Sandusky boys basketball to face tough test

SANDUSKY Somewhere in Sandusky High School this week, there might be a sign posted in the building that reads the following:
Mark Hazelwood
Aug 25, 2010

SANDUSKY

Somewhere in Sandusky High School this week, there might be a sign posted in the building that reads the following:

Reward: Earning your first victory of the season now qualifies you for a double weekend against two of the traditionally best programs in the Northwest district. Good luck.

Such will be the case for the young Blue Streaks boys' basketball team this weekend when they host two-time defending Greater Buckeye Conference champion Findlay Friday night, only to turn around and travel to Pete Henry Gymnasium to take on Mansfield Senior Saturday night.

Combined, the Trojans and Tygers have combined to win 24 district championships.

"These are two quality programs we're playing this weekend, but the nice thing is it is a chance to get better and improve," Sandusky head coach Steve Keller said. "And that is something that we try to do daily. We just want to come out and play with intensity and effort, do good things and see where we're at."

After a forgettable season opener at Lorain Southview in which they lost by nearly half a century, the Blue Streaks made last weekend's Parent's Night just as memorable in nearly duplicating the 99-50 loss to Southview by battering Huron by 37 with a 95-58 win.

"We had a tremendous week of practice last week, our guys we're very focused and intense," Keller said of the Huron win. "Obviously athletic performance as we talk about often isn't turned on and off. It has to be practiced and your game situations follow your practice. We have a saying we play like we practice, so I was very pleased with our young men and how they performed."

The Trojans will bring a perfect 3-0 record into the 'Big House' Friday night after outscoring Fostoria, Bowling Green and Toledo Scott by a combined 24 points. Of course Findlay will also bring Luke Kraus to town, the GBC's top player the past two seasons.

Kraus, a Bowling Green State University recruit, is averaging 24.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game and has scored 1,074 for his career, which is just 21 shy of the FHS boys record of 1,095 that current Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger scored almost a decade ago.

"They're a talented skilled bunch and not extremely big either," Keller said. "They have better athletes than some give them credit for, but they are extremely fundamental and know how to play the game."

Saturday night in Mansfield, the Streaks face somewhat of a new look Tygers team as for the first time in 13 years there is a new head coach on the bench in Effie James, the long-time assistant to Gregg Collins, who left for crosstown Mansfield St. Peter.

"The continuity will be there I'm sure with Effie taking over," Keller said. "He's probably added some new things, but for the most part you can expect to see the traditional Mansfield Senior of the past."

The Tygers got off to a convincing start in beating up on Cleveland East (85-34) and Clear Fork (53-37), but they were blown out 66-43 by Lima Senior, which is expected by many to be Findlay's chief competition this season in the GBC.

Senior has a big Ohio Cardinal Conference game with rival Mansfield Madison (2-1) Friday night before hosting Sandusky.

Keller talked about what he is hoping to see out of his team this weekend.

"We just want to improve," he said. "I know I keep saying that, but we really do. I want to see us compete with these two teams and take the challenge that is before us this weekend and just play with a lot of intensity and emotion."