Monday, February 26, 2024

Tigers focused on defense

With two returning starters and four seniors in the projected starting lineup, the Chagrin Falls Tigers have a blend of experience and talent.

The Tigers also have plenty of depth as they tip off the 2017-2018 season.

“We feel like we have the makings for a good team,” said 13th-year head coach Dave Bargar. “When we are healthy and have our full complement of players, we expect to be competitive within our conference. Our team has some depth, defensive length and is very unselfish. As always, we will look to be versatile defensively and play to our strengths on the offensive end.”

The projected starters include seniors Mason Bartlett, Adam Bencko, Will DiFiore and Nick DiFiore.

Bencko, a 6-foot-2 forward, and Will DiFiore, a 6-foot-1 forward, are returning starters. Bencko averaged 7.7 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest in being named honorable mention All-Chagrin Valley Conference. DiFiore finished the year with 3.8 points and 1.8 rebounds per contest.

“Adam became a starter for us as a sophomore and brings a lot of experience to our team. Adam’s strength has always been his 3-point shooting, but this year he has really improved his ability to get to the basket. He anticipates very well on defense and is always one of our leaders in steals. We expect a big season from Adam this year,” Bargar said. “Will is a high-energy player that does so many different things to help teams win. Will is very opportunistic, he moves well without the ball, he is a good rebounder, can make a 3 when open and is extremely unselfish. He has really worked hard on his game and I look forward to him having a great season.”

Bartlett, a 6-foot guard, averaged 4.2 points and 3.1 assists per game last year. Nick DiFiore, a 6-foot-4 forward, scored 2.8 points with 2.8 rebounds per contest.

“Mason has the ability to play both guard positions. He does everything well. He can shoot, finish at the rim, find the open man, handle the ball, rebound and defend. He brings a steadying influence to our team and will have a huge impact on our season,” Bargar said. “Nick provides our team with a big presence inside, bringing us some physicality and toughness. He has good hands and footwork down on the block and he is a very good passer within our offense. We think Nick will play an important role for us this year.”

Junior Jack Amendola, a 5-foot-9 guard, is the lone underclassman projected to start for the Tigers.

“Jack is a dynamic player possessing tremendous speed and quickness that can cause havoc defensively,” Bargar said. “He can really push the ball in transition, is a good passer and shooter. He should be a big factor as he gets more comfortable on the varsity level.”

Junior Jenson Yonker also should play a critical role for the Tigers. The 6-foot-3 forward averaged 8.8 points and 5.2 rebounds last season in being named honorable mention All-CVC.

“Jenson is our most versatile offensive player,” Bargar said. “He can score in a variety of ways, which makes him difficult to defend. He’s very good at getting to the rim and can finish with either hand. He’s improved his 3-point shooting during the summer, which will make him even harder to guard.”

Seniors Jack Deignan, Thomas DiGiampietro, Jake Fritz, David Mayer and Michael Vinci and juniors Josh Janus, Mike Vandertill, Cole Weiss, Matthew Suzelis, Jonathan Edwards and Peyton Lewis will provide depth for Chagrin Falls.

“In order for us to be successful on a consistent basis, we will need to defend at a high level each game,” Bargar said. “We are also going to need to put pressure on opposing defenses by using our unselfishness to our advantage. We will also need to focus on rebounding at both ends of the floor.”

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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