BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
Jared Rhode has been a part of the Port Clinton High School basketball scene since the 1999 grad played for the Redskins, and he’s coached basketball at Port Clinton and Sandusky over the last 20 years.
This basketball season Rhode is taking over the head coaching reins at Port Clinton, and it will be an exceptionally pesky chore.
Last year’s Coach Ryan Hicks, a Port Clinton basketball hero, decided to suddenly move on in August to instead join the basketball staff at Terra State Community College. Hicks’ playing and coaching ability in high school and college made him a standout, a reason why Terra State wanted to hire him as an assistant coach.
Hicks not only guided Port Clinton to a 14-10 record last year, but was also inducted into Port Clinton’s Athletic Hall of Fame in September. Hicks had local glory and glamour, leading Port Clinton (26-1) to the 2010 Division II state basketball championship game and was a first team All-Ohio selection as a senior and was a star at Defiance College.
When Hicks left, the heart and soul of his Port Clinton team was graduating, including all-time leading scorer Adam Thorbahn and his talented teammates. Jackson Beasley, a 6-2 senior, and the other seven seniors now on Rhode’s squad will have to step up to claim starting spots.
“It’s no secret that Jackson Beasley is the key to our offense, and should be a leader for us this year,” said Rhode. “Jackson can be our top scorer and demand a lot of attention from an opposing defense.”
While Beasley will be part of the Redskins foundation, Rhode believes there are other players who could help to take charge this season.
“James Crow is a good senior guard and shooter, while Travis Yarnell also has some varsity experience,” said Rhodes. “James is a shooter, and Travis is a physical player at 6-4. Noah Knecht, a guard, is our glue guy, very scrappy on the court. He’s a good defender, and can emerge as an offensive threat.”
Rhodes knows it will be very difficult to replace five experienced seniors. That was evident in Port Clinton’s loss to a tough Genoa High School team in the season opener on Friday, Dec. 1, a 53-45 loss. But Port Clinton managed to head into the final quarter tied at 30-30, despite Genoa’s talented 6-8 sophomore Walter Plantz, who is already drawing a lot of attention around the region.
Rhode, though, was proud of his team’s effort last Friday.
“It’s early yet, and we have a lot of work to do. But we’ll be better this season than some people think,” said Rhode. “I was proud of our effort against Genoa, and it’s my job to make sure we continue to get that effort from our team.”