HARTVILLE Coaches often talk of making sure their team controls what it can control and not worry about anything beyond that.
It sounds like a cliche and can be, but listen to first-year Lake Center Christian boys basketball coach Ryan McGonagle and it’s clear he believes that if the Tigers can play the style they want to play, they can compete with anyone remaining on their schedule.
"We’ve been string tog together some really good practices and the focused is play to our standard and not another team’s," McGonagle said. "We need to play to our standard regardless of who the other team is."
One example of that came in a recent matchup with Mogadore, which holds the top spot in the Portage Trail Conference County Division. The Wildcats have looked nearly unbeatable in some of their league games, but LCC was able to hang with the Wildcats on the road and nearly pulled off a big win, falling 66-60.
The game came after a tough stretch in the schedule during which winter storms blowing through the area kept the Tigers from playing or practicing regularly. As the season nears its final weeks, teams want to do everything possible to build momentum for the sectional and district tournaments.
Instead, LCC has been trying to find consistent court time and stay in a rhythm.
"That’s been a big challenge for us. We’ve three games canceled and had a lot of time off in not playing games, so it’s kind of hard to get into rhythm," McGonagle said.
The leaders of the LCC offense when the Tigers have been able to get on the court have been Jacob Ickes, Peyton Triplett and Caleb Bower, a trio that combines for a good blend of inside scoring an outside shooting. The three are veterans with a solid amount of varsity experience and their presence has helped steady the offense.
Still, McGonagle believes that if LCC is going to achieve its potential, win games down the stretch and have success in the Division IV postseason, defense will be key.
"Stringing both of those together, offense and defense, will be key," McGonagle said. "At the beginning of the year, we really defended teams. We really guarded teams well and now we’re starting to execute better offensively."
Sometimes, when a team focuses its energy on improving at one end of the court, its play suffers at the other end. Being able to maintain the same level of focus and energy on one end while improving at the other is a sign of maturity for a team and usually leads to wins.
Lake Center Christian would love to improve upon the 5-6 mark it tallied in the first half of the year, but getting there will take a combination of on-court improvements and some good fortune in avoiding more weather cancellations. There is still time on the calendar to turn things in a better direction before tournament play begins and now, the Tigers have to make the most of that time and control what’s within their power.
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
On Twitter: @aharrisBURB