Boys Basketball Report: Bombers, Cats clash for championship

By Jim Manion | Correspondent Published:

The Portage Trail Conference County Division is on the line Friday night in Mogadore.

It sets the stage for the Metro Division title probably being at stake next Friday at Norton, with Streetsboro coming to town, barring any major upsets on Friday.

As for the County Division, Windham sits atop the standings at 11-0 -- and are now 17-1 overall. The Bombers invade Mogadore in hopes of securing at least a piece of the championship with two games remaining.

The contest will feature the league's most decorated program in Windham. The Bombers are looking to secure its first title since 2006-07, which was the second season of the PTC. Not many coaches or fans would doubt that Windham has become the league standard in basketball, while the Wildcats have controlled the gridiron, but enter Friday's clash hungry for a hardwood championship.

Mogadore's last title came 25 years ago during the 1987-88 season, when the Cats shared the title with Streetsboro and Garfield in the old Portage County League. All three teams finished the regular season with 13-3 league marks.

"I've tried to sell the kids that this is an experience that they have not had in a long time," said Mogadore head coach Russ Swartz earlier this week. "They have a chance to win a PTC championship, but even if that doesn't happen, we are playing for a top seed in the tournaments this year and these kids deserve it."

The Wildcats (14-2, 10-1) hope to avenge a 62-45 defeat by Windham on Jan. 4. A Mogadore victory would lock the standings and the balance of the schedule appears to favor the Cats. Mogadore has remaining division games with Waterloo and East Canton, while the Bombers have to travel to Southeast and then host rival Garfield.

Both Windham and Mogadore finished with 9-5 division records last year for a third-place finish behind co-champs Southeast and Woodridge. The Bombers and Wildcats then both advanced to the Division IV Canton Regional.

WILDCATS' KEYS TO VICTORY

"We have to shut down their scorers or at least contain them," said Swartz this week. "They score a lot of points; they are beating teams big and putting up 70s and 80s (points). They have not had many close games. We have to shut down their main scorers for us to be in the game.

"On the other end, we must shoot the ball well and take care of the basketball," added Swartz. "We did a good job against Coventry on Tuesday and played real well, especially in the first half."

BOMBERS' KEYS TO VICTORY

"We have to continue to do the things that we have done well this season," said Windham veteran coach Marty Hill. "Our kids have played unselfishly all year and defensively we try to create turnovers. They (Mogadore) have a lot of kids that can handle the ball, so doing that will not be as easy for us.

"When you get 18 games into the season, you pretty much know your opponents," added Hill. "And we know we must defend the perimeter against them, they have some shooters. This should be a good high school basketball game. Russ (Swartz) has done a great job of getting that program where it is now and this is a big game for both schools. I think our kids will be ready."

METRO SHOWDOWN

Norton travels to Crestwood on Friday, while Streetsboro will be at Field.

A win by the Panthers and Rockets will set up a packed gym at Norton next Friday. The Rockets are one game back and own a 51-49 win over Norton back in early January.

The two losses by Streetsboro came back-to-back against Kent Roosevelt and Coventry early in the season. The Rockets avenged both of those losses with double-digit wins the second time around.

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