The Press Newspaper
If he keeps this up, Gibsonburg basketball standout Lee Renner just might finish
his senior season with a Suburban Lakes League scoring title.
Renner, a 6-2 wing, could care less.
"It would be cool, but Coach always talks about it being a team award," Renner said. "I couldn't do it without my teammates. You have to look at it like that."
Entering this season, Renner said he never considered individual goals. As a junior, he averaged 12.4 points a game and was named honorable mention All-SLL and all-district. He is averaging a league-leading 19.0 points per game to go along with 6.1 rebounds per game this season.
"I just wanted to have a good senior year as whole," Renner said. "Our team goal is to win the sectional and make it to districts. That's what we've always talked about. I haven't really thought about anything else."
Renner became a starter for coach Brent Liskai's Golden Bears halfway through his sophomore year. The promotion from the junior varsity team was based on Renner's ability to shoot.
"He's always been a good outside shooter," Liskai said. "This year he has extended his game and he can do more things. We're young - Lee and Zac Smith are our only seniors and we start two sophomores, so Lee has had to take a leadership role. Defensively, we lean on him more than we have in the past. He does whatever we ask him to do."
Through nine games, Renner was shooting 36 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. He has 80 3-pointers during his career, but he still doesn't always follow his coach's instructions.
"He's got outstanding range and when he's open, he shoots it," Liskai said. "He's that kind of shooter. If Lee's open, he needs to look at the basket. Sometimes we get on him that he doesn't look at the basket enough."
Renner said he refuses to be a ballhog and chuck it from the cheap seats just to improve his scoring average.
"I try to get my teammates involved," Renner said. "Sometimes when I'm not shooting the ball that good, I may not take more shots. I'm pleased with (my scoring), but I'm more happy with my teammates. We've had younger players stepping up. Zac and I have been playing well. Everyone has their roles laid out and we're just trying to do them the best we can."
Gage Beaber, a sophomore point guard, is second on the Golden Bears in scoring with a 12.4 average. Sophomore post Logan Jones is next at 10.1 points per game for Gibsonburg, which was 5-5 and 2-3 in the SLL after a 74-51 Tuesday night loss at Genoa.
The Bears are starting to get used to each other after a shaky start.
They opened the season with a 71-37 loss at Ottawa Hills, which suffered its first loss of the season last weekend. Gibsonburg also lost to league rivals Otsego and Eastwood by six points each, and Swanton hung on for a three-point non-league win over the Bears.
Gibsonburg bounced back with a pair of wins last week — 59-41 over Hopewell-Loudon and 62-38 against league rival Lake.
"This group has regrouped," Liskai said. "They could have pouted, but they went back to work. We're definitely respectable, but we're not as good as we can be yet."
Renner had 19 points and 11 rebounds against Hopewell-Loudon, and he scored 31 in the win over Lake. Renner, a 71-percent free throw shooter, poured in 32 points in Gibsonburg’s 66-62 win over Danbury and he had 26 points against Old Fort.
"Lee's had nights where he's been explosive," Liskai said. "It isn't about points with him. Against Woodmore, he only had 13 and they took him away but we had four other players in double figures. He's not taking a high number of shots. He's taking about 14-15 shots a game."
Liskai credits Renner and Smith with helping turn things around for the Bears.
"When you've got a really young team, it takes special seniors to make those young guys feel comfortable," the coach said. "With Lee and Zac, we get that. They work hard on the floor and it's a credit to those seniors that they make it a comfortable environment on these young guys."
Renner said he and Smith welcome their roles on this year's squad. Renner admitted that he had to work on his defense and ball handling in the offseason.
"Zac and I do take most of the responsibility and leadership," he said. "Logan and Gage played about every game last year as freshmen, so we look at them as leaders, too. They take some of the responsibility off our shoulders. The biggest thing right now is staying healthy. We're only about seven or eight deep, so missing anyone with an injury would just about kill us."
An above-average student (3.5 GPA), Renner is also involved in Key Club and with the yearbook staff at Gibsonburg. He said he's narrowed his college choices to either Ashland University or Kent State, where he will major in sports management with a minor in business.
Renner said basketball isn't necessarily in his future, so he's savoring every minute on the court this season.
"Heidelberg has talked to me for basketball, but that's about the only school right now," Renner said. "I don't know if that's what I want to do. Knowing I'm never going to make any money playing basketball kind of takes the point away. I want to focus on my career."