Badger returns 7 letter winners; seek to challenge for league title

Sports
Badger Braves Basketball

Badger has done extremely well since Josh Upshire took over his alma mater three years ago to the tune of 26 wins in their 47 games played. The Braves saw another increase in their win total (from 12 to 14) and their scoring offense (56.5 to 63.9) and defense (57.2 to 53.8) also improved from the year prior. This season, the Braves upgraded their non-conference schedule with matchups at Lakeview and Ursuline as well as visits from Champion and Campbell Memorial not to mention their participation in the Berkshire Tip-Off Tournament to begin the season. Those contests will not only prepare the Braves for the playoffs but also for a tough league slate which features the likes of Mathews, Bristol, Grand Valley, Pymatuning Valley and Windham.

At a Glance

HEAD COACH: Josh Upshire, 3rd season

2017-18 RECORD (NAC): 14-10

2017-18 POSTSEASON: lost to Windham in Orwell Sectional Final (74-60)

KEY LOSSES

Bobby Myres (2.9 rpg)

Logan Popovich (14.9 ppg)

Past 5-year Win Total: 46

Record against Top 10 opponents (since 2008): 0-1

Strengths

Aiden Miller and Jacob Eucker lead a group of 7 letter winners back into the fold from last year’s 14-win team. Miller, who topped the 1,000-point plateau as a junior, led the Braves in scoring (17.9) as well as rebounding (6.9) and field goal percentage (50.3%) last season. Miller also shot 67.7% from the foul line (63-93). Eucker, a three-year starter, finished the 2017-18 season with a 7.0 scoring average to go along with 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals. Eucker also made 39.5% of his three-point shots (30-76). Brad Blaney (3.7 rpg), Curtis Houser (2.7 rpg), Keith Barto (4.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg), Travis Webber (44.4% 3PT) and junior Logan Lendak (7.8 ppg, 2.5 apg) also return for Badger this season. Coach Upshire views this year’s team through the lens of an experienced bunch, “All of our returning guys played big minutes for us last year. There’s a lot of knowledge there within our system. All of these guys have been playing varsity, under me, since their sophomore year.”

Area of Concern

First-Team All-League Logan Popovich graduated last spring after scoring 14.9 points per game and making 39 three-point baskets (37.5%). Popovich also led the team in assists (3.7) and steals (2.2). Bobby Myers (2.9 rpg) and Isaac Csiky both graduated as well. Coach Upshire points to the need to get defensive, “I’m a defensive guy and (the numbers) are never good enough for me. I’d like to see us work on our defense. I’d like to see us buckle down and keep teams under 50 this year. Finding the right fit defensively will be key to how successful we can be.”

Schedule

Nov. 29 – vs. Jefferson (at Berkshire Tip-Off)

Nov. 30 – vs. Berkshire/Cuyahoga Heights (at Berkshire Tip-Off)

Dec. 5 – Lordstown, 7

Dec. 7 – at Mathews, 7

Dec. 11 – Champion, 7

Dec. 14 – Maplewood, 7

Dec. 18 – Campbell Memorial, 7

Dec. 21 – St. John, 7

Dec. 28 – at Pymatuning Valley, 7

Jan. 4 – at Grand Valley, 7

Jan. 8 – at Southington, 7

Jan. 11 – Pymatuning Valley, 7

Jan. 18 – Mathews, 7

Jan. 19 – at Mineral Ridge, 7

Jan. 23 – Newbury, 7

Jan. 25 – at Maplewood, 7

Jan. 29 – Windham, 7

Feb. 1 – Grand Valley, 7

Feb. 5 – at Bristol, 7

Feb. 12 – at Ursuline, 7

Feb. 19 – at Lakeview, 7

Feb. 22 – Lordstown, 7

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