By DAVE HANNEMAN
Findlay High School’s boys basketball team, with a home-opener win already in the books, will try to get its league season off to a positive start as well when the Trojans host Toledo Whitmer on Friday in a Three Rivers Athletic Conference matchup.
Findlay is 1-1 after Tuesday’s 69-47 win over Toledo Woodward. Whitmer enters the contest 1-0.
Both teams opened their seasons against Toledo Start. Findlay fell 50-42 at Start last Friday. Whitmer hosted the same Start team a night later and beat the Spartans 58-41.
In the transition from last season to this one, Findlay High coach Jim Rucki likens Whitmer to his own Trojans in a way. Both teams graduated three starters who supplied a good deal of their team’s offense.
“They are like us in that they lost some of their top scorers,” Rucki said. “But they played a lot of sophomores and freshmen last year, too, so they have five or six guys back who played a lot of minutes.”
Juniors Trey Syroka and Eddie Colbert were two of those young players seeing plenty of playing time last season. Syroka, a 5-9 guard, led Whitmer with 15 points in the Panthers’ opening win over Start; Colbert, a 6-5 wing, backed him with 13 points of his own.
Those two typify not only a young Whitmer team, but a deep and talented one as well.
“Even with those freshmen and sophomores playing varsity last season, Whitmer’s JVs still won the league,” Rucki said. “They were really young last year, so this year they have a bunch of guys they can throw at you. Some are good shooters, some are really long and athletic, some are going to be real quick ball hawks who get after you … and they have the big kid inside, a real banger.”
Whitmer’s big guy in the middle is Cavon Butler, a 6-4, 265-pound junior who was a first-team all-TRAC and third-team all-Ohio defensive lineman.
“He’s a load, and he can move around the basket,” Rucki said.
Running the point for Whitmer is Riley Keller, another young talent who is a sophomore but already has twice been selected the top quarterback in the TRAC.
Findlay got a career-high 21 points from 6-5 senior post Isaac Schumm in Tuesday’s win over Woodward. Junior guards Ryan Nunn (15) an Ryan Roth (14) combined for another 29 points. Schumm and Nunn also grabbed five rebounds each. Adam Gutting led the Trojans with seven rebounds and Ben Howard and Chayse Stillings had six each as Findlay used balance on the boards to outrebound Woodward 37-20.
Rucki expects a stiffer challenge from Whitmer, though.
“We played well in spurts. Not the whole game but in spurts,” he said of Tuesday’s win over Woodward.
“The players needed this win. They needed to see results. They realize we still have a long way to go, but this win bought us two days of going into practice and getting better.
“There are a lot of things we can get better at and hopefully we get better at a couple of them by Friday.”
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By DAVE HANNEMAN