Could this be the start of a turnaround? Northwood guard Tyler Williams and his fellow seniors hope so.
The Ranger basketball program has gone a combined 20-64 (.238) in the last four seasons. While this season’s record of 5-14 and 3-9 in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference is nothing to get excited over, there are reasons to believe that things are headed in the right direction.
For one, there is a group of six seniors that are eager to finish their final season with a bang, and secondly, first-year head coach Jim Scharer is committed to building and sustaining a solid foundation.
|Northwood senior Tyler Williams takes the ball in. (Press
photo by Don Thompson/Facebook.com/DNRsport)
Williams, a 6-foot shooting guard who averages a team-leading 16.8 points to go with 4.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists, says he and fellow seniors John Segura, Brandon Hoffman, Evan Perkins, Michael Autman and Brandon Mahoney want to leave behind a legacy.
“It really means a lot for us,” Williams said. “In the past, Northwood basketball has been down, so for our senior class to leave strong and try to start a new era of good basketball would be pretty cool.”
The starting lineup features a three-guard lineup of Williams, Perkins and Jake Davenport with Hoffman at forward and Segura at center. The bench includes the likes of Autman, Mahoney and sophomores Jacob Zieroff and Stephen Sutton.
“I think we've made some improvements as far as taking care of the basketball and playing competitive games against really good teams,” Scharer said. “We haven't been able to get over the hump against the good teams. We just haven't been able to take that step yet. But, overall, I'm fairly happy with our improvement.
Segura, who stands just 6-1, has been a major contributor this season as he leads the TAAC in rebounding with 10.8 per game, impressive considering that he is matched up with opponents who are usually two to three inches taller. Segura, who averages 10.4 points, second on the team, weighs 250 pounds and played on the offensive and defensive line for the football team, so he knows how to use his leverage to get inside position for rebounding.
“It's a want for the ball,” Segura said. “It's my way to help the team. I'm a 6-foot-1 center in a league where most centers are 6-4. I know I'm not going to score a lot of points, so if I can grab a lot of boards, I've done my job. And if I score, that's a bonus.”
Scharer touched upon some of the individual play this season, much of which he is pleased with.
“Tyler's had a really good year. I'm proud of his efforts,” Scharer said. “We go as Tyler goes. John has been a very pleasant surprise. Evan Perkins lost his summer because he had a broken collarbone. Evan wasn't anywhere near 100 percent until about three weeks ago. Since then, he's scored 20 and 15 in a couple games and he had 15 last night. We're getting him back which is making us a better basketball team.
“Brandon Hoffman, he's contributed a lot defending the post and has 52 blocked shots. Mike Autman, he's played every position for us, and we finally got back Brandon Mahoney at the end of January. We've had a lot of players contribute. We just have never been able to have it all (come together) against Toledo Christian, Ottawa Hills and Emmanuel Christian. Our kids are giving a great effort.”
Before coming to Northwood, Scharer previously served as Genoa's junior varsity coach for the past two seasons, and, before that, was the Lake Flyers head man. He is the Rangers' fourth head coach in the last five years, but if he can bring stability to the position, he might be able to turn things around at Northwood.
The team finishes the season with games against MVCD, Montpelier and Toledo Christian before taking on Ottawa Hills on Feb. 27 in the sectional tournament. Scharer says this is an opportunity for the squad to leave their mark on the season and set the tone for the rest of the program.
“That's what we're trying to do,” he said, “set a tone that will allow our younger kids to see how hard work pays off.”
Thus far, the players have bought into Scharer's approach.
“Coach has really worked hard in trying to turn the program around,” Williams said. “He's put so much time and effort into everything. He's willing to do anything to help contribute to the program. He's also doing some work with the younger kids to help them with their basketball skills.”
Competing in the TAAC doesn't make things any easier. The conference has become one of the Ohio's best small conferences.
“The TAAC is a really good basketball conference,” Scharer said. “It's one of those leagues. It doesn't take a whole lot of people to be good in basketball. Six of the (other) seven teams in the league have really good players. Every night is a challenge.”