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    2023-24 Boys Basketball Preview: Grand Valley Mustangs

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    Grand Valley head coach Justin Turk is cautiously optimistic about his squad’s potential this winter.

    The Mustangs return five starters and six others with varsity experience from a team that won just seven games last year.

    “We have a solid nucleus returning,” said Turk, who is in his ninth year with the team. “We have a couple of guys currently injured or dealing with extenuating circumstances so we think we will be a much improved team as the season progresses. We have a good mix of experienced veterans and some young raw talent. The quicker we can blend the two, the better off we will be.”

    The extenuating circumstances Turk referenced begin with Logan Zirzow, a 6-foot-3 guard who earned second-team All-Chagrin Valley Conference and honorable mention all-district and all-county honors last season.

    Zirzow was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma in August and remains in treatment as the season quickly approaches.

    He is Grand Valley’s leading returning scorer after dropping 11.8 points per game on opponents as a junior with 3.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per contest.

    “His prognosis looks very positive at this point,” Turk said. “We are currently unsure about playing availability this year but regardless, Logan returns as one of the top players in the CVC Valley Division because of his all-around game.”

    Grand Valley has two more returning senior starters in Jerry Schultz and Bobby Rogers.

    Schultz, a 6-foot-3 center, averaged 11.6 points and 12.7 rebounds per game on his way to earning second-team all-conference and honorable mention all-district and all-county honors.

    “Jerry had a breakout season for us last season averaging a double-double,” Turk said. “We expect the same results plus more from him as he will be looked at to be our anchor and leader this season. Jerry returns as the top big man in the CVC Valley.”

    Rogers, a 6-foot-1 guard/forward, averaged 10.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game as a junior.

    “Bobby is an elite athlete, and we will lean on him early for leadership and experience,” Turk said. “He’s a great on and off-ball defender. We expect his all-around game to expand this season.”

    Juniors Braden Hart and Sam Goforth round out the projected starting lineup.

    Hart is a 6-foot guard/forward who averaged 4.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists as a starter last season while Goforth, a 6-foot guard, came off the bench last season.

    “Braden’s battled a few injuries over the years but has a chance to be a breakout player for us this season. He has good court vision and he’s a very versatile player for us. We look for him to have a very solid season for us,” Turk said. “Sam will have the opportunity to lead our team at the guard position this season. He’s a very smart, determined individual willing to accept any role needed of him. His effort and hustle make him a valuable player for us.”

    Grand Valley’s depth will come from a senior, one junior, two sophomores, and a freshman.

    Teagan Fenton is a 6-foot-6 senior center while Ben Cozad is a 5-foot-8 junior guard.

    “Teagan will look to give us depth at the center position after having a really good summer and early preseason for us,” Turk said. “Ben will be a key contributor for us either as a starter or off the bench. He has a relentless motor and the ability to handle the ball and see the floor. His ability to space the floor for us will be valuable early on.”

    The sophomores are Payton Pigza, a 5-foot-11 forward who started a couple of games last season, and Anthony Eason, a 5-foot-8 guard. Carter Turk is a 6-foot-3 freshman guard.

    “Payton’s biggest attributes are his toughness, defense, and rebounding. In many cases, he will be asked to guard the opposing team’s best player; a role he gladly accepts. He started a few games for us last year as a freshman and we look for him to build on that experience,” Coach Turk said. “Anthony will have an opportunity to gain valuable experience early on. He will be sure to be a player to watch this season and into the future. He’s a tough, solid player for us. Carter will start the season on the injured list recovering from a lower leg injury suffered in the fall. His ability to shoot from anywhere on the floor, create his own shot, and defend makes him one of the best all-around freshmen in the area. Only time will tell when we see him on the floor this year.”

    While the Mustangs have some question marks heading into the season, Turk is confident his squad can achieve its goals.

    “We expect to compete every night and get stronger and deeper as the season moves along. We play a tough non-conference and conference schedule, which we hope allows us to be in a position to compete for a league title and a postseason run,” Turk said. “Important for us this year will be to jell early as we will have several lineup changes to start the season as players return from various injuries. We hope this builds depth as the season moves along.”

     

    Steve Hare
    Steve Harehttps://www.ohiovarsity.com
    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.

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