Intelligent Green Bears like the color of MarchWritten by Scott Calhoun | | email@example.com
The Ottawa Hills boys basketball team boasts a team grade-point average of 3.37, and the high academic standard is translating on the hardcourt.
The 23-1 Green Bears are putting their brains together to carve a path through the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division IV brackets. At press time, a March 19 date with 2009 state runner-up Kalida in a DIV regional final at Bowling Green State University Anderson Arena was set to be the latest test for the team to take.
Having never been past a regional semifinal or to one since 1986, the next test is the Green Bears’ toughest yet, but coach John Lindsay and school guidance counselor Mark Nesbaum are confident these parquet pupils are exam-ready.
“Our athletes are focused and they’re involved in a lot of activities athletically, academically and in the community,” said Lindsay. “They have to be great managers of their time personally, and it’s carried over onto the hardwood.”
“They listen to their coach, follow directions and they’re just a very smart team,” said Nesbaum.
In a 57-44 regional semi victory over Miller City, the green-clad visitors on the scoreboard lofted just 35 shots in 32 minutes of action on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day. It had nothing to do with the opponent’s defense or too many turnovers reducing offensive opportunities.
Patience and sound decision-making resulted in good things for the Green Bears, who converted 21 of those select shot attempts for an impressive 6X % field goal percentage. In pulling away from an early third quarter 28-28 deadlock, they shot 67% (12-of-18) in the second half.
“Coach [Lindsay] preaches value of possessions,” said senior guard Eliot Browarsky, the team’s leading scorer and assistant with averages of 19.2 points and 6.1 dishes a game. The 6’0” District 7 IV boys player of the year averages 4.7 boards and 2.7 steals.
“During the regular season we pushed the ball in transition much more than in tournament,” said Lindsay. “Every tournament game will typically be a one-possession game.”
Browarsky and junior post/forward Andrew Jamieson (11.1 ppg, 5 rpg) form a deadly duo, but as one of only three seniors on the roster, Browarsky provides the veteran leadership to his underclass counterparts.
“Eliot does a great job at the PG position,” said Jamieson. “He makes the right passes and sees the entire floor better than just about anyone I’ve played with.”
Browarsky’s credentials extend well beyond his class status and hoop ability. He’s the reigning D-III state soccer player of the year in Ohio and in 2008 started on the D-III state championship soccer team, the school’s first since the field hockey team in1998.
Now Browarsky, heading to Elon University (NC) on a college soccer scholarship, may find himself as a catalyst for the school’s latest two.
His experience, coupled with his pure athletic capability, makes Browarsky the perfect leader to run the point for a team that has never been this deep into the hoop postseason.
“His success on soccer field and his tournament experience has helped us a great deal on the court. He is result driven,” said Lindsay.
“He’s the greatest competitor I’ve ever coached. With him, it’s all about the win.”
Additionally, senior Jon Shollenberger, juniors JJ Buckey (10.9 ppg, 62 ast, 41 stls) and Bobby Brunner, sophomore Ian Trickey and green freshman Lucas Janowicz (7.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg) are big contributors in all viable ways.
“This is an unselfish group of competitors. All season if one or two of our players are down there’s always someone else to step up,” said Lindsay.
The team has painted a defensive masterpiece. In the23 victories OH is limiting opposition to 39.4 points a game. In their lone loss at New Reigel midseason the Green Bears surrendered a season-high 76 points- but that included two overtime sessions.
Postseason opponents are mustering 39.6 ppg. Overall the Green Bears are making the grade with 58.6 points per outing. In outscoring opponents by nearly 20 points a game, it’s elementary why they have only one defeat
With brilliance exerted on both sides of the orange and averaging just 10.4 turnovers a game, the Green Bears hope to reach the brightest stage by earning a berth in the IV state final four to be played out at Ohio State’s Jerome Schottenstein Center March 26-27.