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Firestone boys basketball team aiming for City Series title

12/13/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

WEST AKRON — Last year, the Firestone High School boys basketball team finished 16-7 — with three of those losses coming at the hands of East High School.

This year, the Falcons got out to a 2-1 start, but, most importantly, one of those wins was over East.

“We won at Wadsworth, for the opening of their new gym; we lost at Hoban by nine points; and then we beat East at home,” said head coach Dave Milo.

Despite the success, the coach said he still is waiting for the team’s “chemistry to come together.”

“But they’re getting there,” he said. “I have two senior leaders that are taking it under control right now and helping us a lot. They know my system and the kind of defense I want to run, and it makes it a lot easier having them lead us.”

Those seniors are JT Lane and Kevin Gladney.

“JT was first team all-city last year and third team all-state. He is a forward, but he could play anywhere,” Milo said. “Kevin’s signed with Nebraska. He was going to graduate early, but he stayed in to play another year of basketball. Kevin is a guard or a forward. We always put Kevin on the other team’s leading scorer.”

Milo said the team features six seniors, including three starters: Lane, Gladney and guard Chaz Brantley.

“Chaz came over from St. Vincent-St. Mary,” the coach said. “He’s about 6-foot-2, and he can also play forward.”

The team’s other seniors are Elijah Jackson, Darin Adams and Ja’Tice Shaw.

“Elijah is a hard-nosed player, and he’s very good defensively. He hustles 100 percent,” Milo said. “Darin is a senior guard who is good on both offense and defense. And Ja’Tice brings a football mentality. He’s a shut-’em-down guard who loves to play defense.”

Other key players for the team include junior Evan Kennerly and sophomore Reggie Rogers.

“Evan started last year, and this year he had a coming-out party where everything clicked against East. He has size at 6-foot-4, and he has a nice outside shot. He gets better every year,” the coach said. “Reggie is a point guard, and he has a football mentality, but he’s also a very good basketball player on both ends. He’s very confident with the ball. He’s a very smart ballplayer.”

Two more juniors Milo said he is counting on this season are forward Miles Kirk and guard Richard Burroughs.

“I love Miles’ style of play. He’s only 6-foot-3, and he can’t jump, but he gets rebounds. He’s a hustler,” the coach said. “Richard’s just learning our defense, but he can be a very stellar offensive player. He knows how to put the ball in the hole.”

And freshman Raybon Lewis is also making a contribution to the team, Milo said.

“I brought him up just because I needed an extra body and because he had been playing hard, and he hasn’t been nervous at all,” the coach said. “He has acted like a veteran and he’s earning playing time. He’ll definitely help us down the road.”

Milo said his goal this year is to take the City Series title.

“I think the City is open this year,” he stated. “I think anybody — Buchtel, Kenmore, East, us — can win it. The win against East helps us a lot.”

Following the 2-1 start, Firestone was set to play four league games before the holidays.

“That will be one time through the City already,” he said. “Within two weeks, we’ll basically know how competitive the City is. On paper, it’s going to be a fun year in the Akron City Series.”

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