BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
Head coach: Ryan Hicks, second year
Last year: 6-18 (3-7 SBC Bay)
Key returning players: Adam Thorbahn, 6-3, So., W; Tyler Webb, 5-8, Jr., PG; Elliot Auxter, 5-7, Sr., PG
Forecast: After winning just six games last season, Port Clinton coach Ryan Hicks believes his team can climb the ladder in the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division. With sophomore wing Adam Thorbahn, who stands 6-3, the Redskins will have possibly one of the best players in the Bay Division leading the way.
Thorbahn will be joined in the starting lineup by Tyler Webb, a 5-8 point guard, Isaac Phillips, a 6-1 wing who transferred to Port Clinton and two posts in 6-2 Josh Hurst and 6-3 Tommy Owens, also a transfer student. Elliot Auxter, a 5-7 point guard, will split time with Webb running the offense, and Brayden Spencer (5-10 wing), Austin Slauterbeck (6-3 post) and Lucas Kyle (6-2 post) will be part of the rotation.
The ‘Skins were dealt a tough blow when the team had to shut down the program for two weeks just before the season started because of concerns regarding the coronavirus.
“It’s not ideal, but I’d say, with everything going on, you roll with the punches,” said Hicks. “We’ve stayed in contact and tried to do some mental things with Zoom. We’re trying to stay as mentally tough as possible.”
After starting last season 0-9, Port Clinton made the most of things, going 6-9 to finish off the season, a run that included its first tournament win, a 58-48 defeat of Clyde, since finishing as the Division II state runner-up in 2010, a team Hicks played on.
“We feel like we had a really good offseason. We look to build upon what we got going late last year — we were much better in the second half than the first half,” said Hicks. “Pretty much everyone in our rotation had a good offseason. We expect to have a good year. When we step on the court, there’s an expectation to win.”
In his second season at the helm, Hicks, who previously served as the JV coach, has coached every player on the team at some point.
“I think the expectations are a little more clear, just because I’ve coached everyone on JV or on varsity last year,” he said. “There’s a familiarity with the guys playing. I’ve asked for the same things that I asked for as a JV coach.”
For any team that wants to be successful, it starts on the defensive side of the ball, he said.
“We might mix it up a little bit, we have the personnel to play good man-to-man defense. We’re better than we were last year,” said Hicks. “We have a lot of guys who can guard multiple positions, we have guys committed to playing defense. I really take pride in our defense.”
The Bay Division features a number of good teams, but there are some star players who graduated last year. Oak Harbor and Willard tied for the league title last year, and Huron was in the mix, too, finishing just one game back. Edison should be improved, and Margaretta could compete for a conference championship, too.
“I think it’s wide open. There are a lot of extremely talented players that graduated last year. There are numerous players that are now college players. I think almost every team is going to look quite a bit different,” said Hicks. “We expect to be in the hunt for a league championship.”
Port Clinton played its first game against Fostoria, losing 51-46, and has to play two more good teams to begin the season in Willard, which won the conference last year, and Huron, who was also one of the top teams in the Bay Division.