BEREA During his career with the Lake Blue Streaks, Jack Lostoski got to be part of some memorable March games.
This season, he finally got the chance to be part of March Madness itself. Now a junior forward for Baldwin Wallace, Lostoski and his teammates made a memorable run through the Ohio Athletic Conference tournament, toppling the top two seeds on their respective home courts in a 48-hour span to earn an NCAA Division III tournament berth.
“It was a a crazy week … we won three road games in row, we started out at Wilmington and got down 14-2 at the start of the game and we had been 0-2 against them all year,” Lostoski said. “We won that one, then we come back play the number one seed, Capital, on Thursday, and they were undefeated at home. It was a tough test, but found way to win that one, and then we played Mount Union and they were undefeated at home too … we were really excited to win all of those games.”
Downing three higher seeds in a five-day span was in and of itself a massive achievement for the Yellow Jackets, but they chased those wins with an opening-round win over Salisbury (Md.), a 75-61 triumph that kept the season going before a 75-71 loss to host Oswego (N.Y.) State in the second round.
Had BW won, it would have earned a rematch against Ohio rival Marietta in the Sweet 16.
Even so, the postseason was a memorable stretch for Lostoski, who sees some connections between his current team and the program he played for in high school.
“In high school, I was part of coach (Tom) McBride’s system and I feel like it prepared me for situation I’m in now at Baldwin Wallace,” Lostoski said. “It’s a very tight group and it even though it sounds cliched, it really is like a brotherhood.”
Playing with his college teammates is a different experience than playing high school basketball with teammates he’d grown up with, but Lostoski says both have been rewarding experiences. The OAC title game win over Mount Union was a sort of connection to his high school days, as the Purple Raiders have a lot of local talent on the roster, including one of Lostoski’s high school rivals, former Hoover guard Tommy Stenger, and are coached by Mike Fuline, who once walked the sidelines for another Lake rival, Jackson.
“I know lot of guys on their team and they always seem to have a lot of players from the Canton area,” Lostoski said.
The sellout crowd at that game included some of Lostoski’s family, friends and former teammates who came to cheer on the reserve forward and his team
Lostoski’s role this season has been coming off the bench to spell starting forward Kyle Nader, whom he described as the highest-energy player on the team. Because of that, Lostoski tries to replicate Nader’s hustle and energy when he’s on the floor. He occasionally talks to one of his former teammates, Chaldner Vaudrin, who transferred from Walsh to Winthrop last year and is sitting out this season under NCAA transfer rules.
The former teammates will talk about basketball and school, keeping their connection as they chase their respective goals on and off the court. One edge Vaudrin has, Lostoski noted, is that because he’s sitting out this season, he has two seasons of eligibility left, whereas Lostoski only has one remaining.
Once that eligibility is consumed, it will be on to the next chapter in life, one Lostoski is delving into as he readies for an internship with Charles Schwab this summer. He’ll be working in the retirement services division of the firm and while he doesn’t know the specific field where he wants to put his business administration degree to once he graduates, he’s hoping the internship will help him narrow down the direction for his future.
For now, he’s working his way through the spring semester, fresh off a season that saw him score a career-high 20 points in a game, play in all 29 of BW’s games and provide solid play off the bench for a team that defeated three of the top four seeds in the conference tournament and capture a rare NCAA tournament win.
Those are some solid March (and February) memories to add to the collection.
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
On Twitter: @aharrisBURB