NBC boys basketball preview: Rossford banking on experience, depth

All five starters are back for veteran Rossford coach Brian Vorst.

By Mark Monroe / The Blade
Tue, 03 Dec 2019 05:39:44 GMT

With the return of four players who received all-league recognition last season, the Rossford Bulldogs look to have the quality experience and depth to get back to the top of the Northern Buckeye Conference.

All five starters are back for veteran Rossford coach Brian Vorst, who believes his team is motivated to compete every night for a league title.

Junior point guard CamRon Gaston earned All-NBC first-team honors after averaging 13.7 points and 6.1 assists per game, while senior forward Ethan Dewese (6-foot-5) was named to the all-league second team.

Rossford (9-15 overall, 8-6 NBC) earned five of eight first-place votes in a preseason coaches poll, and the Bulldogs are expected to win the program's first championship since 2015-16 when they captured the second of back-to-back titles.

“I believe that we have a group that is internally motivated,” Vorst said.

Eastwood (11-13, 9-5) earned the other three first-place votes and are expected to give Rossford the biggest challenge. Fostoria is picked to finish third followed by Elmwood, Otsego, defending champion Genoa, Woodmore, and Lake.

“I think that the league will be very balanced once again,” Vorst said. “I expect that the competitive nature of our league will serve our entire league well when preparing for the tournament.”

Rossford has 12 letterwinners back to go along with good overall size. Vorst said it all looks great on paper, but his team must prove itself worthy of the early accolades.

“It is great, but it doesn't get us any wins,” Vorst said. “In fact, it makes the season more challenging in regards that there is now unneeded pressure to win and we also know that we will be getting everyone's best shot.”

Eastwood, which last won the NBC in 2016-17 when it shared the title with Genoa, also has good experience back lending overall depth to an Eagles team that will have good perimeter shooting. Coach Todd Henline has four starters back, including seniors Jacob Halko (guard) and Christian Peters (G/F). Both players earned All-NBC second-team honors as juniors.

“I think how quickly we can put it all together defensively will determine a lot of our success,” Henline said.

Four starters also return for a Fostoria team that is seeking the program's first NBC title. Coach Thom Loomis said his group should excel at creating pressure while having balanced scoring and quality ball-handling skills.

“We have a good mix of returning experience and some talented young players,” Loomis said.

Although Otsego lost 60 percent of its scoring to graduation, veteran coach Jim Bostdorff expects to get quality play from his ball handlers, who will be able to both handle pressure and create it.

“We like our team speed, athleticism, and leadership,” Bostdorff said.

Vorst said every league contest will be a battle, especially with his team deemed to be the hunted.

“We need to make sure that we are up to the challenge each night and performing at our best,” Vorst said.

Here's a look at the NBC in predicted order of finish based on a preseason coaches' poll:

ROSSFORD

Coach: Brian Vorst,15th season

Last season: 9-15 overall, 8-6 NBC

Top players: Seniors Ethan Dewese, 6-5, F; Reed Murphree, 6-0, G; Nick Perry, 6-5, P; Hayden Sabovik, 6-6, F. Juniors CamRon Gaston, 5-8, PG; Jamari Croom, 6-4, F; Nick Walker, 6-6, P; Ethan Bihn, 6-0, F. Sophomores Ben Morrison, 6-2, G; Gavin Dewese, 6-5, P; Gavin Linkous, 6-1, P; Nic Borojevich, 6-2, G.

Strengths: Experience, size, depth

Weaknesses: Post offense, creating pressure, handling pressure

Outlook: All five starters are back among a total of 12 letter winners for Vorst. Gaston, who averaged 13.7 points, 6.1 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game, earned All-NBC first team honors. Dewese (13.7 ppg. and 6.9 rpg.) earned all-league second team honors. Morrison (12.1 ppg., 2.5 rpg., 1.6 apg.), Murphree (6.3 ppg., 2 apg., 2 rpg.,) and Borojevich (6.2 ppg., 3.5 rpg. 3.1 apg.) all earned honorable mention in the league. Dewese (4.3 ppg., 4.7 rpg.) also chipped in with quality minutes. The Bulldogs should be versatile with balanced scoring, but post defense may be a trouble area. “I am excited to get the season started,” Vorst said. “We have a fine group of players that enjoy playing together and work hard. I believe that our tough schedule should prepare us to be playing our best come tournament time.”

EASTWOOD

Coach: Todd Henline, 10th season

Last season: 11-13, 9-5

Top players: Seniors Noah Henline, 6-0, PG/SG; Jacob Halko, 6-2, G; Christian Peters, 6-2, G/F. Juniors Isaac Badenhop, 6-0, G. Sophomore Jake Meyer, 6-2, SF/C.

Strengths: Experience, depth, perimeter shooting

Weaknesses: Size, post offense, post defense

Outlook: Four of five starters are back among six letterwinners overall. Halko tallied 11.7 points per game to go along with 5.1 rebounds per contest. Henline averaged 7.1 points and 3.1 assists per game, while Peters (7.9 ppg., 4.0 rpg.), Badenhop (8.0 ppg., 2.1 rpg.), and Meyer (3.1 ppg., 3.0 rpg.) also return. Griffin Coffield (SG/SF), Heath Hagg (SG/PG), Caleb Peters (C), and Jayden Rayford (SF/C) also are expected to contribute. Henline said he has the majority of his scoring and rebounding back. “We will be a pretty experienced team with good depth,” Henline said. “I think how quickly we can put it all together defensively will determine a lot of our success.”

FOSTORIA

Coach: Thom Loomis, third season

Last season: 8-16, 4-10

Top players: Seniors Ke’Shawn Carter-Stokes, 6-1, F; Bryan Stenson, 5-8, G; Jonathan Banks, 6-2, F. Juniors Dom Settles, 5-10, G; EJ Williams, 6-0, G. Sophomore Zach Ward, 6-0, G/F.

Strengths: Creating pressure, scoring balance, ball-handling

Weaknesses: Size, post offense, rebounding

Outlook: Loomis has four returning letterwinners, including three starters. Carter-Stokes (3.2 ppg. 3.0 rpg.), Settles (6.6 ppg., 2.0 ppg. 3.1 apg.), and Stenson (9.8 ppg., 4.5 rpg. 5.4 apg.) all contributed on the varsity, while Banks and Williams led the junior varsity squad. Loomis said his Redmen have the potential to be very solid on both ends of the court. “We have a good mix of returning experience and some talented young players moving up to the varsity level,” he said. “Keys to our season are consistency at the defensive end and rebounding. Team chemistry is essential for our offensive success. We had an excellent summer, so we are looking forward to continuing to improve and compete as the season progresses.”

ELMWOOD

Coach: Ty Traxler, 12th season

Last season: 14-10, 10-4

Top players: Seniors Mason Lentz, 6-2, W; Josiah Childress, 6-2, W; Nick Weiss, 6-3, W; Zach Abke, 6-2, W; Caleb Plouck, 5-10, PG. Junior Terrel Lawson, 5-9, PG; Bryce Reynolds, 6-2,W.

Strengths: Length, experience, team chemistry

Weaknesses: Ball security, physicality

Outlook: Traxler, who has a career record of 139-111, led the Royals to an NBC runner-up finish and then a sectional championship. Lentz (10.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.5 apg.) and Childress (10.2 ppg., 4.4 rpg., 1.5 apg.) are the top returning leading scorers. Weiss (4.0 ppg., 2.5 rpg. 1.5 apg.), Abke (4.1 ppg, 1.5 rpg.) and Reynolds (4.1 ppg., 1.5 rpg.) also logged quality minutes. Plouck and Lawson also chipped in. “For us to be successful this year, we must continue to improve defensively,” Traxler said. “Also, our returning players are playing in new roles this season. Depending on how quickly they can adapt to those roles will be integral to our success as a team.”

OTSEGO

Coach: Jim Bostdorff 15th, season

Last season: 11-12, 6-8

Top players: Seniors Noah Keifer, 6-0, W/P; Evan Harves, 5-11, PG; Ben Gray Senior, 5-11, W. Junior Noah Dzierwa, 5-11, W/P.

Strengths: Ballhandling, handling pressure, creating pressure

Weaknesses: Rebounding, post defense, post offense

Outlook: Bostdorff has two starters back among four returning letterwinners. Keifer is the top returning scorer (11.0 ppg.) and rebounder (7.3 rpg.). Harves (5.1 ppg., 3.2 rpg., 3.1 apg.), Gray (3.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg.), and Dzierwa (2.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg.) also have plenty of varsity experience. The Knights should be strong on the perimeter but overall size is a concern. “We need to replace 60 percent of our scoring and rebounding that was lost to graduation,” Bostdorff said. “We like our team speed, athleticism, and leadership. Varsity experience, rebounding, and size are concerns.”

GENOA

Coach: Tim Hausfeld, first season

Last season: 24-1, 14-0

Top players: Seniors Mike Rightnowar, 6-3, G; Allen Laytart, 6-3, PF; Rylen Stoner, 5-11, G.

Strengths: Creating pressure, perimeter defense, perimeter shooting

Weaknesses: Post defense, size, scoring balance

Outlook: Hausfeld, a former standout at Southview High School, inherits one starter among three letterwinners. Rightnowar averaged 6.7 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. Layhart (3.6 ppg., 2.0 rpg.) and Stoner (1.0 ppg., 1.5 rpg., 1.1 apg.) also return. Ballhandling should be a strength, but scoring balance my be an issue for the Comets, who have won three straight league titles. “The kids are hard-working and grasping new things well,” Hausfeld said. “We will still be Genoa basketball with solid, disciplined defense, and a focus on offensive efficiency. We're excited.”

WOODMORE

Coach: Aaron Clouse, fifth season

Last season: 10-13, 5-9

Top players: Seniors Cade Burroughs, 6-1, G; Paul Koenig, 6-0, G; Brad Miller, 5-10, G. Juniors Ethan McNair, 6-0, G; Aaron Sandrock, 6-1, G; Zach Hunt, 5-9, G; Hunter Allen, 6-1, G; Isaac Betancourt, 6-0, G; DJ Melter, 6-3, F. Sophomore Aaron Miller 6-0, G.

Outlook: Only one starter returns but four letter winners are back for Clouse, who is 51-66 at Woodmore. Koenig is the top returning scorer after averaging 8.3 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. McNair (1.2 ppg, 0.3 rpg.) and Sandrock (2.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg.) also played significant minutes. Burroughs is returning from an injury. The Wildcats return players who contributed only 284 of the 1,305 overall points scored last season. “This year’s team will need to replace the majority of team scoring and minutes played,” Clouse said. “The kids competing for spots have worked very hard and we are confident they will be able to step in immediately and make an impact.”

LAKE

Coach: Jeff Hoffman, first season

Last season: 1-22, 0-14

Top players: Seniors Nick Perry, 6-1 F; Hadden Rodgers, 5-10, G; Juniors Tyler Saffran, 5-10, G; Jacyn Bates, 6-6, C. Sophomores Cam Hoffman, 6-5, F; Richie Hayward, 5-10, G.

Strengths: Perimeter defense, ball-handling, scoring balance

Weaknesses: Overall depth, experience, overall size

Outlook: Hoffman inherits just one senior but five letterwinners overall return. The Flyers are slightly inexperienced at the varsity level but the players are extremely hard working, according to Hoffman. Saffran averaged 9.1 points per game. Lake should have good post offense but perimeter shooting may be an issue. “Each day we're working to get better,” Hoffman said. “We will be looking to use our athleticism to compete in every game. Our focus will be on the defensive end, using that competitiveness and athleticism for constant pressure.”

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