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Dream start for four area basketball coaches

It's been a dream start for four area basketball coaches after the first weekend.
Aug 25, 2010

It's been a dream start for four area basketball coaches after the first weekend.

On the opening night of the boys hoops seasons, four coaches -- St. Mary CC's Lyle Falknor, Margaretta's Troy Roth, Bellevue's Mike Raifsnider and Firelands' Steve Lias -- found themselves in the win column.

They came in a variety of ways.

Come from behinds, overtimes, good wins, ugly wins, surprise wins.

But wins nontheless.

Maybe a little bit of fresh blood, or a change of perspective and scenery was just what the doctor ordered.

Falknor, who had five wins with Bellevue last winter, picked up his first two on the strength of duo backcourt Aaron Sennish and Dane Windisch, who scored 99 of the teams' 146 points over the weekend. Friday opened a 75-71 overtime win against Tiffin Calvert, and Saturday closed with a 71-66 win against Fostoria St. Wendelin.

A guy like Raifsnider, who considers his gig a dream come true, must be up to his shoulders in exuberance from a pair of wins over two teams picked to finish in the top three of the Sandusky Bay Conference.

Friday's season opener saw the Redmen eke out a 65-57 win over conference favorite Port Clinton, then follow with a compelling 80-52 win over Perkins, picked to finish third, a day later.

Roth had a lighter weekend.

Sort of.

Margaretta went on the road and held off Western Reserve 61-54 after opening a double-digit lead. On Saturday, Roth resumed his role as athletic director at Margaretta High School for the girls' basketball game, but had the night off from coaching.

After the first weekend, the Fresh Four are a combined 8-0.

Should fans expect unbeaten seasons? That's asking a lot with 18 or 19 games to play. But for the quartet to start unbeaten certainly is remarkable.

It's a far better debut than the football coaching carousel.

When the football season kicked off in August, four new Sandusky Bay Conference coaches saw themselves on the losing end in the season openers. A week later, only one -- Perkins' Gary Quisno -- picked up a win. Oak Harbor's Mike May joined Quisno, the man he replaced, in the fourth week of the season. Margaretta's Rock Farlow had to wait five weeks for his first win, and St. Mary CC coach Jason Ziegler notched win No. 1 in October in Week 9.

The history of those three communities is steeped in basketball tradition -- Bellevue and Margaretta have a state title each, and the Panthers have two.

These are coaches who know plenty about winning.

Falknor has 370 career triumphs with seven Northern Ohio League crowns and five district titles.

Roth had a 61-49 mark in three seasons at Margaretta and coached the team to its second SBC crown in 2003-04. The other came in the 1964-65 season.

Raifsnider had an 82-49 mark with the Lady Red with an NOL championship and a Division II district crown.

In today's era of sports, winning seems to matter most. Take Cleveland Browns coach Romeo Crennel, who is expected to be promoted to 'fan' after the 16th game -- this after a 10-6 season in 2007.

People love a winner -- except when that winner is the New York Yankees. And in my case, the Boston Red Sox.

The clich├ęs run rampant.

Oh, I can picture Raiders owner Al Davis in his white jumpsuit screaming his trademark 'Just win, baby,' phrase across Oakland at anyone who will listen.

You also have the "There's no 'I' in team... But there is in 'win.'" It's catchy, witty, humorous. Basketball great Michael Jordan uttered those words.

And of course, Green Bay Packer legend Vince Lombardi, who said, "If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?"

That spirit of competitiveness is so compelling it makes you insane when you lose. It's why you hit the reset button when playing video games (FYI: NCAA Football 2009 for PS3; Username 'AntOSU.' Come get some).

But if people do love a winner, then fans must absolutely adore Falknor, Roth, Raifsnider and Lias.

Maybe SMCC athletic director Denny Faber will let Falknor swap the clean-cut navy blazer for a white jumpsuit and a pair of sun glasses.

Just win, baby.