Oak Harbor facing challenge from Flashes, Tigers

J. Patrick Eaken

After a 13-1 season and Division V state semifinal run by the football team, Oak Harbor’s season finally began on Dec. 21 hosting Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division opponent Vermilion in a non-league match-up.
        It went the Rockets’ way as they posted a 78-42 win.
        The Rockets have nine seniors — guard Jac Alexander, wings Colin Ish, Tyler May, Clay Schulte, and Anthony Stewart and forwards Gage Brough, Ryan Nuhfer, Will Dowling and Gabe Dowling. Alexander will likely play college basketball and the Dowling twins are transfers from Clyde, and both stand 6-foot-3.
        In the win over Vermilion, Alexander scored 22 points, Gabe Dowling scored 16, junior Blake Booker put up 14 and Schulte had 11 points. The Rockets made eight three-point shots and had just nine turnovers while forcing Vermilion into 25.
        “We had a great opening night versus Vermilion,” ninth-year coach Eric Sweet said. “We played well and got out to a good start.
        “We want to win the league and we know taking care of our home court is a big step in the right direction in accomplishing that goal. We are getting people healthy and getting our legs under us. Jac came out and had a great first game with 22, but he was supported by three other players in double digits also. We want to keep that balanced attack all year.” 
        The problem with winning the league is that the Rockets are going to have to defeat the likes of Willard, which is unbeaten at 9-0 overall and 3-0 in the Bay Division, and Edison (7-1, 3-1), which has only lost to Willard. The Rockets found that out real quick, losing to the Tigers, 59-57. Oak Harbor is 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the Bay Division early in its season.
        The Rockets’ depth does not end with those top returning players, Sweet said. Nine players got into the scoring column against Vermilion, which did not have a single player in double figures.
        “We have many guys coming off the bench that will add to our success. Tyler May and Colin Ish both gave us great minutes last year and will be able to do the same this year,” Sweet said.  “(Junior forward) Colin Fauver is a player that is coming off a tremendous football season and played great for us last year on JV. He has the chance to contribute to the team this year as a junior.”
        It all adds up to a chance at an SBC Bay Division title, Sweet believes, if his team performs like he thinks it can. 
        “We have the ability and players to finish at the top of the league. I think this league is three to four teams tough and we can be one of the teams to win the league,” Sweet said. “I think our league is great competition. Willard is coming off a great year, Huron always has players and athletes, and Margaretta has one of the best post players in the area. These three teams along with us have a chance to win the league. 
        “We have great pieces that fit well together. I have a three-year veteran point guard (Alexander) who I trust. He has wings that can run the court and get to the rim. We have size that both can be physical players along with size that has length. Our bench players are great players that will allow us to not miss a beat. 
        “We are very senior heavy with nine in total this year but these nine players bought into the ‘we over me’ attitude that the Rockets are about and we will have great leaders on the court, on the bench and everywhere in between. I’m really looking forward to coaching these seniors along with the rest of my team. I am blessed to have great young men that I trust and care for.”  
        After the win over Vermilion, Oak Harbor had what Sweet called “a huge weekend” taking on two previously undefeated teams in Huron and Old Fort. The Tigers got the best of Oak Harbor, beating the Rockets 59-57 in overtime in a league game, but the Rockets rebounded to defeat the Stockaders 76-62.
        In the win over Old Fort, Alexander and Booker scored 17 each, Will Dowling had 13 points and Gabe Dowling added 11.           In the loss to Huron, Oak Harbor let at halftime 34-32, but the Tigers managed to even it out at 55-all at the end of regulation. Nick Ritzler scored 21 for Huron, Alexander matched that with 21 of his own and Booker scored 13.
        Oak Harbor followed with easy wins over Margaretta, 79-40, and Genoa, 59-36. Against the Polar Bears, five Rockets got into double figures, led by Alexander with 16 points, Schulte scored 13, Gabe Dowling had 12, Booker scored 11 and Will Dowling added 10. Against Genoa, the Rockets went on an 18-2 run to open the game and never looked back. Alexander scored 18 and Gabe Dowling added 10, while Trevor Wasserman led Genoa with nine points.
        Huron and Edison have a jump-start on the SBC Bay Division, but the Rockets host Willard on Jan. 24 and travel to Huron on Feb. 7 for the rematch.

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