Wild ride is in store for MVAC this season

Sports

Springfield reached the Elite 8 in Division IV last March

Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference

Last year, both Springfield & Waterloo each received top seeds

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The impact of the MVAC was felt last February when two of its’ members received top seeds in the respective districts in Waterloo (Division III Salem) and Springfield (Division IV Struthers). In that same Struthers district, McDonald was the #2 seed while Lowellville and Sebring followed suit as the 3rd and 4th seeds. In the end, Springfield advanced to the Regional and after topping Greenwich South Central (62-50) – the Tigers season came to an end by three points (46-43) to Richmond Heights.

The league should have another banner year as many starters return to their respective teams this winter.

2018-19 Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference Standings
Waterloo – 12-2 (19-5)
Springfield – 10-4 (21-6)
Lowellville – 9-5 (18-7)
McDonald – 9-5 (13-11)
Mineral Ridge – 8-6 (14-10)
Sebring – 5-9 (13-11)
Western Reserve – 3-11 (6-17)
Jackson-Milton – 0-14 (3-20)

Around the League
Jackson-Milton Blue Jays
Coach: Stephen Procopio, 4th season
…”We return five players who all started games for us last year,” indicates coach Procopio. “We’ll rely heavily on them and we have high expectations.” The Blue Jays return their five starters – all juniors – in Mason Robison, Cole Grope, Gavin Sahli, A.J. Bouch and Nick McGinnis. Other contributors to the Jackson-Milton lineup will include senior Kent Gross, juniors Frank Prozy, Nate Sahli and Sean Lengyel as well as freshman Aaron Romigh. Robison and Grope each started as freshmen. Coach Procopio states, “As long as this group believes in themselves and trusts one another – the sky is the limit.”

The Blue Jays have finished four of the last five years with 20-losses or more. Jackson-Milton hasn’t had a winning season since their ITCL Lower Tier title run in 2011-12 (13-9).

“We can’t beat ourselves,” points out Procopio. “We need to outwork and out hustle every team we play. We need to win the rebounding, turnover and free throw battle on a nightly basis. Our success begins with our play on defense. We need to create easier opportunities for ourselves. We’ve got to be able to play our style and control the pace of the game. We have lineups where we can play small and fast but also lineups where we can really feed our bigs and score inside. This yaer’s team must focus on consistency as that’s been a problem of ours in the past.”

Lowellville Rockets
Coach: Matt Olson, 4th season
…The Rockets graduated five seniors from last year’s 18-win and District Final appearance. Their top four scorers (Matt Hvisdak, 17.1; Micah Mamula-Zarlingo, 11.1; Jake Rotz, 10.0; Dylan Durkin, 8.4) are all gone. Hvisdak led the team in assists (5.8) and steals (3.5). Rotz took the team-high honors with 7.1 rebounds per contest.

Coach Olson says, “We’ll be young and inexperienced, however, we have a hungry class of freshmen that will be competing for varsity playing time. Our success this season will depend on how fast we can gel together as a group and how well we can adjust to the speed of the game.” Junior Cole Bunofsky is the lone returning letter winner. He averaged 6.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.3 assists as a sophomore.

McDonald Blue Devils
Coach: Jeff Rasile, 16th season
…After a down year (by Blue Devil standards), McDonald returns three starters from a year ago in juniors Jake Portolese and Dom Carkido as well as their elite sharpshooter and scorer Zach Rasile (who committed to play next winter at West Liberty). The 6-foot senior has connected on 358 three-pointers (state record) as he’s scored over 2,000-points during his first three seasons in high school (2026). Last year, Rasile averaged 34.7 points (832 points), 3.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.6 steals and shot 45.9% from distance (113-246). As a sophomore, Portolese put together an impressive stat line of 11.6 points, 8 boards while shooting 59.7% from the floor (92-154). Jake’s classmate, Carkido, compiled a strong percentage from three-point land of 38.5% (20-52) as he averaged 4.2 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.

“We need to continue to work hard and improve every day,” says coach Jeff Rasile. “Our league is very strong this year. We expect to compete. We’re returning our top two scorers from last year but others need to step up for us to have a successful season. Our #1 goal is to be playing our best basketball come tournament time and compete for a district championship.”

Mineral Ridge Rams
Coach: Gary Pugh, 1st season
…Coach Pugh takes over the role as head basketball coach at Ridge nearly 30-years after he set the scoring title at the school (which was broken last year by Jordan Zupko). Last year’s team saw an increase by 7 wins from the year prior (7 to 14). The Rams registered a pair of monster wins last year before February – one came four days before Christmas at McDonald (94-88) and the other came against Waterloo on January 25 (74-64).

However, they’ll have big shoes to fill with the graduation of Zupko (17.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.3 apg, 76.1% FT) and Dakota Ragazzine (10.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 57.1% FG).

Sebring Trojans
Coach: Brian Clark, 13th season (3rd since returning)
…Sebring finished last year with a winning record overall (13-11) despite only registering 5 victories in 14 league matchups. Sebring put together a pair of huge wins back-to-back on January 25 over Springfield (76-73) and on January 29 over Lowellville (59-52).

This year, the Trojans will be without their First-Team All-MVAC selection in Joey Clark. However, the team should return five seniors which includes –Jake Hunter, Zane Peterson and Gabe Lanzer – a Second-Team All-MVAC selection.

Sebring advanced to the District Semifinal a year ago when they were turned away by Springfield (56-42).

Springfield Tigers
Coach: Steve French, 3rd season
…The Tigers graduated Shane Eynon (15.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.0 apg, 54.7% FG) but return four starters (Evan Ohlin, Beau Brungard, Clay Medvec, Drew Clark) from last year’s Regional Finalist team. On March 15, Springfield were turned back by Richmond Heights by 3 points (46-43). Ohlin, the team’s point guard, scored 13.5 points as he dished out 5 assists and swiped 1.8 steals per game. Brungard averaged 6.4 points and 2.8 rebounds as a freshman. Medvec shot 77.8% from the free throw line (21-27) and scored 10.5 points per game. Clark averaged over 14-points per game in each of the past two seasons (2017-18: 14.3 ppg; 2018-19: 15.2 ppg). He averaged a double-double last season (15.2 ppg, 10.7 rpg).

“Our first goal is always to win the MVAC,” says coach French. “Our second goal is to make a playoff push towards Columbus. We must practice hard, everyday. We must play together as a team.”

Western Reserve Blue Devils
Coach: Patsy Daltorio, 7th season
…Coach Daltorio says he hopes to get through the football season healthy. “Our expectations are to make the playoffs after getting a late start. We need to hit the ground running and build off our successful summer. We’ve had a lot of time together and have produced good results.”

The Blue Devils are set to return letter winners Todd Henning, Preston Reed, Jake Moore, Noah Klasic and Ryan Gordon.

Waterloo Vikings
Coach: Jason Wise, 8th season
…What a turnaround last year for the Vikings and coach Wise. In 2017-18, Waterloo won a total of 6 games overall (6-17) and posted a 5-9 mark in the MVAC. Last year, the Vikings won the league crown (12-2), earned the top seed in the Salem District and nearly won 20-games (19-5) en route to one of their most successful seasons in recent memory. With almost everyone back – could we see a repeat performance from Waterloo this year?

2019-20 Schedules
Jackson-Milton
Dec. 3 – Mathews, 7
Dec. 6 – Southeast, 7
Dec. 10 – at Mineral Ridge, 7
Dec. 11 – at Lordstown, 7
Dec. 13 – Western Reserve, 7
Dec. 17 – at Springfield, 7
Dec. 20 – at Sebring, 7
Dec. 27 – Holiday Tournament
Dec. 30 – Holiday Tournament
Jan. 3 – at McDonald, 7
Jan. 7 – Waterloo, 7
Jan. 10 – at Lowellville, 7
Jan. 14 – Mineral Ridge, 7
Jan. 17 – at Western Reserve, 7
Jan. 24 – Springfield, 7
Jan. 28 – Sebring, 7
Jan. 31 – McDonald, 7
Feb. 4 – at United, 7
Feb. 7 – at Waterloo, 7
Feb. 11 – at Leetonia, 7
Feb. 14 – Lowellville, 7
Feb. 18 – at Mineral Ridge, 7
Feb. 21 – Lisbon, 7

Lowellville
Dec. 3 – at Heartland Christian, 7
Dec. 6 – Campbell Memorial, 7
Dec. 10 – United, 7
Dec. 13 – McDonald, 7
Dec. 17 – Mineral Ridge, 7
Dec. 20 – Waterloo, 7
Dec. 27 – Lordstown Holiday Tournament
Dec. 28 – Lordstown Holiday Tournament
Jan. 3 – at Western Reserve, 7
Jan. 7 – at Sebring, 7
Jan. 10 – Jackson-Milton, 7
Jan. 14 – Springfield, 7
Jan. 17 – at McDonald, 7
Jan. 21 – Columbiana, 7
Jan. 24 – at Mineral Ridge, 7
Jan. 28 – at Waterloo, 7
Jan. 31 – Western Reserve, 7
Feb. 4 – at Springfield, 7
Feb. 7 – Sebring, 7
Feb. 8 – Leetonia, 7
Feb. 11 – at East Palestine, 7
Feb. 14 – at Jackson-Milton, 7

McDonald
Nov. 29 – at Lisbon Tip-Off Classic (Heartland
Nov. 30 – at Lisbon Tip-Off Classic
Dec. 3 – Girard, 7
Dec. 13 – at Lowellville, 7
Dec. 14 – vs. Lakeview (United Way), 12
Dec. 17 – at Waterloo, 7
Dec. 20 – Springfield, 7
Dec. 27 – at Niles, 7
Jan. 3 – Jackson-Milton, 7
Jan. 7 – at Mineral Ridge, 7
Jan. 10 – Sebring, 7
Jan. 11 – at Warren JFK, 7
Jan. 14 – at Western Reserve, 7
Jan. 17 – Lowellville, 7
Jan. 21 – Bristol, 7
Jan. 24 – Waterloo, 7
Jan. 28 – at Springfield, 7
Jan. 31 – at Jackson-Milton, 7
Feb. 7 – Mineral Ridge, 7
Feb. 11 – East, 7
Feb. 14 – at Sebring, 7
Feb. 18 – Western Reserve, 7

Mineral Ridge
Dec. 6 – Maplewood, 7
Dec. 10 – Jackson-Milton, 7
Dec. 13 – Sebring, 7
Dec. 17 – at Lowellville, 7
Dec. 20 – at Western Reserve, 7
Dec. 27 – at Garrettsville Garfield, 7
Jan. 3 – Waterloo 7
Jan. 7 – McDonald, 7
Jan. 10 – at Springfield, 7
Jan. 11 – at Rittman, 7:30
Jan. 14 – at Jackson-Milton, 7
Jan. 17 – at Sebring, 7
Jan. 18 – at Badger, 7
Jan. 21 – LaBrae, 7
Jan. 24 – Lowellville, 7
Jan. 25 – at Newton Falls, 7
Jan. 28 – Western Reserve, 7
Jan. 31 – at Waterloo, 7
Feb. 7 – at McDonald, 7
Feb. 14 – Springfield, 7
Feb. 18 – Niles, 7
Feb. 21 – at Champion, 7

Sebring
Nov. 29 – at Leetonia, 7
Dec. 6 – East Liverpool Christian, 7
Dec. 7 – Southington, 3:30
Dec. 13 – at Mineral Ridge, 7
Dec. 17 – at Western Reserve, 7
Dec. 20 – Jackson-Milton, 7
Dec. 23 – at East Liverpool Christian, 7
Jan. 3 – Springfield, 7
Jan. 7 – Lowellville, 7
Jan. 10 – at McDonald, 7
Jan. 14 – at Waterloo, 7
Jan. 17 – Mineral Ridge, 7
Jan. 21 – Leetonia, 7
Jan. 24 – Western Reserve, 7
Jan. 25 – at Southeast, 7
Jan. 31 – at Springfield, 7
Feb. 7 – at Lowellville, 7
Feb. 14 – McDonald, 7
Feb. 18 – Waterloo, 7
Feb. 21 – at Struthers, 7

Springfield
Dec. 3 – at Salem, 7
Dec. 10 – Crestview, 7
Dec. 13 – Waterloo, 7
Dec. 14 – JBL Hoops Showcase (vs. Neshannock)
Dec. 17 – Jackson-Milton, 7
Dec. 20 – at McDonald, 7
Dec. 27 – South Range, 7
Jan. 3 –at Sebring, 7
Jan. 7 – Western Reserve, 7
Jan. 10 – Mineral Ridge, 7
Jan. 14 – at Lowellville, 7
Jan. 17 – at Waterloo, 7
Jan. 21 – at Poland, 7
Jan. 24 – at Jackson-Milton, 7
Jan. 26 – vs. Western Reserve (at Canton McKinley Classic)
Jan. 28 – McDonald, 7
Jan. 31 – Sebring 7
Feb. 4 – Lowellville, 7
Feb. 7 – at Western Reserve, 7
Feb. 14 – at Mineral Ridge, 7
Feb. 18 – at Girard, 7
Feb. 21 – LaBrae, 7

Waterloo
Dec. 3 – at Windham, 7
Dec. 6 – United, 7
Dec. 7 – Joe Siegferth Classic, 1
Dec. 13 – at Springfield, 7
Dec. 17 – McDonald, 7
Dec. 20 – at Lowellville, 7
Dec. 21 – at Marlington, 7
Dec. 27 – West Branch, 7
Jan. 3 – at Mineral Ridge, 7
Jan. 7 – at Jackson-Milton, 7
Jan. 10 – at Western Reserve, 7
Jan. 14 – Sebring, 7
Jan. 21 – at South Range, 7
Jan. 24 – at McDonald, 7
Jan. 31 – Mineral Ridge, 7
Feb. 4 – Crestwood, 7
Feb. 7 – Jackson-Milton, 7
Feb. 11 – at Mogadore, 7
Feb. 14 – Western Reserve, 7
Feb. 18 – at Sebring, 7

Western Reserve
Nov. 29 – at Campbell Memorial, 7
Dec. 3 – Columbiana, 7
Dec. 7 – Lordstown, 7
Dec. 10 – at Heartland Christian, 7
Dec. 13 – at Jackson-Milton, 7
Dec. 17 – Sebring, 7
Dec. 20 – Mineral Ridge, 7
Dec. 27 – at East Canton (Crestview Holiday Tournament)
Dec. 28 – Crestview Holiday Tournament
Jan. 3 – Lowellville, 7
Jan. 7 – at Springfield, 7
Jan. 10 – Waterloo, 7
Jan. 14 – McDonald, 7
Jan. 17 – Jackson-Milton, 7
Jan. 21 – Lisbon, 7
Jan. 24 – at Sebring, 7
Jan. 28 – at Mineral Ridge, 7
Jan. 31 – at Lowellville, 7
Feb. 7 – Springfield, 7
Feb. 11 – Salem, 7
Feb. 14 – at Waterloo, 7
Feb. 18 – at McDonald, 7

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