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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hoops: Season End & Tourney Preview

Well...another regular season is done. The 08-09 season has followed a similar script as the last several. Another season without a league title and seemingly more questions about this team than answers. Let's look at it...TOGETHER.

Final record was 13-7 (14-6 on the court, but the opener with John Marshall was forfeitted due to the use of an ineligible player) and 10-4 in the OCC, our 5th straight year with 10 league wins, but also our 6th straight year (out of 6 years in the league) without a league title.

Losses were to Mansfield Senior, @ Akron East, Mans. Madison (twice), Canton Timken and @ Lexington, and of course the forfeit.

The good news, all losses were to very solid teams. In my estimation, we played 10 games against teams I'd consider "above average," we lost 6 and won 4. The 4 wins coming against Triway, Northwestern, Senior and Lexington. I'd call the win over Senior the biggest win of the season (so far). Two of those four wins needed last second shots by Teven Mitchell.

Leading scorer was Jake Bolyard with 388 points (19.4 ppg) followed by Zach Wasson with 299 points (14.95 ppg). Wasson's 2 year point total stands at 588 or exacly 14 ppg over his first 42 games as a Red Rider.

Wasson was also the teams leading recounder, averaging nearly 8 rpg.

Canton District
Another talented district awaits the Riders, led by St Vincent-St Mary who have put together some impressive wins against D1 competition.

The #2 seed and first round Orrville opponent is 19-1 Minerva. You don't win 19 games by being overrated, but Minerva does have what I'd call somewhat of a weak schedule. I'm never "excited" to play a 19-1 team, especially with a team with a sound fundamental base as Minerva, but I think we'll hold our own against them....and just maybe pull the upset.

History, however, is not on our side. We have not won a sectional title since the 2004-05 season and are just 7-6 in the past 6 Canton Tournaments.

Here's the bracket and here's how I see the games shaking out.

Top Half of Bracket

Sectional Semifinals
NW over Fairless
Springfield over Norton
Buchtel over Coventry

Sectional Finals
St V over NW
Buchtel over Springfield

District Semifinal
St V over Buchtel

Bottom Half of Bracket

Sectional Semifinals
Orrville over Minerva
Alliance over Hoban
Canton South over Marlington

Sectional Finals
Orrville over Louisville
Alliance over Canton South

District Semifinals
Alliance over Orrville

District Final
St. V over Alliance

Minerva Preview
The Lions strike me as a terribly balanced team, led by 6'3" junior Brian Harp who averages nearly 20 ppg and 10 rpg per game. Ryker Locke (6'1" and a Junior, coaches son) leads a sold group of guards, averaging over 12 pgg and shooting 45% from 3-pt range. Josh Fick (6'1" and a Senior) is the 3rd Lion to averages double figures, chipping 10.7 ppg. Troy Summers (6'2" and a Senior, QB and team MVP for the football team) checks in with around 8 ppg.

The trio of Harp, Locke and Fick all average better than 70% from the FT line.

This is the 2nd year in a row the Riders and Lions meet in the sectional semifinals, last year Orrville won by a 72-56 score. Here's the article from that game. A lot of familiar Minerva names in that article. Their experience shows in the fact that they were 7-14 last year and are 19-1 this year.

Keys to the game....
  • Orrville must not let "the other guys" beat them. I'm sure plenty of attention will be paid to Locke and Harp, but Minerva has plenty of balance and any one of 4 guys not named Brian Harp can score 10-15 points each in any given game. We should have the size and talent to defend the Lions straight up.
  • It is imperative that Orrville hold any lead they get. The Riders have made a disturbing habit of giving away double digit leads this season.
  • The Riders must dictate tempo. An up and down, fast paced game will favor the Riders, while a ball control, possession style game will favor the Lions.
  • Orrville must limit "silly" fouls, and keep their big men out of trouble.
  • In my opinion, for Orrville to win, the trio of Gant, Pirman and Hoobler must score 12-15 points combined.
  • Orrville must look inside first, in the article from last years game, it said we shot 17 three's in the first half, and were tied with Minerva at the break. Only when they went inside first did they pull away. A similar strategy must be employed this time as well.
  • The Riders must control the 4th quarter....if the game comes down to possessions and free throws, our chances are not good.
Final prediction.......Orrville 65-61.

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