Checking in with City League basketballWritten by Chris Schmidbauer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Now that the holiday season is officially in the rearview mirror, it’s time to get back down to business in the City League.
The prolonged holiday break presented unique opportunities for teams to showcase their talents in many small tournaments in and around the area. St. John’s Jesuit hoops squad took it a step further and traveled to Richmond, Va., to participate in a tournament.
Because each team has a different schedule, it is easy for the public to lose track of what has transpired in the world of prep basketball in the Glass City.
Here is an up-to-date look at the teams in the City League and their predicted order of finish for the end of the season.
1. St. John’s Jesuit: While the Titans’ dreams of an undefeated season ended at the hands of Baltimore Mount St. Joseph during the holidays, St. John’s still looks like the team to beat. Led by sophomore Marc Loving and seniors Cheatham Norrils and Zach Steinmetz, the team from Airport Highway has been impressive in every game it has played locally. That includes a big win Jan. 7 versus the Start Spartans. As of press time, games against Central Catholic, Whitmer, and Bowsher still loom on the horizon for Ed Heintschel’s team. While it is quite a test for the players, they still seem the team to beat in their final City League season.
2. Whitmer: The Panthers are the last remaining unbeaten team in the City League right now, and the maize and blue have gone through some very tough competition to achieve that mark. Even more impressive for Whitmer is it is still learning to gel after getting a late start because of the football team’s deep run into the state football playoffs. Coach Bruce Smith’s squad has won based off a team effort centered around sophomore sensation Nigel Hayes. The team’s early success has put it in a good position to steal a CL title.
3. Bowsher: Perhaps no team benefited more from the closure of Libbey High School than Bowsher. The Rebels already had scoring machine Robert Davis, but the additions of Maurice Birdsong and Lonacy Utley have made Bowsher one of the favorites to win the league. After a loss at Anthony Wayne in the team’s season opener, the Rebels haven’t lost a game. That could change with a Jan. 14 matchup at home against Whitmer and games against St. Johns and Central Catholic.
4. Central Catholic: Jim Welling’s team has gotten off to a great start losing just one of its first six games. Led by seniors Drew Lehman, Dareon Jones and a slew of others, the Fighting Irish would love to repeat as league champions in their final go around in the CL. The Jan. 13 contest against St. John’s will tell a lot about this team and just how good they are.
5. Rogers: The Rams are one team this season who could be a surprise team in the CL final four. Earl Morris’ high octane offense is built off of the fast break, and it could present matchup problems for other teams. Speedsters Damond Powell and Glandoy Hill are key to a successful season, but the team’s lack of height won’t be easy to overcome.
6. Start: Start has been another surprise team this season. Led by former Libbey Cowboy Maurice Taylor, Gil Guerrero’s team has used its speed to upset some teams. The Spartans aren’t very deep which could cost them, but don’t underestimate this squad.
7. St. Francis: Knights first-year head coach Brad Britton has had a tough road to travel this season. St. Francis only had one player, who played significant minutes, return this season. The job the new coach has done has been pretty solid, but a lack of talent might derail any hopes of a Cinderella ending.
8. Waite: The Indians are another team that could surprise some of the other teams this season. Returning starters Ke-Sean Harris and Dijon Harris are one of top duos in all of the area. But a lack of consistency has cost Waite some games early this season.
9. Scott: After just a four-win season last year, new Bulldogs head coach Chris Dames hasn’t had a great start. Scott is winless this season, but one thing the team can be proud of is it has shown toughness this season.
10. Clay: The Eagles have just one win this season and it was against Woodward. Clay had just three wins last season and with only four starters returning, this season is only going to get tougher.
11. Woodward: The highlight of the Polar Bears season has been the opening of the school’s new gym. Other than that it has been a tough start for the Jason Moss’ team.
Chris Schmidbauer is sports editor for Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. He is also the co-host of the “Odd Couple Sports Show” on Fox Sports Radio 1230 WCWA and can be heard every weekday from 10 a.m. to noon. He can also be seen weekly on the “Friday Night Frenzy Tailgate Show” on NBC 24’s America One. Contact him at email@example.com.