With all five starters returning from last season and a strong offseason, Geneva’s boys’ basketball team is poised to shake things up in the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division this winter.
“We are a team that’s returning all five starters and had an extremely successful summer, finishing 7-1 in the Perry summer league,” said Geneva second-year coach Shane Clugh. “We were finally able to gain some experience from last season’s playoff run and the expectations for our team could not be higher. We are ready to get to work.”
The Eagles finished 7-17 last year but have the experience, talent and desire to make a major improvement this season.
“Our team strengths are our commitment to defense and overall desire to win and we always want to be the hardest working team on the court,” Clugh said. “We have a deep bench this year that should allow us to maintain our aggression over the course of 32 minutes.”
Geneva’s projected starters include a senior, two juniors and two sophomores.
Junior forward Nick Stoltz returns average posting 14.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.2 steals per game on his way to earning second team all-CVC and honorable mention All-Northeast Lakes District honors.
Stoltz also was nominated for the Ashtabula County Player of the Year award and participated in the Ohio Varsity Underclassmen Showcase.
“Nick’s greatest attributes are his hustle, defensive ability, and overall determination,” Clugh said. “There’s never a player on the floor that’s working harder and he takes great pride in guarding the opposition’s best player.”
Sophomore point guard Brandon Smith also averaged in double figures last season with 13.4 points per contest. He also contributed with 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
Smith was named honorable mention in both the CVC and Northeast Lakes District and competed in the Ohio Varsity Underclassmen Showcase.
“Brandon is the orchestrator of our offense and is currently seeing the benefits of his strong offseason weight room commitment,” Clugh said. “With a strong freshman year under his belt, we are looking forward to seeing him mature as a player and contribute towards taking our program to the next level.”
Junior shooting guard Grant Mihalick also returns to the starting lineup after scoring 7 points per game last winter. He was named honorable mention all-Northeast Lakes District.
“Grant started last season as our JV starting shooting guard before progressing into our third leading varsity scorer by the end of the 2016-2017 season,” Clugh said. “There are very few that share Grant’s dedication and desire to succeed and we’re expecting a breakthrough campaign from him.”
Senior forward Oscar Varckette and sophomore forward Blake Peet round out the Geneva projected starting lineup.
Varckette averaged 3.8 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist per game.
“Oscar finished last season as a starting forward and is perhaps our most versatile player,” Clugh said. “He can play any position on the floor offensively and is capable of guarding 1-5.”
Peet scored 1.2 points per game and pulled down 1.4 boards per contest.
“Blake is another player that progressed from a JV to varsity player during the 2016-2017 season and is coming off a highly productive summer,” Clugh said. “Blake’s greatest attributes are his toughness and athleticism and we are currently enjoying the mentality he’s contributing to our starting lineup.”
Clugh also expects major contributions from senior center Jared Rice (1.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg) and junior guards Seth Goodrick and Dawson Schafer.
“To achieve our ultimate goals, we will have to defend like we are capable and never take a possession off,” Clugh said. “If we do those things, we believe we can compete with anybody.”
The Eagles open the season at North on Dec. 1.