Last season, Waite boys’ basketball won the City League regular season title (10-
1) and finished the season 14-6, losing to Scott in the Division I sectional final at Central Catholic’s Sullivan Center.
Of course, every season there is plenty of competition in the CL with perennial powers St. John’s Jesuit, Scott, Libbey, Central Catholic, and St. Francis DeSales. Don’t forget that every single school in the CL always brings something to the table, whether it’s Start, Rogers, Whitmer, or whoever.
The table is not bare for Coach Dave Pitsenbarger, a 1983 Waite graduate who has done his job making his alma mater a contender.
“We have three players returning (Antonio Allen, Dishon Harris, Ke-sean Harris) who have been a part of our success the past two years. They know what it takes and how it feels to win,” Pitsenbarger said. “We have the flexibility to go with several lineups—big, small, small and quick, big and quick, and a mix.
“We’re looking for leaders. We need someone to lead both on and off the court,” Pitsenbarger continued.
Waite girls finished the CL regular season with one loss, too, but lost to Start three times last year — during the regular season, in the CL championship game and in the Division I district finals.
Start will be the team to beat again, says Coach Manny May, but the Indians return Florida-state bound Natasha Howard, a 6-3 center.
"Start is the team to beat," May said. "Nobody has dethroned them yet, so
|Waite's Ke-sean Harris
they're still the team to beat."
May added that the keys to the Indians’ season are to play good defense and shoot better from the free throw line than they did a year ago.
“Defense wins championships,” the coach said. “We have to cut down on turnovers and make our free throws. We shot about 65 percent last year and I’d like to get that around 70-75 percent this season. Our goal is the (CL) final four and I believe we have what it takes for a title.
“We have to mature and our seniors have to step up and bring the other kids along and help them out and be there for them. We have to mature early and get better and better as the season goes along.”
Moving along to the Toledo Area Athletic Conference, Cardinal Stritch has always been a perennial power in girls basketball, but the Cardinals are dealing with Ottawa Hills and Toledo Christian teams that are returning every starter. Coach Gary Lemle has not given up on a title, though.
Lake's Kaysie Brittenham
“We must rebound the basketball as a team,” he said. “We are not the biggest team in the height category. We must play hard consistently for four quarters. One bad quarter last year prevented us from sharing the TAAC title with Ottawa Hills.
“We have to play better defense for four quarters. If we play consistent defense and execute offensively, we will have the opportunity to be successful. The TAAC title is within our reach. We also need to have some postseason success and advance further than we have in the past.”
In the Suburban Lakes League, Lake girls and Eastwood boys are seeking to repeat championships. Both teams were undefeated in the SLL and had 20-win seasons.
For Eastwood, Coach Todd Henline said that from top to bottom, the SLL will be much improved from last season.
“The competition is going to be a little stiffer this year,” he said. “Genoa returns four of their top six guys and Elmwood brings back six returning lettermen. There are some teams out there who return some great guard play, including Genoa and Otsego. That’s a question mark we’re going to have to answer, and if we can answer that, we have a good shot at repeating.”
In the Sandusky Bay Conference, all Oak Harbor wants to do is get competitive. Coach Don Christie, who played on the 1983 Class AA state runner-up Oak Harbor team, was getting frustrated because his team was consistently losing close ball games. Rob Collier is replacing Christie at the helm this year.
“The conference is very balanced after Port Clinton,” Collier said. “We have more returning letterman than most teams. If the kids can learn to win, we can work our way into the top half of the conference.”