Genoa's boys’ basketball team fell short of repeating as Suburban Lakes League champion this season, but it wasn't for lack of effort.
Ninth-year coach Jeff Overmyer's squad had its season ended on March 11 with a 52-36 loss to Tinora in a Division III district semifinal in Napoleon. The Comets finished the season 15-8 overall and tied Elmwood for second place (10-4) in the SLL behind Eastwood, which went 14-0 in the league.
The Comets also won a third straight sectional title despite having just one returning starter from a year ago. Genoa had to overcome a late start to the season after the football team's run to the state semifinals last fall.
Four of Genoa's five starters played on the football team.
"We started a month late before we had everybody in the gym," Overmyer said. "We only really moved one game; our first regular-season game (a win over Old Fort), we played with having only 10 practices with the entire squad."
The Comets graduate five seniors from this year's team, including starters Marcus Vicars and Josh Palmer.
Vicars averaged 3.1 points and 4.4 rebounds a game while Palmer, who did not play football, averaged 11.8 points and 3.5 rebounds. Seniors Zach Apel, Derek Dickinson and Mark Newland combined to average six points a game.
The Comets will return a strong nucleus next season in Matt Bassitt, a 6-1 junior guard, 6-2 junior post Jon Lester and 6-8 junior Richard Wonnell.
Bassitt was a first-team all-league and second-team District 7 selection after averaging 13.6 points, four rebounds and 4.9 assists this season.
"Matt had a fine season," Overmyer said. "Being our only returning starter and also being the point guard, that makes him the natural leader of our basketball team. He hit two game-winning shots for us and hit the game-tying 3 at the end of regulation in the sectional final against Evergreen. When we needed a big play, Matt stepped up and made them."
Lester, who averaged 13.4 points and 7.8 rebounds a game, was named second-team All-SLL.
"I was very happy with Jon's performance throughout the season," Overmyer said. "He's a player who comes in the gym every day and gives you everything he has. His energy at both ends of the floor enabled him to be our second-leading scorer and rebounder."
Wonnell averaged 9.4 points, eight rebounds and 2.9 blocks a game in earning honorable mention all-league honors. Junior guard Nolan Eli was a key reserve.
Overmyer said the Comets played to their potential this season. Genoa averaged 58.4 points a game and allowed 52.7 a game.
"We only returned one starter from last year's 18-5 team that won the league and made it to the district finals," he said. "Getting a late start this season made it difficult, especially not returning much at the varsity level. We got off to that later start practice-wise and we didn't have a lot of time to get lot of continuity.
"When January rolled around, with the weather problems and getting games rescheduled, it was difficult to get any kind of continuity. We showed that when we were able to string together a good week of practice in preparation, we played well."
As he did this season, Overmyer next year will look to fill key positions with players from this year's junior varsity team, which went 13-7.
"Each of our last four seasons we've won at least 15 games at the varsity level," the coach said, "and each season we've had guys who primarily played jayvee the year before, and they've been very productive. I believe next year is going to be no different.
"We'll have more returning starters and more returning scoring and rebounding going into next season than I've had in the past five years. We're looking at this off season for our guys to improve their offensive skills."