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St. Vincent-St. Mary’s move up crowds a loaded field: OHSAA Division I boys basketball season preview

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 11/21/2022 Matt Goul, cleveland.com
SVSM’s James Hamilton (R) and Darius Stratford celebrate a score in the second half against Alter in their division two state semifinal game, March 18, 2022, at University of Dayton Arena. © John Kuntz/cleveland.com/TNS SVSM’s James Hamilton (R) and Darius Stratford celebrate a score in the second half against Alter in their division two state semifinal game, March 18, 2022, at University of Dayton Arena.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Pickerington Central and Centerville battled last March in Dayton for the OHSAA Division I state championship in boys basketball.

They beat St. Edward and St. Ignatius in the state semifinals to get there, before Pickerington Central emerged with then-junior Ohio State recruit Devin Royal to hand the defending champion Elks their first loss of the season.

Both are favored to return next March to Dayton, but will Northeast Ohio again send two teams to challenge them or whoever else makes it? St. Vincent-St. Mary’s move up to Division I after winning the last two D-II state titles adds another level of complexity to a loaded field around Northeast Ohio in the state’s largest classification.

The high school boys basketball season tips off this week in Northeast Ohio and around the state. To prepare for it, learn about the area’s Division I teams with a look at lineups, outlooks and schedules. Any statistics in parenthesis are from last season.

First, here is a peek at cleveland.com’s preseason state top 10 and All-Ohio team.

STATEWIDE PRESEASON TOP 10

1. Pickerington Central, 2. Centerville, 3. St. Ignatius, 4. Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller, 5. Mentor, 6. St. Vincent-St. Mary, 7. Cincinnati Sycamore, 8. Dublin Jerome, 9. Lakota East, 10. Cleveland Heights.

PRESEASON ALL-OHIO TEAM

⦁ Gabe Cupps, Centerville, sr., G

⦁ Lawrent Rice, Huber Heights Wayne, sr., G

⦁ Jonas Nicholas, Archbishop Hoban, jr., G

⦁ Jonathan Powell, Centerville, jr., G

⦁ Devin Royal, Pickerington Central, sr., F

POY: Devin Royal, Pickerington Central

AREA SCOUTING REPORTS

A look at the area with lineups, outlooks and schedules.

AMHERST COMETS

Coach: Patrick Bray (eighth season)

2021-22 record: 18-6, 10-4 Southwestern Conference (district semifinalist)

Schedule

Nov. 23 vs. Oberlin at Midview, Nov. 29 vs. Clearview, Dec. 2 at North Ridgeville, Dec. 9 at Midview, Dec. 13 at Lorain, Dec. 16 at Berea-Midpark, Dec. 20 vs. Avon Lake

Jan. 3 vs. Open Door, Jan. 6 at Olmsted Falls, Jan. 10 vs. Elyria, Jan. 13 at Avon, Jan. 17 vs. Firelands, Jan. 20 vs. North Ridgeville, Jan. 24 vs. Midview, Jan. 27 vs. Berea-Midpark, Jan. 28 at Keystone, Jan. 31 vs. Elyria Catholic

Feb. 3 at Avon Lake, Feb. 7 vs. Olmsted Falls, Feb. 10 at Elyria, Feb. 14 at Vermilion, Feb. 17 vs. Avon

ARCHBISHOP HOBAN KNIGHTS

Coach: T.K. Griffith (30th season)

2021-22 record: 20-8 (regional finalist)

Returning starters: Will Scott (6-1, sr., G, 12.5 points, 2.6 assists, 2.0 steals), Jonas Nichols (6-4, jr., G/F, 15.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.4 steals), Logan Vowles (6-3, sr., G, 7.8 points, 1.5 steals), Andrew Griffith (6-6, sr., G, 7.0 points)

In the rotation: Jayvian Crable (6-4, sr., F), Colin Coyne (6-2, sr., G), Sam Greer (6-7, fr., F), KamRan Ensley (6-5, so., F)

Outlook: Hoban has one of its most experienced teams coming off one of its deepest runs, not only with four returning starters but its sixth man from that regional final team that met St. Edward last season at Copley. Nichols leads the way, a third-year starting junior already with scholarship offers from Kent State, Eastern Michigan, Akron, Air Force and Appalachian State. Nichols is approaching 1,000 career points this season, coming off a strong spring and summer on the AAU circuit. Add in Scott as a ball handler and sharpshooting Griffith (40 percent shooting on 3s) and Vowles (50 percent shooting on 3s in the postseason), Hoban could have the firepower for its first state final four since 1998.

Schedule

Nov. 26 vs. Cincinnati Taft, Dec. 6 vs. International Sports Academy of Andrews Osborne, Dec. 9 at Youngstown Liberty, Dec. 14 at Dalton, Dec. 16 vs. Gilmour, Dec. 17 vs. GlenOak at Massillon Washington, Dec. 21 at Akron East, Dec. 27 vs. TBD in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 28 vs. TBD in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 29 vs. TBD in Orlando, Fla.

Jan. 6 at Villa Angela-St. Joseph, Jan. 10 vs. Uniontown Lake, Jan. 13 at Benedictine, Jan. 15 vs. Canton McKinley at North Canton Hoover, Jan. 24 vs. Walsh Jesuit, Jan. 27 vs. Cleveland Central Catholic, Jan. 31 at St. Vincent-St. Mary

Feb. 4 vs. Warren JFK , Feb. 7 vs. Green, Feb. 10 vs. Grand River Academy, Feb. 14 at Massillon Perry, Feb. 17 vs. Lutheran West

AURORA GREENMEN

Coach: Greg Rodi (third season)

2021-22 record: 12-12 (Division I district semifinalist)

Returning starters: None

In the rotation: Zach Anzells (6-0, sr., G), Brandon Liepins (6-1, jr., G), Brock Habbyshaw (5-9, so., G), Michael Greenwood (6-4, sr., F)

Outlook: Coming off a run to the Twinsburg district semifinals against eventual regional finalist Archbishop Hoban, Rodi will have a mostly new lineup, which includes one returning varsity player from last season in Anzells. Liepins is coming off a football season at quarterback and will be among the Greenmen core of guards. They open Suburban League American Conference play off the bat at Copley, one of three conference games to start the season.

Schedule

Dec. 9 at Copley, Dec. 13 vs. Cuyahoga Falls, Dec. 16 vs. Tallmadge, Dec. 20 at Eastlake North, Dec. 22 vs. Twinsburg

Jan. 3 at Kent Roosevelt, Jan. 6 at Barberton, Jan. 10 vs. Highland, Jan. 13 at Revere, Jan. 14 vs. Uniontown Lake, Jan. 17 at Kenston, Jan. 20 vs. Copley, Jan. 24 at Cuyahoga Falls, Jan. 27 at Tallmadge, Jan. 28 vs. Massillon Jackson, Jan. 31 at Streetsboro

Feb. 3 vs. Kent Roosevelt, Feb. 4 at Nordonia, Feb. 7 vs. Barberton, Feb. 10 at Highland, Feb. 11 vs. Chagrin Falls, Feb. 17 vs. Revere

AVON EAGLES

Coach: Mike Fitch (third season)

2021-22 record: 4-18, 1-13 Southwestern Conference (sectional qualifier)

Returning starters: Tyson Ziegler (5-10, jr., PG, 14.0 points), Matt Fischer (6-0, sr., G)

In the rotation: Luke Shafer (6-0, sr., G), Zane Austin (6-0, jr., G), Nolan Good (6-0, so., PG), Nathan Farley (6-2, jr., F/C), Amin Abdul (6-3, sr., F/C), Joey Griffiths (6-5, jr., F/C), Evan Garcia (5-9, sr., F/C)

Outlook: As has become customary, Avon must wait for the football season to conclude before it can get a full roster. Fischer, Good and Abdul are among the key players on another deep playoff run, as Fitch begins his third season at the controls of his alma mater. Ziegler’s emergence as a point guard who can score helped, as Avon had little varsity experience going into last season.

Schedule

Dec. 6 vs. Brookside, Dec. 9 vs. Elyria, Dec. 13 at Avon Lake, Dec. 16 vs. North Ridgeville, Dec. 20 at Olmsted Falls, Dec. 27 vs. Norton, Dec. 29 vs. Cleveland JFK

Jan. 3 vs. Cleveland Central Catholic, Jan. 6 vs. Berea-Midpark, Jan. 10 at Midview, Jan. 13 vs. Amherst, Jan. 17 at Highland, Jan. 20 vs. Avon Lake, Jan. 24 at Elyria, Jan. 27 at North Ridgeville, Jan. 31 at Rocky River

Feb. 3 vs. Olmsted Falls, Feb. 4 vs. Brunswick, Feb. 7 at Berea-Midpark, Feb. 10 vs. Midview, Feb. 11 at Lorain, Feb. 17 at Amherst

AVON LAKE SHOREMEN

Coach: Eric Smith (17th season)

Schedule

Nov. 28 at Brunswick, Nov. 29 vs. Lorain, Dec. 9 at Berea-Midpark, Dec. 13 vs. Avon, Dec. 16 vs. Midview, Dec. 20 at Amherst, Dec. 27 at Padua, Dec. 28 vs. TBD at Padua

Jan. 6 at Elyria, Jan. 10 vs. Olmsted Falls, Jan. 13 at North Ridgeville, Jan. 14 vs. Bay, Jan. 17 at Brecksville, Jan. 20 at Avon, Jan. 27 at Midview, Jan. 31 at Buckeye

Feb. 3 vs. Amherst, Feb. 7 vs. Elyria, Feb. 10 at Olmsted Falls, Feb. 14 at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, Feb. 17 vs. North Ridgeville

BARBERTON MAGICS

Coach: Kyle McBride (fourth season)

2021-22 record: 7-16, 6-8 Suburban League American Conference (sectional qualifier)

Returning starters: Ben Huth (sr., G), Corey Gibson (sr., F)

In the rotation: Kieron Smith (jr., PG), Kenny Larry (jr., G), Xzavier Macon (jr., F), Mike Jones (jr., F), Angelo Harper (jr., G), Cory Martin (jr., G)

Outlook: One of the Suburban League’s more athletic teams, Barberton brings back two starters and four more letterwinners, including Smith, Larry, Macon and Jones to go with Huth and Gibson. Leading scorers from last season, Tony Fox (22.7 points)and Anthony Easter (12.7 points), will be challenges to replace. Barberton plays host to Cuyahoga Heights on Dec. 10 as part of the all-day Greynolds Classic, followed by a Suburban League matchup with Highland. The Magics will be on the road for the rest of December until a five-game stretch at home that can set the tone for the stretch run.

Schedule

Dec. 9 at Kent Roosevelt, Dec. 10 vs. Cuyahoga Heights, Dec. 13 vs. Highland, Dec. 16 at Revere, Dec. 19 vs. Massillon Washington at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, Dec. 20 at Firestone, Dec. 28 vs. TBD at Newark, Dec. 29 vs. TBD at Newark

Jan. 3 vs. Copley, Jan. 6 vs. Aurora, Jan. 7 vs. Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, Jan. 10 vs. Cuyahoga Falls, Jan. 13 vs. Tallmadge, Jan. 14 at Canton Central Catholic, Jan. 20 vs. Kent Roosevelt, Jan. 24 at Highland, Jan. 27 vs. Revere

Feb. 3 at Copley, Feb. 7 at Aurora, Feb. 10 at Cuyahoga Falls, Feb. 14 at Ellet, Feb. 17 at Tallmadge

BEREA-MIDPARK TITANS

Coach: Kevin Braaten (first season)

2021-22 record: 15-9 (sectional qualifier)

Returning starters: Owen Trzebuckowski (6-2, sr., G, 9.1 points, 30 3-pointers), Austin Clay (6-2, jr., G, 9.3 points), Devyn Zahursky (6-7, jr., 10.1 points, 9.2 rebounds)

In the rotation: Masyn Zahursky (6-6, so., F), Delton Wright (5-9, jr., G), Anthony Alexander (5-10, jr., G), Jacob Robinson (6-3, sr.), Matt Sensel (5-10, sr., G), Josh Medina (6-1, sr.), Dylan Maddox (5-10, fr., G), Cal Maloney (6-3, fr.)

Outlook: Sharpshooting Trzebuckowski is back to lead the Titans, who are now led by Braaten, who won multiple district and regional championships while leading the girls programs at Berea-Midpark and Laurel. Braaten takes over the boys program for Duke Barther, who had been its only coach since the merger of Berea and Midpark High Schools. Barther previously led Midpark and had more than 300 career victories, including a Southwestern Conference championship in 2015. Fast forward to this season, and the Titans have an athletic group that includes a few football standouts with Trzebuckowski, who is on pace to break the school’s all-time 3-point shooting record. Clay’s presence helps open space for him, while the Zahursky brothers — both standouts on the football team — bring inside muscle. Braaten estimated about a dozen players in his program are coming off football.

Schedule

Nov. 26 at North Royalton, Dec. 9 vs. Avon Lake, Dec. 10 vs. University School at Barberton, Dec. 13 vs. Elyria, Dec. 16 vs. Amherst, Dec. 20 at Midview, Dec. 22 vs. Benedictine at Garfield Heights, Dec. 28 at Elyria Catholic, Dec. 29 vs. TBD at Elyria Catholic

Jan. 3 at Kenston, Jan. 6 at Avon, Jan. 10 vs. North Ridgeville, Jan. 13 at Olmsted Falls, Jan. 20 at Elyria, Jan. 24 at Avon Lake, Jan. 27 at Amherst, Jan. 31 at Brecksville

Feb. 3 vs. Midview, Feb. 7 vs. Avon, Feb. 10 at North Ridgeville, Feb. 14 at Strongsville, Feb. 17 vs. Olmsted Falls

BRECKSVILLE-BROADVIEW HEIGHTS BEES

Coach: Steve Mehalik (16th season)

2020-21 record: 22-2, 14-0 Suburban League (district finalist)

Returning starters: Luke Skaljac (6-1, jr., G, 14.7 points, 4.4 rebounds), Chase Garito (6-8, sr., F/C, 14.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 blocks)

In the rotation: Brady Ganley (6-1, so., G), Mark Sowers (6-2, sr., F), Nathan Usrey (6-0, sr., G), Taylor DeFlorville (6-1, sr., G), Michael Dress (6-1, jr., G), Maddux Dasenbrook (6-0, sr., G), Kyle Keener (6-3, jr., F), Colin Seibert (6-3, jr., F), Luke Reasor (6-3, jr., G), Montee Doubler (6-0, sr., G)

Outlook: After winning its first 18 games, Brecksville shocked St. Edward on the road and finished off an undefeated run in the Suburban League for a memorable season. Skaljac and Garito return from that team as one of the area’s top one-two punches to give the Bees an inside-out presence. However, how will they replace the graduated core from last season led by Tyler Ganley and Co.? Young brother Brady is among the candidates to help do that, as a rotation player off the bench who is joined a junior class that thrived last season on the junior varsity level.

Schedule

Dec. 3 vs. Copley, Dec. 9 vs. Wadsworth, Dec. 13 at Stow, Dec. 16 vs. Hudson, De. 20 at Canton McKinley, Dec. 27 at Nature Coast Tourney in Tampa, Fla., Dec. 28 at Nature Coast Tourney in Tampa, Fla., Dec. 29 at Nature Coast Tourney in Tampa, Fla.

Jan. 6 vs. Twinsburg, Jan. 8 vs. Brush at John Carroll, Jan. 10 at Nordonia, Jan. 13 at North Royalton, Jan. 16 vs. Avon Lake at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, Jan. 20 at Wadsworth, Jan. 24 vs. Stow, Jan. 27 at Hudson, Jan. 31 vs. Berea-Midpark

Feb. 3 vs. Rhodes, Feb. 7 at Twinsburg, Feb. 10 vs. Nordonia, Feb. 14 vs. St. Edward, Feb. 17 vs. North Royalton

BRUSH ARCS

Coach: Chet Mason (eighth season)

2021-22 record: 20-4 (district finalist)

Returning starters: Marlon Barnes (6-5, sr., G, 10.0 points, 5.0 rebounds), Tyler Williams (6-8, sr., F, 11.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.0 blocks)

In the rotation: Damari Dammons (6-4, so., G), Aliyy King (6-5, jr., F), Michael Hatcher (sr.), Kaleb Burge (5-9, G), Darryl Bush (6-2, G), Chris Brownlee (6-1, G), Yahir Hill (5-11, jr., G), Alijah Murray (6-0, sr., G)

Outlook: Williams and Barnes return from last season’s 20-win team that put together one of the most memorable years in Mason’s time leading the Arcs. It was cut short in the district finals vs. Mentor, and Brush has big shoes to fill following the graduation of standouts Elmore James IV (Ohio recruit) and forward Antwone Woolfolk (Rutgers). Both Williams and Barnes, a Pittsburgh recruit, have similar standing when it comes to college recruiting. They also will have help in Dammons, who holds a Cleveland State offer but missed all of last season because of injury. The Arcs added another guard in Burge, who provided a spark to Lutheran East’s state semifinal run in Division III. Burge returns to Brush after playing in the district through middle school, joining a new set of guards whose play starts on the defensive end in Mason’s system.

Schedule

Nov. 27 vs. Walsh Jesuit at Cleveland Heights, Dec. 6 vs. International Sports Academy of Andrews Osborne, Dec. 13 vs. St. Edward, Dec. 22 vs. Richmond Heights at Garfield Heights, Dec. 27 vs. Lakewood, Dec. 30 at Nordonia

Jan. 5 vs. South Oak Cliff (Texas), Jan. 8 vs. Brecksville at John Carroll, Jan. 10 vs. Maple Heights, Jan. 15 at Cincinnati Taft at Flyin’ to the Hoop in Kettering, Jan. 18 vs. John Marshall, Jan. 22 vs. Cleveland Heights, Jan. 25 at Padua, Jan. 28 vs. East Tech

Feb. 3 vs. Lutheran East, Feb. 7 vs. Glenville, Feb. 9 vs. St. Ignatius, Feb. 11 at St. Vincent-St. Mary, Feb. 14 at Euclid, Feb. 17 vs. Lincoln-West, Feb. 20 vs. Cleveland Central Catholic

BRUNSWICK BLUE DEVILS

Coach: Joe Mackey (27th season)

2021-22 record: 18-8, 4-6 Greater Cleveland Conference (district finalist)

Returning starters: Maxx Dickinson (6-0, sr., G)

In the rotation: Tommy Morgan (6-5, jr., F), Trey Drexler (5-10, fr., G), Quinn Barnett (5-11, jr., G), Ethan Jean (6-1, so., G), Mikey Mog (5-9, sr., G)

Outlook: Mackey is just two wins shy of 400 for his career, and the Blue Devils open with their first three games at home. Dickinson returns after serving as a spot starter last season and producing some big games for the Blue Devils. His return comes with a healthy Morgan, who sat most of last season recovering from a torn ACL. He could prove to be one of the big emerging standouts in Northeast Ohio, similar to how Quinn Barnett’s older brother, Marquis, did two seasons ago. Offense is not expected to be an issue for this group, which is high on potential, but Brunswick’s ability to defend with so much inexperience will be its true test — especially early in the season.

Schedule

Nov. 23 vs. Avon Lake, Nov. 29 vs. Bay, Dec. 2 vs. Euclid, Dec. 6 at Wadsworth, Dec. 10 vs. Niagara-Wheatfield in Erie, Pa., Dec. 16 vs. Medina, Dec. 21 vs. Highland, Dec. 28 vs. Willoughby South, Dec. 29 vs. TBD

Jan. 3 at Mentor, Jan. 6 at Strongsville, Jan. 13 at Solon, Jan. 20 vs. Strongsville, Jan. 24 vs. Cleveland Central Catholic, Jan. 27 at Medina, Jan. 31 at Nordonia

Feb. 4 at Avon, Feb. 7 vs. Mentor, Feb. 10 at Euclid, Feb. 14 vs. Stow, Feb. 17 vs. Solon

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS TIGERS

Coach: J.R. Bremer (fourth season)

2021-22 record: 19-7, 11-2 Lake Erie League (regional semifinalist)

Returning starters: Rondelle Pollard (5-11, sr., PG, 8.3 points, 3.2 assists), Rayvelle Duncan (6-2, sr., G, 12.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists)

In the rotation: Shemarion Hardy (6-0, sr., PG, 10.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists), Jaeden Lawson (6-4, sr., F), Braylyn Irby (6-3, so., G/F), Jayquan Stubbs (6-5, so., F), Mason Delk (6-5, sr., F), Jamir Cliff (6-3, sr., F), B.J. Stewart (6-0, sr., G), Zion Harris (6-6, sr., F)

Outlook: Cleveland Heights’ first trip to regionals since 2003 came maybe a year ahead of schedule with this squad. The Tigers returned no starters last year from their previous roster, but worked in a group that came up together in the school with a chemistry that made up for it. A trip to Phoenix brought them together further, as Bremer’s squad adopted a mentality that he wanted with a defensive toughness that the Tigers exhibited during his playing days at the high school in the late 1990s. It comes a little more second nature for these seniors, led by the foursome of Pollard, Duncan, Hardy and Lawson. They powered Heights to a district championship last season in Copley before running into St. Ignatius during the regional semifinals at Kent State. Most of that lineup is back, minus junior forward Hosea Steele, who transferred to Richmond Heights. In his place come two sophomores, who started as freshmen at Trinity, with Irby and Stubbs. They will debut against Lake Erie League rival Shaker Heights during the Great Lakes Classic. The Tigers follow that with three straight LEL games to open the season, including an anticipated showdown at Garfield Heights, before a trip to state powerhouse Centerville.

Schedule

Nov. 26 vs. Shaker Heights at Great Lakes Classic, Dec. 1 at Garfield Heights, Dec. 9 at Maple Heights, Dec. 11 at Centerville, Dec. 16 at Bedford, Dec. 17 vs. Olentangy Orange at Play By Play Classic in Columbus, Dec. 22 vs. Lutheran East at Garfield Heights, Dec. 27 vs. TBD at Cactus Jam in Phoenix, Dec. 28 vs. TBD at Cactus Jam in Phoenix, Dec. 30 vs. TBD at Cactus Jam in Phoenix

Jan. 3 vs. Lorain, Jan. 6 vs. Shaw, Jan. 8 vs. Buchtel at John Carroll, Jan. 13 at Warrensville Heights, Jan. 14 vs. Gilmour at ELB Invitational, Jan. 20 at Shaker Heights, Jan. 22 at Brush at CMI Invitational, Jan. 24 vs. Garfield Heights, Jan. 27 vs. Maple Heights, Jan. 31 vs. Bedford

Feb. 3 at Lorain, Feb. 10 at Shaw, Feb. 14 vs. Warrensville Heights

COPLEY INDIANS

Coach: Nathan Moran (first season)

Schedule

Dec. 3 at Brecksville, Dec. 6 at Bedford, Dec. 9 vs. Aurora, Dec. 13 at Kent Roosevelt, Dec. 16 vs. Cuyahoga Falls, Dec. 21 at Streetsboro, Dec. 28 vs. Stow

Jan. 3 at Barberton, Jan. 6 vs. Revere, Jan. 10 at Tallmadge, Jan. 13 at Highland, Jan. 17 at Austintown-Fitch, Jan. 20 at Aurora, Jan. 24 vs. Kent Roosevelt, Jan. 27 at Cuyahoga Falls, Jan. 31 at Woodridge

Feb. 3 vs. Barberton, Feb. 7 at Revere, Feb. 10 vs. Tallmadge, Feb. 11 vs. Firestone, Feb. 14 vs. Wooster, Feb. 17 vs. Highland

ELYRIA PIONEERS

Coach: Brett Larrick (15th season)

2021-22 record: 13-10, 7-7 Southwestern Conference (sectional qualifier)

Returning starters: Ryan Walsh (6-0, sr., G, 20.4 points, 2.4 assists, 2.0 steals), Jayden Crutcher (6-5, so., G, 8.8 points), Mateo Medina (6-0, jr., G, 8.4 points, 1.7 assists, 1.3 steals)

In the rotation: Steven Furcron (6-2, sr., F/C), Taylor Blanton (5-10, so., G), B.J. Todd (6-2, so., F/C), Xavier Church (6-1, jr., G/F), Marion Thomas (6-1, sr., G/F), D.J. Dower (6-1, jr., G)

Outlook: Elyria had its ups and downs last season, beginning the year with a roster that wasn’t at full strength. Once healthy, the Pioneers showed their potential by knocking off SWC favorite Amherst. They split last season with North Ridgeville, which is expected to be among this season’s SWC favorites with them. They will meet Dec. 20 in Elyria and Feb. 3 at North Ridgeville. Defending SWC champ Olmsted Falls and Avon Lake also are among the expected contenders in this field. This Elyria, though, squad starts this season in a much healthier spot with Crutcher ready to go after missing the start of his freshman season to go with Walsh, who is receiving Division II and III college interest, Medina and Furcron among their returning four. Furcron came off the bench last season, while Blanton, Todd and Church showed promise on the junior varsity squad. Walsh is the grandson of Lorain County all-time wins leader Bob Walsh, while Crutcher’s older brother, Dorian, starred recently at Elyria Catholic.

Schedule

Dec. 1 at Bay, Dec. 9 at Avon, Dec. 13 at Berea-Midpark, Dec. 16 vs. Olmsted Falls, Dec. 20 vs. North Ridgeville, Dec. 29 at Lorain

Jan. 6 vs. Avon Lake, Jan. 7 vs. Oberlin, Jan. 10 at Amherst, Jan. 13 vs. Midview, Jan. 14 vs. Rocky River, Jan. 20 vs. Berea-Midpark, Jan. 21 at Elyria Catholic, Jan. 24 vs. Avon, Jan. 27 at Olmsted Falls, Jan. 31 vs. Lakewood

Feb. 3 at North Ridgeville, Feb. 7 at Avon Lake, Feb. 10 vs. Amherst, Feb. 17 at Midview

EUCLID PANTHERS

Coach: Tom Parker (first season)

2021-22 record: 10-12, 2-8 Greater Cleveland Conference (sectional finalist)

Returning starters: Xavier Vann (6-4, sr., G), Akil Wilkes (6-4, sr., G/F), Michael Moore (6-4, sr., G/F),

In the rotation: Rodell Adamson (5-10, sr., G), Teo Coleman (6-4, sr., F), Thai Duncan (6-4, so., G), Anthony Moore (6-7, jr., F), Mekhi Spikes (6-0, sr., G), Rodney Smith (6-5, F)

Outlook: Parker takes over the Panthers for John Kane, whose squad last season had success outside of the GCC and brings back an athletic squad full of versatile defenders. Vann leads that group as a guard who can handle the ball and score. Parker comes over from St. Ignatius, where he coached the freshman and junior varsity teams at his alma mater (a 2010 graduate). Euclid will be pressed to replace leading scorer Clayton Cunningham, but that versatile core could go a long way in improving the Panthers’ GCC hopes while remaining a tough out-of-conference competitor.

Schedule

Nov. 27 vs. Willoughby South at Cleveland Heights, Dec. 2 at Brunswick, Dec. 7 at Lutheran East, Dec. 9 at Solon, Dec. 16 vs. Strongsville, Dec. 22 vs. Maple Heights at Garfield Heights

Jan. 3 at Mayfield, Jan. 6 vs. Mentor, Jan. 7 vs. Benedictine, Jan. 10 vs. Lake Catholic, Jan. 13 vs. Medina, Jan. 17 vs. Eastlake North, Jan. 20 at Mentor, Jan. 27 at Strongsville, Jan. 31 at Walsh Jesuit

Feb. 3 vs. Solon, Feb. 7 at Lakewood, Feb. 10 vs. Brunswick, Feb. 14 vs. Brush, Feb. 17 at Medina

GARFIELD HEIGHTS BULLDOGS

Coach: Sonny Johnson (18th season)

2021-22 record: 11-12, 6-8 Lake Erie League (sectional qualifier)

Returning starters: Tommie Benn (6-0, sr., G), Sam Brown (6-5, sr., F), Jyles Brandon (6-1, sr., G),

In the rotation: C.J. Little (6-2, jr., G), Marcus Johnson (6-1, fr., G), Germainn Marshall (6-5, sr., F), Deandre Jones (6-8, jr., F), Corey Wilson (6-1, jr., G), D.J. Jackson (6-1, so., G)

Outlook: Can Garfield Heights return to the high tempo its teams enjoyed with some of its best teams, including two state semifinalists, in the last decade? If the Bulldogs can play efficient high energy basketball, they could be a contender to reach Dayton. Little has already been there twice, helping St. Ignatius to the final weekend of the season as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to Garfield Heights. He is joined by one of the top freshmen in the state with the coach’s son. The Bulldogs still bring back three starters, including a mainstay in Benn. They finished below .500 for the first time in Johnson’s career last season, which has him balancing patience with expectations, but Garfield Heights’ next win will be No. 300 for his career.

Schedule

Nov. 26 vs. John Marshall at Cleveland Heights, Dec. 1 vs. Cleveland Heights, Dec. 7 vs. John Adams, Dec. 9 at Shaker Heights, Dec. 10 at University School, Dec. 14 vs. Warrensville Heights, Dec. 17 vs. Dayton Chaminade Julienne at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Dec. 23 vs. Glenville

Jan. 3 at Shaw, Jan. 6 at Lorain, Jan. 8 vs. Imani Christian (Pa.) at John Carroll, Jan. 10 vs. Cleveland Central Catholic, Jan. 13 at Bedford, Jan. 15 vs. Huber Heights Wayne at Flyin’ to the Hoop in Kettering, Jan. 20 at Maple Heights, Jan. 24 at Cleveland Heights, Jan. 27 vs. Shaker Heights, Jan. 29 vs. St. Edward at Brush

Feb. 3 vs. Shaw, Feb. 9 vs. Lorain, Feb. 14 vs. Bedford, Feb. 16 vs. Maple Heights

GREEN BULLDOGS

Coach: Mark Kinsley (26th season)

2021-22 record: 23-3, 10-2 Federal League (regional semifinalist)

Returning starters: Brady Rollyson (6-2, jr., G, 11.6 points, 6.0 rebounds), Jarrett Taylor (6-5, jr., F, 7.5 points, 4.4 rebounds)

In the rotation: Ben Pine (6-3., sr., G/F), Nikola Bundalo (6-8, so., F), Mark Danner (5-10, sr., G), Luke Ickes (5-8, sr., G), Lucas Bitong (5-10, jr., G), Luke Jansen (6-4, jr., F), Antonio Martin (5-10, so., G)

Outlook: A talented and experienced senior class took Green to the regional finals last season, but Rollyson and Taylor also were significant parts to that squad. They are back with Pine and Bundalo, who earned minutes. Rollyson leads this group as a multi-sport athlete who is committed to Ohio State for baseball. Kinsley believes this team could be deeper, giving the Bulldogs the ability to play varying styles with their size.

Schedule

Nov. 29 vs. Barberton, Dec. 2 at Massillon Jackson, Dec. 9 vs. North Canton Hoover, Dec. 16 at Uniontown Lake, Dec. 20 vs. Ellet, Dec. 21 at Massillon Washington, Dec. 29 vs. Hudson at Clash of Youngstown, Dec. 30 at Solon

Jan. 3 at Massillon Perry, Jan. 6 at Canton McKinley, Jan. 10 vs. Canton GlenOak, Jan. 15 vs. Walsh Jesuit at North Canton Hoover, Jan. 20 vs. Stow, Jan. 24 at North Canton Hoover, Jan. 27 vs. Uniontown Lake, Jan. 31 vs. Massillon Perry

Feb. 3 vs. Canton McKinley, Feb. 7 at Archbishop Hoban, Feb. 10 at Canton GlenOak, Feb. 14 at Firestone, Feb. 17 at Nordonia

HIGHLAND HORNETS

Coach: Adam Cestaro (eighth season)

2021-22 record: 15-10, 9-5 (district semifinalist)

Returning starters: Hunter Winston (6-4, jr., F, 10.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists)

In the rotation: Maddox Albright (6-3, jr., G, 4.6 points), Liam Kenny (6-1, jr., PG), Shane Cope (6-2, jr., F), Richard Chapman (6-1, jr., G)

Outlook: Wilson returns as a third-year starting junior and one of Highland’s top athletes, already holding a scholarship offer in baseball to Ohio University. He helped the Hornets through an impressive postseason run last season that saw them reach the district semifinals at Elyria Catholic against eventual state semifinalist St. Ignatius. Albright and Kenny also earned minutes off the bench for that team. This one will be much less experienced, but Cestaro’s squads are always among the toughest outs in the Suburban League.

Schedule

Nov. 29 at Firestone, Dec. 2 vs. Nordonia, Dec. 9 at Tallmadge, Dec. 13 at Barberton, Dec. 16 vs. Kent Roosevelt, Dec. 20 at Buckeye, Dec. 21 at Brunswick, Dec. 29 vs. Woodridge

Jan. 3 vs. Revere, Jan. 6 at Cuyahoga Falls, Jan. 10 at Aurora, Jan. 13 vs. Copley, Jan. 17 vs. Avon, Jan. 20 vs. Tallmadge, Jan. 24 vs. Barberton, Jan. 31 at Hudson

Feb. 3 at Revere, Feb. 7 vs. Cuyahoga Falls, Feb. 10 vs. Aurora, Feb. 14 at Wadsworth, Feb. 17 at Copley

HUDSON EXPLORERS

Schedule

Dec. 2 at Austintown-Fitch, Dec. 9 vs. TBD at Erie McDowell, Dec. 10 vs. TBD at Erie McDowell, Dec. 13 at Wadsworth, Dec. 16 at Brecksville, Dec. 20 at Kent Roosevelt, Dec. 23 vs. Streetsboro, Dec. 29 vs. Youngstown Boardman

Jan. 3 at Nordonia, Jan. 6 vs. North Royalton, Jan. 13 vs. Stow, Jan. 14 vs. Dover at North Canton Hoover, Jan. 20 vs. Twinsburg, Jan. 21 vs. Massillon Washington, Jan. 24 vs. Wadsworth, Jan. 27 vs. Brecksville, Jan. 31 vs. Highland

Feb. 3 vs. Nordonia, Feb. 4 at Twinsburg, Feb. 7 at North Royalton, Feb. 10 vs. Mayfield, Feb. 17 at Stow

KENT ROOSEVELT ROUGHRIDERS

Coach: Curtis Black (first season)

2021-22 record: 13-10, 9-5 Suburban League American Conference (sectional finalist)

Returning starters: None

In the rotation: Gavin Leslie (6-2, sr., G), Tyrel Ellington (6-0, jr., G), Carter Foreman (6-2, sr., F), Nick Shannon (6-1, sr., F), Jeremiah Lepp (6-0, jr., PG), Grant Leslie (5-10, jr., G), Ryan Slocum (6-6, so., F)

Outlook: While Roosevelt brings back no starters for Black’s first season as coach, Leslie and Ellington return as varsity contributors from last season’s Suburban League squad. Their calling card should come on the defensive end with an athletic group that opens conference play Dec. 9 at home vs. Barberton.

Schedule

Nov. 29 vs. Streetsboro, Dec. 3 at Field, Dec. 6 at Stow, Dec. 9 vs. Barberton, Dec. 13 vs. Copley, Dec. 16 at Highland, Dec. 20 vs. Hudson, Dec. 27 vs. Ravenna, Dec. 30 at Canton GlenOak

Jan. 3 vs. Aurora, Jan. 6 vs. Tallmadge, Jan. 10 at Revere, Jan. 13 at Cuyahoga Falls, Jan. 17 vs. Solon, Jan. 20 at Barberton, Jan. 24 at Copley, Jan. 27 vs. Highland

Feb. 3 at Aurora, Feb. 7 at Tallmadge, Feb. 10 vs. Revere, Feb. 14 at Cloverleaf, Feb. 17 vs. Cuyahoga Falls

LAKEWOOD RANGERS

Coach: Alex Cammock (eighth season)

2021-22 record: 3-19 (sectional qualifier)

Returning starters: Myles Harper (5-11, sr., G, 10.0 points, 42 percent 3-point shooting), Drew Jablonowski (6-3, jr., F, 3.0 points, 3.0 rebounds)

In the rotation: Lucas Seguine (5-8, so., G), Luke Vannucci (5-9, so., G)

Outlook: The Rangers should bounce back from last season with two returning starters and Seguine, who emerged in the second half of the year as a freshman off the bench. Harper, one of the Great Lakes Conference’s top 3-point shooters, and Jablonowski also are joined by Vannucci. The sophomore is quick and aggressive. He also is a strong shooter. Lakewood will find out early whether this group can make the jump, opening at Twinsburg before a neighborhood matchup with St. Edward.

Schedule

Nov. 29 at Twinsburg, Dec. 3 vs. St. Edward, Dec. 9 at Normandy, Dec. 13 at Strongsville, Dec. 16 vs. Holy Name, Dec. 17 at Padua, Dec. 20 vs. Rhodes, Dec. 27 at Brush

Jan. 3 vs. Valley Forge, Jan. 6 at Parma, Jan. 10 vs. Buckeye, Jan. 13 vs. Normandy, Jan. 17 at Valley Forge, Jan. 20 at Holy Name, Jan. 27 vs. Parma, Jan. 31 at Elyria

Feb. 3 at Buckeye, Feb. 7 vs. Euclid, Feb. 10 GLC tournament, Feb. 14 GLC tournament, Feb. 17 GLC tournament, Feb. 21 GLC tournament

LORAIN TITANS

Coach: Matt Kielian (second season)

2021-22 record: 9-13, 6-7 Lake Erie League (sectional finalist)

Returning starters: Dennis Pettis (5-10, sr., G), Asiah Kielian (6-2, jr., G), Christian Ruiz (6-2, sr., G/F)

In the rotation: Mikah Kimbrough (6-1, sr., F), Jaiden Guerra-Howard (6-0, jr., G/F), Ike Rowser (5-9, jr., G), Anthony Lorenzo (5-10, sr., G)

Outlook: Lorain is more experience than Kielian’s first season since taking over the program for John Rositano. He already had been instrumental in developing Lorain’s youth program, but the Titans had no returning starters at this time last year following another run to the district finals. That changes this time with three starters back, including Kielian’s son Asiah. Lorain also added Guerra-Howard from Open Door.

Schedule

Nov. 29 at Avon Lake, Dec. 2 at Bedford, Dec. 6 at Cleveland Central Catholic, Dec. 9 vs. Shaw, Dec. 13 vs. Amherst, Dec. 16 vs. Maple Heights, Dec. 19 vs. TBD, Dec. 20 vs. TBD, Dec. 29 vs. Elyria

Jan. 3 at Cleveland Heights, Jan. 6 vs. Garfield Heights, Jan. 13 at Shaker Heights, Jan. 17 at North Royalton, Jan. 20 vs. Warrensville Heights, Jan. 24 vs. Bedford, Jan. 27 at Shaw, Jan. 31 at Maple Heights

Feb. 3 vs. Cleveland Heights, Feb. 9 at Garfield Heights, Feb. 11 vs. Avon, Feb. 14 vs. Shaker Heights, Feb. 17 at Warrensville Heights

MAPLE HEIGHTS MUSTANGS

Coach: Anthony Burns (first season)

2021-22 record: 13-9, 8-6 Lake Erie League (sectional finalist)

Returning starters: Xavier Peterson (6-3, G/F, 14.5 points, 5.0 rebounds), Jayvion Moore (6-7, sr., F, 13.3 points, 8.0 rebounds)

In the rotation: Darius Davis (5-10, sr., PG, 29.7 points), Davan Aniton (6-7, so., F), David Collins (6-3, sr., F), Darion Hill (6-4, sr.), Aaron Scales (6-2, jr.), Michael Lewandowski (6-3, jr.)

Outlook: Burns takes over his alma mater after serving most recently on Richmond Heights staff, helping the Spartans to last season’s Division IV state championship. He replaces Sean Witherspoon, who took the Alliance job, and inherits a team that competed in the tough LEL. The Mustangs also added Davis, one of the area’s top scoring guards the last two years at Parma. He joins Moore, one of Northeast Ohio’s better big men, on a team that has traditionally played with a scrappy demeanor on the defensive end. Will that continue with Burns? Likely, considering Richmond Heights shared that style. Maple won’t have time to wait, as its first two LEL games come against frontrunners Shaker and Cleveland Heights.

Schedule

Nov. 26 vs. Lutheran West at Cleveland Heights, Dec. 2 vs. Shaker Heights, Dec. 9 vs. Cleveland Heights, Dec. 10 vs. Orange, Dec. 13 vs. Canton McKinley, Dec. 16 at Lorain, Dec. 20 at Medina, Dec. 22 vs. Euclid at Garfield Heights, Dec. 28 at Orange, Dec. 30 vs. Whitehouse Anthony Wayne at Jingle Jam in Sandusky

Jan. 3 vs. Bedford, Jan. 6 at Warrensville Heights, Jan. 7 vs. Glenville, Jan. 8 vs. Gilmour at John Carroll, Jan. 13 vs. Shaw, Jan. 20 at Garfield Heights, Jan. 24 at Shaker Heights, Jan. 27 at Cleveland Heights, Jan. 31 vs. Lorain

Feb. 3 at Bedford, Feb. 10 vs. Warrensville Heights, Feb. 14 at Shaw, Feb. 17 vs. Garfield Heights

MAYFIELD WILDCATS

Coach: Will Brand (third season)

2021-22 record: 19-6, 10-2 Western Reserve Conference (district semifinalist)

Returning starters: Kyle Irwin (6-5, sr., F)

In the rotation: Johnny Martinich (6-1, sr., G), Mason Lathan, (5-8, jr., G), Xavier Vickerstaff (6-3, so., F), Angelo Newman (6-0, so., G), Tre Spicer (6-0, jr., G), Rocco DiPietro (6-2, sr., F), Darwin Hines (5-7, sr., G), Perry Atkins (5-7, sr., G), Bryant Johnson (6-0, sr., G), Pierre Bradley (6-1, jr., G/F), Brennen Lesperancek (6-0, sr., G), Michael Jackson (5-10, jr., G), Charlie Brunello (5-11, so., G)

Outlook: Mayfield took a big step forward in Brand’s second year, both in the WRC and as a district contender. The Wildcats reached the district semifinals in Euclid against Mentor, which went on to reach regionals. However, the Wildcats had considerable losses to graduation. Big forward Hayden Nahra led them last year with a slew of guards who delivered in some of Mayfield’s biggest moments. Irwin is the lone returning starter and an important leader for a squad that has plenty of pieces to build back up with Martinich, Latham and Vickerstaff among them.

Schedule

Nov. 26 vs. Nordonia, Nov. 29 at Bedford, Dec. 3 vs. North Royalton, Dec. 9 vs. Eastlake North, Dec. 10 vs. Villa Angela-St. Joseph, Dec. 13 at Willoughby South, Dec. 16 at Madison, Dec. 20 at Kenston, Dec. 27 vs. Twinsburg, Dec. 29 at Hudson

Jan. 3 vs. Euclid, Jan. 13 at Chardon, Jan. 20 vs. Riverside, Jan. 24 at Lutheran East, Jan. 27 vs. Willoughby South, Jan. 31 at Eastlake North

Feb. 4 vs. Madison, Feb. 7 vs. Kenston, Feb. 10 at Hudson, Feb. 14 vs. Chardon, Feb. 17 at Riverside

MEDINA BEES

Coach: Chris Hassinger (ninth season)

2021-22 record: 14-9, 5-5 Greater Cleveland Conference (district finalist)

Returning starters: Carter Hipp (6-3, sr., G, 6.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists)

In the rotation: Luke Klanac (6-3, sr., G), Jaylen Payne (6-6, sr., F), Hunter Smith (6-4, sr., F), Brock Beech (6-4, jr.), Benny Meyers (5-10, jr., G), Connor Smith (6-5, jr.), Kellon Johnson (6-4, so., G/F)

Outlook: Expect the Bees to pick up the pace with four returning letterwinners, including Kalanc, Payne and Smith to go with Hipp, who serves as the floor general for a team with plenty of shooting options. This team has some size with an influx of depth. Their season will begin with a St. Edward program that ended its 2021-22 season in the district finals at Lakewood. They follow that with a GCC showdown against Mentor that could have a dramatic impact on the standings from the start.

Schedule

Nov. 27 vs. St. Edward at Baldwin Wallace, Dec. 2 vs. Mentor, Dec. 6 at Norwayne, Dec. 9 vs. Strongsville, Dec. 16 at Brunswick, Dec. 17 vs. Linsly at Harrison Central, Dec. 20 vs. Maple Heights, Dec. 23 vs. John Adams, Dec. 27 vs. Austin Career in Chicago, Dec. 28 vs. Wells in Chicago

Jan. 3 vs. Walsh Jesuit, Jan. 6 vs. Solon, Jan. 13 at Euclid, Jan. 15 vs. Gahanna Lincoln at Ohio Dominican, Jan. 20 at Solon, Jan. 22 vs. Fairview at Brush, Jan. 24 vs. Brookside, Jan. 27 vs. Brunswick

Feb. 3 at Strongsville, Feb. 10 at Mentor, Feb. 14 at Massillon Jackson, Feb. 17 vs. Euclid

MENTOR CARDINALS

Coach: Bob Krizancic (30th season)

2021-22 record: 20-7, 7-3 Greater Cleveland Conference (regional semifinalist)

Returning starters: Matthew Biddell (6-4, jr., PG, 9.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.1 steals), Ryan Ioppolo (6-4, sr., G, 10.5 points), Ian Ioppolo (6-6, jr., F/G, 15.0 points)

In the rotation: Kobe Fasure-Azzano (6-4, so., G), Braylon Johnson (6-5, jr., F/G), Franjo Wilson (6-2, sr., F/C), Connor O’Brien (6-5, jr., F/G), Ryan Calo (6-4, so., G), Jake Calo (6-2, so., G), Makel Harrison (5-10, jr., PG), Ayo Olulami (6-3, so., G/F), Tanner Toot (5-6, jr., PG), Caden Skulski (5-9, jr., PG), Rudy Reilly (6-1, jr., G)

Outlook: After making it to the state final four in 2021, Mentor brought back little experience and had no lead guards after enjoying four years of having Luke Chicone in its backcourt. Coach Bob Krizancic and his Cardinals turned to big forward Sean Collins as a ball handler as Mentor’s new pieces figured out their roles. A leading candidate at point guard, Biddell, began last season with one of his hands in a cast before easing into the point-guard role with Collins. Mentor used a committee, which picked up steam down the stretch and won 10 straight games with a district championship at Brush. The Cardinals were up early on St. Edward before the Eagles took control and went on to the state semifinals. Mentor now has a squad that can get back to that stage in Dayton with Biddell and brothers Ryan and Ian Ioppolo settled in after transferring from Riverside. Frasure-Azzano also could be in store for a breakout sophomore season at guard with a returning wing in Johnson, who can rebound and shoot from the outside. Two additions to the program are Ryan and Jake Calo, whose father played for Krizancic in the mid-90s, but moved back from Ireland. Mentor is further ahead than this time a year ago, which should help it with early Greater Cleveland Conference tests against Medina and Solon. Krizancic’s first win this season will mark No. 700 for his career.

Schedule

Nov. 25 vs. Uniontown Lake, Dec. 2 at Medina, Dec. 3 at Rhodes, Dec. 10 vs. Canfield at Poland Seminary, Dec. 16 vs. Solon, Dec. 17 vs. Louisville at Massillon Washington, Dec. 20 vs. Villa Angela-St. Joseph

Jan. 3 vs. Brunswick, Jan. 6 at Euclid, Jan. 8 vs. St. Ignatius at John Carroll, Jan. 13 vs. Strongsville, Jan. 16 at Lake Catholic, Jan. 20 vs. Euclid, Jan. 21 vs. Cornerstone Christian, Jan. 27 at Solon, Jan. 28 vs. Lutheran West

Feb. 4 vs. Youngstown Chaney, Feb. 7 at Brunswick, Feb. 10 vs. Medina, Feb. 14 vs. Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, Feb. 17 at Strongsville, Feb. 18 vs. Glenville

MIDVIEW MIDDIES

Coach: James Brabenec (seventh season)

2021-22 record: 17-8, 7-7 Southwestern Conference (district semifinalist)

Returning starters: Ryan Rusner (5-10, sr., G, 13.0 points, 4.3 points), Herman Plas (6-4, sr., G, 4.3 points, 3.3 rebounds), Mitchell Gooch (6-2, sr., F, 4.2 points, 3.2 rebounds),

In the rotation: Marc Reed (6-2, sr., G), Drew DiFranco (5-10, jr., G), David Moore (6-1, jr., G), Steve Komar (6-3, jr., F), Chris Callaway (6-2, sr., F), Evan DiFranco (5-11, jr., G)

Outlook: Rusner is a third-year starter for Brabenec, who will lean on his experienced trio and Reed (the quarterback on the football team) to overcome the scoring loss of 6-5 Aden Gregory, who is now at Ashland. Drew DiFranco and Moore also could help fill the void as up-and-coming players to the roster, as Brabenec looks for more balance on his roster. Midview opens the season with its annual DiFranco Memorial Tip-Off Classic.

Schedule

Nov. 23 vs. Keystone, Nov. 29 at Oberlin, Dec. 3 at Sandusky, Dec. 9 vs. Amherst, Dec. 13 at Olmsted Falls, Dec. 16 at Avon Lake, Dec. 20 vs. Berea-Midpark, Dec. 23 vs. Orange, Dec. 28 vs. Valley Forge, Dec. 29 at Tallmadge

Jan. 6 vs. North Ridgeville, Jan. 10 vs. Avon, Jan. 13 at Elyria, Jan. 17 at Columbia, Jan. 20 vs. Olmsted Falls, Jan. 24 at Amherst, Jan. 27 vs. Avon Lake, Jan. 31 vs. Firelands

Feb. 3 at Berea-Midpark, Feb. 7 at North Ridgeville, Feb. 10 at Avon, Feb. 17 vs. Elyria

NORDONIA KNIGHTS

Coach: Dominique Sanders (fourth season)

2021-22 record: 11-13 (sectional finalist)

Returning starters: Liam Gopalakrishna (6-0, sr., G), Landon Naylor (6-0, sr., G), Gabe Ingram (6-3, sr., G), Joey Palinkas (6-3, sr., G/F), Mitchell Wiechecki (6-7, sr., F), Isaac Cherry (6-7, sr., F)

In the rotation: Khari Alamin (6-2, sr.), Pat Williams (5-10, sr., G), Trevor Turnball (6-1, so., 40 percent 3-point shooter)

Outlook: Six players who earned starting spots last season are all back for Sanders and the Knights, as they look to move up the Suburban League’s National Conference. Naylor is coming off an All-Suburban League season, while Gopalakrishna is third-year starter and Palinkas — the quarterback on the football team — is a third-year letterwinner. A successful summer league run is a start for Nordonia, which has size to compete in a Suburban League full of bigs.

Schedule

Nov. 26 at Mayfield, Dec. 2 at Highland, Dec. 9 vs. North Royalton, Dec. 13 vs. Twinsburg, Dec. 16 at Wadsworth, Dec. 19 vs. TBD at Lorain, Dec. 20 vs. TBD at Lorain, Dec. 30 vs. Brush

Jan. 3 vs. Hudson, Jan. 6 at Stow, Jan. 10 vs. Brecksville, Jan. 15 vs. Canton GlenOak at North Canton Hoover, Jan. 20 at North Royalton, Jan. 24 at Twinsburg, Jan. 27 vs. Wadsworth, Jan. 31 vs. Brunswick

Feb. 3 at Hudson, Feb. 4 vs. Aurora, Feb. 7 vs. Stow, Feb. 10 at Brecksville, Feb. 14 at North Ridgeville, Feb. 17 vs. Green

NORTH OLMSTED EAGLES

Coach: Kyle Johnson (first season)

2021-22 record: 4-19, 2-13 Great Lakes Conference (sectional qualifier)

Returning starters: Miles Ciulla (6-2, sr., G, 14.0 ponts)

In the rotation: Kam Swanson (sr., G), Naoki Sato (so., G), Alex Pullin (sr., G), Andrew Michaelides (sr., G), Eggie Cordero (sr., G), Tyler Wilson (so., F)

Outlook: After leading Independence, Johnson takes over a North Olmsted for Jason Frolo. He inherits a squad with Ciulla as a returning starter with Michaelides as a contributor off the bench among the Eagles’ most experienced players. They have a promising pair of sophomores with a group that must replace leading scorer Davonte Demianov (18.6 points per game).

Schedule

Nov. 29 vs. Brookside, Dec. 2 vs. Perkins, Dec. 6 at Normandy, Dec. 9 vs. Rocky River, Dec. 13 vs. Holy Name, Dec. 16 vs. Elyria Catholic, Dec. 20 at Parma, Dec. 22 at Valley Forge, Dec. 27 at Columbia

Jan. 3 at Bay, Jan. 6 vs. Fairview, Jan. 10 at Westlake, Jan. 13 at Rocky River, Jan. 17 vs. Bay, Jan. 20 at Elyria Catholic, Jan. 24 vs. Clearview, Jan. 27 at Fairview

Feb. 3 vs. Westlake, Feb. 7 GLC tournament, Feb. 10 GLC tournament, Feb. 14 GLC tournament, Feb. 17 GLC tournament

NORTH RIDGEVILLE RANGERS

Coach: Ben Chase (second season)

2021-22 record: 12-12 (sectional finalist)

Returning starters: Griffin Turay (6-3, jr., G, 14.0 points, 5.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds), Jake Boynar (6-6, sr., F, 15.0 points, 8.0 rebounds), Collin Jones (6-5, jr., G/F, 6-5, 5.0 rebounds)

In the rotation: Jayden Parish (6-1, jr., F), Jackson Stacy (6-2, so., G), Carson Iezzi (5-9, jr., PG)

Outlook: The Rangers’ size should make them among the favorites in the Southwestern Conference, and Turay stirs the drink among a big three of returning starters. Chase has a year under his belt after taking controls of the program for Bryan Morgan, who transitioned to football coach at the school. If the Rangers can improve their 3-point shooting, shooting just 27 percent last season beyond the arc, it should push them over as one of the area’s potentially more improved teams. They will be tested early with a Dec. 9 visit from defending SWC champ Olmsted Falls and a Dec. 20 trip to Elyria.

Schedule

Nov. 23 vs. Firelands at Midview, Nov. 29 at Padua, Dec. 2 vs. Amherst, Dec. 9 vs. Olmsted Falls, Dec. 13 vs. Normandy, Dec. 16 at Avon, Dec. 20 at Elyria, Dec. 22 vs. Bay, Dec. 28 vs. TBD, Dec. 29 vs. TBD

Jan. 6 at Midview, Jan. 10 at Berea-Midpark, Jan. 13 vs. Avon Lake, Jan. 17 vs. Keystone, Jan. 20 at Amherst, Jan. 24 at Olmsted Falls, Jan. 31 at Valley Forge

Feb. 3 vs. Elyria, Feb. 7 vs. Midview, Feb. 10 vs. Berea-Midpark, Feb. 14 vs. Nordonia, Feb. 17 at Avon Lake

NORTH ROYALTON BEARS

Coach: Ryan Holliday (second season)

2021-22 record: 8-15 (sectional qualifier)

Returning starters: Jadallah Suleiman (6-1, jr., G, 17.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists), Nate Sawyer (6-0, sr., G, 7.2 points), Jake Michalak (6-5, sr., C, 5.6 rebounds)

In the rotation: Zach Bitterman (5-11, sr., G), Brody Nahrstedt (5-11, jr., G), Will Moss (6-0, jr., G), Sean Bunsey (fr.), Roman Gambino (fr.), Sasha Sunjervaric (6-5, so.), Nic Carozza (jr.)

Outlook: Suleiman returns as one of the Suburban League’s top defenders, and Sawyer’s work ethic sets the tone for the Bears. Their Suburban League tests start Dec. 9 at Nordonia before a visit the following week from Stow, which closed last season on a hot streak. Defending champ Brecksville looms as the last game in the first and second halves of the league schedule.

Schedule

Nov. 26 vs. Berea-Midpark, Dec. 2 at Parma, Dec. 3 at Mayfield, Dec. 6 vs. Willoughby South, Dec. 9 at Nordonia, Dec. 14 at John Adams, Dec. 16 vs. Stow, Dec. 17 vs. Streetsboro at Springfield, Dec. 23 vs. Buckeye

Jan. 3 at Twinsburg, Jan. 6 at Hudson, Jan. 10 at Wadsworth, Jan. 13 vs. Brecksville, Jan. 14 at Kenmore-Garfield, Jan. 17 vs. Lorain, Jan. 20 vs. Nordonia, Jan. 27 at Stow, Jan. 31 vs. Strongsville

Feb. 3 vs. Twinsburg, Feb. 7 vs. Hudson, Feb. 10 vs. Wadsworth, Feb. 17 at Brecksville

OLMSTED FALLS BULLDOGS

Coach: Chris DeLisio (13th season)

2021-22 record: 18-6, 12-2 Southwestern Conference (district semifinalist)

Returning starters: Michael Candow (5-10, sr., G)

In the rotation: Evan Gililand (6-3, sr., F), Peyton DeLisio (5-9, jr., G), Dillon Foulkes (6-3, jr., G), Sean Gillette (5-9, sr., G), Myles Meyer (5-11, jr., G), Isac Candow (5-7, jr., G), Logan Connelly (5-9, fr., G), Jimmy Rosol Jr. (6-1, so., G)

Outlook: The defending SWC champs bring back Candow from that team. He emerged last season with a 39-point game in the clincher vs. Amherst. He could reach 1,000 points for his career after playing on a well-rounded squad that had a little more height with Charlie Ciolek and 6-6 Tanner Nelson in the lineup. A mid-December trip to Elyria could set the tone for this season’s SWC chase. However, a conference opener at North Ridgeville also could be telling.

Schedule

Nov. 27 vs. Benedictine at Baldwin Wallace, Nov. 29 vs. Strongsville, Dec. 2 vs. Westlake, Dec. 9 at North Ridgeville, Dec. 10 vs. Williamsville South at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, Dec. 13 vs. Midview, Dec. 16 at Elyria, Dec. 20 vs. Avon, Dec. 27 at Canton GlenOak, Dec. 28 vs. Akron East at Canton GlenOak

Jan. 6 vs. Amherst, Jan. 10 at Avon Lake, Jan. 13 vs. Berea-Midpark, Jan. 14 vs. Elyria Catholic, Jan. 20 at Midview, Jan. 24 vs. North Ridgeville, Jan. 27 vs. Midview, Jan. 28 vs. Gilmour, Jan. 31 at Bay

Feb. 3 at Avon, Feb. 7 at Amherst, Feb. 10 vs. Avon Lake, Feb. 17 at Berea-Midpark

RHODES RAMS

Coach: Shawn Spencer (seventh season)

2021-22 record: 16-8, 12-1 Senate League (sectional finalist)

Returning starters: Kenyon Giles (5-11, jr., G, 16.0 points), Antwon Reynolds (6-0, jr., G, 12.0 points, 40 percent 3-point shooting), Demetrius Jones (6-3, sr. F, 10.0 points, 8.0 rebounds), Desean Matthews (6-2, sr., F, 7.0 rebounds)

In the rotation: Ellion Williams (6-0, G), Johnell Harper (6-3, F), Calvin Rembert (6-0, fr., G/F), Jayshawn Harper (5-10, so., G), Elijah Villamil (6-3, F)

Outlook: Rhodes returned to the court and stormed through the Senate League until rival Glenville upended the Rams in the city championship game. Spencer’s group rebounded and pushed Shaker Heights in one of the area’s best sectional finals, which ended Rhodes’ season and the high school career of standout point guard Jamal Sumlin. He is now at UTEP, but Rhodes brings back four starters who learned around him. Giles and Reynolds can score in bunches with their shooting touch, while Jones adds toughness and rebounding.

Schedule

Nov. 29 vs. John Marshall, Dec. 2 at Collinwood, Dec. 6 at East Tech, Dec. 9 at Glenville, Dec. 13 at Lutheran East, Dec. 16 vs. John Adams, Dec. 20 at Lakewood, Dec. 27 vs. Akron East at Canton GlenOak, Dec. 30 at Mentor

Jan. 6 vs. John Hay, Jan. 10 at John Marshall, Jan. 13 vs. Collinwood, Jan. 14 at Shaker Heights, Jan. 17 vs. East Tech, Jan. 20 vs. Glenville, Jan. 27 at John Adams, Jan. 31 at John Hay

Feb. 3 at Brecksville, Feb. 7 at Gilmour, Feb. 10 TBD/Senate League championship, Feb. 14 vs. Walsh Jesuit, Feb. 17 vs. Cleveland Central Catholic

RIVERSIDE BEAVERS

Coach: Matt Grendel (sixth season)

2021-22 record: 9-14 (sectional qualifier)

Returning starters: Charlie Fox (6-1, sr., G, 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.5 steals), Andrew Taggart (6-1, jr., G, 19.6 points, 2.4 assists), Jake Elly (6-1, sr., G, 10.3 points, 47 3-pointers), Brady McKnight (5-10, jr., G, 4.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists)

In the rotation: Erren Conwell (5-11, sr., G, 2.7 assists), Austin Lee (6-3, sr., F), Peyton Burnett (5-10, sr., G), Ethan Ross (6-2, jr., F), Gavin Davenport (6-1, sr., G), Greg Kolar (6-1, jr., G), Colin Durkin (5-10, so., G)

Outlook: Fox and Taggart are third-year starters for Riverside, which could emerge as a Western Reserve Conference frontrunner. Taggart is 288 points away from 1,000 for his career as a junior, and the athletes on this team should have some momentum coming off a strong football season for Elly, McKnight, Conwell and Maloney. Fox is among the area’s more versatile players. Riverside’s Dec. 6 start should help multisport athletes transition to basketball.

Schedule

Dec. 6 vs. Lake Catholic, Dec. 13 at Eastlake North, Dec. 16 vs. Kenston, Dec. 21 at Strongsville, Dec. 23 at Willoughby South, Dec. 30 at Gilmour

Jan. 6 vs. Chardon, Jan. 13 vs. Madison, Jan. 15 vs. Youngstown Boardman, Jan. 20 at Mayfield, Jan. 27 vs. Eastlake North

Feb. 3 at Kenston, Feb. 4 vs. University School, Feb. 7 vs. Willoughby South, Feb. 10 at Chardon, Feb. 14 at Madison, Feb. 17 vs. Mayfield

SHAKER HEIGHTS RED RAIDERS

Coach: Danny Young (15th season)

2021-22 record: 18-7, 13-1 Lake Erie League (district semifinalist)

Returning starters: Kellon Smith (6-3, sr., G), Aiden Diaz (6-4, sr., F)

In the rotation: Noah Chambers (5-10, so., PG), Ricardo Johnson (6-2, sr., G), Kaden Aaron (5-9, jr., G), Landon Future (6-5, so., F), Isley Woods (6-3, jr., G), Kam Lumpkin (5-11, so., G), Tae Smith (6-1, jr., G), Kylan Marshall (6-2, sr., F)

Outlook: Smith leads Shaker, which not only won its league but made a push in a tough Copley district, but now has a reconfigured lineup after the graduation of All-Ohio guard Daniel Young (now at SPIRE for a year of postgrad before Cleveland State) and Jalen Brown. Young’s squad beat teams last year with a gritty, small lineup that often outrebounded its opponents. Can that trend continue? Smith is one of the area’s top players, a do-it-all scorer who could be the Raiders’ heart and soul this season. He will have help with emerging talents, including Chambers, who earned varsity minutes last season as a freshman, and Future with that size they missed last season. This will be Shaker’s last season in the LEL before rejoining the Greater Cleveland Conference with Cleveland Heights, which the Raiders open with at the Great Lakes Classic.

Schedule

Nov. 26 at Cleveland Heights, Dec. 2 at Maple Heights, Dec. 3 at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, Dec. 9 vs. Garfield Heights, Dec. 13 at Solon, Dec. 16 at Shaw, Dec. 23 vs. Villa Angela-St. Joseph at Garfield Heights

Jan. 2 vs. Warrensville Heights, Jan. 6 vs. Bedford, Jan. 8 vs. Lutheran West at John Carroll, Jan. 13 vs. Lorain, Jan. 14 vs. Rhodes, Jan. 20 vs. Cleveland Heights, Jan. 22 vs. Lutheran East at Brush, Jan. 24 vs. Maple Heights, Jan. 27 at Garfield Heights, Jan. 31 vs. Shaw

Feb. 3 at Warrensville Heights, Feb. 10 at Bedford, Feb. 14 at Lorain, Feb. 17 at Massillon Jackson, Feb. 20 vs. John Hay

SOLON COMETS

Coach: Tony DeCesare (ninth season)

2021-22 record: 18-7, 7-3 Greater Cleveland Conference (district semifinalist)

Returning starters: Rayquan Thompson (5-11, sr., PG, 19.0 points, 4.7 assists), Caleb Walker (6-0, sr., G)

In the rotation: Cam Brown (6-3, jr., G/F, 6.7 points), Noah Morgan (5-10, jr., G), Luke Kormuth (6-3, so., G), Jordan Chaitoff (6-0, sr., G), Jordan Dotson (6-3, sr., G), Avery Perryman (6-3, jr.), Xavier Dose (6-4, so.), Amir Jones (5-11, so.) Carson Kurzawa (6-0, so.)

Outlook: Thompson established himself the last two seasons among the area’s premier playmakers with the ball in his hands, and he leads a strong core of juniors and sophomores. The Comets are inexperienced beyond the returning trio of Thompson, Walker and Brown, but Morgan could be among their breakout players. This will be one of DeCesare’s more inexperienced teams.

Schedule

Nov. 27 vs. Richmond Heights at Baldwin Wallace, Nov. 29 vs. Warren Harding, Dec. 2 at Strongsville, Dec. 9 vs. Euclid, Dec. 13 vs. Shaker Heights, Dec. 16 at Mentor, Dec. 28 at Wooster, Dec. 30 vs. Green

Jan. 6 at Medina, Jan. 7 at Walsh Jesuit, Jan. 13 vs. Brunswick, Jan. 14 vs. Glenville at Cleveland heights, Jan. 17 at Kent Roosevelt, Jan. 20 vs. Medina, Jan. 24 vs. Willoughby South, Jan. 27 vs. Mentor, Jan. 31 at Stow

Feb. 3 at Euclid, Feb. 7 vs. St. Edward, Feb. 10 vs. Strongsville, Feb. 14 at Twinsburg, Feb. 17 at Brunswick

STOW BULLDOGS

Coach: Dave Close (35th season)

2021-22 record: 16-10, 6-6 Suburban League (district finalist)

Returning starters: Titus Baskerville IV (5-10, sr., PG), Nick Timberlake (6-2, sr., G), Reece Raymond-Smith (6-6, jr., G), A.J. Pestello Jr. (6-6, sr., F/C)

In the rotation: Nathan Boozer (6-3, sr., F), Tyler Fleishour (6-2, jr., G), Andy Mergen (5-10, jr., G), Michael Romano (6-0, jr., F), Cam Marconi (5-10, so., G), Jack Smith (5-11, jr., G), Tyler Harrington (6-2, jr., F), Tyler Spiegel (6-2, jr., G)

Outlook: Stow won eight straight games to reach the district finals in Alliance, where it ran into Green for a trip to regionals. The Bulldogs hovered around .500 before their hot streak to close the season, which Close credited to improved shot selection as his team grew with experience. They had size with Raymond-Smith and Pestello as part of a lineup that included 6-6 guard Marvin Campbell. Despite losing Campbell to graduation, Stow still has plenty of size. Close likes the depth, adding junior varsity players who pushed the varsity each day in practice, to go with Baskerville at the point. He started every game last season as the Bulldogs’ floor general, a lead-by-example guard who can get to the rim and dives to the floor to chase after loose balls.

Schedule

Nov. 23 at Massillon Jackson, Dec. 2 vs. Cuyahoga Falls, Dec. 3 vs. Normandy, Dec. 6 vs. Kent Roosevelt, Dec. 13 vs. Brecksville, Dec. 16 at North Royalton, Dec. 20 vs. Walsh Jesuit, Dec. 28 at Copley

Jan. 3 vs. Wadsworth, Jan. 6 vs. Nordonia, Jan. 10 at Twinsburg, Jan. 13 at Hudson, Jan. 17 vs. St. Vincent-St. Mary, Jan. 20 at Green, Jan. 24 at Brecksville, Jan. 27 vs. North Royalton, Jan. 31 vs. Solon

Feb. 3 at Wadsworth, Feb. 7 at Nordonia, Feb. 10 vs. Twinsburg, Feb. 14 at Brunswick, Feb. 17 vs. Hudson

STRONGSVILLE MUSTANGS

Coach: Kevin Sapara (third season)

2021-22 record: 14-10, 4-6 Greater Cleveland Conference (sectional finalist)

Returning starters: Justin Wypasek (5-10, sr., G, 17.0 points), Josh Byers (6-2, so., G, 8.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists)

In the rotation: Nick Quirino (6-2, G), Cal Klinzing (6-5, F), Ryan Byers (5-10, jr., G), Nolan Beard (6-6, so., F), Keegan Cubbinson (6-2, jr., F), Landon Kaiser (6-1, jr., G), Brayden Wypasek (5-11, so., G)

Outlook: Wypasek is one of the area’s quickest guards, who can create his own shot and earned All-GCC each of the last two years. Byers, who started last season as a freshman, earned honorable mention All-GCC to give the Mustangs a solid foundation as a conference-title contender. Quirino, Klinzing and Ryan Byers also are back from last season’s team, which scored a road in at Mentor among some of its best performances. With Wypasek back as a four-year starter, he sets the tone for a squad that will be tested by two early GCC games before mid-December.

Schedule

Nov. 29 at Olmsted Falls, Dec. 2 vs. Solon, Dec. 9 at Medina, Dec. 13 vs. Lakewood, Dec. 16 at Euclid, Dec. 20 vs. Brooklyn, Dec. 21 vs. Riverside, Dec. 27 vs. TBD in Florida, Dec. 28 vs. TBD in Florida, Dec. 29 vs. TBD in Florida

Jan. 6 vs. Brunswick, Jan. 7 at Akron East, Jan. 13 at Mentor, Jan. 14 vs. University School at Cleveland Heights, Jan. 20 at Brunswick, Jan. 24 at Holy Name, Jan. 27 vs. Euclid, Jan. 31 at North Royalton

Feb. 3 vs. Medina, Feb. 10 at Solon, Feb. 14 vs. Berea-Midpark, Feb. 17 vs. Mentor

ST. EDWARD EAGLES

Coach: Eric Flannery (27th season)

2021-22 record: 21-6 (state semifinalist)

Returning starters: Danny Lavelle (6-5, sr., G/F, 35 percent 3-point shooter), Cameron Grant (6-7, sr., F, 6.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.6 blocks)

In the rotation: Lucas Perusek 6-1, sr., PG), Brevyn Coleman (6-2, sr., G), Wendell Henry (6-6, jr., F, 4.9 points, 3.6 rebounds), Ryan Hargett (6-6, sr., F), Brian Sullivan (6-1, jr., G), Joey Scarpitti (5-10, jr., G), Ricky Busey (6-2, jr., G), Ukize Ubungu (6-2, jr., G), Max McClellan (6-6, jr., F)

Outlook: The Eagles made it to Dayton for their first state semifinal run since 2019, making up for missed opportunities the two years in between, with talented guard Michael Bova (18.2 points) and Co. Bova is now at Bellarmine in Kentucky. St. Edward brings back three big frontcourt players who also can stretch the floor. They include two seniors in Lavelle, a third-year standout, and Grant, who is a Stanford commit and the son of former Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant. Henry earned significant time in last season’s deep tournament run and as a spot starter, depending on matchups. Perusek showed glimpses of what he can bring last season and is among the area’s most athletic point guards. He is joined in the backcourt by Sullivan, who had a big summer before returning to football as a starting wide receiver. Coleman and Scarpitti also are in line for significant role increases, while Hargett and McClellan provide length and athleticism to what’s becoming a deeper front line. This squad has balance, but it will go as its guards go.

Schedule

Nov. 27 vs. Medina at Baldwin Wallace, Dec. 3 at Lakewood, Dec. 10 vs. Toledo St. John’s Jesuit, Dec. 13 at Brush, Dec. 21 vs. Reynoldsburg, Dec. 26-30 vs. TBD at Holiday Classic in Torrey Pines, Calif.

Jan. 6 vs. St. Ignatius, Jan. 11 vs. Lutheran East, Jan. 13 vs. Bloomfield Hills (Mich.), Jan. 20 at Villa Angela-St. Joseph, Jan. 21 at Cleveland Central Catholic, Jan. 22 vs. Garfield Heights at Brush, Jan. 26 vs. Benedictine, Jan. 27 at St. Vincent-St. Mary

Feb. 3 at St. Ignatius, Feb. 7 at Solon, Feb. 9 vs. John Hay, Feb. 14 at Brecksville, Feb. 17 vs. Richmond Heights

ST. IGNATIUS WILDCATS

Coach: Cam Joyce (fourth season)

2021-22 record: 17-12 (state semifinalist)

Returning starters: Ace Buckner (6-2, jr., G), Carter Jackson (6-2, jr., G), Braydn Szczepaniak (6-5, sr., F)

In the rotation: Damon Friery (6-9, so., F), Sam Springer (6-6, jr., F), Owen Maruca (6-7, sr., F/C), Tristan Marshall (6-6, sr., F), Matt Ellis (5-11, jr., G), Reece Robinson (6-8, jr., F), Sean Martin (6-1, jr., G), Jack Zapolnik (5-11, jr., G), Michael Lamirand (6-3, jr., G)

Outlook: The Wildcats made their second straight trip to the state semifinals under Joyce, whose squad is deep with a combination of experience in the backcourt and potential on the front line to make a third straight run to Dayton. Buckner’s leadership has set the tone after joining the program as a sophomore. He is one of two coaches’ sons on the roster, with his father being Cavaliers assistant Greg Buckner and Robinson being the son of new Cleveland State coach Daniyal Robinson. Jackson and Szczepaniak have been vital parts to the Wildcats’ last two deep tournament runs, but they must adjust to the lost of C.J. Little, who transferred to Garfield Heights, and is one of the state’s best on-ball defenders. Three players have received Division I college scholarship offers, including Buckner, Jackson and Friery. Springer, Szczepaniak and Marshall also are receiving interest to play at the next level.

Schedule

Nov. 26 vs. Euclid, Dec. 2 vs. Gilmour, Dec. 6 at Walsh Jesuit, Dec. 9 vs. Lutheran West, Dec. 15 at Villa Angela-St. Joseph, Dec. 17 vs. Columbus Africentric at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Dec. 19 vs. TBD in Las Vegas, Dec. 20 vs. TBD in Las Vegas, Dec. 21 vs. TBD in Las Vegas, Dec. 22 vs. TBD in Las Vegas

Jan. 2 vs. St. Vincent-St. Mary, Jan. 6 at St. Edward, Jan. 8 vs. Mentor at John Carroll, Jan. 14 at North Canton Hoover, Jan. 15 vs. Huntington Prep at Flyin’ to the Hoop in Kettering, Jan. 18 at Lutheran East, Jan. 21 vs. Benedictine, Jan. 28 vs. Buchtel

Feb. 3 vs. St. Edward, Feb. 4 vs. Glenville, Feb. 9 at Brush, Feb. 15 vs. Western Reserve Academy

ST. VINCENT-ST. MARY FIGHTING IRISH

Coach: Dru Joyce II (22nd season)

2021-22 record: 23-4 (Division II state champion)

Returning starters: Kevin Hamilton (5-6, sr., PG), Lance “L.A.” Hayes (6-4, sr., G), Darius Stratford (6-10, sr., C)

In the rotation: Torell Hopson III (6-2, sr., G), Jayson Walker (5-10, jr., G), Nick Modugno (6-3, sr., G), Aidan Callahan (5-10, sr., G), Sir Charles Gordon (6-4, jr., G/F), John Whorton (6-7, so., F/C), Daniel Ajose (6-6, jr., G/F), David Ajose (6-6, jr., G/F), Gabe Mansel (6-2, so., G), DeCarlo Prince (6-2, G), RayShawn Hamilton (6-2, G)

Outlook: Coming off a second straight state championship in Division II, the Fighting Irish return to Division I. Joyce’s program reached the state finals in Ohio’s largest classification during its one season in D-I in 2019. This team is similar to that one with Hayes leading a deep lineup, but a much different one than the last two that reached Dayton and ran opponents off the court with full-court pressing and star power. Sencire Harris, now at Illinois, and Ramar Pryor, now at Cleveland State, are the big voids from last season. Hayes, though, is a Kent State commit with a speedy point guard in Hamilton and imposing force inside with Stratford, who is receiving interest from Cleveland State and Appalachian State. This roster also is bigger around Stratford, adding another complexion to this squad.

Schedule

Nov. 26 at Reynoldsburg, Dec. 3 at Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller, Dec. 10 vs. Toledo Central Catholic, Dec. 13 at Walsh Jesuit, Dec. 17 vs. Sierra Canyon at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Dec. 18 at Lima Senior, Dec. 20 vs. Youngstown Chaney, Dec. 28 at Philadelphia Math, Civic & Sciences, Dec. 29 at. Archbishop Ryan in Philadelphia

Jan. 2 at St. Ignatius, Jan. 4 vs. South Oak Cliff (Texas), Jan. 7 vs. The Chosen One’s at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, Jan. 13 at Centerville, Jan. 15 vs. The Skills Factory at Flyin’ to the Hoop in Fairmont, Jan. 17 at Stow, Jan. 21 vs. Full Court Press, Jan. 27 vs. St. Edward, Jan. 31 vs. Archbishop Hoban

Feb. 11 vs. Brush, Feb. 14 vs. Lutheran East, Feb. 17 vs. Wooster, Feb. 18 vs. Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy at Canton Fieldhouse

TWINSBURG TIGERS

Coach: Phil Schmook (seventh season)

2021-22 record: 18-6, 9-3 Suburban League (district semifinalist)

Schedule

Nov. 29 vs. Lakewood, Dec. 3 vs. Bedford, Dec. 6 at Kenston, Dec. 13 at Nordonia, Dec. 16 vs. Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, Dec. 17 vs. Hudson, Dec. 22 at Aurora, Dec. 27 at Mayfield, Dec. 29 at Hudson

Jan. 3 vs. North Royalton, Jan. 6 at Brecksville, Jan. 10 vs. Stow, Jan. 13 at Wadsworth, Jan. 20 at Hudson, Jan. 24 vs. Nordonia, Jan. 27 at Chagrin Falls, Jan. 31 vs. Firestone

Feb. 3 at North Royalton, Feb. 7 vs. Brecksville, Feb. 10 at Stow, Feb. 14 vs. Solon, Feb. 17 vs. Wadsworth

UNIVERSITY SCHOOL PREPPERS

Coach: Sean McDonnell (eighth season)

2021-22 record: 6-15 (sectional finalist)

Returning starters: Justin Belcher Jr. (6-0, jr., PG, 15.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists), Josh Belcher (5-11, so., G), Jonathan Diaz (5-10, jr., G, 6.0 points, 1.7 assists), Duke Brennan (6-4, jr., F, 4.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists), Ethan Nowak (6-7, sr., F, 10.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists)

In the rotation: David Jennings (6-1, sr., G, 6.6 points), Alec Congdon (5-11, jr., G, 6.6 points), Mikey Malone (6-0, jr., G), George Minello (5-11, jr., F, 7.0 points), Deacon Nelson (5-11, fr., G), Aditya Nalla (6-1, fr., G), Jamari Thomas (6-6, so., F)

Outlook: Belcher leads this experienced team, which is poised to build off last season’s tournament appearance that ended in the second round against Mentor. All five starters are back, and Belcher is already within reach of 1,000 career points with Ivy League schools looking at him. A pair of promising freshmen also could enter the lineup, including a Virginia baseball commit in Nelson. Belcher and Nowak, though, will be the leaders to establish the Preppers’ progression.

Schedule

Nov. 25 vs. Cleveland JFK, Nov. 26 at Berlin Hiland, Dec. 2 at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, Dec. 3 at Warrensville Heights, Dec. 10 vs. Berea-Midpark at Barberton, Dec. 20 vs. Garrett Morgan, Dec. 22 vs. Massillon Jackson at Mount Union, Dec. 23 at Fairview, Dec. 28 vs. Dalton, Dec. 30 at Eastlake North

Jan. 3 vs. Trinity, Jan. 7 vs. Padua, Jan. 13 at Gilmour, Jan. 14 vs. Strongsville at Cleveland Heights, Jan. 15 vs. Lake Catholic at Berkshire, Jan. 21 at Hawken, Jan. 27 at Villa Angela-St. Joseph

Feb. 3 vs. Benedictine, Feb. 4 at Riverside, Feb. 11 at Creston Norwayne, Feb. 17 vs. Orange, Feb. 18 vs. Lincoln-West

WADSWORTH GRIZZLIES

Coach: Mike Moser (fifth season)

2021-22 record: 11-12 (sectional finalist)

Returning starters: Caden Madigan (5-10, sr., G), Maxx Bosley (5-11, jr., G), Solomon Callaghan (6-0, sr., G), Alex Neville (6-0, sr., G)

In the rotation: Finn Schmidt (6-6, jr., F)

Outlook: Callaghan is a Wright State commit and has a shot at becoming Wadsworth’s all-time leading scorer, as the Grizzlies look to contend for a Suburban League crown. The Grizzlies’ up-and-down 2021-22 season ended with a close second-round loss to Brunswick, which they edged earlier in the season. Four returning starters are back from that team, including high-octane guard Maxx Bosley to go with Callaghan, Madigan and Neville. Wadsworth will miss the presence of 6-4 forward Connor Sams, but looks to lean on Schmitt as an athletic forward.

Schedule

Nov. 29 vs. Massillon Perry, Dec. 6 vs. Brunswick, Dec. 9 at Brecksville, Dec. 13 vs. Hudson, Dec. 16 vs. Nordonia, Dec. 17 vs. Triway at Orrville, Dec. 20 vs. John Adams, Dec. 27 vs. St. Charles at Thomas Worthington, Dec. 28 vs. Dublin Coffman at Thomas Worthington

Jan. 3 at Stow, Jan. 10 vs. North Royalton, Jan. 13 vs. Twinsburg, Jan. 16 vs. Norton at Hoosiers Gym, Jan. 20 vs. Brecksville, Jan. 24 at Hudson, Jan. 27 at Nordonia, Jan. 31 vs. Canton McKinley

Feb. 3 vs. Stow, Feb. 7 at Massillon Washington, Feb. 10 at North Royalton, Feb. 14 vs. Highland, Feb. 17 at Twinsburg

WALSH JESUIT WARRIORS

Coach: Kevin Byrne (fifth season)

2021-22 record: 20-3 (sectional finalist)

Returning starters: Zach Halligan (6-3, sr., F)

In the rotation: Keith Rivers (6-6, sr., F), Max Matta (6-3, sr., G/F), Tyler Bell (6-0, jr., G), Sean Spicer (6-5, jr., F), Ruel Tomlinson Jr. (6-4, jr., F), Robert McFarren (5-10, sr., G), Jesse James (6-2, jr., G), Joe Sitarz (6-3, jr., F), Jack Burke (6-2, sr., G), Nick Mitchell (6-4, jr., F), Sam Weber (6-4, jr., F), Quinn McKiernan (6-1, jr., F)

Outlook: Halligan and Rivers lead a frontcourt that should be Walsh’s strength with Matta and Bell stirring the backcourt play. While Halligan is the lone returning starter, Rivers came off the bench last season as one of the area’s better shot blockers and rebounders. They ran into one of the hottest teams down the stretch in Stow, which led to an early postseason exit. Byrne’s Warriors must now adjust without guard Quintin Walton, a football standout who contributed last season but is not playing this winter. The early adjustment to that loss will test Walsh’s backcourt depth, but its blend of size and athleticism should make it tough every night. Three of the Warriors’ first four opponents are in the preseason Top 25, and a rematch with Stow looms Dec. 20 for the defending Crown Conference champions.

Schedule

Nov. 27 vs. Brush at Cleveland Heights, Dec. 2 at Villa Angela-St. Joseph, Dec. 6 vs. St. Ignatius, Dec. 9 at Gilmour, Dec. 13 vs. St. Vincent-St. Mary, Dec. 17 vs. Youngstown Chaney at Springfield, Dec. 20 at Stow, Dec. 29 vs. Austintown-Fitch at Hudson

Jan. 3 at Medina, Jan. 7 vs. Solon, Jan. 13 vs. Lake Catholic, Jan. 15 vs. Green at North Canton Hoover, Jan. 20 vs. Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, Jan. 24 at Archbishop Hoban, Jan. 27 vs. Padua, Jan. 31 vs. Euclid

Feb. 3 at Lake Catholic, Feb. 7 vs. North Canton Hoover, Feb. 10 at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, Feb. 11 vs. CVCA, Feb. 14 at Rhodes, Feb. 17 at Padua

WESTLAKE DEMONS

Coach: Luke Harris (first season)

2021-22 record: 20-3, 10-2 Great Lakes Conference (sectional finalist)

Returning starters: Will Ostrowski (5-9, sr., G, 12.7 points, 5.0 assists, 1.8 steals), Deontae Redding (5-9, sr., G, 4.6 points, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals), Derek Occhipinti (6-4, jr., F, 7.0 points, 6.0 rebounds)

In the rotation: Anthony Fernandez (5-10, jr., G), Chris Brown (6-2, sr., G/F), Sam Brucchieri (6-5, so., F)

Outlook: Harris takes over at Westlake for Jeff Huber, who is now at Elyria Catholic after guiding the Demons to the GLC title. A season ago, they played an up-tempo style that produced high-scoring teams with big guard Ray Ellington (25.2 points, 8.1 rebounds) leading the way. Ostrowski got in on the scoring as a spark-plug guard and is a fourth-year starter. Harris not only has him, but the team’s second-leading rebounder from last season in Occhipinti as starting points this season. Redding also is back after missing all but eight games because of injury. Fernandez, Brown and Brucchieri — the starting quarterback on the football team — are new to the varsity squad this season.

Schedule

Dec. 2 at Olmsted Falls, Dec. 6 vs. Independence, Dec. 9 at Fairview, Dec. 16 at Rocky River, Dec. 19 vs. Lorain at Westlake Holiday Invitational, Dec. 20 vs. Nordonia or Oberlin at Westlake Holiday Invitational, Dec. 28 vs. Firelands, Dec. 30 at Parma

Jan. 3 vs. Elyria Catholic, Jan. 6 at Bay, Jan. 10 vs. North Olmsted, Jan. 13 vs. Fairview, Jan. 17 at Elyria Catholic, Jan. 20 vs. Rocky River at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, Jan. 24 at Normandy, Jan. 27 vs. Bay, Jan. 31 vs. Brookside

Feb. 3 at North Olmsted, Feb. 7 GLC tournament, Feb. 10 GLC tournament, Feb. 14 GLC tournament, Feb. 17 GLC tournament

WILLOUGHBY SOUTH REBELS

Coach: Doug Barber (sixth season)

Schedule

Nov. 27 vs. Euclid at Cleveland Heights, Dec. 2 at Rocky River, Dec. 6 at North Royalton, Dec. 9 vs. Kenston, Dec. 13 vs. Mayfield, Dec. 15 vs. Madison, Dec. 16 at Chardon, Dec. 23 vs. Riverside, Dec. 28 vs. TBD at Brunswick, Dec. 29 vs. TBD at Brunswick

Jan. 6 vs. Madison, Jan. 10 at Bedford, Jan. 13 at Eastlake North, Jan. 17 vs. Andrews Osborne, Jan. 20 vs. Benedictine, Jan. 24 at Solon, Jan. 27 at Mayfield, Jan. 31 at Kenstone

Feb. 3 vs. Chardon, Feb. 7 at Riverside, Feb. 10 at Madison, Feb. 14 vs. Eastlake North, Feb. 18 vs. Villa Angela-St. Joseph

Contact sports reporter Matt Goul on Twitter (@mgoul) or email (mgoul@cleveland.com).

©2022 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit cleveland.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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