Hoop Teams Face, Dish Out Competition

Young Women’s team with new coach sees challenging schedule with move to the NOC

Despite an influx of young players, a new conference and a new coach, the women’s basketball team remains hopeful of successful season.

The Raiders face a more difficult schedule than last season due to Shaker’s recent move to the Northeast Ohio Conference, which includes Twinsburg, last year’s Division I state champions. Shaker faces the Tigers Jan. 5 at home and Feb. 13 away.

Last season the women’s basketball team went 15-7 and finished second place in the Lake Erie League. This year’s squad comprises mostly underclassmen and includes only four seniors.

“We do have a pretty young team, but they are pretty talented,” senior captain Gala Hughley said.

Athletic Director Don Readance also said the team is very young, tall and talented but thinks the biggest issue will be the team’s lack of varsity game experience.

“I am still expecting all the girls to work hard and get as far as we can. It all comes down to hard work and team chemistry,” Hughley said.

Along with the athletic conference switch, the women’s basketball team has a new a coach Randy Thomas (’01). Thomas was an assistant coach at Twinsburg and is no stranger to the new conference.

The competition gap between the LEL and NOC is huge.

“There is a big difference and a higher level of competition. We will adapt and play at the level that we can,” Thomas said.

The Raiders have a very deep bench and a variety of skillful players, bringing more opportunities for younger players to step up and impact the game.

“We will continue to get better every practice, game and scrimmage,” Thomas said. He said in the future Shaker women’s basketball will be the best in the NOC.

“It’ll be a big challenge, but a good challenge,” Readance said. “In time the program will compete successfully.”

 Men’s team hopes to overcome loss of Rozier and make tourney run through team effort

Rarely does a team lose its star player and go on to improve without them the next season.

Last year the men’s basketball team was 21-3, Lake Erie League and district champions and qualified for the regional final. After losing seven seniors, including star point guard Terry Rozier, this year’s team must work hard to repeat last year’s success.

Basketball Coach Danny Young said he expects the team “to play hard and smart together, carry themselves as positive young men and be role models.” He said basketball will take care of itself due to the team’s talent.

Plain Dealer Reporter Tim Rogers said he expects the team to excel. “A lot of kids are coming back, and they added one of the best freshmen in Ohio,” Rogers said, referring to freshman point guard Keith Griffin. “They have a chance to be very good.”  

According to Young, some people don’t think Shaker will outperform last year’s team. However, Young said the Raiders are equipped to replace Rozier because of key players such as junior Rosel Hurley and seniors Kash Blackwell and Jimmy Pope.

The road to success may be bumpy. Young scheduled many tough games against private schools such as St. Edwards and St. John Jesuit. He said that because the Raiders play all the best schools, Shaker could potentially lose every game.

Young said he thinks Shaker will perform better than last year because the squad is more balanced and everyone will play a great role, like the 1999 team, which played for the state title.

The Raiders opened the season as the top-ranked school in the Plain Dealer’s high school men’s basketball poll but fell 55-41 to Toledo St. John’s Dec. 1. Shaker played without Blackwell, Leach, Jimmy Pope and Hurley, who were serving 2-game suspensions.

However, “This is a year where we have a lot of parity…anybody in the Plain Dealer Top 25 has as good of a chance as any,” Rogers said.

A version of this article appeared in print on 13 December 2012, on page 14 of The Shakerite.

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