WRC Boys Basketball Preview

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With five returning starters, Brush is a clear favorite to defend its Western Reserve Conference championship.

But, the Arcs don’t have a clear path to that crown. Several other conference teams have the potential to dethrone the Arcs.

OhioVarsity.com surveyed the league’s coaches to get their thoughts on how things could shake out this season. Below are the projected standings and the Preseason All-WRC players.

1. BRUSH

The Arcs finished 18-5 last season and return all five starters for third-year coach Chet Mason. Junior DJ Dial is among the top players in the area and earned first team All-WRC honors last season after averaging over 15 points per game. Junior guard Andrew Harris and (13ppg), senior forward Tyler Williams (10 ppg) also earned first team All-WRC honors. Rounding out the projected starting lineup are sophomore center John Hughley (6 ppg) and senior guard Tahj Benton, an honorable mention all-league performer.

2. SOUTH

Did not respond.

3. KENSTON

Fresh off its first sectional title in nearly a decade, the Bombers return several starters from last year’s squad including all-district honoree Ryan Kooser, who can dominate the glass and score from inside and out. Michael Swartz, who set a school record for 3-pointers in a single game also returns to the starting lineup to give the Bombers a dangerous outside shooting threat. Kenston has several others with the potential to earn all-conference honors this winter. The talent and depth is there for a long postseason run. How quickly the starting lineup can jell will determine how far the Bombers can go this season.

4. CHARDON

With three returning starters and a lineup that will feature four seniors, Chardon has high hopes for the 2017-2018 season. The Hilltoppers finished 12-10 a year ago and return three All-Western Reserve Conference performers in seniors Alex Sulka, Joe Scerbo and Mike Laudato. Sulka was named All-WRC and all-district after averaging 20 points and six rebounds per game. He needs just 20 points this winter to reach 1,000 in his career. Scerbo and Laudato both were named honorable mention all-conference. Scerbo averaged 10 points and four assists per game while Laudato scored 10 points and hit on 45-percent of his 3-point tries. Senior forward Jake Niehus and junior guard Jake Skilton round out the projected starting lineup. Senior guard Robbie Hemly and juniors Mikey Corsillo, a point guard, and Jacob Hougan, a center, also are expected to contribute for the Hilltoppers this season.

5. RIVERSIDE

Matt Grendel spent the past four years leading Riverside’s junior varsity team but this winter he’ll step up to coach the varsity squad. Leading the way are senior guard Jameson Campbell and junior guard Andrew Keller, who combined for over 24 points per game last year. Campbell averaged 11 points and four rebounds per contest while Keller dropped in 13 points with four rebounds and two steals per contest. Seniors Michael Senyes and Nate Sleek and junior Dylan Coumos round out the projected starting lineup. Senyes is a forward who thrives on the defensive end of the court and Sleek, also a forward, averaged three points and two rebounds per game last winter. Grendel expects to see senior guard Luke Mohr, junior guard Michael Wojkowkski, junior forward Jarrod Spiesman, junior guard Jaxson Reutter and junior guard Bilal Abdussatar also contribute this season.

6. NORTH

North returns four starters from last year, including Jake Tanski, Jimmy Arnold, Brian Skolny and Brandon Barron. Mikey Duleba is expected to round out the starting lineup. The Rangers have the potential to make some noise in the WRC if they get consistent play from their top shooters and excel on the defensive end. Barron already scored 32 points in a game this season and Arnold topped out at 20 points in North’s WRC opener at Mayfield. Tanski also has the ability to score points in bunches and the Rangers will need that from him in key games this season.

7. MAYFIELD

First-year head coach Bob Pacsi is no stranger to coaching, having patrolled the sidelines for 45 years. He inherits a team that finished 2-21 overall and 2-12 in the WRC. Pacsi expects guards Mike Favazzo, Donny Castellarin and Denzell Seawood, center Aaron Hicks and forward Dillon Coffey to fill out the starting lineup. Forwards Cameron Moore and Devon Parks and guards Julius Vann, Blake Martinich and Jeremiah Jackson also are expected to contribute for the Wildcats.

8. MADISON

First-year Madison head coach Nick Gustin has his work cut out for him at Madison. The Blue Streaks, who finished 20-4 overall and 11-3 in the Western Reserve Conference, return just one starter and three others with varsity experience. Despite the turnover, Gustin is confident Madison can remain competitive. Success for the Blue Streaks starts with taking care of the basketball, playing solid defense, forcing turnovers and rebounding. Junior guard Marcus Horton is the team’s lone returning starter. Junior guard Ron Hartman and senior forward Garrett Franzeck also are projected to start after earning valuable playing experience last season. Senior guard Nate Fawver and sophomore guard J.D. Galovic round out the projected starters. Gustin expects senior forward Mark Primer, sophomore guard Alex Dragas and sophomore guard Chris Blaumen to provide valuable minutes off the bench.

PRESEASON ALL-WRC

  • D.J. Dial, Brush
  • Alex Sulka, Chardon
  • Ryan Kooser, Kenston
  • Norm Hughes, South
  • Andrew Harris, Brush
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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.