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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Guest Post: Wooster District Preview - Part 1

Ok, here you go.  Team capsules for each of the 14 squads in the Division III Wooster district.  This was put together in very short order by Andrew Marcum, who runs the fabulous - Wooster District site.  Click each team for their wins and losses detail.

Part 2 will include a full bracket prediction along with game previews for the potential matchups.

Very nice work Andrew.

1. Orrville (15-4); opens against winner of Black River and Norwayne

Orrville earned the #1 seed by playing far and away the toughest schedule of all the teams in the district. With 16 of their 19 games coming against D-I or D-II opponents and having gone 13-3 in those games, Orrville has proven that they can play with the big boys by winning their way to a 2nd place finish in the Ohio Cardinal Conference behind 16-1 Mansfield Senior. Led by sharpshooter-slasher Jacob Bolyard (21.4 ppg) and post Zach Wasson (18.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg), the Red Riders have the best and most explosive inside-outside combination in the tournament. Outside of the two star players, Orrville still has size, athleticism and overall talent to spare.

2. Triway (14-6); opens against Chippewa

Triway started off the season winning their first 8 games but has played inconsistently since then. As always, though, the Titans go deep off the bench and have a number of players who can score big on any night. In what some might consider a disappointing season to date, 4 of Triway's 6 losses have come to D-I Timken (x2), Berlin Hiland, and DI Wooster. A 2nd place finish in the PAC-7 is about the best they expected, coming in behind 17-3 Timken. Triway and head coach Keith Snoddy have always prided themselves on playing their best ball come tournament time, and that's what many can expect in March.

3. Hillsdale (14-4); opens against Columbia

With one league game remaining, Hillsdale finds themselves clinging to a share of the WCAL lead with Dalton, both ahead of preseason favorite Smithville. The Falcons have helped put the early favorites (Smithville) in their place thus far in the season, not just beating them once, but getting two big wins. However, the Falcons hurt their own status, too, by dropping both contests to the Dalton Bulldogs. Hillsdale sports a number of talented athletes who can play many different positions. Paullin (3.8 apg) has experience at the point, and a wealth of height has helped the Falcons have a balanced attack (Tyler Cline - 13.6 ppg, R Moore - 11.8 ppg, Ried Crossen - 6.9 rpg). Combine that experience and athleticism with a new coach (Chris Shenberger) this year, and Hillsdale seems to have the ingredients needed to be a very good team, and they have been just that so far this season.

4. Smithville (15-5); opens against Oberlin

After last year's memorable season, Smithville has come back to earth, but still had a very respectable season. Even though they return the tall tandem of Derek Orr (15.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg) and Corey Caldwell (17.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg), the other losses from last year's team has left the team looking for someone to control the offense, which especially hurt the Green Machine when long range threat Drew Frizell went down to injury early in the season. Now that Frizell is back to full strength, the Smithies feel they can beat anyone, but still have continued to battle, losing to Northwestern and Norwayne, among others. Don't let the losses to weak teams fool you, though. Smithville is dangerous with Frizell spotting up, Caldwell dominating the boards, and Orr mixing it up inside and outside. If freshman point guard Alex Bates (4.2 apg) can hold his own, Smithville could be tough to beat.

5. Wellington (13-6); opens against Loudonville

Wellington is a new addition to the district tournament along with league members Black River, Columbia, and Oberlin, all from the Patriot Athletic Conference, of which Wellington currently leads the Stars division with a 10-2 league record. There are some unknowns about this team in terms of personnel, but the weaker schedule seems to have been a factor when the seedings were completed. A double-digit loss to Hillsdale was their only real close-to-home, quality opponent with which we can gauge the Dukes (they also beat Norwayne by 5 at home).

6. Northwestern (11-9); opens against Tuslaw

Northwestern has had its highs and lows so far this season. Standout Brennan McKean (22.8 ppg, 5.6 apg) could be one of the best players in the district, but he will need more scorers around him to do some more work if they want to make a run. Head-to-head losses to Triway, Plymouth, Orrville (OT), Smithville, Dalton, and Hillsdale (x2) have shown they have problems with the upper echelon teams, but that overtime loss to Orrville, a win over Dalton early in the season, and their recent win over Smithville point out that they are also capable of playing with them. Northwestern is one of the better-coached teams in the district year-in, year-out, and this year is no different. They just lack that X-factor to get them over the hump. But, don't be surprised if they make some noise.

7. Loudonville (11-9); opens against Wellington

A 7-7 record in a mediocre Mid-Buckeye Conference hurt Loudonville at the time of the seeding, but since they have gone 2-2 since, including a 10-point win over WCAL-leader Dalton to finish their regular season. Having former OCC coach Kelly Seboe (formerly of West Holmes) at the helm, Loudonville will be tough mentally and physically. They have two solid stars in Skiles Haag (13.8 ppg) and D Zickefoose (12.3 ppg, 8.6 rpg), but otherwise they may lack some of the basketball talent currently on some of the other teams in the district. (Note: Loudonville is 2-0 against OCC teams, granted the two worst OCC teams.) A 5-point loss to Smithville recently opened some eyes a little bit, showing they might have big-game potential. However, outside of that Dalton win, there are no other quality wins as of yet. Keep an eye on their 1st round game with Wellington!

8. Tuslaw (10-10); opens against Northwestern

Tuslaw has only two quality wins on the season - Manchester and Triway, both at home in tightly contested battles. Although 9-5 in PAC-7 play, the Mustangs have struggled elsewhere, going 1-5 in non-league competition, with their only win being a 20-point beating of Chippewa. In their losses, two bright spots stick out - they almost handed Timken their first league loss in 3 years before falling behind late losing 67-58 (at home), and then they took undefeated (19-0) East Canton to the wire, only to lose by 4. Their lack of a true point guard, deep threat, or inside presence has hurt them on the offensive end much of the season, but they are a scrappy bunch that can play good defense if they need to.

9. Black River (8-11); opens against Norwayne

What used to be an embarrassment, the Black River basketball program has gotten a few wins up on the board this year. When they play the best teams on their schedule, they don't fare too well, with 6 double-digit losses, including a 33-point drumming they received from Plymouth and a similar 43-point loss to Hillsdale. Playing in the Patriot Athletic Conference, it's hard to get much of a read off of them in terms of who they have on the court, but they will be facing very unfamiliar competition when they come to Wooster.

10. Norwayne (4-15); opens against Black River

The last two years have been exciting for the Bobcats, but losing lots to graduation has left Norwayne with Cameron Tasker (12.3 ppg) and N Davis (10.9 ppg), but still struggling in the 2009-'10 season, with three of their 4 wins coming from Chippewa, Kingsway Christian, and Waynedale. However, the highlight of their season was easily their 56-53 win over Smithville in late January. Coach West has proven in the past to have his kids well-prepared for the tournament, but their outlook isn't looking nearly as encouraging for this postseason. You can count on a good fan turnout, though, as the Bobcat faithful have proven they can be counted on to liven things up.

11. Columbia (8-11); opens against Hillsdale

Since the February 14th seeding, Columbia has gone 2-2 while Norwayne seeded ahead of them has gone 0-4. Even then, it has been a theme that the Patriot Athletic Conference did not get much credit in the voting. There is very little known about the Radiers other than they are 1-5 against D-II opponents and haven't really had any noticeable win to note. On one hand, 8 wins is 8 wins, so they've come through when they had to.On the other, they lost to WCAL member Rittman by double-digits, lost to Wellington by 33, and will open up with Hillsdale in the tournament.

12. Waynedale (4-15); opens against winner of Triway and Chippewa

Waynedale started the season in okay fashion winning 3 of their first 4, but since have gone 1-14 with losses to 1-19 West Holmes and 3-win Chippewa. A bright spot was a 9-point win over Norwayne just before the seeding, but it hasn't sparked much else since. J Miller (12.4 ppg, 3.5 apg) leads the way but doesn't seem to have much help around him.

13. Chippewa (3-17); opens against Triway

Chippewa has been the cellar dweller in the WCAL for a number of years; and sadly, this year is no different with a 2-12 league record. It's hard to find a bright pot in their schedule, and one would think a 25-point win would be one, but it must be said that it was against an overmatched Central Christian team. Nevertheless, a double-digit scorer J Villers (10.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg) has been someone to cheer about to date for the Chipps, who open with Triway in the 1st round.

14. Oberlin (2-17); opens against Smithville
After starting 2-1, Oberlin has lost 16 games in a row. It is hard to say much else knowing very, very little about them.

That's all of them. Watch for Part 2 over the weekend. Feel free to add your own expert analysis in the comment section. Good luck to all of the teams.

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