By MARC TOBIAS
All eyes should be pointing towards St. Marys this Friday, when
two of the three remaining undefeated teams in the Western Buckeye
League will square off when St. Marys hosts Ottawa-Glandorf
at McBroom Gymnasium.
The game should have a little extra hype, as the Titans enter
the contest undefeated at 9-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state’s
opening poll for Division II.
Both St. Marys and O-G stand at 2-0 in the WBL and are joined
by Shawnee at the top of the league.
For St. Marys this game represents a big chance to help establish
its program as one of the top in the WBL.
The ’Riders have steadily improved over the past few seasons,
and a win over the top-ranked Titans should go a long way in
establishing St. Marys as more than a football power.
Unfortunately, comments from St. Marys coach Josh Leslie weren’t
available, as Leslie was sick this week. His coaching status
for Friday’s game was unknown as of press time.
A big challenge for the Roughriders will be trying to find a
way to slow down two of the WBL’s top players in Tim Pollitz
and Eric Pollitz.
Tim Pollitz is averaging a robust 20.6 points per game while
brother Eric has a respectable 17.8 points per ball game.
“They’re doing real well, both of them have expanded
their games to some extent, they’re doing a few different
things than what they did last year. They’re also helping
the other guys play better as well,” said O-G coach Dave
The Titans also feature four players that are averaging at least
five points a game, although Sweet said he’s still looking
for a solid third scorer.
“We have a number of people that have stepped up at critical
times in the game,” Sweet said. “Our chemistry is
starting to come together real well, I can’t say we have
a consistent third scorer, but we have a number of people that
can do that and there are about four or five people that can’t
be overlooked because on any given night they can give us some
point and rebound production.”
If the ’Riders hold true to form, then they’ll most
likely try to stop the Titans by mixing their defenses between
zone and man-to-man, while adding some three-quarter court pressure.
Sweet said he expects a number of looks from the ‘Riders
defense, but added his squad has been able to adjust to a variety
of schemes from opposing teams.
“That’s one thing I’m real happy about this
team right now, we seem to be able to adjust to styles of teams
to some extent, we’ve been able to adjust and handle what
teams are throwing at us,” Sweet said. “They’re
going to play a mix of defenses, they’ve done some trapping
and zone as well as man-to-man.”
Offensively, Tom Burke has been the ’Riders top outside
shooting threat by knocking down 33 percent of his three-point
attempts. As a team, St. Marys is only connecting on 26 percent
of its threes, something that will have to improve to win Friday.
Scott Vossler has been one guy that the ’Riders have pretty
much been able to count on every night to score some points
as the senior is averaging 17.2 points per game.
Wes Clark also provided a big scoring punch in last week’s
WBL win with 24 points against Wapakoneta.
The ‘Riders offense appears most effective when it gets
out in the open court, and Sweet said his team will be ready
to push the ball if needed.
“That doesn’t bother us, we like to get down the
court as well, but I think against Elida we showed that we’re
capable of playing a slow down game too,” Sweet said.
“I think it’s a pretty solid basketball team and
they have confidence because they’re winning right now.
It’s going to be a challenge going down to St. Marys and
playing a solid game because they’re going to be very
aggressive on the defensive end.”
Of course for O-G there’s also the question of revenge,
as St. Marys was able to pick up a big win on the Titans home
floor a year ago.
“I hope that game is still in the back of our minds, but
it’s still last year and our players still have to play
for themselves this year,” Sweet said. “The bottom
line is this team has to play for themselves and what they want
to get accomplished. I’m not going to even bring that
up, if that’s something that’s in the back of their
minds and it motivates them, then great.”