Success in high school sports isn’t always about winning.
In fact, that’s the case a lot of times.
Having said that, then, let us introduce you to this year’s Green boys basketball team.
The Bulldogs won a lot of games this year, but they didn’t capture the Suburban League crown. That honor went to coach Matt Cash, a Green
High product and Green resident, and his Nordonia Knights.
The only real championship they earned was in the Alliance Division I Sectional.
Despite that, though, the Bulldogs had a lot of success this year.
It came with how they played in the tournament.
They stunned next-door neighbor Lake, which had an outstanding season, to earn the sectional crown, then in the district semifinals, they really handled North Canton Hoover.
While the Vikings weren’t quite what they’ve been in recent seasons, they still have one of the best and most tradition-rich programs in the area. And their coach, Randy Montgomery, may be without peer in these parts – and beyond.
So like the victory over Lake, the one over Hoover was a huge one as well.
But the Bulldogs saved their best for last, and when we say last, we mean the very last – right down to the end.
They took Warren Harding – Warren Harding, for goodness sakes – to overtime in the district title game before losing 71-69 a little over a week ago.
And the game-winning basket came on a put-back as time expired.
Yes, the Bulldogs, playing in their second consecutive district championship game for the first time in schools history – you can’t overemphasize the significance of that – traded punches evenly with the top-seeded Raiders for five whole quarters.
They didn’t win, but they made a statement about not only who they are, but what they are – a bunch of tough, gritty kids who aren’t afraid of anything because their fine longtime coach, Mark Kinsley, isn’t afraid of anything.
On the basketball court, at least.
Maybe spiders, black cats and walking under ladders gives Kinsley the creeps, but he doesn’t have any fears about trying to tackle a decades-old Northeast Ohio cage giant.
And that’s when Warren Harding is.
Folks, let’s be honest here with one another, if Green and Harding took the school names off the front of their jerseys and chose up sides for a game of shirts and skins, there would be a lot of Raiders taken before the first Bulldog was selected.
That’s not to slight the Bulldogs in any way, shape or form. They are a talented bunch, and they showed it by the way they manned up and played in the tournament.
Page 2 of 2 - But the Raiders are a different animal, as they say. The roster is stocked from top to bottom with fast, big, strong, skilled, Division I college-caliber players who are really well-coached under Steve Arnold. He is in his final season before taking over a Harding football program that has, over the years, produced the likes of Paul Warfield, Maurice Clarett, Korey Stringer and Mario Manningham. Maybe you’ve heard of them.
That’s the quality of athletes Harding has had for years. The basketball team represents that. Actually, this may be one of the best basketball squads the Raiders have had in some time.
So for Green to do what it did to Harding is nothing short of amazing.
And if the truth be told, it amazed the Harding people as well. They left the gym that night shaking their heads and muttering to themselves – and it wasn’t pleasant. They were trying to figure how in the world the shorter Bulldogs were able to penetrate the lane and get their shots up and into the basket over all that Harding length again and again and again. The more adjustments the Raiders made, the more success the Bulldogs had with their gameplan – a gameplan that might have revealed how to defeat Harding.
But enough of the Basketball 101 talk. The bottom line is that the Bulldogs went back home from Alliance with a bounce in their step and a feeling of success in their guts because they had maxed out, squeezing everything out of themselves they had to give.
That doesn’t happen much in sports – at any level.
Credit the coach, Mark Kinsley, for that. We said elsewhere on these pages recently that he’s been a keeper at Green – a guy who has brought success to the program in a variety of ways – for a long time. And now you know why.