At Oak Harbor, Genoa seniors dictate how season goes

J. Patrick Eaken

        In football, Genoa and Oak Harbor seemed to be in reverse transition — the Rockets were senior-laden this year with plenty of talent to go all around, the Comets were last year.
        In basketball, don’t be hasty in determining the same will happen. Yes, Oak Harbor should have a very good season because of its senior talent, but Genoa has seven seniors returning to replace the graduated talent left behind by Jim Plantz, now at Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio, and Andrew Bench, now playing football at Bowling Green State University.
        The Comets seven seniors are guards Reid Stoner, Mike Rightnowar, Koby Murawski, Rylen Stoner and forwards Andrew St. Claire, Allen Laytart and Zach Szepiela. For those playing varsity last year, Plantz could only have made them better and if you watched the junior varsity team a year ago, they looked pretty good.
        Bring on first-year coach Tim Hausfeld, a multi-sport athlete who could shoot lights out during his basketball playing days at Sylvania Southview and West Liberty University, and you’ve got a recipe for success.
        The Comets, so far, have found only limited success, defeating Northern Buckeye Conference foe Otsego 58-55 in overtime in their season opener. Then came three straight losses to what appears to be very strong opponents — Fostoria (75-70), Tiffin Columbian (48-36) and Eastwood (45-35).
        Hausfeld says this team displays a strong work ethic, which was evident by the junior varsity team’s success last year.
        “We expect to go out and compete hard versus our opponents each night out,” Hausfeld said. “The league is very competitive throughout. There are great coaches and great players. This makes it important to prepare and come ready to play. 
        “We have lots of versatile players who are capable of stepping up and making contributions to team success. Defense is a staple of Genoa basketball and we will continue to pride ourselves in that area,” Hausfeld continued. 
        “We need to develop experience and consistency in our young guys. We are looking for players to fill roles to contribute to team success.” 
        After a 13-1 season and Division V state semifinal run by the football team, Oak Harbor’s season will finally begin on Dec. 21 hosting Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division opponent Vermilion.
        The Rockets have nine seniors — guard Jac Alexander, wings Colin Ish, Tyler May, Clay Schulte, and Anthony Stewart, forwards Gage Brough, Ryan Nuhfer, Will Dowling, Gabe Dowling. Alexander will likely play college basketball and the Dowling twins are transfers from Clyde, but both stand 6-foot-3.
        The Rockets’ depth does not end with those top returning players, ninth-year coach Eric Sweet said. 
        “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 player 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 in 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 are 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.”  


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