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Shelby Whippet News
Shelby Here to Battle
Shelby pulled one of the biggest upsets of the young high school baseball season on Thursday when they beat Ontario (10-7) in a Northern Ohio League game at Ontario.
Josh Lykins had four of the Whippets 13 hits against Ontario. With game tied at five in the top of the fifth the Whippets scored five times to take a (10-5) lead.
During the preseason Shelby coach C.J. Brickman said he wasn't sure they could compete in the league, but Thursday's win makes him a little more confident. "I guess it does. It was a good win. I just don't know how good the rest of the teams in the "NOL" are yet, but it was a good win for us, especially going there and this wind out there, so yes we are happy," he said.
It was windy on Thursday, with gusts between 40 and 50 MPH, and Brickman says that really affected the game, even the pitchers. "Especially with your pitcher and at Ontario is the wind is blowing right in his face and he is a lefty. It affects his curveball and the velocity of his fastball for both of our guys. Weather in baseball is a huge factor," he said.
Shelby has a lot of young players that are hitting the ball well and producing a lot of results. So much so, they are surprising even their coach. "My question mark going into the year more than anything else was our hitting. I think right now we are averaging 12 hits a game. We had 13 (Thursday) against Ontario," Brickman told Swankonsports.com after the win, "They had some good guys throwing. Our kids aren't striking out. They are putting it in play and they are hitting it hard. It is a big shock to me that we are hitting the ball as well as we are."
Shelby (4-3,1-0) plays at home against Sandusky (1-1,0-0) in an "NOL" game on Friday afternoon. They host Ashland, of Ohio Cardinal Conference, in a Saturday doubleheader.
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Shelby Scores 12 again
After being shutout by a very good Clyde team on Monday, Shelby has produced back to back 12-2 wins over Mansfield Christian and Wynford the last two days.
On Wednesday, Dillon Thornsberry was the star as he struck out five and got the win on the mound and added three hits, including a double in the win over Wynford.
Coach C.J. Brickman says his young ball club is starting to believe in itself a little bit. "After opening with a tough Clyde team we played Mansfield Christian and Wynford. We scored 12 in both games and got our bats going and got some confidence for the young kids on this team, so yeah it was a couple of good wins," he said.
Shelby scored six times in the third and another six in the fourth against Wynford on Wednesday.
A key in any sport is the ability to make adjustments on the fly and even with their youth Brickman says they have been to do that here in the first week of the season. "We have some talented young kids and they have been making some adjustments early on in the season, which is good, so as the season goes on it shouldn't be as tough for them," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, "It's been warm outside and with three games in a row I think the kids get the timing down a little quicker, so that helps too."
Thornsberry only walked two Wynford batters and Brickman is a proponent of getting ahead in the count and allow your fielders to make plays behind you. "Our pitchers have been throwing strikes and I threw one of my top guys (Wednesday) and he pitched well and only walked two. When you throw strikes and use your defense you are going to be successful and that's what we have been doing the last two games," said Brickman.
Shelby (2-1) is supposed to start their Northern Ohio league schedule at home against Sandusky (1-0) on Thursday if it doesn't rain too much. Brickman thinks they have the kind of kids that can play competitive baseball in the "NOL" this spring. "I think we can be competitive. I'm just not sure about Norwalk, Bellevue and even Ontario, I still don't know how good they are yet. Those programs are good every year. Absolutely we can compete, if we can win it, I don't know about that yet. We definitely have some talent," he said.
Shelby is to play a doubleheader against North Central Conference favorite Galion on Saturday.
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Shelby Looking Good
Shelby played well over the final weeks of last season and finished second in the Northern Ohio League, but this year they will be counting on a number of younger players.
Coach C.J. Brickman says they have been getting a lot better because they have been playing some games despite the North Central Ohio weather. "We actually did get two scrimmages in last week, last Tuesday and Thursday. The first game was a little rough, it was cold out and it was our first experience, but on Thursday it was night and day," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "The young guys were making plays, throwing strikes, and hitting the ball, so yes there was some growth and yes we still need to grow some more."
It seems in the major leagues it can be feast or famine, but Brickman says he wants his pitchers to throw strikes and if the fielders need to make plays they need to do it. "If you are walking everybody, you are giving them free base runners and your defense is falling asleep as well and getting frustrated behind you. You don't want to throw it down the middle, but you want to get it in the strike zone. That is why you have seven, eight guys behind you to play defense. Our philosophy is use your defense," he said.
Being outside last week was critical for the young Whippet hitters. Brickman says their is nothing like facing live pitching. "When you are in the gym with a pitching machine it's just different. It's going to be a fastball and you know where it's going to be. When you're live there are curve ball, there are change ups and the location is different. The arm slots are different. Facing live pitching is big and facing live pitching twice is big for us," said Brickman.
Shelby plays at Loudonville in a doubleheader on Saturday. They play their first "NOL" game at home against Sandusky on April 3, weather permitting.
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Shelby Dealing with Youth
Shelby was one of the best baseball teams in North Central Ohio in May of last year and they ended up second in the Northern Ohio League to Norwalk in 2013, this year they are going to be quite a bit younger.
Coach C.J. Brickman says they have a lot of growing up to do, especially on the mound. "Right now it is pretty early to tell. I am pretty young. We have a lot of sophomores that are going to have to step up for me. I lost a pitcher named Justin Lewis who last year threw 60 innings and had nine wins. It's tough to replace a pitcher like that. I will know more in mid-April," said Brickman.
With so many young kids at the varsity level, something the Shelby football and basketball programs also dealt with this year, Brickman says those players are going to have to adjust to a varsity game that is going to come at them a lot quicker. "Varsity has been athletes. The pitching is better. There isn't errors made very often and the hitters are better. The game is faster and the athletes are better and the pitching is better, so it's a big adjustment. I have some athletic kids, so we will see how it goes," he said.
Shelby opens the season on March 29 with a doubleheader on the road at Loudonville. Their first "NOL" game is at home April 3 against the Sandusky Blue Streaks.
With more winter weather this week it looks like more practice indoors, but Brickman says it will be important for this group to get outside as much as possible this late winter. "It is going to be very important to get outside and get some time and experience on the actual field. We can take ground balls in the gym all day, but you sure don't get the same look as you do on the field. It's going to be important to get out there as soon as we can," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday.
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Shelby Needs to be Almost Perfect
Shelby plays the team that a lot of people say is the best division two team in Ohio in the Norwalk Truckers in the division two sectional final on Friday night at Bucyrus High School.
Whippets coach Troy Schwemley says they clearly have to play their best game of the season to have a chance to be competitive with the Truckers. "We have to play our best game to have a chance to win. Norwalk is that good of a team. There are nights when if you can just pretty good you can win, but against Norwalk we are going to have to play your best game. We have done that at times and we feel that opportunity is there. We talked about it Thursday we have got to go out and make it happen and play as good a basketball game as we can possibly play," he said.
Norwalk (22-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, beat Shelby (8-14) twice during regular season play (79-48) at Shelby and (72-43) at Norwalk. Schwemley says the Norwalk pressure leads to spurts for them and against them you have to make a good pass every time. "I hope the things that we have worked on this week and having week to work on them will help us. Their defense is so active. No only do they make it difficult to score, but it also leads into their transition. You look at their game on Tuesday night and they are up 20-0 or around that after the first quarter and I think they end up winning that game by 20. They can get that knockout punch at anytime of the game," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "You look at the Tuesday night game with Galion and they did it in the first quarter. When you go back to us playing them here at the half we are down 33-30 and they knocked us out in the third quarter. They outscored us something like 25-3. Their defense is constant. Their pressure is constant. They do such a good job of trapping, rotating and pressuring every pass has to be a good pass. The next part of it is if you break the pressure you have to capitalize on it. In our second game at Norwalk for example we moved the ball fairly well and got some good shots, but we missed them and it was like playing into their hands. They do such a good job of making you pay for every mistake. Not only do we have to take care of the ball, but we have to find ways to score, so we can get set up defensively."
When they are on defense, Schwemley says they have to play good team defense and not take too many chances because Norwalk will burn you if you do. "Typically we work on pressure defense. I think most basketball teams work on that getting ball pressure. The danger with them is they can break you down off the dribble so well that it really forces you into a tough decision. If you pressure a Ben Haraway and he beats you he is going to finish or he is going to extra pass and pass to Grant Hull shooting the three or passing it to Jeff Thomas. They do such a good job of when they beat one defender they make the extra pass or they can finish themselves. It really puts you in a dilemma you have to play great team defense because one guy can not defend a Ben Haraway or a Jeff Thomas. They do such a good job of breaking down, but they do a good of passing and finding other people. We have to play great defense, but we have to try and limit their opportunities too. We have shown clips to the guys, they do miss shots. They are high school kids they will make turnovers if you play good sound defense and rebound and we are going to have to do that," said Schwemley.
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Shelby Ready to Take On Clear Fork
Shelby beat Galion in Tuesday's division two sectional semi-finals and now they have advanced to play Clear Fork for a sectional title on Saturday night at Mansfield Senior High School.
On Tuesday, Shelby took a (16-7) lead after the first quarter and went on to beat Galion (54-35) in semi-final play. Coach Natalie Lantz says they were able force some early turnovers and that game them the advantage. "We came out and we didn't do too bad. We were able to get off to a good start and we were able to score off some turnovers against them. We had a young group starting against them due to several injuries. Hopefully we can get those girls back in time for Saturday night, but you never know. It was good experience the girls came out and played confident and aggressive and that is what we wanted," she said.
The Lady Whippets (12-11) ran the floor successfully on Tuesday and Lantz says that is something they have learned to do as the season has unfolded. "As the season has gone on, especially the younger players have learned how to handle the transition game a little better and have gained confidence as the season has gone on. They have stepped up and they have jelled and have followed the leadership shown by Taylor Fulton, Gabby Stevens, and Jess Miller. Jess is stepping up at the point guard role," she told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "Kenna Goth came off the bench for us and did a great job and played for Jess, who was out with a bad ankle injury and Maddie Fidler came off the bench and did a great job for us playing defense. She is a very aggressive defensive player. She has grown. She is quicker and more deceptive than you think. I was really pleased with how to girls played together moving up and down the floor."
Clear Fork (12-9) comes out of the Ohio Cardinal Conference and will be looking for their second straight sectional title. Lantz says the Lady Colts are good, but she is confident they can play with them. "Clear Fork is a nice team. They are athletic. They are aggressive. They are led by Swihart. She does a good job and I have a lot of respect for her. They are well coached and we are going to have to come out and play well on both ends of the floor. We need to take care of the ball offensively and be there defensively making sure we have each other's backs on the help side and what not and take away the drives and contest the shots. We need to do all of those little things that we do everyday in practice such as boxing out and holding our position, getting on the boards and trying to get out on break. If we do those little things I think we can compete," said Lantz.
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Shelby Still trying to put it Together
Shelby has not only been inconsistent from game to game, but also within the same game and that has been driving coach Troy Schwemley a little crazy because he knows the team's potential.
Last Friday night, they built a big lead and hung on to beat rival Willard (70-63) in overtime. It is the second time they have beaten the Flashes in overtime this year. Schwemley says he was a little nervous at the end. "Inconsistency is probably a nice way to put it. I can't quite figure out what makes us tick sometimes. We came out against Willard and really played two and half really good quarters. We were up 17 or 19 in that game and the next thing you know we were down four with two minutes left to go in the game, but we played well in those final two minutes, put it in overtime, and got a great win at Willard," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Really it was a great win for us, we had been struggling. I was happy for the kids, we had been struggling, but we were starting to come around again."
On Saturday, the Whippets lost to Kenton (63-51) and Schwemley says they just couldn't keep the momentum going from Friday night. "We just never got it going Saturday night against Kenton. We were really hoping to get on a roll. We haven't won two games in a row all year, but to wasn't to be. Now we have to get ready for our final regular season game and hopefully we can finish strong. We have shown we are capable of that, but we will wait and see when Friday night gets here what team shows up for us," said Schwemley.
Bellevue (4-17,2-9) makes he trip to Shelby (7-13,3-8) for a Northern Ohio league game on Friday night. The Whippets won at Bellevue (67-62) on January 29. Schwemley says they are similar teams. "When you watch them they have shown they can play very good basketball, but at times they are similar to us, they can go through stretches where they have trouble scoring and defending, but a lot of that has to do with the opponent," he said.
In that first game it was another example of Shelby building a big lead and then trying to hang on. Schwemely says his kids have to be aggressive. "For us going into that game we need to force them into a lot of turnovers and mistakes, and defend, and be aggressive offensively. You can't just sit back and hope the other team self destructs because that is not going to be the case. Both teams have had some ups and downs, but it still a matter of being the aggressor being the one that makes the other team make some mistakes then capitalize on those. It is going to be important to get off to a good start an hopefully keep it going," said Schwemley.
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Shelby Takes on Galion
After winning their last two regular season games the Shelby Lady Whippets head into the girls' division two sectional basketball tournament at Mansfield Senior, where they will play Galion on Tuesday night.
Shelby (11-11) beat Tiffin Columbian (49-44) and Sandusky (53-51) in their last two games in Northern Ohio League play and coach Natalie Lantz believes they are starting to peak at the right time. "I think we have had a stronger second half of the season and it was definitely nice to get a couple of wins against Tiffin and Sandusky heading into the tournament on Tuesday against Galion. So, we know what we need to do and have definitely come together as a team here the second half of the season and look forward to starting Tuesday night," she said.
They started the season with very little experience, but Lantz says the Lady Whippets are now a more confident ball club and it is showing on the court. "They have come to trust each other offensively and defensively. They really work hard at both ends of the floor. They get after it defensively. Our younger players have become more experienced, more confident," she told Swankonsports.com on Sunday evening, "We are able to rely on our bench when we need to. Our younger players coming off the bench have done a really good job for us and their is a lot of confidence in them. Our senior leadership has been great and they have been huge as far as helping the younger players grow throughout the season."
Shelby beat Galion (3-19) 64-41 on February 4, but Lantz is certainly not taking any wins for granted. "I expect them to put up a fight. I don't think any team can be over looked and we definitely need to come out strong and play four strong quarters. They have a nice guard in Dorsey and we need to play good defense on her and keep her controlled and contained. If we do that and attack offensively we can come out on top," she said.
The winner advances to play Clear Fork (12-9), the second seed, on Saturday night for a sectional title.
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Mistakes are Killing Shelby
It may sound simple, but it really isn't, eliminating mistakes that is, and if Shelby can do that they have a chance to shock the world when they travel to Norwalk in Northern Ohio League play on Tuesday night.
In fact, last week is a good example, the Whippets (6-11,2-7) led unbeaten Ontario (11-3) after the first quarter last week only to lose (76-52) to the Warriors.
Coach Troy Schwemley says they just have too many periods during the game when they don't score. "You couldn't ask for a better way to start that game. We really did a good job defensively and we were pretty efficient offensively. In the first quarter that was about as good a quarter as you could expect against a great team like Ontario. I think we were up 11-3 and then when the second quarter hit I think we even extended the lead a little bit more, but left some opportunities out there. We missed some free throws that could have extended that lead a little bit more because you know Ontario is going to come back and when they did it was a flurry and the next thing you know we were down seven at halftime. We have shown we can play good basketball at times we just have to be able to minimize those runs teams go on and then we never recovered once that game got out of control Ontario really put it to us,' said Schwemley.
The Whippets lost a heartbreaker on Saturday night in non-conference play when Clyde bagged a three pointer right at the end of the game to win it (43-41). Schwemley says if they would have taken care of situations early in the game the final shot wouldn't have mattered. "We had a one point lead with 20 seconds to go and we did a good job defensively of taking away their main threat, but unfortunately their point guard found their post for a three pointer with three seconds to go, so that game was one shot away from being a victory. The disappointing thing about that game is our kids really need a victory for that motivation and confidence level," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "There were still things that we did when you look back at the game as a whole cost us. We are up seven at the end of the second quarter and turn it over and foul from 75 feet with them shooting a three, so they get three free throws right before the half. We also had the ball at the end of the third quarter and turned it over and gave up a layup, so that is a four, five point swing where we were really doing a good job controlling the tempo and playing a pretty good overall game, but seems like our mental mistakes just cost us and we have got to eliminate those."
Shelby is at Norwalk (17-1,8-1), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, for a league game against the second place Truckers on Tuesday night. Schwemley says the Truckers just eat up you mistakes. "They make you pay for every turnover, every offensive rebound. When you take care of the ball, when you execute, when you defend, good things can happen and that showed in our first game. We overcame about a 15 point deficit to be down (33-30) at halftime, but then everything went wrong in the second half. We have shown we can play well at times against some very good teams, but to have a chance (Tuesday) night we can't have those mental breakdowns that Norwalk is going to pressure you into. Their defense is just so go at pressuring and creating for their offense. If you take that away it gives you chance because their will be openings. If we learn from these mistakes and do a better job. We just need to minimize, I think that's the thing. I think when things go wrong they just come in bunches for us, so we need to minimize those mistakes. You are going to give up a couple that is part of the game. If we do that I think we can compete, or at least give ourselves a chance," said Schwemley.
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Shelby Coming Together
Shelby started the season with only one player with much varsity experience, but over the last three weeks they have started to play some pretty good basketball.
Over the last 10 days, the Lady Whippets (9-10) have beat Ontario (69-33), Galion (64-41) and Upper Sandusky (65-46). Their only loss in that period coming to Norwalk (64-51) on Saturday.
Coach Natalie Lantz is impressed with the way this team has come together. "I think our girls are coming along quite nice. We went from the beginning of the season when we had a lot of young players and we were really trying to figure out where they fit and how they fit together to jell. The last two weeks they have really come together and stepped up as a team," she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "It has really been fun to watch, encourage, and help them to continue to develop their skills and teamwork. They have always played hard for us, but now playing hard has been taken to a whole new level."
Lantz says they are playing together as a team and that shows up on both ends of the court and scoring more points. "That is part of them working as a team and finding each other in the open court and pushing the ball. They are working together really well. Defensively the intensity level has been up. They have been focused in practice. They want to win and they know they have to work together to get that. They have been playing really strong. We have been having some good second halves. We had three wins in four games last week in a seven, eight day spurt there. I have been really pleased with how they have been pulling together lately," said Lantz.
Shelby plays its toughest opponent over the last little bit on Tuesday night as they travel to Mansfield Madison (9-11) of the Ohio Cardinal Conference. Lantz says Madison tries to make the game Helter Skelter and they have to play their game and not Madison's. "We preach that to our girls before every game and stay composed at all times. I think that is one thing that was have done well as the season has gone on. We have been able to cut back on the turnovers. Madison is very quick, they are very aggressive. They have some very athletic players that lead their team. They are very talented and strong, aggressive players, and they have a very aggressive style. So, it will be very important for our girls to come out and wok as a team and play together and I believe our kids can do that," said Lantz.
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Shelby Searching for Answers
Shelby has played very well in a lot of games this season, but the Whippets have rarely played well for a whole game, and that is why they are a sub .500 team so far this year.
An example of this was last Saturday when they got behind early and could never quite catch up in losing (75-61) to the Arrows in non-conference play. Coach Troy Schwemley says they are not a team that has the kind of explosiveness to get behind like that. "We knew going in that Ashland had some good players and we talked about how their record wasn't a reflection of what kind of team they had. The disappointing part was we just dug ourselves a big hole, and after that we played a pretty good game, but I believe we were down 11-1 to start the game and we were just never able to recover. We got it as close as four of five points at times. When you dig a hole like that it is just tough to recover and that is what we seem to do at some point in the game," he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, "Sometimes it is at the beginning of the game, but you never know where it is going to happen. We actually did some good things. We got the ball inside and Tristan had a good night. We had moments, but when we needed those big stops or that big defensive rebound, we couldn't get it."
On Friday night, the Whippets (6-9,2-6) travel to Ontario (17-0,8-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys' basketball coach's poll in the large school division, the Northern Ohio League leader. The first time they played Shelby almost pulled the upset, but lost (63-56) and Schwemley says again it was a poor start. "We played a pretty good game that game and I believe it as tied with three or four minutes to go. Again as I look back at that game I believe we were down 11-0 to start that game, battled back, and at some point in the second quarter they had a run where they scored seven points in five seconds. They got an offensive rebound put back, got fouled, missed it, got an offensive rebound, got fouled, made it, stole the inbound pass and scored. It is that kind of runs that Ontario is capable of that you can't give up against them. You look at that first game and I felt that in 29 of the 32 minutes we played pretty good basketball and maybe played well enough to win, but those three minuets cost us the game. That is the kind of team Ontario has and they can make those runs at any time," said Schwemley.
Shelby is involved in one the toughest division two sectionals in the state with Norwalk moving down from division one and Ontario up form division two to join the Whippets, Lexington, Galion, and Clear Fork. Schwemley says it is just going to be a war. "Both of those teams are very good teams. They are two of the top teams in the area if not state. They are looking at one-two seed and you look at a Lexington team that is probably going to be the three seed and that is a pretty good team there to have to play in the sectional finals, assuming Lexington would win their first game. It is just a bear of a sectional. Whoever you play, whether it is Ontario or Norwalk, you are not going to have an easy game to get out of the sectional. We are looking to put ourselves in position to get to the sectional final and then we are going to have to play extremely well, but that is still a ways off and we would like to build a little bit of confidence before that time comes," said Schwemley.
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Shelby Has a Chance to Keep Building
Shelby got back on the winning trail with a win at Bellevue in Northern Ohio League play on Wednesday night and now they face a league game on Friday against Tiffin Columbian and a non-league clash with Ashland on Saturday, both at home.
The Whippets built a big early lead and hung on to beat the Redmen (67-62) on Wednesday night. Coach Troy Schwemley feels they did a good job of being aggressive against Bellevue. "We scored 44 points in the first half and really did a nice job, of just not shooting the ball from the perimeter, but I thought we did a nice job of getting to the rim. We had a lot of points in the paint. In part that was due to our defense. Our defense really did a good job of creating some offense," he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, "We talked about that to the guys before the game that we need to do more defensively to create some offense. In the second half, I'll be honest I backed off a little bit because we had a about a 10 point lead and I felt if we played, good half court defense and not give them easy baskets we would be able to come away with a win. I got pretty close. The game was actually tied, but we did a nice job of closing the game out and getting a big win."
Just like against Bellevue, the Whippets (6-7,2-5) got off to a good start when they played at Tiffin, but they let that one get away (55-50) and Schwemley says they was a very disappointing loss. "When we played them the first time we had a 10 point lead after three quarters and then just had a bad fourth quarter when we got outscored something like 14-2 and ended up losing by five. That was a disappointing way to finish that game because we really did play pretty well for three quarters. It's the second half of the season and we get to play them again and hopefully bounce back from that. Two weeks ago we came off that big win against Willard and then lost to St. Pete and Sandusky. For us to get a win Wednesday was a good way to bounce back and we are hoping we can do the same thing against Tiffin," said Schwemley.
Columbian (6-7,2-4) will have a size advantage, but Schwemley says this is game they can win if they play well. "They have some size coming in. They give us some match-up trouble with their inside play, but if we play well together then we have a good chance," he said.
Ashland (4-8) will be at Shelby on Saturday night and Schwemley says they are team that is a lot better than its record due to the tough schedule they play. "Ashland is a team when you look at their record their record is very deceiving. They play just such a tough schedule. They do so many good things. They took Mansfield Senior to the wire and lost by three. We are going to have to be ready to play. I don't know who they play on Friday night, but we have always had great match-ups with them. Both teams play really hard. It's a home-home weekend for us and hopefully we can have some success. If the guys play hard in both games I think we can have some good results. That's what all coaches want for you to play hard and do what you are supposed to do and sometimes don't worry about what the scoreboard says, but if we do those things we hope it will say what we want it to," said Schwemley.
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Shelby Must Play with Better Effort
Shelby is the kind of boys' basketball team that just can't mail it in. If they do they are probably going to lose.
That's is kind of what happened Saturday night when the Whippets lost (56-52) to Mansfield St. Peter's. Coach Troy Schwemley says St. Peter's play well too, but they really didn't show up. "I was disappointed in that loss. There were some things where we broke down defensively. We shot I believe 12-40 form inside the arch, which is 30 percent. Some of that was our own fault. Sometimes when you say disappointed it doesn't give the right impression because I want praise St. Pete's for how they played and defended us," he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, "Some of that shooting 30 percent was our own fault, but some of it was because they did a good job defending us and not giving us open looks. I thought our effort wasn't what it needed to be. I thought we would play with more intensity that was their third game last week and due to our Bellevue game getting moved that was our only game. I was a little disappointed in the effort we gave. That doesn't take anything away from St. Pete's. They deserved to win and that's why they beat us on Saturday night."
After beating Willard (67-58) in overtime the week before, Schwemley thought the Whippets (5-6,1-4) had turned the corner. "I was a little bit surprised because our last game was really one of our best efforts we had given all year and beat Willard and I was hoping that would carry over to our next game and it almost seemed like it went in the opposite direction. That is part of the season and you have to be ready for every game. Hopefully we learn from that and if we do bounce back it's like we learned our lesson. You also don't want them to make the mistake to begin with, but sometimes you have to learn the hard way," he said.
Bellevue (3-8,1-4) is coming off a win (83-58) over winless Seneca East on Saturday. Schwemley really believes this game is going to be about playing hard. "It is going to be interesting because of the change and the move. They are in the same situation we are because they played Saturday night too. It's really two teams that have shown the ability to compete, but also teams that have struggled at times. The game at Bellevue on (Tuesday) night is going to be about effort. The team that plays with the best effort will probably win the game. The hard part is typically you measure effort with things like rebounding and defense, and steals. When you doing those things well that seems to be what it takes to be successful. Hopefully we do some growing and learning on (Tuesday),' said Schwemley.
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Shelby Stressing Getting Better
Shelby is one of the boys’ basketball teams that has consistently gotten better as this season has unfolded.
They began the season with a lot of young and inexperienced players, but as the season has gone along they have matured.
In one of their better efforts of the year, the Whippets (5-5,1-4) outlasted rival Willard (67-58) in overtime last week.
Coach Troy Schwemley says the win is proof they have gotten better. “I felt like that was a food win for us. When you look at Willard’s record they were coming in at 7-3 and had beaten a couple teams we had lost to in the league. They had beaten Tiffin and Sandusky and we had lost to those teams,’ he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I felt like that was a good win for us to beat a team that had beaten some teams we had lost too. It also gives us a league win and that is always good for your team moral and trying to get better, so from that standpoint I hope will can build off that and use that going into this weekend.”
The Whippets offense has improved, but so has its defense. Schwemley says that is what won them the Willard game. “Especially in the second half of our Willard game I thought our defense really started to wear Willard down and that was really the turning point. For all teams that has got to be the constant you can just rely on playing well when you are shooting the ball well and things like that. You have to defend and that has to be something you are doing for 32 minutes. I think we still need to get better at that, but definitely has improved,” he said.
Shelby is at Bellevue (2-8,1-4) on Friday night in a battle of teams in fourth place in the Northern Ohio League. Schwemley wants to finish the first half of the league schedule on a positive note. “It’s a league game for us and it will wind up the first half of the league season. When you look at the league standings Ontario and Norwalk are both undefeated and battling out for first place. The rest of us are trying to get better and improve. The closer we can get to whatever place it would be is important not just for this year, but next year. You get a chance to play everybody again in the second round. I think we really want to finish that first round on a strong note. It would put us at 2-4, which isn’t great, but at least we finish strong and have a chance to play some of those teams again that we lost to and maybe do better the second time around,’ said Schwemley.
Shelby hosts Mansfield St. Peter’s (5-6) in a non-conference game on Saturday night.
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Shelby Faces Unbeaten Norwalk
The weather forced the postponement of the Norwalk at Shelby basketball game for the second time and this time the venue will change too. The game will be played on Wednesday night and this time at Norwalk. The second round game will now be at Shelby.
Whippets coach Troy Schwemley says teams just have to be able to adjust to winter in Ohio. “That is part of winter in Ohio and basketball season is in the winter, so you have to adjust and be able to deal with these types of things. We have been fortunate we have been able to get in the gym a little bit. When it is nasty out sometimes you can’t even get in the gym and practice depending on the severity of the weather conditions. We have to overcome that and get ready to play on Wednesday,” he said.
On Saturday night, Lexington beat the Whippets (64-47) and Schwemley says they again went through a long scoring drought. “We started out well. I think we were up 10-6. I was pleased with how we were playing. The disappointing part was the next thing you know it was 21-10 the other way. We just had that breakdown where it seems we typically have where we stop playing offense and defense together and we just can’t overcome those breakdowns,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We give up those long stretches of scoring runs and you have to try and overcome it. If you take out that gap I think we played okay at times. We actually cut the lead down to 12-13 points in the fourth quarter where I felt like we were getting back in the game, but we just dug ourselves too big a hole and we couldn’t overcome that.”
Norwalk (9-0,3-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, has not been challenged in a league game this year. Schwemley says they can’t let the Truckers get easy shots and at the same time they have to get good shots. “They are undefeated and they have been outscoring their opponents by large margins and they score in bunches. What makes them so good is their defense. It creates a lot of offense for them. I think the key for us against them is to get it into a half court game where defensively we can play five on five against them, not them running in transition. The hard part about that is then you have to be able to get shots for yourself. In the half court sometimes it’s hard to get good shots because you don’t have the numbers. We are going to have to get into the half court defensively, but on offense we need to be efficient and create some good shots because if not they will turn you over and run with it,” said Schwemley.
The Shelby coach says to have a chance to stay in the game with the Truckers they have to get really good looks at the basket. “If they are going to force the tempo with their defensive pressure it’s tough. The hard part about that is if you are efficient in breaking traps and passing the ball it will create open looks, but sometimes that is not the shot you want. Just because you are open doesn’t mean that is the best shot you can get. You have to beat the pressure and know the difference between a good shot and not a good shot and knock down some of those shots. I’d like to see our guys get to run some and get some layups, but they do such a good job of recovering and altering shots in the paint. They are just a very good team, so we will have to play really well,” said Schwemley.
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Shelby Looking For a Little Something Extra
For the second straight season the Shelby Whippets are a better team than a lot of people thought they would be at the beginning of the season and their coach thinks they can be even better.
They tied the game in the fourth quarter against Ontario (9-0), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, midway through the fourth quarter before losing (63-56) to the Warriors in Northern Ohio League play.
Coach Troy Schwemley says it was a solid effort, just not good enough. “We were down as much as 15 somewhere in the third quarter and had a really nice run to tie the game up. At that point we gave ourselves a chance to win that ballgame against a very good team. Reflecting on that game I think we were down 10-0 to start the game and from that point on we played pretty well, but you can’t spot a team like that, that many points. I definitely was pleased about how we battled back and showed that we could compete against one the best teams in the area,” said Schwemley.
Faced with a similar situation on Saturday night, the Whippets beat Galion (57-54) in non-conference play. Schwemley says this time they found a way to win. “Going in their record was 2-5, but I looked at their scores and the common opponents that we played I knew that they were a solid team and the execute very well and they had just come up on the short end a couple of times. That is probably how coach Rich feels today. They did so many things well and just came up on the short end. From my standpoint I am pleased we found a way to win a close game. Of our four wins, three of the four have been down to the wire, right at the buzzer pretty much, so for us it was a very good win against a team that is going to play hard,” he said.
Shelby (4-3) does not play a league game on Friday, but does travel to Lexington (4-4) for a non-conference clash on Saturday. The Minutemen upset Mansfield Senior (60-49) and in a similar game with Ontario lost to the Warriors (56-49) in overtime. Schwemley says it’s time for them to beat a real good team. “They definitely showed how well they can play. They had a great win on Friday night against Mansfield Senior and come back and play Ontario very tough the next night. They are going to execute well. They have really nice balance, they can go inside, they can go outside, they can shoot from the perimeter, and they also have some guys that can post up. They are going to play hard. I think that is what it takes. I know they play Friday night, but they will still be ready Saturday and we are going to have to give our best effort,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I hope that game is like our Ontario game and we show we can compete against really good teams, but we need to find a way. If you tell me the score from the Ontario game the next day I would says we must have played pretty well, I’ll take it. But, then I got to thinking you know we were tied in the forth quarter and I want us to find a way to win those games. We don’t want to be competitive losing by seven. We want to find a way to compete and possibly win some of those against some of those good teams and Lexington would be a team like that.”
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Shelby has to Learn From Fourth Quarter Fall Out
Shelby looked like they were going to win their first Northern Ohio league game of the season last week, but they only scored two points in the fourth quarter and lost at Tiffin Columbian.
Coach Troy Schwemley says they were cruising along pretty well through three quarters, playing some good basketball against Tiffin, and boom, things went bad in a hurry. “We played pretty well for three quarters. I have to admit I was pretty pleased with where we were at. We were up I think nine or ten going into the fourth quarter, playing pretty good basketball, and then everything seemed to fall apart. We got outscored something to two, maybe 14-2, in the fourth quarter, and that ended up costing us the game, we lost by five. It was very disappointing from the standpoint that we really played pretty well for three quarters. That fourth quarter we need to learn from and figure out what went wrong and try to not let it happen again,” said Schwemely.
It was a combination of things that led to the collapse. Schwemley says they didn’t execute very well on offense, but their defense didn’t measure up either and when you can’t do either, well... “I think a little bit of maybe both. It’s at Tiffin and they are going to pick up the intensity a little bit in that fourth quarter, that’s do or die time. I don’t think we matched that intensity. When things started to go bad we just couldn’t hit that basket like you need to and that’s what the guys need to learn and figure out what was going on and how to fix that. The disappointing part was our defense also shut down,” he told Swamkonsports.com on Monday, “The one thing we are trying to talk to the kids about is you are going to have moments where maybe the offense doesn’t click for you, but you can’t let the defense down, you have got to keep playing at both ends of the floor. Our defense seemed to go down with it, which you can’t have.”
Shelby (3-2,0-2) hosts unbeaten Ontario (6-0,2-0) in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night at the “House that Joe Built.” The Warriors, #3 in the Swankonsports.com boy’s basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, have everything a team needs to be successful, according to Schwemley. “There are just so many things that make them good. They have ball handlers, they have guys that can get to the rim and score, they have shooters. They really have all of things you need to be balanced team and on top of that they play great defense. Coach Balogh obviously does a great job. So, when you have all of those factors. A lot of their guys are two, three year lettermen. I don’t think it’s a surprise as far as where they are at. It’s there first year in the “NOL” and that is really the new factor for everybody, but Ontario has always been a solid basketball team and they have one of the really good teams right now. It’s going to be an interesting match-up Friday and we know we are going to have to play well against them,” said Schwemley.
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Might be a Battle in the Paint
Two teams that just want to get on the floor meet in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night as Shelby visits Tiffin Columbian.
Neither team has played since December 7and the Tornadoes have played only once all season.
Shelby was supposed to play “NOL” favorite Norwalk last Saturday, but road conditions said no to any travel. Coach Troy Schwemley says they didn’t get the measuring stick they were looking for. “I think the hardest part is you spend a week preparing for an opponent and getting ready for whatever your game plan is and then when you loose that game you are disappointed because you are hoping your team is ready and you really want to see the outcomes of that week’s practice. That is the only thing that you lose,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “If that happens you just deal with it and you move on to get ready for your next opponent. The other thing is you want to see your team improving. A lot of times you practice, but games are a measuring stick to see if there are things we are getting better at or are there things that we need to work on still. For us Norwalk would have been a great gauge of a lot of those factors looking for improvement against a great team.”
Tiffin (1-0,0-0) won their only game against Fostoria (63-40) December 7 and Schwemley says they have some big guys inside and they that are going to be a big factor in the game. “They have only played one game. In talking about wanting to play last week I think would have liked to have had another game under our belt. Tiffin’s front line goes 6’6”, 6’6” and they have a 6’5” guy that comes in off the bench, so they definitely have some size coming back. Both of those guys are juniors and I think that is going to be the interesting part of the game as far as how are we going to protect the paint and giving up easy baskets, but also can we score in the paint because a lot of our scoring can come from the inside. When you look at Tristan Kerhes for us gets a lot of his points around the basket, so I think the height in the game will be an interesting factor in how the game plays out,” said Schwemley.
The Whippets (2-1,0-1) have some young guards that have hit some shots and Schwemley says they are going to have to do that Friday too. “It is going to be important going in as far as do we hit some shots. Everything seems to go well when you hit some shots. Can we hot some shots from the perimeter that opens up and stretches the defense and allows us to get inside and have that balance. They do press to get in transition and we have to own the boards. I think rebounding will be something where height will be a factor,” he said.
Schwemley says Tiffin uses their big guys all over the floor. “They actually do a lot of diamond press and put their bigs on top and do some pressing with them to try and get some easy baskets. They are doing a nice job of not saying with have two 6’6” guys and we are going to pound it inside. They are using those guys at the top of the press or trying to get the ball inside-out. And can our guards hit some shots. In a game like this you wonder how many second shots you are going to get, so hopefully our guards can knock some shots down,” said Schwemley.
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Shelby Showing Signs
With young players Shelby is certainly developing into a team that has some pretty good potential.
Last weekend was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde kind of experience for the Whippets. They were drilled (77-38) in their Northern Ohio League opener by the Sandusky Blue Streaks. Coach Troy Schwemley said it seemed nothing would go right for them as they shot just 29% from the field. “It was an interesting weekend. We went up to Sandusky on Friday and really just and got our lunch handed to us so to speak. Sandusky shot the ball well and drove to the basket and we ended getting beat. Some of that was our own doing. We were very impatient with the ball and took some quick shots and turned the ball over and threw some gas on the fire so to speak. Also, I thought Sandusky played very well and maybe surprised some people. They definitely seemed really good that night,” said Schwemley.
Just 24 hours later, they came back and hammered Wynford (72-46) making 57% of their shots. Schwemley says it was just the opposite. “We responded pretty Saturday. I was definitely pleased coming off of Friday night to bounce back the way we did. I think the same thing that happened Friday happened on Saturday, but we got to shooting well and everything going well and it snowballed. The same thing that happened on Friday night to us we were able to do Saturday against Wynford. That was good with the young team and some inexperienced guys that we have,” he said. Davey Hipp led the team with 16 points, while Lucas Bihl had 13, and Tristan Kehres and Brandon Schneider had 11 each.
Schwemley says he can’t be too discouraged with the start they have gotten and he will no longer refer to them as inexperienced. “With us being 2-1 right now I would say I am pretty pleased with that. I hate to say inexperience because at this point we have had scrimmages and we have got three games under our belts, so at this point you can throw that term out the window,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “There are things we need to do better and we seem to have moments when we are doing that like the Wynford game we really shot the ball well. I think we ended the night with 12 threes and played really aggressive. The hard part is some of the mistakes we made in terms of quick shots and being aggressive on Friday that really hurt us propelled us on Saturday. We need to learn the difference in those two games. We are definitely coming along and getting some scoring from some different guys. We had multiple guys in double figures on Saturday night and that is definitely encouraging.”
Shelby plays host to Norwalk (1-0,0-0), #2 in the First Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll of the season in the large school division, on Friday night in “NOL” play. Schwemley believes against the Truckers you have to control the pace. “I think it starts with Ben Haraway and Jeff Thomas. Those two have played since their freshman year and have just had a ton of success during their careers. With those two on the floor they are going to be a good team no matter what, but they also have some other guys that can hurt you. They defend well. They execute their sets with coach Gray. There are some times when they can run and hurt you there and there are some times they execute in the half court. They really do so many things well that you have got to really limit their chances and try to control the tempo of the ball game and that is easier said than done because they force the tempo so much and that’s what makes them such a great team,” said Schwemley.
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Shelby Still Working on Self
Last week, Shelby spent pretty much all week working on their own stuff and it resulted in a one-point win over Mansfield Madison and they are going to go about things the same way this week in preparation for their Northern Ohio League opener with Sandusky on Friday night.
Last week, Tristan Kerhes scored with two seconds to play to give the Whippets a (62-61) win over the Rams. Coach Troy Schwemley says they made a run at the right time. “It was a game that you could say that we hung around, but there were times that it felt like Madison was pulling away. Every time we would close the gap it would seem that Madison would have a run on us and get the lead back to 10. Fortunately we hung around long enough to take the lead in the last minute,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Madison had been in the lead the whole game and then they scored right away to take the lead again, but we had one more possession. Tristan Kehres hit a big shot to put us up with two seconds to go. We hung around long enough, but we made a run when we needed it.”
You are happy anytime you win, but Schwemley says they can’t forget last week was almost a loss. “That is a game that we have to remember that we were as close to losing as winning. You feel good about yourself when you win a game like that, but we very easily could have lost that game since it went down to the wire. We feel good about ourselves, but we need to remember there are a lot of things that we need to get better at,” he said.
Shelby (1-0) is at Sandusky (0-1) for their Northern Ohio league opener. Again, Schwemley says the focus is more on what they need to do in terms of their own execution. “At this point we haven’t looked at them too much. I know that they have a new coach. They have some returners from last year, but we haven’t looked at them too much. Normally, as we approach the week the first couple of days we focus on the things we need to do, especially early in the season. When you get deeper in the season you might start really preparing for an opponent early in the week, but at this point we are only in the fifth week of practice and we are in a situation where Tristan and Spencer Blevens had some football injuries where they came back from late. I would say we are focused on things we can control. We need to be ready to play because Sandusky is a tough place to play and we need to be able to play in a hostile environment,” said Schwemley.
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Shelby Looking For the Right Combination
Shelby has been one of the more consistently successful boys’ basketball teams in North Central Ohio over the last several years. This year looks like there are going to be some growing pains early in the season.
Tristan Kehres is the only player to return for the Whippets that had much playing time a year ago and he suffered an injury in football that has kept him off of the floor.
Coach Troy Schwemley says the preseason has certainly been a learning experience for them. He references last week’s foundation game verses Clear Fork. “We actually shot the ball very well, especially to start the game. We came out and scored really well in the first half, but our defense was pretty bad too. The good was I liked the way we were aggressive and hit some shots. The bad was I thought as well as we did shoot we should have had the lead at halftime,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Give Clear Fork credit they got the hoops, they scored on us, and were up two at halftime. We did a lot of good things in the first half, but we didn’t play well enough to win. That’s really what is comes down to. You hope you learn from a game like that because I think the things we didn’t do well are fixable, but they have to be fixed and we have to get better at those things.”
Schwemly says he thinks this year’s group has some potential. He says they are going to need to understand there is a big jump to varsity basketball and he thinks the foundation game helps with that transition. “We have no lettermen out there on the floor right now. Our only returning letterman is Tristan Kehres and he has been on the sideline with a football injury. When you have nobody out there that has been through that varsity schedule and that grind that makes a difference. We are trying to find some leadership and some consistency. Every scrimmage has been important from that standpoint because it gives them a good feel for what a varsity game is like, the speed of the game. Going back to that foundation game that is such a good thing, not only do we do some good things for a charity, but it is also a good environment from a basketball standpoint, it’s a scrimmage, but it just such a good environment. It helps simulate what game night is going to be all about,” said Schwemley.
Madison comes to Shelby Friday night for the opening of the Whippets new high school gym. Schwemley says they haven’t had much time to worry about the Rams, he says he expects them to be improved and aggressive. “Right now I am still in Shelby, what do we need to fix for us mode. We haven’t had much time to even think about an opponent. We want to just work on things that we can control and need to do better. I know Madison will be better with a year under coach Mergel’s belt. That first year of coaching I don’t care how prepared you are you always learn a lot from it and improve as a coach. They will play hard and be aggressive, they have always done that. It’s been a great game. I don’t know how long it has been, but it’s been a great match up. We play them football game one and also basketball. I know we will get a great game from them. It will be a great environment to open our new gym in, so hopefully we are ready to go,” said Schwemley.
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Shelby is Going to Find Some Things Out Right Away
The girls’ basketball season opens up this Friday and the Shelby Lady Whippets are going to play three games in the first five days of the season. With a young roster they are going to find out quickly what they have to do to improve.
Only one starter returns from a team that shared the Northern Ohio League title with Bellevue and advanced to the district semis. Coach Natalie Lantz says right now their defense is ahead of their offense. “They are improving every day. Obviously there are still things we want to work on. We are still coming together and be able to read each other a little bit better offensively. Defensively I think we are starting to jell. Offensively there are some mistakes we are making. Patience is always key, so that has been a focus this week. Rebounding is going to be key for us to make sure we are making contact and boxing out and going after those boards,” said Lantz.
With a club with not a lot of varsity experience patience on offense is going to be a big factor. Lantz says they are working on teaching the players what a good shot is. “What we are working on is the first shot might not always be the best shot. We want to be patient and work for a good shot whether it is a lay up or something inside the paint versus one pass and a three or one pass and a 15 footer, so we are working on it and getting better and better at it each day. You kind of have to push them and stay on them to keep that focus and get across what you are working for each day,” she said.
Shelby plays Plymouth on Friday, Ashland on Saturday and Mansfield Senior on Tuesday all in non-conference play. Lantz says there won’t be much time to make adjustments and they are going to find out if their players are quick learners. “They are definitely going to get their feet wet quick in varsity play. The good thing is there are three quick games, the flip side of that is there isn’t much time to adjust between games. We will have a shoot around Saturday morning that we can make some quick adjustments for Ashland and then we have one practice on Monday before Tuesday’s game with Mansfield Senior,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “This is a good time to find out how quickly the players are going to pick up on the tweaks we are going to make. They will get better at it as the season goes on. They will grow more confident with the things we are trying to accomplish as a team. I do think we have talent. I think we have a lot of potential it is just going to be developing that as the season goes on.”
Shelby Girls Reloading
Shelby shared the Northern Ohio League girls’ basketball title last season and advanced to the division two district tournament, but they lost a lost a lot of the key components to that team to graduation.
Coach Natalie Lantz says they return just one starter, but she thinks they have a good mix of players to work with. “We have a lot of young, new faces to our team this year. We have three seniors back this year, one starter returning in Taylor Fulton. She is doing a great job with her senior leadership role this year. We have two players that came off the bench for me last year and they have really stepped up their game. It has been neat over the last week and half watching the girls mixing and developing a new chemistry with this team this year,” said Lantz.
It can be a big jump to the varsity level, especially from junior high, but Lantz says they are learning quickly. “Each team is different. Every single year each group is different. We lost five really talented seniors last year. We lost a very talented point guard. We are looking young this year to replace the ball handling skills and playmaking skills of Emma Hochstetler,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have a couple of freshmen guards playing with us this year. We lost of height with Devon Murray and Broke Ridenour. We also have a little taller freshmen that uses her height well. They are working hard and learning the quicker pace of the game and the more physical play. It is neat watching those kids mixing with the older players.”
They may have a lot to learn, but Lantz says she knows for sure they will always work hard. “I think that is what is going to be special about this team. They are very, very unselfish. They could be too unselfish at times. They are fun to watch play. They are good at passing. They work well together so far. They are picking up things well. They are very aggressive and play with a lot of heart. They are going to keep working on their defense and I think that is where this team. We are going to have to play hard on the defensive end and see what we can pick up offensively from there,” said Lantz.
Shelby Trying to Play Spoiler
Shelby has played a monster schedule this season and that continues on Friday night as they travel to Loudonville to play the once beaten Redbirds.
A loss last week to unbeaten River Valley (26-0) dropped Loudonville to the seventh spot in their computer region. Another loss could drop them out of the playoffs.
Shelby (1-8) last week absorbed a second straight pounding (61-14) in the Northern Ohio League, this time by 8-1 Norwalk. Coach Eric Will says again they just couldn’t get their offense going. “Norwalk is a really good team. We felt we did a pretty good job on their running back. He had 90 yards in the first half, he kind of got one on us late in first half. We competed hard early, but once again it was kind of the same story our inability to move the ball offensively. There were some bad starting points for the offense kind of hampered us a little bit. Norwalk has great athletes. They know how to use them and get them the ball. Their staff gets the credit for getting the players the ball and they players gets to credit for executing,” said Will.
Their record my not show it, but Shelby has played pretty decent football in the second half of the season. Will says they want to end the season with a statement. “We played Willard and were able to get a win there and played Ontario real tight, kind of stalled there with the ball going in when time ran out and then we played Tiffin and Norwalk. It’s not that we have been playing terrible ball, we just played the two best teams on our schedule. Give those guys credit they did what they had to do. I told the guys we have one game left and we can definitely compete in this game, let’s finish the year strong, let’s not think this is week ten and the season is over and there is nothing after that. We want to continue to compete and get better,” said Will.
Loudonville (8-1) is good, very good, including quarterback Kolton Edmondson, but Will says they are not unbeatable. “Their quarterback is pronominal. He is a great athlete. They have had a lot of success here over the last three or four years. This group of seniors in general have been very successful. We know they are backed into a corner a little bit trying to make the playoffs. If they win they are in and if they don’t it is going to be a waiting game and a watching game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We told our kids on Friday night, we didn’t know the score of the game, I said we are either going to have the potential to disrupt a perfect season or hopefully knock them out of the playoffs. That is what we are trying to do. That is our mindset this week. We are going to try and go down there and compete and see what we can do.”
Shelby Facing Great Runner
Eric Will played in the Northern Ohio league for Shelby, so he knew how tough it was going to resurrect the football program.
Last, week they played once beaten Tiffin Columbian and this week they play once beaten Norwalk. They end the season next week against unbeaten Loudonville in a non-conference game.
Against Columbian they competed well early, but then the game got away from the Whippets and Tiffin hammered them (62-20) in an “NOL” game. Will says Tiffin Columbian is just very good, especially up front. “Tiffin has one of the most dominate offensive lines I have seen in a long time. We knew that going in. We knew it was going to be tough going in. We had some things going early. We gave up a touchdown on the second series of the game, kind of both traded punts, then they were able to put one up and we went right back down and answered theirs. We were not able to keep things moving offensively,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Defensively up front they just flat out won the trenches. Give their coaching staff credit and their offensive line. They have a couple of guys that have really good size and move their feet well. Tiffin is definitely the real deal and I believe they will make some noise in the playoffs.”
On Friday night, Norwalk (7-1,3-1) plays at Shelby (1-7,1-4) in a game featuring Truckers running back Breck Turner, who had 311 yards in a half against Vermilion last week. Will calls Turner the best back in the league. “We have four films on them, we have a film from earlier, plus the films that we trade. There is no doubt is no doubt he is the class of the league as far as running backs go. He has decent size and really good speed and he has something you can’t coach, he has vision. He sees cut backs before they are even happening. If you are not gap responsible he is going to make you pay. This year he has 1.500 yards already and there are two games left. He is the real deal. He has good speed. We will do our best to contain him. The quarterback complements him as well,” said Will.
To have any success against Turner on Friday night, Will says they have to get into the backfield and slow him down before he gets started and that won’t be easy. “We have to get a little bit of penetration, not too much that we get too far up field. You have to attack gaps. The linebackers have to be very disciplined and flow to the ball. We have already been preaching this week to the kids to make sure they don’t over pursue. The worst thing you can do with this guy is over pursue. You have to try and stay on his back hip. Outside guys have to try and keep it inside and then the inside guys can sort of get him before he gets going. Unfortunately this year we haven’t seen a lot of guys that have been able to get him before he gets going,” said Will.
Shelby Has to Believe
Shelby faces a tough challenge this week as they travel to Tiffin to meet the Northern Ohio league leading Columbian Tornadoes. To be successful their coach says they must believe.
They certainly played with that belief last week when they scared second place Ontario a little bit before succumbing (22-16) last Friday. Shelby coach Eric Will gives Ontario credit, but says they showed some improvement too. “Once again we just fell a few plays short. Give Ontario credit their playmakers made plays when they had to make them and their defense got a stop when they had to make it. I thought we played pretty well. We did a pretty good job with Boatwright. Mack is one heck of a tight end receiver. He had a couple of nice plays. Overall I was pretty excited with how the defense played. Offensively we still continue to struggle for answers. The good news is I felt we were able to move the ball a little bit. I do believe we had over 300 yards of offense. So, that was a positive from that side of the ball, but all and all, we are at the point now, I was telling the guys, we are talking some steps forward, but let’s start winning some on the scoreboard,” said Will.
The Shelby coach thinks the offense, which as struggled to find its stride this year, has shown some improvement over the last couple of weeks. “Lucas (Bihl) has done a nice job here the last two weeks stepping in at quarterback. We have been able to move Spencer Blevins back to the position he was going to play, which is kind of a hybrid tailback/H-back. He has done a great job at that position, so I think that has helped out as well. We are also able to give Lucas some valuable reps with him being a junior. We are at the point where we are trying to prepare for success this year, but also not being too short sided and making sure to see how things look for the future here at quarterback. Lucas has done a nice job and made a nice progression each week,” said Will.
Shelby (1-6,1-3) plays at Columbian (6-1,4-0), a winner of their last six in row in “NOL” play on Friday night. “They have a big offensive line. They have everybody back now. I believe they had a player or two out for the first couple of weeks. Their quarterback is tough, their running back runs hard behind a big, physical offensive line, and their receivers catch the ball. There is no doubt that they are head and shoulders, in my opinion, I have seen them on film, the best team in the league. I would be surprised to seem then do anything but be successful as we go on here,” said Will.
Will knows his team is the underdog, but he says inside their locker room they have to believe they can compete or things could get ugly. “We have already told our kids, the scouting report is already out, we need to compete as hard as we can, and we have been doing this. I feel defensively we can do some things against them. Our kids really feel like they can compete against certain schools and there are other schools where in the back of their mind they have heard enough about those schools through the years that they feel they don’t have a shot. We are battling as a coaching staff the mental side of that,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “The last two weeks there were schools where are kids generally felt like they could compete in those games. The game before that was Bellevue and Bellevue has name recognition. We are telling the kids to get rid of the name recognition and just start playing football and start executing the scouting report and we are going to play with anybody on our schedule. It is going to be another mental hurdle for us this week as much as it is going to be physical.”
Shelby Earns First Win, Still Needs to Improve
Shelby is taking some baby steps, but the Whippets are definitely improving.
Case in point was there first win of the season last Friday night over rival Willard (12-8) in Northern Ohio League action.
It may not have been a work of art, but coach Eric Will says it was a win they had to have. “We are not going to apologize for winning no doubt about that. It was a hard fought game. There is no doubt that the elements affected both teams, that could be for a lot of other teams in the area. That was a win we desperately needed just for the movement of the program and the psyche of the kids. We were able to hold them to eight points. We feel like there were a lot of positives that came out of Friday. It’s short lived and now we have to move on to the next opponent,” said Will.
Willard had 12 fumbles, losing four, Friday night and Will admits that most of them were unforced. “I bet that half, if not a little bit more than half, were probably fumbled snaps. It is ironic because we are in the shotgun and they were under center. There is no doubt that helped us, especially early on. In the second half I believe they only had one fumble. I’m sure from their standpoint I’m sure they would like to control the unforced turnovers. We were fortunate to be able to get a few of those and turn one of those into a touchdown,” he said.
Ontario (4-2,1-1) is at Shelby to face the Whippets this week. Led by quarterback Tyler Boatwright, who threw three touchdown passes last week against Vermilion, Will says the Warriors are very athletic. “It starts with their quarterback. Their quarterback in my opinion is one of the best players in our league. I mean there is no doubt about it. Our game plan is going to be to slow down their two or three athletes. With a kid like Boatwright back there that is a nice thing to have for Ontario,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday, “There is no doubt going into the game they are going to have two or three of the best athletes on the field. We are trying to find a way to just keep them in check a little bit. Just try to minimize the touches from the other guys. Try to keep the quarterback in the pocket for a little bit.”
Shelby’s offense has been stagnate most of the season and Will they have to two things well this week, eat some clock and score the ball. “I thought offensively, even with the weather conditions, we did a little bit of a better job, but we still have a long way to go. It would definitely be nice to be able to control the ball and get a few more points. We have played six games now and the most we have scored in a game is 12 and that is not going to get it done. We are going to have to put some points on the board and I would be willing to bet it would be more than 12, so that is definitely something we are going to focus on this week,” said Will.
Shelby Still Looking for the Right Combination
The Shelby Whippets just keeping trying different things on offense, but nothing seeming to be working.
Last week, the Whippets (0-5,0-2) dropped a Northern Ohio League decision (35-0) to the Bellevue Redmen. Coach Eric Will says they just haven’t found the answers yet. “For the last three or four weeks that has been a big focus for us trying to move pieces around offensively to see if we can find some success and get the ball moving. We just have continued to tinker around with that this week and we will see what happens. I think the kids are motivated with Willard being a big rival here in Shelby. We will see if we can finish out a good week of practice and we will see how things fall on Friday night,” said Will.
Despite the start to the season Will says there have not been attitude concerns and that is due to the leadership they have gotten from their seniors. “We have great senior leaders, we really do. I think that is one of the things that have gone overlooked with this season is the fact that we have 17 seniors that have done whatever we asked them to do. They are doing their best to lead by example. They are trying to put the younger kids in a better situation. They are trying to turn the program over better than when they found it. We are going to continue to work with them,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have told them that we are not cashing in this year. We are not sitting around here playing for next year. Obviously any coach has to look at the betterment of the program over the years, but it is one of those things when we have a chance to do things with this senior class we are going to continue to push those guys and see if we can get some wins for them.”
Willard (1-4,0-1) visits Shelby for the next installment in that backyard rivalry on Friday night at Skiles Field. Will says the Flashes, who lost to unbeaten Loudonville (28-14) last week, are playing pretty good football. “They are pretty good there is no doubt about it. From their coach’s perspective I think that maybe they think they gave one away last week against Loudonville. They really played well for three and half quarters and it kind of got away from them in the fourth quarter a little bit giving up a couple of touchdowns in a short period of time. There is no doubt they right now they think they should be playing for .500. There kids are playing hard you know their coaching staff is doing a good job of putting their kids in a position to be successful,” said Will.
He says the Flashes are just a little bit ahead in their rebuilding program. “I would say right now the difference between Shelby and Willard their coach is in his second year and they are continuing to move forward. I think they are having a little bit more success offensively than we are, but it is going to be a good game. I think they are going to come up here fired up as well especially after last year ending the season losing to Shelby here. I am sure their kids are going to be extra motivated,” he said.
Willard runs the triple option offense and Will says that is hard to defend and they must be disciplined. “When you break down film you try to figure out who you want to have the ball. You kind of dictate taking the ball out of the hands you don’t want to have it. We are definitely focusing on their fullback. He is a pretty good looking football player. He plays downhill and runs hard. We have to make sure we are playing assignment football. On the midline we have to make sure we are stopping the fullback and the quarterback. When they run the veer we have to stop the fullback, the quarterback and the pitch. You have other things that come off of that like the boot and the rocket sweep. They have everything you would expect from a team that runs the veer and the midline,” said Will.
Shelby Has to Find More Offense
In any sport if you have trouble scoring points you are going to have trouble winning no matter how good you defense is and that is the case with the Shelby Whippets.
In three of their four games they have only scored once and in the other it was twice.
Last week, they scored first against Sandusky, but the Blue Streaks rallied to win (20-6) in the opening game in the Northern Ohio league for both teams. Coach Eric Will says Sandusky was just able to make more plays. “We felt like defensively we really played well the entire game outside two or three plays in the second half. We went in at halftime up 6-0 and felt pretty good. The biggest thing we are struggling with right now is trying to find an identity on offense. We changed some things around this week. I know this, we are going to exhaust every resource we have to see if we can get something moving offensively. Sandusky deserves to be credited they had a couple of playmakers that made plays and we didn’t make enough plays. It doesn’t matter if it’s football, basketball, or baseball you have to make plays and we didn’t make enough of them,” said Will.
Will admits now they are really not even a threat to score points against most teams they play. “There are a lot of teams that are playing people both ways and we are no different. The thing is the ability and the mindset that you can maintain and have on the offensive side is not as demoralized as when you are on defense. If you are on defense for 70 or 80 plays on defense as oppposed to offense for 70 or 80 plays they are two completely different mindsets and it wears on your team differently,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Defensively we continue to fight and I think we are continuing to get better and we still need to improve. Offensively there is no doubt we need to control the ball a little more and be more of a threat to score. Right now to be honest we are not really a threat to put fear into a team that we are going to put points up, so we need to tweak that.”
Shelby (0-4,0-1) travels to Bellevue (2-2,0-0) to face the Redmen on Friday night. Will says the Redmen are coming together as a team and they might be getting more healthy too. “Coach Nasonti is second to none. He is a state coach of the year and he is going to be in the hall of fame, if he’s not already in the hall of fame. There is no doubt that his teams are extremely fundamentally sound. When we go up there it is not going to be any easy bargain. The rumor is they are getting their starting quarterback back. They are going to have a loaded group ready to go. They are getting better. They have played Clyde, who is fantastic. They have played Huron. They have played good competition. I expect nothing more than a quality Bellevue team this Friday,” he said.
Last year Bellevue advanced to the division three state title game and had the offensive player of the year in Jalen Santoro. They lost him to graduation, but Will says they try to do a lot of the same things. “Growing up in the 90’s Bellevue was always a power football team and they still are. They still run some of the same things they did with Santoro. They have a pretty athletic quarterback back there. They still run a lot of counter with him. They try to overload and try to get a few more guys at the point of attack then you have defensively. We are kind of preparing to see that. If they throw another quarterback at us that might be able to throw a little more they might be able to bring two different things. We are hoping it doesn’t turn out to be a Kennie Guyton, Braxton Miller kind of thing. We are hoping that we will be able to slow it down a little bit,” said Will.
Shelby Has to Overcome
Shelby just can’t get out of their own way this season. They are improved from last year, but their record doesn’t show it.
The Whippets lost all three of their non-conference games, including last week to Clear Fork (40-8), heading into play in the Northern Ohio League this Friday night against Sandusky.
Coach Eric Will says they just had too many turnovers to compete with the Colts. “We are having a hard time handling any kind of prosperity. We got behind once again turning the ball over early. We did kind of a coach’s snafu and player execution, but I am going to take the blame we ran a punt fake that just didn’t work right. We got down 12-0 early. They had to punt and we were going to get the ball about the 45 and we fumbled the punt and they went down and scored. Turnovers are absolutely killing us. It wasn’t penalties, I think Clear Fork had three times more penalty yards than we had. Over the first three games, turnovers have absolutely killed us,” said Will.
Looking back at the Clear Fork game Will thought they were prepared for the Colts, but they just didn’t get it done, but he says they are getting more comfortable each week. “Each week Spencer (Blevins) continues to do a pretty good job. I really thought we were prepared going into the game, but it was frustrating afterwards. We felt we had a great week of practice and the players knew the scouting report well. Even going through the film they really didn’t do anything offensively or defensively that we didn’t see or except. We just kind of laid an egg there, so that was kind of the frustrating thing because we felt we should have been able to respond a little bit better. Once again give Clear Fork credit, I really thought they won the game, where most games are won, they were just flat out more physical in the trenches. Their coaches should be commended for the effort,” said Will.
In the Northern Ohio League opener the Whippets travel to Sandusky (0-3) where somebody is going to get their first win of the year. Sandusky has given up a lot of points, more than 50 a game, but Will says they still have home run hitters. “They have a couple of guys that are going to be the best athletes on the field. There is no doubt the focus this week is trying to keep those guys from getting out in space,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Defensively, they are going to be aggressive. They are going to play a lot of man. I am going to bet they are going to put seven, eight, even nine guys in the box depending on what we are running offensively. If I was them I would make us throw the ball. They are going to play man and dare us to throw the ball a little bit. They are going to stop the run. That is something we are going to have to execute.”
Will says they can’t allow the Sandusky speed to hurt them. “Growing up Sandusky was always one of the powerhouses that we would hear about in the 90’s and they still have some of those Sandusky athletes that we are accustomed to seeing,” he said.
Whippets Looking For Break Through
With the execution they have gotten in both the preseason and the regular season you just feel like the Shelby Whippets are ready to break a streak that has seen them lose 21 of their last 22 games.
Their next chance comes on Friday night at home against the Clear Fork Colts, their third straight Ohio Cardinal Conference opponent having lost to Mansfield Madison (54-6) and Lexington (28-12) over the first two weeks.
Shelby coach Eric Will certainly thought they did more good things last week against Lexington than they had the week before. “Kind of reflecting back on the Lexington game we once again put ourselves in a bad situation there early. We had a couple of missed assignments on the first drive defensively and that led to a score. We come right back out and once again and turn the ball over and we are down 14-0 before we can even turn around. Once we were able to get that under control we were able to just play football,” said Will.
Offensively Shelby out gained Lexington in total yards 385 to 239. Will thinks they are continuing to make strides on that side of the ball. “We were able to move the ball. We had quite a few yards throwing the ball. Spencer Blevins continues to get more comfortable at the quarterback position. We made a stride in the right direction. We have talked about playing four quarters of football. We didn’t feel we executed that well in first half and we came up a little bit short. Lexington did a nice job and their coaching staff should be commended,” he said.
On defense, the Whippets have been pretty solid, especially given the turnovers the offense has made. Will says they have gotten some outstanding performances. “The defensive staff has been doing a nice job. Each week we sit down and game plan and try and figure out what they are trying to do and we go out are try to put our kids in the best situation to stop that. Madison the first half we were pretty solid and things got away from us. Against Lexington we felt comfortable for most of the game. There in the second half I don’t believe they even had a first down,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Tristan Kehres, I thought it was a misprint at first, my stats guy came down and said Tristan Kehres had 25 tackles, and I said come on, but I went back and looked and yeah he had 25 tackles and four sacks. He played a monster game from the “mic” linebacker position. David Fentley, our nose guard, had a phenomenal game and another linebacker Colton Harvey was stellar. We still need to get better. We are still a little bit too high. We need to rally to the ball.”
Clear Fork (1-1) will be at Shelby Friday. Will says the Colts have some big play makers on offense. “Coach Carroll does a fantastic job. Clear Fork is a solid program in the area. They have a lot of athletes. Their quarterback is a good decision maker. They like to get the ball out on the edge a little bit and do some misdirection. They run quite bit of jet motion. Those are thing we are dealing with this week preparing for them. They are able to put some points up. They are able to move the ball well. Last week, they had some things going, but weren’t able to capitalize,” said Will.
Will thinks the start of the game might be pretty important for them. “We want to get things moving early offensively for us and keep their offense off the field. That is something we are focusing on,” he said.
Shelby Sees some Good Things
Despite a 54-6 loss to the Madison Rams last week, the Shelby coaching staff saw some positives to build on as they get ready for their home opener this week against Lexington.
They were down only 14-0 at the half and Shelby coach Eric Will says if they could have hung onto the ball it would have been closer. “Early in the game we were having some success and moving the ball. We had one fumble there that rolled into the end zone. That was an opportunity to put some points on the board early. We can’t turn the ball over and expect to be successful and we had a lot of stupid penalties as well. We can complain to the officials all we want, but we went back and watched the fill and they were good calls. We had guys out of position and when you are out of position, you commit penalties,” said Will.
Shelby allowed four score in the fourth quarter of the game against Madison, but Will wants to concentrate on what happened before that. “The good news is, like we told our kids, that if we get some of those things fixed, things we can control, we had kind of a mental let down there in the second half, we will be alright. What we are focusing in on now is if one bad thing happens we can’t let it turn into three, four and five bad things. Madison is a good football team and it was a good learning experience for a lot of my players,” he said.
Due to an injury to starting quarterback Lucas Ousley in the last preseason game, Shelby had to go with Spencer Blevins under center and Will thought he did a pretty good job. “Spencer Blevins is a great young man and he did a nice job last weekend actually. I think by losing Lucas (Ousley) we have gained and opportunity for somebody else. That is something Spencer has done a nice job with is continuing to get better each week,” he told Swankonsports.com on Sunday, “There is no doubt we had to shuffle some things around losing Lucas like we did, but Spencer is up to the task. He is a senior captain. It is one of those things that he is looking at it as an opportunity and we will see what he’s got this week.”
He says they want to focus on what was a pretty good first half of football played against Madison. “We as a staff told our kids that we had a couple of real nice drives in the first quarter and if we could have put a cap on those drives we feel that game would have tuned out a little bit differently and we are trying to build on that. We are trying to focus on the first half against Madison and not the second half,” said Will.
Lexington (0-1) comes calling for the Whippets home opener on Friday night at Skiles Field. Will looks at it as chance to prove they are better. “Playing Lexington this week there is going to be another opportunity for some kids to step up and make some plays. We are trying to keep up with that positive attitude. Beating the kids down now isn’t going to be good for anybody, so that is the approach we are taking now. We are going to coach them up and coach them hard, but also letting them know they did do some things well,” said Will.
Lexington quarterback Trent Richwine ran for 205 yards and threw for 93 in their loss to Ontario (44-43) in overtime last week. Will says Richwine is an exciting player unless you are coaching against him. “There is no doubt watching film that young man is very talented. He is extremely athletic. From Lexington’s perspective putting the ball in his hands every play is not a bad thing. There is no doubt that he is at the top of our scouting report. He is a person we have to contain because he is going to make his share of plays,” he said.
Playing keep away might be a key for the Whippets this week. Will says they aren’t going to redesign their offense, but they want to eat some clock. “I have heard people say that a statistic that doesn’t matter much is time of possession. If your team has one of these high tempo offenses you may only have the ball for a minute or two. That is not the situation for us. We have to have ball control. Even though we have a tempo offense we still want to make sure we control the ball, especially with as many two way players as we have. It is easier to control the tempo on offense than it is on defense,” said Will.
Whippets Are Snake bit
Shelby seemed to be making progress during this preseason until just about the last moment.
That’s when quarterback Lucas Ousley tore a knee ligament. That was the last kid the Whippets couple afford to lose and he might be out the whole season.
Otherwise, the Whippets continued to make progress, according to first year coach Eric Will. He says their attitude is going in the right direction. “It is still not exactly where we want it. There are still a few individuals that we are still kind of working with on that. As a collective group I was fairly happy with our effort on Friday. I thought we did a good job of getting to the ball defensively. Playing Galion they have one of the better athletes in the area. We wanted to see how we were able to compete against him, how we could contain him. Obviously he made his fair share of plays. We came away pretty happy, but with some things to improve as well,” said Will.
Over the last couple of seasons the Whippets seemed to play well for a while and then get blasted for a couple of quarters. Will says that can’t happen this year. “I think that what happens often times is if you are a team that is looking to build and reestablish its identity one of the things you have to do is keep yourself competitive throughout the game. If you go into halftime and you are down 28-0 or 35-7 it’s a deflating thing where as if you go into the locker room at halftime and you give yourself a chance to compete or even up,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We used to talk about this even when I was at Liberty or Delaware Hayes let’s get into the locker room with a chance to make adjustments that can affect the game. If you are getting beat up pretty good it’s hard to make a few adjustments and see how those things work. Often times at that point and time the adjustments aren’t going to fix anything.”
Wins and losses are important to everyone, including the Whippets, but Will says a consistent effort this fall is more important when it comes to rebuilding the program. “What we have been preaching hard to these kids is resiliency, mental toughness and quit looking at the scoreboard. Now those are things you would expect any coach to preach to his team, but those things are way easier said that done. We want the kids to go out and compete and play hard for four quarters. We feel like if we can do that we are going to give ourselves with this schedule the opportunity to compete for some wins. That is one of the toughest things to do when you are trying to build a program that hasn’t had much success in recent history kids will get in that frame of mind, man here we go again,” said Will.
Shelby plays at Mansfield Madison, the defending Ohio Cardinal Conference co-champion, on Friday night in the opener for both squads. The Rams graduated quite a bit, but Will says they are still pretty good. “They are a well coached team. There is no doubt they have one the better staffs in North Central Ohio. They know exactly what they are doing from a program standpoint. They are going to come out and try to establish the run. The quarterback is extremely athletic. They have two or three extremely athletic guys on the edge. Their defense is gap responsible and they get to the ball well. They are a great football team and right out of the gate this is going to be a good measuring stick on what kind of a summer we have had,” he said.
Shelby Coach Cracks the Whip
If Shelby is to break out of a two year slump in football they have to bring it on every play.
Eric Will, a former Whippet player and first year coach, says they are making some strides, but things have to get better.
Will saw some good things in a scrimmage last week against Sandusky Perkins. “We had a nice scrimmage with Sandusky Perkins. They are obviously going to be a pretty good football team. I thought offensively we made some strides forward. Defensively we have a lot of work to do. That’s kind of what we got out of that scrimmage. This week we have really been focusing on tackling and getting to the ball and pursuit. I think the kid’s attitude has been a lot better and we are doing some good things,” he said.
Shelby, basically due to their poor won and loss record (2-18) over the last two years, were chosen to finish last in the “NOL” this season by a panel of media experts.
This year the Whippets are going to look to get a lot of things done from multiple looks on offense. Will says a lot of their success will be based on what the quarterback does. “We are going to be a tempo offense. We would like to get up to the line and see what the defense is giving us and make some checks and plays off of that. Our quarterback will have a little bit of responsibility with that as well. We feel that our two-year, starting, senior quarterback, who is also a captain will have the ability to put us in some better situations,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “When the coaches give him a play that we may or may not want to be in he will have the ability to make some checks there at the line. As far as schematics we are going to be a little bit fast paced. People in this town are used to two back power and we are still going to run some of that, but more out of a spread. It’s still a numbers game. We try to get more people to the point of attack than they do defensively.”
However, Will says no matter what formation they in on offense or lineup they are using on defense there has to be good effort and right now they aren’t seeing that. “It is a lot of the small things. The big thing offensively that we don’t do very well is we are not very good at running our feet at the point of attack as far as offensive line. We are still trying to work that out. A big concern for me after watching the film, this is something we have really let our kids hear about, is the fact that our effort needs to be a lot better. There are two things coaches can’t control and that is effort and enthusiasm. We need kids to bring that. We are going to get to the point here where we need to get 11 guys to the ball. We need to be gap responsible and people need to know their assignments. We were seeing way too many missed assignments and that’s not going to get it done with the schedule we are going to play. We need to just lineup right and execute our job description and we will see where it goes from there,” said Will.
Shelby Trying to Find the Right Angles
In his first year on the job Shelby football coach Eric Will has the assignment of turning the Whippets back into winners.
Shelby has a proud football tradition dating back to the 1940’s, but the last couple of years have not been so good.
Will says he likes the energy level that he sees and they have been working hard at installing a new system and approach to the game. “I think we have come a long way here in the last couple of weeks. The thing that helps out with a new coach and new staff coming in is the fact that we have the ability to have those ten contact days in the summer. We are happy with were we are as far as the scheme and the kids energy level. We just have to a better job executing and fine tuning some of the things we want to take the field against Madison and do here in three weeks,” said Will.
Will knows that confidence is a big part of sports and they are trying to get kids in the right sports so they can make the plays that need to be made. “Unfortunately we have got some guys that didn’t necessarily get a lot of reps last year that quite frankly are going to have to make some plays for us this year. We are just trying to get their confidence level up in their own abilities and also getting them to play fast. This big thing that we have stressed is the players play the fastest when they know what they are doing. With football being such an assignment sport we need to make sure the kids know their assignments and know them well and they can execute them fast and quick,” he said.
Will says during two a days, which started last week, he and the staff are trying to teach kids what techniques will make them successful, especially when it comes to getting to the ball carrier. “We talk about read and react all of the time, especially defensively. We are trying to hammer down the proper angles, proper stance, proper start and things like that. Getting out of the chute and having the right angle can off set some of the speed differences that you may have between the offense and the defense. We try to tell guys that if you take the proper steps and proper angles that is going to help you out and you will be able to get to the ball quicker and make you a more confident football player,” said Will.
One thing they know needs work is getting low on defense and finding the best angle to get to the ball carrier. “We had an inter squad scrimmage on Saturday and we just went against each other. We kind of just put best on best and one thing that we noted right away as a staff was that our pad level was high and we aren’t taking proper steps and proper angles. We definitely think over the next couple of weeks we have got to get that fixed. We are going to have an opportunity Friday to go up to Sandusky Perkins and scrimmage against them. They are going to give us a great look. We are trying to talk to our guys about staying low because if you don’t you are going to pay the price,” said Will.
The Whippets have won only one game in the last two years and that makes one question the attitude. Will says that has not been a problem this year on the practice field. “I would say the one thing that I am very happy with is my senior leadership. With a new coach coming in with a new program and a new idea that is the group that is toughest to sell and they have jumped in with both feet. They are thirsty to be successful. They are a good group of kids and there is no doubt about it the attitude has been good and the environment has been good. I feel like it has been a positive summer here, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We told the kids that you have to take the good with the bad. We are all about positive reinforcement, but we are going to honest as well. We are not going to give them a false sense of security because there are a lot of teams on our schedule that can play really good football. We want to make sure we let them know exactly where they are at in that realm.”
Shelby Driving Toward Possible Seed
After a slow start to the season the Shelby Whippets continue to play outstanding baseball after a win over Sandusky on Thursday night.
Shelby bested the Blue Streaks (7-4) in Northern Ohio League play. Coach C.J. Brickman says they have really played well over the last couple of weeks of the season, with their only loss coming to league leader Norwalk. “I think we have won seven of our last eight. Norwalk, we really can’t control what they do now. We can just control what we can control and the games that we have and see how it goes,” said Brickman.
Shelby (11-7,6-2) has been an outstanding offensive team all season, but Brickman says it has been their pitching and defense that has made them into a better team. “We started really slow with our pitching and our defense. Then all of the sudden that was our best aspect. Our team ERA went from like a seven to a four. We are like making one error less in the last seven games and that has been the difference,” he said.
At the beginning of the season Shelby was trying to outscore their opponents. A 17-10 loss to Norwalk is an example. However, no matter what kind of offense you have it is difficult to win those kinds of games consistently. Brickman says it affects your confidence. “It is demoralizing. You come out and score a few runs and you give us five or six earned runs and you have to go back at it. If you do it again it will kill you,” he said.
Shelby will play in a division two sectional tournament at Clyde High School and the tournament draw is Sunday. Brickman thinks they have a chance for a high seed. “We play Galion on Saturday in a doubleheader. If we can take them both hopefully I feel real good about it. I’m just not sure about Clyde’s record. I don’t know what they have done. Besides them I feel like we are a three seed, maybe a two seed possibly because we did beat Bellevue,” Brickman told Swankonsports.com after the win on Thursday over Sandusky.
Ohio Cardinal Conference leader Lexington, streaking Clear Fork, Clyde, in second in the Sandusky Bay Conference, plus Bellevue, Tiffin Columbian and Willard from the Northern Ohio League are also in the sectional.
Shelby on Hot Steak
Don’t look now, but the Shelby Whippets are a factor in the Northern Ohio League baseball race.
The Whippets have won their last four “NOL” games after belting Willard (10-2) on Tuesday night. Coach C.J. Brickman says their pitching and defense have improved and now they are ready to challenge anyone. “We have won four in a row in the league. Our pitching has finally picked up and we aren’t making errors in the field. We have always been able to hit, so with all three phases taken care of we are playing well right now,” said Brickman.
Last season, Shelby finished at the bottom of the league standings, but this year they have found an ace in Justin Lewis. Brickman says he has been the difference. “We have a kid that has emerged as our number one starter in Justin Lewis. He beat Bellevue last Thursday. He beat Tiffin on Monday. He has pitched well for us lately and we are going to ride him right now,” said Brickman.
Shelby (8-6,4-1) plays Norwalk (13-2,5-0), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll in the large school division, in a league game on Thursday afternoon. The Whippets lost (17-10) to the Truckers in their first meeting. But, Brickman says the Whippets are a different team now. “If you are hot you can stay hot. If you are cold man, it feels like you are never going to get a win. When you are hot you have to ride it as long as you can,” he said.
With the way they have been playing over the last week to 10 days, Brickman says his team is very confident. “It just shows them they are capable, especially getting that big win at Bellevue. That really pumped us up. Since then we have been a different team,” he said.
Shelby Gets First “NOL” Win
Shelby continues to hit the baseball and with a win on Tuesday night the Whippets are hanging in the Northern Ohio baseball race early on.
Fighting the raindrops on Tuesday, and more importantly the lightning, the Whippets (5-5,1-1) beat Sandusky (8-5) to pick up their first “NOL” win of the year. They lost (17-10) to Norwalk last week.
Coach C.J. Brickman says it was a big win for them in terms of momentum and position. “With the win (Tuesday) it puts us right back into it. The weather was bad the whole game, but in the end we got the win and it feels good,” he said.
When many other games were postponed, or not played at all, due to storms, Shelby and Sandusky finished all seven innings of theirs. Brickman liked the pace of play. “You want to be quick because you want to hit. You don’t want to be in the field when it’s raining. We want to keep the mound dry, so you have to be tough mentally,” Brickman told Swankonsports.com after the win Tuesday.
Pitching has sometimes been a question mark, but Shelby has been hitting the ball all season. Brickman says the bats are carrying them right now. “That is out strength. We can put some runs up. If we can pitch a little better and play the field better I think we can be pretty good,” he said.
Ashland swept a doubleheader from the Whippets on Saturday and Brickman says their defense was shaky. He says it was better against Sandusky. “Over the weekend it got rough, but (Tuesday) we moved some kids into some places where I think they will be successful. It was good (Tuesday), but we need to be more consistent throughout the year,” he said.
Shelby travels to take on the talented Bellevue Redmen in an “NOL” game on Thursday.
Shelby Wins Opener
Shelby rattled the scoreboard on opening day as they blasted Mansfield Christian in their opener on Tuesday afternoon.
The Whippets (1-0) scored early and often in beating the Flames (17-8) in a game that’s scored more closely resembled a football game.
Coach C.J. Brickman says they didn’t exactly tear the cover off the ball, but they took advantage of some situations. “We scored 17 runs, but it was deceiving because we only had 14 hits and 13 of them were singles. I still think we can hit the ball a lot better. It is nice to score 17 runs. It makes the night go a lot better,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night after the win.
The wind chill was in the 20’s at Shelby and Brickman says you have to have good focus and they were able to do that against the Flames (0-3) on Tuesday. “There is no reason to complain after you win, especially this early in the season when it is cold. You have to get that victory early and feel good about yourself going into the next day,” he said. He adds what makes it even more difficult is having to come in and pitch after playing in the field. “Especially on our field, the wind is blowing, it’s cold, and the kids are standing out there on defense. If I have to bring a reliever in, they do cool off, especially if they are in the field for five, ten minutes. The weather is a big factor,” said Brickman.
Shelby travels to Wynford for another non-conference game on Wednesday. Brickman says they have to sort of forget what happened on Tuesday and move on to the next assignment. “You also have to kind of forget. You are playing a new team. Everybody comes to the plate 0-for-0. You have to leave the game from yesterday alone and start a new day, so you have to have a short memory,” said Brickman.
Whippets Need Pitching Depth
Shelby is trying to go from worst to first in the Northern Ohio League this year and if they are going to do that it will be their hitting that leads the way.
While many coaches are talking about wanting to get outside, Whippets manager C.J. Brickman says they were out under the blue skies last week, even though it was cold. “We did get an opportunity to go outside all of last week. We just went out in the cold. We did play a scrimmage,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “When we did outside I saw our arms getting a little stronger. We are getting used to making that throw from short to first. I see them grow a little bit as we are able to get outside more.”
Shelby struggled once they got past their top pitchers last year and Brickman hopes they can avoid that again this season. “I would say we have three good starters and one bullpen guy. We don’t have a lot of experience, so after those top four guys it’s a concern about who to bring in. We play 11 games in the first two weeks and we need more than four arms. That is our main concern right now,” said Brickman.
With bats making solid contact with ball behind him, Brickman says he believes they are going to be able to put some runs on the board this year because they have hitters throughout the lineup. “I think that’s our strength. In our first scrimmage we tore the cover off the ball. We have some big strong kids,” he said.
To be in contention in the league this year Brickman says they are gong to have to beat some very good teams. He doesn’t want to pick one favorite for the league title. “Every year you can count on Norwalk being tough. Bellevue is always tough. Every “NOL” game is always tough. There is never an easy one. We never go into one and think we have it locked up. You have to show up every day or you are going to get beat,” said Brickman.
Shelby is slated to play Mansfield Christian in its first game on April 2.
Things Looking up for Shelby
Last year, Shelby finished last in what was a very tough Northern Ohio League baseball race and they hope that this spring will bring many more wins for the Whippets.
Shelby was 2-8 in “NOL” action last season, but coach C.J. Brickman says this year they return a lot of those players that were seasoned a year ago. “We like what we see so far. We have an experienced team. I have almost everybody back form last year’s team. It’s not like starting from scratch. You can kind of pick up where you left off last year, so we are happy with where we are at right now,” said Brickman.
There will be some pitching depth this year in Shelby as Brickman says he returns most of his arms form last year and a lot the everyday players as well. “I would say our hitting and our pitching should be our best. I have four of my top five guys back from last year on my pitching staff. I have hitters one through seven back. Hopefully, they are both good,” he said.
If Shelby is going to compete with a league that includes Norwalk and Bellevue, both with talent returning from last year, the Whippets need pitching and Brickman says that is what they have been working on the most during the preseason. “Right now, we are working on pitching. My philosophy is you go far as your pitching can take you, so we are really working on that and we are hitting in the cage. We are just waiting until we can go outside,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday.
The weather a lot of times dictates what happens at least early in the season in baseball in North Central Ohio. There is a little snow on the ground on this Wednesday morning. Brickman says they hope they can get outside soon because they need too. “Our first scrimmage is Monday and it’s supposed to snow all week and you don’t know if you are going to play it. You can only do so much in a gym, but you do the best you can,” he said.
Shelby Must Beat Willard For a Third Time
Shelby barley survived a scare in their first tournament game and now the face the challenge of beating a team they have already beaten twice this year.
The Lady Whippets (18-5), # 4 in the final Swankonsports.com girls’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, face Willard (14-9) in the division two district semi-finals at Bucyrus High School on Thursday night.
Shelby outlasted Mansfield Madison (49-47) in the sectional finals on Saturday night at Ontario High School. Coach Natalie Lantz says they shot the ball very poorly, but their defense was enough to get them a win. “The Madison girls are very young and very athletic. They did a nice job, those girls played a nice game. I give my girls a lot of credit too they played hard. We were not hitting at all,” she told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We were 12 of 33 from the field and missed a lot of layups. We were 16 of 33 from the free throw line. That hurts!! That is a whole different ball game. We did out rebound them. I think we did play some good defense at times. We got some key stops when we need too. I told my girls I was very proud of them for hanging tough and not backing down and pulling out the win.”
Being the top seed and surviving the scare like they did against Madison, Lantz says her players have come back this week in practice refocused. “The girls came out this week, both (Monday) and (Tuesday) and worked really hard at practice, working hard defensively and offensively. We have been getting a lot of shooting in this week as well. They don’t know how to back down I’ll tell you what this is a great group of kids. They have good chemistry. They are always pumping each other up. They will be ready to take the court on Thursday,” she said.
Shelby shared the Northern Ohio League title with Bellevue for the second straight year. They beat Willard twice during the regular year at home (48-35) and in the regular season finale at Willard (64-59) nearly two weeks ago. They had to rally down 10 in the fourth quarter to get that win. Lantz says Willard is tough to keep off the boards. “Willard has a lot of talent. They have a lot of height. They are very strong on the boards. We will have to do a good job boxing out. We still need to do a good job attacking the basket. We need to play good defense and stop them from attacking and getting the ball inside,” said Lantz.
Tournament basketball tends to be slower paced, but Lantz says the must play their game if they are going to win. “We still need to play our game and attack. We need to play good defense. If we get a stop on defense we have to box out and get a rebound. In the tournament if you loose you are done. The girls are confident, but not overly, due to the fact that they know whatever team we face if we don’t play four strong quarters our time could be up. It will be possession by possession. If it’s a transition possession or a half court possession we need to make it count,” she said.
Shelby Struggling on Offense
If Shelby were playing a game of “HORSE” they would likely struggle quite a bit to be successful and right now those shooting woes are keeping them out of the win column.
They have lost three in a row, including their final Northern Ohio League game to Willard (65-46) last Friday, going into tournament play. They face Upper Sandusky (12-10) in the division two sectional semi-finals on Tuesday night at Bucyrus High School.
Coach Troy Schwemley says the Whippets (12-9) are sort of limping into the tournament. “We have lost the last three games so from that standpoint I am concerned. It is just disappointing right now for us. Two weeks ago we had won three in a row and were 12-6 at one point and we have lost our last three, so that is what our record is and we have to find a way to overcome it. Obviously there is no tomorrow. We are not playing our best ball right now, but a win would go a long way from a confidence standpoint. This is a tournament game and if you find some way to win that first one that can help your next game, if you don’t then there is no next game,” said Schwemley.
Offense has been a struggle all season for the Whippets. Schwemley says they just aren’t executing. “We just go through these moments when we don’t score. It seems like it could happen in any point in the game. I feel good about our effort at times. When we look back at our game at Willard we were down by as many as 15 in the third quarter and came battling back and cut to six at 44-38. We actually had the ball three times with the ball staying there and didn’t get any closer,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Those were opportunities lost and chances to keep the momentum in our favor, but we didn’t score in the next seven possessions. To go seven possessions without a score it’s tough to beat anybody, let alone a really good team like Willard.”
Shelby beat Upper Sandusky (51-34) on December 22 in one of their better efforts of the season. Schwemley says they absolutely must make shots, especially early in this game. “They are very patient and can be methodical at times. For us now in a game with less possessions it’s even more critical that you capitalize on every possession. If you go three, four possessions without scoring that might be a quarter. They can be very methodical and it limits your possessions. Now, if you are able to get ahead of them, when we played game five that’s what we were able to do, we had a nice run in the second quarter and had about a ten point lead, so that made them play faster. That is something that we hope to do is get out on top because that forces them to play a little faster than they want to,” said Schwemley.
A couple of weeks ago Buckeye Central was able to rally and beat Upper, but that doesn’t happen very often. Schwemley says you can’t let the Rams get a head of you by much. “In talking to coach Loy when they were down 13 it almost seemed like an insurmountable lead and they were able to come back. I think Upper suffers through some of the same ailments that we do that they can just go through stretches where they don’t score. The key is not letting their tempo dictate yours. If you can get good shots and high percentage shots early you take them, but it not you have to be willing to work for a good shot and capitalize on it. It’s just matter of coming out and hitting some shots and be able to establish the tempo we want, but you still have to be patient in those stretches where maybe the possessions last a little longer. If they miss then rebound because I think both of us wouldn’t consider ourselves the greatest shooting teams, but both teams are hoping for some garbage baskets and some put backs. The team that makes some of those effort plays will really have an advantage in this game,” said Schwemley.
Shelby is Ready to Start Tournament Drive
Last year, the Shelby Lady Whippets advanced all the way to the division two district finals before losing to Clyde. They hope to start another long run on Saturday.
Shelby (17-5) meets Mansfield Madison (6-16) in the division two sectional final at Ontario High School on Saturday night.
The Lady Whippets, #3 in the final Swankonsports.com girls’ basketball poll in the large school division, have won 13 of their last 14. Coach Natalie Lantz says there are a couple of reasons for their success. “They are playing well. Our team has really good chemistry. They work really well together. Our strategy going in for Saturday night is we need to work together and play really good defense. That is something we have been working on all week. We will go in with a little lighter practice on (Friday) working on defense and going back over our offenses a little bit, working on some shooting and coming out strong on Saturday night,” said Lantz.
An important component in the success of the Lady Whippets this year is their comradely on and off the floor. Lantz says these girls really do like each other, it’s not an act. “These kids have fun both on and off the court and they respect each other. They know they all have roles and what they are capable of. I think the chemistry that this group as they just have a good time and they all are very competitive. They all want to win. They want to be successful and they enjoy seeing each other success on and off the court. It has been a really, really fun year watching the girls have fun and improve all season long,” she said.
Shelby just played Madison on February 12 winning (74-65), but not as convincingly as some would have thought. Lantz gives the credit to Madison, who she says is improving. “I think Madison is a young team, but a very talented young team. They are certainly not one to overlook. They have some shooters. Molea Thompson is a very quick guard. We need to be ready defensive and defense comes first,” she told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “If we can shut them down defensively we can attack offensively. That will be one of our strategies going in Saturday night. Our girls are ready for the challenge. We know what we need to do. We know what we didn’t do the first time. We were able to come out with the win, which was good.”
On Saturday, Lantz wants her players to concentrate a little more on defense than the first time they played Madison. “Especially in the first half we stood on defense. We would step up and as they crossed half court we would let them blow right by us. There was no help side. There was no rotation. Those are things we have done all year. For some reason that night we didn’t do it. I don’t if it was a case that the girls did somewhat over look them. I give Madison credit they did hit about 80 percent of their shots in the first half. We did come out in the second half and did a nice job on Molea. Another thing is we didn’t rebound like we need too. It’s not just turn and run for the ball, turn around a check out and rebound going up strong up strong and get it and they get an outlet,” said Lantz.
Shelby Needs to Better on Offense and Defense
For the Shelby Whippets this season has brought a lot of good things, but they seem to be just on the cusp of being a solid team and they can’t quite get there.
In there last Northern Ohio League game they were beaten when Bellevue used a deliberate offense to frustrate the Whippets (38-31). Coach Troy Schwemley says they could never get the big hoop and change the momentum of the game. “Going against Norwalk everybody has been forced to try and do something. Norwalk is such a good team. We tried it as far as slowing things down. Bellevue tied it and was pretty successful. That was one of the closer games anybody has had against Norwalk. Maybe they thought they did so well maybe it suits their style a little bit. I didn’t expect them to do that. They came out very deliberate and spread us out. They did a nice job and we weren’t able to hit some shots early. In a game like that if you can take the lead or keep things close that will make teams force the tempo a little more. We just were not able to do that,” said Schwemley.
The Whippets don’t have the firepower to blow out many teams, so Schwemley says they have to be very good executers to win games and they have not always been. “I think our defense need to improve a little more. We have had stretches where we just haven’t gotten stops when we have needed them. Our offense needs to be a little more consistent. We have gone stretches where we just won’t score for three or four minutes. It seems like it just puts us in a little hole. We just have to do a better job of getting the shots we want and knocking shots down, but also getting some garbage points and getting to the line,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “When you look back at that Bellevue game we didn’t get to the line. We didn’t shoot one free throw that game. It’s hard to find a high school game when you don’t even shoot one free throw. The next night at Kenton we were up five with four minutes to go and it really came down to getting a couple of stops and score a couple of times when we really need a basket. We really didn’t make those big plays happen. That’s what I am looking forward to, just making those big plays when we need them. We will play hard. I like our effort. We really need to come together down the stretch.”
Shelby (12-8,6-3) wraps up the regular season on Friday night with a visit to arch rival Willard (15-6,7-2), #5 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division. Some of the Shelby fans on twitter have been referring to this week as “Hate Willard Week.” Schwemley, a little more calm, says the Flashes have a number of scorers. “They definitely have a lot of guys that can shoot from the perimeter. They have multiple scorers. When you look at their scoring they have four or five guys around 10 points a game, a couple of them a little more, a couple of them right there. They have guys that can shoot the three. With Hayden Adams inside he does a nice job of getting to the rim and occupying the middle,” he said.
Shelby beat Willard (54-49) back in January at “The Doghouse,” but Schwemley explains Willard played that game without Hayden Adams and he could make a big difference. “I think that’s the difference in our first game is Adams didn’t play in that game. It’s hard to get an idea of how this game will match-up because without him it really is a different team. So, even thought we have already played its tough to use that game as a gage because he makes them a different team. That is going to be different to see how we match-up with him. We did a pretty good job of guarding the perimeter in the first game, but they didn’t have him in the middle. I think that will be the interesting dynamic is how having him on the floor effects this game,” said Schwemley.
Shelby Putting it Together
Shelby is not going to win the Northern Ohio League title this season, but they are still having a good season with a chance for more.
After starting the season with some struggles offensively the Whippets (12-6,6-2) have shown some gradual improvement throughout the season and last week won three games over Galion (71-56), Sandusky (65-46) in an “NOL” game and Clyde (66-61) on Saturday. Coach Troy Schwemley says it was a key week for them. “Going into last week we were 9-6 and it felt like the season could go either direction. The last week we have three good wins against Galion, Sandusky and then at Clyde. In a week you go from 9-6 to 12-6. That was definitely a good week for us. We had two home games which we won and then to go on the road Saturday and win against a very good team I think it just capped off the week and moved us in a positive direction,” said Schwemley.
Grant Fenner is one of the leading scorers in the area an Austin Rhode has emerged as a reliable second option. Schwemley says other players have really stepped up too. “We have really continued to get more production from a lot of different guys. Tristan Karis, who was a sub for us last year and had a lot of varsity experience, but he was more of a role player last year. The game he had Saturday 21 points, 12 rebounds that is a monster night against a very good team. He has been so steady all year averaging 10 points and eight rebounds a game. He has been having a real good year,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have been getting contributions from Andrew Baird. He has been scoring five, six points a game and typically draws the other team’s best offensive player. A.J. Beal does a nice job inside for us as far as getting some baskets here and there, rebounding, and manning the middle for us. Guys like that make a big difference in terms of how long a season it is and you just can’t have one of two guys doing it all.”
Shelby plays hosts to Bellevue (9-10,2-6) in a league contest, which will be the last boys’ varsity basketball game at Joe Yohn gymnasium. A new Shelby High School opens for next school year.
This has not been a banner Bellevue year, but Schwemley says they still have nice talent. “The parts are there. The talent is there. They just got off to a late start. I don’t wish that on anyone. The football success is great, but it comes at a price. Their season got started so late and they are playing two, three games a week, The season is long enough as it is, but you need days for practice and you need days of rest. I think that is a factor in their season, but they are a team on any given night that can play very well and can play with anybody,” he said.
Shelby won at Bellevue (66-54) in early January and Schwemley knows the Redmen are better than their record indicates. “I am not looking at their record because I know the good players that they have and the type of team that they have. It probably starts with Jalen Santoro, but Trent Stamm is a very athletic player too and there are other guys that do a lot of good things for them. Yeah, their record is 9-10, but they are a dangerous team and we have to be ready to play,” he said.
Shelby Facing Big Week
Shelby has three games this week and if they can win them all they could make things interesting at the sectional draw in division two, which takes place on Sunday.
Shelby began a stretch of playing four games over eight days with a loss to Ashland (55-52) last Saturday. Coach Troy Schwemley says they left some plays out there that could have made them winners. “It was a game we could have won. There were things we didn’t do well that if we would have done we would have had a better chance at winning. We knew going in that Isaac White was a very good player, a good shooter. He ended scoring a lot of their points in the second half. We had some defensive breakdowns that let him open a couple of times,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday “At the start of the game we had two turnovers that led to layups. One was on a defensive rebound. We had secured it and just made a poor outlet and another was just a poor pass in the half court. We lost by three, but you know there are a few plays here and there that you feel like if we had just done a few things better we could have won the ball game, but that is the way it is.”
Galion (8-9) visits Shelby (9-6) on Tuesday night in non-conference play and the Tigers have been playing some pretty good ball over the last couple of weeks. Schwemley says they playing with confidence right now. “That is something that we are talking to the team about they have won four in a row, so their confidence is pretty high right now. They have had wins against Riverdale, River Valley, Upper Sandusky and now Wynford. Galion is playing with a lot of confidence and we are coming off a loss. We are going to have to overcome that and try to get back on the winning side of things. It’s a long season and we have three games this week and we need to get our confidence going,” he said.
The Tigers can take it to the basket too, but Schwemley says they are most dangerous shooting those outside shots. “Galion does a lot of things well and I think it starts with their perimeter shooting. Durbin and Prosser do a great job of scoring from the perimeter, but they get a lot of scoring from the other guys. It is a very important for us to get back on the winning side of things and get some positive going,” said Schwemley.
Galion and Shelby are both in the division two sectional at Bucyrus and Schwemely says this is an important game for them to build momentum for this weekend and this season. “The tournament draw is this Sunday and in our bracket it’s tight with Lexington, Willard, us, Clear Fork and those one through four seeds still have little fluctuation in them. With us having three game this week it makes every one a must win. I think most importantly we want to finish February getting better,” he said.
Shelby Needs to Out Work Opponents
Shelby does not play a Northern Ohio League game this week, but they do have a big challenge on Saturday night as they travel to Ashland to meet the Arrows of the Ohio Cardinal Conference.
After losing the previous week to Norwalk and Mansfield St. Peter’s, the Whippets railed to beat Tiffin Columbian (59-49) last Friday night in league play. Coach Troy Schwemley says he thought they were able to attack Columbian’s combination man-zone pretty well. “They came out in a triangle and two against us trying to shut down Grant Fenner and Austin Rhode, which is the first time we had seen that all year. Sometimes you wonder how you are going to respond to something you haven’t seen. I was pretty pleased as it didn’t phase us to the point that sometimes you see teams that see a junk defense like that and they just shut down and we didn’t. We kept moving the ball and got some good looks. Grant still found a way to score and some other guys contributed. We got off to a 10, 15 point lead and we just never seemed to be able to put it away. That kind of reminded me of how we started the year with some games. We had two losses the weekend before, so any win was good for us. To get a win on the road was a good step,” said Schwemley.
Shelby (9-5) has played some pretty good basketball this season, if anything has been a struggle it has been their offensive execution. Schwemley says with the parts they have this season they just have to play harder than the opponent. “I think it comes down to our effort. This might sound bad, but we aren’t good enough to just go out there and play and expect to win. We have got to out work teams. We have a nice group of guys that work real hard. When it comes to skill wise and things like that we have a couple of guys that can shoot from the perimeter, but for the most part we have to out effort people and when we do that we feel pretty good about our chances of success,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We still want to keep improving. I mentioned the Tiffin triangle and two and they did that because really Austin and Grant are the only guys that have been hitting shots from the perimeter. Tristan Keris hits a three that game and Lucas Beal had two. It was good for us to get some other guys involved in different ways. I think that is something I would like to see still is guys continuing to play to their strengths, but also expand their roles a little bit and take what the other teams give them. That’s what we did well that night, so that’s what we need to keep doing.”
Ashland (10-5) is on a four game winning streak and Schwemely says they are a team with a number of deep shooters. “That’s a really interesting game because we really do a lot of things similar when you look offensively and defensively. We have very similar base offense. I think they have multiple guys that can hit from the perimeter which makes them dangerous. It starts with Isaac White, but they have other guys that can hit threes. I think that is there strength. We definitely have to defend in the half court. They seem to be a team that can play very well. They have won some games against some very good teams. They have Mansfield Senior on Friday night, so they will play Friday-Saturday where as it is our only game. Only having a single game and it kind of leads into a four game stretch. After this Saturday we go Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, so it would be nice to get off to a good start to that four game stretch,” said Schwemley.
Lady Whippets Feeling It
Riding a seven game win streak, the Shelby Lady Whippets are playing some excellent basketball over the last month of the season.
They beat Willard (41-33) on Saturday to remain in second place in the Northern Ohio League, a game behind Bellevue, and they play the Lady Red again next week.
Coach Natalie Lantz says they have really been putting things together lately. “The girls have been clicking. They have been working really hard at practice despite some of the flu that has been going around. They seem to come back strong and they jump right back in where they left off. The girls have been doing really well,” she says.
Shelby has some offensive firepower, but Lantz says it is the way they have been playing when the other team has the ball that has been the difference for them. “They have really stepped up their defense. I know it is one of things that we have wanted to key on all season, but they really have. They have been rotating well,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They are talking better on defense and they are rotating to be in better help side. That makes a big difference especially communication wise. Once they do that and get the ball they are attacking and running transition well. They are moving the ball awfully well. We are a very unselfish team. They don’t care who scores as long as long as somebody scores.”
Shelby (12-5), #5 in the Swankonsports.com girls’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, plays host to Lexington (1-15) in a non-conference game on Tuesday. Lantz calls Lady Lex as young, but dangerous. “They are young and I think youthful teams you certainly can’t overlook. There is definitely some talent. They could come in with some confidence that you don’t expect and they can surprise you, so we have to go into the game with confidence and be ready to play,” she said.
Now, next week comes the biggest game of the season for the Lady Whippets as they host Northern Ohio Leading Bellevue on February 9. Bellevue won the first meeting (48-40) at their place on December 22, but Lantz says they are a different team now. “Our game back in December, right before Christmas, that’s still in there head. They know that when we played them back then that we are not the same team as we were nine games ago. We are clicking. We are attacking the basket. We are playing much better defense than we were then. We are ready to take them on again. That will be an exciting game for both teams. In our league we ate all doing the “Play 4 Kaye” to help raise money for the Kaye Yow Cancer Foundation. That will be a big game all the way around. The girls are definitely going to keep their focus on the task at hand that day,” said Lantz.
Shelby Must Refocus
At mid-season it appeared Shelby was on their way to another good season, something we have come to expect with the Whippets, but now they aren’t that sure.
Last week, they were beaten (54-31) by the Northern Ohio League leading Norwalk Truckers on Friday and then clipped by Mansfield St. Peter’s (57-51) on Saturday.
Coach Troy Schwemley says everything was going according to the game plan for the first 12 minutes against the Truckers, but then everything just fell apart and quickly. “We knew going in that they were a team that could explode on you at any time. We had to control the tempo and for a quarter and half we did. It was 11-11 and we weren’t playing what I would say was great. We were making enough shots and we were taking good enough care of the ball that we weren’t giving them points in transition. Then a couple of turnovers and a 7-0 run and the next thing you know it is 18-11 at halftime,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We were really doing a pretty good job, but we just made too many mistakes. They are a team that is going to capitalize on that. To start the third quarter I think they went on a 10-0 run. We are not going to come back on a team that good.”
Their second loss came Saturday night at the Franciscan Center and Schwemley says they were out played by the Spartans in every way. “From a coach’s standpoint they outplayed us. They outworked us. The out hustled us. They did what you need to do to win basketball games. As coach if you think your team out works and out plays the other team on most nights you feel pretty good about your team winning. St. Peter’s deserved to win that game. They out played us and out worked us. That is what we are trying to teach these guys. It’s the same way it goes in life. To be successful you have to work harder than anyone else. St. Peter’s did that and credit to coach Durham and his team because they deserved to win that game and did a good job on Saturday night,” said Schwemley.
This Friday night, Shelby (8-5,4-2) pays a visit to Tiffin Columbian (5-8,1-4) for a league game. The Whippets won the first meeting (56-43) and Schwemley believes it is all about effort. “Before this past weekend I probably would have said I feel pretty good going into this game, but after the tough weekend we have just had we need to regroup and rebound. It comes down I would say to that effort. If we go up to Tiffin and give great effort and do the little things it takes to be successful I feel good about it. We need to learn from this past weekend as far as the effort and the mistakes we have made,” said Schwemley.
Tiffin might have started the year young, but Schwemley says no more. “We are 12,13 games into the season, so at this point you have your experience in. It is the second time around seeing a team. So teams are petty familiar with the other team’s tendencies. It’s going to take going to Tiffin and we are going to have to bounce back from that tough weekend that we had. It is not going to be any picnic up there and I expect a hard “NOL” game,” he said.
Shelby Must Win to Make “NOL” A Contest
Friday night pretty much determines if there is going to be a race in the Northern Ohio League this season. If Shelby wins the race is on.
The Whippets play at Norwalk against the Truckers, who beat them the first time around (75-47) in Shelby on December 7.
Last Saturday, Shelby (8-3,4-1) got past Willard (54-49) to claim second place to themselves in the “NOL” standings. Whippets head coach Troy Schwemley was pleased with how his kids responded to the Flashes second half challenge. “It was a really quality win for us on Saturday night. I was really happy with how we played. We were up nine at halftime and really played a pretty solid first half. We were really efficient offensively. We held Willard to around 20 points in the first half. They go on an 11-0 run to start the third quarter. We go from up nine to down two and hadn’t scored a basket. We battled back and found a way to win,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “Other than that stretch I was pretty pleased with our effort. It makes this next game important for us. That game was about who had a chance to catch Norwalk, both of us only had one loss going into it. We only have one league loss and we know Norwalk is undefeated. That gives us a chance and that’s what we wanted.”
Schwemley says they made a couple of big plays that gave them the momentum and allowed them to come away with a win over Willard. “We called a timeout and scored right out of the timeout and then it went back and forth a little bit. We had some big plays that standout. In one, we missed a free throw and Andrew Baird was leaning out of bounds and threw it in to A.J. Beal and he caught it in the air and threw it to Tristan Karias on a layup. That was right at the beginning of the fourth quarter. It was one of those with three guys hustling and it was one those turning points in the game. That is what we have been getting out of the guys, a good solid effort and teamwork. When we do those things we feel pretty good about how we are playing. We just have to keep doing that with different guys playing different roles and doing whatever it tales to be successful,” said Schwemley.
Norwalk (12-0,5-0), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coach’s poll in the large school division, has played outstanding basketball this year. Schwemley says his kids must play consistently against them and not allow them to get on any kind of run. “They can go on a run and you can’t come back. In our first Norwalk game we are playing right with them the first four minutes of the game and we were ahead 8-7 and the next thing I know it’s 20-8 we are behind. If you give up that run you just aren’t going to come back on them. You have to keep the game close. We have got to control the ball. They are team that is going to capitalize on your mistakes. They force a lot of them with ball pressure and trapping. It is almost like I would rather just throw the ball out of bounds and let us recover and have a chance to play defense because when they steal the ball in the open floor or you take a quick shot and they get a long rebound it’s off to the races and they are normally going to make you pay,” said Schwemley.
Tempo is going to be critical. Shelby does not want to play as fast as Norwalk, but Schwemley says they can’t lose their aggressiveness either. “We can’t let them score in the 70’s. The hard part about that is you want your team to be aggressive on offense and still look to score, but there is that fine line of you don’t want to get into the races because that’s when they are at their best. It is definitely have to be a lower scoring game. You still have to be in attack mode because if you play on your heels, almost trying to play keep away, eventually that is going to cost you too. It’s kind of that fine line of controlling the tempo and looking for the shot you want. You have to be efficient, I think that’s the key,” said Schwemley.
Shelby Getting it Together
Shelby has become a pretty good basketball team and one that has shown a lot of improvement on offense.
Last week, they kept themselves in a share of second place in the Northern Ohio League with Willard with a win at Bellevue (66-54) and then lost a non-league game against Lexington (64-53) on Saturday night.
Coach Troy Schwemley says that was a big win for them at Bellevue, especially after not playing for almost two weeks. “We came out and played really well Friday night and that was at Bellevue, and weather we hadn’t played in 13 days or not, we are always concerned with how we go there and play. We came out and shot the ball well in the first half and that kind of opened some things up and had a real nice win that night. I was very pleased to get that win at Bellevue,” he said.
Early in the season Shelby was having some problems getting the ball in the basket, but Schwemley says they have certainly improved their execution. “We seem like we are getting better. It seems like our spacing and our movement with what we are trying to offensively continues to improve. Last Saturday night, the first three, four minutes of our Lexington game, we were down 14-0 and we were very passive. Then it seemed like we started to move the ball and play better. As a coach you feel good about that improvement. That is a tribute to the kids. They are working hard and they are playing together. When you do those things you can be successful,” said Schwemley.
Norwalk has been the best team in the league this year, but the game Saturday night in Shelby between the Whippets (7-3,3-1) and the rival Willard Flashes (8-4,3-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the small school division, will likely determine who becomes the principal challenger for the Truckers. Schwemley says it is a very important game for both sides. “They have nice guard play. They have three, four guys that are really three point threats. Hayden Adams inside does a nice job. He is averaging around 10, 11 a game. I think they have four or five guys that are averaging around double figures. They are not a team where you just have to focus on one guy. You have to defend five guys on the floor. Both of us have put ourselves in position. We are 3-1 in the league with our only loss to Norwalk. One of us is trying to get through this game one game behind. We are really fighting for that second place spot right now. It still gives you a chance. It will be the last game of the first round. It’s a big game rivalry wise, but in conference play,” said Schwemley.
Both teams are featuring a four guard offense, but Schwemley says they are trying to get the ball inside a little more. “That is kind of what we are doing now too as far as playing four guards. The difference with us I would say is we have two guys in Grant Fenner and Tristan Karis that do a lot of their scoring by posting up inside,” he told Swankonsports.com, “They are more perimeter shoot the three or drive. I think that will be a key to the game as to who takes advantage of that. Do our bigs defend the perimeter and can we use the mismatches we have and get some inside baskets. It will be how our four perimeter players match up with their four perimeter players.”
A Little Bit of the Unknown For the Whippets
Shelby will play for the first time in 13 days when play at Bellevue in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.
This was a planned break due to the make up of the schedule and Whippets coach Troy Schwemley says only time will tell is it was a good or a bad thing. “I think it is going to come down to how well we play on Friday. If we play well on Friday then that’s going to seem great and if we don’t it’s going to seem like that didn’t work out so well. In all my years of coaching I have never experienced having that long of a break, every once in a while you have snow cancellations that you end up having a longer break, this one we knew going in. We gave the kids some time off. It will be interesting to see how we play on Friday because that is going to determine if we feel that was good or bad,” said Schwemley.
Bellevue (2-3,0-2) has not played as many games as the rest of the teams in the area due to an appearance in the state football finals. Their talent says they will be very good, but it’s just hard to tell right now. “They opened with Willard at Willard after a week’s practice. They played fairly well with very little practice. Willard is having a real nice season. To only lose by single digit points gives you and idea of how athletic they are and they type of players they have. When you have Jalen Santoro on the floor he makes everybody better around him better. He can take over. It’s hard to get a feel for them. They are definitely behind in terms of the amount of practice. It’s just going to be how quickly they recover and get in their gym shape and shooting range and things like that,” said Schwemley.
It’s clear the Redmen have not played their best game yet and Schwemley says they certainly have the opportunity to win the game. “We feel like if we are playing like we are capable of that we can go in there and be successful. They typically play well at home. They have a nice team that has some good players. It’s going to be an interesting game,” he said.
Of course, anytime you play Bellevue you have to deal with point guard Jalen Santoro in some way. Schwemley says how to do that is a difficult decision. “We have been playing very good man-to-man half court defense. That is something we feel like is one of our strengths. Do you stick with your normal approach? In basketball you see some kind of gimmick or different defenses. I think that is the dilemma you face when you are playing them. Do you stick with your traditional approach or do you kind of mix it up a little bit,” he told Swankonsports.com, “That can sometimes be beneficial but it can be risky to allow other people to have open looks and things like that. In basketball we have the opportunity to try and keep it out of his hands, but sometimes that can be negative as well when you put too much pressure on one player and forget about the other four players on the floor that are capable as well.”
Whippets Face Different Teams
Shelby is starting to get things going on offense a little better and that is making the Whippets a more dangerous team.
They face Sandusky on the road in a league game on Friday night and then travel to Upper Sandusky to take on the Rams on Saturday night.
Last Saturday, the Whippets (4-2,1-1) were beaten in a close one by Ontario (61-59) in non-conference play. Shelby coach Troy Schwemley says it was another classic Shelby-Ontario duel. “That game has been a game that has been a one-two point game for as many games as I can remember and last Saturday’s game was no different,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We had a couple of chances down the stretch to make some shots and didn’t make them, but it was a good game. We thought we could have won if we had done a couple of little things here and there, maybe boxing out a little better, Ontario did a good job of crashing the boards and getting some second chance points. Ontario has a really good team. I was happy with our effort and the things we did well. It’s a game that you learn from and I think it was a game that really shows we are headed in the right direction. We are competitive and playing good basketball. We just need to do a little better to win a game like that.”
Sandusky (1-4,0-2) was roughed up pretty badly in their two games last weekend. They lost to Norwalk (72-28) and Mansfield Senior (84-26) on Saturday. In the Norwalk game they were behind 30-0 before they scored. Schwemley says not to judge them by what they did in those games against tremendous teams. “The one thing that we talked about is don’t judge them by those two games because both Norwalk and Mansfield Senior are very good basketball teams. The score I have looked at kind of is their score versus Willard, which I think was a four point game. That says they can be a competitive team. They have multiple guys that can kind of break you down off the dribble and get to the rim. They have struggled scoring sometimes, but when they are hitting shots they can be a good basketball team. I think from that standpoint we are going to have to defend well because if we do that kind of takes them out of what they have been doing. If they are hitting baskets they are a dangerous team,” said Schwemely.
Sandusky is going to try and be an up tempo team, while Upper Sandusky is likely the lowest tempo team in Ohio. Schwemley says they are two completely different styles. “Yeah, it is. From that standpoint we are focusing on the Friday game first. There we are going to have to defend for 20, 25 seconds and I imagine the shot is going to be up in the air. We are not going to have to control the tempo from a standpoint of trying to speed things up. I would say it would be about hold Sandusky to one shot and rebounding and working for the shots that we want. If we do a good job of limiting Sandusky to one low percentage shot and then owning the rebounds I think we will have a good chance on Friday night. Then on Saturday night we might have to try and speed Upper Sandusky up a little bit, but even in a lower tempo game if you do the right things and get out to a lead. A ten point lead in game like that can almost seem like a 20 point lead. We are going to have to take care of Friday first I think that will help us have a good double weekend,” said Schwemley.
Lady Whippets Putting Things Together
Shelby has put together a three game winning streak, all in league play, as they prepare for a home game against Wynford in non-conference action on Tuesday night.
First year coach Natalie Lantz likes the way her bench has been playing in recent games. “We are getting some good strong play, especially off the bench from our younger players. Our leadership from our seniors is growing as well. The two of them jelling together helps immensely,” she said.
All-Ohio guard Emma Hostetler scored 35 points in the Lady Whippets (67-50) over Sandusky on Saturday. Lantz says Emma has the ability to do whatever is necessary to get the win. “Emma can step up and be a huge scorer when you need her too. Sandusky was one of those times. She had a great game across the board. Not only did she have 35 points, but she also had nine rebounds and seven assists. She really just had great game and she created a lot of turnovers from Sandusky as well,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “She had a great defensive game. Emma is a very good player and she will contribute where she needs to. Sandusky was a good example of that. We needed her to score and she had the hot hand. She put them in when she needed to.”
Right now, Shelby shares the “NOL” lead with Bellevue. They shared the title last year. Lantz knows every game will be a challenge. “Every game you go into. Every night you have to be prepared to play your best game. Anybody could surprise anybody at this point. Willard I think has a more balanced attack this year. Laura Danhoff, it looks like she is playing a little bit more outside this year. She can see the floor real well. With Bellevue, Santoro is a very strong player. It looks like they are really getting her the ball a lot. She is putting up a lot of shots every game,” says Lantz.
On Tuesday night, the Lady Whippets host the North Central Conference black division co-leader in Wynford. Lantz thinks Wynford is a very consistent team. “Playing Wynford (Tuesday) night. They are a very fundamentally sound team. They are going to do a lot of the little things right. They are going to come out with a balanced attack. We have to bring out “A” game every time,” she said.
Lantz says against Wynford you have to execute very well because they just won’t make many mistakes. “She has built a very fundamentally strong program. Those are the kind of teams you like to have and can come out and knock off a good team if you aren’t ready. They might have lost a couple of seniors, but this group will be ready to play. They have some good shooters. They crash the boards hard. We have to do a lot of things right in order to come out on top. We know what we have to do now we have to go out and do it,” said Lantz.
Shelby Finding Itself
Shelby has been successful in working some new kids into their mix and they have won three of their first four contests.
They suffered their only loss of the season so far to “NOL” favorite Norwalk (75-47) last Friday, but they were able to come right back the next night and take out Wynford (63-27) in an outstanding performance, especially on defense. Coach Troy Schwemley says this team has proven to be resilient. “Norwalk is a very good team. We knew that. We felt there were some things that we could have done better, but we hopefully learned from it. I guess the part that made it a good weekend we how we responded on Saturday. We bounced back and played really well on Saturday against Wynford. Overall, we are happy with our start. There are some things that we need to continue to improve on to get better, but pretty happy with the progress of the team and were we set right now,” he said.
Schwemley says the players have quickly settled into their roles on the team and they have pretty good chemistry. “From a scoring standpoint Grant Fenner has been our leading scorer. I think he has been in double digits every game. Austin Rhode is close there too. Some other guys have been scoring as well. Tristan Karis does a nice job scoring. A.J. Beal has scored six, eight points a game here and there too. Those guys are finding ways to contribute,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “There are other guys that get baskets here and there and make some hustle plays like an Andrew Baird, Tyler Young, Lucas Ousley, Lucas Beal. Those guys just find ways to get four, six points here and there, but those add up. They are starting to find their roles.”
Shelby (3-1,0-1) plays host to Tiffin Columbian (1-1,0-0) in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night. Tiffin‘s game with Bellevue was not played last week because of Bellevue’s long run in the football playoffs. Schwemley says the Tornadoes have athletes. “Tiffin has a lot of guys that were playing football on Friday nights in the fall and were really successful. They have a group of athletic kids. The point guard comes back and he played as a sophomore and a junior. He really does a nice job of playing fast and penetrating and creating. They’ve got guys that can break you down off the dribble and elevate well. We are going to have to play defense in terms of good positioning and negate some of their speed and athleticism. We are going to have to play well against them. Because they didn’t play last week they are going to be ready. We have to bounce back. It is early and being 0-1 we would like to even that out,” said Schwemley.
The on Saturday night, The Whippets host Ontario (3-1), #1 in the Swankonsports.com basketball coach’s poll in the small school division. Schwemley says this is a great rivalry. “It’s been a great battle for as long as Shelby has played Ontario. I don’t know how long that has been. I know in my six years every game has been a very close game. I expect another one that way. It’s just been a great battle and a fun night of basketball. With being as close as we are. Ontario is going to be in the “NOL” next year. It has been a nice game from a crowd standpoint. It’s a home game for us, so we have back to back home games. This is our fifth home game and you want to take care of those games at home because we are going to have to become road warriors,” said Schwemley.
Shelby Must Control the Pace
Shelby executed in the final half minute on offense and defense to escape with two one point wins on the opening weekend of the season. Up next will be a team that has won 24 of its last 25 games.
Last week, the Whippets beat Mansfield Madison (35-34) and Orrville (56-55) in a pair of non-conference games against Ohio Cardinal Conference schools.
Coach Troy Schwemley says they stepped up when they had to win the games even though they let some leads get away from them. “We made some big plays when we had to, but we also look back and in both of those games we had 10 to 13 point leads that I hate to say let fizzle away because both Madison and Orrville battled to come back, but we also thought there were things we could have done better to not let them get to that point. We made big plays when we had to to win. Friday night we are down one and Austin Rhode hits a big shot to put us up one with eight seconds to go and then our defense held. On Saturday with a tie ballgame Austin makes one of two from the free throw line to put us up one and again our defense held. In both wins we were on the defensive end for the last possession of the game. You feel good when you get two stops to get wins, so we’ll take it, but we would also not like the games to get to that point,” said Schwemley.
Like a lot of teams at this time of year, Schwemley says they could make a few more free throws and limit the turnovers a little bit too. “Our free throw shooting. In both of those games we had some free throw opportunities that if you make a few more of them would have helped. We felt like we were getting some good looks and we did turn the ball over some and that’s coaching as well as players. Those are things we need to do better as coaches preparing for those situations to make sure we understand who should be dribbling and when. In both of those games there were certain things that you just can’t prepare for in practice. When there are 30 seconds left in the game and it counts no matter how many times you have worked on that it is about guys stepping up. We felt pretty good about the plays we did make. There were some times we could have made better decisions, but sometimes there is no better tool than a game to learn from that,” said Schwemley.
Norwalk (1-0) comes to the “Dog House” for the Northern Ohio League opener for both squads on Friday night. The Tuckers are the two time defending league champions and Schwemley says they are very, very talented again this year. “They return a lot of talent from last year’s team. They went undefeated in the regular season. We gave them quite a battle at our place where we ended up losing by one that would have at the time put us tied with them. Last year we felt like we were right there with them, but Ben Haraway made big shot to win that game. They return a lot of those guys that were sophomores and juniors last year. Ben Haraway, Jeff Thomas, Fetheroff, those guys carried a lot of the load for them last year and all of those guys are back. They are a pretty confident group. When you have the talent that they have and the success and they are going to bring a tough challenge for us on Friday night,” said Schwemley.
Norwalk beat Sandusky Perkins (75-59) in their first game. Schwemley believes the tempo of this game is going to be very important. “The one thing that we learned last year from the first game to the second game was the second game was much more of a grind and the tempo was slow. I think even more so this year we are going to have to control the tempo. We are going to have to really work to get a good quality shot. You can’t make them all, but we need to get some quality possessions where if we don’t get a score a good shot will help protect you on defense and allow you to get back on transition,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They are a team that is very dangerous in the open floor and on turnovers, quick shots, bad shots, lead to quick transition, can lead to easy baskets for them. On defense where we have been playing in five-on-five situations I have been pretty happy. We are going to want to make this a half court game, but you still have to play fast and get easy baskets. We are going to have to know the difference from a shot we know we want to take and a shot that is throwing gas on the fire.”
Shelby Concerned About Self
Shelby has shown some improvement during the preseason and they will have to continue to do that this weekend when they travel to Mansfield Madison on Friday and host Orrville on Saturday.
Coach Troy Schwemley says he likes what he sees so far, but he knows they have a lot more to do. “You are looking for improvement and I think that is the biggest thing. We have had improvement over our scrimmages. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like you have enough time, but we got in five scrimmages and it seemed like we kept getting better, so from that standpoint I thought we had a good preseason. It’s game week and we still have work to do, but there has been progress. It’s been a good start,” he said.
Shelby has been one of the most consistent teams in the region over the last half decade and Schwemley says a key to doing the same this year is this weekend. “We return some guys that have some experience that have been around the program and have been successful. At the same time it is always important to get off to a good start. Everybody is optimistic about the start of their season. We have two games to start the weekend,” he told Swankonsports.com, “With every team if you can get off to a good start it seems to boost the confidence. We have a tough weekend to start at Madison on Friday and home against Orrville on Saturday. We will get thrown into the fire right away and have two competitive teams. We hope to get off to a good start, but you never know what’s going to happen. You go from there and see how things go.”
What about a double weekend right off the bat? Schwemley says it really doesn’t matter in his opinion. “Our first four weekends are doubles so we might as well get used to it. The good thing about it is it gives two games to compete in. With the basketball season now going to 22 games you are going to see a lot more of those. When you look at a football schedule you have just one game each week and that’s it. If you win you feel good the whole next week. If you lose you feel bad the whole next week. In basketball you might get a big win on Friday, but you can’t enjoy it because you have to turn around play the next night. If you have a bad game on Friday it gives you a chance to bounce right back. Double weekends in basketball it doesn’t really matter where they are at. You take it one game at a time and get you kids ready to play and win or lose you get ready for the next one,” said Schwemley.
Shelby and Madison have produced some epic battles in recent years, but both teams have a lot of new guys. Schwemley says he is more worried about how the Whippets are going to run their stuff. “At this point I really don’t know a whole lot. They have a new coach. Their preseason got cut a little short due to the football playoffs. They return a couple of guys with varsity experience from last year’s team. Our normal plan is to get ready for the other team on Wednesday because most importantly we are taking care of us. Really I think the opening weekend is kind of like that where you are more concerned with what you are going to do rather than the opponent. Come later on when you get into league play you might do a little more game planning from the standpoint of personnel and things like that. For us with limited knowledge about their preseason and just kind of basing things on last year. We don’t know a whole lot about what we are going to get from Madison. We don’t worry about that. We focus on what we want to do well and if we do that we feel we can have a successful game on Friday night,” said Schwemley.
Shelby Counting on Defense
It looks like it could be another strong season for the Shelby Lady Whippets on the basketball floor.
There is a new coach in Natalie Lantz, but many players return from a team that shared the Northern Ohio League title with Bellevue and advanced to the regional final, where they lost to Clyde. She says her players are ready to excel. “Our group has been working really hard, especially defensively. We do have five seniors coming back. They have been doing a great job of keeping the intensity up and everybody focused at practice. That has really been helping us improve and keeping our defense really aggressive in practice and pushing each other, so we are coming along,” she said.
Lantz knows they have scoring, and from a number of sources, but she believe that it is defense that is going that will write the Lady Whippets story this year. “We will hang our hat on defense. I mean I think you need to have a strong defense before you can get to the offensive end. We do have some scorers. We have some kids that are capable of scoring. That can relief some pressure on Emma and on Devon in the inside,” she told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “I think we are capable of an inside-outside game this year, but it’s going to take some kids to step up. Each game we will look for them to get more and more confident. We will look forward to seeing them grow throughout the season.”
Shelby plays three games in the first five days of the regular season, all on the road against Plymouth, Ashland, and Mansfield Senior, and Lantz says they have to ready to compete every night, kind of like a WNBA team if you will. “It is early in the season, so we have been really working the girls hard trying to push their conditioning a little bit. Back to back games are always difficult. We are trying to get their conditioning levels up so they can survive back to back days and then have Sunday off and Monday practicing and Tuesday right back at it again. Those are going to be three tough games right off the bat and we want to be prepared for them,” said Lantz.
She will coach her first varsity game against Plymouth out of the Firelands Conference on Friday night. Lantz says they are going to rely on what they do well. “We don’t know a whole lot about Plymouth. We can go a little bit by last year. Really for the first game we are going to focus on what we are looking to do this season and really focus in on our defense and looking to push the ball and we will take it from there,” she said.
Shelby Making Adjustments
The Shelby Whippets have become consistent winners under the leadership of River Valley graduate Troy Schwemley.
Last year, they finished second, behind Norwalk, in the Northern Ohio League standings. This year they have some building blocks toward another solid team. Schwemley says they lost some pretty good players, but they have some returning too. “We have had one scrimmage so far. We lost four quality seniors from last year in Garrett Arnold, Conner Nelson, Trey Calver and Jacoby Wilson. They were all solid contributors to the program over the last several years. When you lose guys like them you can never replace them,” he told Swankonsports.com, “You try to make the best of what you have. We have some new faces, some have some varsity experience, most notably Grant Fenner and Austin Rody. Grant started for us last year and averaged double figures in points and was one our leading rebounders. Austin Rody came off the bench and had some very good nights.”
Arnold and Nelson have been the Whippets main scorers and Schwemley says their returning plays need to accept new roles with the team. “What changes is their roles. I think that’s the biggest thing. We have three other seniors with this group in Andrew Baird, A.J. Beal, and Tyler Young. We have five seniors and that is a good number to build around. We are making some changes and trying to figure out what best fits our personnel. It’s early, but boy it’s going fast. The clock is ticking and the first game will be here before you know it,” he said.
Shelby has been a basketball team that over the last several years has really pushed the tempo. Schwemley says they are trying to find out what is going to be best for this team. “We have definitely been a high tempo offense I would say, at least tried to be in the past. That is something I think we might have to adjust a little bit. I still believe you have to play fast and run, but that doesn’t mean you have to take the first available shot. We will have to see what we are doing well and what gives us the best opportunity to be successful. With only once scrimmage I don’t know if I have a handle on what our exact style is going to be. It could slow down a little bit. I don’t think you can purposely say you don’t want to score. Our thing is we want to play fast, but take what’s there and take good smart shots with the right people taking the right shots,” said Schwemley.
Most of the area media has predicted that Norwalk may run away and hide in the “NOL,” but Schwemley isn’t ready to concede anything. “They won the district and had a great tournament run last year. They return a lot of those guys. For our standpoint we haven’t even talked about that. Our approach is to get ready for the next game and believing we can be successful. If you asked me to cast my vote hands down it would be Norwalk, even in the area. Every team has to stay healthy. I think everybody has those couple of players that they feel if they play well they could be very successful, but everything kind of has to fall into place. We see us as a team in the “NOL” that is we play together and play well we like our chances of being successful every night,” said Schwemley.
Shelby Looking For Another Strong Season
Shelby is coming off a year in which they shared the Northern Ohio League title with Bellevue and finished with a 21-2 record, losing in the district semi finals to Clyde.
This year first year coach Natalie Lantz believes they have the talent to have another good year. “I have five great leaders coming back as seniors this year. They are very enthusiastic and energetic. They are really stepping up to the plate and leading our team defensively. They are very aggressive offensively as well,” she said.
Shelby will have one of the area’s best players in four year starter Emma Hostetler. Lantz believes that she has strengthened her game since last year. “Emma is a great leader. There is not a kid on the floor that knows the game better than her. This will be her fourth year on the varsity squad. She has really stepped up her leadership. She can lead the break and really her defense has stepped up tremendously this summer and just in the week in practice. I have really been impressed not only can she anticipate, but she has been great in both denying the ball and her on ball defense has stepped up. That is key to our success. We would love to be a run and gun type team and we have to have five players on the court that are able to play good on ball defense as well as help side defense. Emma can trigger that for us,” said Lantz.
Lantz, the Lady Whippets freshmen coach last season, thinks they have a number of players to surround Hostetler with to make us a strong team overall. “I think that is where we are absolutely blessed this year is I do have strong players to support her. You know, Emma can dish the ball fantastic. I also have other players that see the floor really well that are making some fantastic cuts. They are strong defensive players that make things happen so we can get out and run. I think Emma is going to have a really strong supporting class. When you have a supporting cast like that it is really hard for the defense to key in on just one player when other kids can do some really good things,” said Lantz.
Shelby has some players with varsity experience and some players that will see varsity action for the fist time. Lantz thinks it’s a good mix. “You just have to take one thing at a time. We started out focusing on the little things, the techniques, the fundamentals. As long as we keep building day by day keep our focus strong I think we will be just fine. You don’t worry about the little things you just keep focusing on what your team can be and keep building on the positives. These kids are a great group,” she told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I can’t stress enough our seniors with Devon Murray and Taylor Toth and Brooke Ridenour and Taylor Collins all coming back to support Emma. I have some great juniors coming up in as well in Taylor Fulton and Jessica Miller and a sophomore coming up as well in Gabby Stevens. We have some really good kids that are going to be able to support and do some really good things this year. I am excited for people to come and watch and see what we have to offer.”
McCoy Resigns at Shelby
After a record of 2-18 over two seasons, Steve McCoy has decided to resign as the Whippets head coach.
McCoy was hired in June of 2011 after a six month search to replace Chris Solis, now offensive line coach at Ashland High School, who had resigned in December of 2010.
“I recognize that he was trust into a difficult situation as a late hire in the summer of 2011,” said Shelby Athletic Director Pat Lewis.
McCoy is a graduate of Shelby and this was his first varsity head coaching position. “I’m very appreciative of the time and effort he has put forth,” added Lewis.
Shelby (2-8) won its last game of the season over Willard (36-0) and beat a pretty good Ontario team (31-14) on week three of the season, but had trouble competing in the tough Northern Ohio League absorbing losses to Tiffin Columbian (19-0), Norwalk (49-7) and Bellevue (44-6) this fall.
"Wins and losses aside, Coach McCoy succeeded in stressing to his players the importance of personal accountability and responsibility,” said Lewis of McCoy.
The community had questioned the process the district used in finding a replacement for Solis. Lewis says in the next several weeks they will settle on a process to find a coach for the Whippets. "In regards to the process of finding a replacement.....during the next several weeks the administration will determine the appropriate time to begin the formal search for our next head football coach,” said Lewis.
Shelby Sees Rival in Final Game
For the Shelby Whippets it has been a frustrating year on the football field.
They have earned only one victory, although that a good win over a solid Ontario team (34-14) on week three of the season. Still for a school deep in football tradition it is tough to take.
They hope to end the season with a win at home Friday night against the rival Willard Flashes (4-5,1-3) in Northern Ohio League play. Willard won last year at Flashes Field (23-18) in Mike Strance’s last game as their coach. Shelby coach Steve McCoy, a graduate of Shelby High School, understands the importance of beating a big rival like the Flashes. “You can’t beat the traditions that Shelby and Willard have. It’s definitely a nice game to have with the Flashes,” he said.
Last week, Willard upset Norwalk (24-0) in one of the biggest shockers of the season. McCoy says Willard knows what they are good at and they were able to use that, and some good fortune with the weather, to their advantage. “Willard is definitely a disciplined team. They run a disciplined offense and that’s what you are going to get out of their kids. I think field conditions helped out Willard having the home field advantage there with water laying on the field,” said McCoy.
First year coach Mark Matual has installed the triple option offense at Willard and McCoy says if they don’t play assignment football the Flashes are capable of busting a big play at any time. “Willard has a decent offense running the triple option. If you are out of position they are going to hit you big on a play. They have a good defensive philosophy and I’m sure they will do the same against us,” he said. You don’t see a great deal of option any more in high school football, but McCoy says this will be the third time they have faced this sort of attack this year. “We have seen this throughout the season with Madison and Marion Harding especially. Hopefully we are kind of schooled up on it. We even saw it early on against Clear Fork, who has now kind of transitioned into a spread offense. So, hopefully we have our kids prepared and ready to go and it’s been nice having the ability to play some teams are prepare for this game,” said McCoy.
Shelby Faces State Ranked Norwalk
Shelby likes the role of underdog. They used that to their advantage last week in claiming their first sectional title in more than a decade and they will be in that position again Wednesday night when they face Northern Ohio League champion Norwalk in the girls’ volleyball division two district semi-finals at Seneca East High school, outside of Attica.
After beating tradition rich Mansfield Madison in the semi-finals, the Lady Whippets took out Galion (25-17, 21-25, 25-23, and 25-19) in the sectional final last Saturday night at Bucyrus High School. Coach Brandie Albert says the girls were ready to play and they probably surprised a lot of people with the win over Galion. “I was extremely proud of the ladies. They just walked on the court and knew they were going to win and never really looked back. I didn’t have to do much coaching. I would go into the huddle and they were self correcting and talking and motivating each other. Nobody ever expected us to beat Madison. We go in as the fourth seed playing the second seed and nobody expected us to beat the second seed. We are just excited to be where we are at. The sectional championship was outstanding and rewarding because we didn’t finish the regular season so well,” said Albert.
So far, that underdog role has worked very well for Shelby (16-8), #4 in the final Swankonsports.com volleyball coach’s poll in the large school division, and Albert feels if they can get over the mental block they can make it a contest versus Norwalk too. “We chose to play Madison because, like I said before, because Madison had a reputation, and even though they had kind of a down year, they are rebuilding from their state qualifying team from last year. I thought if I could motivate the kids well enough and if they played well enough to beat Madison. Beating that reputation the word Madison could motivate them to move forward,” she told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night, “We are going to battle that same things (Wednesday) night. We have kind of a mental block against Norwalk. The first time we played them we had them down all three sets and they ended up coming back because we weren’t able to finish. We have to get over that mindset that Norwalk is this unbeatable team. Right now, we are both 2-0 going into the match (Wednesday) night. It’s all mental. It’s got to be ready to play, prepared to play and mentally believe we can do it.”
Norwalk (23-2), #1 in the Swankonsports.com volleyball coach’s poll, has been the area’s top team all season long. Albert says they have tremendous depth and talent on the floor. “They are all good, everyone of those kids. We have to capitalize on a couple of things we know they aren’t as strong at. They have the best libero in the area. They have a really great setter. They have some young, strong outside swings and experienced middle swings. They don’t have a whole lot of weak spots. We just have to play our game to even hang with them,” she said.
Norwalk beat Shelby on the first week of the regular season at Shelby (25-22, 25-20, and 25-16) and then September 20 in Norwalk (25-11, 25-20, and 25-15) to complete the regular season sweep. Albert likes the gym at Seneca East and she hopes that helps them a little bit. “Playing them twice we were close when we were in our gym. We weren’t even close to them when we were in their gym. The gym we are going to be playing in is a lot more like our gym than theirs so I am hoping that mentally that helps my kids have a one up so we will be even more ready to play,” she said.
Norwalk has only lost to Parma Padua and Findlay and Albert says if they can get off to a good start against the Lady Truckers they might shock the world. “We have nothing to prove. We are going to walk in there. You know, we upset Madison, we upset Galion, and I think my kids are just excited to keep playing. That is a huge strategy of ours to stick with them and push them farther than they have been pushed. They haven’t gone more than three sets almost all season long. They have only been beaten twice. If we can shake them a little bit, shake their mental confidence. They are going to walk in there and they beat us twice and they have beat almost everybody they have played. All we can count on is that our kids come out and play well and maybe shake them more than they are going to shake us,” said Albert.
Shelby Might Surprise
Again for the Shelby Whippets it was close, but not close enough as they lost to Sandusky last week in Northern Ohio League action. This week they play one of the area’s best in Bellevue.
The Whippets held a second half lead only to lose a tough one to the Blue Streaks (27-21) last Friday. Coach Steve McCoy says again they hurt themselves with turnovers and defensive mistakes. “Those are tough games. Things that we have said, we have to eliminate big plays. We had a couple of plays again defensively that we gave up big plays on. For us turning the ball over three times inside the five yard line those are points you have to put on the board. Had we done that definitely the outcome would have been different,” he said.
Bellevue’s Jalen Santoro rushed for more than 300 yards last week when the Redmen drilled previously unbeaten Norwalk (48-21) in an “NOL” game. McCoy says he has confidence in his offense, now the key is to contain Santoro. “I think he is a similar type of quarterback and system to what we saw out of Tiffin. We understand that we have to try and bottle him up and contain him and keep him where he is going to be making cuts back into the line of scrimmage inside that tackle box allowing our defensive line and linebackers to make plays,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We felt like we came in with a good plan against Tiffin and played well against them and we fell we can do the same thing against Bellevue. We think offensively we have a good chance to go score for score with Bellevue. If we are able to contain Santoro and make them punt a couple of more times and get down the field that is going to allow us to win the game.”
Shelby (1-7,0-3) has nothing to lose in this game against Bellevue (7-1,2-1) on Friday night. McCoy says they will take some chances. “As with every team we have a couple things that we add that they might necessarily have seen. It just makes us a little bit better. Some of the things we have been practicing all year and we can kind of throw at them and find a little success that way,” he said.
When they played Tiffin Columbian, the “NOL” leader, two weeks ago the Whippets were able to stay in the game with defense. McCoy says they will be counting on that unit again this week. “Our defense has played exceptionally well the last couple of weeks. The scoreboard in the Sandusky game didn’t appear that way. We gave up two special teams touchdowns and we also let Sandusky score in the fourth quarter on two plays. They went two plays for about 70 yards. Outside those two plays that gave them 70 yards we had held Sandusky for three and half quarters to about 75, 80 yards of offense. We are pretty impressed with how our defense has played the past couple of weeks and hopefully that will carry on to this week,” said McCoy.
Sandusky’s Speed Concerns Shelby
Shelby has struggled to find ways to compete with the tough teams they find on their schedule. This week, however, might be one of the games the Whippets can find some success.
The Whippets (1-6,0-2) will be at Sandusky (2-5,1-1) to take on the Blue Streaks in Northern Ohio League action.
Last week, Shelby was able to keep themselves in the game against “NOL” co-leader Tiffin Columbian. It was 7-0 Tornadoes at the half and they ended up winning 19-0. Shelby coach Steve McCoy says they felt they played really well against a very good team. “We actually did treat this as a victory with our kids. It was definitely a tough game and our kids came out and responded well. Tiffin’s defensive line really posed a problem for our offensive line,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They did a very good job of drawing double teams from us, which allowed their linebackers to run free or we were trying to get to their linebackers and their defensive line was able to shoot through a gap and get to our running backs. Overall, we were pretty pleased with our offense. We rushed for right around 150 yards. We felt pretty confident about being able to go up against a pretty potent offense and defense and still bale to stay close.”
Sandusky is the defending league champion, but this season started with the Blue Streaks having very little experience with two starters returning. McCoy says they must keep their heads in the game. “It’s not a team we can overlook in any sense. Sandusky out of everybody in the “NOL” has played just as strong a schedule as us. We have to get in our kids heads and really get them to focus and play hard rather than them feeling they can just go in with this team and get a win. We are still going to be in a dogfight. I think they are a pretty good football team and we really have to go out and execute,” he said.
Shelby has been burned a lot this season by teams that just have more speed than they do. McCoy says that concerns him this week too. “We have seen this pretty consistently with speed throughout the season. They really have a couple of kids that really concern me from the standpoint of speed. For us that has been our weak point as far as covering the guys deep on pass patterns. When we are able to contain the run a lot of times the running backs when we do miss an assignment that’s when they really expose our defense and they hit us for a big play. Speed is a little bit of a concern for us going into the game. We hope we can kind of contain and bottle up that speed and execute a little more affectively this week and try to eliminate those big plays,” said McCoy.
Shelby Might Have Some Surprises for Columbian
It is back to back unbeaten teams for the Shelby Whippets. Last week, they were drilled by the Norwalk Truckers and this week they host talented Tiffin Columbian Tornadoes.
Norwalk (6-0,1-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s poll in the large school division, belted the Whippets (49-7) in the Northern Ohio League opener for both schools. Shelby coach Steve McCoy says the two scores right before halftime the Truckers got put them in a bad position. “It was a disappointing game obviously. I felt like we could have come out and preformed a little bit better. We had a couple of big plays that went against us. Late in the second quarter they kind of put us away a little bit going in at halftime. Those are tough points and tough plays to kind of swallow. From there it just to trying to reel from there a little bit,” he said.
Columbian (6-0,1-0), #1 in our poll, beat a very good Bellevue team (35-21) last week. McCoy says the Tornadoes aren’t fancy, they are just good. “Tiffin is obviously a pretty good football program. They have been in the regional finals I believe for the last three years. They are one of the top ranked teams in division two again this year. They have a lot of returning players coming back to them. I think they have a pretty strong offensive line. They have a lot of size up front. They don’t necessarily do a whole lot of different things, but they do it really well. Those are the keys to successful programs. They have been able to build the program over the last 10, 12, 15 years of putting together a system and running those plays,” said McCoy.
Last week, Columbian again had two runners over 100 yards and McCoy says the first thing they must do is contain that running game. “We go in each week and explain to our kids that we have to force a team to pass or force a team to run depending on the type of team that you are going to play. Going into Tiffin you have to take care of the run first and force them to throw the ball. If we can force them to throw the ball we hope we can be successful in coverage in the secondary. Those things will give us a chance,” McCoy said.
Two things the Whippets (1-5,0-1) have to do, according to McCoy, is keep the ball in their hands and score at the same time. “One of the big things for us is going to be ball control on offense. We have proven week in and week out throughout the season that our offense can put together long drives and score points on those drives. Those are things that we have to be able to do is get the 8, 10 play drives and really take time off the clock. If we can put points up on the board we feel like we’ll have the opportunity as long as our defense is coming through,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We know that we have to least score with Tiffin. We face a good team every single week. We know our defense is going to give up points against good teams, good teams are going to find a way to score. We feel like if we can be right there with Tiffin and maybe catch them once or twice.”
McCoy also says they need to do some things that Columbian doesn’t expect them to do. “We are going to do our best to surprise them a little bit. Kind of throw some things at them that maybe they haven’t seen and haven’t necessarily prepared for. And also catch a team that might not be focused on the team at hand,” he said.
Shelby Ready to Go
Shelby begins the Northern Ohio League portion of their schedule with a game at home against Norwalk on Friday night.
Shelby (1-4) has steadily gotten better as this season has gone on. They lost a tough one last week when Marion Harding edged them (27-26) in a non-conference game. The Whippets were stopped at the one in the waning seconds of the game. Coach Steve McCoy says the players have bounced back this week. “The attitude has been pretty good. The weather hasn’t been very helpful getting a lot done with us. We have had some good practices, some inside. Overall, the kids are pretty excited and are ready to go. Anytime you are getting ready to enter into your conference schedule for the kids it’s an exciting time and they have something to still play for,” he said.
Norwalk (5-0), #5 in the Swankonsports.com football coach’s power poll in the large school division, has put up a lot of points this year and McCoy says that’s because they have an outstanding quarterback. “Norwalk is doing a great job. Chris MacFarland has been doing a great job rebuilding the program. I think Federoff their quarterback is a real good athlete. We watched him in the off season in several of the camps that some of our kids were at as well. He is a great kid and a good quarterback. He is going to get rid of the ball really quick. He is going to make decisions pretty quick. When you have a quarterback that you are going to face like that he is going to be able to complete passes. We are just going to have to be able to execute our defense and put him some tough situations where we can make him make a couple bad decisions,” said McCoy.
Federoff is big strong player that can do a lot of things. McCoy says they don’t want him to break containment because he can be dangerous when he does. “We want to contain him. I think any 6’6”, 220 pound kid, I don’t know how many times you want him on a roll out trying to flush him into your containment against your corners and even your defensive ends, but more so your corners that are generally smaller than him. We are really going to try to contain Federoff as much as possible. We do know that he likes to roll out. We have our defense set up to hopefully create some issues with what Norwalk likes to do,” said McCoy.
Norwalk averages over 40 points a game. McCoy says they want to keep the Truckers offense off the field, but they aren’t going to change their whole approach on offense either. “We want to definitely control the clock. Anytime you go up against a spread team that can throw the ball well they can score quick. Our offense over the last three weeks we have displayed that we can score quick and sustain long drives. Our goals are if we are going to score quick let’s put points in the board, but at the same time we want to have some clock management,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “If we are getting just four, five yards a pop we are okay with that too. We know we are going to hit a big ply and that will get a big chunk of yards for us. We will have a couple of new wrinkles on offense that we have tried to put in that we think will make us a little more successful against Norwalk.’
Shelby Facing Top Back
Shelby needs to play better defense if they are going to be competitive against the tough schedule the Whippets face.
Last Saturday, Bryan hammered the Whippets (42-12) in a non-conference game. Coach Steve McCoy says there were a lot of bright spots for the Whippets in the loss. “The scoreboard wasn’t really indicative of how we actually played. Our offense finished with about 270 yards of offense. We rushed for over 200 yards again, which has been pretty good for us as we continued to make headway with our offense. We were setting in what we considered a tie going into to halftime, 14-12. We were pretty pleased with how the kids came out and played the game in the first half. Two weeks ago with Ontario for us it was about going out and winning the second half. You could see a difference in the way the kids were acting at halftime with Ontario and Bryan,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “The odd week playing on a Saturday being a six o’clock game. The kid’s bodies were all out of whack from a practice perspective. I think that took a little bit of a toll on the kids. Overall, we were pretty pleased. Obviously we weren’t happy with the outcome. We were expecting a little bit more out of the defense. Baken is a very good quarterback and he was able to make plays when he had too. That kind of turned the table late in the third quarter.”
McCoy admits with losses to Mansfield Madison (31-6) and Lexington (29-0) it has been difficult for the players to develop the confidence they need to win games. “We are coming across really good opponents and some really good players on each of those teams. For our kids it is tough for us to build a lot of confidence because every week they are playing teams with really good players. Both Madison and Lexington are 3-1and Bryan still undefeated. Baken of Brayn was able to get out of the pocket and make some plays. He was able to make some passes in the second half. In the first half they were successful running the ball and we weren’t tackling very well,” he said.
Marion Harding (1-3) comes to Shelby on Friday night for the Whippets final non-conference game of the season. McCoy says they Presidents have an outstanding running back in L.J. Scott. “We go up against a Marion Harding team that we think is really good. They played Tiffin fairly well early on. They can move the ball. They have a standout running back in L.J. Scott. He is the real deal. He is one of the top recruited backs in the 2014 class. For us we really have to be able to contain those kids. L.J. is a pretty tough kid to bring down. He is going to have four or five moves on four or fives kids in a three yard radius and he is going to make every single one of them miss. He is that type of athlete. We just have to make sure we can gang tackle and really contain him,” said McCoy.
The Presidents have been able to put points on the board in three of their four games a win over Lima Senior (40-33) and losses to Mansfield Senior (45-21) and Tiffin Columbian (39-27) last week. McCoy says they would like to play a little keep away. “That was really our plan going in against Bryan. They did a good job of driving the ball also. We only had the ball two times in each half. We want to be able to control the ball if we can with our offense or score a lot of points quick. Which ever way it happens we’ll be happy. For the most part we do want to control the clock. We really felt like we could do anything with our offense last week all game long and that’s a nice thing to have,” said McCoy.
The Shelby Whippets broke a 12 game losing streak with a victory at Ontario last Friday night.
It was a win that was unexpected by most, but not to the Shelby football team and its coaches. Coach Steve McCoy says he feels they have played some good football all year, just not enough of it. That changed on Friday night. “The kids have worked exceptionally hard and for us it was good to get that first win under our belt. As we have said all along we are just kind of taking it one day at a time, one week at a time and we feel like every week we are improving. As long as we continue to improve, we feel like we have a good chance all year in any game,” he said.
McCoy admits that the win over Ontario (34-14) was a big relief for the players who have head about the losing streak for too long. “We felt we had been competing all season with every team. We came across a couple of games there with Madison and Lexington who are both doing well this year. We felt we were able to go out and compete with those guys, we just had too many mistakes. We had an opportunity to go up against Ontario and the ball seemed to bounce our way last week and we played a lot better and minimized our mistakes,” said McCoy.
Shelby (1-2) travels to the northwest corner of Ohio on Saturday to meet Bryan. They scored 50 points in both of their first two games of the season. They beat Van Wert (56-0) and Archbold (56-14). McCoy says Bryan has some big play makers. “They are a pretty good ball club. They return most of their starters from last year. They are kind of like us. They are a spread team. They are four wide for the most part and sometimes up to five wide. They throw the ball more than anything. They have a real good quarterback that is 6’2” and about 185 pounds. He throws the ball well and can move in the pocket pretty well too,” McCoy said.
Because of their athleticism McCoy says Bryan is going to bring a lot of pressure and count on their defensive backs to do the job in coverage. “Defensively they run a 3-5. They can kind of very between a 3-5 and a 3-4. They will really bring some heat from the outside and the inside from their linebackers. They like to blitz a lot. Their kids are pretty quick and they like to time up the snap when they are blitzing,” he said.
With some injuries in their secondary this season, McCoy says they need some players to step up and be ready for the challenge of covering receivers man to man. “Although our secondary has a done a great job we feel like all this season. We have given up that one deep pass once in each game. That is kind of a concern of our a little bit. We have had some injuries where we have lost a couple of kids that were starters for us last year in the secondary and we won’t have them back for the next couple of weeks,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We feel like the guys have come in and stepped up are doing a great job. We are just going to continue to improve at that position. We really understand that we have to keep the pass under us this week and really not let anyone get deeper than us.”
Whippets Looking For Positives
Shelby suffered some bad luck early in the game and gave up 21 first quarter points and lost 31-6 to visiting Mansfield Madison last Friday. They hope to do better when they face their second “OCC” opponent in Lexington this week.
Second year coach Steve McCoy says they suffered some injuries to key players early in the game. “There are still a lot of positives that came out of the game. Early on the first quarter we had lost four two-way players to injuries, two with severe injuries. That really kind of set us back. We had to do a little of reeling and get some kids coached up and get us back into an offensive and defensive scheme that would benefit us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Overall we saw a lot of positives. Our kids did not have a ton of penalties. We were really disciplined, so that was good to see. We still had a 100 yard running back. We continue to see a lot of success in the running game. We have a couple of things that we have to fix.”
McCoy says one thing they have to be better at to be more competitive is they must become a better tackling team. “We want to continue to sure up our tackling. The last two weeks we really haven’t tackled great, but our kids are over pursuing. We end up not making a big play instead it ends up in a big play for them. We have to sure some things up there and we will be okay,” he said.
Shelby travels to Lexington to face the Minutemen (1-0) this Friday night. Led by new coach Dan Studer the Minutemen had three running backs with more than 80 yards as they railed to beat Ontario 34-26. McCoy says they are looking to take away the running game. “Dan is doing a great job over there. We have had a chance to see them a couple of times in person in some scrimmages and obviously on film. His starters on offense are lightning fast. He has a real good quarterback and a real good running back. We have to do a real good job of containing those guys. If we can really sure up the inside and take that running game away from them we feel like we can be successful. Overall they are really fast and that is something to work on with our kids in practice this week,” said McCoy.
McCoy says Lexington has a good, aggressive defense, but they feel like they might be able to turn that into an advantage for them. “Their defensive line is really quick. Their linebackers flow real hard. We feel like some of our schemes, some of our misdirection things that we can add to the system this week might actually be able to benefit us. If their d-linemen are getting too far up the field it helps out our trapping game. If their linebackers are flowing real hard our running backs will have the opportunity to have some cut back lanes. Overall, I think their defense is pretty strong,” said McCoy.
Shelby Brimming With Confidence
Shelby is a lot different football team then they were at this time a year ago. They have a lot of confidence entering their home and season opener at Skiles Field on Friday night against Madison.
Steve McCoy, now in his second year, thinks they have been successful in changing the culture. “I think it’s just confidence. We have talked to our kids and there is experience coming back and really just changing that culture and attitude of just getting the kids to be confident in what they are doing on the field,” he said.
The Whippets played Clear Fork last week in their preview scrimmage. McCoy says they did a lot of things well except for tackling. “The one big area where we saw some issues was in tackling. We actually worked our kids pretty hard the week before that last week of two a days and we knew we were going to be a little bit flat and we were,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We struggled from a tackling standpoint and I think a lot of that was just fatigue mentally and physically. The kids are ready to go. They are focused on the things we need to do there to get that corrected. Outside of that we felt we had a pretty good scrimmage.” However, McCoy says they did find a lot of things out. “The kids know a lot of what we are doing is scripted out. There are specific things that we want to work on. A lot of the game type situations really aren’t there. We try to play three quarters, but there are certain things that we are trying to work on and also identify players and depth and those sorts of things. It wasn’t necessarily a true feel. We are definitely ready to go up against somebody else,” said McCoy.
Madison beat Shelby 21-7 last season at their place and McCoy knows to change the outcome this time they have to bottle up the Rams running game. “We expect them to run the wing-t against us. We have seen a lot of wing-t. We saw it against Clear Fork and we struggled a little bit tackling with the wing-t. We expect them to run the wing-t at us. I truly believe that the wing-t is one of the most difficult defenses to stop. It is a clock management offense. They are looking to get three, four yards a pop. Just keep poking their way down the field and just kill the clock. Our real goal is to get them out of their wing-t and get them into their spread and throwing the ball. If we can do that we feel we can be successful,” said McCoy.
Shelby Finding the Right Combinations
Shelby is set to prove that this will be a different season than last year when the Whippets went 0-10 for the first time in school history.
With a full off season coach Steve McCoy and the players believe this is going to be a lot better year for the Whippets. “We are pretty pleased to be where we are at right now. Like we have been saying all summer long it’s just been a great opportunity to have a full off season with the boys and really have a chance to put everything in place and to work with those guys. I couldn’t be more pleased it’s probably the best two a days I have ever had with a group of kids in my coaching career,” said McCoy.
With more time with the kids McCoy believes there will be better execution of the one back system they have put in place. “Just being able to get into the systems and how different the systems from where Shelby has been over the past 10 to 15 years and where we are heading over the next couple of years with the group of kids we have. You know it has just been a big transition for the kids. Overall, they have done pretty well over the last seven to eight months in getting prepared for the season,” he said.
The Whippets final tune-up for the regular season will be Friday night when they play the Clear Fork Colts in a scrimmage. McCoy says they have some specific plans for the game against the Colts. “Obviously you have a group of kids that are going to be successful for you and you want to make sure those guys are healthy for you, but also get a little playing time and game experience,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We are going to play three quarters with Clear Fork. We are going to have our starters going in the first quarter and the third quarter. In the second quarter we will go with what we are calling our one and halves, kids that we project as being backups or rotation guys. If one of our key guys goes down what is our substitution going to be and how are we going to react to that. It’s a little bit of game planning for us and trying out some scenarios throughout the scrimmage also.”
McCoy says they want to put a lot of guys in the line-up. He says they want to keep players as fresh as they can. “Our philosophy is to have 25 kids playing every single Friday. We want to get 25 different guys on the field at some point whether if that is through rotations or special teams or whatever. We would like to have 25 players playing where they are actually sharing the time fairly equally,” he said.
Shelby faces Mansfield Madison in their opener and McCoy says they will approach the Rams in the same way they will the rest of the teams are on their schedule. “For us it’s game that you have to win. You want to win coming out of the gate. For our kids that has been a little bit of our focus. Our kids have done really well and our philosophy has been that we are going to take everything one day at a time and try to keep the kids focused. We believe that will translate into us being successful on Friday nights,” said McCoy.
Shelby Ready For Success
Shelby continues to prepare for a turnaround season in a town rich in football tradition.
Second year coach Steve McCoy, a Shelby grad, says the first week of two a day practices last week showed him this team has the potential to excel at a top level. “I think the kids have worked very hard over the past week and a half. The kids have been doing very well, I have been impressed. Our first week of two and days is probably the best week I have ever had in my coaching career. The kids are working exceptionally hard. I couldn’t be more proud right now,” he said.
Shelby was 0-10 last season. McCoy says they are not using that to vault themselves into this season, but rather wiping the slate clean and going from there. “I think we need to turn the corner on last year. We don’t focus too much on last year. We have a lot of really good athletes. We return most of our team from last season. This was the first year we had the kids for a full off season. We really feel like there has been a move in a positive direction,” he said.
McCoy and his staff have changed a lot of things over the last year and he says they continue to work hard to educate the players about how they can be most effective in that system. “The one aspect that we have consistently seen over the last 14 months is football knowledge and really getting the kids to understand the game and understand the game with our system,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “We have done a lot of chalk talks with our kids throughout the off season. During two a days we have had kids in front of chalkboards and then out on the field. We return a lot of kids, but we are still working with the younger kids with the 9th, 10th and 11th graders we are seeing the same thing.”
Shelby had traditionally been an option team since the 1980’s, but last year they ran a lot of one back spread and McCoy says they are going to do that this year too. “I think that is were we are going to be. We will be in a one back spread for sure. We will be three wide with a tight end as our base set. We will be under center too a little bit, but for the most part be a shotgun team,” he said.
Shelby Looking Forward
Last year is a football season the Shelby Whippets and their fans would like to forget and according to coach Steve McCoy the players can’t even remember 2011.
McCoy, a Shelby graduate, was hired in the late spring of last year and had only a few months to prepare for the season. McCoy says this year has been a lot different. “Last week we spent four days at a team camp at Kenyon College. We feel like we have a good group of kids and given the circumstances that the whole program faces last year. We fell like we have had our first true off season with the kids. For the first time they have seen how our system works and understand the offensive and defensive schemes that we are running. We have seen a lot of success so far in the seven on sevens and some of the stuff we have been doing with other teams,” said McCoy. He told Swankonsports.com that have that off season together has made everybody feel more comfortable. “I think just the consistency of a staff is also important for the kids. For the first time we have been able to keep together a consistent group of coaches and that’s a benefit for our kids. Last year they did not know hardly any of the coaches and now they have had a year to get to know each other,” he said.
There were some big changes made last season as the Whippets scraped their traditional option offense for more of a one back attack. McCoy says they plan to made a only a few adjustments this summer. “We have made some adjustments to fit some of the things we feel our athletes can do. It will be a similar offensive system with a one back spread. We are going to go three wide this year at least for the most part. We are going to add a few more coverages to our defensive scheme. We really feel that we have a good core group of athletes that know the game pretty well and we feel we can utilize them in some key situations,” said McCoy.
With less teaching regarding the system taking place the Shelby coach says they were able to dedicate the off season to getting stronger and faster. “Overall we knew that we had to get stronger and from there we also have to work on our speed and our agility and more so our lateral movement. The kids have really responded to the program that we put together over the off season. We have a couple guys in our thousand pound club, which measures their benches, squats and cleans. We feel like we are headed in a real good direction,” said McCoy. He says they have changed some of the thongs they are asking the kids to do in the weight room. “I have had the opportunity to work with a pretty good strength coach. We have made some changes to the program a little bit. We are really looking to build more of an athlete as opposed to just a muscle bound kid. We really feel like we have utilized the weight room in the appropriate manner,” added McCoy.
Last week at Kenyon the Whippets finished putting in the schemes they plan to use on the field this year. “Our main focus at the team camp was the finish the installation of our offensive and defensive systems. We didn’t have a lot to do since we ran the same systems we did last year. We did make some tweaks and changes in the things we do. We don’t put a lot into the seven on sevens I don’t think it’s a real good judge of football,” he said.
Coming off an 0-10 season in 2011, McCoy says the kids are focused on making this fall a return to the tradition of Shelby Whippet football. “The kids have worked exceptionally hard and we feel like we have a real good nucleus of kids this season coming back. We bring back a lot of starters. It is a positive for us to have that experience coming back. I don’t think the kids think much about last season. They have kind of moved on from there. The program was kind of in a bad spot at that point. We have moved forward and focused on this season. Our focus is about winning today and that’s what we are trying to get our kids to buy into,” said McCoy.
Shelby Needs Varsity Softball Coach
Mike Mahek has stepped down as the girls’ softball coach at Shelby.
He led the Lady Whippets to a Northern Ohio League title in 2011 and runner-up finish this spring.
Shelby lost to Lexington in the division two district final last year and the sectional final this year.
A resume with references should be sent to Athletic Director Pat Lewis, 109 West Smiley Avenue, Shelby, OH, 44875 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shelby Gets Win Headed into Tournament
A young Shelby Whippet baseball team has struggled against the talented Northern Ohio League this year, but they got a big win on Thursday night heading into the tournament Saturday.
Shelby (8-16,2-8) got past Willard (8-5) in their final “NOL” game of the year. The Whippets meet “NOL” co-champ Tiffin Columbian (13-6) in the division two sectional semi-finals on Saturday at Clyde High School.
Scoring runs has been a premium for the Whippets this season, but coach C.J. Brickman says they got some big hits on Thursday night. “We have had a hard time scoring all year. The pitching we have faced all year has been solid. It’s nice the bats came out with got eight runs and 10 hits. We got three clutch two-out hits with the bases loaded. It was nice to see us get eight runs in our last “NOL” game of the year,” said Brickman.
Underdogs have been rather successful in the division two tournament the last couple of years. Lexington beat top seeded Norwalk last year. Brickman says what has happened this season really doesn’t matter on Saturday. “On Saturday our record doesn’t mean anything. Tiffin’s doesn’t matter either. It doesn’t matter how many games they have won. If we beat them their season is over. You try to drill that into kid’s heads. It is the second season we get to move on and Tiffin goes home, so we are excited about it,” said Brickman.
To be successful in the postseason you need to have great pitching and Brickman says you have to be able to field the ball, which is especially important in their case. “Not only that, but you have to play good defense. You can’t make errors in the tournament and give these really good teams more than three outs. Pitching and defense are really big at tournament time,” he said.
Tiffin won both meetings this season between the two teams (7-1 and 19-6) and Brickman says the Tornados can really hit the ball. “When we played them they hit the ball. They scored 19 the one game on us and like 15 hits and the other time they scored seven. That first game we were in it and then we made some critical errors that I think led to four unearned runs. So, you can’t give Tiffin Columbian extra outs with the big bats that they have. I would say their hitting is definitely their strength,” said Brickman.
Shelby Gets Big Win Going into the Tournament
Shelby is not going to win the Northern Ohio league this year, but they got a huge win on Tuesday night beating “NOL” champion Bellevue 4-3 in league play.
Shelby (17-9,6-3), #4 in the Swankonsports.com softball coach’s poll, had lost to Bellevue (19-3,8-1) early in the season at home. Lady Whippets coach Mike Mahek called the win over the Lady Red one of their biggest of the season. “It was a great win. Our kids played their hearts out. It was a great battle. We hope to continue to build the momentum going into the tournament,” he said.
Bellevue, #2 in the Swankonsports.com poll, has one of the more consistent programs in North Central Ohio and Mahek says a win over them should always be valued. “They have had a quality program for many, many years. Any win up at Bellevue is always a good win. They have an exceptional team this year. Our kids answered the bell. We came out and played seven innings of great softball. Like I said hopefully we continue to move forward and take care of business on Thursday,” said Mahek.
In the final “NOL” game of the season Shelby plays Willard on Thursday.
It’s tournament time beginning on Saturday and Shelby is in the division two sectional at Lexington. The Lady Whippets will play either Lexington or Willard on May 10. Mahek thinks the players believe in themselves again. “There is no substitute for confidence. A win like this certainly helps to build that. Like I’ve said, one at a time and keep focused on what we are doing,” he said.
Shelby has played one of the toughest schedules in the area this year. They have competed against state power Lima Bath, Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference leader River Valley, Clear Fork and Lexington of the Ohio Cardinal Conference. Mahek says they know what tournament level competition is like. “It’s been a great season for us as far as playing quality teams. We haven’t had a single rain out. To fill our schedule we added some top notch opponents and hopefully with that confidence we have been talking about and the experience we have had this season helps move us forward,” said Mahek.
Shelby Gets a Win
Shelby is a young baseball team that has some talent, but unfortunately for the Whippets they are in the Northern Ohio League and everybody is good, very good.
That means you have to be at your very best every. The Whippets have a victory over talented Sandusky, who beat Norwalk on Tuesday night, earlier this year, but that is their only league win.
Wednesday night, Shelby (7-12) got past Marion Harding (4-2) in a non-conference game, breaking a six game losing streak in the process. Coach C.J. Brickman says they really needed this win. “Absolutely… Our league is so tough. We have been struggling to get wins. It was definitely a good feeling to get a win (Wednesday) night,” he said.
The Northern Ohio League has four teams ranked in the statewide coach’s poll, and there is just tremendous depth in the league this year. Brickman says there is never an easy game and you have to be at your very best to have a chance to win. “It’s unbelievable. Every night it is a struggle. We are battling and these teams are all so good. It’s the best baseball I have seen… ever. It’s just one of those years,” he said.
Shelby has some developing talent, but Brickman says too many times their defense is not giving their pitchers a chance to be successful on the mound. “What really hurts us is we make too many errors. Our pitchers are throwing strikes. When you give the other team five outs an inning and you can’t give a Norwalk and a Tiffin five outs an inning or they are going to burn you and that’s what has been happening. (Wednesday) night we didn’t make errors and look what happened, we got a “W.” We have to tighten up, Brickman told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday.
Shelby plays Sandusky (13-5,3-4) in a “NOL” game on Thursday. The Whippets won the first meeting (6-4) on April 10. The Blue Streaks beat Norwalk (10-8) on Tuesday and are ranked #4 in Swankonsports.com coach’s poll in the large school division.
The tournament draw is on Sunday and Brickman says they have been using that as motivation for the players. “We have been looking the past week at the tournament. You get a fresh start, you win you keep going, you lose your out. That’s good for us, I mean, we’ll see,” he said.
Shelby Stays in “NOL” Race
Shelby belted Tiffin Columbian 10-1 on Tuesday afternoon to keep themselves in the Northern Ohio League girls’ softball race.
With the win Shelby is now 5-2 in the league and they trail Bellevue by two games with three to play. Bellevue edged Willard (5-3) on Tuesday to remain unbeaten in the league.
Shelby coach Mike Mahek says they understand that they have to run the table if they are going to have any chance at sharing the title this season. “We talked about it (Tuesday), we have to win out and then get some help, but nothing happens unless we take care of our end. We are going to take each game one at a time and give it all we’ve got and see what happens and maybe we can get back in it,” said Mahek.
Shelby (15-7,5-2) plays Sandusky (6-10,2-5) in a league game on Thursday. The Lady Blue Streaks lost to Norwalk (5-3) on Thursday.
With only six teams in the “NOL” this season there are only 10 league games on the schedule. Mahek says that makes every game even more important. “You don’t play every night, but with the size of the league and only 10 games that is also a factor. It really, really narrows the focus and every game is so important,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday.
Mikala Miller is Shelby’s all-time leader in pitching victories and she is able to keep the Lady Whippets in most games. Mahek says they have been able to get the bats going in most games too. “We have had some struggles. We have four or five players around the .400 mark. Anytime your batting average is that high you are getting runners on and then moving them along. Again we have our moments, but overall we have been hitting the ball well,” said Mahek.
Defense is sometimes the forgotten element in softball. Mahek says errors have led to some big innings for them, but overall he has been pleased with how they field the ball. “We have had out moments there too. We have had our innings that have blown up on us from time to time. We have had pretty solid defense. What we have really tried to teach the girls is when you do make a mistake you have to forget it and move forward. You can’t let that compound and build and we have gotten better at that,” he said.
Shelby Falls From First Place
Bellevue scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning and they beat Shelby in a battle between the Northern Ohio League co-leaders on Thursday night in Shelby.
Belleuve, #4 in the Swankonsports.com softball coach’s poll has averaged around 10 runs a game this season, pounded out 17 hits in the win (11-7) over Shelby to gain sole possession of first place in the “NOL.”
The re-match with Bellevue is the final regular season game for the Lady Whippets on May 5. Shelby coach Mike Mahek says the need to maintain their focus in order for that game to mean anything. “We are a game out and we have to take care of business every night to give ourselves a chance to go up there and play and make amends for this. It’s going to be an every night battle in the league to make sure we get that opportunity now,” he said.
Shelby, #5 in the Swankonsports.com coach’s poll, trailed for most of the game Thursday night, but they made a dramatic rally in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game. Mahek says they battled back to give themselves a chance. “They hit the ball very well. I mean they had 17 hits. We made some mistakes, we had five errors. You can’t make those kinds of mistakes against teams like this,” he told Swankonsports.com after the game, “We were down 7-2 in the sixth and go out and score five runs to tie it up. We are 7-7 going into the seventh inning. We gave ourselves a chance to win the ball game. While it was disappointing to fight back that far and come up short, there were definitely some positives to take away from it too.”
Yes, the Lady Whippets want revenge on Bellevue (15-1), but Mahek says there are other things that need to take care of in the meantime. He says looking ahead to May 5 would be a mistake. “We are not looking just at that game at Bellevue. We’ve got a battle (Friday) night. I told the girls after the game. It’s not football where you have a week to sit there and think about it and prepare for the next game. We are right back at it (Friday) over at the MVD tournament and next week we come back with two big league games. Every game is important. We have a long way before we need to worry able Bellevue,” said Mahek.
Shelby (11-3) faces Ashland in the first round of the MVD Tournament in Ashland on Friday afternoon. Mahek likes the fact that they are going to get right back on the field after the loss to Bellevue. “Softball and baseball are unique in that way. We play a six week season with 27 games. Three weeks from Thursday is our last regular season game. It’s short and intense. There is no rest, you just go back and go at it again. In this situation it’s a really good thing for us to get back on the field and go play again,” said Mahek.
Shelby Ends Tough Stretch With Win Over Sandusky
Shelby has gone through a stretch over the last week of the baseball season where they have played four of the five teams ranked in the Swankonsports.com baseball coach’s poll and Tuesday night they earned their first win against those teams.
The Whippets (6-6,1-2) downed the Sandusky Blue Streaks (8-2,1-2) in a Northern Ohio League game (6-4) on Tuesday night in Shelby. Coach C.J Brickman says it was a solid win for them, likely their best of the season so far. “It was a great win for us. We are a young team. We played Norwalk and Tiffin last week and I think they had one loss between them. We played Ashland over the weekend and they hadn’t lost a game yet. It has been tough the last four or five games and it was definitely good to get that win (Tuesday) night,” said Brickman.
Sandusky is paced by their shortstop and leadoff hitter Xavier Turner, headed to Vanderbilt on a baseball scholarship. Brickman says you definitely have to be careful with him and his kids did a good job of following the game plan. “He is their leadoff hitter and it’s not like you want to pitch around him. You don’t throw a fastball right down the middle to him because obviously he is a good player. He is going to college to play ball. Our kids hung in there and threw strikes and made some plays,” he said.
Just like football and basketball the “NOL” is loaded with talent this year. Brickman says the young players on the team just have to grind it and the wins will come. “It’s just one of those years when a lot of schools have a lot of talented players. We are coming off a good year last year, but I lost a lot, so we have a lot of young kids. We have just learned that you can’t quit,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday night after the win over Sandusky, “Norwalk put one to us and so did Ashland, but we came back here were we could have laid down to Sandusky. I know Norwalk beat them by one, but we came back and we beat them. We are getting better and we are hanging in there.”
Shelby still has to play a fine Bellevue team and an improving Willard in the first half of the league schedule and then do it all over again. Brickman says they will have to remain tough and if they do they will be a better team. “If you aren’t mentally tough it’s going to be a long year,” said Brickman.
Shelby Shares Northern Ohio League Lead
Two games into the Northern Ohio League schedule the Shelby Lady Whippets share first place with Bellevue, a half game in front of Sandusky.
Shelby (8-2,2-0) has beaten Norwalk (5-4) and Tiffin Columbian (7-0) in league games this week. Coach Mike Mahek says they have put together a pretty good stretch of play. “We got off to a little bit of a shaky start. We were 1-2, but we have put seven in row together after that. We got off to a good start in the league with a tough win up at Norwalk. It’s one of those things where our kids understand it’s going to be a battle every day and you have to come out and play everyday. There are no automatics in the league. The league is tough,” said Mahek.
Shelby’s only losses this season come to traditional power Lima Bath and unbeaten River Valley of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference.
Mahek says they are playing and improving a lot over the first couple of weeks of the season and he wants it that way. “We are playing five games a week for the first three weeks to kind of get going here. My wife said last week, she looked at the schedule, you’ll play half of your games in the first two weeks and it’s pretty close to that. We’ll have 12 games in two weeks. There is not a lot time for rest or even practice to correct things. It’s maintain, teach a few things, and just keep rolling,” Mahek said.
Bellevue (9-1,2-0) is playing excellent softball too. However, Mahek contends this will not be a two team race in the “NOL” this spring, as it was in basketball. “It’s every team every night. We have learned that over the years. There is quality competition all of the way through. You never have that time off,” he said.
With more speed in the lineup this season, Shelby is bunting and stealing more bases, but Mahek says it’s nice to have one the area’s best and most experienced pitchers on the mound too. “We have picked that up a little bit more this year. We have a little bit more speed. We are playing a little bit more small ball. Defense is really a key for us, defense and pitching, defending the small ball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “A little plug for our pitcher, Mikala Miller. With her win (Wednesday) night she set the school record for career wins with 47. We have a pretty special team and we have a special pitcher out there ands that helps a lot when you talk about the consistency and the battling every day.”
The Lady Whippets play Clear Fork (2-3) in a non-conference doubleheader at Shelby on Saturday.
Tough Start for Shelby
Shelby is faced with starting the Northern Ohio League portion of its baseball schedule with a trip to Norwalk to play the defending champion, and preseason favorite, Truckers in their opening league game on Tuesday evening.
On Monday night, Andrew Baird had three hits and the Whippets beat the Crestline Bulldogs (8-6) in a non-conference game at Shelby. Coach C.J. Brickman will take the win, but he says their execution was not very strong. “A win is a win. We did make some mistakes. I believe we had six errors. If we do something like that against Norwalk I don’t think we can beat them if we make hat may errors. If we tighten the defense up we will be fine,” he said.
Norwalk (5-0) has been doing a lot of things right including wins over Sandusky Perkins and Lexington. Brickman understands any league title must go through Norwalk. “They are the defending champs from last year. If you are going to be the best, you have to beat the best. If you want to win the “NOL” you have to beat Norwalk,” he said.
Norwalk is finding success in football and basketball now, but the baseball program of Wes Douglas has been a consistent winner for Truckers fans. Brickman says it is no surprise they are winners this year too. “They graduated quite a few guys. Wes over there does a great job and they have a lot of kids. Last year I remember they had 18 kids on the team and a bunch of young kids. I think they are loaded again this year and for the future. To beat them you just have to be solid, you have to throw strikes, and you have to put the ball in play. I guess you need to have a little luck on your side too,” said Brickman.
Shelby (4-2) has a tough schedule all week as they play Upper Sandusky (1-0) in a non-league game on Wednesday, Tiffin Columbian (3-2), one the other “NOL” favorites on Thursday, and unbeaten Ashland (4-0) in a doubleheader on Saturday. Brickman says they know a loss against Norwalk will not break them. “The whole season is not (Tuesday). It’s obviously an important game if you want to win the league. We have played six games so far and we have at least 20 others,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “You can’t hang your hat on one game. Obviously it would be nice to win, but with the young team that I have we just have to work on getting better and that’s what our main goal is,” said Brickman.
Shelby Showing Some Good Things
Shelby was somewhat of an unknown quantity going into the high school baseball season this year after an outstanding campaign a year ago, but they played well in their first game.
The Whippets (1-0) shut out the Mansfield Senior Tygers on a cold day on Monday in their regular season opener. Coach C.J. Brickman says the got an outstanding performance from a young man making his first start for Shelby. “I had a kid Lee Newmeyer that started his a game for the first time. With these new bats if you throw strikes you are going to get outs. If you have kids that can throw strikes you are going to be successful,” he said.
Making the plays in the field is often the key in high school baseball. If you can be the team that just makes the regular plays then you are going to win more than your hare of games. Brickman says they were able to do that for the most part on Monday. “We actually have a whole new infield from last year. We only had four strikeouts through five innings. We did make some plays in the field, so that was good to see, especially with the young team that we have,’ he said.
Shelby also is replacing a number of sticks from last year. Brickman thinks they did a pretty good job of putting the ball in play against the Tygers on Monday. “Through six innings we only struck out twice. We put the ball in play. The majority were ground balls. It was the first cold day in like three weeks. We were used to playing in that 70 degree weather, so when it was 40 out, it was a little different, especially with the kid from Senior that threw a good fastball. Our kids adjusted and I think we had eight hits. We will be okay as the season goes on,” said Brickman.
Although, according to Brickman, not a lot of people want to admit to it, the weather is a factor in high school baseball, especially offensively. “Your hands are going to be cold when it’s 40 degrees outside. When you are swinging these metal bats and you get one on the handle and you hit it foul, you aren’t going to be very enthusiastic about getting back in the box and swinging the bat again,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “People say the weather doesn’t affect the game, it absolutely does, especially when it’s cold out. You will see offensive numbers go down when it’s cold out.”
Mansfield Senior (0-2) is a team trying to rebuild its program, but for the rest of the week the Whippets will see some of the bigger names in high school baseball in Wynford (Wednesday), Mansfield Madison (Thursday) and Ontario (Saturday) for a doubleheader. “With Ontario and Madison, those are two programs that are always good, so I am excited to see what we can do against top notch programs,” said Brickman.
Shelby Splits First Two
Shelby began its season on Saturday against one of the tougher teams they will see all season in the Lima Bath Wildkittens.
They spilt a doubleheader winning 3-2 and losing the second game of the twin bill 3-0.
Shelby coach Mike Mahek says they played pretty well in both games against Bath, especially with their gloves. “Lima Bath is a real solid team and came in and we had two great games. In both games the kids played real hard. It was really good softball. We had an extra inning win in the first game. We got beat 3-0 in the second. Obviously, that’s not where we want to be,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We did a lot of good things in that game also defensively. There were a couple of opportunities for them to blow things open and we kept ourselves in it. We had a couple of chances to score late and weren’t able to string it together there. Overall, it was a good weekend for us.”
The Lady Whippets won the Northern Ohio League title last year and they are expected to have a good season this year. Mahek says they wanted to be tested. “They are a traditionally strong program. They have a hall of fame coach. That’s why we scheduled that game to bring in some teams from the district that we don’t see a lot. It was a real good experience and we took away some confidence and we took away some things we need to work on,” he said.
Mahek says they will be working mostly on their offense. He says they have to do a better job of limiting strikeouts and taking the extra base when it’s available. “We know we have to put the ball in play. We had a few too many strike outs in the second game. We have to get the bat on the ball, especially with runners on. Defensively, we played really solid and I’m really pleased with that and real pleased with our pitching. We have to work on some base running things and some hitting things.
Tuesday, Shelby (1-1) plays a home against River Valley (1-0), a 17-3 winner over Fredericktown in their first game on Monday. The Lady Vikings beat Shelby last season. That will be followed by a game at home against Wynford on Wednesday, at Mansfield Madison (0-1) and a doubleheader against the Ontario Lady Warriors (1-0) on Saturday.
Their first “NOL” game is scheduled next Tuesday against the Norwalk Lady Truckers.
Shelby is Cautious
Shelby was the best team in the Northern Ohio League last season and as the softball season is about to start the Lady Whippets are holding their cards close to the vest.
Coach Mike Mahek says they have some younger players that will fill some roles with some players returning to the varsity team. He says he is excited about what the season could bring. “We have a good mix of returners and some new faces. We have some experience and some young kids. It’s going to be one of those seasons where it’s really going to come down to how we handle games, but we are looking forward to it. We have some challenges ahead of us and we are really excited about playing,” said Mahek.
Pitching is very important in fast pitch softball, but so if making the plays in the field. Mahek thinks early in the season they are going to rely a lot on their defense. “So far with the beautiful weather we have been playing a lot. We have had a lot of good scrimmages. I think our defense is probably our strong point. Bats are a little behind pitching at this point,” he said.
Shelby will host the Lima Bath Wildkittens in a doubleheader on Saturday, the first day of the high school softball season in Ohio. Mahek says Bath will be a big challenge for them, but they are certainly looking forward to it. “That is a good opener for us. We contacted them a while ago and wanted to get some competition from across the district. We don’t get a chance to see them very much and they don’t get a chance to see us,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “When we go to vote on all-district and things like that it’s nice to have a reference point. We just wanted to open it up a little bit and play someone different. We are really excited about the opportunity. They have a great program and a hall of fame coach. We know we are in for a battle and it will be a great test.”
As far as the Northern Ohio League is concerned with Sandusky entering the mix, Mahek says the league race is going to be hard to predict before the season gets started. “The league has a whole different look being a six team league. I don’t know what we are looking at. It’s one of those situations where some teams graduated some people and we have some teams with some players back. Sandusky is coming in and we have never seen them play. It’s wide open I would say,” he said.
Shelby Counting on Some Younger Players
Shelby finished second in the Northern Ohio League baseball standings a year ago and if the Whippets are to compete for the title this spring they are going to have to get some solid contributions from younger players.
Coach C.J. Brickman wants his program to be a consistent competitor in the “NOL” and he believes they have some underclassmen that can step into some roles on the team. “Last year, we had a real good year. We won 18 games. I lost seven seniors and half of my pitching staff,” he told Swankonsports.com, “You know, you hear the word rebuilding when you lose that much, but we have a lot of good young talent that’s coming up, a lot of juniors and a couple of sophomores. Our goals are the same. We want to go after the “NOL” title and win a couple of tournament games. Expectations are still high.”
The high school baseball season is a short one. It can be over in six weeks for some teams. Brickman hopes his team can get off to a good start, but he knows they are a team that will be developing as the season goes on. “I think this a team that is going to be a lot better in May than it is in March. A couple of our players are basketball players and they are just now kind of getting into things. I would look out for us in mid to late April. I bet we will be a lot better by then,” said Brickman.
Shelby may be an inexperienced team at some positions, but Brickman believes they will have a really good chance to win anytime they put their number one pitcher on the mound. “I think our strength is our pitching staff. We have Cal Von Stein back. He was our number two last year and won us eight games, so he is going to anchor us, he is a big tall lefty. We also have kid named Justin Lewis, who pitched a lot last year. Pitching is definitely the best part of our team,” said Brickman.
On offense, the Whippets used a lot of speed and small ball to get runs last year and Brickman knows they are likely going to have to scratch out some runs, at least early this spring. “We replace hitters one through seven. I am going to find out a lot in these scrimmages and our first few games about what we have,” he said.
Playmakers Will be the Difference
Shelby and Willard have been playing basketball against each other for at least the last nearly 70 years and another chapter in that history will be written on Friday night as they clash in the division two sectional final at Bucyrus High School.
It’s the third meeting this year between the two teams and Shelby has won both so far (67-55) at Willard on January 20 and (61-40) last Friday at Shelby.
Shelby (16-5) almost didn’t get to this level as they were behind by eight points (30-22) midway through the third quarter, but went on an 11-0 run and eliminated Clear Fork (57-50) from the tournament for the third straight year. Coach Troy Schwemley says they have become reliant on those kinds of runs. “It’s just a matter sometimes of when is that spurt going to happen. (Wednesday) night it was almost waiting too long. Midway through the third quarter we were down eight. We really weren’t looking good,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “I would say Clear Fork had the upper hand at that point. The next thing, you know, we went on an 11-0 run and ended being up three at the end of the third quarter. We prefer that we not wait until we are down eight points. We had that good spurt and that really seemed to change the momentum. That’s what really helped us win the game (Wednesday) night.”
After being a little sloppy in some games over the last month, the Whippets played one of their better games last week against Willard. Schwemley says they have some guys that are pretty clutch players. “They have been playing pretty good basketball and I thought that was the good thing about our win last week. We beat a team that was playing pretty good basketball at the time. Really when you look back at that game in the second and third quarters we had those runs. The final score ended up being pretty lopsided. The keys were we had those spurts in the second and third quarters. When we get a lead we can be pretty tough to come back on because we have such good ball handling, senior leadership, and we have guys that are comfortable with the ball in their hands. When we get a lead we are probably a much better team,” said Schwemley.
In a third meeting between good teams like this strategy can play a role, but Schwemley says it really comes down to players making plays at the right time. “The first two games don’t mean a whole lot right now, it’s about refocusing. Yes, it’s the third time that we have played them, but I don’t think tat it really matters. At this time of year, and I think it showed up in the Clear Fork game, when you’ve got two teams that as really knowledgeable of each other, they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, different players need to step up and you need to make some shots. That’s what we are going to need again in this game,” he said.
Willard has improved this season as much as anybody has in their play between December and now. Schwemley says they have developed some pretty good depth. “They have multiple guys that can get to the rim. It probably starts with Phillips, he is their leading scorer, but they have other guys that attack the rim. Haden Adams averages nine points a game, but he scored 20 or something against us in our first meeting. Marcus Hahler is in at around nine, ten points a game. They have guards that get to the basket too,” he said.
After Tiffin Columbian made their first five three point shots against them on Wednesday, Willard (11-10) rallied to beat the Tornados (59-50) in their sectional semi-final. Schwemley says they did an outstanding job of battling in a tough situation. “What was impressive about Wednesday night was they got down. They were down I think 21-8 and really just battled back and found a way to win. Adams went down in the end of the second quarter. You are behind and one of your major players goes out. I thought that was a great win for them they found a way to win with such adversity. They have won their first tournament game and they have a reason to be confident,” said Schwemley.
It likely will be a more possession by possession kind of game on Friday night. Schwemley believes it will not be some grand scheme cooked up by coaches that makes the difference. “If you check the shot chart I didn’t make any baskets on Wednesday night. As coaches we don’t score any points. Against Clear Fork, Tre Calver hit two big threes. He hit one at the end of the third quarter and I believe one in the fourth. Grant Fenner hit a three. Conner, you know, was the leading scorer for us. Sometimes I forget to mention the guys that kind of do it night in and night out. It is multiple guys making shots,” said Schwemley.
The Shelby coach certainly hopes to get off to a better start that they did on Wednesday night against Clear Fork. “You coach your team to work on certain things and certain shots you want to take, but it still comes down to guys stepping up and making shots. In our first game for two and half quarters we weren’t. We just didn’t have flow, then finally in the last quarter and a half we got it going. Hopefully that last quarter and half will just flow into this next game,” he said.
Shelby Plays League Rival in Districts
For the second year in a row the Shelby Lady Whippets play a league rival in the division two district semis and they hope for a better result this time.
Last year, Bellevue edged them (53-51) and then the Lady Red lost to Clyde in the finals. This year Shelby plays Willard on Thursday night at Bucyrus High School. Clyde plays Lexington in the other semi.
Shelby (20-1), who finished #4 in the final Swankonsports.com basketball power poll for larger schools, has won both games against Willard so far this year (48-39) in Shelby in early January and (82-40) in the regular season finale at Willard almost two weeks ago.
Shelby coach Jodi Korbas believes a third game between two teams ends up being about who executes their stuff better because there won’t be any surprises. “When you play each other for a third time you know each other’s tendencies and plays and so on and so forth. It will come down to execution on both the offensive end and the defensive end for us,” she said.
Willard (12-9) has put together some pretty good performances this year, including a win over Kenton (47-42) in their sectional final at Fostoria. Korbas says they have some talent. “Ally Graham she is a great three point shooter we need to knew where she is at all times. Laura Danhoff, she does nice job on the boards and can hit some outside shots as well,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday. “Their role players can do some things, Brin Lillo, we need to keep her off the boards. I am sure we are going to see a different team than we saw in the last game of the regular season.”
After a forty point loss in their last game against them, Korbas knows that the Willard coaching staff is going to make some changes in what they are going to try and do, especially in their transition defense. “John Dawson and Brian Carr do a nice job over there and I am sure they are going to be changing some things around trying to stop our transition. It is kind of a guessing game. We know we are going to be in for a battle and a fight to the end,” she said.
One the big keys for Shelby this season is less of a reliance on the scoring of Emma Hostetler, their all-district junior guard. Korbas says they have gotten contributions form a lot of players. “It’s been nice because every game somebody different has been stepping up. Emma has been very consistent although she only had five points against Clear Fork she still distributes the ball. As far as the other players someone has been stepping up and getting into double figures. We are averaging three kids in double figures and that makes us that much more difficult to defend,” said Korbas.
Shelby to Play Athletic Clear Fork
It’s tournament time so it must be time for Clear Fork to play Shelby and so it is.
The two boys’ basketball teams meet in the division two sectional semi-finals at Bucyrus High School on Wednesday night. It is the third straight year the two schools have met in the first round. Shelby won both of the previous meetings. The Whippets topped the Colts (55-53) last year and (43-26) two years ago.
The Whippets (15-5) played one of their better defensive games of the season last week in beating rival Willard (61-40) in a Northern Ohio League game. Whippets coach Troy Schwemley says they were able to limit a lot of the things that Willard likes to do. “I thought we played pretty good, especially on defense. I thought as the game went on we actually got better. We were able to limit Willard to one shot. We got some steals that led to some baskets,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Defensively I thought we did a pretty good job. The turning point was the second quarter. I think we were down four and we went on a 9-0 run. I think Tre Calver hit a three, then he got a steal and a lay up. I think Conner and Garrett spilt some baskets, something like that. It went from a four point deficit to a five point lead in about two, three minutes. That is really the key when we get those runs.”
Shelby has built its game this season on its ability to put points on the scoreboard quickly and Schwemley hopes that is able to continue into the tournament. “When we are playing well it seems like we get those runs. It’s tournament time now and hopefully we can continue to do that,” he said.
Clear Fork (8-12) finished last in the Ohio Cardinal Conference this season, but Schwemley contends they are still a good team that appears to be playing its best basketball right now. “I have often wondered what their record would be if they played in the “NOL” or may be what our record would be if we played in the “OCC.” Hypothetically I try to figure out how good they really are. They have a nice team. I know they are 8-12, but they play a really good schedule. They have had some points when they have had some good wins. They had a stretch there when I know they lost six, seven games in a row there, but they rebounded from it and finished the season on a pretty strong note. Coming into tournament time I think they probably feel pretty good about how they are playing,” said Schwemley.
Clear fork has some players with size and skill and Schwemley is particularly impressed with the play of sophomore guard Ridge Winand. “They have got some size. Matt Hill and Aaron Hill are both 6-4 and Brandon Fields is 6-2. Keith Corbin is a 5-11 guard. Ridge Winand has probably been their surprise being a sophomore and being their leading scorer from the outside. He has really stepped up his play and been that scorer for them,” he said.
For Shelby fans, Schwemley says the Colts remind him a little bit of Clyde, a team they played out of the Sandusky Bay Conference. “I was trying to place them because they really have some nice size. They have four guys 6-1 or above. They play pretty physical. We played a non-league opponent in Clyde and they are maybe somewhat like a Clyde. They are a team that does a petty good job of crashing the boards and physically trying to defend you. They knock you down in a good defensive positioning way,” said Schwemley.
If you look at the records Shelby is certainly the favorite in this game, but Schwemley says if history teaches them anything the Colts are going to be competitive on Wednesday night. “Clear Fork is a nice team. You can’t look at their record. You know, last year they gave us all that we wanted in the first tournament game. I think our approach has got to be learning from last year. This is tournament time and you can’t under estimate anybody. We have to play well to beat them on Wednesday,” said Schwemley.
Top Seeded Shelby Ready For Clear Fork
Shelby, the Northern Ohio League co-champion, will face Clear Fork, of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, in the girls’ division two sectional finals on Saturday night at Ontario High School.
Shelby (19-1), #4 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power poll among larger schools, wrapped up their share of the “NOL” title with a responding win over Willard (82-40) last Saturday. Coach Jodi Korbas believes it was an outstanding performance, especially on the heels of their only loss of the year. “We certainly played our best game versus Willard. We got off to a great start and there was no let down. We continued playing hard with intensity and focus for the whole game and ended up with a win and an “NOL” championship,” she said.
Shelby won their first 17 games of the season for a loss to Bellevue (62-48) on February 11. Korbas says they certainly wanted to win that game, but they learned from the loss too. “We certainly would have liked to have won the “NOL” out right, but if you want to look at the positives it helped us refocus and realize that we needed to play hard and get off to good starts at the beginning of games unlike we did at Bellevue where we kind of struggled at the beginning. I think it benefited our team and hopefully it can continue to benefit as we make a tournament run,” Korbas told Swankonsports.com on Thursday.
Focus has not been an issue for the Lady Whippets this year, but in retrospect Korbas says the might have been a little tight when they played Bellevue. “You know if you ask them the one game that they felt they were focused they didn’t play well, so I think they are playing very relaxed. We came out at Willard and Willard is a tough place to play. The first game was a fight to the end. They knew what was at stake. I think they gave it their all. I think you will see the same thing in the tournament,” Korbas said.
Clear Fork (7-14) plays in the tough Ohio Cardinal Conference with three teams in the Swankonsports.com poll, plus Lexington, the second seed in this sectional, and vastly improved Ashland. They have won six of their last 12. Deijah Swihart has 20 points in the Lady Colts sectional semi-final win (67-56) over Galion on Wednesday night. Korbas says Clear Fork must be respected. “Well, this is the second part to our season. When you start the tournament everybody goes back to 0-and-0. Clear Fork right now is 1-and-0. We can’t look past anyone. Every team has the same opportunity to beat the other team. We need to make sure that when we play on Saturday that we are focused and ready to go,” she said.
Korbas thinks her team, led by first team all-district player Emma Hostetler, is a team that has the right temperament for the tournament. “I think one of the things we have going for us is we are a senior laden team and we have a lot of varsity experience and a lot of tournament experience, so we will be able to use that to benefit us on Saturday,” said Korbas.
Shelby Maybe Without Leading Scorer
Shelby may play its final regular season game on Friday night without the services of its leading score for the season.
The Whippets (14-5,6-3) host the rival Willard Flashes (10-9,4-5) in Northern Ohio league action.
Last week, Bellevue became the first league team outside of unbeaten Norwalk to down the Whippets (58-53) this season. Shelby coach Troy Schwemley admits that Bellevue played well at their place, but says if they would have shot the ball better at the foul line and from the field they could have come out on top. “They are a good team at home and anytime you are going on the road in the “NOL” it’s going to be a tough game. They have played a lot of people tough at home. Their record is not spectacular, but they have had so many games that they could have won. I think they have lost three games in overtime. They are a competitive team and they have had a lot of close games. There were things that we could have done, maybe if we would have made a few more free throws. We were 1-16 from the three point line,” said Schwemley.
Shelby did not get any points against Bellevue from leading scorer Garrett Arnold, a four-year starter at point guard. Schwemley says he was feeling the effects of what they feared was a concussion after hitting his head on the floor. “He was having a headache and we were concerned was it some concussion symptoms or things like that. Fortunately it wasn’t, but he is still day to day. The hard part about this time of year is there is not a lot of time left and you want to be going full strength. Hopefully he is ready to go on Friday,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We are hoping the headaches improve and he gets better. It’s always a tough call when it comes to kids and injuries. There are some injuries when it’s suck it up and play. Anytime you are dealing with any kind of head injuries you are just a little more cautious and want to make sure and protect the kids. There are more important things. The good news is he had been cleared, it’s just a matter of getting symptom free and getting back to 100 percent.”
Shelby is guaranteed second place in the league and has little riding on the outcome of the game. However, Schwemley says winning is the reason the games are put on the schedule. “It’s about playing every game and treating it like it’s the most important game. Is it for the league or anything like that? No, it’s not but. It’s for being competitive. Every game as a coach and players is a game you want to win. We have got Willard coming here on Friday. We want to get ourselves ready to play and it’s a great atmosphere. It should be a great game in terms of preparing for the tournament. We want to get him in there so we are at full strength,” he said.
Willard has become a much more competitive team in the second half of the season. Schwemley says they have a number of guys that can score the ball, especially if they can get it into the lane. “They have multiple guys that can score. They have some really athletic players. Kolin Phillips has really emerged as their leading scorer. He is averaging 14.1 a game. Marcus Hahler does a nice job scoring for them at 9.4 and then Matt Cok is 9.2. Hayden Adams is at 8.8 and I think in our first game he had 20 of their 23 halftime points. They have guys that can score and they really get to the rim well. They have some physical size inside. The thing that they are sometimes shaky with is their three point shooting. They are a team that if they get some confidence they have guys that can shoot,” Schwemley said.
On the ball defense and getting on the defensive glass are going to be big factors in the game according to Schwemley. “I would say for us they keys are just keep them out the paint, control the points in the paint and then limiting them to one shot because they really attack the boards really well and get second chance points,” he said.
Shelby Has Experience in Close Games
Shelby has played a lot of close games of the last two years, especially this year, and the Whippets have won more than they have lost. That is something that is going to help them come the postseason tournament.
Last week, they beat Sandusky (67-66) in a Northern Ohio League game at Sandusky. It was a game in which Shelby got off to a good start, but lost the lead in the season half. Coach Troy Schwemley says they were able to make a big defensive play and hang on for the win. “That game was kind of a strange game. We came out and played very well in the first half. We got up as many as 15. Everything was going well and then all of the sudden it seemed liked it changed. We went up 11 at half time and felt pretty good. Sandusky has some nice players, a real athletic team. They have a kid that is leading the league in scoring in Xavier Turner, he is averaging around 19 a game,” Schwemley told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They have some other players too. They started to hit some shots. You know when you start to hit shots the defensive intensity picks up a little bit. They pressured us a little bit and the next thing you know our lead was down to one and then it kind of went back and forth. We were actually down one with 30 seconds to go. We had a couple of fouls to give so we really had to start fouling to put them to the free throw line, but we were in a situation where we were trying to steal the ball too. The next thing you know there was an errant pass, it’s in the hands of Jacoby Wilson and he is shooting a lay up. We went form a situation of possibly being down three to being up one. They had the ball with 12 seconds to go and took a time out. They had one shot at the buzzer. It was a pretty deep three and it rimmed out. Any time you get a win against a real good team like Sandusky, we’ll take it.”
Friday night, the Whippets (14-4,6-2) travel to Bellevue to face the Redmen (6-11,1-7), who have been on the other end of some of those close losses in the very competitive “NOL,” including a last second (53-51) loss to unbeaten Norwalk last week. Schwemley says Bellevue is still pretty talented, especially at the point guard spot. “You look at the fact that they have a point guard like Jalen Santoro. He has started since he was a freshman. He is a dangerous player because not only can he score he just has the ability to make everybody else better around him. They have some players around him, some good athletic players. When things are going well they are a very good team. It’s the same thing with Sandusky. I mean that’s what the “NOL” is all about. Any given night, you know throw the records out. If you aren’t playing your best basketball then the other team can beat you. Bellevue might be in the bottom tier of the league, but they are taking an undefeated Norwalk team down to the wire. That’s part of a great league. That’s what makes you better come tournament time teams that week and week out test you every night,” said Schwemley.
Shelby has been pretty good at winning those close games and finding wants to win in the end. However, Schwemley says that is not something you want to rely on. “Sometimes you look at the ones that one don’t get. You know, if we would have won that game, like the Norwalk game, but then I started thinking back to all the games we have won like that. The first game of the year, Madison was ahead of us and we came back and won in overtime. Both of our Sandusky games could have went the other way. We talk about that with the guys and good teams finding a way to win. Our guys are pretty good about being confident going down the stretch. We have pulled out more of those then we have let go. You don’t want it to come down to one shot, you know, make the plays throughout the game. We don’t want to have to live in die in the last eight to 10 second of a game,” said the Shelby coach.
The Whippets throttled Bellevue (73-48) the first time they played them this year. Schwemley says they need to approach this game with a business like attitude. “With Bellevue, I mean they played Norwalk tough, right down to the end. We have to respect them, and not look at our previous game against them and just focus on giving our best effort on Friday night,” he said.
Shelby Executing Well
Shelby might not win the Northern Ohio League title this year, but they are going to be a tough out in the division two tournament, which starts in three weeks.
The Whippets must like playing the Tiffin Columbian Tornados because two of their better games this season have been against them, including last Saturday night when they hammered (70-48) them for the a second time. “I talked a little to their coach afterwards. In the first game we shot very well from the field. I know we shot the three ball well that night at Tiffin and then come back at our place on Saturday and we did the same. I know Garrett had eight threes, which stood out, but we had some other guys shoot some threes as well. I think we ended up with 11 or 12. We played well again and not just shooting the ball. Defensively I was pretty pleased with our effort too, especially the third quarter and that seemed to turn things around, so good night,” said Shelby coach Troy Schwemley.
Shelby (11-4) was 20-3 last season and they advanced to the division two district finals. They returned two starters in Garrett Arnold and Conner Nelson. Schwemley says their success this year has just as much to do with the play of the rest of the team. “Grant Fenner has had a very solid year for us so far. He is averaging double figures and has been one our top rebounders most nights. Tre Calver might not show up in the stat book all of the time, but defensively he typically draws the best perimeter player on the other team. There are a lot times when he is guarding a guy that has a couple of inches on him,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Jacoby Wilson is the same. Those two might not always show up in the box score with a lot of points, but they do a lot of other things to make the team successful. Austin Rody coming off the bench has hit some threes for us. He has provided us with instant offense a lot of times. It’s not just Conner and Garrett to be successful, we need those other guys to do there job.”
Galion (7-9) has won six of their last nine games and Schwemley says they have beaten some really good teams during that stretch of play. “They came out and maybe struggled a little bit, although they had a nice win early against Madison. To me that stands out, that was a 20-point win. They turn around and lose their next five or six in a row. Then they win against Colonel Crawford. If you would have set and predicted the games they were going to win, this wouldn’t have been what you predicted. They have beaten Ontario, they have beaten Wynford. They have had some nice wins. They are 7-9 right now, but if you really look at their last couple of games. They are playing a lot better right now,” he said.
Galion has played at a higher tempo than they did early in the season and Schwemley says they have some versatile players in their lineup this year. “They have got some nice guard play. They have some nice inside players that can go inside and outside too. McCuen gets a lot of interior points, but he can shoot outside as well. They are a team that push the tempo a little bit when they need too are score some points. I think we need to make them execute in the half court like we did Tiffin on Saturday night,” he said.
With Galion being part of the North Central Conference starting this year, this game is no longer a league game, but Schwemley says the teams know each other pretty well. “These are two teams that have played each other twice a year or three times, depending on tournament draws the last couple years. We are pretty familiar with each other. Normally by this time in the year we have already played them once. We are going to end up playing four games in eight days starting last Saturday. We want to keep playing well and it’s important to go to Galion and play hard and come out of it with a victory,’ said Schwemley.
Shelby Has to Look Forward
Shelby is eight seconds from being in a tie for the lead in the Northern Ohio League, but the Whippets can’t be thinking about what might have been as they have solid Tiffin Columbian team coming to Shelby on Saturday night for a league game.
A Conner Nelson basket game Shelby (10-4,4-2) the lead last Friday, but sophomore Ben Haraway scored with one second left for Norwalk to give the Truckers the 46-45 win. Shelby coach Troy Schwemley says they almost had the undefeated Truckers. “There is part of me that is just proud of the effort. They kids just played really well and we played hard and gave great effort. It is disappointing to be that close and not have won the game. This is a team with who’s goal is to win championships and we were eight seconds away from tying things up in the league and really giving ourselves a great chance to win a third straight “NOL” title,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It will be pretty difficult now with only four league games left and Norwalk having a two game lead. It’s not over, we just have to continue to go one game at a time and not be disappointed for what we didn’t do because there is still a lot left to accomplish. We just have to get to the point where we are playing our best basketball in the month of February. You know, the tournament is right around the corner. We need to continue to give efforts like that, but find a way to win those kinds of games.”
Shelby traveled to Tiffin December 16 and beat the Tornados (80-64) in one of their better efforts of the season. Schwemley says they need to do the same kind of thing on Saturday night. “It was right after our Norwalk game. We rebounded nice after that and played a real good game at Tiffin. When you look at the overall records they are very similar again. Tiffin and us are pretty close record wise. We are in the same sectional, so this game has some impact on sectional draws that are coming up. We are going to have to play a good game to win on Saturday night. They have some nice guard play and some nice players overall. We are going to have to find a way to bounce back and get a good win,” he said.
Tiffin Columbian (8-6,3-3) is a solid, physical kind of team that will get up in you on defense. Schwemley says this is an important game when it comes to the postseason seeding process, which is scheduled for February 12. “When you look at the teams that are entering the draw there is not a lot of separation between the top four or five teams. I think Upper has three loses, Lexington has three losses, we have four, and Tiffin has six so this game is going to be very important for that seeding that is coming up soon,” he said.
Tiffin Columbian is a solid, physical team that will get up in you on defense and Schwemley says they have to be physical too without forgetting who they are. “That is something I think we can take form this Norwalk game. We did a very good job. Going into that game we were really about controlling the paint and the points in the paint because that is their strength. I thought we did that very well. Defensively it was one our better efforts. We have to continue to get better defensively. With teams that are physical you have to find a way to be physical. You still want to play your style, but you have to negate their strength. They are having a good season. We have to bounce back and continue to take care of us and it’s going to take a great effort because Tiffin does a lot of things real well,” Schwemley said.
Shelby Faces a Tough One at Lex
So far, the Shelby Lady Whippets have been up to the challenge in all 14 of their games this season and that unbeaten record has led to a first place standing in the Northern Ohio League and a state ranking.
Shelby will likely be the top seed in the division two sectional tournament at Ontario High School with the seed meeting scheduled for this Sunday. Lexington (8-6) will likely be the second seed and that’s who the Lady Whippets play on Tuesday night.
Last Saturday afternoon Shelby improved its “NOL” record to 7-0 with a trouncing of Tiffin Columbian (82-27) in league play. “I was pleased with the way we kept our intensity up throughout the entire game. It was probably the best four quarters we have put together. We were able to play a lot of kids and when we put the subs in they continued to focus and play with a great effort and intensity,” said Shelby coach Jodi Korbas.
It was good that Shelby, #2 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power rankings in the large school division, was able to rest some of their starters at this time of year and Korbas says when they went to the bench those players also performed well when called on. “In games like that when the score is kind of lopsided we need to keep our focus and work on things that will make us better down the road. I think the kids were doing that. We were working on some offensives and some different defenses. We were pleased with that,” she said.
A record of two games over .500 really doesn’t show the talent and level of performance of Lady Lex, who plays in the very tough Ohio Carinal Conference with the likes of Wooster, West Holmes and Orrville. The have handed Wooster (54-49) their only loss in the conference. Korbas describes them as a team with solid personnel with a lot of experience. “The starting five they have been playing together for four years. They certainly have improved with each year. We know when we go to Lexington it is always going to be a competitive, tough physical game,” she told Swankonsports.com.
Lexington has a number of players that can make the perimeter shot, but Korbas says that does not mean they don’t have an inside presence too. “Their strength is their outside shooting, but at the same time (Alissa) Monro can go inside and play in the post and Kate Hogsette does a nice job of in the post for them as well,” she said.
With both being among the more consistent girls’ basketball programs in the area, Shelby and Lexington have developed a pretty good non-conference rivalry. Korbas says they always look at this game as sort of a measuring stick for them. “We can always gauge how much how much we are improving by how we play against Lexington. Going to Lexington is always a tough place for us to play, so this will be a good challenge for us. It will be good for us going into the tournament because they are always tough,” said Korbas.
Shelby Playing Better and Better
Shelby has made it through more than half of the girls’ basketball season unbeaten and they are the leaders in the Northern Ohio League.
They meet a former league foe in Upper Sandusky in a non-conference game on Tuesday night.
It was a long road trip that was well worth it for the Lady Whippets last Saturday as they traveled to Barberton to face the Lady Magics in a non-league game. Shelby (12-0) won easily (86-34) in what coach Jodi Korbas says was an outstanding team effort. “I thought it was the best game that we have played for four quarters. The kids looked like they were having a lot of fun. We were real relaxed playing. All five starters were in double figures. We actually had three kids that had double doubles. Devon Murray had 18 points and 14 rebounds, Jenna Biglin had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Emma Hostetler had 15 points and 11 assists,” said Korbas.
Hostetler continues to be one of the top point guards in the area, but they key for Shelby this season has been its improved balance.
Barberton is part of Shelby history. It was the Lady Magics that Shelby, led by the then Jodi Roth, beat for the 1983 Division “AA” state title. Korbas says it was a nice treat for her players. “We did play them in the state finals. They called or AD and asked if we wanted to play, so that’s how the whole thing got started. Barberton has a wonderful facility. It was a nice experience for the kids to see and get to play in such a wonderful gym,” she said.
Shelby plays host to Upper Sandusky (8-5), tied for second place in the black division of the North Central Conference. Korbas says they have a nice inside and out combination at Upper. “They have a nice post player inside who does a nice job on the boards and around the basketball. They have a nice shooting guard. We are going to have to be aware of where she is at all times and keep Grabowski off the boards,” said Korbas.
Shelby, #3 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power rankings in the large school division, has obviously has a great season and Korbas says they are committed to be even better as the year continues. “Last year we sort of got complacent towards the middle of the season. We were dealing with some injuries. This year I think the kids learned a lesson from last year and they continue to work hard in practice and are continuing to improve and play up to our ability instead of sometimes last year we would play down to the opponent. I think that is a plus for us going into the tournament here in a couple of weeks,” said Korbas.
Shelby Has to Stay in it
Shelby has a chance to get even with Norwalk next week, but first they have to get past the rival Willard Flashes in a Northern Ohio League game on Friday night.
There was no league action in the smaller “NOL”, but Shelby (8-3,3-1), #5 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power poll in the large school division, lost to Ashland (82-70) in a non-conference game last Saturday night. Ashland, maybe the hottest team in the area right now, made 13 of 22 three point attempts. Shelby coach Troy Schwemley says it’s hard to win against that. “We talked going in that both teams seemed to be three-point oriented basketball teams and how they were shooting the three seemed to dictate the success level. When we were shooting well, we seemed to play pretty well. We knew Ashland could get hot,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Ashland shot the three well and we didn’t. They had 13 threes and we had two. We didn’t do a good job of finding their shooters. The credit also goes to them for moving the ball and hitting shots. There are things we need to look at and do better, but Ashland is definitely playing good basketball right now. They just played a better game there on Saturday night.”
Shelby now visits Willard and the Flashes are playing well too having strung together wins over Margaretta, Marion Harding and Huron in non-conference play. Schwemley says the Flashes are playing with some confidence right now. “They have won their last three games. The last time they lost was to Norwalk. Right now, Norwalk is in control of things they haven’t been beaten in the league, well they haven’t been beaten at all. Norwalk is a very good team, a great team for that matter being undefeated. Willard is playing with a lot of confidence right now. For us to go to Willard we would expect their best effort no matter what our records were,” he said.
With Norwalk looming next week, Schwemley understands that they can’t not afford a slip up against Willard and drop two games behind Norwalk in the “NOL” standings. “It’s a critical game for us from the standpoint that if we can win it, we host Norwalk the following week. Really for that Norwalk game to, I hate to say meaningful, but that this point in the season to be two games back would be a tough hole to dig yourself out of, especially with the kind of team Norwalk has. So, for us really to give ourselves a chance when it comes to the league I really think this game is a must win and it will give us a chance the following week,” said Schwemley.
Willard as a team is as tall as any team in the league and they are long and have some athletes. Schwemley says Willard can do some things to give them problems. “They definitely have some size. When you look at their inside players with Hayden Adams, Kolin Phillips, those are good sized players. They have other guys to go with them in Scott Burma, who has a lot of playing experience and a senior, and Marcus Hahler. They have size inside, but they also have guards that can shoot the ball. When you look at them you can’t allow them to get going because they have the balance when you look at their post players and their perimeter players, they can hurt you inside and out. When they are playing with conference they are a very good team,” said Schwemley.
Shelby Playing Their Game
Shelby used to be a football school in a football town, but it is quickly becoming just as much a basketball school in a football town.
The Whippets (7-2), and #3 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power poll for larger schools, year after year is putting a very good basketball team on the floor and this year is no exception.
Last Friday, Garret Arnold threw in 25 points and Shelby beat Bellevue (73-48) and in a game that coach Troy Schwemley thought they shot the ball extremely well against the Redmen. “That was a big game for us. We started off kind of slow and over the first couple of minutes it was 4-0 or 6-2 it was just a slow paced game. The next thing you know we hit some threes and we got going and once we did that we just exploded and everybody contributed. We got a lot of fast break points. We ended up with 12 or 13 threes in the game. Just a very good effort offensively and defensively,” said Schwemley.
On Saturday the Whippets suffered just their second setback of the season when Lexington downed them 57-50 in a non-conference game. Schwemley says the Minutemen played outstanding defense, especially in the second half of the game to keep them at bay. “We had a three point lead at halftime. I think it was 23-20 at halftime. I don’t know if we felt good, but anytime you have a lead on the road against a very good team like Lexington we liked where we were at. The third quarter was just a bad quarter for us. They took a five-point lead, so it was an eight point swing there. We just weren’t making the shots like we were the night before and that’s a credit to Lexington. They limited us to one shot for the most part,” Schwemley said.
It is a new opponent on the Shelby schedule on Thursday night as they pay a visit to Wynford (6-2) for a non-conference game against the Royals. Schwemley says Wynford has players that know how to win. “They have players and leadership and that begins with Zach Chatlin and Seth Rall. I mean those two guys have been part of a lot of successful football and basketball teams at Wynford and are competitors,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “That is a new game for us on the schedule. We had scrimmaged Wynford in the past and it had always been a good scrimmage and this year with some openings with our league it was a game we picked up. There is some familiarity form a scrimmage standpoint, but in terms of scouting each other and playing this is the first time for these non-league games. It will be a good challenge for us. It’s at Wynford and they have a great tradition.”
The Ashland Arrows (3-4), out of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, come to Shelby on Saturday night. The Arrows hammered Lexington (76-45) last Friday in one of the biggest upsets of the season so far. They made 10 of 18 three point shots and Schwemley thinks the teams are pretty similar in their approach to the game. “We have two very similar styles. When we are playing well we are running and hitting threes and that’s the way Ashland is too. It will be a very interesting game to see how that game plays out. Who is able to control the tempo in their favor and not get caught up in the other teams. When two teams with the same style play each other it’s interesting to see how the game unfolds. Sometimes you get into a shootout and sometimes it is a low scoring game and no one would have expected it. We play each other every year and it’s been a nice rivalry,” said Schwemley.
Shelby has to Maintain Focus
Shelby is a very good basketball team. Their only loss this season came in their Northern Ohio League opener to Norwalk. They continue to chase the Truckers in the “NOL” standings.
The Whippets (6-1,2-1) beat Sandusky (57-54) in a league game last Friday and Upper Sandusky (58-40) on December 27, Shelby coach Troy Schwemley says they were able to beat some good teams over the Christmas holidays. “Yeah we had a good break. There were a lot of close games. The Ontario game was by three, the Sandusky game ended being by three. The Upper Sandusky game ended up being double digits, but it was a close game too. It was a good challenge, Upper played a good, physical, hard game. Anytime you get good competition it makes you better,” he said.
Shelby has some players that have been through the riggers of a varsity season. The Whippets shared the “NOL title with Norwalk last year and advanced to the district final in division two. Schwemley says they have kids that can make pressure plays. “We have a lot of guys that have been in that situation. Garrett Arnold is a four year letterman. Conner Nelson has been in that situation a lot too,” he told Swankonsports.com, “It doesn’t necessarily mean how many letters you have, but that experience of finding ways to win. We have guys with game experience and they have won those kinds of games before. They know how to win and we’d like to think in close games down the stretch that our guys are going to make plays and get the ball in the right hands.” Schwemley adds that his players with their offensive and defensive skills have been able to make some runs in the second half of games. “What I like about some of our games we have had those runs that seem to make the difference where we have been able to get that cousin. I think the Upper game was like that. It was a tough game, but we were able to keep the game around 10 points the whole game and not let that game become a close game. The Sandusky game on the other hand we had chances to pull away and we didn’t. We didn’t panic down the stretch we made some plays to win that ball game,” said Schwemley.
Shelby, #4 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power poll, plays host to Bellevue (3-5,1-2) in an “NOL” game on Friday night. Bellevue is led by point guard Jalen Santoro and Schwemley says he is very good. “He not only scores, but he makes everyone better around him. He is averaging about 17 points a game, which draws a lot of attention to himself. He doesn’t over shoot the ball, he distributes it well too. He knows when to shoot, but he’ll pass to someone that’s open. He is the kind of player that you don’t want a close game with him out there. He is the kind of player that can take over and hit the shot from anywhere. He seems to be the player that makes that team better. I think the key is containing him, but also not letting anyone else have a career night. Sometimes you are giving too much attention to one guy and it’s the other four guys that are beating you,” said Schwemley.
Trailing Norwalk by a game it doesn’t appear the Truckers are going to lose very many and that means the Whippets can’t either. Schwemley says they have to keep winning. “It was kind of interesting after the second week. They beat Sandusky in overtime. They beat us by like 20 points and you kind of feel like they are just really good. The next thing you know they are in a tight game and could have lost. We can’t afford to get two games behind them because that would really be difficult, but we can only take care of ourselves right now. All expectations are that Norwalk will win tonight but they are playing Willard and the Flashes will give a great effort. You just take care of yourself and then check the scoreboard and move onto the next game,” said Schwemley.
Shelby and Bellevue Battle For First
At the beginning the season it was predicted that either Shelby or Bellevue would win the Northern Ohio League girls’ basketball title and what has happened over the first six weeks would do nothing to change that opinion.
Tuesday night, the Lady Whippets (8-0,3-0) play host to the Bellevue Lady Red (7-2,3-0) in an “NOL” game that will determine who stands in first place at the halfway point of the season. “This is going to be a great game. Hopefully there will be a lot of fans there to support us. This is what you play for a game like this,” said Shelby coach Jodi Korbas.
Bellevue is the defending “NOL” champ and they have one of the very best players in the entire area in Leslie Raifsnider, plus they have a very good freshman point guard. “They are led by two players. Leslie Raifsnider, a senior, she does everything for them, and a freshman guard Carli Santoro, she is coming along pretty good this year. Those are there two key players,” said Korbas.
Bellevue had won their first seven before losing to Margaretta and then they were blasted by unbeaten Clyde, #1 in the Swankonsports.com basketball power poll in the large school division, 71-48 last Thursday. Korbas says she is unsure if Bellevue losing the game before is a good thing or a bad thing for the Lady Whippets. “I’m not sure about that one. I guess we find out Tuesday night. I know Clyde is a very good team. They made it to state last year and returned a lot of their starters from last year’s team, so we’ll find out,” she said.
Shelby is number #4 in the poll, Bellevue #5.
Korbas says they have to win the glass and be focused on their game plan in order to come up with the win. “I think we need to be patient both offensively and defensively. We need to box out and keep Raifsnider off the offensive glass. We need to play our game. If we continue to play like we have been playing good things are going to happen,” said Korbas.
Shelby Ready for Physical Upper Sandusky
Shelby and Upper Sandusky, two former Northern Ohio League rivals, meet at the “Doghouse” on Tuesday night in what is now a non-conference game.
Both have enjoyed tremendous seasons so far with Shelby (4-1) in a share of second place in the “NOL” and Upper Sandusky (4-1) tied for first place in the black division of the North Central Conference.
Shelby coach Troy Schwemely knows that Upper Sandusky, coming off a win over Lucas (60-20) in “NCC” last week and impressive wins over Ontario (61-46) and Carey (57-40), both unbeaten at the time, the week before, is playing like a very confident basketball team. “They are playing really good basketball right now. A team like that is going to be playing with a lot of confidence. I think the Ontario game is probably their signature win. It was a good win against a quality opponent. Not to take anything away from other wins, I don’t know that much about Carey, or somebody like that,” Schwemley told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “To beat Ontario like they did that was a good win for them. Teams that are playing with confidence are dangerous. It’s going to make for a good game. We haven’t played since our Ontario game. I will be interested to see how the game starts. With Christmas break in there kids sometimes get a little out of routine. It’s a good non-conference game for us and a home game. We’ve had four away games, so it will be nice to be back at home.”
Shelby has not played since December 17 when they beat Ontario 63-60 in a non-conference game. Schwemley says it is nice to get a break from the season sometimes and he hopes they won’t show any rust against the Rams. “That is part of our job as a coaching staff to make sure we are ready. I think you want to have games in there when you are playing well, but that’s just how the schedule was. Our job is to set up our practices to keep them focused and to keep them ready. The good thing was we got a little time off. You get into the season and sometimes I think some rest is good too. Last week really wasn’t that bad from the standpoint of getting some rest and allowing them to have a day or two off. With Christmas and giving them some good family time is important. Concerned? I won’t know the answer to that until tip off,” said Schwemley.
What the Shelby coach does know is Upper Sandusky likes to play a physical brand of basketball and they have to be ready to contend with that kind of style. “Upper Sandusky is a physical team that will get up in to you. That is what we have seen. Fortunately I think our schedule so far has prepared us for games like that. I wouldn’t say that is how we want to play, but the thing that I have been happy with is we have been able to play teams that have been that way in Tiffin and Ontario most recently have been very physical games. Hopefully our schedule prepares us for a game against a team that wants to play that kind of ball. We want to play our style too and hopefully we will be able to do that on Tuesday,” said Schwemley.
Shelby Pleased so Far
After almost a third of their season the Shelby Lady Whippets remain unbeaten an in a share of first place in the Northern Ohio League.
They beat Sandusky 75-53 on Saturday as leading scorer Emma Hostetler had 23 points from her point guard position. Coach Jodi Korbas says they have enjoyed good balance this season and have been unselfish in looking for the open player. “We have gotten off to a good start. What I like best is we are playing together as a team. We are averaging three or four players in double figures each game and we are averaging 17 to 20 assists a game, so that’s nice,” said Korbas.
Last year, Shelby went 15-7 and finished third in the “NOL.” Korbas believes this year can be better because they have more consistent scorers than just Hostetler. “Last year, I think that was what was missing from our team. The kids worked hard over the summer and the preseason. Our post players Devon Murray and Jenna Biglin have stepped up and done a great job with scoring and rebounding in the post. We have had some help from the outside from the guards,” she said.
At the beginning of the season Korbas said she was a little concerned if they would be able to compete on the boards with the better teams they play. So far they have been able to do that and they have done what’s necessary on defense too. “So far we have been doing a pretty good job defensively, but there are always things we can work on. We need to improve a little bit in terms of rebounding, but at this point in the season it’s been pretty good,” said Korbas.
Shelby (6-0) faces another good match-up in non-conference play as they travel to Wynford (4-2) Tuesday night to play the Lady Royals. It is the first time these two programs have played in a while and Korbas knows they will be tested by Amy Taylor-Sheldon’s team. “They are very fundamentally sound and very and very well coached. Amy does a nice job over there,” Korbas told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “They have a very good point guard in (Sarah) Brady. We are expecting a tough fight and we are going to have to play our best to come out of there with a victory.”
Shelby has already beaten Mansfield Senior (75-49) and they have some other non-conference games coming up against quality teams. Korbas believes that prepares them well for the postseason tournament. “We play Lexington and Madison, so we have some good non-conference games on our schedule and that’s going to help us. After the start of the new year we come back and play Bellevue (7-0) at home and the we turn around and play Willard (4-2). Whatever can help us get to that point that’s only a plus for us,” said Korbas.
Shelby Has to Battle Back
Shelby hasn’t lost very many basketball games over the last few years and they have lost even fewer by margins like they did last week at Norwalk. The Whippets need to get back to way they were playing and do it quickly.
After wins over Mansfield Madison (68-57 in overtime) and Orrville (63-56) on the first week of the season, they stumbled against the Northern Ohio league favorite Truckers. Norwalk beat them 66-49 last week. “That was a disappointing night for us. It kind of got a way from us pretty quickly. At the start of the game it was 8-8 and there were some things I thought we were doing well and the next thing you know at the end of the quarter it was 20-10. I don’t think we every got any closer than that,” Shelby coach Troy Schwemley told Swankonsports.com, “I think the most disappointing part was we really never made it a ballgame from a standpoint of climbing back into it. They are a nice team, but I was just disappointed in some of our decision making. We rushed some shots offensively and were pretty inefficient. Defensively, they shot over 65 percent from the field. I don’t think you are going to win many games, no matter who you are playing, if you let teams shoot 65 percent from the field.”
Shelby has been a pretty good defensive team over the last several years and again they showed that on the first week of the regular season.
There aren’t going to be too many, if any teams, in Ohio that will go unbeaten this year, so Schwemley says the goal of the Whippets is to return to the form of the first week when they play at Tiffin Columbian (2-0) in a league game on Friday night. “The hard part was we got off to that great start last year and even then it was just one game at a time. This year we have already lost a game and that’s basketball. With our schedule, and I think all of the area teams probably feel this way, every game is a game we can win, but it we don’t show up and play well, we could lose. This game Friday is another one of those games,” he said, “We are on the road at Tiffin. It gives us a chance to bounce back, but we are going to have to play a lot better than we did. We are going to have to fix some things. If we play similar to the way we played in our first two games, then I feel pretty good about it. It is week three and your team is changing and other teams are changing. We need to bounce back and hopefully we can do that.”
Tiffin did not play on the first week of the season due to a long football playoff run. They rallied to beat Bellevue (61-57) in their first league game last Friday and beat Port Clinton of the Sandusky Bay Conference (63-46) on Tuesday. Schwemley says the Tornados have some players that can do some things. “They are an athletic team and they have some nice players back from last year that can score for them. They are a team that had a good summer, it seemed like we ran into them in some of our summer events. I think they gained a little confidence in their abilities over the summer. What you do in the summer doesn’t always matter, but it can carry over a little bit. These are kids that have had success. They are kids that are used to knowing what it takes to win,” said Schwemley.
The Shelby coach thinks they have to play together as a unit and just give more effort than Tiffin. “Going to their place we are going to have to out work them. They have nice athleticism and they have some nice players. We are going to have to out work them and play better team basketball,” he said.
Shelby and Norwalk Lock Horns
They shared the Northern Ohio League title last year and Friday night the Shelby Whippets travel to Norwalk to face the Truckers in the first game of the 2011-2012 “NOL” season.
It shapes up to be a good one as Norwalk, the preseason choice to win the league, belted a good Sandusky Perkins team (65-43) last week and Shelby got past Mansfield Madison in overtime (68-57) and went to Orrville and won (63-56) on Saturday night. Shelby coach Troy Schwemley was very impressed with the effort and results last weekend. “We looked at that weekend and new it would be a good test for us to open the season. We had a great game on Friday night to beat Madison in that overtime game. We came from five points down to get the game into overtime. Then we were able to follow that up going to Orrville on Saturday. I was pleased with our effort both nights. In the Madison game I thought there were moments when we could have extended our lead and the next thing you know we are behind. There are things we have to learn from, but anytime you get two wins we will take it,” said Schwemley.
Senior point guard Garrett Arnold had a tremendous weekend, scoring 32 against Madison and adding 23 against Orrville. However, Schwemley emphasizes that Arnold is not there only player. “He had a great weekend. Garrett is a very good player. I think he is one of the best in the area, but you know the thing we have to keep remembering is it’s about the team because if you have one player scoring a lot of points teams will try and shut that player down,” he told Swankonsports.com, “We can’t become one dimensional. We have to have five guys that can score and play to their roles. We also have guys on the floor that had great weekends as well. Both Conner Nelson and Grant Fenner had double doubles over the weekend. So, you have to be careful about looking at just points.”
Norwalk returns its starting lineup from last season and Truckers have talent all over the floor. Plus Schwemley says you never know what kind of defense you are going to see from Norwalk coach Steve Gray. “They return most of their players form last year. They had a very successful season last year. We shared the league title with them. They have a lot of balance. They have nice guards and they have nice post players. They have that diversity that gives them a nice balance. They are well coached. Coach Gray up there does a nice job with them. You never know form a coaching standpoint what he is going to pull out of the bag,” he said.
One thing that Whippets have to be better at this year than last is getting to the glass. Schwemley felt that was the difference in an overtime loss at Norwalk last year. “When we look back at our game there last year. It’s kind of similar to our district final game where we felt like the key statistic was rebounding. When we got beat up there at Norwalk last year that was the case. Most of their points were second chance points where we simply didn’t box out. We felt like if we had done that we could have won that game. When we defend and rebound we tend to play pretty good,” said Schwemley.
A big key on Friday night is going to be how well the Whippets are able to react to what they see from the Truckers in terms of the variety of defenses that they normally play. “It’s a contrast in styles. He does open it up a little more this year, but they still have a big playbook. I don’t even know how big it is. I don’t know that I would have enough bookshelves for all of the stuff they run. We coach our team to react to the situation and to be able to adjust quickly. Whatever defense they are in we have to be able to counter it. I would like to think that both of us have been pretty successful,” said Schwemley.
Shelby Wants Madison This Time
The last two years the Madison Rams have ended the boys’ basketball season for the Shelby Whippets by beating them in the postseason tournament. The Whippets remember that.
Shelby plays host to Mansfield Madison in the season opener for both at the “Doghouse” on Friday night. The Whippets then play a second Ohio Cardinal Conference opponent with a trip to Orrville scheduled for Saturday night.
“We had a good week last week,” Shelby coach Troy Schwemley told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We had a busy week last week. I thought we got tired. Thanksgiving week is always a challenging week because you want to give everybody time with the family, but you also want to get better because this week is right around the corner. We are developing some team chemistry.”
Shelby returns two starters to its lineup for last year’s co-Northern Ohio League champions and district runners-up in Garrett Arnold and Conner Nelson. However, Nelson hurt his ankle last week in a foundation game at Clear Fork and didn’t play on Friday or Saturday. “His ankle is improving, but it very well could be a game night decision. We want to win those games, but you want to keep the whole season in mind. Sometimes the adrenaline kicks in and the guy is ready to go, but sometimes they can’t. Conner is a tough kid and if he can play he will. We don’t want to turn it into one of those season long injuries,” said Schwemley.
Last March, Madison beat Shelby 68-66 in the division two district final. Schwemley says they will face much the same lineup when the Rams hit the floor on Friday night. “The last two years we have won the opening game and then they have knocked us out of the tournament. I guess I’d like to trade that. This year that won’t happen because they are division one. There are a lot of similar faces when you look at the tournament game last year, the guys that played well for them are all back. Thompson, Brooks, Black and Alek Lampert, those guys are back,” he said.
Also Madison had a very good football season this year, turning it around and competing for an “OCC” title. “When you look at them the basketball season they had last year, reaching the regional tournament and then the football season. You are dealing with confident kids that know how to win. We have confidence in our abilities too,” Schwemley said.
Madison likes to press, but Schwemley says coach Doug Rickert is good at picking the spots and sometimes they will go away from that a little bit depending on the situation. “In their tournament run last year you look at different games and they chose different ways to play, In the Lexington game they packed it in trying to negate the size advantage Lexington had last year. Then in the district semi final game against Edison they gave them a lot of full court pressure and were successful with that. They have that ability to pressure you, but they have the ability to mix defenses,” said Schwemley.
First Time Varsity Players Do Well For Shelby
Shelby enjoyed an outstanding boys’ basketball season last year, sharing the Northern Ohio League title and coming within a whisker of making it to the regional tournament.
They graduated some key players from that team, but coach Troy Schwemley was pleased by what he saw in a victory over Clear Fork in a foundation game on Tuesday night. “I felt Clear Fork was hitting some shots in the first half. We just weren’t getting that run. We talked about that at halftime about doing what we were doing and I thought that run came in the third quarter. We got better as the game went on and I was pretty pleased with our effort. We had eight kids playing real hard,” he said.
Foundation games were introduced by the OHSAA a couple of years ago and they follow a game format much more than a traditional scrimmage. “Scrimmages sometimes don’t simulate games and that really does. It’s a good experience for us. It is a scrimmage, but it really gives you that game feel that scrimmages don’t,” added Schwemley.
Shelby has a mix of players with varsity experience and some that don’t have much, if any. Schwemley feels the kids who were JV players last year looked pretty good against Clear Fork. “Garrett Arnold, Conner Nelson, Jacoby Wilson and Tre Calver, those guys have varsity experience. The new faces like Grant Fenner, he had a really nice game. He was a player as sophomore last year that could have played some varsity. He was looking forward to it. He works hard at his game. Austin Roady is another new face and he hits some shots,” Schwemley told Swankonsports.com, “Tristen Karis is a kid we thought was going to be ready to play varsity. What helped him was he played both ways on the football field. Anytime you get that varsity experience that just helps the speed of the game. Andrew Baird is another one who had a good year playing football and that just translates over.”
Schwemley believes for the Whippets to be successful this season they will have to be able to give their opponent a number of looks on defense. He says that is something they are going to have to continue to work on. “As always you want to improve on your defense. I thought our best defense against Clear Fork was our full court man. We would like to be able to mix it up and different teams have different strengths. We don’t have traditional posts. We have guys that can play a number of spots on the floor,” he said.
Shelby opens the season at home against Mansfield Madison, the team that beat them in the district final last year, on December 2. They visit Orrville, another team out of the Ohio Cardinal Conference, on December 3. Their first Northern Ohio League game will be December 9 at league preseason favorite Norwalk.
Shelby Counting on Another Good Season
Shelby shared the Northern Ohio League title and advanced to the division two district finals a year ago and the Whippets are expected to field another strong team this winter.
If you are going to field a strong team at the high school level it often begins with the point guard and Shelby has a good one. “Garrett Arnold is a four year starter for us at point guard. We also return Conner Nelson, who was a big part of last year’s success too. Those guys do so much ball handling whether they score themselves or create opportunities for others. We return some other players with varsity experience in Tre Calver and Jacoby Wilson played a lot last year,” said Shelby coach Troy Schwemley.
The Shelby coach says his Whippets have looked good so far in preseason workouts and scrimmage action. “We had a good preseason so far and they guys have really done a lot. We’ve had two scrimmages and we have done some things well and we have done some things we need to get better at,” Schwemley added. The Whippets open the season at home against Madison on December 2. They play Norwalk, who they shared the league title with last year, in their first “NOL” game on December 9.
In the past couple of years the Whippets have relied on the inside scoring of Josh Ingle, but he has graduated. Schwemley says they will have a more balanced look this season. “”We lose Josh Ingle, who was our leading scorer last year and two other seniors in Jeff Nelson and Brandon Spangler that also made scoring contributions,” he told Swankonsports.com, “Garrett has been our second leading scorer the last two years and Conner was our third leading scorer. We probably return over 50 percent of our scoring. We will score a little differently. Josh scored s little more form the inside. We don’t have the true big man, but we have a lot of guys that can play inside or outside. We hope that gives us match-up problems for the teams we play.”
Schwemley wants his team to be a lot better at rebounding the basketball. He says that was really the only thing they didn’t do well last year. “It was our Achilles Heel last year too, it’s our rebounding. Last year, I think we were out rebounded in 18 of our 23 games. To win 20 games and be out rebounded 18 times is frustrating,” he said.
Shelby Ready to Roll
Shelby finished in third place in the Northern Ohio League girls’ basketball standings last year, but this year they have the potential to bring home the trophy.
If experience is any sign, and it usually is, the Lady Whippets can be very good this year. “We have a lot of experience. Our varsity consists of all juniors and seniors,” Shelby coach Jody Korbas told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “We return everyone expect for one kid from last year’s squad. So, we are looking for good things to happen.”
One thing that experience allows is for coaches to expand the number of things a team can do because they don’t have to re-teach things during practice sessions as much. “We have been reviewing the zone plays and the man plays and the things we have done in the past. We are zipping right through it because they have been doing it for two or three and in some cases four years,” added Korbas.
Another thing in Shelby’s corner is they have Emma Hostetler. She is one of the top players in any league or division in this area, capable of scoring 30 points in any game. Plus, she is the Lady Whippets point guard. “The point guard is like the pitcher in baseball or the quarterback in football. You have to have someone that can handle the ball and run the floor and be the coach on the floor. We certainly have that in Emma Hostetler,” said Korbas. Plus, Hostetler has a scorers mentality from the point and that makes her doubly difficult to defend. “We need someone to complement her so when teams are double teaming her or triple teaming her we have someone else that can take the load off and score some points as well,” Korbas added.
Traditionally Shelby has been a team that has played a lot of man-to-man defense under Korbas, a former star player at Shelby and the Ohio State University. However, this year she says look for the Lady Whippets to play a lot more zone. “We have always used man defense in the past and some full court man. This team does not seem to want to do that as much as play the full court zone defenses and the half court zones. We have to look at our personnel and play to their strengths,” said Korbas.
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