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High school notebook: Coventry boys basketball enjoys perfect start to season

By Michael Beaven
Beacon Journal sports writer

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Boys basketball coach Lynn Wess and his staff are still in rebuild mode at Coventry High School.

Wess is in his second season of his second stint in charge of the Comets, and after four games he likes what he sees.

Coventry has matched last season’s win total with a 4-0 start after a 67-58 victory over host Kent Roosevelt on Tuesday night.

“We are excited to be 4-0,” Wess said Wednesday. “That was the first time we have beat Kent Roosevelt since we have been in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division.

“That was a big motivation thing. We had never beaten Kent in the past eight years since we joined the league. They are all always the most athletic team in the league. We feel very good about the win. It’s the start of the season, and I couldn’t feel any better about the way our kids are playing.”

Coventry has defeated Southeast, Waterloo, Crestwood and Kent Roosevelt to start this season after posting a 4-17 record last season.

Wess said his starting lineup has been solid. Senior George Jacobs, sophomore Will Morisak and junior Jimmy Holmgren all start at the guard positions at 5-foot-9. The starting forwards are 6-1 junior Jesse Oravecz and 6-5 freshman Bryce Hargrove.

The Comets rotation extends to nine players with 5-10 senior J.J. Morrison playing a sixth-man role. Other reserves who log minutes are 6-3 senior Nick Cerepak, 6-0 junior Zach Smith and 6-0 junior Matt Deshane.

“We have three seniors who are leaders,” Wess said. “One starts and the other two play as reserves. I am really happy with the attitude and work ethic. The kids are excited and they should be.”

Holmgren scored 19 points against Roosevelt. Oravecz and Morrison both scored 13 points, and Hargrove added 10 points.

“Our next game is Friday against Norton,” Wess said. “That is our big test to judge where we are at this point. Norton is definitely the team to beat in our league. This will give us a barometer of where we are at right now. We are excited to play.”

Wess, 57, is a GlenOak High School and University of Akron graduate. He played basketball at GlenOak and Muskingum College. He is in his 28th year as a varsity head basketball coach and is six wins shy of 300. He coached boys teams at Coventry, Hillsdale and Chippewa, and he coached the Green girls team for one year.

The Knights’ tale

It has been a tough couple of weeks for Archbishop Hoban High School, but the 47-41 victory over host St. Vincent-St. Mary on Tuesday night served as a bright spot.

A capacity crowd filled up the St. V-M gymnasium and witnessed a 19-point second-half performance by 6-foot-1 senior guard DeAllen Jackson to guide the Knights over their rival.

“We have had some stuff go on at the school,” Hoban coach T.K. Griffith said. “Our president, brother Ken Haders, will be leaving. He is a great man. We have the unfortunate situation with [football] coach Ralph Orsini not coming back, too.

“We didn’t talk about this, but we need something to get excited about and I am really happy for the school, and for these guys. This is something to get excited about.”

Hoban overcame deficits of 34-30 with 5:13 remaining in the fourth quarter and 39-37 with 2:03 to go in the game.

Jackson made three 3-pointers. He and 6-2 senior Jaelen Hollinger and 6-3 senior Saadiq Muhammad led the Knights in scoring, but it was far from a three-man show.

Griffith was also pleased with the play of 5-10 junior Michael Londa, 5-10 junior Christian Waite, 5-8 senior Sean Merle, 6-3 freshman Anthony Christian and 6-2 senior Andy Udovich.

“We said to the guys that we are undersized, all five guys have to play together defensive rebounding-wise,” Griffith said. “If we don’t, we are not going to win. We scrapped and got a bunch of loose balls.”

Hoban’s zone defensive strategy also proved to be effective against St. V-M.

“Our zone is a huge part of what we do,” Muhammad said. “Defense is our staple. It was a low scoring first half, but that was due to our zone. We do the 2-3, but we play it differently and get a lot of things out of it. We were able to bother them and kept adjusting. We were able to give them fits.”

The Fighting Irish made 2-of-15 shots from beyond the 3-point arc.

“It is modeled after Syracuse,” Griffith said of the zone. “We are not long. It looks a lot better with 6-8 and 6-9 guys on the wings. We actually thought we were going to have to get out of it at some point. We thought they would knock down some threes, but it seemed like it was keeping us around, so we figured we might as well stay in it. In a big game, we just let players be players and don’t try to out-coach it. That is kind of what we did. We just stayed in our dribble-drive offense and just let them play and let them feel comfortable.”

Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or mbeaven@thebeaconjournal.com.