longer than just a couple minute span.  We had an exceptional first quarter on both ends of the floor.  We shot the ball extremely well and got some stops on defense.  I thought our kids did a really nice job of maintaining our focus and competitiveness the entire game and not relaxing even though we had built a big lead early,” he said.

          They led (29-10) after the first quarter.

          They kept themselves right behind Wooster with a (65-52) win over Lexington in “OCC” action on Tuesday.

          In their second conference game of the week, Ashland (10-2,5-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, hosts Mt. Vernon (3-7,2-3) on Friday night.  In their first meeting, the Arrows outscored the Jackets (84-71) on December 4.

          Hess says they still want to make it an up tempo game, but at the same time play better defense.  “I expect this to be a different type of game.  I thought the first time around even though we weren’t as good defensively and hopefully we have improved the last few weeks.  We definitely got the tempo in our favor and we were able to get out and go and I think our guys are more comfortable playing is space and it also helped neutralize some of the size advantage that Mt. Vernon had.  I think what we have to try and do this week is to continue to play at that fast tempo, that fast pace, were we are able to score in transition,” he told Swamkonsports.com on Thursday, “Hopefully, we can do a better job of locating some of Mt. Vernon’s shooters and contesting those perimeter shots and also being a little more stout in the paint with some of our interior defense.  They kind of backed us down a little bit and bullied us a little bit the first time around in the second half.”

          With the lineups now more established, Hess says Friday night will be a better barometer for how good these two teams are this year.  “You just never know the first time around it was their first game and our second, so that is pretty early in the season and teams are still trying to figure themselves out. You get here in the middle of January and it’s a pretty good gauge of where you are going to be the rest of the year because at this point rotations are pretty well set although this year with COVID, sometimes those have to be adjusted each week defending on who is healthy and who is not.  Hopefully everyone is healthy and we can have a good game,” said Hess.

 

Published 1/15/21

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Willard Plays at Port Clinton

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Joe Bedingfield

 

          Willard, the co-leader in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, makes the long trip to Port Clinton for a division game on Friday night.

          Oak Harbor, the other co-leader, play winless Edison on Friday night.

          After a (2-3) start to the season, the Flashes have won their last six, including (66-60) over Margaretta in a division game last Saturday.

          Coach Joe Bedingfield says the coaching staff has designed the roles and the kids have accepted them.  “I think like a lot of other teams we didn’t get a summer, we didn’t get a fall.  You can say that, but we lost two really good players that did a lot for us and made me a lot smarter than I was for a couple of years.  We had to define roles.  I think we tried to replace those guys and we had to find an identity and with kids it takes a little while.  It’s a long season and we are nowhere near where we need to be, only halfway right now.  We are very fortunate to have played as long as we did without and major hiccups and I think that helps too.  We haven’t had any interruptions, knock on wood, with quarantine since the very beginning of the season.  It think it’s a credit to the kids,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday evening, “They have started to play well together and buy into their roles and kind of seized the day, we talk a lot about that.  We have four year players, the might not have been superstars, they might not have been Kevin Costner, but they have been in major supporting roles and now they are stepping into bigger roles and they have done a nice job with that the last five or six games.”

          Willard (8-3,4-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, is at Port Clinton (4-7,1-4) on Friday night.  The Redskins are coming off a solid effort in losing (55-50) to Oak Harbor on Saturday night.  They had a fourth quarter lead in that game.

          In the first meeting this year, the Flashes won (53-34) on December 4, but Bedingfield says it was a much closer game than that score would indicate and they expect a battle on Friday.  “It was not a 20-point game.  It was a game where they played three and half quarters really well and we found it in the fourth a little bit more.  We got out in transition and hit some shots.  It was more like a couple of possessions. They have a very good, up and coming, young group, freshmen, sophomores that are playing.  They were up 15 or so on Oak Harbor at Oak Harbor and played really well and probably should have won the game.  We know we are going to have to play our best basketball up there and not to take them lightly.  Going into the second round we aren’t the same team, but neither are they.  They have had some games where they have been close against some very good teams.  They could have a much better record and we know the second half of the year teams either get better or worse after Christmas and it seems like Port Clinton is getting better,” said Bedingfield.

          On Saturday night, Willard hosts Tiffin Columbian (8-1), #4 in the large school poll, in an “SBC” crossover.

          Bedingfield says the Tornadoes will be a tough task.  “It will be a tough one for us.  Coach (Travis) Kinn has done a great job building that up.  Each year they have gotten better and they have some good young players.  They are going to be good for a while and they are leading the Lake Division right now.  I think we are fortunate to be playing a home, that might help, or it might not, but either way it is one of those games where you want to play better teams, especially teams in your area.  It is an old “NOL” team that we used to play for many, many years.  The kids are very familiar with each other.  We played them last year and they played us tough.  It will be a tough game.  They have a really athletic group of kids that can really score it from multiple positions.  It will be a good test for our kids no doubt,” he said.

 

Published 1/15/21

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Revenge on the Mind of the Cubs

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Taylor Iceman

 

          Lucas has worked its way back into a share of first place in the Mid-Buckeye Conference and now they get a chance to pay back the only team to have beaten them in a conference game.

          They entertain Crestline in a “MBC” game on Friday night.  The Cubs, the Bulldogs and Loudonville share first place in the conference.

          They were able to grind out a win at Kidron Central Christian (39-25) last Friday night.

          Coach Taylor Iceman says the Comets play a very good zone and games against them are normally low scoring like that.  “It is usually like that over there, something we kind of expected.  We played fairly decent over there.  You wouldn’t be able to tell from the score, but it is kind of how it usually goes up there.  It was low scoring, but we played really good defense again, which we have been doing consistently.  We scored enough obviously, so we will leave it at that,” he said.

          Lucas (5-4,4-1) hosts Crestline (6-5,3-1) on Friday night.  The Bulldogs lost their first conference game last Friday (53-49) to Loudonville.  They beat Mansfield Temple Christian (54-30) in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.

          Crestline beat Lucas (52-42) on December 11 at their place and Iceman says they have not forgotten the results of that game.  “I have got a lot of respect for coach (Tyler) Sanders and what he is doing over there.  No disrespect to them, but we circled this one because we played so horrible over there it is one we just want to get back.  Yeah, we have been looking forward to this one.  We have had a week off since we have played, so we have been preparing.  We are excited to get another shot at them and kind of show that is not who we are.  We are excited for it and we have had this one circled for a while now,” said Iceman.

          Lucas biggest problem is they have been able to score much, but Iceman believes their shooting has improved since they now have more options.  “We have executed okay.  We can’t finish, we miss a lot of bunnies and layups.  We are not a very big team, so a little bit of size affects our shots.  We have a lot of young guys and they are figuring it out better.  We put some new things in offensively.  That was our first game out the first tine we played them, so we didn’t have a ton of our offense put in at that point,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “What was are doing now is a lot different than what we thought we were going to be doing.  This a different team than we have had in the past, so we are doing some different things now that are predicated to this team specifically.  It will keep coming and we are going to be more prepared this time, a lot more than we were the last time we played them.”

 

Published 1/15/21

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Upper Sandusky and Mohawk Battle to Stay in it

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Jeff Winslow

 

          Upper Sandusky and Mohawk both trail Northern 10 Athletic Conference leader Colonel Crawford in the standings and they play each other on Friday night at Mohawk in what could amount to an elimination game in the conference race.

          After losing to Willard (79-63) in a non-conference game last week, the Rams would respond and beat Bellevue (69-55) in a non-league game on Thursday and Bucyrus (79-35) in a conference game on Saturday.

           Coach Jeff Winslow says they were able to get back on the beam right away and that was good.  “One thing that is nice about basketball is you play a game like we did against Willard, they are a good team, and they played very well and had something to do with how we played, but we played really bad as well.  It was nice to get back on the court a couple of days later and play well and get a win.  Bellevue, I know what their record is, but they are way better than they were over last couple of years.  They have some guards that can put it in the basket and they defend much better and we went over there and played really well.  Then we played well on Saturday as well.  It was nice to get that behind us and move one and start playing well again and move forward,” said Winslow.

          Upper Sandusky (8-4,6-1) makes the short trip to Mohawk to play the Warriors (9-2,6-1) on Friday night.  Mohawk got past Seneca East (69-62) on Saturday night to stay in the race.

          Winslow says this is a very good basketball team.  “Coach (Paul) Dunn has done such a great job since he has been there.  They had a real nice year last year after they started slow and they got all of those kids back.  They are just a couple of possessions away from being in first place by themselves because they had a chance to beat Crawford at Crawford.  If we want to stay in this year race between us, Mohawk and Crawford this is a game we have got to win and I’m sure they feel the same way,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “It’s a big rivalry game, we are only a few miles down the road and a lot of the kids know each other.  These games have been real fun the last few years.  You look forward to playing in games like this.  So, our kids are excited, I think our fans are excited, so it should be a fun time.”

          Upper Sandusky won the title last year and Mohawk won it two years ago.

          Mohawk is known for its 2-3 zone and Winslow says they are very aggressive in it.  “Not too many teams play much zone anymore and not too many really dedicate their defense and that is what they play and they do.  What they do, and their guards out top especially, are just really aggressive in it, so they are almost like man to man and then the back side has zone principles.  It is different that most zones you see and you really have to be ball strong in it because they do a good job of creating turnovers and getting tipped balls.  They have nice personnel to do what they are doing.  They have a 6’4” kid in the middle.  You have to have your offense ready for that zone or it could be a long night,” he said.

 

Published 1/15/21

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Old Fort Needs Confidence Booster

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Eric Hoover

 

          Old Fort has now slipped a game behind both Tiffin Calvert and Sandusky St. Mary’s in the standings of the River Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          They play at home against New Riegel on Friday night.

          They were upset by Hopewell-Loudon (56-54) in a division game last Saturday.

          Coach Eric Hoover says they just didn’t play very well at all.  “I really have not stopped thinking about it since it happened.  We have to get better.  They came out and put it to us from the beginning and we could never really recover.  There are just things we have to do better, move the ball better, things I have to do better.  I think we have a had a good week of practice.  We went back and looked at everything together on film and I thought the kids really responded at practice this week.  So, sometimes I think that losing makes you better and hopefully we can learn from that and be better in the long run,” said Hoover.

          Old Fort (9-2,5-2) plays host to New Riegel (0-9,0-7) on Friday night.  The Blue Jackets lost (60-37) to Calvert on Tuesday night.  The Stockaders belted New Riegel (68-37) on December 4 in their first meeting this year.

          Hoover says they will be a lot more competitive this time around.  “They have always given us tough games.  They are a little down in just numbers in their school and it is a very small school to begin with, they are going to have stretches like this, but they have their best player back.  It was his first game back on Tuesday against Calvert, he had a knee injury earlier in the season.  He instantly makes them more athletic.  He is a good defender and just a good all around player.  So, he is definitely boost their confidence,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “You could see in just watching them against Calvert that they were a lot more confident having him on the floor.  They are very familiar with us.  We played them three times last year and they gave us fits last year.  I anticipate it being a very competitive game.”

          Considering the loss on Saturday combined with New Riegel’s lack of success, Hoover feels the first quarter is going to be important for them to establish control.  “We have done a pretty good job in first quarters of coming out strong for the most part.  We have outscored our opponents quite a bit in the first quarter.  The way last Saturday went we need to come out and build confidence in ourselves early as well as not let them get any momentum or you are in a tough battle to the finish.  It is going to important to come back home and get a good start in the second half of the league,” he said.

 

Published 1/15/21

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Buckeye Central With County Rivals Back to Back

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Tom Howell

 

          Buckeye Central plays two games in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference this weekend and both against longtime rivals as they play at Bucyrus on Friday night and host unbeaten Colonel Crawford on Saturday.

          The Bucks are playing like they are getting better every game.  They had a lead on a solid Carey team Saturday night in conference play before losing (55-50) to the Blue Devils.

          Coach Tom Howell says they had too many turnovers and allowed to many easy hoops in the last going.  “We did a good job the whole game really.  In the last six minutes we just started turning the basketball over and you can’t do that against Carey.  We had a chance to get a good quality win against a good basketball team and we just let it slip away,” said Howell.

          Buckeye Central (5-6,3-4) plays at Bucyrus (2-8,1-6) on Friday night.  The Redmen lost to Wynford (52-41) on Monday night in conference play. 

          Tempo will be a factor in this game.  Howell says the Redmen want you to play faster.  “They want to get up and down the floor.  They make their opponents play a little faster than what they want to.  They do pressure the ball in the half court.  They will get up in your face in the full court.  Again, it’s going to come down to turnovers for us.  We have to take care of the basketball,” he said.

          It will be a challenging one as, Buckeye hosts first place Colonel Crawford (12-0,8-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, on Saturday night.

          The Eagles won the first match-up (61-42) on December 5 in North Robinson.

          Howell says Crawford doesn’t have any weaknesses and it is difficult coming up with a winning game plan.  “Man, I don’t know, it’s going to be tough.  They are pretty good.  They are undefeated and they are ranked pretty high in the state,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “The last time we played them, we played with them for about two and half quarters and they hit some big threes and (Carter) Valentine sort of went off on us a little bit and the big guy started playing harder and gave us a lot of trouble.  We have to play within ourselves and take care of the basketball and try and rebound with them, I think is the biggest key.”

 

Published 1/15/21

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Mt. Vernon Must Rebound

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Nick Coon

 

          Mt. Vernon gets a second chance on Friday night against Ashland, the second place team in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, this time at Arrow Arena.

          The first game was six weeks ago and Mt. Vernon coach Nick Coon says they have improved a lot since then.  “I think our team has come a long way since the beginning of the year.  I think we still have a long ways to go, but I think we have grown as individuals and a collective group.  We are still trying to get over the hump against a good team and we have a chance Friday night against a really good team that is playing good basketball and has some offensive firepower.  We are looking to take advantage of playing a good basketball team and the second time playing this very good basketball team.  So, we are excited about that opportunity and we are going to give it our best shot,” said Coon.

          Ashland is paced by the play of guards Like Denbow, who had 28 points and 14 assists in the first meeting with Mt. Vernon, an (84-71) win or the Arrows, Eli White and Grayson Steury.

          Coon says they have to make them take tough shots and when they miss rebound the ball.  “Those three guards are very good, very skilled, they keep coming at you, and they are on the floor at all times for them.  They get most of the shots for their team and they have produced this year at a high level.  I am not sure that there is anybody that is going to stop them, but we are going to do our best to make it tough on them and hopefully make them shoot contested shots throughout the game and then be able to rebound the basketball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “That’s all you can do against three really good guards like that is try your best to make it as tough as you can and sometimes they will still make the shot, but you have to continue to do that possession after possession and then see where the chips fall.”

          Coon says these Ashland guards make shots all over the floor, so it is not loke you can force them to take looks they aren’t used to making.  “I think that is where they pose the biggest problems for us defensively is those three guys can score all over the place.  I think ways of trying to keep them out of a rhythm is going to be important.  If they miss that first one, we have to do a better job than we did the first time of rebounding the basketball because if you give them two or three chances they will definitely score then they are just such a good offensive team, especially those three, that you have to limit them to one shot,” he said.

 

Published 1/15/21

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Colts Need to Make More Shots

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Steven Bechtel

 

          Clear Fork is another one of the area teams that just can’t seem to make enough shots to consistently win games.

          The (3-6) Colts play at Northmor (2-8) in a non-conference game on Saturday night.

          They lost (67-51) to unbeaten Fredericktown on Tuesday night in a non-conference game. 

          After trailing by double digits after halftime, the Colts got to within three after three quarters, but then went into shooting funk in the fourth quarter.

          Coach Steven Bechtel says they used a lot of energy to get back in the game and then kind of ran out of gas.  “It was kind of like a rollercoaster.  We started off down and then kind of came up from there and went back down again.  It was one of those games where we didn’t get off to a very good start and that is tough on the road against a quality opponent, but I was proud of the way we battled back.  I think as we battled back we used so much energy to get back in the game and then we took that deep breath and got a little bit more complacent.  Fredericktown, doing what good teams do, they went on another run and just put it out of reach at that point and time,” said Bechtel.

          Bechtel says they are running their offense pretty well and getting some good looks at the basket, they just aren’t making enough.  “It is not that we have not had open looks.  We have just missed some easy baskets, we have missed some wide open threes.  In a couple of our games, if we shoot it just a little bit better we are a lot closer at the end of the game or possibly if we shoot a little better we come out on top,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “It is kind of like the NBA where, and I think high school basketball is inching toward that, where it is a make or miss game.  If you are able to make those shots you have a great opportunity to be in games at the end and possibly come away with wins.  We just have to find a way to knock in those open looks.”

          Northmor is coming off a (59-43) loss to Highland in a Knox Morrow Athletic Conference game last Friday.

          Bechtel says he expects that Northmor is going to show them a lot of zone on Saturday night.  “We have seen a lot of zone, a lot of 1-3-1, they play it really, really well.  They have got some length, their guards are decent, they shoot it well, and they have a little bit of size too.  We know it being on the road it is going to be a tough challenge because that has been a challenge for us all year just going on the road and coming out and playing well.  With a new coach at Northmor, don’t know a whole lot about them, but just learning more while watching more film,” said Bechtel.

 

Published 1/14/21

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Tygers Still Trying to Figure it Out

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          Mansfield Senior plays pretty solid defense, but they are having a lot of problems putting the ball in the hoop and that is holding them back right now.

          They have failed to score 50 points in three of their four games this year.

          Coach Marquis Sykes says in a (77-48) loss to Dublin Coffman last Saturday they were missing a lot of what might considered easy shots.  “It has been a struggle for us.  This past Saturday down at Dublin Coffman we had 12 points at halftime.  I felt we played well enough on defense.  We stepped up and had a pretty good defensive half against a really good offensive team and just couldn’t put the ball in the basket.  We missed some point blank layups and semi contested layups close to the basket.  When you do that it just kind of wears on you and puts a strain on your defense.  It has hard to continue to get defensive stops and rebounds when you are shooting yourself in the foot and missing a lot of point blank shots,” he told Swankpnsports.com on Wednesday, “That has been our focus at practice this week to get better offensively and make sure we are finishing and putting the ball in the basket, especially when we are around the basket.  Hopefully, with that continued emphasis we will get better and our confidence will grow.  We are a group that once we see the ball go in a few times we can kind of get it rolling and get in going.  We just have to get a few to go in early and hopefully things we look different for us.”

          Sykes says a lot of their shooting woes can be tied to a lack of confidence.  “We have just been trying to approach it without having any excuses regardless of our practice situation in December and trying to stay on the grind, trying to stay positive and make sure we are getting the guys in the right positions where they can actually be successful.  I think we are doing that.  Once we see a few go in I think we can get it rolling a little bit.  Our confidence is a little shaken right now. We will get better though,” he said.

          Mansfield Senior (1-3) plays ISA Academy on Saturday afternoon in a Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend tournament at East Cleveland Shaw.

          Sykes says again the opponent is very good and they are not going to be successful if they can’t make more shots.  “We have tried to put the focus on the Tygers, but obviously we have done out due diligence and done some film study on those guys and it will be another tough test for us.  These guys are really big.  They are really fundamentally sound and well coached.  It is going to be another tough one for us, especially of we struggle to put the ball in the basket.  We have really been focused on ourselves an teaching these guys how to be Tygers and how to play the Tyger way.  Once we fully understand that we will turn the corner.  I think we have 80, 85 percent of the guys that are starting to get it and really understand how hard we have to play and how hard we have to play to be successful and once we get that to 100 percent we will turn the corner,” said Sykes.

 

Published 1/14/21

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Buckeye Central Must Limit Points in the Paint

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          Northern 10 Athletic Conference leader Buckeye Central visits Willard to play the Lady Flashes, the leaders in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, in an non-conference game on Thursday night.

          They are also the top two teams in the Swankonsports.com girls’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division.

          Buckeye Central (10-0), #2 in the poll, has been outstanding all year, but coach Abram Kaple says they have improved a bunch on defense.  “We are significantly better on the defensive end of the floor than what were at the beginning of the season and even dating back to last year.  Obviously, our personnel has changed a little bit, but we have spent a little bit more time in practice emphasizing that end of the court.  So, I feel good about the improvement that we have made in that area,” he said.

          Buckeye Central has not allowed more then 35 points over their last six contests.

          Claudia Pifher (19.3 ppg) leads the “N10” in scoring this year.  She shoots 60% from the field this year.  Point guard Taylor Ratliff gets (12.8 ppg) and hands out over three assists per contest.

Willard (10-1), #1 in the poll, belted Margaretta (62-42) last week to take sole possession of the lead in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          Kaple says they have all of the elements of an excellent basketball team.  “They are big, they are athletic, they are well coached, they are a complete team, so they have a little bit of everything.  They have a point guard, they have a defender, they have two really nice post players and they have a  shooter in Grace Hall, who didn’t play last year because of an injury.  When you look at their first five, they possess a lot of talent and a high I.Q. that is going to give us problems to some degree,” said Kaple.

          Mckenna Stevens (15.5 ppg), Presley Feltner (11.8) and Layla Dials (10.8) and all double figure scorers for the Lady Flashes.  Stevens makes 61% of her field goal attempts and Grace Hall is a 38% three point shooter.  Dials leads the Bay Division in assists (5.4) and Feltner in rebounds (9.4) this year.

          Kaple says to win they must limit post touches and rebound the misses very well.  “We have talked in practice all week that we have to rebound the basketball because of their size and their physicality we have to really limit second chance opportunities.  We spent the good majority of the three practices that we have had this week on defensive rebounding.  We have to limit their post touches as well.  I think that is no secret for anybody that goes to play Willard is that Mckenna Stevens and Presley Feltner are kind of what makes them go,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They are a little bit old school where they play inside out.  So, they are definitely looking to go inside early, so we have to do a good job of limiting their touches there and then hope they miss and if they do not give them second and third tries or foul and put them at the free throw line because that is not going to play in our favor.”

 

Published 1/14/20

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St. Paul Must Bounce Back

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          Norwalk St. Paul slid two games back in the Firelands Conference race with a loss on Tuesday night to Crestview and they need to get right back on the beam as they host rival Monroeville on Thursday night in a conference game.

          The Flyers led halftime Tuesday night, but the Cougars used an (11-0) run to take the lead in the third quarter and win (61-55) to move into a share of second place with St. Paul and South Central two games behind Western Reserve.

          Coach Mike Smith credits Crestview for its outstanding play but adds that in the second half they ran out of gas.  “Well, first off you want to credit Crestview, the played a very good basketball game.  They just flat out wore us down.  I am not making any excuses, I just thought they really played hard.  They had a lot of depth and we only had six varsity players available and it was our fourth game in a week.  So, I want to be real with our kids too, I thought our kids played very hard, but I thought Crestview really got after it.  Coach (John) Kurtz is doing a really great job.  It really came down to they kept attacking us and kept doing the things that they needed to do.  It’s wasn’t due to a lack of effort on our kids, but we were pretty gassed at the end,” said Smith.

          Playing right away after a loss can be a good thing, but Smith says playing five games in just over a week is tough.  “Right now, we have to look at load management.  We are going to play five games in nine days and then we have another Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, we are just trying to cram a lot of games in here.  Trying to get that balance of getting our kids enough rest.  Like I said, we only had six varsity players available in the game on Tuesday, so that makes it extra tough, but it is what it is,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We just have to go out and keep competing hard and our kids have done that in every game.  They have really locked in to what we need to do.  If you can’t get up for Monroeville, one of our rivals.  The other thing is we get an opportunity to get back on our home floor where we haven’t played so it will be nice to get back here.  I think eight of first 11 are on the road.”

          St. Paul (7-2,5-2), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, hosts Monroeville (4-5,2-3) on Thursday night.  In the first game between the two this year, St. Paul prevailed by a (61-53) verdict on December 4.

          Smith says the Eagles are better than they were and they have been able to surround leading scorer Isaac Roeder with some other kids that can do some things.  “They have a nice squad.  I think there are a lot of good teams in our league and the teams are getting better.  The first game was so, so long ago, it was six weeks ago.  It has been a while and I have had a chance to watch their last game and they stick their nose in and compete hard.  The (Isaac) Roeder kid is just a phenomenal player and the kids around him are very good basketball players.  The two sophomores just keep getting better.  Trevor Schafer and Meritt Key do a great jog as well.  I know they will bring it that’s for sure,” he said.

 

Published 1/14/21

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Colonel Crawford Plays Confident Buckeye Central

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          Northern Ten Athletic Conference leader Colonel Crawford plays at Buckeye Central on Saturday night in a conference game.

          So far, the Eagles have won all 12 of their games and coach Davide Sheldon says they have had great focus this season.  “With the start we have got off to we have had great focus every day in practice.  This is a big stretch coming up.  We have got four of the top teams in our league in the next four games over the next two and half weeks.  So, I think our guys are locked in.  We always say you don’t win a league championship in the first round, but you can put yourself in a good situation and we have put ourselves there after playing everybody once.  Now, we are the hunted and we know we are going to get everybody’s best shot starting this Saturday with a very, very good Buckeye Central team.  I think it is probably the most improved team in our league with what they are doing on the floor this year,” he said.

          Colonel Crawford (12-0,8-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, plays up the road at Buckeye Central (5-6,3-4) on Saturday night.  The Eagles won the first game (61-42) on December 5 in North Robinson.

          Sheldon says they Bucks believe in what they are doing.  “I just think they are playing with a lot confidence.  They have five guys averaging over seven points, some eight to 11.  They have really bought into the culture of Tom Howell.  It was a young group last year and now they are a little bit veteran and those kids have played varsity basketball and they are really buying in,” he toild Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “This is a tough game going over to Buckeye.  They played Mohawk to a one point game.  They were up on Carey until late and it was a five point game.  They have played everybody tough and right there with a couple of minutes to go.  I just think they have a lot of confidence and when kids have confidence that goes a long way on the basketball floor with what they are doing throughout this year.”

          Buckeye tends to want to play at a more deliberate pace and Sheldon says they want to force tempo a little more.  However, they are comfortable in the half court too.  “The nice thing about our team is we can play both ways.  Yeah, we want to play at a quick pace, but we also play in the half court if we don’t have something when we get out in transition.  So, we definitely want to turn up the pace, but we can play the other way.  We have shown that throughout the year that we can play both ways depending on the opponents we play.  We definitely want to play at a quick pace with the scoring and the different things.  I think what we have learned over the last few weeks is we have other guys step up other than Carter Valentine, Mason Studer and Chase Walker and that’s been a big thing.  Over the Christmas break we have other guys make shots on the offensive end and that has been good.  Plus, we have been able to maintain our good defense that we have been playing,” said Sheldon.

 

Published 1/14/21

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Northwestern Plays First Place Dalton

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Mark Alberts Jr.

 

          Due to a quarantine, Northwestern has not played in more than two weeks, and on Friday night their challenge is to travel to Dalton to play the first place Bulldogs in a Wayne County Athletic League game.

          They have not played since a December 29 win (91-51) over Hillsdale in league play.

          Coach Mark Alberts Jr. says it is just good to back on the court.  “We are just happy to be back.  We have tried to do things right, heck, we had all of these postponements earlier because of other teams and we got to practice.  This is the first time we haven’t got to practice for 12 days.  It is going to be interesting, we are going to play the team that right now is in first place in the league.  So, nothing like coming back and putting your hand right in the fire,” he said.

          Fitness, or the lack there of, is likely to be the biggest issue for the Huskies on Friday.  Alberts says they were clearly tired in practice on Wednesday.  “(Wednesday) I never saw us get as tired as we did so quickly.  You could tell a couple of people that maybe did a little bit of exercising and that’s about it.  Some of our main guys look like they hadn’t done much and they have completely lost all of the condition that they had and that is unfortunate,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “I think that has happened with every team.  You want to say let’s get back and play, but it is really tough on these kids when you give them two days to get ready to play a game.  I think that is going to be the toughest thing is we may run out of gas.  That could be the biggest downfall of Friday night.”

          Northwestern (5-3,3-1) is at Dalton (6-3,6-0) on Friday night.  The Huskies move into a share of the league lead with a win.  Dalton beat Rittman (67-26) in league play in their last outing last Friday.

          Alberts says to get the win they are going to have to make Jalen Wenger, the leading scorer in the league, a passer.  “Jalen Wenger is averaging about 28 or 29 a game, 6’4” junior that plays everywhere.  He can shoot and get to the basket.  He got 34 against Norwayne and those are the two teams that are picked to win the league this year and they beat Nowayne at Norwayne and he had 34 of their like 59.  As he goes, this team goes.  He had 28 of his team’s 49 one game.  They have some other guys that can score.  They have a couple of sophomores that are very good in his younger brother Braylon Wenger and Jack Steiner, but this guy makes them go.  If you hold him down, I have never seen him get an assist in a game, he scores a ton and he is good at it.  So, it is one of those where we are going to try and make him a passer and see what happens,” said Alberts.

 

Published 1/14/21

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Norwalk Relying on Defense

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          Norwalk, the co-leader in the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division, plays at Perkins in a division game on Friday night.

          The Tuckers have won heir last four games in a row after a (47-31) win over Port Clinton last Thursday.

          Coach Steve Gray says they have improved their play on both sides of the court.  “That’s a good start and we are getting better I think at both ends of the floor.  Our kids are playing with a little more sense of urgency.  We are happy where we are right now,” said Gray.

          They game with the other co-leader Tiffin Columbian that was to be played last Saturday was postponed until February 8.

          Gray says that was frustrating, but was what was best when it comes to the safety of kids.  “It was disappointing.  Tiffin and Norwalk people are all disappointed.  It is going to be a very good game, I think.  The decision came down to what is best for my kids,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “The “A.D.” and the principal decided that Saturday night wasn’t a good time to play with the number of people that we had sick.”

          Norwalk (6-5,4-0) plays at Perkins (0-7,0-4) on Friday night.  Perkins is coming off a (53-36) loss to Bellevue on Tuesday night.  In the first meeting between the Truckers and the Pirates, Norwalk won (55-43) on December 11.

          Gray says Perkins will play hard and they will try to limit the possessions.  “I expect the same thing every time we play.  Scott (McVeigh) is a great coach and he does a great job with his kids.  I just expect them to play hard and change defenses and maybe slow the tempo down a little bit,” said Gray.

          Norwalk has played its share of low scoring games too.  They are shooting just 26 percent from behind the three point line.  Gray says they have to rely on their defense.  “Well, unfortunately for us a blow out is about 10 or 15 points.  It was more enjoyable when we could win games by 25 or 30 and I could set there and relax.  We are who we are.  We are a pretty good defensive team.  Offensively, right now, we are not shooting the three very well,” said Gray.

 

Published 1/14/21

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Bellevue Finds a Way

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          Bellevue earned its first win of the season on Tuesday night and now they likely play their toughest game of the season so far on Saturday at Shelby against the once beat Whippets in non-conference play.

          On Tuesday night, the Redmen downed Perkins (53-36) in a Lake Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          Coach Ed Rich says it was great to finally clear that final hurdle in a game.  “We were really reeling for one of those there.  We have been playing pretty well and we let a couple slip away,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We lost one with a tip in at the buzzer.  We played well against Sandusky and Norwalk.  We were winless going in there.  We started off a little sluggish, but pulled ahead late in the game and found a way to win.”

          It can be more mental sometimes than physical, but Rich says this time they found a way to win.  “I hate to keep using the term that we find ways to lose, but if feels like that.  It feels like we have been in so many and we didn’t personally find a way to lose, but there was just a way that we lost.  It was nice to go in there and find a way to get the lead and keep that lead and come out with a “W,” said Rich.

          Bellevue (1-7) plays at Shelby (9-1), #3 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, on Saturday night.

          Rich says the Whippets offer a lot of challenges.  “They have a nice squad.  They are probably one of the best teams on our schedule, if not the best team.  We have to find away to handle their pressure.  They are extremely long.  They can shoot it well and get to the rack well, so we have to be disciplined on both ends of the floor,” said Rich.

 

Published 1/14/21

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Defense and Rebounding Priorities for Willard

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Barry Pfahl

 

          Two of the very best girls’ basketball teams in North Central Ohio square off on Thursday night as Willard plays host to Buckeye Central in non-conference play.

          They are the top two teams in the Swankonsports.com girls’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division.

          Willard (10-1), #1 in the girls’ poll, is the leader in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference after trouncing Margaretta (62-42) last Friday night.

          Coach Barry Pfahl, who picked up his 300th career win earlier this year, says they have been consistent all year.  “Given the fact that so many funny things have happened with COVID and whatever and injuries.  Presley Feltner did not play in the Margaretta game, but the kids that did play picked it up and Kalli Sowers when off for six threes, which tied our record for threes and had a 20 point game and she is our defensive specialist.  What I really like about this team is they are truly a team.  It really doesn’t matter who gets the scoring, somebody is going to get it and they work really hard as a unit defensively.  Even at Napoleon in that three point loss, I felt we played really well.  We played consistent defense, we shot the ball well, we did the things offensively you need to do and we have pretty much done that throughout the year.  I think in part that has to do with having five seniors who were there last year and understand really what we are up to,” said Pfhal.

          Willard advanced to the division II regionals last year.  They are division III this year.

          Buckeye Central (10-0), #2 in the poll, comes off a (63-35) win over Colonel Crawford last Friday and they are all along one first place in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

          Pfahl says they have three outstanding players, plus a number of complementary players.  “They have three just outstanding players and then a bunch of really good players.  Their point guard Taylor Ratliff may be one of the best D-4 point guards in the state.  They picked up Emily Siesel from Seneca East, just a great ballhandler and three point shooter and they have the (Claudia) Pifher.  It seems like there has been a Pifher girl there for the last 400 years and they are all great players.  They are big and strong kids, but they can get outside and have skills and can shoot the three,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “You put those three kids together with different kinds of post players in (Julia) Evak and (Kyleigh) Brown.  They have (Kendra) Ackerman, another three point shooter they can hide in the corner and kids coming off the bench, so they are able to rest their people.  You have to worry about the big three in Siesel, Ratliff and Pifher, but you can’t just totally focus on them because there are other kids that can take it to the glass and can shoot the ball.  They are well balanced, they have great depth and they are really well coached.”

          When it comes to keys, Pfahl highlights the need to play excellent man to man defense and get on the boards.  “We have got to handle penetration from their three outside people one on one.  We have to keep them out of the paint and at the same time we have to be able to contest threes.  So, it comes down to can we handle them one on one with our man to man defense.  That way we don’t have to give a lot of help on penetration and getting out on threes.  The other thing, we really have a height advantage we really have to win the boards and that will be key for us.  We don’t know if Presley is going to be back Thursday night or not for the game.  Without her we get shorter and quicker with a 6’1” post and a four year letter winner, she is really important to us.  The kids have picked it up as I have said, but we are going to have to do a good job on the boards,” he said.

 

Published 1/13/21

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Western Reserve in Good Flow

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          Western Reserve now enjoys a two game lead in the Firelands Conference as they prepare to host Mapleton on Thursday night in conference play.

          They blew out New London (86-47) last Friday night as John Skrada poured in 30 and Luke Rowlinson added 23.  Rowlinson has now crossed 1,000 career point threshold.

          Coach Chris Sheldon says they have been able to force an up tempo game and that is to their advantage.  “We have really gotten it going.  Playing really efficiently more than anything at both ends of the floor.  For us right now, our defense and scoring allows us to make it a full court game and gets people to play at a faster pace than what they want to and that’s a pace that we are really comfortable with right now.  You look at our nine games.  The things that we have really been able to do those things have gone really well for us.  A couple of the close games our opponents did a better job of getting us to play their pace.  For us that is really a key can we play at the speed of the game we want to and not our opponents,” said Sheldon.

          Sheldon adds that the way they have been defending allows them to get out on the fast break.  “When we are able to get stops and get out in transition, we find that we get really good looks offensively.  It doesn’t allow the defense to set up and really try and take away the things that they are trying to take away and key on us.  On the same token, when we are able to get into our full court pressure and start to get people to play at a faster pace and turn them over it get’s us going in transition.  Our shot selection and our ability to make the right pass in those situations definitely gives us an advantage and we have been capitalizing on it,” he said.

          Tuesday night, Crestview beat Norwalk St. Paul (61-55) and the Cougars, Flyers and South Central all have two conference losses, two more than the Roughriders.

          Western Reserve (8-1,6-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, hosts Mapleton (1-7,0-5) on Thursday night.  The Mounties won their first game of the year Tuesday night in whipping Mansfield Christian (84-48) in a non-conference game.

          It’s the second meeting between the teams, Western won the first one handily (76-48) on December 21.

          Sheldon says they can take nothing for granted.  “The first time we played them I think we were only up 14 at the half before we had a tremendous third quarter.  I know a couple of weeks ago when St. Paul played them it was a two point game with a minute to play in the third quarter.  You can’t overlook them.  I think they have some really nice pieces.  I like two of their junior guards and a freshman guard that they have.  I think they do some really nice things offensively at times,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “The thing right now that they are still trying to develop is the depth that you need to be able to compete for four quarters.  That is where we have to be able to utilize what we have done so far in terms of using our strength in numbers to just overwhelm our opponent.  That is going to be no different for us this Thursday against them.”

 

Published 1/13/21

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South Central Fighting to Stay in it

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          South Central trails Western Reserve by two games in the Firelands Conference standings and they are going to have to run the table if they expect to get a piece of that title.

          It’s starts with home conference games Thursday night with New London and Saturday afternoon with Mapleton.  They beat both in first round games.

          However, they lost Saturday night to Norwalk St. Paul (57-48) in a conference game.

          Coach Brett Seidel says they couldn’t get anything in the basket in the second half.  “I thought we got the ball to the front of the rim probably eight to 10 times there in the second half and just could not finish through contact.  I was happy with my kid’s effort.  I thought we played hard.  I thought St. Paul played hard.  They just made a few more shots there in the first half and got us in a hole.  Our kids were resilient and stayed with them.  In the second half we just could not get any shot to fall for us,” he said.

          They scored only 15 points in the second half.

          They shot 42 percent for the game, but Seidel says it was a story of two halves.  “We didn’t shoot a terrible percentage.  We shot a really, really high percentage in the first half and then a lower percentage in the second half and it equaled itself out.  Overall, our shot selection and our shot making has improved throughout the year.  We are still not where we want to be, but we are definitely headed in the right direction as far as shot making and shot selection,” he said.

          South Central (7-2,5-2) plays at home against New London (2-5,2-4) on Thursday night.  The Wildcats were blown out by Western Reserve (86-47) in a conference game last Friday. 

          In the first meeting this year, the Trojans won (50-43) December 4.

          Seidel says they need to do a better job of controlling Grant Heileman, who had 25 points the first time they played.  “They are really well coached, number one, but number two they have a kid named Grant Heileman that is a really nice player.  He kicked out butt the first time.  The (Jacob) Shaver kid can play and they have some really good role players around them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “They play extremely hard and they hit the glass at both ends, so it is going to be another big challenge.  You gage second half games to see if you have improved or not.  I would like to think we have improved.”

          South Central also beat Mapleton (1-7,0-5) in their first meeting (58-40) on December 10.

          Seidel says the Mounties will have more weapons this time.  “They were without the oldest (Cameron) Sloter kid the last time.  I know how athletic and how dangerous they can be.  They are better than they record shows, so it’s going to be a tough week for us,” said Seidel.

 

Published 1/13/21

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It’s About Scoring the Ball for Madison

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          Madison is still trying to find itself and they have another tough challenge on Friday night as they play Ohio Cardinal Conference leading Wooster for the second time in 10 days in an “OCC” game this time at home.

          Since the last time they played the Generals, Madison (0-7,0-4) has lost two games to Sandusky (48-41) in non-conference play and to West Holmes (56-44) in “OCC” action.

          Coach Tim Mergel says it really all about putting the ball in the basket.  “We have just have to cure the scoring draughts.  Defensively, I think we are pretty solid.  We have a group of kids that are working hard and make adjustments when adjustments need to be made.  At some point we give up those runs and it is not because of bad defense or turnovers.  If you can’t score, you are going to give up runs whether it is an 8-0 over a minute or an 8-0 run over three minutes it is still a run and we have got to find a way to muster up some points and execute well when we need a bucket,” he said.

          Wooster (7-0,4-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, blasted Madison (78-38) on January 5 and Mergel says they are going to have to make some changes to their game plan.  “When you look at the last time we played them, I think they had nine threes in the first half.  Me being somewhat of an analytical guy I play percentages.  They flat out weren’t shooting it great from three the first time we played them going into it and they come out and hit nine in the first half and 13 in the game.  We were right with them in the first quarter and the second quarter kind of got away from us.  We are just looking for small doses of improvement.  Are there some things we are going to change?  Well, obviously there are.  We can’t allow them to get some looks they got the first time.  We are going to change some things we do.  With Wooster, we know what they are bringing to the table and we have to limit those good looks.”

          Mergel says you are always going to get aggressive pressure from the Generals and they must do a better job handing the basketball and making decisions.  “Whenever you are hesitant against pressure it looks so much better and we were just a little bit hesitant last time.  It almost looked like there were six guys from Wooster out on us at times.  We have to be more aggressive with the basketball and we can’t turn our back to pressure and we have to see the floor.  Those are things we are looking to improve on.  You can’t take an credit away from Wooster.  They play hard, they are very active.  They are well coached.  They do things the right way.  They are a very unselfish group.  We have just got to match their energy,” said Mergel.

 

Published 1/13/21

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Wooster Expects Madison’s Best

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          Wooster, the Ohio Cardinal Conference leader, plays at Madison in a conference game on Friday night.

          They lead the conference standings by one over Ashland and Mansfield Senior.

          Trailing in the fourth quarter, they rallied to beat Lexington (54-43) last Friday.

          Coach Michael Snowbarger says they didn’t shoot the ball very well on the road, but they found a way.  “I like to see our kids bounce back in the fourth quarter.  It is always nice to get a road victory in the conference and that is a positive, but at the same time we didn’t do a lot of the same things that we had been doing over the last few games.  The big thing is shooting the basketball.  I think we ended up 4-27 from three for about 18% and I think we were about 35% or 38% from the free throw line, so not a good shooting night for us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “You have to give credit to Lexington, they were able to do some things to contest our shots and get us off our spots.  There were some challenges there, but then again when you shoot like that we were able to go on the road and get a double digit victory and as a coach you have to be somewhat happy.”

          When you have been as good as Wooster has been, Snowbarger says you have to ready for everybody to play their best.  “We have talked to the kids about that all year.  They have to understand when we watch film and we watch other teams play that we are not going to get that same team.  We have a little bit of a bull’s eye as the defending “OCC” champion.  We have to understand that every night you have to bring your best too.  So, it’s a good thing, but convincing high school kids is not always the easiest thing to do,” he said.

          Wooster (7-0,4-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, plays at Madison (0-7,0-4) on Friday night.  The Generals walloped Madison on January 5 (78-38) making 13 three pointers on the night.

          Snowbarger says the Rams will have something different planned and they better be ready for them.  “Coach Mergel does a great job preparing them and getting them ready to play, so going into the Madison game you know they are going to be ready to play and prepared to do the little things.  Our kids have to understand to take away last week, that’s the past.  We have to continue to get better and understand Madison go to give us a good game on Friday,” said Snowbarger.

 

Published 1/13/21

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Columbian With Two More Challenges

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          Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division co-leader Tiffin Columbian travels to Sandusky on Friday night for a division game and then to Willard for a contest with the Bay Division co-leader Flashes on Saturday.

          They have won all of their games but one this year, but coach Travis Kinn says you are always on the outlook for things like fatigue that can strike a team in January.  “As coaches we always think about all of the potential things.  Our guys played well on Friday night.  They were able to have two days off on Saturday and Sunday.  We had a good practice (Monday).  It is definitely something you are concerned with as a coach.  You start to shorten practices maybe if that is a concern.  We are excited that we have an opportunity Friday and Saturday to go play two games against really good teams,” said Kinn.

          Columbian (8-1,5-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, is at Sandusky (4-3,3-3) on Friday night.  The Blue Streaks edged Bellevue (56-53) last Saturday and Vermilion (64-56) on Tuesday night.

          Kinn says they have some weapons on offense.  “They have some young guards, but they are talented.  They have won two in a row now.  They lost a close game to Norwalk a couple of weeks ago.  Norwalk is one of the top teams in our league, so we know their ability,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “Daylen Green for them is a kid that can score at will.  The big kid inside Henry has been playing really well and we struggled to match up with him a little bit the first time, so we will have to be sharper in that area.”

          Green leads the Blue Streaks in scoring (12.8 ppg) and he leads the division in steals this year.

          In their first meeting on December 11 Columbian won (72-63) and Kinn says they are going to tweak their game plan a little bit.  “There are definitely going to be some adjustments made on both ends.  They will try to counter some things that were successful for us and we will try to counter some things that hurt us a little bit and be better in those areas.  It will be a great test for us.  I know our guys are really excited about the weekend.  We are going to play two and see if we can make the most of both of them,” he said.

          Willard (8-3), #3 in our small school poll, owns a six game winning streak.  Kinn says they are physical and want to play fast.  “They like to play fast and they score a lot of points.  There is not a 6’6” kid inside, but they have a lot of 6’1”, 6’3” guys that are physical and know how to use their bodies well.  It will be a great game for us.  We are looking forward to it,” said Kinn.

 

Published 1/13/21

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Wynford Gets First Win; Gets Ready for Seneca East

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          Wynford earned its first win of the season on Monday night and now they are getting ready for Seneca East in Northern 10 Athletic Conference action on Friday night.

          After losing their first seven, Wynford beat Bucyrus (52-41) in an “N10” game on Monday night.

          Coach Steve Mohr says his kids are finally rewarded.  “I am glad our kids got to taste victory finally this year.  They have worked hard and stayed positive through this difficult time.  It was kind of a strange game, we played really poorly at times and at other times we played really well.  I guess the thing that I am most pleased with is in the second half when we had to establish ourselves defensively we did so and got a lot of big stops.  Offensively we recognized where the ball had to go to be effective.  We got the ball to Jaron Filliater, who had a career night for us.  It is great to get a win, no matter who you are playing and when it occurs,” said Mohr.

          Filliater had 23 points and 15 rebounds in the win over Bucyrus.

          Mohr, a 40-year veteran of coaching, hopes they can take some of that momentum forward.  “You get a win and get some confidence.  You know how to finish a game.  We learned how to finish a game (Monday) night.  That would have served us well had we had that experience earlier in the year.  Now we have to learn how to play four quarters of basketball.  We have played some pretty good quarters of basketball, but never an entire four quarters,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “It is usually two quarters or a quarter and a half.  I am hoping the win will carry over.  We have short preparation and our January is like an NBA schedule.  We are going to have to prepare in a different manner than what we normally do.  It is what it is and we will go play.”

          Wynford (1-7,1-5) plays at Seneca East (4-5,2-5) on Friday night.  The Tigers lost (69-62) to Mohawk on Saturday night.  They are coached by former Wynford assistant Mike Powers.

          Mohr says this is a team that can score.  “They have a very talented senior class.  They are scoring points.  They should be winning games, they are 4-5.  The have four kids that can flat out score.  The (Andrew) Kalb kid is the second leading scorer in the league.  (Isaac) Mason is an excellent scorer.  They are both double figure scorers and they have three other kids that are around eight points a game.  They are an excellent offensive team.  They give multiple looks defensively, so you are going to see some different things from that standpoint.  I am sure we are going to see full court pressure because we always do,” said Mohr.

 

Published 1/13/21

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Carey Back on the Floor

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          Carey finally got back to playing basketball last Saturday and now they have two Northern 10 Athletic Conference games this weekend at Ridgedale on Friday at home with Bucyrus on Saturday.

          After three weeks without basketball due to being quarantined because of the COVID-19 virus, the Blue Devils rallied to beat Buckeye Central (55-50) in conference game.

          Coach Jamie Young says it was great to get the win, but even better to have a chance to play again.  “It was a good win, it was good to just get back on the court.  I had not been able to coach for a month, since the Seneca East game.  The boys were quarantined for two weeks and we had a week of practice.  I know they were really chomping at the bit to get into a game and compete, but we came out and were a little rusty.  Buckeye played really well, they are disciplined and they do the little things the right way.  Coach (Tom) Howell has them playing the right way.  They gave us everything we could handle,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We were able to fight back and take the lead in the fourth quarter and hang onto it.  Just thankful for the opportunity to play after the time off, it’s lot better to win of course, but just the opportunity to compete.  You never know what the next day is going to hold with what is going on.”

          Not only where the Blue Devils not able to play, but they could not practice as a team for two weeks, according to Young.  “We were not able to practice while the team was quarantined.  The JV team could practice, so I did get in the gym myself just for a little relief, for a little therapy I guess you could call it.  The varsity guys had to set out there 14 days.  I set up a program on google classroom where they could go in and do workouts and what not, but they had to wait their 14 days.  The first day we were available to practice we hit the court on a Sunday.  There was nothing we could do about it, so we just did our time and got after it as soon as we could,” said Young.

          Carey (5-3,3-3) is at Ridgedale (2-9,1-6) on Friday night.  Colonel Crawford, the conference leader, buried them (81-29) on Saturday night.

          Young says they want to force tempo.  “They are going to come out and they are going to play their 2-3 and they are going to utilize the bigs they have inside.  Adam Beard as been there for four years, it seems like he has been there forever.  We are going to have to try and get them in an up tempo game and really get them up and down and utilize our speed and quickness against their size.  Just try and wear them out and just pressure them a little bit,” he said.

 

Published 1/13/21

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Shelby Needs Better Defense

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          Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference leader Shelby visits Ontario to play the Warriors for the second time in two weeks on Friday night in conference play.

          Right now, Shelby leads Ontario and River Valley by two games in the conference standings.  The Whippets have not lost a conference game since February 6, 2019 when Ontario beat them at the O-Renea.

          Last Saturday, the Whippets and Clear Fork were tied (55-55) going to the fourth quarter before Shelby put it away and won going away (77-64) for the win.

          Coach Nathon Loney says his goal was to get a lot of kids minutes against the Colts.  “I played a lot of young kids.  The whole second quarter I played three freshmen, a junior, and a senior.  I was just running rotations in and out of there and get everybody some playing time and get some younger guys some minutes that are going to be valuable to us down the road in later games.  It’s good for them to get that varsity experience.  Alex Brusketter hit a couple of big threes for us in that second quarter.  They played quite a bit throughout the game in the third and fourth quarters.  The start of the fourth quarter we came out and went on 14-0 run and that was big for us,” said Loney.

          When Shelby (9-1,6-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com basketball coaches poll in the large school division, played Ontario (8-4,4-2), #5 in that poll, at their place on December 31, Loney was unhappy with their overall performance in a (65-60) win over the Warriors.  He says they have to play better defense this time and force Ontario to guard them inside.  “We have to be much better defensively and execute our game plan the whole game instead of just in the second half like we did against them.  When I talked to you after the first Ontario game, I told you that I expected (T.J.) Pugh and (Cody) Lantz to play a little more of the inside game and they didn’t do that in the first half, but they came out and did their job in the second half doing that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We definitely have to do that the whole game and be aggressive going to the rim.  Our defense has to be much better than it has been.  It took some strides and showed some bright spots.  I think we are going need to be much better the second time around than we was the first time.”

          In the first meeting, Ontario led by two after the third quarter and cut a Shelby lead to just two with 2:42 left in the game before losing.

          Being the second meeting of the season, Loney expects the Warriors are going to come out and try and do some different things this time around.  “I would say they will make some adjustments.  Joe (Balogh) wasn’t happy with how they played at our place, so that’s what good coaches do, they make adjustments and change things up to get a different outcome.  He is one of the best for a reason, so he is going to make adjustments to try and make that happen,” he said.

 

Published 1/12/21

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Perimeter Defense Big For Lexington

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          An improving Lexington hosts Ashland in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Tuesday night.

          Last weekend was the best performance the Minutemen have put together all season in leading undefeated Wooster in the fourth quarter before falling (54-43) in an “OCC” game and then beating Crestview (49-42) in a non-league game on Saturday.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says they played with confidence against Wooster.  “I was really happy with our kid’s performance.  We have really been trying to find some identity and figure out where our strengths and weaknesses are and putting things together with confidence.  I thought the kids with an undefeated opponent on our floor created a good opportunity.  I thought they addressed it really well.  They came in the game with some confidence and we really put together a nice game,” he said.

          Lexington (3-4,0-3) is at home at for Ashland (9-2,4-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com basketball coaches poll in the large school division, on Tuesday night.  The Arrows thrashed Mansfield Senior (87-44) on Friday night to remain a game behind Wooster in the conference standings.

          Hamilton says they have three players that can really score the ball.  “It has got to start with their three guards.  There is no doubt about it with the three headed monster that can shoot from anywhere inside of half court is going to get a lot of attention.  They are all pretty valuable, maybe you could rate one ahead of the other, but when it comes down to it all three of those guys can win a game for them.  So, that is what we are going to have to be focused on when it comes to Ashland on Tuesday,” said Hamilton.

          Luke Denbow leads Ashland in scoring (22.4 ppg) followed by Grayson Steury (17.7 ppg) and Eli White (16.4 ppg) this season.

          Against Wooster, Lexington was able to hurt the Generals with their height, including leading scorer Baden Forup (13.3 ppg), a 6’5” sophomore.

          However, Hamilton says this is a different game.  “We are going to look at that.  When it came to Wooster, we know they are a pressuring team and we thought if we can get to the rim, we would be able to do some things and maybe we exposed them a little bit.  Ashland is another team that just like to get up and down the floor and take quick shots, they get after you on the defensive side, and now they are starting to extend their defense a little bit playing a little bit more of the 94 feet, but they have some hard workers inside as well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “We are going to have to tell our guys we will have to be able to adjust, but for us it starts on the defense end to see if we can contain that three headed monster.”

 

Published 1/12/20

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Crestview Must Guard Paint

Click here to listen to an interview with coach John Kurtz

 

          Crestview, two games back in the Firelands Conference race, plays at home against second place Norwalk St. Paul in a conference game on Tuesday night.

          Right now, Western Reserve leads St. Paul by a game and Crestview and South Central by two.

          After two weeks off, the Cougars returned to action last Saturday in losing (49-42) at Lexington in a non-conference game.

          Coach John Kurtz says they were in the game in the final minutes.  “Well, we started off really slow.  We got ourselves in a 13-2 hole, but our kids played really hard in the game and fought back.  It was a good game.  We had our opportunities late.  We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but we thought we were very competitive against a really good team that is really improving and the night before had played a really good game against Wooster,” he said.

          Before Saturday, the Cougars had not played more than two weeks and not practiced due to being quarantined for COVID-19.  Kurtz says it was an out of this world experience.  “In my coaching career I have never had a situation where we have been off for two weeks without practicing.  There have been times because of snow or the holidays or both things happen at the same time you have some time off, but not without practice.  It was very, very unusual and hard,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “Our first two practices back were difficult and kids did not have their legs under them.  I think that showed in our Lexington game as far as shooting.  You have been out of the building so long you have to go back to some of the things that got you there.  It is definitely tough and I hope we don’t have to go through it again.”

          Crestview (6-3,2-2) plays at home against St. Paul (7-1,5-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com basketball coaches poll in the small school division, on Tuesday night.  Putting together back to back conference wins last weekend over Plymouth (72-45) on Friday and South Central (57-48) on Saturday, the Flyers were able to keep themselves in the race.

          Kurtz says they have guards that can get in the paint and cause problems.  “Their guards are really good.  We have watched three or four films on them.  The Winslow kids are good, the (Adam) Baker kid is good.  They have so many good players when they have the ball in their hands.  That’s a challenge for us.  They are not real big, but their guards tend to really go to the offensive glass.  From our end we are focusing on keeping them out of the paint and really trying to clean up the glass are the things that we would be the most worried about going into that game,” said Kurtz.

 

Published 1/12/21

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Mohawk Tangles With Upper Sandusky

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Paul Dunn

 

          Mohawk and Upper Sandusky both tail Northern 10 Athletic Conference leader Colonel Crawford by a game in the standings and they square off on Friday night at Mohawk.

          The loser is going to need some help getting back in the conference race.  Mohawk plays at Ridgedale on Saturday night in the beginning of second round play in the conference.  They beat the Rockets (69-35) in their first meeting.

          Mohawk downed Seneca East (69-62) on Saturday night in a conference game for its sixth straight victory.

          Coach Paul Dunn says coming out of there with a win was not easy.  “Seneca East has played the top four teams and they have given us all we can handle.  They are a tough team.  They have so many seniors and kids that have a lot of experience.  When they shoot the ball like they did against us they are going to be tough to beat down the stretch.  Mike Powers is doing a great job with those guys.  I am glad we were able to come out of their Saturday night with a little come from behind win, it wasn’t easy that’s for sure,” he said.

          Mohawk (9-2,6-1) entertains Upper Sandusky (8-4,6-1) on Friday night.  The Rams lit up Bucyrus (79-35) last Saturday.

          Dunn says Upper has two big guys and perimeter shooting and that is tough to deal with defensively.  “It has got to be their size right now, that is definitely what stands out.  The hard part is you worry about their size and you forget about Cade Adams on the outside and he is going to light it up for all kinds of three point shots.  With (Trent) Beamer and (Gavin) Carey that has to be our focus.  We have to limit their easy touches inside and try and keep them off the offensive glass,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday evening, “Adams, I think he has made almost 40 threes already this year halfway through the season.  He is on a pace that is hard to match, do we are going to have to find him all over the floor in our zone and do a good job of at least contesting him and shoot shots with a hand in their face.”

          Carey (16.3 ppg), Adams (14.9 ppg) and Beamer (14.8 ppg) are all in the top 10 in the conference in scoring.

          Upper has built the reputation of being a team that will press you wall to wall.  Dunn says they are not doing as much for that this year.  “They are definitely not going to play 32 minutes of full court basketball, but they are going to have times when they do that to you.  In the half court, they are still going to play their bread and butter defense.  Getting up in the passing lanes and forcing you as an offensive player to make that back door cut and make a good pass.  Coach (Jeff) Winslow coaches his kids hard and those kids play hard for him, especially on that end of the floor.  So, we are going to have to be strong with the basketball and make hard, sharp cuts and hopefully get good looks off of those cuts at the basket,” said Dunn.

 

Published 1/12/21

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Unbeaten Loudonville at River Valley

 

          Loudonville has been successful every time out this season and they give it another shot as they play at River Valley in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.

          They are coming off a (67-33) destruction of Mansfield Christian in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game on Saturday afternoon.

          When you are undefeated you do a lot of things well and coach Tyler Bates says lately they have been outstanding shooters.  “Recently we have shot the ball really well.  I think we made 40 percent of our threes over the last two games, over 10 threes a game in those games.  When you are making shots that opens things up for you offensively.  We understand if we are not making shots, we have to figure out a way to get the win, whether it be defensively are out in transition and some other things like that.  When you do make shots, it makes things easy for you,” said Bates.

          Loudonville has good experience and they complement each other well.  Bates says that’s a good combination.  “We just have a team that has played a lot of basketball.  It starts with Grace Vermilya and Sydney Snyder, who have been corner stones of our program now for four years and have played on some really good teams.  Paige Race has played a lot of basketball.  When you look at her leading our team this year from the point guard position, she has done an outstanding job for us,” he said.

          Loudonville (15-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com girls’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, visits River Valley (4-5) on Tuesday night.  The Lady Vikings are coming off a (64-52) loss to Shelby in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference play on Friday night.

          Bates says they can do some things.  “They are young.  They have some great athletes, but they are very young. They have played a tough schedule.  We have seen them mix up defenses.  There have been times they have been primary a zone team.  Actually, in the second half against Shelby they sped things up a little bit and pressured and really outscored Shelby in the second half of that game.  The problem was they got behind a little bit in the first half and couldn’t quite climb out of the hole.  They do a nice job there,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Their girls aren’t afraid to shoot the ball and they get some post touches with the two big girls.  We know going on the road against a team that has played a tough schedule like they have we are going to be in for a dogfight.”

          It’s just another chance to get better, according to Bates.  “We never looked at our schedule this year and said we want to go undefeated or we want to start 15-0 like we have.  We have just said we want to get better every day.  If you go and play a team like River Valley on the road and take advantage of that opportunity you should believe that you are going to get better that day.  That is how we are approaching this game and we are excited for the challenge,” he said.

 

Published 1/12/20

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Pleasant With Rematch With Marion Harding

 

          Pleasant begins the second half of the double round robin in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference on Friday night by hosting the Marion Harding Presidents.

          A non-conference game with Centerburg scheduled for Tuesday night has been postponed.

          The Spartans played their best game of the season last Thursday in beating Ontario (61-54) in a conference game.

          Coach Ben Snively says they finally made some shots.  “We shot 50 percent for the game against Ontario.  That has been our woes all year.  We were 60 some from three point range.  We had a couple of freshmen that really stepped up and were our two leading scorers.  I think when you have that going its is really good for us.  For the whole season it has just been a matter of putting the ball in the hoop and we have not done a very good job of that, so fortunately we were able to break out of that.  When you are on one of those peaks and playing a little better we have had two games in a row now postponed, so we were anxious to get back on the court.  Galion for last Saturday and Centerburg for (Tuesday) evening where both were postponed.  So, we will go back to work in practice and just continue to try and get better,” said Snively.

          Pleasant (4-8,1-4) entertains Harding (3-4,3-3) on Friday night.  The Presidents won the first time (48-40) on December 18.  Harding lost their last league game to Ontario (54-42) on Saturday night.

Snively says the first game was up for grabs.  “They are were on a break early in the year, so they don’t have as many games in.  We went over there earlier in the year and it was a typical Marion Harding-Pleasant basketball game, somewhat lowing scoring, and a good basketball game back and forth.  We were in the lead until about midway in the third when they took over.  It was close down to the end.  We are one of the better free throw shooting teams in the league this year and actually in one stretch against Harding we went 0-6,”  he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “To take nothing away from Marion Harding, they are a good basketball team, well coached, as most teams are in this league.  It will be another Marion County rivalry game.  We have them at home, so that will hopefully kind of give us an edge on Friday night.”

Snively says it is going to boil down to the fundamental elements of the game.  “I am a coach that I would rater go back and watch the film, I know it has been a couple of weeks ago, but I would still like to see how we react to them and they react to us.  Typically, when you coach against these guys over and over not a lot of things change, it is just a matter of who wants it a little bit more and takes care of the basketball and who can make shots and who wins the free throw line.  With the Marion County thing, all of these kids know one another and they have been playing each other since third grade.  It’s always fun to get together with county schools and we will figure it out Friday night and see what happens,” said Snively.

 

Published 1/12/21

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Oak Harbor Kids are Fighters

 

          Oak Harbor, in a share of the lead in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, hits the road for Edison to face the winless Chargers on Friday night in division play.

          The Rockets share first place with Willard and will play the Flashes for a second time next week.

          On Saturday, they rallied to edge Port Clinton (55-50) in a division game.

          Coach Eric Sweet says they never gave up fighting for that win.  “They stuck to the game plan and kept fighting.  We were able to put it all together in the fourth quarter and they kept working hard and they were able to get themselves a great win in the “SBC” and we are tied for first place right now with Willard.  That was a huge win Saturday night after not shooting well in the first half.  We talked about this early last week that we are going to have to fight for every victory and they definitely did that Saturday night for us,” said Sweet.

          Sweet adds that good teams find a way to win games and that’s what they did on Saturday night.  “There are going to be some nights when you shoot the ball well and there are going to be some nights when things go your way and there are going to be some nights wen you have to fight.  If you learn to fight you are going to win more games than you are not going to lose.  We were able to fight Saturday night and we were rewarded for it,” he said.

          Oak Harbor (5-6,4-1) plays at Edison (0-7,0-4) on Friday night.  The Chargers lost (71-49) to Vermilion in a cross over game last Saturday.  In the first meeting between these two, the Rockets prevailed (61-38) on December 18.

          It has been a tough year for Edison, but Sweet knows they are going to be ready to play come Friday.  “I know they are struggling not getting a win yet.  I know they are going to be prepared for us.  They are going to have a game plan ready for us.  They have a lot of kids they rotate in the game, so there is a list of kids we have to be prepared for,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We just have to keep them from shooting the basketball well in the offensive sets they want to run.  We are going to work this week on just keeping them out of rhythm and them being home is going to help them, so we just want to keep them out of rhythm and continue our winning ways in the “SBC”.

 

Published 1/12/21

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Willard Holds Off Margaretta

 

          Miles Pinkston scored 22 points and Willard remained in a share of first place in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference by edging Margaretta (66-60) on Saturday night at Bob Haas Gym at Willard High School.

          Oak Harbor rallied to beat Port Clinton (55-50) on Saturday night and they are tied with Willard for the lead.  Margaretta drops a game back.

          The Bears raced to a (13-4) lead with 5:04 to play in the first quarter after a three by Jake Leibacher.  Leibacher, the leading scorer in the Bay Division this year, had 16 of his 21 points in the first half.  Willard spurted to a take (15-13) lead after one, holding the Polar Bears scoreless for the more than five minutes.

          There were five lead changes in the second quarter, with Margaretta taking a (30-28) lead into the half after a Leibacher three with :01 second left.

          Willard erased a seven point deficit (42-35) with 3:14 to play in third quarter to grab a three point lead (47-44) on Trey Paxton’s three at the third quarter horn.

          Flashes coach Joe Bedingfield feels that Paxton three from the top of the key helped fuel a (10-2) run to start the fourth quarter giving Willard a (57-46) lead with 3:44 remaining in the game.  “Ending the third quarter with Trey Paxton’s three gave us some momentum.  Then picking up an denying their point guard in the second half, especially in he fourth quarter kind of got them out of rhythm and got some other guys shooting the basketball that we wanted to shoot and holding Leibacher to five points in the second half is huge too because he is a very good scorer,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “I think we disrupted them enough on offense to control the glass and get out in transition and get some easies, which is what we were trying to do in the first half.  They came out an attacked and did a good job of spacing us out in the first half.  I thought we ended quarters petty well (Saturday) night.  When someone makes a big shot like that is carries into the fourth quarter.”

          Leibacher connected on only two field goals in the second half, one a three, and Margaretta coach Steve Keller says the Flashes made Jake work hard to get the ball.  “They made Jake work for everything he got.  I thought Jake continued to get some good looks, but didn’t quite get the finishes that he got in the first half.  I am pleased with all of our guys efforts, but we weren’t able to come out on top.  We will keep battling and keep getting better.  We got hurt on the “D” glass, that was big,” said Keller.

          Pinkston guarded Leibacher for much of the second half and Bedingfield says they tried to be physical.  “He is one of the better defenders in our area and he does a nice job on the glass.  Miles can play and have quiet games, but he does a nice job of forcing their best player into tough shots.  The nice thing that we are blessed with is pretty good size on the perimeter and our kids are physical.  We try to preach go to the glass mentality and we are blessed to a couple of four year players that have experienced some winning and they know how to close out games and situations and that showed up (Saturday),” he said.

          Pinkston’s 22 points led Willard in the scoring column, Austin Adelman added 16 and Paxton 13 for the Flashes.

          Keller says Pinkston is a physical presence at the guard position.  “He is a kid that can put it on the deck and has some good length and finishes around the rim.  We were here, we competed and we were able to get it to close game, 30 seconds left, down four, we just couldn’t get it done,” he said.

          There was no quit in Margaretta on Saturday night as they battled back into the game cutting it to four (62-58) on Spencer Michel’s three point basket with :28 seconds to play in the game.

          Willard cashed on five of eight free throws in the final :38 seconds to hold on and get the win.  Bedingfield was pleased that they did what they had to.  “We work on situations like that every coaching staff does and we did the best we can.  I was proud of Miles stepping up when they intentionally fouled him and make his free throws.  Our kids for the most part did okay of meeting passes and not taking what the defense gives you and then making free throws when we had to.  I would like to make a few more of those.  I didn’t think we shot it really well.  I thought for the most part I was happy closing out them game.  The Cardinal Stritch game we did not close out the fourth quarter very well and ended up in overtime.  We still handled it, but that is not what we want to do,” said Bedingfield.

          Ben Palomo led everyone Saturday with 26 points for the Bears.  Leibacher added 22.

          Willard (8-3,4-1) has a six game winning streak.  Margaretta (8-4,3-2) is still in the thick of the race.  The lost by one (38-37) to Oak Harbor last week.  The rematch with Willard is February 19 in Castalia.
          Keller says they are going to keep grinding with their big guy in senior Mitch Raisnider, out for the season with an injury.  “Without Mitch the guys have done a nice job.  He is 6’8” and impacts things.  He is not going to be here all year and we just need to keep getting better from here,” he said.

 

Published 1/09/21

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Mansfield Senior Must Defend Ashland

 

          Mansfield Senior will be tested on the road in Ohio Cardinal Conference play on Friday night when they travel to Ashland to play the Arrows in a conference game.

          They play at Dublin Coffman in a non-league game on Saturday night.

          The Tygers opened the season just last week with a (44-37) win over rival Madison on Tuesday and an (80-68) loss to Shelby in a non-conference game on Saturday.

          Coach Marquis Sykes in a lot of ways they are still trying to figure it out.  “It really has been odd.  We are really just trying to figure things out early in the new year.  I will say that I have been pleased this week with our guy’s intensity in practice.  I really feel like we are ready to play because we had a good week of practice.  I think the guys are understanding more of how we need to play.  Guys are starting to turn the corner and get in better shape.  We are going to look a little bit more like the Tygers this week I’m hoping,” he said.

          When it comes to fitness, Sykes says that is really important to the way they play the game.  “Especially at the tempo we need to play at to be successful.  We will run out of gas in the first half if we are not in good conditioning.  So, that is our number one goal this week to work on our conditioning and really just continue to learn and grow and build our team chemistry.  I think we are getting close, we are not quite there yet.  We are about two weeks away from where we need to be, but it’s a process.  Even though we got started a little bit later we are hoping and praying that we will get to the end of this thing,” said Sykes.

          Mansfield Senior (1-1,1-0) plays over Ashland (8-2,3-1) on Friday night.  The Arrows beat West Holmes (51-47) last Tuesday in a league game and Ontario (69-67) in overtime in a non-conference game on Saturday.

          Sykes says the Arrows have some guys that can score in hurry.  He says they are shooters and penetrators.  “They have some ballplayers.  You have (Luke) Denbow, certainly one of the better players in the conference, there is (Eli)White, who is also one of the better players in the conference and the young fellow (Grayson) Steury, who has been playing well and shooting the ball well and doing some good things for them.  They are really hard to defend.  They get the ball up the floor quickly and shoot it really well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday evening, “So, we are going to have to be ready.  We need to get up and down the floor and slow them down in their transition offense and be ready to locate shooters and take away some of those driving lanes.  If we can slow them down a little bit and play the way we need to play at both ends of the floor it will be a competitive game.  If can’t take away those two things it will be a tough night for us.”

          Sykes says they need to get some more chances to score by getting on the offensive boards.  “That is always one of our goals is to try and outrebound the other team.  We want as a goal every week to double and triple up on teams on the offensive end.  On nights that we do that we have success and nights when we are not hitting the offensive glass like we want to we struggle sometimes.  So, that is always a big key for us and a big factor if we can get in there and dominate on the glass that will help our offense tremendously and gets us second and third shots om possessions when we are not making shots,” he said.

 

Published 1/08/21

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Willard With Key Game With Margaretta

 

          Willard and Margaretta are two of the tri-leaders in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference and they lock horns on Saturday night in a first round game in the division.

          They are both (3-1) in the division, as is Oak Harbor, who plays Port Clinton on Saturday.

          The Flashes have won their last five, including a (79-63) win over Upper Sandusky on Monday night.

          Coach Joe Bedingfield says they were ready to play Monday night.  “Our kids are doing a nice job.  I think we came out ready to play Monday night, which is a good sign.  I was kind of a little worried about it being a Monday night and having to play the first night back from vacation, just like it was for Upper.  The advantage there was we were playing at home.  The kids were ready to play and came out right in the first quarter and kind of went right after them and did a good job.  To Upper’s credit, they fought right back and made it a little closer in the second half.  Luckily, we built a lead early on and I was proud our kids with that win over Upper,” he said.

          Willard (7-3,3-1) will be at home for Margaretta (8-3,3-1) on Saturday night.  The Polar Bears lost (38-37) to Oak Harbor last Saturday to fall back into a share of first.

          Bedingfield says they have outstanding guards that spread the floor and attack you.  “They can spread you out.  They are really guard oriented team.  (Jake) Leibacher is the leading scorer in the league and he is a really tough matchup for a lot of teams, especially us.  I think they do a good job of staying patient on the offensive end.  On the defensive end they do a good job of mixing some things up.  I just think anytime you can put multiple kids on the floor that can score it’s a tough matchup,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “We are really going to have to take care of the ball and use some of our size to our advantage.  I think they have been playing some very good basketball, but so are we and it should be a good matchup Saturday night at home.”

          Leibacher (22.4 ppg) is the leading scorer in the Bay Division.  He shoots 71.3% on two point field goals this year from a guard spot.

          Yes, it’s a game between two solid teams, but Bedingfield says to them, it’s just the next game to be played.  “I know it’s cliché, but we focus on one game at a time.  What has worked for us in year’s past is to just concentrate on the next opponent.  Our kids understand that we only play 10 league games, it is not like we have 14 like some conferences have, so every game is really important in our league and that makes it even more important when you have less teams in your league.  I think conference championships are so far away it’s anybody’s game in this league, so we just have to come out an play very good basketball on our home floor against Margaretta on Saturday to keep us in the top spot,” said Bedingfield.

 

Published 1/08/21

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Flyers With Important Weekend

 

          Norwalk St. Paul now stands a game behind Western Reserve in the Firelands Conference standings and they play two conference games this weekend, at home Friday against Plymouth and on the road to South Central on Saturday.

          Tuesday night, they feel out of a share first place in the conference after a (58-48) loss to first place Western Reserve.  It was their first loss of the season.

          They trailed by 19 in the second quarter and coach Mike Smith says once they got going, they played very well.  “We were a little sluggish offensively in the first half.  A lot of that had to do with Western and some other things.  We did a lot of good things in the second half.  We really competed.  My kids really showed me a lot about themselves.  Our backs were up against the wall on the road and we just did a lot of really good things.  There is a lot we can take out of that.  We are coming off a second quarantine.  We just weren’t together much in December, but we are just going to continue to get through this thing and keep working hard and value getting on the floor and spending time with each other.  If we do those things, we are going to be alright,” said Smith.

          Norwalk St. Paul (5-1,3-1) plays at home against Plymouth (2-8,1-5) on Friday night.  The Big Red won its last conference game (47-44) in overtime against Mapleton last Wednesday, but lost (64-43) to Colonel Crawford on Tuesday night.

          Smith says they have some guys that can play.  “I think they have some really good players.  Zeth Goth is one of the better players in the league.  He creates a lot of problems, he can score from the perimeter, he can go inside, he is a tremendous offensive rebounder.  The Miller kid shoots it this side of half court, so he possesses some problems and the Bebee kid does a nice job.  They are trying to get some more production out of some other kids on the bench,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “They seem to be getting better.  They have played a lot of tough games and their record can be deceiving and we have to go out and take care of business.  It’s the first time we have played on our home floor in five weeks, which is amazing.  Since the opening weekend we haven’t had a home game.  We embrace that and we are looking forward to playing.”

          South Central (6-1,4-1) plays host to the Flyers on Saturday night.

          Smith says they have shown great improvement since early in the season.  “They have improved immensely from the beginning of the year until now.  Their role players from last year it took them a couple of games to step up and take that next step.  They have guys that can score.  Of course, they have (David) Lamoreaux inside ad he can play inside and out.  He is a tremendous basketball player.  They are very well coached, they will be very well prepared.  We are expecting a really tough game on Saturday,” he said.

 

Published 1/08/21

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Wooster Wants to Play Fast

 

          First place Wooster takes its act to Lexington for an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.

          The Generals are unbeaten overall on the season and coach Michael Snowbarger says they have been starting to shoot the ball much better.  “We have been playing well over the last couple of weeks, out last three games.  If you look at the first three games we didn’t shoot it very well.  Going into the year, I thought shooting was going to be one the strengths of this year after the first three games we were shooting about 26% from three and 58% from the foul line, so I kind of scratched my head.  Over the last three games we are up to about 70% from the line and about 36 to 37% on threes as a team.  So, things are starting to come alive for us offensively and once you start making shots sometimes that gets contagious and that is what is happening for us right now,” said Snowbarger.

          They crushed Madison (78-38) on Tuesday night in an “OCC” game.

          Wooster had been known for their pressure defense and Snowbarger says they are getting some steals and getting the ball in the hands of playmakers.  “Our kids are really flying around.  We are shooting the passing lanes, we are starting to anticipate some things.  It is a little bit of a feel.  In the first three games we weren’t doing that stuff on the offensive end an over the last three games we are starting to do that, but without any scrimmages, the delay, and stuff like that, you kind of knew it was going to come as a staff, this is the right thing, this is how we should play, and now it is starting to come to fruition and the kids are playing really well,” he said.

          Wooster (6-0,3-0) plays at Lexington (2-3,0-2) on Friday night.  The Minutemen lost (42-35) to West Holmes in a conference game on Tuesday night.

          Snowbarger says they have some options on offense that they will need to defend.  “It’s a road conference game.  It’s always a challenge with those road conference games.  They have the two kids that can shoot it.  The (Jack) Depperschmidt kid is a good shooter if we leave him open.  He shoots about 53% from three, so we have got to contest those shots,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “They have the big guys inside and we have to make them work for their baskets around the basket, we can’t give them any easy looks.  A team like Lexington, we can’t give them any confidence early.  You give a team like that confidence early they are going to start casting them in and then it’s a long night for us.”

          Tempo will be a factor in this game and Snowbarger says they want to get the Minutemen playing faster than they want to.  “We are definitely going to pick it up.  We want to get that up and down game and that is when we have been playing our best.  Tuesday night, we were able to do that early.  If you can get into it early that helps you throughout the way and then the other team can’t hold the ball and slow things down if you get that early lead.  We were able to do that Tuesday and hopefully we can do that again (Friday) night against Lexington,” he said.

 

Published 1/08/21

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Colonel Crawford Faces First Place Buckeye Central

 

          Colonel Crawford travels up Route 602 Friday night to meet unbeaten Buckeye Central in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference girls’ basketball game.

          Buckeye leads the league standings, while Crawford stands in a share of third two games back.

          After some COVID issues in Mid-December, the Lady Eagles won two of their three games during the holidays.

          Coach Kyle Fenner thinks they came through those two weeks in pretty good shape.  “We came through as well as we could.  We got a really good win to start the holidays off over Wynford, which is always good.  We got some games cancelled.  Seneca East went into quarantine the day that we were supposed to play them, so we picked up Shelby and played Shelby at their place, which we got beat and beat up a little bit, but it was a good game for us and the speed of the game is going to help us out as they year goes on,” she told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “We played a really pretty good Ridgedale team on Saturday and came out of that game victorious.  So, it was a pretty good holiday, but with COVID you just never know if you are going to get to play or what is going to happen, so you kind of hang in there and take it day to day.”

          Colonel Crawford (5-2,3-2) plays at Buckeye Central (9-0,8-0) on Friday night.  Buckeye’s last two games are off the charts.  They beat a petty good Carey team (77-31) on Saturday and a not so good Bucyrus team (79-11) on Tuesday night.

          Fenner says their personnel jumps off the charts.  “They have everything.  They have three guards in Taylor Ratliff, Claudia Pifher, an Emily Siesel who are really, really good.  They can score in a lot of ways, they can shoot the three, they can put it on the floor and attack, so they are hard to guard.  They have (Julia) Evak inside.  They have just got other role players that can just make shots.  You concentrate so much on the guards that those kids are good enough to just stand and make shots.  It’s a hard matchup, they are a really good team,” said Fenner.

          Pifer leads the “N10” in scoring (18.9 ppg) and Ratliff, their senior leader, gets (12.8 ppg) this year.

          The first time these two played on December 1 in North Robinson, Buckeye won (56-45) in what was the first conference game of the season for both.

          All season, but especially over the last couple games, Buckeye Central has scored points in bunches.  Fenner says they can’t allow that to happen on Friday night.  “The other thing that they do really well is they really get up and guard you.  They play great defense and they get up in your face and they challenge you to handle the basketball and put the ball on the floor and to make good decisions and to score with it.  We have to make sure we handle that and don’t turn the ball over and take good shots and we have to make some shots too,” she said.

 

Published 1/08/21

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Mohawk Focused on Defense

 

          Mohawk hosts Seneca East in Northern 10 Athletic Conference play on Saturday night.

          They trail Colonel Crawford by one in the conference standings.

          They have won eight their last nine, their lone loss a three point setback (56-53) to Crawford.

          Coach Paul Dunn that consistency is because of their play on defense.  “We had a slow start and we had a lot of guys missing there in November.  It kind of took a while to get our legs underneath us.  Our kids have been playing well lately, playing really well on defense and in different ways to, sometimes in the full court and pressing and other times playing just in the half court, either way we are executing out of it.  It’s allowing us to get comfortable and leaves us feeling better on the offensive side too,” he said.

          Sometimes the holidays can be rough on a basketball team, but Dunn says they have gotten great leadership.  “We have six seniors on the team and the majority of those guys are playing a lot of minutes.  We have experience and we typically have guys leading in practice.  Guys know what it takes to get ready to play games, especially in our league, you can take anybody for granted.  Our guys know that and I thought we had good practice there through the holidays and it showing in the results of our games,” said Dunn.

          Mohawk (8-2,5-1) plays at home against Seneca East (4-4,2-4) on Saturday night.  The Tigers have lost back to back conference games to Colonel Crawford (64-60) and Upper Sandusky (96-59) on Saturday.

          Dunn says they have shooters all over the floor.  “Seneca East when you look at their record it might now blow you away, but they are a tough team.  They are big and I think they have eight or nine seniors on that team.  They have given the perennial powers in our league in Crawford and Upper all they could handle for 32 minutes,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They probably have one, if not two or three of the better shooters in the league, maybe in our area, so we have a lot to worry about.  We have going to have to focus on the (Andrew) Kalb kid.  (Isaac) Mason is having a good year this year too, but Turner Bridgford is probably the best shooter I have seen other than maybe Cade Adams at Upper.  So, we ware focusing on defense and that is going to lead to our offense as I typically does.  That is a big focus for us this week.”

 

Published 1/08/21

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Mt. Vernon Going the Right Direction

 

          Mt. Vernon does not play an Ohio Cardinal Conference game this week, but they entertain Licking Heights in a non-conference game on Friday night.

          They have won three of their last four an coach Nick Coon says they are starting to make some needed improvements in their play.  “I think we are improving each day and I think we have kind of settled into some roles that we need to play as individuals to help our team be successful winning three of our last four.  We have done some things better to give ourselves chances to win,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “Those are things we are going to have to continue to do better to give ourselves chances to win.  It’s an interesting week without a league game, but we are excited to be playing a game against a Licking Heights team that has won five in a row and they are playing some really good basketball.  So, it will be a good challenge for us to step out of the league for a week and get another home game.”

          Coon says a positive for this week is they have been able to get in a full week of practice, which did not happen during the holidays.  “We had a pretty busy winter break with games, so this week to start the new year getting four days of practice time before the new year was good for us to focus on some things that we have been working on and making a point of emphasis, but to break it down in practice is different than trying to do it in a game.  So, that has been good or our guys and we are looking forward to playing another game on Friday night,” said Coon.

          Mt. Vernon (3-6) hosts Licking Heights on Friday night.  Coon says this is a team that is going to make it difficult to handle the ball.  “They have a high scoring guard, who is averaging a little over 20 a game.  They have a supporting cast that really defends with high pressure, so they are going to pressure the basketball and test our ballhandling.  If we handle the basketball and we get stops on the defensive end, we will give ourselves a chance to win.”

 

Published 1/08/21

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Lineup Changes Help Shelby

 

          Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference leader Shelby plays a pair of conference games this week as they host River Valley on Thursday and play at Clear Fork on Saturday.

          They lead River Valley and Ontario by a game in the conference standings.

          Monday night, they downed Marion Harding (77-63) in an “MOAC” game.

          Coach Nathon Loney says the second half was the difference.  “We played very well on Monday.  We have definitely made strides in the last couple of games.  I feel like each night we have taken steps in the right direction and started to put some of the pieces together.  I think before 2:40 left and I subbed my starters out we were up 20.  It was definitely a very good win for us there on Monday.  When we went in at halftime, we were down two, so it was a big turnaround in the second half.  The crazy thing was we played well in the first half, but Harding anything they threw at the rim went in.  They shot the ball very well.  I think in the first half they were eight of nine on three pointers, so they had 34 points at the half and 24 of the 34 was off threes,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “So, they played well, they were a tough matchup.  I think they are going to surprise some teams in the league.  Their coach does a very good job with them.  They do a nice job of shortening the possessions so we couldn’t push the ball in transitions and score a lot like we want to.  They do a very good job of executing in their half court offense.”

          Shelby (7-1,4-0) entertains River Valley (5-6,4-1) on Thursday night.

          Loney says the Vikings have a couple of very good scorers.  “They are a tough match also.  They have a lot of varsity experience.  They returned all their starters from last year.  They have two kids that can score the basketball at a very high capacity.  Ethan Bell and Dylan Johnson both can fill it up very quickly.  Ethan does a good job of scoring at all levels, he shoots the ball well from the three point line, he gets to the rim, and he shoots free throws.  The Johnson kid shoots the three ball very well, so they are going to be a tough defensive match for us and that has been our focus the last three days of practice, if we are great defensively we give ourselves a very good chance to win on Thursday night,” he said.

          Clear Fork (3-3,2-2) will host the Whippets on Saturday in conference action. 

          Loney says this is a tempo game, they want to play faster and he says some personnel changes are going to help them do it.  “They are going to play pretty similar to the way Marion Pleasant played, slow the pace down and really make you execute.  They want to keep you under 50 and we want to score over 70.  It will come down to if we execute well with our pace.  That is one of the biggest things I have been happy with over the last two games is our offensive pace.  Since moving T.J. Pugh to the point guard spot and Grant Hiatt to an off guard spot our pace has picked up tremendously.  T.J. just brings that extra speed to us and Grant does an excellent job of getting up the sideline in that two guard position to run our sideline fast break.  The flip was very good for us.  We scored 77 against Harding and 80 against Senior High.  So, that is definitely the pace we want to play at, we want to move the ball at that pace.  It is going to come down to if we can bring that consistently on Saturday night,” said Loney.

 

Published 1/07/21

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Lexington Faces “OCC” Leader

 

          Lexington begins a six game home stand as they face the defending Ohio Cardinal Conference champion Wooster Generals on Friday night.

          They play Crestview out of the Firelands Conference on Saturday.

          The Minutemen fell to West Holmes (42-35) in a conference game on Tuesday night.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says they did not play with the same kind of emotion for four quarters that West Holmes did.  “They came out with a lot of emotion to start the game and really played hard.  For my guys every game for us right now is just a new learning experience and we just didn’t handle it very well.  I felt we settled in as the first half wore on and came out of the locker room at halftime and we had a little confidence and were playing well.  We cut a 12 point deficit at halftime down to about four or five and then just kind of ran out of energy if you will and kind of played out the rest of the game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, “Once again for us there are a lot of bright spots, we just didn’t come away with the “W” and we have found some things that we just have to continue to work on.  We are trying to stay positive with the season that we are having right now and just continuing to work hard.”

          Lexington (2-3,0-2) hosts Wooster (6-0,3-0) on Friday night.  The Generals buried Madison (78-38) in a conference game on Tuesday night.

          Hamilton says the Generals will get up in you and defend you hard and they have a lot of skills on offense.  “It is pretty much status quo as far as the defensive side, they play 94 feet, they like to run and jump and really get after you with that pressure and it creates a lot of offense for them, but once again offensively when they get in the half court they are a solid three point shooting team, they are good at rebounding, they have length across the board.  The guys they loose to graduation, it seems they just replace them.  So, we were talking about it (Wednesday) night in practice, we have an undefeated team that is the leader in the conference right now coming to our place on Friday night and we are excited with the opportunity to play a really good team at our place.  Hopefully, we will have another day of practice and get ready for those guys and we will do the best that we can,” said Hamilton.

          Crestview (6-2) plays at Lex on Saturday night.  They have not placed since beating Monroeville (66-56) in a Firelands Conference game on December 23.

          Hamilton says this is something that came together just this week.  “We got a call early in the week, we were supposed to play Clyde, and we got a call that they had to quarantine their JV/varsity team.  Lucky for us Crestview was available and they were looking for a game as well because they got a game canceled on Friday night, so we are hooking up and playing a game on Saturday night, so it’s good for both of us,” he said.

 

Published 1/07/21

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Lucas Faces Tough Kidron Zone

 

          Lucas, the defending champion in the Mid-Buckeye Conference, plays at Kidron Central Christian on Friday night in a conference game.

          Right now, the Cubs, Kidron, and Loudonville trail conference leader Crestline by a game.

          The Cubs picked up a big win over Loudonville (57-39) on Saturday.

          Coach Taylor Iceman says they have started to turn the corner.  “Loudonville is one of the teams we see contending for the “MBC” and we knew it was going to be a big game for us and them and we came out and played pretty well.  Our non-conference schedule this year is no joke.  We play a lot of really good teams.  We go from playing Lexington to Worthington Christian and it prepares you to play at a whole other level.  We are starting to reap the benefits of that a little bit.  That is kind of what we are hoping for this year.  We have to learn from those good programs that we have on our schedule this year,” he said.

          Lucas (4-4,3-1) visits Kidron Central Christian (4-3,2-1) on Friday night.  The Comets last played the Monday before Christmas and beat Mansfield Christian (47-40) in a conference game.

          Iceman knows they are going to see zone.  “They will play their zone against us that always gives us fits.  It really hasn’t mattered what team we have had.  The do a very good job, coach (Craig) Martin, every year I say I have a ton of respect for that guy.  It doesn’t matter if they don’t have a ton of talent or a whole lot to talent they always come ready to play and they do what they do very well.  So, that is what I am expecting.  We will change things up and prepare for that zone and that is what we have been doing this week.  We were supposed to play Madison on Tuesday and that got pushed to a later date and were supposed to have a game Saturday (Perkins) so we go from having a three game week to just one.  We just kind of slowed things down this week and we are preparing for that zone and just working on things we need to work on,” said Iceman.

          To be successful, Iceman says they have to move the ball and get some offensive rebounds to get clean looks.  “A lot of times what really frustrates me is we settle for jump shots because you can get them against a zone and it is wonderful if you are making them.  Most of the time for the most part is seems to work out against their zone that we are not hitting jump shots.  So, you really have to move the ball and put the defense where you want them and then attack them and get good looks and crash and rebound.  It’s hard to box out in a zone because you are not necessarily responsible for a man you are responsible for an area.  It’s just hard because everything just slows down and you stand and just kind of watch.  We can’t do that, we have to move the ball, and attack gaps and crash when we do take jump shots,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “The way things have been going for us more often than not it’s not going down.  We have to create more opportunities to score.  Their zone is not a typical 2-3 zone, they don’t sit back.  They don’t do it because they can’t play man, they do it because they are good at it.  They are very physical, they extend out and they will pester the ball.  It’s not a typical 2-3 zone where they just pack it in.  We have to make good decisions and take good shots.  You have to rebound and create more chances.”

 

Published 1/07/21

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Ashland Plays Athletic Mansfield Senior

 

          Ashland plays at home against Mansfield Senior in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.

          The Arrows have lost an “OCC” game to unbeaten Wooster, meanwhile Tygers won their only conference game.

          Ashland beat West Holmes (51-47) in a conference game last Wednesday and then outdueled Ontario (69-67) in overtime in a non-conference game on Saturday night.

          There have been a lot of good things, according to coach Jason Hess, but also some stuff to work on.  “It is always nice to win and got things turned around after the loss there before Christmas, but you are never satisfied at any point of the season, especially here at the halfway point.  The record looks good and some things look good, but there are some things that we have really been talking to our guys about that we need to correct and improve on,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “One of those is playing with the lead late in the game.  We had a little trouble there with Ontario.  We had a nine point lead in the third quarter and a seven point lead in the fourth quarter and had to go to overtime to pull that one out.  That is something we need to get righted here pretty soon.”

          Ashland (8-2,3-1) hosts Mansfield Senior (1-1,1-0) on Friday night.  Last week, the Tygers beat Madison (44-37) in a league game and lost to Shelby (80-68) in non-league play.

          Hess says history tells him what to expect from Mansfield Senior.  “I guess I’m from the era playing here at Ashland in the late 90’s and graduating in 2000 and starting to coach shortly after that, that Mansfield is always the team to beat in the league.  I know they don’t have a real deep resume this year with only two games, but they have got some athletes, they have got some talent.  They are a different type of team than anybody else we typically play.  I definitely expect them to be ready to play us as they continue to get better each game.  With the coaching staff they have, they just do a nice job.  With the more experience they get, the better they are going to be,” he said.

          Rebounding is always a key when playing Mansfield Senior and Hess says they can’t give up a bunch of stick backs and expect to win.  “Mansfield is notorious so to speak for really being relentless on the glass with the athletes that they have.  They get one or two rebounds early and they realize they can get them and they keep coming.  We have been talking to our guys this week about setting a tone early in the game that we are not going to give up offensive rebounds and are really making a statement for this game.  We have to do a better job of being tougher on the glass.  At times this year, we have had trouble with that.  That is one of our Achilles heels as well that we need to work on and get better at, so hopefully we will be ready and up to that task against Mansfield,” said Hess.

 

Published 1/07/21

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Wynford Girls Back in COVID

 

          The Wynford girls’ basketball program is in quarantine for the second time this season and will not play any games until next week.

          It is frustrating, but coach Amy Taylor-Sheldon says it a life lesson that they are learning.  “You always have your fingers crossed if you are going to make it another day, another week or another practice.  Not that’s it’s normal, but it is teaching kids how to deal with disappointment and adversity and really what’s important and what’s not.  I think it is inevitable, there are a couple of teams that are on their second round, there are some teams that haven’t had any, which is great.  Right now, we are trying to squeeze games in and considering whether we should cancel our non-leagues and things like that,” said Taylor-Sheldon.

          Amy says most schools are now closely looking at what they are going to do the rest of their season in terms of schedule.  “I think most athletic directors are prioritizing league play of course.  We are all going to get to the point do we need to cancel some non-league games to play league games, which is hard because sometimes you have some rivalries, and sometimes those are games that you definitely want to get on your schedule,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Some of us are looking at an NBA schedule that we play every night and compete.  A lot of us take pride in preparation and we will just have to rely a lot on film and that sort of things instead of a lot of walks throughs that you would have before.  It is definitely something where basketball is mirroring life and for whatever it brings you are going to have to adjust and overcome.”

          So far this season, Wynford is (5-3) in all games and (4-3) in Northern 10 Athletic Conference games.

          Taylor-Sheldon says they want to get better and maybe avenge some of those conference losses.  “I think for us, we are in the middle of our league and we have played everybody in the first round except for Seneca East and for us we have either won big or lost close.  I think for us the goal would be to some games where we think we should have performed better with the hope that we could knock somebody off the was clearly better than us,” she said.

 

Published 1/07/21

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Colonel Crawford Must be at its Best

 

          Colonel Crawford leads the basketball standings in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference as we head for the halfway marker and they play at home against Ridgedale on Saturday night.

          On Tuesday night, they downed Plymouth (64-43) in a non-conference game.

          Considering all of the factors, coach David Sheldon says it was a solid performance.  “We got off to a great start, got out double figures, then went through a little lull, and then picked up again.  It was a week night game and we are back in school full time and on the road and to go over and get a 20 some point win, that’s a good night.  I am proud of my guys.  We have been fortunate.  If you look at the Mansfield area we have probably played as many games as anybody getting 11 in.  You are in the dog days of January, I always call them, in the mist of COVID.  Now we jump back into league play come Saturday night.” he said.

          The Eagles lead both Upper Sandusky and Mohawk by a game in the standings and Sheldon says they have to keep their focus.  “This is the last game of the first round.  You always say you don’t win a league championship in the first round of play, but you put yourself in good position.  So far, we have put ourselves in a good position,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “This is the last one in the league in the first round.  There are a lot of great teams that we had close games with the first time and it is not going to be an easy haul.  Our number one goal every night is to take care of whoever is next.  Ridgedale is the next in line.  That is a very important game come Saturday night.”

          Colonel Crawford (11-0,7-0) entertains Ridgedale (2-7,1-5) on Saturday night.  The Rockets lost to Buckeye Central (53-41) last Saturday.

          Sheldon says Ridgedale has some experience and elements that make up a good team.  “They have good size inside.  With (Michael) Burns and (Alec) Gordon they have good size inside at 6’4” and 6’4” and then they have the (Adam) Beard kid that can shoot it.  They have four returners that started last year for them.  They have had an up and down season so far.  I think the one thing is with the success that we have gotten off to we are getting everybody’s best shot.  So, with everybody we play we have to bring it every night because we are getting everybody’s best shot whoever we are playing no matter what is says on their jerseys,” said Sheldon.

 

Published 1/07/21

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Crestview Returns Against Lexington

 

          Crestview is one of the schools coming off of a quarantine and their first game back is a visit to Lexington of the Ohio Cardinal Conference on Saturday night for a non-conference game.

          A Firelands Conference game against New London set for Friday night has been postponed.

          Coach John Kurtz says they just got back on the floor on Wednesday.  “We just had our first practice (Wednesday) and taking two weeks off in middle of the season like that is really hard on your kids.  You could really see the kids being tired and a little bit out of sync, but we were happy to get back on the court,” he said.

          Kurtz says when you are not on the practice floor it affects your fitness in a negative way.  “Just shooting shots or playing in the driveway or going to the gym or whatever you are doing is just not the same as being in a competitive situation.  (Wednesday) night you could really tell with us that we had not been in the gym for 14 days,” said Kurtz.

          Crestview (6-2) is at Lexington (2-3) on Saturday night.  Have these schools played since both were in the old Johnny Appleseed Conference back in the late 1970’s?  Hmmmm… probably not.

          Kurtz says the Lexington size is a concern.  “I know that Lexington is young.  In the films that I have watched they are big inside.  They try and go inside and the guards really look for their big guys.  That is something we will have to concentrate on.  The Jack (Depperscmidt) kid shoots the ball very well, so those are things that you have to be ready for,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “They are kind of in the same boat we are, they have been playing, but we have both had time off this year.  We are probably not going to be the sharpest.  Also, Lexington has to play Friday night.  It will be an interesting game.”

 

Published 1/07/21

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Buckeye Central Plays Rival Wynford

 

          Buckeye Central hosts longtime rival Wynford in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference on Thursday night.

          The Bucks beat Ridgedale (53-41) in a conference game on Saturday night.  They lost to talented Upper Sandusky (73-57) on Wednesday.  They have won three of their last five.

          Coach Tom Howell says they played some good basketball.  “I mean we got beat by Upper, but we did some good things.  We played some pretty good defense.  We scored the basketball, we just came up short.  Then we went to Ridgedale last Saturday and played pretty well.  We pressured a little bit in the full court.  Hopefully, if we get that going, we can get some offense off that as well,” said Howell.

          Buckeye Central (4-5,2-3) plays at home against Wynford (0-6,0-4) on Thursday.  The Royals fell (50-38) to Mohawk on Saturday night in league play.

          Howell says they don’t play at all like a winless team.  “Wynford, their record says they are 0-6, but they don’t play like they are 0-6.  They have played a pretty tough schedule if look at the teams they have played like Old Fort, they played Carey, they played Margaretta, and the list goes on,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Their two big guys inside are athletic.  They have some pretty good guard play.  You can’t overlook Wynford at all.  I hope our kids aren’t, that is what we have been preaching all week.  They are a very good 0-6 team.”

          Howell believes the start of the game on Thursday is going to be pretty important for them.  “We want to get off to good start and see what we can do.  If we let them hang around their kids want to compete and they want to win and they want to compete, so we have to match that intensity and see what happens,” he said.

 

Published 1/07/21

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Clear Fork Depth Leads to Win Over Lucas

 

          Clear Fork played 12 kids and put four in double figures and went on to beat Lucas (63-41) in a non-conference girls’ basketball game at Les Hauenstein Gym on Tuesday night.

          Pacey Chrastina had 13, Bekah Conrad had 12, Lyvia Davis added 11 and Morgan Galco 10 for the Lady Colts.

          Clear Fork coach Scott Sellers says they like to press, run the floor, and use their athleticism.  “It is nice that we have 12 bodies that can play.  Our strategy all along has been, let’s just play as fast as we can, as hard as we can.  We are really young.  We played two freshmen a lot of minutes, four sophomores a lot of minutes, the more we can run, the more we can press, the more we can just get up the floor, and just kind of be athletes.  The way we are turning the culture and this program around this year it makes more sense to play like that.  We are going to have a great off season and get a lot better at basketball and I think that allows you to do some different things.  For now, we are just trying to coach these basketball players to be athletes and I thought they did a pretty good job,” said Sellers.

          Lucas (2-4) took its only lead of the night (8-6) on a Shelby Grover basket with 5:17 to play in the first quarter.  Sellers called a time out and Davis responded with a three to give the Lady Colts back the lead (9-8) with 4:14 left and they never trailed again.

          The Cubs would never go away, after trailing (32-19) at the half, they again go to back to within 13 at (40-27) on a Shelby Grover three with 3:35 to play in the third quarter.

          Coach Kathy Grover says they just had too many scoring draughts against a team that can score points like Clear Fork.  “We had quite a few that didn’t go all the way down though the net that looked like they were going to go and rattled in and out.  There are times when we just make bad decisions offensively with the ball.  I am over their screaming certain plays and they don’t hear it or they are somewhere else.  So, we did go two or three minutes without offense and that is going to kill you against a quick team like Clear Fork that handles and passes the ball nicely,” said Grover.

          Clear Fork went on a (10-3) run to end the quarter and lead (50-30) and things were never in doubt thereafter. 

          Penetration of the paint was key for Lady Colts as they repeatedly got into the lane on Tuesday.  Sellers says that is something they continue to work on this season.  “There are kids like Morgan Galco, our point guard, she can do it more, Pacey Chrastina can do it more, Lyvia Davis can do it more.  I want more penetration.  Obviously, we run a lot of stuff through the post with our big girl Bekah (Conrad), I think she could be a lot stronger.  We are working on these kids to be more aggressive and get the other team into foul trouble early.  Just go out and play basketball and compete.  (Tuesday) night they did a good job of it and I was pretty excited by it,” he said.

          Clear Fork (4-4) has a tough week coming up and Sellers says they must continue to improve even with COVID.  “The good thing is it is different for everybody.  Everybody has had their people out and had set backs and these things.  We have preached from the beginning of the year, you go out and you compete as hard as you can and you just don’t make excuses.  I tell these kids all of the time, if we go out and get ran by 30, we will watch film and we will learn from it and that is how we are going to continue to get better.  We have some tough games coming up, we have Harding on Friday, Cardington, who is undefeated on Monday, then we have what I think is the best team in county in Shelby next week.  Three really tough games, so these kids are really going to have to be dialed in, so we can compete at that high level with a lot of pride and just go play as hard as we can,” he said.

 

Published 1/06/21

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Ontario Has to Get Back on Track

 

          After a loss last week to Shelby, the Ontario Warriors are in chase mode in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.

          They host Shelby next week, but they play two conference games this week at Marion Pleasant on Thursday and at home versus Marion Harding on Saturday.

          They lost (65-60) to Shelby last Thursday and then (69-67) in overtime to Ashland of the Ohio Cardinal Conference on Saturday.

          Coach Joe Balogh says they must finish plays around the basket and at the charity stripe.  “We have to finish, we have to finish plays at the rim and we have to finish our free throw shooting.  In both losses, free throw shooting was a critical part to winning or losing the game.  Finishing some plays around the rim was also crucial.  So, a big emphasis we have this week is we just have to finish and we have to focus on that.  I think we had enough chances in games that we could have made a difference in the game, but we just didn’t do it.  We just didn’t do it and that is what we are focusing on this week,” said Balogh.

          They were an combined 11-27 at the free throw line last week.

          Ontario (7-3,3-1) plays at Pleasant (3-8,0-4) on Thursday night in “MOAC” play.  Balogh says the Spartans are young, but they are good at executing their game plan.  “They are young and little inexperienced.  I’m not sure if they have dealt with some COVID issues or not.  In watching film, they have had some guys in and some guys out.  Ben (Snively) does a really nice job, they are not fancy in what they do, but you know they are going to be really solid defensively and they are going to do their stuff offensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “They try and spread you out and use their dribble drive to create scoring opportunities and either finishing at the basketball or finding open guys.  We have to do a good job defending in the half court and try and keep the dribble in front of us, so we don’t get into a lot of help an recover situations.”

          Balogh says for the game next week against Shelby to mean anything, they must win this week.  “We still have a chance to control our own destiny in the league, but we can’t afford to lose.  Shelby looks like a team right now that is going to be really, really good in the league the rest of the way out, so we have to focus on what we do and take care of our own business and then see where everything falls.  These next two games are really important from the perspective that we are on the road and playing a really athletic Marion Harding team on Saturday will be a challenge.  If we want to be a good basketball team, we just have to play better basketball,” said Balogh.

          Marion Harding (2-3,2-2) comes to the “O-Reana” on Saturday and Balogh says competing on the board will be a big factor.  “They do a really good job of getting to the offensive glass.  Donny Worstell, their head coach, does a really good job and those guys are patient in wat they do.  One of key things is if you make them take jump shots and they miss them, you have to make sure they don’t get second shot opportunities.  That is a key in any game, but especially in a game against them because of what they have shown early in the season here about their ability to rebound the ball at the offensive end of the floor,” he said.

 

Published 1/06/21

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It is One Game at a Time for Upper

 

          Upper Sandusky lost for just the second time in their last seven games on Monday night, but they still have two more games to play this week.

          They travel to Bellevue for a non-conference game on Thursday and host Bucyrus in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game on Saturday.

          They suffered a (79-63) setback at the hands of Willard in non-league play on Monday night.

          Coach Jeff Winslow says they were not up to the challenge against a very good Willard team.  He says the Willard guards took it to them.  “It was disappointing, I thought we had turned the corner and it felt like we took some steps back, but Willard played really well.  Their three guards or four guards, how many they run at you, were just really big and physical and really tall and it was tough for our guards because they are so much bigger than us.  I thought that was the difference.  Early on we settled for too many one pass threes and didn’t utilize the paint at all and it kind of got out of hand on us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “Give credit to Willard, they got after it, we came out flat.  That was our fifth game in nine nights and we did not handle that very well.  There are lots of teams going through that and I have talked to them all year long that that is the type of adversity that you are going to have to face and the teams that are the toughest are going to survive it.  We didn’t do a very good job of handling that on Monday night.”

          Upper Sandusky pays a visit to Bellevue (0-5) on Thursday night.  Winslow says they could present some matchup problems for them.  “They play a lot of guards and they are not very big, but they have some good quickness and they have some guys that can shoot the basketball.  They have not won a game yet, but they have been in a lot of games against some good teams. We have some big post players and some of those guys are going to have to guard some of the guards.  It will be an interesting matchup to see how some of our bigger guys can handle guarding those smaller, quick guys.  On the other hand, we should be able to utilize those guys inside at the other end.  So, it is going to be a battle at either end to see who can make the adjustment with the differences in style.  We are still going to get up and down the court.  When we are on defense, sometimes matchups aren’t in our favor on the ball depending on when it’s our big on their guard.  It will be interesting to see how that goes,” said Winslow.

          Upper Sandusky (6-4,5-1) hosts Bucyrus (2-6,1-4) on Saturday night in an “N10” game.  Trailing Colonel Crawford by a game in the standings, Winslow says they have to keep winning.  “We look at it like we still control our own destiny, but we have to take care of business.  All we have to do is just win one game at a time.  If we keep winning one game at a time we will be no less than a conference championship.  None of these games are going to be easy, there are a lot of good teams in our league, but just one game at a time, just win that game, you can’t worry about what anyone else is doing and hopefully we stay focused.  I thought we had been doing that up until Monday night.  Played really well against Seneca East and had been playing really well and hopefully we get back on track here.  You just have to go out and win your game and move on to the next,” he said.

 

Published 1/06/21

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South Central Returns With two in the Firelands

 

          South Central has not played a game since before Christmas, but they return with two big ones this week against Monroeville on Friday and Norwalk St. Paul on Saturday in the Firelands Conference.

          In fact, the layoff has been even longer for coach Brett Seidel, who has not been on the bench since a December 15 win at Plymouth.

          He says everyone is ready to go.  “It has been even longer for me, so I am chomping at the bit and the kids are especially to get the bad taste out of their mouth from the last time that we took the floor against Western,” he said.

          Western handed South Central its only loss of the season (54-42) on the 23rd.  They trail he Roughriders by a game in the conference standings.

          South Central (6-1,4-1) is at Monroeville (4-3,2-2) on Friday night.  Their last Conference game was also December 23 when they lost (66-56) to Crestview.

          With Monroeville, a lot of what they do is dependent on Isaac Roeder, according to Seidel.  “It all starts and goes through Roeder, a 6’2”, very, very strong, athletic kid, a motor, can shoot it from three, can get the rim, can post you, and do a lot of different things.  But, the thing that I see on film is they have a lot to go around him as well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have a couple of sophomores that can fill it.  So, they are a problem at all positions.  They all know their role and do their role very well, but it definitely goes through Roeder.”

          Roeder averages 22.9 points and 10.7 rebounds a game for the Eagles.

          Norwalk St. Paul (5-1,3-1) comes calling on Saturday night.  The lost (58-48) to Western Reserve on Tuesday night to fall out of a share of first place in the conference standings.

          Seidel says they are very good and want to push the tempo on offense and he adds they are really tough as the back half of a double weekend.  “St. Paul is going to be tough no matter what, but the back end of a conference grind presents a problem.  The three headed monster with (Scotty) Adleman and two Winslows.  They like to get up and down the floor.  They are really, really explosive offensively and they are really athletic and difficult to contain.  Them on the back end of a double, double in the conference is tuff,’ said Seidel.

 

Published 1/06/21

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Battle of Co-Leaders in Lake Division Saturday

 

          Norwalk and Tiffin Columbian share first place in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference and they square off on Saturday night in Tiffin.

          The winner gets an early leg up in the division standings.

          The Tuckers also play at home against Port Clinton in a cross over game on Thursday night.

          They have won their last three games and coach Steve Gray says they are understanding what they need to do to win games.  “We are starting to accept the idea of what are true identity is, which is let’s defend first and worry about scoring second,” he said.

          Norwalk hosts Port Clinton (4-5) on Thursday night.  The Redskins have won their last three, including a (57-42) win over Edison in a Bay Division game on Saturday night.

          Gray says Port Clinton is going to make them execute to score against them.  “Well, I think they have gotten better under coach (Ryan) Hicks in the last two or three years.  He has done a great job of implementing his system.  He talked in the paper last week about how they wanted to live at the defensive end.  Defense travels and that is what he is stiving to do with his kids,” said Gray.

          Norwalk (5-5,4-0) takes its act to Tiffin Columbian to meet the Tornadoes (7-1,5-0) on Saturday night.  The winner grabs first place in the division.  Logan Beaston is second in the division in scoring (17.8 ppg) for Tiffin and Norwalk’s Garrett Chapin a whisker behind at (17.7 ppg) this season.  Chapin is also the leading rebounder in the division (9.4 rpg) so far this year.

          Gray says beating a team like Tiffin will be a challenge, but stresses that it is not overly important when looking at the season as a whole.  “It depends on how you look at it, I don’t think of it as a great game or anything,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “They are really good.  Beaston is maybe up there with (T.J.) Pugh is his ability to put up a bunch of points in a hurry, he can shoot the three.  They have four starters that can really shoot the ball.  It will be a great challenge for us and could have a big affect on who wins the SBC this year.”

 

Published 1/06/21

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Defense a Priority for Huron

 

          Huron, now a game behind the tri-leaders in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, plays down the road at Edison in a division game on Thursday night.

          They also host Firelands Conference leader Western Reserve on Saturday night in a non-conference game.

          A loss to Willard (63-56) last Wednesday dropped the Tigers from their share of the lead.

          Coach Booby James says they let the Flashes get in the paint too much.  “They got into the paint on us pretty good.  I think on the stats they had 42 points in the paint, which 42 of their 63 and we have to correct that and make sure we keep people out of the paint area and make them shoot contested jumpers, so we are really working on that this week, move our feet and keep people in front of us,” he said.

          James says defensively you can’t allow the other team to drive and kick out to shooters and they were doing too much of that.  He says that will be the feature of practice this week.  “That has always been our philosophy is to try and get teams to pass the ball side to side instead of in and out.  If you look at every drill you attack the basket and kick out for a three their hands are ready, their feet are ready to shoot.  Our philosophy has always been to get them to pass side to side instead of in and out,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “When you allow the ball in the paint, a lot of bad things can happen.  We will try and correct that this week and move forward, we have a big game on Thursday against Edison and another one Saturday against Western.”

          Huron is below what would be considered the average when it comes to defensive shooting percentages on the season, 48.9% on two points field goals and 28.1 on threes.

          The Tigers (4-3,2-2) play at Edison (0-6,0-4) on Thursday night.  The Chargers have struggled a bit this year and lost to Port Clinton (57-42) in a Bay Division game last Wednesday.  The Chargers shoot less than 40 percent from the field on the season.

          James says it hasn’t been a very good season for Edison so far, but James knows they will be ready to play them.  “Anytime when put Huron and Edison together it is always a rivalry, so they are going to come out ready to play.  Kyle (Hammond) is a good coach.  I know they are off to a rough start.  He coached for me, he is a great coach.  He has been in the regionals twice, he knows what he is doing.  So, he will have his kids ready no matter what.  We have to be prepared and match their energy over at their place and be ready for a dogfight,” said James.

 

Published 1/06/21

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Bellevue Must Make Shots

 

          Bellevue is still looking for that elusive first win as we are into the calendar year of 2021.

          They will have two more chances this week with games at home Thursday with Upper Sandusky in non-league play and Saturday with Sandusky in action in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          They lost (51-36) to division co-leader Norwalk on Saturday night and coach Ed Rich says they did some good things they just couldn’t make any shots.  “We actually played an okay game on Saturday against Norwalk.  We had some really good looks at the basket.  We just didn’t hit shots.  Their defense is solid to say the least.  When we get good looks at the perimeter, we have to put it in.  I think we cut it to five or six late in the third quarter and some things just didn’t go our way, a couple of turnovers, a couple of missed shots,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Then we have to go into a chaos press and try and pick up some points and we give them a bunch of extra points.  So, we are still looking, but our kids, and I tell them every day I apricate it, and they are playing hard and they are doing everything we ask.  It is really tough to be mad at them because they are getting after it every night.”

          Bellevue (0-5) plays at home against Upper Sandusky (6-4) on Thursday night.  The Rams lost (79-63) to Willard on Monday night.

          Rich says the Rams are a little different this year.  “Defensively they are the same with a matchup zone style and pressure in the full, but they have two 6’5”, 6’6” kids both averaging 16, 17 a game, so they are a little different from that aspect.  They can still shoot the three, they have guys that can knock it down from all over, so they are similar there, but the points are coming in the paint for the most part,” he said.

          With no wins yet, Rich says they really want to get that monkey off their back.  “I think our kids are feeling a little pressure to get wins and obviously as a coaching staff we are feeling pressure to get wins because we just want to get that win.  If we get one it could snowball to two, three, four.  I think we have a good enough team to rattle some off, but that first one is really important,” said Rich.

 

Published 1/06/21

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Clear Fork Returns to “MOAC” Action

 

          After a little break, Clear Fork returns to Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference action with two games this week at Marion Harding on Thursday and home with league leading Shelby on Saturday night.

          They will play Thursday night’s game without coach Steven Bechtel, who is quarantined.  He says he expects the same out of his team if he is on the bench or not.  “It is definitely different and you are relying on your assistants to go out there and making sure they are preparing the kids for the week of practice and to prepare for that big road test down there at Marion Harding,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday evening, “So, I feel very confident in our guys that they are going to be focused and ready to go just like I was there and go out and do the exact same things that they know how to do for our assistants who will be running everything.  Just happy to have assistants that you trust and they are going to continue to work hard as well.”

          Clear Fork won its last game (77-60) over Northwestern last Monday, but had two games against Lexington postponed.  Bechtel hopes that doesn’t kill their momentum.  “I hope that it doesn’t affect us, but we played really, really well in that game.  Everything seemed to come together offensively and defensively, so we were headed in the right direction.  It was unfortunate that we didn’t get to play those Lexington games, but hopefully our guys will come out and continue to build from there and be ready to go on Thursday,” he said.

          Clear Fork (3-3,2-2) is at Harding (2-3,2-2) on Thursday night.  The Presidents had a two game winning streak snapped in losing at Shelby (77-63) on Monday night in league play.

          Bechtel says they are athletic and get on the boards.  “Obviously, Don (Worstell) does a great job down there.  Those guys come out and they play hard.  They are really athletic.  They spread you out.  We are going to have to make sure we are dialed in defensively.  I think one of the things they do very well is they go to the glass, so our guys and going to have to be focused on just giving up that one shot per possession and finishing it up with a rebound each time,” he said.

          As far as Shelby (7-1,4-0) is concerned, Bechtel says there won’t be any surprises.  “You know exactly what you are going to get there.  They have got some individual players that are really, really talented.  They seem to play very, very well together.  The tempo seems to be where they want it to be on those nights, so we are going to have to be really sharp with coaching staff, players, everybody involved is going to have to be really, really sharp that night,” said Bechtel.

 

Published 1/05/21

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Western Tangles With St. Paul

 

          In what might end up as the championship game in the Firelands Conference this year depending on how the schedule falls the rest of the year, Western Reserve entertains Norwalk St. Paul on Tuesday night.

          Both are unbeaten in conference play.  Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic we do not know if a full second half of conference games will be played this year.

          The Roughriders have won their last four games by an average of 30 points and coach Chris Sheldon says they are doing a lot of things very well.  “We have started to get healthy.  Those guys that are starting to get healthy now have three weeks under the belt and they now have some game reps as well.  That has just added a solidified our rotation and allowed us to play a style of basketball both defensively and offensively that we excel at and now that we have eight good bodies to do it it is really creating some problems for our opponents and allowing us to still stay fresh,” said Sheldon.

          Western Reserve (6-1,4-0) hosts Norwalk St. Paul (5-0,3-0) on Tuesday night.  Due to a quarantine, the Flyers have not played a game since December 23, a (81-54) win over Mapleton.

          Sheldon says the Flyers have a very talented offensive basketball team that can put a lot of points on the board.  “I expect an extremely competitive basketball game.  Their kids are as experienced as ours and just as competitive as well.  They like to play a similar style to us as well, so it could be the first team that gets to 80 wins.  I expect it to be entertaining and quick paced with a lot of very good individual basketball players showing off their skills,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “For us it starts with the Winslows and the (Scotty) Adelman kid, three really good lead guards that we don’t play.  They are the only team that we play that you can sit there and say all three kids can handle the rock, can take it over, can create for themselves and also at the same time make the right play to make others better around them.  That is a huge challenge for us and it is something that we are really going to have to focus on defensively in holding them at bay, but also not allowing them to create easy scoring opportunities for their teammates.  So, that for us is the biggest challenge going into it.”

          When you have two very strong offensive teams like this, Sheldon says the difference will be who defends better.  “I think both my team and Mike’s (Smith) team have great challenges at that end of the floor (Tuesday) night.  Whoever is able to have success doing that, not that you are going to be able to stop everybody, but just slow them down and make everything more difficult for each other, is probably the team that is going to have the most success,” he said

 

Published 1/05/21

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Rams Looking for the Right Formula

 

          The Madison Rams go in search of their first win of the season on Tuesday night as they travel to Wooster to face the first place Generals in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.

          Wooster is also the defending conference champion.

          Frankly, the Rams have struggled to put the ball in the basket this season.  They have not scored more than 50 points in any game and last week lost to rival Mansfield Senior (44-37) in an “OCC” game.

          Coach Tim Mergel says there are a number of factors.  “Our kids are doing things that we are asking them to do.  We are getting to the paint, our decision making at times isn’t great, we have been plagued by some turnover issues, we just have to get better at finishing off plays.  Looks we have gotten from the outside, we have taken some good shots, we just have to knock them in.  Inside we just have to finish through some contact.  We are not getting to the free throw line to get us three points.  You look at the Mansfield Senior game, we got them to six fouls late in the third quarter and we weren’t able to capitalize and get to the free throw line and knock down some one and ones,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “As a coaching staff, we have to do a better job of reemphasizing what we want with our kids.  We have to get some regularity in the lineup and in the gym.  We are without our leading scorer, he is quarantined and we have a rebounder that is out.  We are kind of playing a numbers game and mix and matching some rotations in there.  Hopefully, we will get some guys that get a little more comfortable.”

          Madison’s leading scorer in Isaac Brooks is not expected to see action against Wooster.  They are shooting just 35 percent as a team.  They only had 13 players, varsity and JV, at practice on Monday.

          Mergel says it tough trying to put things together when you are not sure what you have.  “It’s difficult.  I would say that every team is going to go through it or continuing the go through it and we are no exception.  We have to make the most and if you are talking a deck of cards, I guess if we don’t know what cards we are getting, we have to bluff pretty good,” he said.

          Madison (0-4,0-3) is at Wooster (5-0,3-0) on Tuesday night.  The Generals won a pair of non-conference games last week in beating Shelby (79-52) on Tuesday and New Philadelphia (64-46) on Saturday.

          Mergel says they have a lot of weapons.  “They are good.  The (David) Nolan kid came back from Triway.  He just does so much as far as breaking you down off the dribble in the paint and his decision making and finishing skills are petty good.  They have the (Brayden) Hamilton kid outside that can shoot it.  (Tyler) Pettorini brings some energy and the quarterback Roach brings some energy.  They have a kid form JV, I really can’t think of his name, that got seven three pointers against us last year in a freshman and JV game combined, and he is coming off the bench for them and he has been staring a little bit for them and playing well.  They are the front runners in the conference.  They knocked Ashland, who I think is pretty good.  We know what we are going to get, so we just have to be able to handle some pressure,” said Mergel.

          Mergel says they have to get Wooster out of their transition game.  “They are going to speed you up a little bit.  It goes back to the philosophy that if we are going to turn it over, let’s make it a dead ball turnover, so at least we get a chance to set up some defense.  Anytime they get out and run up and down the floor it is going to be a long night, so we have limit those runs and try and keep them in the quarter court as much as possible,” he said.

 

Published 1/05/21

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Columbian Continues to Excel

 

          Tiffin Columbian shares the lead in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference with Norwalk and they meet on Saturday night in Tiffin.

          They also play a non-league game against Bowling Green on Friday night.

          The Tornadoes beat Clyde (63-44) on Saturday night in a division game.

          Coach Travis Kinn says they were a little sloppy, but they were able to do some things too.  “It was been a while since we have beat Clyde, they have been a thorn in our side.  They have kind of had our number the last few years.  Big credit to our guys coming out ready to play.  We had five turnovers in the first quarter and we were still able to jump out to an early lead.  There are some frustrating things when you have that many turnovers in the first quarter, but to be able to play well enough to still have a lead despite that is definitely encouraging.  Logan (Beaston) had the first eight points of the game for us.  We went on an 8-0 run to start things and we just kind kept rolling from there,” said Kinn.

          Beaston, a sophomore, is second in the division in scoring at (17.8 ppg) this season.

          Kinn says he thought they came through the holidays pretty well.  “I am not sure what is normal these days.  It is 2021 now and I am still trying to figure out what is normal and what is not.  We played three games in five days last week, as well as Clyde did, and probably a lot of other teams.  Just really pleased with our guy’s focus and attention to detail over the break and obviously that is something you always worry about when you are out of a routine, especially with kids.  They have shown that they are willing to have attention to detail and little things and it has paid off big for us,” he said.

          Columbian plays at Bowling Green (2-5) on Friday night.

          Kinn says they want to get the tempo moving against the Bobcats.  “They have two bigs and they run a lot of stuff to get those two guys the ball.  They have an all league point guard back on their team that does a good job getting them into their stuff.  They have a couple of kids that can shoot it on the perimeter.  They play a little bit of a shower tempo then we like to play, so we will try and push pace a little bit and try and make it a more up tempo game,” he said.

          Tiffin (7-1,5-0) plays at home against Norwalk (5-5,4-0) on Saturday night.  Kinn says there will be a lot riding on this game.  “I think us and Norwalk are the two teams left in the league that don’t have a league loss, so to say it’s a big one is an obvious statement.  They will be very well prepared.  Coach (Steve) Gray does an outstanding job with those guys running their stuff and executing their sets.  Garrett Chapin is an all-league player that is back that will require some attention from us.  So, it will be a great opportunity for our guys,” he said.

 

Published 1/05/21

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Wynford with Ballhandling Issues

 

          Wynford is at Buckeye Central on Thursday night for a game in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

          The Royals are looking for their first win of the season.

          Coach Steve Mohr says they are improving, but they must handle the ball better.  “Every storm cloud has a silver lining.  When I talked to the kids (Monday) those are the things that we talked about the most.  We are getting better in certain areas and not good enough to win basketball games, especially when you are playing the people we have played.  I think when you look at who we have played up until this point.  I don’t think anybody in our league has played the schedule we have played up until this point.  I am not making excuses, I am just saying we have played really good people and we have to be really good in order to be just competitive,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday evening, “We did a number of good things in our last game against Mohawk.  Our defense for three quarters was really good.  Offensively we just weren’t very consistent though.  The problem with our team right now our offense many times equals our opponent’s offense for easy scores.  Once we eliminate that I think we are going to be able to be successful in terms of winning games rather that losing.  So, that is where we are at right now, we just have to take better care of the basketball.”

          Mohr says they need to continue to get better when it comes to making decisions on the floor and getting the ball to the right spot.  “A lot of people say ballhandling is the ability to dribble, but comes down to making decisions and passing away from the defense not to the man.  I knew losing Josh Crall would be a big hole to fill in terms of scoring.  I didn’t realize what a task it would be to replace his ability to just get us into sets and to handle pressure.  In fairness to our kids, I did see improvement in those areas in our last two games against two best pressure defenses in the league in Upper Sandusky and Mohawk.  Crawford is really good too, but those two are really good defensively with their full court and half court pressure,” he said.

          Wynford (0-6,0-4) is at Buckeye Central (4-5,2-3) on Thursday night.  The Bucks beat Ridgedale (53-41) in a conference game on Saturday night.

          Mohr says the Bucks are much improved from last year and they have a petty balanced team.  “I have the greatest amount of respect for Buckeye Central.  I started my coaching career there.  The kids always play hard no matter how talented they are or who their coach is they play hard and compete.  I think they have an excellent coach there now in coach (Tom) Howell.  They are vastly improved, but they are kids that have been playing varsity basketball for two of three years.  They have two strong kids inside in (Damian) Dean and (Brady) Kerschner.  The (Alex) Kanney kid might be one of the most improved players in the league, with his ability to score.  The (Tyler) Rose kid has always been a solid point guard.  We are going to have to play well.  We are going there, we are on the road, we are going to have to play well in order to be able to compete.  So, it is going to be a tough game for us.  It’s not a thing where you can look at Buckeye Central and say we can go up there and play poorly and probably win, that is just not the case at all for us.  We can’t take that approach with anyone,” said Mohr.

 

Published 1/05/21

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Old Fort With Another Tough One in River Division

 

          Old Fort and Gibsonburg, two of four Sandusky Bay Conference River Division schools with one division loss, play on Thursday night at Old Fort.

          Tiffin Calvert and Sandusky St Mary’s are the other schools with one loss.

          The Stockaders have not played a division game since beating Danbury Lakeside (90-38) on December 22.

          Coach Eric Hoover says its good to get back to a league schedule.  “It means a little more to the kids just working toward some of our goals as far as wanting to win the league.  They have some rivalries with some of these league teams.  They know nothing about some the non-league teams.  Being over break is always a little different too to get people ready to play.  Getting back to the league is back into the routine and I think it is good for us,” he said.

          Old Fort (8-1,4-1) plays host to Gibsonburg (2-2,2-1) on Thursday night.  The Golden Bears saw their first action since December 11 on Monday when they downed New Riegel (59-52) in a division game.

          Hoover says they kind of know what to expect.  “They hadn’t played since December 11 before (Monday) night, so they have been off for a while.  I don’t know too much about them.  They have a lot back from last year and that is beneficial as far as what they are going to do.  Of course, they still have coach (Brent) Liskai, who has been there a long time.  I don’t imagine they are going to change things up too much,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “I was able to watch the game (Monday) night, so that was good.  They have a pretty good post player, somebody with some size that we really haven’t seen yet.  That is good for us because we need to seem some of that size and it will force us to do some other things other than pound the ball inside.”

          Old Fort is the defending division champ, but Hoover says getting another banner won’t be easy.  “It’s a tough night every night.  Gibsonburg played us really tight last year over there at their place.  They are going to play physical, in your face defense and they are going to make everything tough.  They are going to muddy up the game and make you work for everything you get.  Nobody is going to come in and lay down and give up before the game.  There have been close games all over the league.  Calvert and St. Joe had another close one (Monday) night.  There have been a lot of tough, close games and you have to expect a battle every night.” said Hoover.

 

Published 1/05/21

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Practice Does Pleasant Good

 

          Marion Pleasant will be busy this week as they play three times after playing only once since December 22, two of them will be Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference games against Ontario on Thursday and Galion on Saturday.

          The Spartans also play Tuesday night at Mt. Gilead in a non-conference game.

          They beat Berne Union (63-59) on Saturday and coach Ben Snively says they have started to shoot it at least a little bit better.  “We had a little more practice time.  We have been very fortunate to actually be on schedule and played an extra game.  We had a game scheduled for mid-January that we moved up earlier in the year.  Again, with practice at this time of the year with COVID all of the stuff going on and we actually played a lot of games.  We have 10 games in already, which we are really excited about and happy about.  We did have some down time with the dates they fell this year with the holidays there weren’t many opportunities in there and for whatever reason didn’t have anything scheduled.  We got a good, solid week of practice in,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “So far this year, we just haven’t been able to shoot the ball very well and we worked on that a little bit.  Saturday, we went down to Berne Union, which is at the southern tip of the central district, and again we didn’t shoot it great, but we were in the lead of the game the whole time and when we needed shots that is when we made them.  I talked to the kids about that, at crucial points in the game when that other team in making a run we were able to get some shots in those situations.”

          Pleasant play at Mt. Gilead Tuesday night and Snively says the Indians will press a lot and make it tough for them to execute their offense.  “From talking to some people and seeing some film on them they trap everywhere.  They run a little half court trap.  They have some kids that can shoot the basketball.  I feel like all of the Morrow County schools, we play Northmor, Cardington, and Mt. Gilead, we played Highland a few years back.  These are old rivalries for us and it’s always going to be a good game.  They know who we are, we know who they are.  We have to go over there.  It’s always tougher to win on the road than it is home.  I think six of our last seven have been on the road, so we are looking forward to getting back home here later in January.  It will be a tough game for us.  They all are at the varsity level.  You just have to go over there and do the best you can and hope some shots fall and you play your game,” he said.

          Pleasant (3-7,0-4) hosts Ontario (7-3,3-1) on Thursday night.

          Snively says the Warriors are well disciplined and they will be in for a battle.  “The (Griffin) Shaver kid, he is their team leader, he has been playing since his freshman year.  Between he and Bell at River Valley they are two of the better points guards that I have actually seen in my career.  I think the big thing with both of them is they are both experienced.  They are well coached.  With coach (Joe) Balogh being around him for four years, Shaver is like an assistant coach out on the floor.  I have always really appreciated Shaver, he just lets the game come to him.  When he needs to take over, he takes over.  He is also one of the better defenders I believe in the league.  Obviously, Ontario has plenty of kids around him that play basketball as well.  They are well coached and they going to be a challenge, but we get them at home.  You have to do everything you can to try and win your home games.  So, hopefully we can get some shots to fall against them and who knows it’s basketball and anything can happen,” said Snively.

 

Published 1/05/21

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Shelby Grabs First Place

 

          Shelby is now all along in first place in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference after they made six of nine free throws in the final 23 seconds and outlasted Ontario (65-60) on Thursday afternoon in Shelby.

          T.J. Pugh and Cody Lantz combined for 37 points as the Whippets (5-1,3-0) rallied from a two-point deficit (40-38) after three quarters.  They took the led for good on a Lantz old fashion three point play with 7:08 remaining.

          Shelby coach Nathon Loney felt it was a good bounce back win for them, but thinks they can play much better.  “It was good to get back in the winning track after getting our buts kicked at Wooster the other night.  We needed that one at Wooster.  Would have liked to have won it.  It was nice to take it on the chin like that and bring us back to reality and get these kids to realize they are not invincible and they are able to be beat.  We didn’t play anywhere near what I want us to play, but we picked up a win.  Like I said, it’s good to get back on the winning track,” said Loney.

          Ontario (7-2,3-1) never went away in that final quarter cutting the Whippet lead to one twice, the last time on a Zach Mccriristall hoop (45-44) with 6:03 left and two (54-52) on Gage Weaver basket with 2:42 on the clock.

          Warrior coach Joe Balogh says they played with great effort and did an excellent job executing the game plan.  “I am not disappointed in the effort of our kids at all.  We talked about the things that we could control, which were the energy we played with, the effort we played with.  We talked about next play mentality and I thought we went to the next play.  We missed some shots at the rim and if they go it makes a big, big difference.  As we have said before many times, you don’t win the league in the first round.  We have a chance here in two weeks to try and come back with them, but have to continue to progress as a basketball team,” said Balogh.

          Loney said going into the game they had to get the ball moving in transition.  “That is what we have to be great at.  I just got done telling the kids, we were along ways from what I expect us to be in our transition, but even as slow as we played, I think we did hurt them in transition quite a bit,” he said.

          Pugh has eight his 20 in the fourth quarter, but Balogh feels they did a good job defending him.  “He is good and you can’t take away everything from him.  I think overall I think we made things very difficult for them offensively.  They didn’t get a lot of easy baskets.  They hurt us a couple of times with postups, but I’m not going to complain about our kids effort,” he said.

          Lantz had nine of his 17 in the fourth.

          Both Pugh and Lantz fouled out in the final minute of the game.

          Griffin Shaver topped the Warriors with 14 markers.  Loney says they did an outstanding job of limiting is looks.  “That was our goal from the get go we wanted to face guard him and make everything he shot hard.  We had worked all week with Isiah Ramsey, the freshman that came off the bench and face guarded him quite a bit.  We worked on him face guarding T.J. all week.  I told him if you can face guard T.J. you are going to give Shaver all he wants.  I just told him I don’t think Shaver scored a bucket on him,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “For the most part everybody did their job of face guarding him.  Now, the other kids have to join in and join the party and guard because we let other kids score.  They shouldn’t have been getting the easy buckets that they did and that kept them in the game.  We had multiple chances to stretch it out to double figures and we were forcing other kids to score, but we weren’t competitive in guarding their other players.”

          Kolten Kurtz added 13 for the Warriors.

          Shelby’s biggest lead was a pair of six point leads in the final minute of the game.

          Shaver is a career 1,000 point scorer, but Balogh says he Warriors have a number of guys that contribute.  “We are not about one guy.  It’s really about eight guys and we got great effort our of all of them.  They all made plays and that is how we are going to play.  We are going to share the basketball and we are going to find open guys.  We did a really good job with that (Thursday).  Again, it goes back to we missed some shots at the bucket.  I think Kolten had a three that would have tied it that was halfway down in and came back out.  It’s part of playing on the road.  We just have to continue to work and see if we can get better in the second half of the season,” said Balogh.

          Ontario hosts Shelby on January 15.

 

Published 12/31/20

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Shot Selection Key for Ontario

 

          Ontario visits Shelby for a huge early season game in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference on Thursday afternoon.

          Shelby is the defending conference champion and Ontario’s only two losses in the conference last year came to Shelby.  Both have only one loss overall this year and none in the conference.

          The Warriors produced a (69-46) non-conference win at Kenton on Tuesday night.

          Coach Joe Balogh says they started strong and were able to maintain.  “We were pleased.  Our concern was making a long bus trip and playing an opponent that we are not real familiar with.  We played them last year and they played us really tough here at home.  With everything that is going on, the holidays, the COVID and everything, you just kind of wounder when you make that kind of trip how are your kids going to respond.  I was really pleased with how our kids came out, they were really focused and we got out to a great start and just really never let up.  We were up 16 at the half and extended it to over 20 early in the third and we got a chance to play a lot of guys early in the fourth quarter.  It was a good win for us and we think we are getting a little bit better every time we play,” said Balogh.

          Ontario (7-1,3-0) is at Shelby (4-1,2-0) on Thursday afternoon, with a JV start at 1:30 PM.  The Whippets lost for the first time this year (79-52) to Ohio Cardinal Conference leader Wooster on Tuesday night.

          Balogh says the Whippets have a number of scorers.  “Shelby is really good.  I have seen them on tape several times.  I got to see them play Lima Senior a little over a week ago on a Sunday.  They are very talented.  (T.J.) Pugh is really good, Lantz is really good, and then they have four or five other guys around them that can all score.  When you have that kind of balance, that makes your team really good.  It is going to be a big challenge for us, but I think our kids are going to be excited to get that opportunity to play,” he said.

          Pressure is a key part of the Shelby game plan.  Balogh says they try and create easy opportunities with their defense.  “I think they are trying to create offense with their defense by getting you to turn it over.  That was kind of our downfall a year ago.  We played really well for about 28 minutes an in about the last four minutes when they amped their pressure up we didn’t do a very good job of handling it.  That is kind of how they play.  They can score a bunch of points in a short amount of time.  That is a little bit of what they did against Lima Senior.  They had no fear of attacking a team that is known for pressing.  I think they were up 17 at the half and 17 at the end of the third quarter and were able to withstand a Lima Senior run at the end.  It’s going to be a key game in our league,” said Balogh.

          What the Warriors have to do, according to Balogh, is play smart and have good shot selection depending on the flow of the game.  “One of the things we talked about a little bit with our kids is playing with pace.  That is the idea that we want to make sure we take advantage of situations that we can attack in transition, but we also need to understand that if we have two or three turnovers in a row that we may have to be a little bit more patient to get little bit better shot,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “That’s what they thrive on is that they get you playing a little faster than you want to, maybe getting some guys taking shots that normally wouldn’t take shots and they really take advantage of that.  I think they are going to come out maybe with a little more purpose after their game at Wooster (Tuesday) night.  I think anytime that you lose a game I think there is a little bit more focus.  We are going to have to be not only physically ready to play, but mentally ready to play to handle that run that they are going to come out with the start the game.”

 

Published 12/31/20

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Shelby Needs Mental Toughness

 

          Shelby and Ontario were the best two teams in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference last year and they likely are again this year.  They meet for the first time Thursday afternoon at Shelby.

          Both are unbeaten in conference play.

          In fact, Shelby lost its first game of the season Tuesday night (79-52) to unbeaten Wooster of the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

          Coach Nathon Loney says they ran out of gas.  “We played a decent first half.  We played a really good first quarter.  It almost looked like about halfway through the second quarter we got fatigued and tired.  I take pretty good pride in our conditioning program and everything and it’s tough right now with the COVID stuff.  We have games stacked on top of games, so you have no time to condition right now.  We have been working on getting better on little things that we need to get better at and we haven’t been able to put time into conditioning like we usually do.  When we started up playing again on the 18th against Galion, we had two practices and one full go.  We haven’t had any time to condition and that really hurt us because when we got mentally and physically fatigued, we crumbled.  We turned the ball over, we didn’t rebound well.  Wooster is very solid, they are very disciplined.  I would really like to get them back at the end of the year and play them again, it would be nice if we could, but you want and you don’t get sometimes.  They were a very solid matchup,” said Loney.

          Shelby (4-1,2-0) hosts Ontario (7-1,2-0) on Thursday afternoon.  The Warriors beat Kenton (69-46) in a non-conference game on Tuesday.

          Loney says Ontario brings a different kind of challenge than they have had lately.  “What we have seen against Wooster and Lima Senior, we are not going to see against Ontario.  Wooster and Lima Senior both bring a way different team than Ontario does.  Wooster is very big and very athletic and strong.  They are a match of us.  They matched up great with us, same with Lima Senior.  Ontario is a little bit different matchup.  They don’t have the size that we have, but they do have a lot of veteran players, they return a lot of experience.  They are going to be very solid and well coached as usual.  It’s going to be different game.  They are not going to be able to match us like Wooster and Lima did, so they are going to have to bring something different to the table and Joe (Balogh) does a really good job of doing that.  I am expecting something different out of them and I’m not really sure what it is not getting to scout much, so it’s hard to tell,” he said.

          Loney says they need to make their athleticism be a factor in the game.  “That is how we wany to play with anybody is we want to force turnovers and force the pressure.  Honestly, we did a nice job of that the other night at Wooster for the first quarter.  We went a little bit of 2-1-2 action and full court pressed and early on in the game we forced Wooster into a lot of unforced turnovers and they made some bad passes out of it and they took the shots we wanted.  We got them to take quick shots.  For the first half of the second quarter we did that as well and the first half of the third quarter.  When we got tired things got really bad.  We are going to have to fight through that fatigue part and a little mental toughness is going to have to set in,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, “These are 16, 17-year-old kids and there is no room to be tired when you are young.  You can be tired when you are older.  So, they are going to have to fight through that.  That is always our goal for anybody we play to use our athleticism and our height advantage.  I feel our bigger guys are our more athletic guys.  That is something we are going to have to use tour advantage.”

 

Published 12/31/20

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Clear Fork Plays Lexington… Twice this week

 

          Clear Fork and Lexington used to be a pretty heated rivalry on the basketball court back in the day, but not so much anymore, they are no longer in the same league and the current players don’t know each other like they do other players in their league.

          However, the two schools play a home and home series this week, Wednesday night at Clear Fork and Saturday night at Lexington. 

          The Colts (3-3) are coming off a (77-60) win over Northwestern, of the Wayne County Athletic League, on Monday night.

          Coach Steven Bechtel says they were able to handle the Northwestern press and get some easy baskets.  “When they press, if you are able to break it, then you get open looks and we were fortunate enough to get open looks and hit a lot of layups.  That allowed us to score 77 points.  So, I was just really proud of how they guys stepped up and executed the game plan,” he said.

          Bechtel adds that it took a team effort to be able to have success against an aggressive press.  “I know our guards definitely stepped up, but it was a team effort.  With our press breaker against Northwestern, we had all hands on deck and we had to have everybody involved and make sure their was an equal opportunity of everybody handling in the basketball and making decisions with it,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “Just really proud of the way they came out, and we had talked about it for a couple of days, and gone through it in practice.  When we had an opportunity, we took advantage of it and made the most of it.”

          Lexington (2-2) lost (54-53) in overtime to Mt. Vernon in Ohio Cardinal Conference action on Tuesday night.

          The Minutemen are replacing their entire starting lineup, but Bechtel says they go about things in the same way.  “They run a lot of their same stuff that they have in the past.  It is obviously a totally different lineup for coach Hamilton, but they are going to do what they do and they do it really well.  They play very good half court defense, they are going to take care of the basketball, and they look to get it inside.  We are very similar I think between the two of us with just how they matchup to each other.  It ought to be two fun games,” said Bechtel.

          The teams are similar in their approach and personnel, but Bechtel says they have played more games and hopefully that gives them the advantage.  “With them, and I don’t know exactly, with it being them not getting off to the start they would like to early, they are possibly trying to find their way as well.  I hope we have found our way and know what we need to do, but, yeah, who is going to execute better, who is going to get stops when they need to, and who is going to make those big shots down the stretch,” he said.

 

Published 12/30/20

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Willard to Meet Red Hot Huron

 

          In a key game in the Bay Division of Sandusky Bay Conference Willard travels to Huron to battle the Tigers on Wednesday night.

          Both schools trail division leading Margaretta by a game in the Bay Division standings.

          The Flashers are coming off a (72-35) win over Huron last Wednesday.

          Coach Joe Bedingfield believes they are playing well, but they have not played a team like Huron lately.  “Our schedule is getting a lot tougher here in the next few games and it’s going to be a good test for our kids to see how much improvement that we have made since the beginning of the year.  I think our kids are working hard, fitting into their roles a little better, really happy with some balanced scoring nights that we have had,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “I think that is the real key for us is try to share the ball a lot more and get more people involved.  I was really happy with the Norwalk game and going into Edison and picking up another league win, but we have a big one coming up with Huron on Wednesday night.”

          Right now, Willard has three players in double figures this season in Trey Paxson (14.7 ppg), Austin Adelman (11.4 ppg) and Myles Pinkston (10.0).

          Willard (4-3,2-1) is at Huron (4-2,2-1) on Wednesday night.  The Tigers have won their last four, including (57-32) verdict over Oak Harbor last Wednesday, in handing the Rockets their first loss in the division.

          Bedingfield says there is no question the Tigers are improved.  “Coach James does a good job and his kids always improve throughout the year.  It is always a tough environment to go play on the road at Huron.  It is going to be a good measuring stick to see how far we have come and what we still need to work on.  I know they had a big week last week in not only beating Norwalk, but taking care of Oak Harbor.  They always play well at home.  So, it’s going to be a good challenge for us and we are going to have to be mentally ready for four quarters,” he said.

          Huron has a couple of double figure scorers too in Jacob Lamb (14.6 ppg) and Cole Parker (10.4), Dylan Hohler is close at (9.8 ppg).

          Bedingfield says Huron spreads the floor and gets good looks at the basket.  “They spread you out and they do a nice job in their 2-1-2 alinement on offense and spacing the ball.  They have really nice shooters from the outside.  All of their kids can handle the ball pretty well and can space you out and knock down shots.  It is going to be a challenge for us to guard the line and make sure we do a good job on the rebounding end.  They pose a lot of problems because they are very balanced as well, not just one or two guys for them.  I think in years past they have had two really good players and now they have more balanced scoring.  So, I should be a very good ballgame,” said Bedingfield.

 

Published 12/30/20

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Huron Has to Play Well at Defensive End

 

          Huron hosts Willard in an important first round game in the Bay Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference on Wednesday night.

          The Tigers and Flashes both trail division leading Margaretta by a game.

          Huron has won their last four, including belting Oak Harbor (57-32) last Wednesday.

          After losing their first two, coach Bobby James says they have started to shoot the ball much better.  “I think the two things that has improved the most is our three point shooting and also our free throw shooting.  We struggled early with those two things and now we are shooting much better from both lines.  That has been a key to get moving in the right direction,” he said.

          Huron now shooting 29% from behind the three point line and 70% at the charity stripe after not making much at all early. 

          Huron (4-2,2-1) is at home for Willard (4-3,2-1) on Wednesday night.  The Flashes blew out Edison (72-35) in a division game last Wednesday.

          James says the Flashes are well coached and they have been a thorn in their side over the years.  “What is really impressive is their kids despite listening to Dave Hirschy and Joe Bedingfield they seem to really thrive over there right now.  If we can get them to listen to those two coaches more, I think we have a chance (Wednesday) night, but if they just do their own thing and don’t listen to their coaches we could be in trouble.  No!  I’m just kidding.  Willard is really tough,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They play hard, they are always physical and they seem to always give us problems throughout my whole career.  I know that Dave have been there most of the time and Joe has done a great job.  They run a lot of sets.  They are very well coached team and they play hard and Joe and Dave are doing a great job over there.”

          James says to be successful in shutting down the Flashes they must know what each player on the court can do and then try to limit them.  “I think the key is not so much to take away their sets because they run so many that we could spend a week on it and wouldn’t be able to defend them all.  I think we have to know their personnel and what their personnel can do to us offensively.  So, we are focusing on each individual person and what their strengths are instead of trying to take away all of their sets.  Like I said, they are very well coached.  I’m sure they will be ready to play (Wednesday), it’s a big game, and we are looking forward to it.  We have had some trouble with Willard since I have gotten here.  We will just try and dig in and see what we can do,” said James.

 

Published 12/30/20

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First Place Colonel Crawford Takes on Seneca East

 

          Colonel Crawford is the only unbeaten team in Northern 10 Athletic Conference play this year and they return to league action on Wednesday night with a visit to Seneca East to try and tame the Tigers.

          Right now, the Eagles lead both Upper Sandusky and Mohawk by a game in the standings.  They have beaten both of those teams in first round games.

          Last week, they downed Clyde (60-51) in a non-conference game.

          Coach David Sheldon says it was a big win against a bigger school.  “It was a good non-league win, that was a very good opponent and we got a nice lead and they made a run, which all good teams do, but we withstood the run and then had a very good fourth quarter.  It’s a solid win because they have five guys on the floor that can play.  It’s a very good basketball game, very well coached and it was a good win before Christmas.  So, I was very pleased with our guys.  You like to be challenged with some of those non-league games and that was a very good one against a very good Clyde team on last Wednesday night,” he said.

          Carter Valentine leads the “N10” in scoring this year, but Mason Studer and Chase Walker are also double figure scorers for the Eagles. 

          Sheldon says that balance and team chemistry have been big keys to their success.  “We have three guys averaging double figures and we have had other guys step up and have six, eight, 10 points in a game and that is a good thing to have.  The good thing is we have some bigs and some guards, so depending on how teams look to approach us we try and attack to see what the best advantage is.  The great thing about this basketball team is the togetherness.  They just want to win.  It doesn’t matter who scores, they just want to win.  That’s the key to team sports, they just want to go out and compete and win every night we take the floor.  We have been fortunate so far with our unselfishness night in and night out,” said Sheldon.

          Colonel Crawford (8-0,5-0) plays at Seneca East (4-2,2-2) on Wednesday night.  The Tigers buried Bucyrus (78-49) last Saturday.  Mike Powers, a former Wynford assistant, is his first year as the head coach.

          Sheldon says the Tigers can score points.  “They are very good offensively.  They have three guards averaging double figures.  Their guard play is very, very good.  They get out and run.  They run the floor really hard and they shoot it very well.  They shoot 38 percent behind the three point line,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “They have a lot of weapons, so we are going to have to guard them in transition and in the half court because they are very good.  This is a very good senior class that has come through and been good an playing extremely hard for coach Powers.”

          Sheldon adds that when you are in first place you are going to get everybody’s best.  “So, it’s going to be a challenge going on the road.  You are back into league play.  We have put ourselves in good position so far in the first half of the first round.  Every night out there is an “X” on your back right now with where we have positioned ourselves.  So, it’s going to be a tough battle, but we are looking forward to going out and competing against Seneca East on Wednesday night,” he said.

 

Published 12/30/20

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Norwalk Needs a Winning Streak

 

          Norwalk is in a share of first place in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, but they are under .500 for the season and have not put back to back wins together this year.

          They get another chance when they visit Sandusky to play the Blue Streaks on Wednesday night in a division game.

          Last Wednesday, they beat Vermilion (54-37) in a division game and coach Steve Gray says they did a pretty good job at both ends of the floor.   “Well, I thought we took a step in the right direction.  We still have a long ways to go, but defensively we were really good and offensively we were unselfish with the basketball.  That’s a pretty good combination,” he said.

          There has been a lack of consistency in games and from game to game this season and Gray says the coaching staff thinks they need to put a winning streak together.  “That’s what coach (Tom) Foster was talking about.  We need to get a winning streak going. The only way to do that is win your first one and then your second.  We would like to put two wins together and maybe the rest of the season will work out in our favor,” said Gray.

          Right now, the Truckers are allowing their opponents to make almost half of their shots and more than 40% of their threes, which is very un-Norwalk like.

          The Tuckers (3-5,2-0) are at Sandusky (1-2,1-2) on Wednesday night.  The Blue Streaks picked up their first win of the season (48-42) over Perkins last Wednesday.  They are the defending division champions, but lost their top seven players from last year to graduation.

          Gray says they are younger, but their approach to the game has not changed this season.  “It is a typical Sandusky team.  Colin Irish does a great job with them.  They are going to pressure the basketball, push it in transition, they are going to get up and down the floor and if we don’t take care of business it’s going to be a long night,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon.

          Sandusky still gets eight steals a game and Gray says when you turn it over against them it means points more times than not.  “All turnovers are bad, but against a team like say Sandusky turnovers lead to run outs and easy baskets at the other end and give up 10, 12, 14 points over the course of game, so obviously it’s a high priority for us,” said Gray.

 

Published 12/30/20

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Tiffin Columbian With Two in the Lake Division

 

          Tiffin Columbian, the division co-leader, plays at Vermilion on Wednesday and at home against Clyde in Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division games this week.

          Last week, they downed Bellevue (73-61) in a division game.  They came out Monday and beat Upper Sandusky (69-67) in an outstanding non-conference game.

          Coach Travis Kinn says Monday was a valuable win for them.  “It was a really good win for us.  I have been told that the first time we have won their floor in 10 years.  We know it has been seven years since we have beaten them.  That is just a credit to their program over there.  You know, our guys made a lot of plays down the stretch and I give all of the credit in the world to them, especially one of our sophomores in Logan Beaston.  He was outstanding late and we put the ball in his hands and let him go to work a little bit,” said Kinn.

          Beaston had 27 points in the win over Upper and Kinn says he possesses all of the elements of a very good player.  “He has an incredible basketball I.Q.  He gets a lot of attention for his shooting ability, but I think his ability to pass the basketball and his ability to get his teammates in the right spots and on the same page and just understand the flow of the game is outstanding,” he said.

          Tiffin Columbian (5-1,3-0) is at Vermilion (4-3,1-2) on Wednesday night.  The Sailors lost a division game (54-37) to Norwalk last week.

          Kinn says they have some physical players and they can shoot it too.  “They are big, they are physical, they play really, really hard.  They shoot a lot of threes and they have two very physical kids on the inside that they try and get the ball to a lot.  So, we will have to come ready to play after a long bus ride,” he said.

          Clyde (3-2,2-0) comes calling on Saturday night.

          Kinn says that is always a tough game for them.  “They have kind of been a thorn in our side the last few years.  They always game plan and prepare very well.  We are playing a little bit faster this year, so it should be a fun game to watch and hopefully we can come out on top this time,” Kinn told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday.

 

Published 12/30/20

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Bellevue Looking for Good Shots Against Norwalk

 

          Bellevue will be after its first win of the season as they travel to Norwalk on Saturday night for a game against the Truckers in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

          A game against Perkins set for Wednesday has been postponed because the Pirates are on quarantine.

          Last week, the Redmen fell to Tiffin Columbian (73-61) and coach Ed Rich says they didn’t handle the press as well as he would have liked.  “We went there and it was a tough matchup for us.  They have four guys that can really put it in the hoop and you can’t really focus on one of them.  We tried to take away the best scoring options and the guy we feel is their fourth option had 19 points and four threes.  We did some pretty good things.  We really emphasized handling their pressure,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “They like to get up and pressure and I think what that did was I don’t want say… scared is not the right word, but it is the only thing that comes to my mind.  We were kind of worried so much about the pressure that we made their pressure on us more than we should have.”

          Bellevue (0-4,0-2) is at Norwalk (3-5,2-0) on Saturday night.

          Rich says the Truckers may be under .500, but they still have a team that is hard to prepare for.  “They are still a good basketball team.  Anytime coach Gray has a team it’s not going to matter they are going to be well coached, well prepared.  They are a tough matchup for us.  There is no doubt they have some big guys.  The (Garrett) Chapin kid is extremely versatile and he is going to be a really tough matchup for us.  Their size is going to be tough.  We are finally going to get a full week practice in, maybe one of out first full weeks of practice all year.  So, hopefully we have worked on the things we need to work on and we can go out there and compete with them and pull one off at Norwalk,” he said.

          Norwalk plays excellent half court defense and Rich says they would like to beat them down the floor.  “We are definitely putting the ball in the basket better than we did last year, which is nice.  Wouldn’t mind pushing the pace a little bit and try and catch them out of position.  They defend well.  Norwalk is always known for defending.  Their kids get after it.  We will get multiple looks on defense.  They are going to faceguard your best scorer, we will see some zone, 1-2-2.  If we can push it up and out athlete them, I like our chances in that one,” said Rich.

 

Published 12/30/20

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Defense the Key For Mansfield Senior

 

          Mansfield Senior finally gets on the floor for a basketball game that counts on Tuesday night when they host rival Madison in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game at Pete Henry Gym.

          With some district imposed quarantines and the dealing with Richland County being designated purple, the Tygers have postponed or cancelled nine games of the season.  They are the last of the more than 80 schools covered by Swankonsports.com to begin the season.

          Coach Marquis Sykes says his kids can’t wait to tip it off on Tuesday night.  “We had an exciting walk through and shoot around (Monday).  I think the just guys are certainly motivated and ready to step on the floor and compete against another team.  It just adds to the motivation with it being our cross town rival Madison Rams.  So, the guys will be motivated and ready to play and I am hoping some of that adrenalin will help carry us through because we are not in very good shape at this point,” he said.

          The Tygers started practicing last Monday after almost three weeks of no court time.

          With their lack of action and playing together, and even Madison’s limited game experience, Sykes says they are going to have to adapt, which is something they have been drilling the kids about.  “That is really what we have preached most of the preseason to our guys.  We have related basketball to life at this point and you have to make adjustments in life with our job schedules and child care just like life in general,” he told Swankpnsports.com on Monday night, “It is not different with what we are doing with basketball we have had to make major adjustments with our daily schedules, our routines, and not knowing what’s going on and if we are going to practice, where we are going to practice, all that different stuff.  It has been a lot of growth through these periods for our guys and growing into themselves and becoming young men.  So, I hope that same maturation process will carry over onto the basketball court and the guys are able to adjust on the fly and make needed adjustments throughout a game plan.”

          Mansfield Senior play its first game against Madison (0-3,0-2) on Tuesday night.  The Rams lost (55-43) to Mt. Vernon in a conference game last week.

          Sykes says defense will make the difference in this game.  “I always expect them to play hard.  Coach Mergel always makes sure those guys get out on the floor and get after it.  They are a really tough team to beat when they are making shots, so we are going to have to be ready to defend and take away their dribble penetration and take away their open looks from three.  If we can do those two things in the game, I think it will be competitive as long as we don’t get in there and try and do too much and stay within ourselves and stay within the game plan and allow the things that we have been preaching and coaching to play out in the game,” said Sykes.

 

Published 12/29/20

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Madison Plays Arch Rival Mansfield Senior

 

          Madison travels across town to Mansfield Senior in an Ohio Cardinal Conference basketball game on Tuesday night.

          It will the Tygers first game of the season.  They are last school of the more than 80 schools in the Swankonsports.com coverage area to open the season.

          Madison has only played three games itself.  The last being a (55-43) loss to Mt. Vernon last Tuesday.

          Coach Tim Mergel they have suffered through a lack of consistency so far.  “With the practices kind of being hit and miss we are not getting any kind of continuity quite yet, hopefully we are getting there.  At this point you have to try and find your identity and we are getting there.  The kids are coming in and they are responding in practice every day.  We have had some good halves and we have played some bad halves.  We haven’t put it all together for 32 minutes,” he said.

          When it comes to Mansfield Senior, Mergel says it’s true there isn’t any film from actual games to view, but there are certain things you understand about Tyger basketball teams.  “There are a couple ends of the spectrum here.  There are teams like Ashland in our conference that have played eight or nine games, Mansfield Senior hasn’t played a game at all, and we are sitting here at three games.  You can say that you are a little ahead of them, but they are going to be ready to go.  It’s week five and they haven’t played yet and I’m sure they can’t wait to get out there and play in some live game situations.  We don’t know what to expect, but we do know it’s Mansfield Senior,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “What they bring to the table is going to be some athleticism, some dribble drive penetration, and the ability to beat you on the glass.  I don’t think any of their fundamentals and kind of non-negotiables have changed and that is kind of what we are banking on and trying to take away.”

          Madison also plays Wooster, in a conference game, and Sandusky, in a non-league game, next wek and Mergel says the style of these teams is going to be pretty similar.  “Our schedule kind of sets us up in that we have three opponents that play a similar style in Mansfield Senior, Wooster, and Sandusky.  It’s a good thing that we are kind of jumping in with the way the schedule is going.  They are going to be fisty and they are going to be eager to play.  They have some new kids that moved in.  I’m sure they are going to try and make an impression of their new teammates.  So, it’s going to be fun to not only get the Mansfield Senior-Madison game going on Tuesday, but it’s going to be good to have everybody in the conference back to playing some basketball,” he said.

 

Published 12/29/20

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Wooster to Lock Horns With Shelby

 

          Wooster, unbeaten and the defending Ohio Cardinal Conference champion, host Shelby, undefeated and the defending Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference champ, in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.

          The Generals are coming off a huge come from behind win over Ashland (78-75) in “OCC” play last Tuesday.

          Coach Michael Snowbarger says they put together a run in the fourth quarter.  “It was a game of runs, we were just lucky enough to get that last run.  Ashland came at us in the third quarter and they took a seven point lead into the fourth quarter and we made our run in the fourth quarter.  That is what good basketball teams do make runs.  I thought we did it in the fourth quarter.  In the end when you watch the game on film there were some things down the stretch that I didn’t necessarily like that we have to sharpen up and get better as we move along in the season,” said Snowbarger.

          Right now, Snowbarger says the Generals are not as good as they can be, but they are doing enough good things to win.  “Learning lessons while winning is a great thing in sports and that is kind of what we did.  We made enough plays down the stretch to win it, but we need to sure some things up.  All things considered after three games in the conference being 3-0 and beating Ashland on the road was a huge win for us.  It was good to see the kids rally.  Moving into these next two very challenging non-conference games, it’s nice to have those three under our belts,” he said.

          Wooster (3-0) entertains Shelby (4-0) on Tuesday night.  Whippets beat Lima Senior (73-69) in a non-conference game and Marion Pleasant (66-51) in a “MOAC” game last week.

          Snowbarger says they play a lot like his team does.  “Shelby is a very good basketball team.  They have two very good players that we are going to have to watch.  They are very similar to us when we watch them on film.  When you look at them and look at us, it is a very similar makeup.  It’s a great non-conference game for us.  I am excited to get them on the schedule because as a coach I love to challenge the kids in the non-conference schedule, to beef that up as much as possible,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “Shelby fits right into that way of thinking.  Coming off a very good season last year and a very good football season.  They have some good athletes and we are going to have to make sure we give them our best because they are going to come at us and play extremely hard.”

          With the way both teams attack the game, Snowbarger says it will likely be another game of runs.  “Obviously, we want to get some stops, but this is probably going to be another game like last Tuesday against Ashland.  It is going to be a game of runs.  We just have to get that last run.  We have to stick with our strategy and our philosophy of basketball of getting after it and creating some offense from our defense and hopefully we get that last run again,” he said.

 

Published 12/29/20

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Ashland Needs to Get Back on the Beam

 

          Ashland suffered its first loss in Ohio Cardinal Conference action last week to defending champ Wooster and they need to get right back to winning as they at West Holmes in a conference game on Tuesday night.

          Last week, it was a game when the lead changed hands a number of times and there were runs by both sides.  Wooster ended up on top (78-75) last Tuesday.

          Arrows coach Jason Hess says they kind of ran out of gas in the fourth quarter and didn’t make the defensive players needed to win the game.  “It was definitely a rollercoaster ride so to speak.  In the game we didn’t start off well.  We really stormed out of halftime with a great third quarter and then unfortunately in the fourth quarter kind of ran out of gas.  We were unable to get the stops on the offensive side of the floor when we needed them.  We had some costly turnovers that led to some easy buckets for them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Give Wooster credit they had a lead early, gave up the lead, then just battled back and kept fighting the whole game.  Their kids did a nice job and unfortunately for us we kind of ran out of gas there and didn’t make some of the plays we needed to down the stretch and Wooster got the win.”

          Ashland (6-2,2-1) will be down at West Holmes (5-1,1-1) on Tuesday night.  The Knights beat Carrollton (44-28) in a non-conference game last week.  They also lost to Wooster (63-52) in their last conference game on December 15.

          They have a new coach in former assistant Don Hall and Hess they have found the recipe for winning.  “I think this is a West Holmes team that is surprising a lot of people in the area.  They have got off to a tremendous start with a new coach.  It is a game for us that we talked to our guys about (Monday) that one of our goals was to compete for a league championship and give ourselves a chance to win an “OCC” title.  Stubbing our toe against Wooster now gives us a little more implication in all of these other games and really makes them more important.  West Holmes has the same record as us in the league as far as the loss column.  It is a really important game for our guys to play down there,” said Hess.

          Hess says they realize the importance of this game as far as the “OCC” goes.  He says they have to be ready to play.  “This not a team to overlook and take lightly.  They play a little different style than we do, but their record indicates that they are able to win games.  That’s the important thing, not how you do it, but coming up with a win.  So, definitely we need to get back on focus.  We took some time off around the holiday and now have guys back getting ready to go after a couple of days off and a couple short practices before we play,” he said.

 

Published 12/29/20

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Lexington Must Adapt

 

          Lexington plays its first Ohio Cardinal Conference game of the season on Tuesday night at Mt. Vernon and they end the week with a home and home against Clear Fork in non-conference play.

          The Minutemen opened the season by playing three games in five days ending with a (34-33) win over Lucas last Wednesday.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says it’s hard to get better if you are not on the floor and those games were a plus for them.  “I think it was beneficial to us just like anybody else to get out on the floor, we had had so much time off that we were hurting by not being able to get into competition and play games, so once we were able to get those three games on our schedule, and all three of them were last minute additions if you will, it gave us a little opportunity to grow and gave some more added things to the list I guess for us to work on.  We are always about that to just make ourselves better,” he said.

          Lexington (2-1,0-0) heads south for Mt. Vernon to play the Jackets (1-5,1-3) on Tuesday night.  Mt. Vernon is coming off it’s first win of the season in a (55-43) victory at Madison last Tuesday.

          Hamilton says the Jackets can do a lot of different things.  “They have played a few more games than we have and they have played some pretty good competition.  In typical fashion, we tell the kids it doesn’t matter who we are playing on the conference, we have to throw the records out.  We are going to their place, which has always been a tough place for us to perform.  They have some nice kids inside and out,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday evening, “They have a couple of veterans from the last couple of years in Blake Meyer and Beau Bridges and Burgess, so we are going to have to be ready for those guys.  They have an arsenal that they can throw a couple of different things at you both offensively and defensively.  So, for my young team, we had to work on a lot of different possibilities and hope what they put on the floor, we have covered.”

          Then the Minutemen are at Clear Fork (3-3) on Wednesday and turn right around almost and host them on Saturday.  The Colts beat Northwestern (77-60) on Monday night.

          Hamilton says both schools like playing two games in a season, but it was COVID that forced them to be so close together.  “A couple of years ago, we were looking for a game and so were they and we were already on the schedule and we both felt because of our location that a home and away was good for us even though we weren’t in conference.  We just started scheduling one at each during the same season.  Well, when the very first game of the year got postponed and we had to reschedule it, we tried to get it made up as soon as we could and it just worked out that we are playing Wednesday and back again on Saturday.  Hopefully, we will be able to make a quick turnaround with the holiday in between,” said Hamilton.

 

Published 12/29/20

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Mt. Vernon at Home for Lexington

 

          Mt. Vernon plays a home game for the first time in more than three weeks as the Jackets host Lexington in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Tuesday night.

          They play Marion Harding on Wednesday and Newark on Saturday in non-conference home games.

          The Yellow Jackets rallied in the second half to beat Madison (55-43) last Tuesday in a league game.

          Coach Nick Coon says that was a key win for them.  “Especially going into Christmas to play the second half that we did at Madison when things weren’t looking really good in the first half it is a credit to our kids for their response, their resiliency.  They could have easily questioned themselves, questioned things we were doing or trying to do, but instead they kind of bounded together and brought thing back on the right track and played our best two quarters of the season so far and got a win that we really needed to boost our confidence.  We are hoping that can act as a springboard moving forward and we can carry that momentum into some home games coming up here,” said Coon.

          Mt. Vernon (1-5,1-3) plays at home against Lexington (2-1,0-0) on Tuesday night.  The Minutemen got a win in their last outing (34-33) over Lucas in a non-conference game last Wednesday.

          Coon says they have different personnel, but they still execute very well at both ends.  “They kind of got a late start with game action, but they got three games in here right away, right when they were able to start playing.  It is a completely different team than we saw from Lexington last year because they lost a number of seniors, but with coach Hamilton and their program you know they are going to run their stuff offensively.  They are going to be schooled defensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “It’s not going to be a high paced game.  It will be a difficult game for us and we are looking forward to the challenge.  We are glad to be playing the game and we are glad to be getting a home game after being on the road for four straight.”

          Execution is key against Lexington, according to Coon, because if you don’t the Minutemen will take advantage.  “They will make you pay for your defensive mistakes because they do run their stuff well.  They have a lot of new faces to the varsity level, like we do.  In some ways they are very similar to what we are this year as far as guys learning roles at the varsity level, learning what it takes to compete at the varsity level on a consistent basis.  We are looking forward to the matchup.  Being back home after four straight on the road we are excited about.  We actually have three home games this week that we are looking forward to.  Even though it is not our full crowd that we have, it is still our family and friends and it is our more comfortable environment being in our gym,” he said.

 

Published 12/29/20

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Lucas to Keep Building

 

          Lucas is having some concerns right now putting the ball in the basket, but as time goes on, there is more than a pretty good chance that they are going to be a solid team.

          They host Mansfield Christian on Monday and Loudonville on Saturday in Mid-Buckeye Conference games and sandwiched between on Tuesday they go to Berlin Hiland to play Worthington Christian in the First Federal Showcase.

          Coach Taylor Iceman says they are busy working out the kinks on the offensive end.  “We are working on it.  We are so young this year.  I am trying to take positives out of it.  You would like to think if you held Lexington and South Central to under 40 points you would hope to win at least one of those two and it just didn’t happen.  We are young and I keep telling them we have to learn and learn to play together and we are getting better, but it is frustrating.  I was talking to my assistant coaches on the way home the other night as said I don’t know if I would rather lose like this or just get blown out by 20 points, but we are going to keep working on it.  The thing is we are getting looks and we just aren’t making them right now.  We are missing free throws and not making three points shots.  That will all come with time, but is just super frustrating right now.  I’m frustrated, the kids are frustrated.  We have so many guys that are trying to figure out how to play with each other.  My two seniors Ethan (Sauder) and Ethan (Wallace) are playing completely different roles than they have ever done.  I think they are trying to do a little too much because they want the team to do well and they feel like they need to do that.  We figure it out.  The good thing is we are playing great defense.  My guys play hard every single night.  As long as we play hard, good things will happen.  It stinks right now, but it is going to benefit us in the long run,” said Iceman.

          Lucas (2-3,1-1) is at home for Mansfield Christian (1-5,0-3) on Monday night.  The Flames lost (47-40) to Kidron Central Christian in a conference game last Monday.

          Iceman says they are young and getting better.  “They just keep improving.  They have been young the last few years, so it’s a lot of the same kids.  I know they have a pretty talented freshman.  He was out the first few games and has been back for the last couple.  So, they are going to be improved.  A lot of our games this year, it’s about us.  If we go out and keep getting better this year every night than that’s all I can ask for.  It has been so frustrating.  We are right there and we can’t put it together offensively.  It’s another opportunity to go out and try and get better offensively.  We have played some pretty good teams and we just hope to get back to league play here.  We dropped a game to Crestline, but we are hungry for the league.  We can’t go 26-1 this year.  We have already lost three games, but we can still go out and win our league and that is goal number one for us.  Just keep getting better, so when tournament rolls around we are going to be a completely different team,” said Iceman.

          Worthington Christian was not the school Lucas was originally going to play.  They beat a very good Centerburg team (70-21) last week.  Iceman says they are very talented.  “It is another COVID situation.  The team we were scheduled to play is quarantined because of a team they played, Caldwell, a smaller school, kind of similar to us, and just found out (Saturday) that they were not going to be able to be there.  We are going to play Worthington Christian.  I have done a little bit of research on them.  Once upon a time they were in the “MBC” when I was young and growing up they were always really good.  In the ’99 and ’00 years when Lucas was really good, we ran into them in the regionals and stuff like that.  So, I know what kind of basketball history they have.  It is what it is and we are going to take it as an opportunity to go out and play a really good team.  We are supposed to lose, right?  So, what do we have to lose?  It is only going to make us better in the long run.  That is a lot of what our schedule has turned into this year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday night, “We beefed the schedule up thinking we were going to be one team and they way it has worked out with what happened to Riley (Gossom) and everything that has gone on.  We are going to go out and get better, try and win our league, and when tournament time rolls around, I will have a bunch of young guys that aren’t so young anymore and I wouldn’t want to play us at that point.  We have to go through the growing pains of a season.  It will be a good experience for our kids to go down to Berlin Hiland.  They will be playing as well, so we will get to watch them.  It is one of those holiday tournaments and it’s a cool opportunity for the kids and the team to be together.  We will take advantage of it, but they are going to be a tall task.”

 

Published 12/28/20

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Western Playing Well, Getting Healthy

 

          Western Reserve shares first place in the Firelands Conference with Norwalk St. Paul heading into a matchup at Plymouth on Monday night in conference action.

          A game with Monroeville on Wednesday has been cancelled because the Eagles are on quarantine.  Norwalk St. Paul and Crestview are also currently pausing play due to the COVID-19 virus.

          The Roughriders beat rival South Central (54-42) last Wednesday.

          Coach Chris Sheldon says they did the things are that good basketball teams are supposed to do.  “With the exception of the second half lull that we went through there for about five minutes at the end of the day you know you are playing a good basketball team and they made a nice run and their kids adjusted to some things throughout the second half, which put them in that situation.  You went into the day just wanting to get a “W” and we did that.  We did that by closing the deal just like you would expect from a good basketball team in the last four minutes of a close basketball game in the fourth quarter.  There was some good, there were some learning curves from it, but also finished strong and it gave us ultimately what we wanted and still a chance to play for a league title and being in first place in last December,” said Sheldon.

          Fore much of the season the Roughriders have been without Cory Hipp and Adam Lewis.  However, Sheldon says they are working them back into the lineup.  “We have both guys back now.  They are both getting rotational minutes, both not ready yet to be back in the starting lineup, but everyday that they get more court time and more reps as we practice over the last week since our last game you see the gains they are making individually, which is ultimately going to increase our depth and our ability to be a little more explosive than we already are, so that is a huge plus for us right now,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “Being 5-1 and tied for first place in the league and you have done that knowing that you still don’t have two starters back.  They are still working their way back in, that’s a huge plus, hopefully, we will continue to see those gains the more we get game time with them and practice time we know ultimately that is going to be a win for us.”

          Western Reserve (5-1,3-0) is at Plymouth (1-6,0-4) on Monday night.  The Big Red is coming on a (63-59) loss to New London in conference play last Wednesday.

          Sheldon says they Big Red some talent and they can not take them for granted.  “They are a basketball team that I think has three really good basketball players.  They are just a team right now that hasn’t figured how to be consistent for four quarters.  So, you can’t take them lightly even though when you look at their record you see what their record says.  It is still early.  They are still in the process of trying to figure out how to play the game without Walker Elliott, who could control everything for them at both ends of the floor.  We don’t want them to figure that our against us.  Our respect for them and our ability to go out and execute our game plan is of our upmost importance.  We can’t worry what their record is, we know that we have to try and go out and be 1-0 (Monday) night,” he said.

 

Published 12/28/20

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Upper Sandusky Continuing to Play Well

 

          Upper Sandusky is doing its best to build some momentum this season and hopefully they will get three chances to play this week.

          They host Tiffin Columbian in a non-conference game on Monday and play at Buckeye Central Wednesday and at home against Seneca East Saturday in Northern 10 Athletic Conference games.

          They beat Wynford (66-58) in their last outing on Tuesday in a conference game.

          Coach Jeff Winslow says getting some practice in has allowed them to fix some things.  “We have some practice under our belts with all of our guys here lately and our guys playing and getting in a little rhythm and getting some work done.  It was nice to play some games early on because we didn’t have those scrimmages and figure out what we need to get better at and I think we have gotten better at those things.  We are not perfect yet, but we are playing a lot better right now,” he said.

          The Rams entertain Columbian (4-1) on Monday night.  The Tornadoes are coming off a (73-61) win over Bellevue in Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division action last Wednesday.

          Winslow says they play a lot like his team has over the years and they can light up the scoreboard.  “They are really good.  The (Logan) Beaston kid, sophomore, as soon as he walks in the gym it is within his range.  He can really shoot the basketball and he is good other than that too, he can take you off the dribble and things like that, so he is a tough guard.  They have a bunch of guys that can drive, shoot it, and are athletic.  It is interesting, they are kind of playing like we have played for the last few years,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday night, “They get out and run and jump up and trap you and push the basketball hard and take you off the bounce.  They play five guards for the most part.  The (L.J.) Reaves kid is really good too, he is as really good scorer and the (Bryce) Burns kid, he can really shoot from the outside.  It is going to be a tough matchup for us because they are really athletic and playing well right now.  It will be a good non conference test for us.”

          Upper Sandusky (4-2,3-1) pays a visit to Buckeye Central (3-4,1-2) on Wednesday night in “N10” play.  The Bucks lost a non-conference game to Crestview (53-45) last Monday, but had won their last two before that.

          Tom Howell has taken the reins there and Winslow says he has already started to turn them around.  “I have known Tommy (Howell) for a long time.  Back when I was coaching in the Firelands he was coaching at New London.  He always did a great job there and it was a great hire by them.  He really has them playing, sound, fundamental basketball.  They have some size and some athletes and he is doing a really good job with them.  They compete, it doesn’t matter who they play, it is going to be a competitive basketball game.  I watched the Colonel Crawford game and they are right in the ballgame in the fourth quarter.  It kind of got away in the end.  They are a lot more competitive now and he is doing a really good job and it is going to be another tough assignment for us going over there,” said Winslow.

 

Published 12/28/20

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Vermilion Must Slow Down Columbian

 

          Vermilion hosts Tiffin Columbian in a Lake Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference on Monday night.

          A game they had scheduled against Columbia on Monday has been cancelled due to the fact Lorain County teams are now only playing conference games.

          Last Wednesday, Vermilion feel to Norwalk (54-37) in a division game and coach Kurt Habermehl says they just couldn’t throw it in the ocean that night.  “We just couldn’t put the ball in the basket.  I think in the first half we missed four pretty open layups, four wide open threes and missed a couple of free throws.  If you don’t make those against a good defensive team like Norwalk, you are probably going to be in a little bit of trouble,” he said.

          We are the middle of the Christmas holiday break right now and Habermehl, who has been in coaching a longtime, says this can be a difficult time to keep a team on the beam.  “They are especially hard to go through because the kids aren’t on a regular schedule,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “Even though we have been online most of the school year, the kids were still forced to be on a schedule throughout the entire day, now they don’t have any set schedule, they stay up later, they are sleeping in possibly a little later if we don’t have practice, they are probably not eating at their normal times.  So, the holidays tend to cause a little bit of problems.”

          Vermilion (4-3,1-2) is at home for Tiffin Columbian (4-1,3-0) on Wednesday night.  The Tornadoes beat Bellevue (73-61) last Wednesday and share the division lead.

          Habermehl says they can score points in a hurry and their job is to slow that tempo down some.  “Just fantastic athletes.  They really do a good job of pushing the basketball.  They remind me of some teams I had a couple of years ago.  They look fore more possessions and the more shots they can get up it seems like the better they are.  Against a team like that you really have to control your turnovers.  You have to limit how many times they go up and down the floor as far as shots.  You really have to value your possessions,” said Habermehl.

 

Published 12/28/20

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Clear Fork Showing Improvement

 

          Clear Fork entertains Ontario in a girls’ basketball game in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference on Wednesday night at Les Hauenstein Gymnasium.

          Over the last week, the Lady Colts are starting to put some things together with wins over Hillsdale (72-50) in a non-conference game and Galion (77-29) in a conference game then lost to Wooster Triway (61-51) in a non-conference game on Saturday.

          Coach Scott Seller says they are starting to figure some things out.  “We got pretty big wins against Hillsdale and Galion last week.  It just felt like after the River Valley game the week before the team came together.  He did a lot of little things better last week, especially in those games, boxing out, pushing tempo, our press was pretty good.  Then we played a super skilled team in Triway.  They were fast, they had seven people that could handle the ball.  I was really impressed with what those girls could do, hats off to them.  They played really well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening, “Then we have Ontario (Wednesday) night.  They have been really good in the league the last few years.  The (Carleigh) Pearson girl is really good.  So, we expect a good battle.  I think our kids are ready to play.  I think Ontario has had their way with us they last several years.  I think the kids are excited to get out and compete.”

          Sellers believes it is very important that they be able to compete with the best teams on their schedule, which they haven’t done in recent years. “As a program the last three years we really haven’t beaten anybody in the league.  I think they have one win against Ontario, but that is basically about it, we have beaten Galion some, but everybody else has beaten Clear Fork handily.  I think this year we are stressing a lot of little things to the kids, getting in shape, playing hard the entire game.  When you get a couple of wins things just suddenly look better, the kids just play harder and we get a chance to do that again (Wednesday) night right before Christmas, right before the little break that we have, and hopefully get a win against what we expect to be a very competitive team,” said Sellers.

          Clear Fork (2-3,1-1) is at home for Ontario (0-2,0-1) on Wednesday.  The Lady Warriors lost (48-45) to River Valley in a league game last Friday.

          Sellers says Ontario features a lot more experience than they do.  “They are older, they have a lot of girls with varsity minutes.  We are playing now two freshmen, four sophomores, we lost four starters from last year, and it has taken us a little bit to get our legs under us.  I would venture to guess we are one of the least experienced teams that is in the “MOAC” this year and we know that and we are trying to own that.  Again, we are just trying to go out, and a cliché as it is, to get better every single practice.  It feels like we have done that the last week and a half.  We expect them to be able to handle pressure, we expect them to be able to run their offense, we are really going to have to be sharp as we attempt to defend home court,” he said.

 

Published 12/23/20

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South Central With Big Test at Western

 

          South Central has continually played improved basketball this season and they face a big exam on Wednesday night at Western Reserve against the Firelands Conference preseason favorite.

          The two schools have either won or shared the conference title in four of the last five years and both are unbeaten in conference games so far this year.

          The Trojans beat Crestview (67-61) in overtime in a conference game last Friday and added a (40-35) win over Lucas in a non-conference game on Saturday.

          Coach Brett Seidel says they are starting to get in a little bit of a grove.  “We are growing and making a lot of progress.  We have talked a lot about process and how we missed out on some opportunities to figure out what we actually had where we went as a team and we are starting to grow into that a little bit,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “The opponents continue to get tougher and tougher and the kids are playing some pretty good basketball.  The consistency is coming and is something that is still in process, but overall we are pleased with the progress.”

          Seidel and varsity assistant Pat Durham are quarantined and the team was coached last weekend, and will be on Wednesday, by head football coach, and junior varsity basketball coach Corey Fickiesen.  Seidel says he has done a great job.  “He stepped in Friday and Saturday and he is coaching them again (Wednesday) night.  The kids wouldn’t be able to play games, they would just have to practice unless he stepped up in that role, so I am grateful for him,” he said.

          South Central (6-0,4-0) is at Western Reserve (4-1,2-0) on Wednesday.  The Roughriders are coming off conference wins over Crestview (97-59) on Saturday and Mapleton (76-48) on Monday.

          Seidel says this is the best team they have played this year.  “They are a different animal.  They have a lot of everything.  They have a lot of height, a lot of length, a lot of skill, a lot of athleticism, they are well coached, they play very hard, and they are deep.  It is just really, really hard to find a weakness.  When you watch their films, watch their games, how they are coached, it’s just hard to find a weakness,” said Seidel.

          He adds they can score points in bunches and that is something the Trojans must contain.  “They have so many kids that can make shots, the (Luke) Rowlinson kid, the (John) Skrada kid go without mentioning, but they have a lot of other kids that can make shots.  The runs, they can make a bunch of shots in a row and that’s what you have to avoid,” he said.

          Rowlinson leads the Firelands Conference in scoring with (24.0) a game and Skrada shoots 55% from the field and 84% from the line.

          Seidel says this is a great opportunity for them.  “It’s unfortunate that we are going through what we are going through.  I would foresee that this game would be a sellout in a normal year, but this is not a normal year, but I am thankful, grateful that these kids have earned the right to play in a big game this early in the year and thankful that they actually get to play the game,” he said.

 

Published 12/23/20

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Western Reserve Hosts Improving South Central

 

          The basketball rivalry between Western Reserve and South Central has been at the forefront of the Firelands Conference for the last half decade or more and it renews on Wednesday night at Western.

          Western is (2-0) in the conference and South Central is (4-0) so far.  Norwalk St. Paul is the only other school with an unbeaten conference record.

          Coming off a two week quarantine, the Roughriders beat Norwalk (64-58) in a non-conference game and Crestview (97-59) and Mapleton (76-48) in conference games last week.

          Coach Chris Sheldon says they really haven’t missed a beat.  “It just reiterates what my players tell me all of the time that practice is over ratted, but it helps if you have some guys that can play.  I’m sure they did things on their own because of their love of the game and what not.  We have jumped right back into it with a plan of how we wanted to attack it on playing on very little practice time and our guys have responded and responded well so far,” said Sheldon.

          The Western coach says that fitness has not been an issue.  “We only have a guy or two that we are worried about fitness because they are coming off injuries and are getting back into the rotation over the last week.  They are still trying to get their legs under them and that’s about it.  Our other guys don’t look like they have missed a beat,” he said.

          Western Reserve (4-1,2-0) hosts South Central (6-0,4-0) on Wednesday night.  The Trojans are coming off their two best wins of the season last week when they beat Crestview (67-61) in overtime and Lucas (40-35) in a Saturday night non-conference game.

          Sheldon says the Trojans have found their form.  “Anytime you lose the caliper of players that they lost from a year ago it is a process, it takes some time getting used to new roles and playing without guys that have been on the floor of their entire careers and you have seen that progression with them.  Obviously, anybody that knows anything about them knows it starts with David Lamoreaux, who is just an elite high school basketball player athletically and just with his skill set on both the ability to go inside and step out and take you off the bounce.  He is a tremendous, tremendous challenge for us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “Now, you see some of those other guys now that they are six games into it they are starting to get comfortable in their role at the varsity level.  The (Jackson) McCormack kid has really stood out to me as well as Sammy Seidel and their other guys are starting to make shots and understanding what it takes to play at both ends of the floor.”

          Lamoreaux shoots 55% from the field and is third in the conference is rebounding (9.2)  and blocks (1.2) and Seidel leads the Firelands in assists (5.0) and steals (3.8) per game. 

          Western’s Luke Rowlinson leads the conference in scoring (24.0) per game.

          Sheldon says this shapes up as another good match-up.  “I think it is going to be another one of those classic Western Reserve-South Central basketball games and I wouldn’t expect anything less.  For us we have to be able to make some plays, understand our defensive assignments, and just compete for 32 minutes.  If we do that good things will happen or otherwise we are going to be up against it,” he said.

 

Published 12/23/20

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Colonel Crawford to be Tested by Clyde

 

          Colonel Crawford faces one of its biggest challenges yet this season as they host division II Clyde of the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference on Wednesday night in a non-conference game.

          It was a tremendous weekend for the Eagles as they beat Mohawk (56-53) on Friday and Wynford (70-45) on Saturday to take first place to themselves in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

          Coach David Sheldon says those were big wins for his ballclub.  “Friday night was a dogfight that is a very good Mohawk team as you could see on Saturday night they went on the road, back to back road games, and won at Carey by double figures.  It was a great win for us, it was a game of runs back and forth, and we were fortunate enough to make the last run and come away with a good win against a senior dominated with the three really good guards,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “Saturday, you don’t want a let down and we got off to great start against Wynford and I thought our defense caused some offense.  Anytime you can get back to back league wins early in the season that is a good start in the long haul of a league schedule.”

          Colonel Crawford (7-0) hosts Clyde (2-1) on Wednesday night.  The Fliers earned a (56-50) win over Sandusky in Lake Division play on Saturday night.

          Sheldon says this is an athletic team with a tremendous amount of toughness.  “This is a very good basketball team coming down here Wednesday night.  You look at their guards with (Jaden) Cook and (Shane) Holman, they are very, very good and they have other guys around them in the (Brady) Wilson kid, and (Caden) Berger and the (Grant) McMaster kid inside.  The word in Johnny Marshall is coming back, that’s what we keep hearing, who is a great athlete that they put on the floor.  When you think of Clyde, you think of tough kids. You think of that great football program that Ryan Carter has going on, these are tough kids.  So, it is going to be a great non-league test to see how we match our toughness versus a good Clyde team.  They have very good skill with their players,” said Sheldon.

          This is a game that Colonel Crawford just picked up last week and Sheldon says these are the kind of non-conference games they want to play.  “These are the kind of games that you want non-league.  I always say non-leagues prepare you for district tournaments if you schedule really good teams and this is what we want to see what we have to do to get better against a really good basketball team.  I know our kids are excited to play a very good team that’s very well coached.  Watching Clyde they run good stuff offensively and defensively, so we are looking forward to getting a chance to play again before Christmas,” he said.

 

Published 12/23/20

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Crestview Faces Athletic Monroeville

 

          Crestview, now two games back in the Firelands Conference standings, plays at home against the Monroeville Eagles in a conference game on Wednesday night.

          The Cougars came into last weekend unbeaten, but would lose (67-61) in overtime to South Central on Friday and (97-59) to Western Reserve on Saturday.

          Coach John Kurtz says it was a tough way to lose to the Trojans, who got a tip in to send the game to overtime, and it affected their effort on Saturday.  “We were concerned how our kids would react to the loss to South Central and we really didn’t play very well in the loss at Western, but it was a very good team also.  So, we got back to some basics on Sunday and we were able to bounce back a little against Buckeye Central, but those were tough losses, especially the one to South Central,” said Kurtz.’

          Crestview beat Buckeye Central (53-45) in a non-conference game on Monday and Kurtz says it was good to get back on the court.  “We were anxious to get into practice.  I was anxious to get us into another game.  Buckeye is a good team, really starting to turn it around.  They are a physical group of guys.  It was a good win for us, a solid win.  Tom (Howell) is doing a really good job at Buckeye Central,” he said.

          Crestview (5-2,1-2) plays Monroeville (4-2,2-1) on Wednesday.  The Eagles beat Plymouth (51-38) in a conference game last Friday and added (64-56) win over Hardin-Northern in non conference play on Saturday.

          Kurtz says Monroeville is good at a lot of things.  “I think Monroeville has a nice team.  They look like they have quite a few kids that can score the basketball, they are athletic.  The (Isaac) Roeder kid is really good, but they have more than just him,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have shooters on the wings and have a nice post player that really cleans the glass.  It will be a real challenge for us.  I think just their athleticism will be something we will really have to pay attention to.”

          Roeder is one of the scoring leaders in the Conference (23.0 ppg), is second in the conference in rebounding (10.2) and leads in blocked shots (1.8) this year.

          Kurtz says he is a difference maker.  “It is tough to guard him just one on one.  I think you have to provide some help.  He is not just a one dimensional player, so I think you have to be careful with him driving and really elevate and I also think he can make shots.  He is a multi dimensional player when it comes to the offensive end and you have to know where he is at at all times,” said Kurtz.

 

Published 12/23/20

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Norwalk Has to do Little Things

 

          Norwalk just can’t seem to get over the final couple of hurdles and win some games.  They get another chance on Wednesday night at home against Vermilion in a Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division game.

          The Tuckers have lost their last three in a row, including (72-55) to Willard last Saturday.  They are still in a share of first in the division having won their only division game over Perkins (55-43) a couple of weeks ago.

          Coach Steve Gray says they need to find ways to get it done.  “We are still struggling and we are still looking.  We have great kids to work with, they are nice kids, and we just have to find a way of getting them to play a little better on both ends of the floor,” he said.

          Norwalk (2-5,1-0) plays host to Vermilion (4-2,1-1) on Wednesday.  The Sailors beat Bellevue (47-46) in a division game last Thursday and Port Clinton (45-40) in a cross over game on Saturday.

          Gray says the most impressive thing about the Sailors is how hard they play all of the time.  “They are athletic and they play really, really hard.  If we don’t want to compete on the boards and if we are not willing to sprint back defensively it could be a long night, but I think our kids understand what it’s going to take and hopefully we will get a little better this week,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday evening.

          Norwalk was a division II district finalist that returns three starters.  Gray says they need to play with more confidence.  “Some teams find ways to win and sometimes teams find ways to end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard.  Right now, we are struggling with a little bit of confidence.  We just need to get our heads screwed on right and play hard and do the little things that make winning possible,” said Gray.

 

Published 12/23/20

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Huron Putting Things Together

 

          Huron plays at home against Oak Harbor in a Bay Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference on Wednesday night.

          The Tigers have won their last three, including two last week, in beating Norwalk (55-36) on Thursday and Bellevue (58-43) on Saturday in cross over games.

          Coach Bobby James says their play got a lot better, especially when to comes to running their offense.  “I guess this is the Christmas miracle.  We are actually moving the ball a little bit better.  The kids are starting to jell a little bit, getting used to each other, so it seems like it has been a long time coming since we started practice to get where I think we are right now,” he said.

          The holidays season can be a fork in the road for a lot of teams and James says he’s not sure what to make out of this team quite yet.  “The holidays are weird with kids.  Mostly when you have seniors everything is pretty good.  They have a goal and it’s their senior year and they know this is their last hurrah,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “With my team it is going to be curious how we handle these holidays because we have two sophomores, juniors that haven’t played and a couple of seniors that didn’t play a lot last year.  This could be an adventure here these holidays.”

          Huron (3-2,1-1) entertains Oak Harbor (3-3,2-0) on Wednesday night.  The Rockets beat Edison (61-38) in a division game on Friday night, but lost a cross over to Old Fort (58-50) on Saturday.

          James says the Rockets are an outstanding perimeter shooting team, led by the division’s second leading scorer in Blake Booker (18.3 ppg) and they need to be able to get a hand in the face of shooters.  “They are good.  I think they might be tied for the lead in the conference.  The have a really good team.  Booker is a good player.  They shoot a lot of threes.  We have to make sure we contain their three point shot and keep moving the ball like we were doing,” said James.

 

Published 12/23/20

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Columbian Wants to Bounce Back

 

          Tiffin Columbian, in a share if first place in the Lake Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference, is at home for Bellevue in a division game on Wednesday night.

          They lost for the first time this season on Saturday night when Fremont Ross beat them (83-78) in a non-conference game.

          Coach Travis Kinn says they had some breakdowns on defense they have to fix.  “Hats off to Ross, they shot the ball incredibly well.  They were able to get in the lane and create some problems for us defensively, but our guys are eager and highly motivated and competitive,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “If it was up to them, we would have been out there the next day playing a game, so they are looking forward to it and it will be a good challenge for us.”

          On Wednesday night, the Tornadoes (3-1,2-0) return to action in the Lake Division against Bellevue (0-3,0-1) one of their most longtime rivals.

          Kinn says when you play Bellevue, who are going to see a lot of offensive sets.  “They do a great job of really running a lot of sets, similar to Perkins last week.  They run some good stuff and get their perimeter guys good looks.  They have got some good guard play.  Some of their young kids that played last year are really playing well, so it will be really important that we keep those perimeter guys contained,” he said.

          Kinn says to defend these kids of sets successfully you must be disciplined.  “A lot of the stuff they run has an initial look that they want to get that we need to take away and there is a second of third option as they run though it a little bit continuity wise.  I think it is important for us to be disciplined and that is an area that we struggled in on Saturday.  We hope to be better in that area on Wednesday,” said Kinn.

 

Published 12/23/20

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Clear Fork Still Learning

 

          Clear Fork takes to the court again on Tuesday night as they host the Marion Pleasant Spartans in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game.

          They certainly have a different mix of players this year and they are still trying to get it figured out early in the season.

          They held a 10 point lead going to final eight minutes on Friday night, but were outscored (20-2) in the fourth quarter by Ontario and lost to the Warriors (47-39) in conference play.

          Coach Steve Bechtel says they just didn’t execute when they had to the most.  “We made some mistakes at the defensive end and gave up some offensive rebounds and let them have some open looks.  At the offensive end, we just weren’t able to execute at the offensive end like we could or that we did in the first three.  It is an area that we have discussed here in practice and it is going to be an ongoing work in progress and we just have to try and clean that up the best that we can,” he said.

          The Colts played some excellent basketball for three quarters, but that was not reflected in the final score and Bechtel says that’s what’s important.  He believes they will learn from their mistakes.  “We can talk about how well we played in those first three quarters, but everybody is going to remember that you blew it in the fourth.  I told them that it is a tough lesson to learn, unfortunately it is hard to swallow right now, but I believe it is going to make us better down the road,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday evening, “That is the way we have to accept it because that is the way it happened and we just have to learn from it.  We get an opportunity now to go back out and play and if we get in that situation again, now let’s take advantage and handle it the right way.”

          Clear Fork (1-3,1-2) is at home for Pleasant (2-6,0-3) on Tuesday night.  It will be a back to back for the Spartans as they lost (66-51) to defending champion Shelby on Monday night.

          Bechtel says they are going to play their game and that makes them difficult to beat on any night.  “Coach (Ben) Snively does a great job.  He does a fabulous job no matter what.  I think they have a lot of turnover in their lineup this year, but watching them on film, they run that five out motion, they are patient, they move the basketball well and defensively they really get out and pressure you, so we know with the quick turnaround we have to be focused and ready to go because they are going to come in and they are going to play very, very well,” said Bechtel.

 

Published 12/22/20

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Ashland Hosts Wooster in Huge “OCC” Game

 

          Ashland and Wooster play at Arrow Arena on Tuesday night in a game that likely will have a big impact on the Ohio Cardinal Conference this season.

          That would be the case is any year, but in the COVID era, if all of the conference games aren’t completed this year, only those in the first round will count in terms of determining a league champion.

          Both schools are 2-0 in conference games so far.

          Ashland traveled to Lima to play the LCC Thunderbirds in a non-conference game on Sunday afternoon and came a way with a (57-50) win.  They had beaten Madison (62-43) in an “OCC” game on Friday.

          Coach Jason Hess says Sunday was a confidence builder for them.  “It was a little out of the ordinary as far as schedule goes having to play on Sunday, but our kids did a nice job of weathering the two and a half hour bus ride to get over there and get ready to play a game in the middle of the afternoon.  So, I give our kids a lot of credit.  We started a little slow and had a strong third and were able to hang on there in the end.  Lima Central Catholic has several state championship banners, so it is a strong program and I thought it was a good win for us.  Hopefully, it was a game to get is ready to play in this big conference match up on Tuesday night,” said Hess.

          Ashland (6-1,2-0) entertains Wooster (2-0,2-0) on Tuesday night.  The Generals destroyed Mt. Vernon (68-36) last Friday in “OCC” action. 

          Hess says the Generals always play with tremendous intensity on the defensive end and they must handle the ball well.  “Wooster was conference champs a year ago and they have several key players back.  A very athletic team that likes to get out and pressure 94 feet.  Coach Snowbarger really demands a lot of defensive effort and intensity and I don’t expect this year’s Wooster team to be any different.  It is just going to be a matter if we can handle the ball and maneuver through their pressure and hopefully make smart decisions against it,” he said.

          The winner on Tuesday night grabs a one game lead in the current standings, but Hess says a win could end up meaning much more than that.  “This year being 2020 things are a little upside down and different.  Not to put any more pressure on this game or make the game bigger than it actually is, but I know the conference rules for this year are if all of the conference games don’t get played the first round games are the only ones that count,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday evening, “So, for some reason if somebody doesn’t get to complete all of their games because games get cancelled we may not get two shots against every league opponent this year.  So, I think there is a lot of importance on this game and I think our guys will be ready for it and they understand how important it is and how good Wooster has been the last few years in the league.  It is definitely going to be a fun one.”

 

Published 12/22/20

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Ontario Trying to Work Through Shooting Woes

 

          Ontario has had some issues on offense this season, but they have won their last three, going into a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game at Galion on Tuesday night.

          They outscored Clear Fork (20-2) in the fourth quarter on Friday night to rally past the Colts (47-39) in a conference game.

          Coach Joe Balogh says they forced Clear Fork to play faster and finally made some shots in that last quarter.  “We were somewhat fortunate.  Clear Fork did a really good job of getting the pace of the game like they wanted and made us work extremely hard at our defensive end defending their high ball screen continuity.  They were able to get the looks they wanted out of it.  We kept within striking distance.  I think we were down 10 at the end of the third and we talked to our kids about continuing to grind away.  We created a couple of turnovers and go them to speed up a little bit.  Then we had some of our really good players make some good plays.  Griffin (Shaver) made some big shots, Kolten Kurtz made a couple big shots, we had some big defensive plays, Ryan Brophy had a big steal for a layup, Nolan Payne had a steal for a layup.  If was just one of those games that wasn’t the prettiest game, but fortunately for us we were able to find a way to win,” said Balogh.

          With a fourth quarter jump shot, Shaver became just the fifth Ontario basketball player to score 1,000 career points, all have been coached by Balogh.

          This season has been a struggle when it comes to making shots.  Balogh says they have gotten good looks they just need to do a better job converting.  “We haven’t made shots and there have been some games where we have waisted some possessions by turning in over.  One of the things we have talked to our kids about is trying to be more efficient offensively, which means you want to at least try to get a scoring opportunity each possession.  You want to make sure that scoring opportunity is a shot that each player is capable to making,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday afternoon, “So, we haven’t shot the ball extremely well, but we think we are getting good shots and it is just one of those things we think is going to come around.  We have been solid enough defensively that that has kind of carried us.  We have been able to make enough plays in the last four, five minutes of the game here in the last few games that we have been able to pull those out.  We are hoping in the next few games that we can be more efficient offensively and if we are, we think we can really grow as a basketball team.”

          Ontario (4-1,2-0) is at Galion (0-6,0-4) on Tuesday night.  The Tigers were throttled (76-24) by Shelby in an “MOAC” game on Friday night.

          Balogh says the Tigers have not been at full strength and that has hurt them to is year.  “I think one of the things with Galion is they have had kids out.  They have had kids that are hurt, they have had kids that I think have been quarantined.  Rece Payne is a big key for them and he has been out maybe since their second game against River Valley, I think he rolled his ankle.  He can really shoot it.  You could compare him maybe to Alsip, who was in their program for a while.  If he is back, that is a big, big difference for them because he can score and that gives other kids confidence.  I think the injury bug, the quarantine bug, has kind of has put them in a situation where they haven’t had all of their guys together at the same time.  I’m not sure if they will have everybody (Tuesday) night or not, but we are preparing like they will,” said Balogh.

 

Published 12/22/20

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Lexington Fortunate to be Playing

 

          Lexington has been working hard just to find games to play in the face of effects from the COVID-19 pandemic.

          Right now, Lexington has adopted a policy of no fans in the gym in order to play games and that reduces the number schools who are interested.  That will remain the policy as long as Richland County remains a purple county.  Currently, they are the only one of Ohio’s 88 counties to be purple.

          Last Friday, the Minutemen beat Mansfield Temple Christian (59-41) in a game sort of put together the day before.

          Coach Scott Hamilton believes it was a good experience.  “I think it went well for us.  It was good to get the guys on the floor we have been practicing so much and just weren’t able to use that game experience, if you will, to correct some errors and improve some things.  Saturday, we had a really good practice after that game on Friday night, so that was really good for us.  I think right now just like most teams in our area the first couple of games are going to be like scrimmages for us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “We are just looking to improve in about everything right now.  We have a bunch of inexperienced guys and we are trying to stay positive and work on that.  There is no question about it by the end of the season we are not going to be the same team that we are right now.  Every coach hopes that is the case.  We are just so young and inexperienced right now that every little bit of competition and game experience I can just see these guys are going to eat it up and hopefully we are just getting better every day.”

          Lexington (1-0) plays at home against Cardinal Stritch (0-1) on Tuesday night.  The Cardinals lost (83-50) at Johnstown-Monroe on Saturday in a non-conference game.

          Hamilton says they are happy to be able to play.  “I really don’t know too much.  They have only played one game also.  For us as long as our county is in a level four, Lexington is not allowed to compete with fans in the stands.  So, there may be a lot of teams with interest in playing us, but if both schools don’t agree to not allow fans then that shoots our chance of playing out the window.  So, that’s the only reason we have been able to schedule the first three games that we have on our schedule because both schools have agreed to not allow fans to attend the games.  So, Stritch is going to be coming down with about a two hour bus ride and we are really thankful for that.  Whatever they are going to throw at us we are going to try and adapt to that and give them the best game that we can,” said Hamilton.

          Lucas (2-2), Mid-Buckeye Conference champions last year and division IV regional finalist, plays at Lexington on Wednesday night.  The Cubs are coming off a (40-35) loss to South Central on Saturday night in a non-conference game.

          Hamilton is looking for a good test.  “With Lucas being more of a local team we know more about them.  We were fortunate with them they have allowed some fans in the stands, but they were looking for some makeup games and contests as well, so when we reached out looking contest, they were okay not allowing their fans to attend our game, so that was a nice gesture to allow to get that game in.  Other than graduation, the guys they bring back off that regional final team they have some experience and they are going to challenge us a little bit.  We are interested in that and looking forward to that and hopefully we will have a good contest as well with them as well on Wednesday.  These are good Tuesday-Wednesday matchups for us when we thought we were going to be out of games and hopefully it goes well,” said Hamilton.

 

Published 12/22/20

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Mansfield Senior not Ready to Play

 

          Mansfield Senior is back on the practice floor, but they will not see any basketball action this week.

          Their goal is to play rival Mansfield Madison in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on December 29.

          They have not been able to practice since the first week of the month and coach Marquis Sykes says it has been frustrating.  “Guys were starting to get excited about being able to play and compete against some other teams and before we know it things were shut down and we were disappointed, especially our seniors.  They were just excited to get our there on the floor and get their last year of high school basketball started and that hasn’t happened yet.  Guys are anxious and still a little worried about if things are actually going to get started.  We are hopeful, we are prayerful, and hopefully things will work out for us,” he said.

          When you start practice back up you must prioritize and Sykes says their focus is on getting their basketball legs.  “I have called on several people to get some guidance on what we should be doing at this point and it is kind of a foreign area for everybody.  We have been focused on our conditioning and trying to make sure guys are safe and healthy and whatever little game planning we can sprinkle in, we have done a little bit of that, but mainly focusing on our conditioning and trying implement our offensive and defensive schemes we want to use.  It’s a review for some guys, but for others it is like a foreign language to them at this point.  So, we will take it slowly and really just go week by week with this thing,” said Sykes.

          There is a big difference from playing a pick up game of some kind and being able to compete in a high school basketball game according to Sykes.  “There is a certain level of intensity that comes along with playing basketball with a coach that is going to coach each possession.  It really is a lot different than just rolling the ball out there at the park or the YMCA and running up and down the floor, so there is a certain level of conditioning that you have to have to play the way we need to play to be successful,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Our guys really need to be in a certain level of conditioning and we not even close to where we need to be.  We are starting basically at day one at this point.  I know our guys will compete and give us everything they have got, but it is certainly going to be interesting because that is a big part of how we play the game.”

 

Published 12/22/20

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Upper Sandusky Finding its Rhythm

 

          Upper Sandusky is starting to put things together and that means watch out the rest of the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

          They play at Wynford in a conference game on Tuesday night.

          The Rams had a couple of very nice wins over the weekend in hammering Carey (68-53) on Friday night and dismantling Ridgedale (76-26) on Saturday in conference games.

          Coach Jeff Winslow says they were ready to play.  “We played really well for the weekend and I just felt we had a really good week of practice before that and that led to that.  It starts with just having some consistency being able to practice with your guys there.  We are not the only team battling that, but we have had our guys now for a week and you start to look better when you get back into the routine that you normally do.  It is just a screwy year.  Hopefully, we can keep doing that and getting better every game,” he said.

          Winslow says in the face of COVID-19 he wants to get back into some sort of normal order of events.  “I am routine guy, that’s for sure and all of this is messing up my routine and I think we have had some bad practices because I get out of my routine and I am not planning very well.  I tell my kids all of the time that basketball is a game of mistakes and whoever makes the less mistakes is the winner.  In order to develop those habits so you don’t make those mistakes you have to practice every day and get some sort of routine down.  It’s a game of habits and you have to get good habits and hopefully we can get into some kind of routine where we do that.  I thought we did that last week and it showed,” said Winslow.

          Upper Sandusky (3-2,2-1) plays at Wynford (0-3,0-2) on Tuesday night.  Th Royals did not have a good weekend in losing (53-48) in double overtime to Ridgedale on Friday and (70-45) to unbeaten Colonel Crawford on Saturday in league play.

          Winslow believes that the Royals are about week behind them in terms of readiness and he thinks they will become a good team.  “I know how they feel because we were in that boat going into our first two games.  They played one game and got quarantined and then they practice a few times and play a double weekend.  I mean it is just going to be ugly and they are just trying to get back into some normalcy and practices and things.  We are both in the same boat in that we have different teams.  They have some guys back, but they are in a different role because there isn’t a (Josh) Crall out there anymore,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday night, “They have some nice athletes and some good pieces and I think they will play better when they get practices and games in.  They need to get back in that grove.  Hopefully, they wait one more game before they do that.  I think the key against them with their size and athleticism, we have to do a good job of pressuring the basketball without fouling and then rebound the ball because they can really rebound the ball.  If you let them run their stuff, they are going to be pretty good, so that is our goal going into the game.”

 

Published 12/22/20

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Jackets Trying to Find Ways to Score

 

          Mt. Vernon has not found the recipe for scoring points quite yet and that is affecting their whole game so far this winter.

          They play at Madison in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Tuesday night.  There will be no fans permitted to attend the game.

          Last Friday, Wooster, the defending conference champ, belted the Yellow Jackets (68-36) in a league game.

          Coach Nick Coon says they couldn’t drop it in the ocean.  “It was a struggle for us, especially offensively, which at times leads to the defensive end of the floor.  We are still having an issue of turning the ball over too much and then combined that with going 3-18 from the three point line and 3-12 at the free throw line it can make it difficult to score points.  We are trying to learn on the fly with a young group.  Early in the year we started out with two homes games where we scored the ball pretty well and now we have been on the road for three straight games where we have struggled and I think that is part of growing up and learning how you offense can travel,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “What are some things we can do that maybe have more success on the road.  We are hoping we learn some lessons.  At some point here, hopefully sooner rather than later, those lessons translate to more consistency in our play n the offensive end and I think it will help our defense as well limit the opposing team from getting some breakout baskets.”

          Coon feels it is a confidence issues, especially on the road, and they need to relax a little more.  “Like I said, being at home those first two games we shot the ball really well, especially from the three point line and then with a young team going on the road if some of those shots don’t go in maybe you start the press and maybe you don’t believe the next one if going to go in.  We have tried to talk to our guys and get some extra shots in and try and make sure our confidence stays up because you have to make shots to win basketball games now a days.  Teams that we play on our schedule can score the ball and have talented players, so at some point we have to score it better and we have to combined that with playing better defense.  If we play more efficiently offensively, I think our defense is then able to set up and has a much better chance to succeed,” he said.

          Mt. Vernon (0-5,0-3) plays at Madison (0-2,0-1) on Tuesday night in “OCC” play.  The Rams lost (62-43) to Ashland in league play last Friday.

          Coon says the Rams have not been able to develop any consistency yet.  “They have kind of had a weird start where they played the opening week and they were off for a while and now they got a game in this past week against Ashland.  With coach (Time) Mergel you know they are going to be prepared, they are going to play hard, they are going to be tough, and make the little plays you need to make to have a chance to be successful.  As far as their continuity, it is probably not there as much as he would like because of how their schedule has turned out and how they have kind of had to go day by day and week by week.  We know it is going to be a tough task for us, especially being on the road again, but we are looking forward to chance of competing against somebody, even without fans, it is still a chance with our kids to compete with each other and try and fight and earn our first victory,” said Coon.

 

Published 12/22/20

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Madison Looking to Find Itself

 

          Madison will host the Mt. Vernon Yellow Jackets in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Tuesday night at Wayne E. Miller gym at Madison Middle School.

          The Rams have only played two games so far this season due to issues surrounding the COVID-19 virus, both internal and external, and they just want to get on the court.

          They lost an “OCC” game (62-43) to a very solid Ashland team on Friday night.

          Coach Tim Mergel says the Arrows were just able to keep them at arm’s length.  “Their guards are pretty good.  Anytime we got close to six, eight points, they would stretch it our to 12 and we would get it under 10 again and they would stretch it out.  They had an answer for any run we put at them and that is the sign of a good ballclub.  I think they 6-1 now and they are a good team and that’s why, they were able to answer anything that we threw at them, but I was proud of our guys.  It was a short turnaround after just a couple days of practice after being off, but we are going to get better,” said Mergel.

          It’s nice to get right back on the floor a little quicker this time and Mergel believes that eventually they will work out the kinks.  “We did a lot of good things, but you know, not to make excuses for our guys, and they certainly aren’t going to, Ashland looked like they had played some games.  They had some guys that were very familiar with situations out on the floor and they just looked a little more fluid than we did and to be expected,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday night, “We competed, I just thought, once again, we ran out of gas at times.  I didn’t do a very good job of getting the rotation down like I should have and some guys were out there that probably shouldn’t have been out on the floor as tired as they were, but we will learn from it, I’ll learn from it, and we will be better.”

          Madison (0-2,0-1) hosts Mt. Vernon (0-5,0-3) on Tuesday night.  The Jackets lost (68-36) to Wooster in an “OCC” game on Friday night.  They have not scored more than 36 in a couple of weeks.

          Mergel says these teams are similar.  “They are struggling like we are.  They have played a lot more basketball than we have.  Right now, they are searching to find ways to score.  They have had a couple of rough games with West Holmes and Wooster.  Tuesday night, somebody is going to walk out happy with their first win and we just hope it’s the Rams,” he said.

 

Published 12/21/20

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Willard Starting to Jell

 

          Willard produced a solid win on Saturday night and they want to get on a streak heading into the new year as they travel to Edison for a Bay Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference on Wednesday night.

          The Flashes beat Norwalk (72-55) in a cross over game in the “SBC” on Saturday night.

          Coach Joe Bedingfield says they were able to get some transition baskets.  “Especially a couple of weeks agon scoring 41 in a four quarter game.  We came out and played in that first quarter really well.  Got after Norwalk in the full court and that led to some easy baskets.  Our kids were ready to play I think after a tough loss to Ontario on Tuesday.  We picked up our tempo right from the get-go.  I was very, very happy with my team.  We had very balanced scoring and that is the key to maybe scoring some more points in future games,” said Bedingfield.

          Willard (3-3,1-1) plays at Edison (0-4,0-2) in a Bay Division game on Wednesday night.  The Chargers lost (61-38) to Oak Harbor in division game on Friday night and (75-57) to Norwalk St. Paul in a non-conference game on Saturday night.

          Bedingfield says they have some good guard play.  “They had pretty good guard play with (Dylan) O’Dell, (Lincoln) Meredith and (Grant) Ott.  They do a nice job of sharing the basketball and getting out in transition.  They have played some close games so far, but they haven’ came away with a “W” yet.  They played Margaretta pretty tough.  They just played St. Paul.  They are still trying to find an identity like a lot of us, but they can get after you at both ends of the floor,” he said.

          Willard is the defending co-champion in the division and Bedingfield says its important not to have two conference losses this early.  “I think in our league they are all important because there are only 10 games.  You have 22 on the schedule and you have 10 league games.  It’s pretty tough to start off with a 1-1 record, but we have done it before.  The previous two years we have lost early on and we able to bounce back,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “We are hoping our kids getting more comfortable with each other and buying into some roles.  I saw a lot of progress in that Norwalk game and that makes me believe our kids are starting to jell a little bit.  Hopefully, we take it one game at a time, come and play Wednesday night at Edison and get another league win.”

 

Published 12/21/20

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St. Paul Returns to Firelands Conference Play

 

          Norwalk St. Paul, one of the contenders in the Firelands Conference this season, plays at New London in a conference game on Monday night.

          The Flyers, coming off a two week break, beat Edison (75-57) in a non-league game on Saturday night.

          Coach Mike Smith says they shot the ball very well on Saturday.  “We did some good things considering we came off the quarantine and only had a few days of practice.  I thought our conditioning we good.  I think we really shot the ball pretty good.  We shot 58 percent from the floor, 47 from three, we made seven threes, and I think we were in the upper 60’s from two.  I thought in that department we did pretty well.  We just have some things we have to clean up.  Defensively, we just have to get a little bit better and play a little bit harder.  Overall, it was good to get back on the floor and looking forward to playing again on Monday,” said Smith.

          Smith, the dean of coaches in the conference, says these quarantines are difficult to deal with.  He says they mess up your rhythm as a team.  “It was definitely different.  It just felt like you had not been on the floor in a longtime.  We keep telling the kids we can’t control the things we can’t control.  We can’t use it as an excuse.  You have to embrace getting on the floor.  I thought we played really hard.  We didn’t have kids that were winded,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday night, “It was just good to get back on the floor in a short period of time and hope you don’t have to do that a bunch of times during this season because it does interrupt your rhythm.  We are looking forward to getting another league game in.  We have another big week.  All of these games count as one in the win column, so we have to go get it.”

          St. Paul (3-0,1-0) travels down to New London (1-3,1-2) for a conference game on Friday night.  The Wildcats picked up their first win of the season in a conference game last Friday in beating Mapleton (56-37) in a good performance.

          Smith says they have an excellent player and some good guys around him.  “They have one of the better players in the league in the Heileman kid.  Grant is a very god player and can do things off the dribble.  He is a really good shooter.  The (Jacob) Shaver kid seems to be playing pretty well, also have some other shooters in (Nick) Lester and (Logan) Girton around them.  So, they are dangerous.  We know that coach (Dame) Held will get them to play very hard.  I have seen probably two or three of their games and they play awful hard and compete.  It’s a league game and it means a lot to us,” he said.

 

Published 12/21/20

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Bucks Showing Lots of Progress

 

          Buckeye Central is taking steps toward being a good basketball team as we hit the quarter pole of the high school season.

          They play at Crestview in a non-conference game on Monday night.

          Trailing in the fourth quarter, the Bucks would rally and beat Seneca East (54-50) in a Northern 10 Athletic Conference game on Saturday night.

          Coach Tom Howell says it that final quarter they did some good things on both ends of the court.  “The kids didn’t panic.  We got down early and battled our way back.  We kept it close.  Got a few stops and made some shots and the next things you know we are down four or five and we made some other plays on the defensive end and ended up winning the game,” he said.

          Tyler Rose and Alex Kanney both had 12 points in that win.

          Howell says they have started to rebound the ball well and they look more confident on offense.  “Right now, I think we are pretty consistent, you can always get better.  We are rebounding the ball well.  We are not giving teams second and third chances on the offensive end,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, “I think the last couple of games I think we are making strides on the offensive end.  We are starting to see some stuff that we weren’t seeing at the beginning of the year and it is helping us out a lot.”

          Buckeye Central (3-3) is at Crestview (4-2) on Monday night.  The Cougars won their first four games but lost two Firelands Conference games last weekend (67-61) in overtime to South Central and (97-59) to Western Reserve on Saturday night.

          Howell says they can put some athletes on the floor, particularly Evan Hamilton.  “Crestview is pretty good.  They have athletic kids.  They probably have one of the best guards in the area in Evan Hamilton and he can play.  I think we are going to have our hands full.  We are going to go and compete and see what happens,” said Howell.

 

Published 12/21/20

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Ontario Wants to Speed Clear Fork up

 

          Ontario plays at home against Clear Fork in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game on Friday, both won conference games last Saturday.

          The Warriors beat River Valley (59-56) on Saturday and added a (59-54) win over Willard in non-conference play on Tuesday.

          Coach Joe Balogh says they were able to close the door in both games and that was a good sign.  “We were really happy in a way that we got to play Willard.  Joe Bedingfield has done a great job rebuilding that program.  They have been really successful the last two years.  They lost some key guys from a year ago, but they still have some guys back and they do a really good job.  They run offense and if they don’t get the first look, they are patient enough to get the second and third look.  The only sad part about that is that would have been a game that there would have been a great crowd at, but we are living in different times.  It was a good game for us because one of the things we didn’t do very well when we played at Norwalk was we didn’t finish very well in the last six minutes of the game.  We had taken a lead in that game and ended losing by 12,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “That was really and emphasis after that game of being able to finish games and being more efficient offensively, so against River Valley and Willard we weren’t perfect, but we made enough plays down the stretch, at both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, that we were able to win those games.  We hope that’s a sign of being a good basketball team.”

          Ontario (3-1,1-0) hosts Clear Fork (1-2,1-1), the Colts beat Galion (46-34) on Saturday afternoon and lost (60-47) to Ashland in a non-conference game on Tuesday night, a game they led at halftime.

          Balogh says the Colts have experience and they are very dangerous if you let them play their game.  “They return experience.  They return (Brady) Tedrow, (Jared) Scott, (Merritt) Burgholder and (Luke) Labahi.  Both Tedrow and Scott were key players for them a year ago, so they have experience.  They have size, their starting lineup is all over 6’0”.  I think right now they are trying to figure out how they are going to play.  I think against Ashland, they were able to slow Ashland down.  When they were able to take care of the basketball, they were able to get the looks they wanted to get.  They love to run some high, low action with some ball screening at the top.  If you allow them to control the pace of the game, it is going to be difficult.  So, we are going to try and speed them up a little bit.  We do match up with the pretty well even though they are big.  We go with Jon Nagel and Nolan Payne and they are both 6’3”, 6’4”, so we match up pretty well with their post guys,” said Balogh.

          There are not going to be any secrets in this game, according to Balogh, he says it will come down to kids stepping up and making plays.  “It’s a league and we have always said that league games are different because we kind of know those team’s tendencies a lot better.  We hope we know Clear Fork’s tendencies pretty well and I’m sure Steve (Bechtel) is going to know our tendencies.  It is going to come down again to kid’s abilities to make plays and who does the little things just a little bit better,” he said.

 

Published 12/18/20

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Shelby Back After Refining

 

          Shelby has been cleared to play basketball and the Whippets return to action on Friday night at Galion against the Tigers in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference action.

          They also play talented Lima Senior in Lima as part of a holiday tournament on Sunday.

          It has been three weeks since the Whippets have played a game and in two of those weeks they could not practiced together.

          Coach Nathon Loney says it was tough going through that, but feels they came out of it accomplishing some things.  “The time not being in the gym was pretty rough.  Not only was we shut down because the county being purple, we were also on quarantine due to a positive case in the program, so not only was we shut down through the county we were quarantined.  It was tough on me and it was very hard on the kids also.  I have kids texting me all of the time, what can we do?  I stayed in very good contact with our kids.  While they were quarantined, they were doing a lot of at home workouts.  I had kids outside on the streets running when they could.  Just doing things among themselves trying to stay in shape and keeping the results they got from the weight room and everything and doing pushups or anything they could,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday evening, “Finally getting back to practice there last Friday was nice even though we were only allowed to, basically like the summer, we were working in pods, only like two per pod.  It wasn’t fun at a point, but it was also good for us because there was a lot of much needed stuff.  We worked a ton of skill work stuff, a ton of shooting drills, not only that because we got a lot of conditioning in there for a few days.  You can only do so much skill work and shooting there for a while.  It also helped us get back in shape a lot quicker than we would have normally because we could only focus on a few certain things.  The last couple of days we got to go in pods of five, so we got to work a lot of 5-0, no defense, we got to work on a lot of our offensive stuff with no defense.  A lot of little, fundamental stuff that we needed to work on.”

          Shelby (1-0,0-0) is down at Galion (0-5,0-3) on Friday night.  The Tigers were hammered by Lucas (72-28) in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.  They have not scored more than 35 points in their last four outings.

          Loney says they are not at full strength.  “I am pretty sure they are still missing probably their best player, which would be the Payne kid.  He’s their point guard.  He is who they rely on getting the ball up the floor for them and he is probably their best scoring option also.  I am pretty sure he is still out, I think he had an ankle injury, which you hate to hear.  They are in a hard spot right now, they have a lot of young kids playing,” he said.

          The Whippets play unbeaten Lima Senior (4-0) on Sunday and Loney says they are going to have to be top form for that one.  “I am just happy our kids can play.  I just want to see improvements from what we did in the first game against Madison.  We won by 20 against Madison, but I still wasn’t very happy with our performance.  The kids know the standard is much higher than that.  Going to Lima Senior on Sunday, we are going to have to come out and work on a lot of fundamental, basic staff and get our act together really quick before we go to Lima on Sunday,” said Loney.

 

Published 12/18/20

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Ashland Expects Pumped up Madison

 

          Ashland is down the road at Madison in Ohio Cardinal Conference play on Friday night.

          It is game where the venue has changed due to the COVID-19 virus.  Madison’s policy is to play, but wit no fans.  Ashland is allowing fans.

          The Arrows rallied in the second half on Tuesday to beat Clear Fork (60-47) in a non-conference game.

          Coach Jason Hess says the defensive intensity in the second half was the difference.  “It was one of those nights where we did not shoot the ball very well to say the least about our offense.  I give our kids a lot of credit, we got after them and challenged them a little bit to step up the defensive intensity.  We made a switch on our pressure and went from zone to man to man.  Our kids came out and showed that they were able to do that.  They put a lot of effort out there and played with some energy and the ball went through the basketball a time or two on some layups on breakaways.  It really kind of snowballed and our defensive intensity kept coming and we were able to turn the tide there early in the third,” said Hess.

          Ashland (4-1,1-0) is at Madison (0-1,0-1) on Friday.  The Rams have not played since the day after Thanksgiving in losing (70-49) to Shelby in a non-conference game.

          Hess says with such a layoff there are some questions about the Rams, but what you never question is their effort.  “I expect them to play hard.  I expect them to be excited to play.  When you have been off for that long you don’t know what some of the execution x’s and o’s will be, but I have no doubt that the effort is going to be top notch,” he said.

          Madison has more height this year, but Hess says his expects them to approach the game pretty much like they did last year.  “From what you saw in one game film that was quite a while ago.  It was just one game, so it was a small sample size.  They still led by their guards and their perimeter players and they do have a little more size when you look at them on the roster.  When you watch them play there are a lot of similarities to what they did a year ago as far as their offensive scheme with the dribble drive and kicking out for open threes and that type of thing and the defensive concepts,” he told Swankpnsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “We are kind of preparing similar to what we have seen in the past.  I’m sure like any high school coach, coach Mergel has to make adjustments depending on his personnel, that changes yearly.  I expect them to be well coached and play hard.”

 

Published 12/18/20

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Wooster Looking to Shoot Better

 

          Wooster, the defending Ohio Cardinal Conference champion, hosts Mt. Vernon in a conference game at their place on Friday night.

          The Generals finally got their season started with a (63-52) win over West Holmes in conference play on Tuesday night.

          Shooting was poor, but coach Michael Snowbarger says they did a lot of other things well.  “It was definitely sloppy at times, but hat was kind of expected.  As a coaching staff we kind of didn’t know what to expect going in it.  We knew it might not be what we wanted it to look like and it wasn’t at all times, but the kids played hard.  We missed some open looks we had been knocking down in practice and different things like that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “A lot of that just comes with the fluidity of the game as the game slow down a little bit.  Our shooting was way off, which in practice this year we have been a great shooting team.  Again, always nice to get a win on the road in the conference.  It was our first game and West Holmes’ fifth game, so all good there.”

          Snowbarger believes the team is a good shooting team and eventually they are going to prove that too.  “The thing about shooting is, it’s gets contagious.  You feel like when one kid starts knocking down shots, the next kid knocks down shots and that’s when it is a positive.  Tuesday at West Holmes, we just could never get off of it, we just kind of didn’t shoot it very well.  We go to the foul line and we are 11-21 at the foul line.  All things considered, good, but the shooting is going to come,” he said.

          Wooster (1-0,1-0) will be at home for Mt. Vernon (0-4,0-2) on Friday night.  The Yellow Jackets lost (46-27) to West Holmes in a conference game last Friday.

          Snowbarger says they didn’t shoot very well against West Holmes, but Mt. Vernon has some good shooters and they always play tough defense.  “I have watched them several times.  Against Ashland they scored the ball very well.  I think they had 29 or 30 points in the first quarter and then against West Holmes they struggled a little bit.  The thing about Mt. Vernon teams is they are very disciplined defensively and they are going to make you earn your buckets on the offensive end.  We have to make sure we stay patient on the offensive end and run our offense, maybe not pass up good shots, but take the right shot, then it will take care of itself.  Mt. Vernon can be scarry because they have a couple of kids that can shoot it very well,” said Snowbarger.

 

Published 12/18/20

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Upper Sandusky Faces Carey in Big One

 

          Upper Sandusky, the defending champion in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference, needs a couple of wins this weekend to stay in the race as they host Carey on Friday and travel to Riverdale on Saturday in league games.

          Scoring points in bunches has always been the forte of the Rams, but last week they lost (70-44) to Colonel Crawford in an “N10” game and (70-55) to Toledo Christian in a non-league game.

          Coach Jeff Winslow says they need cut down on turnovers.  “I think the big thing is we have got to quit turning it over.  It’s tough to put it in the hoop when you keep throwing it to the other team.  Crawford and Toledo Christian are both very good basketball teams and we are not there yet.  I think we have a chance to be pretty good.  I thought both of those teams were the aggressor and did a good job of turning us over a little too much.  I think we have done a good job this week of trying to straighten that out.  We have a couple of guys back, not trying to make excuses, but a couple of guys back is going to help out a little bit, and I think we will be okay offensively,” said Winslow.

          Upper Sandusky (1-2,0-1) plays host to Carey (4-1,2-1) in “N10” action on Friday night.  Carey lost to Colonel Crawford (53-50) in a conference game on Saturday night.

          Winslow believes the Blue Devils are an outstanding team.  “I think they are really good.  They are really athletic and Carey teams always play hard and they are scrappy and they are physical.  They do a really good job defensively getting up in you.  They run with the ball well and they have a bunch of guys that can score, shoot it and take it to the hoop,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday night, “I think they have five guys averaging double figures, if it’s not five it’s almost five, the fifth guy is right there and they have a bunch of guys you have to guard on the perimeter as well as take it to the hole.  They are a tough team to have to try and defend right now.  Defensively, you have to be able to handle their pressure.  I like their team a lot, I think they are really good.”

          I guess you never have a must win game this early in the season, even this season, but Winslow says Friday night this is one they almost have to have.  “For both of us if we want to stay in the race where we still control things, we have got to win this game.  The loser falls two back and it’s always tough to come back from two down, you wouldn’t be able to lose again for sure.  If you win, you are still in the thing and control your destiny, if you lose you are two back two games in for us.  It’s a pretty good game league wise, so hopefully we can get off on the right foot and give ourselves a chance to win,” he said.

 

Published 12/18/20

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Carey Must Handle Upper Pressure

 

          Carey plays a couple of Wyandot County rivals this weekend in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference play as they travel to Upper Sandusky on Friday night and host the Mohawk Warriors on Saturday.

          They will be without coach Jamie Young, who is self quarantining after coming into contact with the COVID-19 virus.

          He says being at home has been a little frustrating.  “It is one those things where we can’t do anything about it.  There has always been a chance of this, it just happened to hit close to home.  I am in constant contact with the coaches.  Coach Wendling has taken over as the acting head coach, he has done a great job.  We talk all of the time.  The coaches are probably tired of me texting them every day.  Just sitting around the house, it is just something you think all of the time, you can’t do anything else.  You just obsess about it, I guess,” he said.

          Carey suffered its first loss of the season last Saturday in “N10” action when they lost (53-50) to Colonel Crawford, one of the conference leaders.

          Young says they learned some things along the way.  “We want to play fast, at high pace, but we hung with one of the best half court teams that can do both, they can play up tempo and they can also get in the half court.  We played with them.  We didn’t shoot the best, but some of that had to do with Crawford’s defense.  Dave (Sheldon) has them on point when it comes to knowing the opponent.  It was one of those things where we proved we are able to play we just have to make some more plays, execute down the stretch and maybe shoot a little bit better and that could have been our game.  That’s why we play the games.  I am not one on moral victories, but I think it was a good game for us to build off of,” said Young.

          Carey (4-1,2-1) is at Upper Sandusky (1-2,0-1) the defending conference champions on Friday night.  The Rams are on a rare two game losing streak, with setbacks to Colonel Crawford (70-44) and Toledo Christian (70-55) in a non-conference game on Saturday.

          Young says with the Rams they are big inside and they still cause havoc with their defensive pressure.  “Those two opponents are really top opponents.  Crawford we all know and Toledo Christian has two of the better guards in Northwest Ohio, one committed to Hillsdale College, so it is not like they are playing slouches.  Upper has good size, the (Trent) Beamer and (Gavin) Carey kids are 6’6” and they also played without (Cade) Adams against Toledo Christian, he injured himself against Crawford.  Upper is going to do what Upper is going to do,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday evening, “They are going to play fast, but not as fast as they have in the past, but they are going to try and take advantage of their two bigs inside.  It is one those things where they are going to play hard defensively, they are going to get in your face.  You just have to be able to weather they runs and don’t turn the ball over against their pressure.  I think we have the athletes that can compete with them, we just have to go our there and get it done.”

 

Published 12/18/20

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Wynford Returns With Double Weekend

 

          Wynford has not played a basketball game in more than three weeks and they going to jump right into the fire by hosting Ridgedale on Friday night and traveling to Colonel Crawford on Saturday night for games in the Northern 10 Athletic Conference.

          Coach Steve Mohr says they are shooting from behind the eight ball on both nights.  “It will have been 23 days since we played our first game.  These are difficult times, but the problem you have leaving it up to local people to make the decision, we are going to be playing our second game, Ridgedale will be playing their seventh game and I believe Colonel Crawford will be playing their seventh game.  So, we are at a serve disadvantage.  On top of that we have only practiced five days in the last 15 days, but be that as it may we are happy we get to play.  I told our kids we are not going to make excuses, we are not going to feel sorry for ourselves.  We are going to come out and we are going to compete and hopefully play well and let the chips fall where they may,” said Mohr.

          Wynford (0-1,0-0) hosts Ridgedale (1-4,0-3) in a conference game on Friday night.  The Rockets lost in overtime (35-34) to Marion Elgin on Monday.  Seneca East beat them (66-46) in a conference game last Saturday.

          Mohr says they have some excellent players in the post.  “I have said all along they have one of the best, if not the best, post tandems in the “N10” or (Alec) Gordon and (Michael) Burns, both 6’4”, 6’5”, both very talented, kind of inside and out.  If those two guys are playing well and they can get those guys the ball down in the low post, they are going to give anybody in our league a tough time,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We just have to make sure we are trying to pressure them on the perimeter and create some havoc with our defense on the perimeter because they are so good inside.  In addition to that, they have the (Adam) Beard kid back.  So, they have three starters back from a team that was very competitive last year.  They have played three games this past week and we didn’t even start practicing until Monday, so we are going to have to play well.”

          The Royals will be christening a new gym on Friday night and Mohr says it is a great opportunity for his players.  “Our kids are just excited they get to play.  We will be playing the first game in our new gym on Friday night.  I told our kids there will be hundreds upon hundreds of games played in this gym, but there is only one first game and you are going to have the privilege of playing that first game and we just want to come out Friday night and play a great first game in that gym,” he said.

          Colonel Crawford (5-0,3-0) hosts the Royals on Saturday night and Mohr says they look forward to playing a very good basketball team.  “I think they have the best returning post man in the league in Walker, the (Carter) Valentine kid from Galion is a very good player.  The (Mason) Studer kid played a lot last year even though he may not have been a starter or a star for them.  In those three players, they have three proven varsity basketball players, who are as good as anyone at their position in the league.  It’s a rival game, it’s an exciting game for us.  When you look at the last four contests between them and us, they have been very tight affairs.  We have been right there going into the fourth quarter and several times going into the final minute.  We have to take care of business first on Friday night.  Then prepare a little bit on Saturday and get to play against your rival, a team that’s undefeated in the league and that will be exciting,” said Mohr.

 

Published 12/18/20

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St. Paul Picks it Up Against Edison

 

          Norwalk St. Paul is coming off a quarantine and they will play Saturday night at Edison in a non-conference game.

          They have not played in a couple of weeks, but coach Mike Smith says it just nice to be back on the floor again.  “There are a lot of things that we just can’t control.  We can’t worry about things we can’t control.  We were able to get back on the floor on Wednesday and start practice again.  We want to just keep moving forward and do everything we possibly can to get games for these kids, along the way there are going to be some obstacles, we just have to maneuver through them and do the best we can do.  Hopefully, maybe things will settle down here after Christmas,” he said.

          Smith does admit that conditioning is going to be an issue for them and he says they are going to be required to adapt to things as they come during games.  “Wednesday you could tell we were excited to get back on the floor and probably 40 minutes in you could tell we weren’t in the shape we needed to be in or weren’t in the shape we were when we were quarantined.  So, we want to go hard again Thursday and the Friday kind of a day before a game routine and then go out and play a game on Saturday and try and get better teach time we take the floor,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday afternoon, “We are going to play a ton of games here in a short period of time.  We have to keep making adjustments and self correct things and try and clean things up through film and also try and prepare in a short amount of time.  Our kids are very intelligent and have a high basketball I.Q.  They do a nice job of taking what we give them and take it to the floor.”

          Norwalk St. Paul (2-0) is at Edison (0-2) on Saturday night.  The Chargers were blasted (73-31) by Woodmore on Wednesday night and will play a Sandusky Bay Conference Bay division game against Oak Harbor on Friday.

          Smith says they can put some athletic kids on the floor.  “They are pretty athletic.  In the Margaretta game they shot it pretty well, they made nine threes.  They looked like they really had some shooters and then (Wednesday) night versus Woodmore they really struggled to put the ball in the basket, so they are showing some inconsistency.  They came off a quarantine as well and jumped right back in versus Margaretta, so some of that could be that.  I know one thing their kids will play hard and they will compete.  Like I said, they are pretty athletic.  I expect them to just get after it, I expect our kids to get after it, and we will see how it goes,” said Smith.

 

Published 12/18/20

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Clear Fork Meets Ontario

 

          Clear Fork plays its biggest rival as they travel to Ontario to meet the Warriors in a Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference game on Friday night.

          The Colts are coming off a very good performance, but a loss (60-47) to Ashland, of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, on Tuesday night.

          They led at halftime but fell behind when the Arrows spurted at the beginning of the third quarter.  Coach Steven Bechtel says he thought they turned in a pretty good performance.  “I thought we played really, really well.  We had that little section there in the third quarter where we got hurried up just a little faster that we wanted to be.  My hat goes off to Ashland and coach (Jason) Hess, they did a great job of speeding us up.  Getting us out of our little comfort zone that way.  Once they got that lead, we weren’t able to overcome that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, “I was really proud of way the guys battled.  I told them I am not one for moral victories, however, I felt better after that game then even sometimes when we have won because of how hard they played and how we executed and there was just that little spot in their that we didn’t do as well we needed to.”

          Consistency is the key and Bechtel says against good teams you can’t have those lulls when you don’t play well.  “Even the River Valley game, we had the second quarter there.  The second quarter we didn’t play as well as we needed to and that was our downfall right there.  So, putting together 32 minutes, I know that is difficult to do.  We didn’t even do it against Galion when we came away with a win.  I feel like we are getting better, we are headed in the right direction.  One of these times we are going to be able to pull it out,” he said.

          Clear Fork (1-2,1-0) beat Galion (46-34) in an “MOAC” game on Saturday.  Ontario (3-1,1-0) beat Willard (59-54) in non-conference game on Tuesday.  They beat River Valley (59-56) in a conference game last Saturday.

          Bechtel says against the Warriors you can’t make mistakes.  “Obviously, with Joe (Balogh) at the helm they are good at all phases.  They have some exceptional guards.  Griffin Shaver is the main catalyst there.  He is going to have an exceptional year, just like normal.  We are going to have to be sound for those 32 minutes because they will take advantage of every little mistake that you make and we have to make sure we limit those,” said Bechtel.

          Bechtel says Shaver makes the players around him better too.  “He makes a lot of tough ones and he shares he ball with his teammates.  He is a fun player to watch play.  We have been fortunate to watch him play since his freshman year to his senior year.  He is not fun to prepare for.  We are going to come out and try and do our best against him,” he said.

 

Published 12/17/20

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Lucas Not Going Away

 

          Lucas has got some points to prove and one was delivered with authority on Tuesday night and they have a chance to do it a couple more times at home with Mansfield St. Peter’s in a Mid-Buckeye Conference game on Friday night and at South Central in non-conference play on Saturday night.

          After what they thought was a disappointing performance in a (52-42) loss to Crestline in a conference game on Friday night, the Cubs destroyed Galion (72-28) in a non-conference game Tuesday night.

          Coach Taylor Iceman says they wanted to say who they really are this year.  “We had a bad taste in our mouths.  We played horrible over at Crestline.  There was a lot going on with not being able to practice and missing some guys and the first game out.  It was just all around bad.  We came in and had a pretty spirited practice on Saturday morning and kind of had a come to Jesus meeting with everybody.  Just wanted to figure things out.  We had a couple of good practices and just all around our effort was just so much better (Tuesday) night.  It was just good to get out and play and get that taste out of our mouth,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “We knew things were going to be different this year.  We obviously have a different team.  I don’t think we had an identity that first night.  The kids were still trying to figure it out.  (Tuesday) night we played pressure defense, we created turnovers, we scored through our defense.  We told our kids it was a step in the right direction.  This is who we are going to be.  It just felt so much better.  We just played so terrible on opening night we were just ready to get that taste out of our mouths and we played better (Tuesday) night.”

          Lucas (1-1,0-1) plays at home against Mansfield St. Peter’s (0-2,0-1) on Friday night.  The Spartans lost (35-32) to Kidron Central Christian in a conference game last Friday.

          Iceman says they need to be at their best.  “We are in no situation to judge other teams.  We are at the point right now still trying to figure out who we are and going out and just getting the best out of us.  I fully expect them to be ready to go and to be a good game,” he said.

          Iceman says they are not going to hand over their conference title to Crestline, or anyone else, and they are going to go out Friday with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder.  “We talked a little about it (Tuesday) night.  We lost that opener to Crestline.  There were things out there, changing of the guard, Lucas lost their first conference game since 2018.  I told the kids we did that to ourselves, but I’m not ready to have those kinds if talks and have that stuff out there.  We are kind of hungry, fired up and be ready to go to get back into the conference schedule and just make another statement.  I don’t think anybody knew how to take that Crestline game.  People thought maybe Lucas was going to down and that was obviously not our plan going into things this year.  It was just so bad and we had so many questions.  (Tuesday) night was more of a representation of the who we are going to be, so we are hungry and ready to go out and keep improving.  We are ready to go out and show another team that Lucas isn’t going anywhere, the “MBC” still runs through us.  It sucks that we lost one, but if we have anything to say about it that is the only one we are going to lose,” said Iceman.

 

Published 12/17/20

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Crestview With Challenging Weekend

 

          Crestview has won all four of its games so far, but this weekend we are likely to find out more about who they are as they travel to South Central on Friday night and Western Reserve on Saturday afternoon for Firelands Conference games against two contenders.

          Tuesday night, the Cougars whipped Bucyrus (85-43) in a non-conference game.

          Coach John Kurtz says their defense led to some easy scores.  “I thought overall our defense was pretty good in that game and we took advantage of some turnovers that made us more effective in the game.  It was one those games that I didn’t expect to go like that, but it did,” he said.

          Kurtz says he feels his team has improved over the first four games and on both ends of the court.  “I do think we are getting better.  It seems like our kids are understanding concepts better than they did before.  It also seems like to me we have become a better defensive team.  I think we held Bucyrus to 15 in the first half.  Those things change week to week and night to night.  So far, I see real progress made with our kids,” said Kurtz.

          Crestview (4-0,1-0) plays at South Central (4-0,3-0) on Friday night in a conference game.  The Trojans blasted Plymouth (70-46) in a conference game on Tuesday night.  Jackson McCormack led three players in double figures with 24 points.

          Kurtz says the Trojans know how to win.  “I haven’t had a chance yet to look at their game from (Tuesday) night, but it sounds like they are playing really well and it looks like they had a really good game against Plymouth.  Obviously, they are very well coached.  Their kids have won games in the conference for the last few years, so they are probably an experience level up on us as far as being used to these situations,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Their team is solid with (David) Lamoreaux, a big kid that can really play well.  Their guards look like they are really coming into their own shooting the ball well.  They don’t make a lot of mistakes.  All of those things weigh into how we want to play against them.”

          Western Reserve (2-1,0-0), the preseason conference favorite, came off a quarantine with a (64-58) win over Norwalk in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.

          Kurtz says it will be a very tough game on not much rest.  “This is a game that got moved back because of COVID.  We have two games this weekend and a game Monday and a game Wednesday of next week, so they really bunch up.  We talk to our kids about taking care of ourselves, but also it is very hard to prepare for that kind of a game.  They are so good and so well coached and they have most of their players back, so this weekend is definitely a very tough challenge for us,” said Kurtz.

 

Published 12/17/20

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Lexington Hoping to Play Ontario

 

          Lexington is still waiting to play basketball.  It looks like their next chance will be Saturday night at Ontario against the Warriors in non-conference play.

          In order for this game to go forward, Richland County must turn from purple to red in the state’s public health alert system.  Lexington will play if it remains purple, but only if no fans are allowed.  Ontario’s position now is to allow parents to attend, no matter what the color.

          Coach Scott Hamilton says they are practicing and trying to get ready for Ontario.  “The lucky thing is we are still in the gym, we are still practicing, we are preparing, just like everything is going to move forward.  Unfortunately, in this season of 2020 we just have to wait until we get that final word that we are allowed to play.  So, we are preparing for it, we are practicing like we are going to play Ontario on Saturday and we will just have to wait until Thursday afternoon until we know for sure,” he said.

          Lexington, at this point, does not have a game for Friday night.  Hamilton says it is going to be a season when you need to be able to react quickly.  “Without having a scrimmage season and here we are in what the third week of December and not having a game yet.  As soon as we found out that we were going to start allowing games as a purple county and being able to play Friday as long as there were no fans in the stands, we started sending our emails trying to find someone to play.  I think that might be the normal this season.  You may have a days’ notice or two days’ notice to try and pick up and contest and try and play a team.  You just have to be able to adapt and find a way to do it,” said Hamilton.

          Ontario (3-1) beat Willard (59-54) in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.

          Hamilton says the Warriors are team led by veteran guards.  He says Griffin Shaver is outstanding, but you can’t forget about the other guys they have on the floor.  “They are a veteran team.  Griffin Shaver has so much experience as a point guard.  He has been playing under Joe’s (Balogh) system, this is his fourth year.  Then he has a complementary group around him.  Kolton Kurtz is a really good player.  We have been in some battles with them.  Then the newcomers if you will, the other three starters have been through the system.  They know what coach Balogh expects over there.  They complement each other well,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “They know their roles and what they are supposed to be doing.  If you put too much focus on Shaver, and he deserves it, and forget about the other four guys on the floor they will eat you up.  If it is our first contest of the season it is going to be something where we need to be dialed in and focused on our assignments to make sure we can keep up with them.”

 

Published 12/17/20

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Norwalk Must Play Better at the End

 

          Norwalk lost a tough one on Tuesday night and they face two more pretty good opponents in Huron on Thursday and Willard on Saturday, both on the road.

          On Tuesday night, they lost (64-58) to Western Reserve of the Firelands Conference.

          Coach Steve Gray says they played very hard in the game, but they didn’t always make the best decisions.  “We played really hard, we didn’t play smart all of the time.  We really beat the heck out of each other.  It was a very physical game.  Unfortunately, we went dry on some possessions the last four minutes.  It says six points on the board, but it was a one possession game with 10 seconds to go,” said Gray.

          He says finding ways to win close games against good teams is something this group needs to learn how to do.  “At some point and time, you would like to see the fruits of you labor pay off with a win.  I don’t think there are too many moral victories out there.  We are not used to losing close games at the end and unfortunately for us we have done it twice now in the last week,” he said.

          Norwalk (2-3) plays at Huron (1-2) of the Bay Division on Thursday night.  The Tigers won their last game in beating Port Clinton (55-49) in a division game last Friday.

          Gray says they have solid perimeter shooting, which is something they have not defended well.  “They are young in terms of experience, but Bobby (James) does a great job with those kids.  They are going to shoot the three and they are going to get up and down the floor,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “Right now, our big weakness is defending the three point shots, so unless we get better at that it is going to be a long night.”

          Willard (2-3) also of the Bay Division hosts the Truckers on Saturday night.  Gray says that will be a different kind of game.  “Willard is just the opposite of Huron.  They are big, they are strong, they are athletic and yet they are also very skilled.  That was a great game (Tuesday) night between Ontario and Willard.  It’s just a tough week for us and we have to fight through some things and find a way to win,” said Gray.

 

Published 12/17/20

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Boards are Big For Bellevue

 

          Bellevue is back after another two weeks of quarantine, their second such forced break of the season already, to play at Vermilion in Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division game on Thursday night.

          Quarantines without practice are tough and coach Ed Rich says this is not a time to feel sorry for themselves.  “We are going through what almost everyone else is going through, so we are not feeling sorry for ourselves.  We are coming back trying to get in some basketball shape here and trying to put a game pan together and trying to execute that game plan in other day, so we will see how it goes,” he said.

          Rich says there is only so much you can do when you are not in regular practice working as a team.  “When our guys are in quarantine, we are giving them workouts to do and I think they are doing a good job with them, but nothing gets you prepared to play like getting up and down the floor.  So, we can give them all of the workouts in the world, but nothing can really simulate the game until you get out on the floor and practice,” said Rich.

          Bellevue (0-1,0-0) is at Vermilion (2-2,0-1) on Thursday night.  The Sailors won their first two and then lost (66-46) to Clyde in a division game last Friday and (50-39) to Elyria in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.

          Rich says the Sailors have already shown they are a better team than they were last year.  “They are much improved.  They have played some pretty good basketball.  They looked really good their first two games against Oak Harbor and Fremont Ross and now they have had a couple of setbacks against Clyde and Elyria.  They are a much different team than they were last year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday afternoon, “The funny thing is they have almost everybody back except their big kid, but they are playing well.  They are big, physical, they are going to get after it on the glass.  We are going to have our hands full for sure on Thursday.”

          In order to win this game, Rich feels it is important for them to be able to compete on the glass.  “I think the biggest thing is keeping the rebounding battle close.  They are big and physical and they get a lot of extra baskets that way.  They use their body really well.  So, our number one key is to keep the rebounding battle close.  One that usually goes for every game, we have to be able to handle the basketball.  If we can keep the boards close and take care of the ball, I think we keep the game close and have a chance to win,” says Rich.

 

Published 12/17/20

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Oak Harbor Working on Rebounding

 

          Oak Harbor will entertain the Edison Chargers in a Bay Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference on Friday night.

          The Rockets have won two and lost two so far on this young season. 

          Coach Eric Sweet says it a little bit of that inconsistency has to do with the youth on their roster.  “We got quarantined for the week and half leading up to the Vermilion game.  We had one practice on Vermilion.  We had to go there and we took a tough one on the chin to a good team.  We then won on the weekend at Willard and at Genoa.  Then (Tuesday) night we turned back around and played Woodmore.  It’s just a lot of basketball in a short period of time.  We are a pretty young varsity team when it comes to experience, so there are some ups and downs.  With all of this stuff that is going on now adays there are a lot of other things that go on with it.  I am proud of the boys and the 2-2 start right now and they are playing their tails off for us,” said Sweet.

          They lost (61-51) to Woodmore in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.

          Sweet says to become a better team they have do a better job rebounding every night they play.  “Defensively a couple of things we have talked about.  We are not a real tall team this year and we know we have to continue to rebound extremely well.  The games that we have won we have rebounded well and the two games we have lost we haven’t rebounded as well.  We still rebounded, but we have up some and ones in both of those games lost off the offensive boards.  That is something we keep focusing on over and over again,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday evening, “Offensively, we are pretty skilled when it comes to shooting the basketball and if you are making them you are really, really dangerous, but it you are missing them you really have to focus on the defensive end.  (Tuesday) night we didn’t shoot the ball extremely well, but we were still in the game, but the offensive rebounding for the other team really is one the key focuses for us every game.”

          Edison (0-2) was throttled (73-31) Wednesday night by the same Woodmore team that had beaten Oak Harbor the night before.  The Chargers opened the season with a (64-49) loss to Margaretta in division game last Friday.

          Sweet says they were right in that game and have kids with quality experience.  “It was a very close game through three quarters and Edison was playing well.  They were kind of in the same boat we were going into Vermilion.  They were also coming off a quarantine situation, so for them to play that well early in that game was very impressive.  They have a lot of kids back from last year’s team.  They have some newcomers, but a lot of their best players are returning players from last year.  They have a nice driver in (Dylan) O’Dell.  They have a nice shooter in (Grant) Ott.  They have some nice roll players that played last year also.  These kids have varsity experience, so they are going to come in with some confidence and they are going to play us tough.  We are looking for a good game on Friday night against them in our gym,” said Sweet.

 

Published 12/17/20

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Vermilion Finding Time to Improve

 

          Vermilion will have its second three game week in succession this week as they host Bellevue in a Lake Division game in the Sandusky Bay Conference on Thursday night and play at home against Port Clinton in a cross over game on Saturday.

          The lost (50-39) to Elyria on Tuesday night in non-conference play, but coach Kurt Habermehl says they did some good things in that loss.  “Elyria is a good basketball team.  They always have tremendous athletes and they are very well coached.  We were a little short handed, we didn’t have our point guard, who is still trying to recover from COVID a little bit and get his body back to where it needs to be,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I was happy with the kids, they kept themselves in the game and gave themselves a chance to win.”

          With six games in less than two weeks time, Habermehl admits it is difficult to get into a practice and work on getting better at things.  “It’s that tough balance of trying to play games, but also needing some practice time and we haven’t had a lot of practice time, but we have been able to get games in.  It’s trying to balance it out a little bit to where you are continuing to improve, but also getting some game action,” he said.

          Vermilion (2-2,0-1) plays at home against Bellevue (0-1,0-0) on Thursday night.  The Redmen have just gotten off quarantine and have not played since losing in overtime to Margaretta (60-55) on November 28.

          Habermehl says they have strong guard play.  “Coach (Ed) Rich does a good job with them.  They shoot the ball really well from the game that I have seen.  They are always pretty hard nosed kids and they seem to be very guard heavy this year with multiple ballhandlers, so they should be a tough matchup for us,” said Habermehl.

 

Published 12/17/20

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Colonel Crawford Off to Solid Start

 

          Colonel Crawford has won its first five games of the season, including two big ones last week, and they face a tough double weekend on Friday and Saturday in Northern 10 Athletic Conference play with Mohawk and Wynford.

          Last week, they belted to Upper Sandusky (70-44) on Thursday and got past Carey (53-50) on Saturday, both on the road.

          Coach David Sheldon says to be able to go on the road like that and get two wins was huge for them.  “Saturday was a very good win for us.  That is a very good Carey basketball team and on the road up there and they are tough kids.  I was really happy with the way we came out and played.  It was a close game at the end and we were able to pull it out, so it was a good road win.  I compare last week to like a district tournament going Thursday-Saturday on the road to two very good programs in Upper Sandusky and Carey.  So, it was a good start to the season, but we have a long haul to go.  You have to move on to the next game now,” he said.

          Sheldon says they have played very well on both ends of the floor during the first five games.  “I think number one is the defensive end.  We have been very good at the defensive end, half court defense and what we want to do game to game depending on who we are playing.  Our physicalness on the basketball floor has helped with the way we guard people and that is where it starts,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday afternoon, “Offensively, we have had great production from three guys in Chase Walker, Carter Valentine, and Mason Studer, and our role players around them have hit some big shots throughout the last couple of games as well.  Guys have bought in.  The togetherness and understand what we want to do every possession offensively has been good.  We have no selfishness, we know what our roles are and we define that every year.  We are big in defining roles and we have had guys step up and buy in at the varsity level with guys to replace from last year.”

          Colonel Crawford (5-0,3-0) entertains Mohawk (3-1,2-0) in “N10” play on Friday night.  The Warriors edged Buckeye Central (43-42) on Saturday night, they share of the conference lead with the Eagles.  Mohawk beat Riverdale (64-58) in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.

          Sheldon says they have great guard play.  “It’s a good basketball team.  They have a lot back from last year.  Last year, we had a two point game.  It starts with their three guards in (Austin) Tusing, (Tyler) Hayman, and (Landan) Snyder.  Then they have the 6’4” kid (A.J.) Hess, who is very good for a sophomore.  He can step out and shoot the three and he can put it on the floor.  It’s a very good offensive basketball team.  At the defensive end they are a staple of a 2-3 zone.  They play it as good as anybody we play on our schedule.  They play a very good 2-3 zone, they are very active in it.  You have to be able to attack the zone on the offensive end,” said Sheldon.

          Wynford (0-1,0-0) plays at Colonel Crawford on Saturday night in conference play.  The Royals has been on quarantine and return to action on Friday night against Ridgedale.

          Sheldon reminds that this is an experienced team.  “You look at the Wynford roster they have lot back.  Of course, they lost an All-Ohioan, and one of the best ever to play at Wynford, in Josh Crall, but they have a lot of varsity experience.  When you look at (Dustin) Brady, (Jaron) Filliater, (James) Schiefer, (Gavin) Burris, those are four guys that played a lot of basketball.  You know they are going to be well coached with coach (Steve) Mohr.  They are going to be chomping at the bit to play.  They have played Old Fort and the night before us they play Ridgedale.  So, it is always a rival, Wynford-Crawford, and you know it will be a good basketball game when they come over here Saturday night,” said Sheldon.

 

Published 12/16/20

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Another Big Game for Old Fort

 

          Old Fort and Sandusky St. Mary’s share the early lead in the standings in the River Division of the Sandusky Bay Conference and they meet on Thursday night in Sandusky.

          The Stockaders beat Fremont St. Joe (72-47) in a division game last Friday.

          They have won all four of their games so far and coach Eric Hoover believes they are improving, but there are a lot of things they can execute better.  “I feel like we played better on Friday than we did on Tuesday, so there is some growth there in some areas.  I can see some people with things in practice that we are talking about after games and in film that they are putting it to use, so, yeah, I think we are getting better,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “We still have some injuries and they should be back in a couple of weeks hopefully and that will help make us better.  I still don’t think that our inside game has developed the way that it will throughout the year.  So, I think we still have a long way to improve.”

          Old Fort (4-0,3-0) is at St. Mary’s (4-1,3-0) on Thursday night.  The Panthers beat New Riegel (52-38) last Friday in a division contest.

          Hoover believes the Panther players are competing with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder.  “I think the kids take it personal sometimes when they graduated a bunch of guys in front of them and so people will overlook them and I think, I have seen some of their games, and they are taking it personal.  They play very hard and they are a guard oriented team.  A lot of times maybe even five guards on the court.  They still have some length to them.  They attack the basket hard.  They have a really good outside shooter.  They have good versatility.  They have been able to put some pressure on.  They have made it to 4-1, so they have done an outstanding job so far this year,” said Hoover.

          With St. Mary’s sometimes playing with five guards, Hoover says that can create some interesting matchups.  “I always look at it the other way that they are going to have a hard time matching up with us, but I look at the other side, and okay, who is he going to guard?  We mix it up quite a bit anyway between man and zone.  My 1-4 are athletic enough they could be guards anyway for us.  It is not too big of a problem for our bigger guys to guard guards, but it does create a little bit of a problem as I’m looking at it,” he said.

 

Published 12/16/20

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