Friday, February 23, 2024

High expectations at West Geauga

With three returning starters from the squad that won the league title last winter, West Geauga enters the 2018-2019 season with even loftier goals.

The Wolverines, who finished 19-4 overall and 12-2 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division, return league MVP Josh Irwin and added another standout playmaker to the roster. With some developed depth, the Wolverines are loaded with potential.

“I feel our ceiling is very high as a team,” fourth-year head coach Jeff Javorek said. “We have been working hard and getting better every day. We have a great group of guys that compete and listen. We are getting to the point that now these kids have been in our program under our philosophies for multiple years.”

Leading the charge is sophomore Josh Irwin, who became the first freshman in league history to be named MVP.

The 6-foot-6 forward already has drawn a scholarship offer from Bowling Green State University and has taken college visits to Ohio State, Youngstown State, Miami (Ohio) and Dayton, among others. He averaged 16 points, 12 rebounds and five assists per game last winter.

“Josh is one of the best players in Northeast Ohio, hands down,” Javorek said. “He creates mismatches because of his ability to score on the perimeter or in the paint. I am expecting another breakout season for him.”

The Wolverines added another playmaker when junior guard Peyton Bissler returned to West Geauga after playing last season at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin.

The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 15 points and six assists per game as a sophomore.

“He is a very skilled player that has size, strength and speed,” Javorek said. “He has the ability to score points in a hurry and will be one of the top guards in our league.”

Junior Aidan Pitcock and seniors Stephen Javorek and Elijah Cutting round out the projected starting lineup.

Pitcock is a 5-foot-10 guard who averaged eight points and three assists per game last year off the bench.

“Aidan will be our point guard and our floor leader,” Javorek said. “We expect a lot of great things for him. He has had success at all levels for us throughout his time in our program.”

Stephen Javorek is a 6-foot-4 senior forward and one of West Geauga’s three returning starters. He averaged six points and six rebounds per game last winter.

“Stephen is rock solid for us,” Coach Javorek said. “He is one of our top defensive players and rebounders. He also has the ability to stretch the floor.”

Cutting, a 5-foot-10 senior guard, brings a great understanding of the game to the court.

“Elijah is one of our top playmakers,” Javorek said. “He has a very strong feel for the game and high basketball IQ.”

Javorek also expects senior Marco Formichelli to work his way into the starting lineup at times. The 5-foot-11 guard shot 42-percent from behind the arc last season.

“Marco will also be a starter for us throughout the year,” Javorek said. “He is one of our top 3-point shooters. We expect him to have a great year shooting the ball.”

Senior guard Jackson Gruber (5-9), senior guard Jack Musser (5-10), junior guard Harrison Gruber (5-11), senior forward Shaun Podojil (6-6) and senior forward Gabe Phan (6-7) will provide depth for the Wolverines.

“Our strengths are our offensive versatility,” Javorek said. “We have guys that can knock down shots and guys that can get to the rim and score around the basket. Our players know their roles and play within themselves. We are a better all-around team this year.”

The Wolverines hope to defend their league title this winter and follow that up with a district title.

To do that, the Wolverines will have to develop their bench and the inexperienced players will have to learn and gain experience throughout the year.

Steve Hare
Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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