Saturday, January 28, 2023

West Geauga focused on defense

With four returning starters and seven others with varsity experience, West Geauga opens the 2019-2020 season with high expectations.

Fifth-year head coach Jeff Javorek expects to see his young team from a season ago step up to maximize its potential this winter.

“We are very excited about our team this year,” Javorek said. “We played a lot of young guys last year to get them ready for this year. We bring back four returning starters and seven players that got varsity experience last year. We look to have a lot of experience and depth for this upcoming season.”

The Wolverines finished 13-11 overall and 5-8 in league play last season.

With a potent offense, the Wolverines surely will improve on that mark from last season and if the defense continues to improve, the sky is the limit.

“Our strength is our offensive capability,” Javorek said. “We have multiple guys that can score and everyone who will be out on the floor has the capability to shoot the three. We have one of the best duos returning in the area in Josh Irwin and Peyton Bissler. Our biggest challenge will be focusing on the defensive end. We need to focus on team defensive and getting stops consistently.”

Bissler, a 6-foot-1 senior guard, averaged 20 points, three rebounds and four assists last year in earning second-team All-Chagrin Valley Conference honors.

“Peyton is one of the top scorers in the league,” Javorek said. “He has the ability to get hot and score in bunches. He works extremely hard the entire year on his game.”

Irwin, a 6-foot-7 junior forward, was named first-team All-CVC after dropping 20 points with 15 rebounds and three assists per game. Last season, Irwin set the school’s single-season and career record for rebounds and he already holds Division I scholarship offers from Bowling Green, Miami (Ohio) and Youngstown State.

“Josh has been the best player in our conference the last two years and that isn’t going to change,” Javorek said. “He has improved his athleticism and will be a force around the basket. He has averaged a double-double in each of his first two years playing. We look for him to do the same and grow as a team leader for us.”

Aidan Pitcock and Patrick Garrett also return to the starting lineup.

Pitcock, a 5-foot-10 senior guard, averaged six points and three assists per contest last year while Garrett, a 6-foot junior guard, scored four points with two rebounds per game.

“Aidan is one of our quickest defensive players on our team. He is a hard worker and a great coachable kid. We look for him to attack the basket and facilitate this year,” Javorek said. “Patrick is one of our hardest working players. He is our lockdown defender and we will look for him to be a threat from the 3-point line.”

Ethan Pollak, a 6-foot-5 junior forward, rounds out the projected starting lineup. He averaged four points and three rebounds per game last year.

“We have big expectations for Ethan this year,” Javorek said. “We will look for him to help stretch the floor, rebound and protect the rim for our team.”

Senior Aidan Garvey and juniors Keegan Barnhart, Cam Rogal, Harrison Wolfhope and Anthony Formichelli will provide depth for the Wolverines.

Garvey, a 6-foot-5 forward, will help West Geauga in the paint.

“Aidan will give us a strong, physical presence at the forward position,” Javorek said. “He is a strong 3-point shooter and has the ability to be physical around the basket. He’ll be a strong addition to our team this year.”

Barnhart, Wolfhope and Formichelli are guards.

“Harrison played a lot of time last year as a sophomore. He’ll be in the starting rotation as well throughout the year. He is a tough, strong physical guard for us. He has the ability to shoot from outside and attack the rim off the dribble. He will be a prolific offensive rebounder for us,” Javorek said. “Anthony is a hard-working kid that is going to give maximum effort every time he goes out on the court. He’ll be a strong 3-point shooter for our team and gives us depth at the guard position. We have high expectations for Keegan. He will be a starter as well for us throughout the season. He is a prolific scorer and has the ability to score both inside and out. He will be a big-time playmaker for us.”

Rogal is a 6-foot-7 forward.

“Cam will be a force for us around the basket,” Javorek said. “He will also be a starter throughout the season. He is an extremely hard worker and coachable kid. He has great length and size. We will look for him to be a strong rebounder, shot-blocker and scorer around the basket.”

With two of the best players in the conference and quality depth, the Wolverines have the potential to win a league title and make a deep run in the postseason.

They’ll have to stick to their game plan and play hard on the defensive end to achieve their goals.

“Our keys for the season are to focus on playing fast and getting quality shots at the offensive end and then play tough team defense on the defensive end,” Javorek said.

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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