The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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Some people have it, and some don't.

You can't teach someone to sing like Whitney Houston, throw a football with the accuracy of Peyton Manning or hit game-winning shots like Michael Jordan.

Some people just have that "it" factor, and that includes leadership qualities. He won't brag about it, but Gibsonburg senior center Tony Egbert has that quality.

"As a coach, it's exactly like you'd want it to be,' Gibsonburg boys basketball coach Brent Liskai said. “As good a basketball player as Tony is, he's 100 times the person. His teammates look up to him, not so much because of his basketball ability, but as a person. Ask anybody in school who they like, they will say Tony. He is confident in himself and true to who he is. What else can a coach ask for?"

The 6-5 Egbert, who carries a 3.9 GPA, said being a team leader "comes naturally." He was the Golden Bears' starting quarterback the last three years.

"I'm not really the kind of guy who's going to scream and yell to get teammates going," he said. "I'm more positive and I try to lead by example. I'm pretty quiet."

The lone returning starter from last year's squad, Egbert is easily the Golden Bears' tallest player.

Junior wings Zac Smith and Lee Renner are both 6-1. Through five games, Egbert led the Suburban Lakes League in scoring (22.8 ppg.) and rebounding (12.8 rpg.) and was shooting 56 percent from the field.

Not normally known as a shot blocker, Egbert set a school record on Jan. 2 with eight blocks in an 85-84 loss to Hopewell-Loudon.

"Tony's always been a well-rounded player," Liskai said. "He can play inside and outside. He steps out to about 18 feet. He probably only averages about 15 shots a game, or about seven or eight more than last year. We're moving him around on the floor and he's taking a leadership role. He does a good job of playing within his limits."

Egbert isn't Gibsonburg's only scoring threat - senior point guard T.J. Bowen averages 16.1 points a game - but he is probably their most versatile. And, he is unselfish almost to a fault.

"Some of his passes are his best plays this year," Liskai said. "Sometimes we have to yell at him to shoot. He really wants to win. A lot of people think he's laid back, but he's got a big fire inside him.

From the time he was a young kid in our junior high program, he's done everything you tell him. If you tell him to take 100 shots in practice, he takes 200."

Egbert said he gets a lot of satisfaction from setting up his teammates to score.

"It's kind of fun when everyone's involved and everyone's playing well," said Egbert, who noted his favorite pass this season.

"It was the Genoa game," he said, "and I had the ball in the post and I was dribbling, and I saw Lee Renner cut towards the basket. It was just reaction. I was dribbling and I wrapped the ball around my back and he made a layup. After the game, Lee told me it was a sweet pass and he said he would have felt like an idiot if he didn't make it."

Egbert said he worked on his game in the offseason, but he didn't focus on any particular aspect. He played for Great Lakes Blue, an AAU team based in Perrysburg.

"I worked to get better on everything," Egbert said. "I probably worked on my post moves because I knew I'd be playing down there this year. Playing on my AAU team helped a lot. We had tournaments pretty much every weekend from March through May. Going up against the better competition and playing all those games every weekend really helped me improve my game."

Because of Egbert's size and ability to hit the outside shot, Liskai said several Division III schools are keeping a watchful eye. Egbert said his goal is to play basketball at the next level, but his focus is squarely on helping Gibsonburg (3-2, 2-0) compete for an SLL title.

"The first five games we have played as a team really well," Egbert said. "We have a lot of potential to be a very good team. The chemistry, we all just play together. We all know our strengths and weaknesses and don't try to do too much."

 

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