BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
Head Coach: Eric Sweet, eighth year
Last Year: 14-10 (5-7 SBC Bay)
Key Returning Players: Jac Alexander, 5-10, Sr., PG; Clay Schulte, 5-10, Sr., W; Blake Booker, 5-10, Jr., W
Forecast: To say that Oak Harbor has a lot of seniors on its team would be an understatement.
1 – Gage Brough – Sr.
2 – Jac Alexander – Sr.
3 – Colin Ish – Sr.
4 – Tyler May – Sr.
5 – Clay Schulte – Sr.
11 – Buddy Nuhfer – Sr.
12 – Blake Booker – Jr.
24 – T.J. Hallett – So.
33 – Anthony Stewart – Sr.
The Rockets have nine seniors and return four starters for a team that is looking to compete for a league championship and make a postseason run.
A number of players were not practicing because the football team had advanced so far into the playoffs, presenting a challenge for Eric Sweet.
“It’s a different challenge, but an exciting challenge. I know a lot of coaches that have had success in football and that’s carried over into the basketball season,” said Sweet. “We have to navigate and make sure everyone is healthy. It’s exciting to have this success in football.
“We have 12 kids in the gym right now. We have to slow down and go back to the basics. It’s been difficult at times, but the guys I have on the court have been phenomenal.”
Senior point guard Jac Alexander (5-10) will lead the offense and is coming off a tremendous season, one that saw him average 21.5 points last year. Joining him in the backcourt will be fellow senior Clay Schulte (5-10), a four-year starter who averaged 9.2 points and 6.8 rebounds.
Junior wing Blake Booker (5-10), who had to sit out the second half of the season last year, averaged 10.5 points and shot 38% from 3-point range. The fourth returning starter is 6-5 post Gage Brough (5.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg), who will be relied on to rebound and defend down low.
Some other seniors that will likely see playing time are 6-4 twin posts, Will Dowling and Gabe Dowling, and 5-10 wing Tyler May. Three more senior wings — Anthony Stewart, Buddy Nuhfer and Collin Ish — will also battle it out for playing time. Junior posts Ryan Ridener and Collin Fauver could also see varsity action.
“I’m excited this year because we have some pieces that are going back to their natural positions,” said Sweet. “Last year, we had to rotate kids where they weren’t 100% comfortable. Two years ago, Clay was phenomenal at the top of our zone, but we had to move him around last year. I feel like we have a group of kids back in comfortable positions.”
Sweet credited Brennan Ish for his play at point guard thus far, and notes that Max Hallett-Szymanski and T.J. Hallett could also see action at the varsity level.
“Those three guys, I would expect them to compete at the varsity level and also get some JV minutes,” said Sweet.
It should be another competitive season in the Sandusky Bay Conference’s Bay Division.
“I said the same thing last year. Willard is going to be good. It was a 4 or 5 team race last year and Willard ran away with it. Willard is going to be tough with Cooper Parrott, the Bay Division’s Player of the Year,” said Sweet. “Huron is going to be tough, they have a lot of returning players. I know we’ll be competing for a title. Margaretta has (6-8 post) Mitch Raifsnider, he’s a stud, and they’ve got some young point guards. I think the league is balanced like it was last year.”
Sweet talked about the goals for his team.
“Every year you’re trying to win the league title, trying to win a sectional and get to the district finals,” he said. “We want to win the league. It’s a goal as a coach, and I know it’s a goal for the players. They want to carry over that success from football to basketball.”