Coventry boys basketball team building off ‘breakout year’
COVENTRY — Coventry High School boys basketball head coach Lynn Wess said last season was “kind of a breakout year” for the team.
The team finished with 12 wins last year, which followed a season in which Coventry finished 4-17.
“I thought it was a pretty good year for us,” the coach said. “We tied for third in the [Portage Trail Conference].”
According to Wess, Coventry will have to work even harder this season in an effort to “join the upper echelon” of teams in the league.
“It’s a big jump to get over the hump and get a winning record after losing for so many years,” he said. “Now, it’s a little bit tougher yet to take the next step and be contenders in the league, where you’re talking about 16, 17, 18 wins. It will take a bigger jump, but I think this team’s got a lot of potential and we’ve got some talent.”
Wess said the team lost two starters to graduation (George Jacobs and J.J. Morrison), who “were a big part of the program the last couple of years.”
“Those two are gone, but we have a lot of people back,” the coach said. “I think we have five lettermen back and a couple of newcomers from our JV [junior varsity] team that won 16 games last year.”
One key starter who is returning is last year’s leading scorer, senior Jimmy Holmgren. The 5-foot-10 guard was named an all-league performer for the 2012-13 season.
“Jimmy is one of the better perimeter shooters in the area,” Wess said. “He led us in three-point goals, with close to 40 on the year, and we’re looking for him to do even better than that. He’s added some strength, which he needed to do. He needs to take the ball to the basket a little bit better than he did last year, and I think he will, because he’s a little bit stronger. I think he can play somewhere next year at the next level if he finds the right fit. There are some schools looking at him.”
The other returning starters are senior Jesse Oravecz, a 6-foot-1 wing player, and sophomore Bryce Hargrove, a 6-foot-5 post player.
“Jesse is a third-year starter, and he’s probably the best fundamental player that we start. He’s good defensively and he’s a very smart, intelligent kid. He leads us in charges and is our second-leading rebounder. He does a lot of the dirty work,” the coach said. “Bryce averaged nine points and nine rebounds last year, which are excellent stats for a freshman. I would hope he ups both of those numbers this year and I can see 12 and 10 or 11. That would be a good progression for him. He’s a very skilled player and he’s a very strong player. He doesn’t look like a sophomore, believe me.”
Stepping into a starting role this season is Will Morisak, a 5-foot-10 junior point guard who was the team’s sixth man last year.
“He’s very quick, very athletic. He was an all-district soccer player,” Wess said. “He’s a very fierce competitor, and we’re looking for good things from him.”
According to the coach, two players are currently in a battle for the final starting spot.
“It’s kind of up in the air right now between two players off the JV team from last year,” he said. “One is 6-foot-1 junior Trevor Burkhart. He’s athletic and had a real good summer, but he’s having a tough time getting the football out of himself right now. But I think that will work out. The other player is Conner Wess, who is my son. He’s a 5-foot-10 sophomore combo guard who shoots the ball very well and passes very well.”
Two other players who the coach said will “provide bench strength” are 6-foot-3 senior post player Luke Bogdonovich, who is the first big off the bench, and 6-foot senior guard Zach Smith, who can shoot the perimeter three.
Coventry’s season will tip off Nov. 30 at 4 p.m. at Orrville High School.
“That’s the christening of Orrville’s new gym, and Bobby Knight is expected to speak between the girls’ and the boys’ games that night,” he said.
Wess said he hopes to see his team get the season off to a strong start, but he noted that improvement throughout the season is the thing he looks for most from his teams.
“You always want to get off to a quick start, but a lot of it depends on the schedule and matchups,” he said. “It’s a marathon and my goal is the same as every year — to be playing better at the end of the season than we are at the beginning. No matter how we start, and we would love to have a quick start, but we look for improvement throughout the year.”
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