Both members of the Southwestern Conference, the North Ridgeville and Midview boys basketball teams guarantee themselves two head-to-head clashes per year.
And for the Rangers, last year, in particular, was a rough experience.
The Middies entered the 2019-20 campaign as one of the top teams in the area, while the Rangers graduated almost their entire roster from the year before, leaving a group of inexperienced players to take their place.
There were mostly struggles last season as the young Rangers engaged in on-the-job varsity training, and they finished 4-19. Against the rival Middies, they lost twice by an average of 26 points.
A new season began on Dec. 15, and the Rangers were ready this time, beating the Middies on the road, 61-53. Senior guard Bryce Neumann scored a game-high 23 points, followed by Dom Farago with 12. Jake Boynar and Caden Masterson scored 10 points apiece.
The Rangers will head to Olmsted Falls on Dec. 29 for a 7 p.m. start.
Following a two-week pause of all athletic competition for schools under the Southwestern Conference umbrella, teams began returning to action early last week.
The Westlake boys bowling team was finally able to open its season, losing to Fairport Harbor at Parma’s Rollhouse Lanes, 2,837-2,475, on Dec. 13. Demons senior Jack Finucane was the team’s top roller with a 328 series (171, 157).
At the same time and location, the Demons girls team handed Magnificat its first loss of the season, 2,182-2,077.
The North Olmsted boys team had an up and down week, starting with a 2,020-1,831 loss to Avon Dec. 15, followed by a 2,151-1,473 victory over North Ridgeville on Dec. 16. Christian Stuver was the catalyst for the Eagles in the win over the Rangers, throwing a 439 series (227, 212).
On Dec. 15, the United Soccer Coaches organization, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., announced its high school All-American teams.
In total, 116 players (59 boys, 57 girls) from around the country were selected, with 40 coming from the state of Ohio. More locally, three players made the list.
Bay senior Brock Pickett was one of the most dangerous offensive players in the state of Ohio this past boys soccer season, and the Wright State University commit recently added the All-American title to his list. He racked up 31 goals and 21 assists for the state’s No. 1-ranked team in Division II.
Avon senior Keegan Dawson, a recent St. Bonaventure commit, was also earned the distinction. He tallied 24 goals and 27 assists and helped lead the Eagles to the Southwestern Conference championship this fall.
Among those selected to the girls team was Rocky River senior defender Keira Vesy, who was one of the anchors of a Pirates team that advanced to the Div. II state semifinal and broke the program record for shutouts in a single season with 15. Vesy will continue to play for Army at West Point starting next season.
A trio of North Ridgeville athletes made their college intentions known last week.
Will Jedlicka, who was the Rangers’ starting goalkeeper during the boys soccer season as well as the football team’s kicker, will continue his soccer career at NCAA Division II Mercyhurst University.
Jacob Flesher, also a multi-sport athlete, will continue his baseball career at NCAA Div. III Hiram University. Rangers baseball teammate Dylan Peregord will suit up for another Division III program in Defiance College.
Jaguars seek new soccer coach
After serving this past season as the head soccer coach at St. Joseph Academy, Mark Koehler stepped down last week. Formerly the junior varsity coach at the school for three years, he was promoted to the varsity head coaching position in February.
This fall, he guided the Jaguars to a 12-5-3 record and an appearance in the Division I district finals, where they ultimately lost 3-0 to Brunswick. Before coming to SJA, Koehler was an assistant at Rocky River and Magnificat, and has continued to serve as a club coach for Upper 90 FC and the Bay Soccer Club.
Interested candidates should send a resume and cover letter to assistant athletic director Maggie Berry at firstname.lastname@example.org.