First off, this is not me calling anyone out. This is not me trying to punk anyone for their schedule. I have not conferred with any of these coaches, none of them know anything about this list or that they would be on it. This is as high of a compliment as I can give a team…
With that said, the Jackson-Waynedale matchup tonight made me think. I thought it was a great game for Waynedale, despite a loss, to grow and strengthen their squad.
This year presents a unique opportunity, to almost modify your schedule as you go. With teams like Stow, Newark, Hiland, GlenOak, Laurel and others looking for games almost daily, I explore who might benefit the most from stepping on the floor with these established powerhouses.
Waynedale is who sparked the thought, they got on the floor with Hiland last year, and did just about as much as anyone did to hang close with them. Tonight they squared off with Jackson, a few more of these type games won’t boost the win column, but they could help extend the season. The Golden Bears feature Malone commit Brooklyn Troyer, three point specialist Kelsey Wolfe, and versatile wing Laney Murphy. Add in a few role players and you have yourself a solid squad.
It’s not for everyone, it takes some important things to be able to play out of your comfort zone:
• A coach that can dig the positives out of a butt whoppin and not overreact too harshly
• A squad that’s mentally tough and not motivated only by the win loss column or the scoreboard
• Mild depth, you have to have more than one player, a solid starting five is a good start
• A supportive fanbase who can take a loss and still bring the energy
• A competitive spirit, a hunger to be the best, by competing against the best
So I thought, who else is ready to compete at a higher level? They may not win, but it would help them grow and ultimately have more success in the long run. So I wrote a few down…
Coach O’Keefe already has the Royals headed in this direction, so its easy to add them. He has been working overtime to get games, and he don’t care who it’s against, either do the kids. He’s already played the likes of Perry, beat Canfield and Hoban, and has Hiland waiting in a few days. They are small, but they have a multiple guard look that is successful. After finishing as district runner-up last year they have their sights set on bigger things this year. Not only are they becoming battle tested, but their confidence is also growing.
The youngest team on this list, but already playing very well. They have the squad to have some serious success. From a 2nd year starter at PG, to their trio of posts with Lacher, Miller and Evanich, over to the Mason sisters on the wing, they are well rounded and diverse. This group is already pretty fundamental and technical, but getting on the floor with a great team, who can illustrate as first hand as possible how greatness acts and plays would go a very long way. The potential is pretty high for this team, experiencing a whole new level of basketball might benefit this team more than any other on this list.
I already know we are going to see the Indians take a couple cracks at bigger and better schools, its just a matter of when. They have a as good of starting five as any non-powerhouse team. They’ve already given Jackson everything that could handle. With Bottomley and Spradling in the middle they are solid in the size department. They have two big time scorers in Cudnik and Marecek. Kuhn does much of the ball handling but there’s more than one option there as well. This team has tremendous upside and seeing some more big time programs would be great for them, they might even be able to pull out a W somewhere.
Coach Fishel has done a great job of building a competitive schedule. I know for a fact that he will play anyone. I think the key to more people knowing them, and how good they are, is getting out of the Youngstown area as much as possible. They have the star-power in the Lamparty sisters, the experience and toughness in Kohler and Giles, and enough additional pieces to scare some people. If they get an opportunity to get on the road against some of these traditional power teams that would do nothing but work wonders for their March aspirations.
Quite simply, this team is too good for the river valley. They need to take every chance they can to get opponents from out of the area to battle. They have an exceptional post in Reagan Viskovich, and the Kildow sisters, along with a few others, give then good guard play. The reality is they aren’t getting past Hiland come tourney time this year, they probably won’t next year either. The objective now should be to build as much as possible for that run in 2023. They should take on as many tough teams from out of their area as possible. I said it last year, and I’ll say it again, if they’re wise they’ll do anything they can to get a game against Hiland. Best way to see where you want to go is to see it up close and personal. Big things can be in store for the Jets, if they’re willing to sacrifice wins for growth.