June 26, 2016

Partly sunny

Boys basketball preview: Bucks are not short on goals

YORK TWP. — The Buckeye boys basketball team has big goals for the 2011-12 season. What the Bucks don’t have are big players.

With no true center on his roster and the tallest player standing 6-foot-3, fourth-year coach Matt Saunders hopes to pick up the tempo on both ends of the floor as Buckeye (10-11, 9-4) attempts to defend its Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division title.

Bill Doerge drives to the basket in a game against Black River last season. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY RON SCHWANE)

“The plan is to get out and run a little more and pressure more than we have in the past,” Saunders said. “We’re going to have a tough time in the half court both offensively and defensively, so we want to play up and down a little more.”

The Bucks’ biggest losses from a year ago are All-Gazette center Brendan Scott (11.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and do-everything forward Nick Wilson, but their only two letterwinners are important pieces to have.

Ben Checkelsky, a 6-foot-1 senior guard, has played on the varsity since he was a freshman and is coming off a junior season where he averaged 12.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

“Ben can pretty much score when he wants to,” Saunders said. “He’s really developed the last few years and is able to be more than just a shooter. He can score from the outside and get to the basket and foul line.”

The 5-11 Doerge averaged 7.2 points last season and led Medina County in 3-point percentage (.447, 17-of-38). Having just served as the quarterback and safety for the football team, he’ll be one of the Bucks’ leaders.

“Billy really came on last year at the end of the year,” Saunders said. “He’s developed a jump shot and gotten more consistent. He and Ben play well off each other. That’s our biggest strength offensively.”

Joe Galaszewski, a 5-11 senior, will join Checkelsky and Doerge in a three-guard starting lineup, while 6-3 junior Curtis Kinney and 6-1 sophomore Garrett Beck will form a small starting front line.

Senior Mike Rain (6-2), who played some varsity last season but didn’t letter, and juniors Matt Cox (6-0) and Nick Prest (6-2) will see the bulk of the time off the bench.

“It’s going to take us some time to figure everything out,” Saunders said. “We only have two guys that played significant minutes.

“In the half court, with our lack of size, it’s going to make it a challenge to score. We’ve seen that in our scrimmages.”

What should not be a problem is effort, especially at the defensive end.

“We’re athletic across the board, so there’s no reason we shouldn’t be good defensively,” Saunders said. “We still have a lot of learning to do, but with the makeup we have, we should be pretty good if the kids continue to buy in and improve.”

For that reason, the Bucks expect to defend their title in the Stars Division, where no team is head and shoulders above the rest.

“In the kids’ minds, they feel they have as much talent as anybody in the league,” Saunders said. “They won the league last year, so they want to defend that title.

“By the end of the year, this team could be even better than last year’s team. We have more guys that can do more things.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.

Rick Noland About Rick Noland

Rick Noland is the Cavs beat writer for The Gazette and the author of "Over Time," a compilation of stories he's written in more than 30 years as a journalist. He can be reached at 330-721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.