Riverside has momentum

Andrew Keller

Riverside’s basketball team opens the 2018-2019 season with just one returning starter and five others with varsity experience but the Beavers have plenty of momentum on their side.

Sure, that momentum was created by the football team after it won a share of the Western Reserve Conference and advanced to the regional semifinals, but success has a funny way of spreading.

“I am very excited for our team this season and have been really encouraged by the hard work our players have put in to improve over the offseason,” second-year head coach Matt Grendel said. “Practices have gone very well so far and I look forward to seeing our team continue to get better every day.”

Riverside finished last season with an 8-15 record overall and a 4-10 mark in the WRC. The Beavers were 3-7 after the 2017 football season and finished this fall with a 9-3 record.

It doesn’t hurt that senior Andrew Keller, the lone returning starter, quarterbacked the football team.

“Our team’s strengths include the leadership of Andrew Keller and his ability to create scoring opportunities for himself as well as his teammates and Jarrod Spiesman’s ability to spread the floor and knock down 3-pointers as a forward,” Grendel said. “These two can help their teammates to get open looks and scoring opportunities.”

Keller, a 6-foot guard, averaged 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game last winter in earning All-WRC and All-Northeast Lakes District honors. He needs just 275 more points to reach 1,000 in his career.

“Andrew is an experienced leader for our team and has improved his individual game each year,” Grendel said. “Andrew has the ability to get to the basket and make everyone around him better.”

Spiesman, a 6-foot-4 senior forward, dropped in 6.5 points and pulled down 3.0 rebounds per contest last winter. He was an honorable mention All-WRC honoree.

“Jarrod loves the game of basketball and has dedicated himself to improving his game each year,” Grendel said. “I look forward to seeing his hard work in the offseason carry over to our season.”

Senior guard Michael Wojkowski (5-11), sophomore forward Matt Watson (6-2) and sophomore guard Mason Stephens (5-10) round out the starting lineup.

“Michael is extremely athletic and always provides us with a spark when he is on the floor. He has the ability to get to the basket and score,” Grendel said. “Matt is an extremely tough competitor. He works really hard on both ends of the floor to rebound the basketball and get us second-chance opportunities. Mason is very quick and has a good outside shot. He has the potential to be a key contributor to our offensive scoring.”

Seniors Nick Garmone and Jared Feronne and juniors Josh Hannan and Grayson Wolf are expected to see plenty of action this winter for the Beavers.

Garmone is a 5-foot-8 guard while Feronne is a 6-foot-3 forward.

“Nick provides the team with a lot of energy when he is on the floor. Offensively, he has improved his game as well,” Grendel said. “Jared has a quick first step and has the ability to use his quickness to his advantage and get to the basket.”

Hannan is a 5-foot-10 guard while Wolf is a 6-foot-3 forward.

“Josh has the ability to attack and get to the basket. He plays really hard on both ends of the floor,” Grendel said. “Grayson worked really hard in the offseason to improve his game and put himself in a position to contribute this season.”

Riverside hopes to be competitive in every game.

To do that, the Beavers have to limit turnovers, minimize second-chance opportunities for their opponents and effectively operate their offense.

For all of that to happen, the Beavers will have to quickly become a cohesive unit.

“We have a blend of players with experience at the varsity level and players with no varsity experience,” Grendel said. “Some players without varsity experience will be playing a lot for us this season. Our experienced players will have to be leaders for our younger players and serve as positive role models.”

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The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.