St. Vincent-St. Mary boys basketball coach Dru Joyce II had better make sure his team is ready for Peters when it takes on Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy tonight at 6:15 in a Canton Division II Regional semifinal at the Memorial Civic Center.
That preparation, however, will have to go much deeper than telling one of his players, “You’ve got Peters.”
If Joyce does that, things could degenerate into something akin to the old Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First?” piece — only there would be a Peters on every base, at the plate and in the on-deck circle, not to mention a bunch more in the stands.
Jay Peters, who led Medina to the 1983 Class AAA state semifinals and later played at Kent State before being inducted into the Medina County Sports Hall of Fame, is in his 10th year as the Royals’ head coach and owns more than 200 victories over a 15-year coaching career.
His son, Bob, a 6-foot-2 senior who has played varsity since he was a freshman and started for three years, is the program’s all-time leading scorer with almost 1,600 points. He is averaging 23.1 points this season and has a full ride to continue his career at NAIA Division II power Indiana Wesleyan University.
Another son, Michael, a 6-foot sophomore, also starts for the Royals and averages about 9.5 points, while youngest son Nate, a 5-9 freshman, played junior varsity this season.
Then there’s nephew Luke, the sophomore son of former Medina boys basketball coach Jody Peters, Jay’s older brother and The Gazette’s MVP in the sport in 1979. Luke, who attended Medina’s Claggett Middle School through the eighth grade, also starts for the Royals and averages about 6.5 points.
“The four of them, they make it easy on me,” Jay said earlier this week. “They work their butts off. They’re competitive kids. They come to the gym every day with a lunch pail.”
Bob, who was recently honored as a first-team All-Northeast Inland District choice, is the Royals’ leader on the floor. The 18-year-old shares the same name as his grandfather, who died Oct. 5.
The elder Bob Peters had a legendary career at Medina, where he coached boys and girls varsity basketball. Like Jay, he is a Medina County Sports Hall of Fame inductee.
The younger Bob Peters, who carries a 3.2 grade-point average, now talks about his dad the way Jay and Jody still talk about their father.
“My dad’s a great coach and a great man,” Bob said. “He pushes me, Michael, Luke and Nate. It’s just a great experience to come to practice every day.
“Some people call a basketball team a family. I actually mean it. It’s a great feeling and a blessing working with those guys.”
Bob, who has great jumping ability and is effective with and without the ball, saw a ton of action as a freshman, then averaged 20.8 points as a sophomore and 22.6 as a junior.
His game is similar to that of his first cousin, Tyler, who earned Gazette MVP honors as a senior after leading Medina to the 2010 Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division title and now stars at D-III Wheaton (Ill.) College.
“I didn’t just hand him playing time,” Jay said. “He had to earn it. He played a lot (as a freshman), but it wasn’t because I was his dad. It was because he had earned the spot and the time and the respect of his teammates. The same with Michael and Luke.”
Michael, 16, and Luke, also 16, team with Bob in what is basically a three-guard offense, with Jay’s sons sharing point guard duties and Luke functioning more as a shooting guard.
“Michael’s just a tough, hard-nosed kid,” Jay said. “He’s fearless. He understands his role and what we need him to do. Luke’s the same way. They’re not playing because I’m their dad and uncle. They’ve earned the right.”
Next in line is 15-year-old Nate, who has not yet gone through the traditional Peters growth spurt.
“He’s a young, scrappy little guy,” Bob said. “He’s competitive and he knows how to get things done, but he’ll be the first one to pick a fight with me after a bad game.”
Those have been few and far between for CVCA, which will bring a 24-2 record into tonight’s game. The Royals have reached the regional finals twice with Jay as coach, but have never earned a trip to the state tournament.
CVCA faces a huge obstacle in St. Vincent-St. Mary (17-9), which produced LeBron James and owns seven state titles, including five since 2000.
“I don’t know how many times they’ve won the state championship in the last 10 years, but I know it’s a lot,” Bob said. “I know they’re good and it will take our best game to beat them.
“But I wouldn’t go into a game thinking I couldn’t beat somebody. That’s the plan.”
That’s also the typical Peters approach, and it has been that way for at least three generations.
“Part of it is a cultural thing,” Jay said. “Jody and I grew up in a household where we were going off to basketball games and practices when we were 5 years old. You go to practices and you see what is expected. Our boys did the same thing.
“It’s one of the best things ever, it really is. Every dad loves their kids and their nephews, but I’m so proud of the young men they are. On top of that, they have been good competitors for us. It’s just an added bonus.
“The whole thing we get to share, it’s a real pleasure and a blessing.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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