Thursday, December 7, 2023

West Geauga hopes to bounce back

West Geauga hopes to bounce back from the one-win season it endured last winter.

To do that, the Wolverines will have to develop their young talent in a hurry as the team returns just one starter and three others with varsity experience.

“The team has been working hard in the weight room, on agility, and on basic skills. If they pull it all together, I think they will compete every night and even surprise some teams,” said first-year head coach Jim Fisher, an assistant on the staff last year. “Our biggest challenge this year will be overcoming our lack of experience and our lack of height. A lot of these guys are new to varsity basketball and will therefore need to learn to adjust on the fly. In regards to our lack of height, we are preaching team rebounding.”

While the Wolverines are limited in height and varsity experience, they do have quality shooters and plenty of depth.

“Our team’s strengths are depth and shooting,” Fisher said. “We plan on taking advantage of these strengths by rotating a lot of players to keep them fresh and offensively, put the shooters in position to succeed.”

Senior Finn Pitcock and juniors Andrew Prexta, Jerry Kline-Ruminski, and Sonny Catalano are projected to start.

Pitcock is a 6-foot point guard and the team’s lone returning starter. Prexta is a 5-foot-9 guard, Kline-Ruminski is a 6-foot-4 center, and Catalano is a 6-foot- guard.

“(Pitcock) is the coach on the floor. When things get crazy, he settles the whole team down,” Fisher said. “Andrew is an extremely hard worker who is gaining confidence daily. Jerry truly loves the game and can offensively play from the elbows to the blocks. (Catalona) has worked extremely hard to improve his shot and is a threat from anywhere on the court.”

West Geauga has three seniors, five juniors, and a freshman competing for the fifth spot in the starting lineup and adding the quality depth Fisher spoke of.

Torry Stazzone, a 6-foot-1 forward, Kaden Ryan, a 6-foot-1 forward, and Phil Moore, a 6-foot-1 forward, are the seniors.

“Torry was a major contributor on the football team who is trying to find his basketball legs. He is very athletic and will be a major contributor by the end of the season,” Fisher said. “Kaden is a strong kid who will definitely help us on the boards. Phil is one of the most improved players we have in the program and is fighting for backup minutes.”

Angelo DeDescicio, a 6-foot point guard, Travis Veleba, a 5-foot-10 forward, Joey Hornyak, a guard, Jesse Moriarty, a 5-foot-11 guard, and Van Peck, a 5-foot-9 guard, are the juniors.

“Angelo is another coach on the court. When paired with Finn Pitcock, he can play the point or two-guard spot,” Fisher said. “Travis is our team’s blue-collar guy. He plays defense, rebounds, and will most likely guard the opposing team’s best player. Joey is very quick and athletic and will help both offensively and defensively. Jesse is new to the program. He will be able to help the team with his shooting and quickness. Van is the defensive player that guards hate to play against because he is always in their face making life difficult.”

Landon Lear, a 5-foot-9 guard, is the freshman.

“Landon is a shooter that has to figure out how to play with the older guys,” Fisher said. “When he’s confident, he can shoot as well as anybody.”

West Geauga’s first order of business this season is to move on from last year. If the Wolverines can play aggressively on the defensive end, take quality shots, rebound, and limit turnovers, Fisher and his squad should be able to reach their goals.

“Our team’s goal for this season is to put last year behind us,” Fisher said. “The team went 1-10 and nobody enjoyed it because the program was shut down on so many occasions because of COVID. It was extremely tough on the players, families, and coaches.”

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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