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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Basketball: Orrville Boys win 6th Straight

The month of December didn't start out so well for the boys basketball team. They dropped a hard-fought game at West Holmes by a 60-56 score. This was on the heels of a 41-40 loss to Coventry in the fist game on their home floor. An 0-2 start...even if both losses were by a combined 5 points, was still an 0-2 start.

Not sure what's changed, but December has been pretty good to the Riders since then as they've reeled off 6 straight wins, including their latest win over an undefeated Norwayne squad by a 62-49 score.

The 6-2 record is their best start since going 7-1 to open the 2009-10 season. That season ended in a state runner-up finish.

Road Warriors
What's just as impressive is that 5 of the 6 wins in this streak have been away from Bob Knight Gymnasium. Road wins, especially in the OCC, are precious. Last season, the Riders only won 1 OCC road game....they've already won 2 OCC road games this season.  Mental toughness is such a key in winning road games...and this team has that in spades.  Lots of senior leadership and mentally tough ballplayers.

Balancing Act
Another key to this season so far is the balanced scoring.  With basically an 8-man rotation, each player needs to contribute to the scoring effort..and that's exactly what's been happening. Senior Trevor Summers is leading the way in scoring, but right there with him usually is sophomore Luke Smith, seniors Blake Dennis & Kyle Ritchie and junior Amir Simpson. Seniors Joel Zook and Chad Harrison come off the bench and provide solid minutes and timely scoring as well.  Every single guy on the floor plays very unselfishly and looks to make the extra pass.  This leads to very efficient play and usually very high percentage shots.

The guys also seem to genuinely enjoy playing ball together. The guys play loose and don't seem to get rattled.  Again, this says so much about their mental toughness...and about coaching.

The Riders will play 4 of their next 5 games at home starting this Friday January 3rd vs Mansfield Senior.  If you haven't caught a game yet this season, you should really make a point to do so.  You can check out the new gym and see a real fun team to watch.

Wooster District
It's a little early to be looking ahead to the district tournament, but there will be a few new  local teams there this year that could make the district much more interesting from a local perspective.

The teams in this year's Wooster District are:

Black River, Chippewa, Dalton, Fairless, Hillsdale, Loudonville, Northwestern, Norwayne, Orrville, Smithville, Tuslaw, Waynedale, Wellington

Dalton and Fairless are new, replacing Berkshire and Elyria Catholic.  I like the addition of Dalton, they're a traditionally strong program, but have been in Division 4 and would get shipped up to a tough district near Cleveland and run into the private schools up that way.

Also notice that 7 of the 8 WCAL teams (minus Rittman) are in this district.

Speaking of the WCAL..and conferences in general
It sure was nice having a road game that kept you in Wayne County, as was the case tonight travelling to Norwayne.  It was 20 minutes for me, door to door.  I could really get used to that as opposed to the OCC where drives to Lexington & Clear Fork almost require an overnight stay.

I had heard that we applied to the Portage Trail Conference about possibly joining their conference, but they chose to add Cloverleaf.  Not sure it was ever serious from their end, but it does seem like we're looking to get out of the OCC.  I don't know if that's any kind of huge secret, just nice to hear that options are being looked at.

This article gives some more detail on Cloverleaf joining the PTC and also mentions another school that has been offered but doesn't identify who it might be. If I had to guess, it's Northwest, as they've been without a conference for a few years now, and would be a closer drive for other schools in the PTC.  I think we'd be a nice fit there across all sports, but I can see them pointing out how far of a drive we are.  For now it seems we're staying in the OCC.

College Riders Earn Honors
Congrats to Eastern Michigan senior Erin Short on being named All-Academic MAC Honorable Mention & All MAC Tournament Team.
Also congrats to Illinois sophomore Mason Monheim on being named Academic All-Big Ten.

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