Generals confident they can overcome slow start

Generals confident they can overcome slow start

The Wooster boys basketball team is off to an uncharacteristically slow start with an 0-3 record, but coach Michael Snowbarger needs to say only one word to lift the spirits: “football.”

If Snowbarger doesn’t bring up the recent football season for encouragement, team captains Drew Dossi, Micah McKee and Jack Williams certainly will.

The senior trio all played key roles on a football team that finished with a 5-5 regular-season record but then went on to become just the second team in school history to win two playoff games.

“We have great leadership this year,” said Snowbarger, whose basketball team is trying to three-peat in the Ohio Cardinal Conference. “Our captains — Drew Dossi, Jack Williams and Micah McKee — are off the football field, so they understand what we are at the beginning of December is not necessarily the same team we are going to be in mid-January. That’s great to have as a coach when you have the leadership of your team preaching that to the inexperienced kids.”

Wooster was competitive in each of its first three games but faltered down the stretch in losses to Mansfield Senior (59-48), Dover (57-50) and Mount Vernon (63-61). The Generals will be back in action when they host Ashland on Dec. 17.

“Our guys just don’t have their basketball legs yet,” said Snowbarger, who entered his seventh year at Wooster with a 94-39 record. The Generals were 15-4 (11-1 OCC) last season. “The start of our season was delayed by three weeks because of the football playoffs.”

In the first two games, the Generals were outscored by a combined 19 points in the fourth quarter.

“That’s a challenge, but the coaching staff and I have continued to preach we’re not far off,” Snowbarger said. “We’ve got to continue to work and keep their spirits up.”

The 6-foot-1 Dossi leads the way as a fourth-year varsity performer. After averaging 6.9 points a game and 4.8 assists as a junior, Dossi was averaging 15 points a game after the first two contests.

“Drew is probably going to go down as one of the better players that’s come through Wooster High School,” Snowbarger said. “He does a lot of things that not necessarily everybody sees out there, and this year he’s been asked to score more.”

Dossi said the Generals are keeping their heads up and focusing on the big picture.

“We can tell that our shots aren’t there yet and our offensive possessions are kind of slow, but I feel like we’ll get there,” said Dossi, who carries a 3.8 GPA and plans to play Div. III college basketball. “For football, it’s not really about the regular season that us seniors will remember. It’s all about what we did in the playoffs. We’re looking to obviously come out on top of the league in basketball again, but we also want to win some playoff games down the road.”

The 6-5 McKee, who earned All-Ohio honors in football, is the top returning scorer (11.4 ppg) and rebounder (7.8). He’s started slower than he’d like after playing both ways in football, but he likes what he sees from the hoops team.

“Our best basketball is definitely ahead of us,” said McKee, who carries above a 3.0 GPA and is getting some Div. II football offers and even some Div. I interest. “We just need to get back into the groove. I was a little bit beat up from the football season coming into this season. Plus, we have a young team, so we have to really try to get everybody used to the fast pace of varsity basketball.”

After coming off the bench last season, the 5-10 Williams is being asked to play a much bigger role this season as a starting guard.

“I think our offense has definitely been behind our defense so far,” said Williams, a 3.8 student with a 27 ACT score who plans to soon commit to one of several football programs in the North Coast Athletic Conference that have been recruiting him. “Defensively, we’re all athletic and we’ve all been in Snow’s system for a while, so we all know what to do. The shots are just behind right now, but I think as the football season showed, if we hit our stride as a team at the right time, then we can do anything in the playoffs.”

Snowbarger said McKee will play on the perimeter more this season to help stretch the defense while Williams’ leadership will be important.

“Micah and Jack are both outstanding athletes who’ve played a lot of varsity games for us,” Snowbarger said.

Completing the starting lineup are 6-4 senior Javar Simpson and 6-2 junior Blake Bowen.

“Blake’s a great baseball player and a great athlete,” Snowbarger said. “He’s our main shooting threat right now, but he doesn’t have a lot of varsity basketball experience. Javar gives us a big body around the post, but he doesn’t have a lot of varsity basketball experience either. We’re excited to see what these guys can do as the season goes along and they keep improving.”

Coming off the bench are 6-4 junior Caleb Scott, 5-9 senior Zach Harpster, 6-5 sophomore Luke Snowbarger, 5-8 senior Trevor Berry and 6-4 senior Kaiden Roscoe.

“We’re not getting up and pressuring as much as we have in the past,” Snowbarger said. “We’d like to get there, but we’re just not there yet with conditioning or depth to do it for 32 minutes. We play a tough schedule, and we’ve started out slow, but this is probably one of the best overall team atmospheres we’ve had here in a long time. It’s great to have, and that’s what you’re looking for as a coach.”

Aaron Dorksen can be emailed at aarondorksen24@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronDorksen.