Members of the YSHS boys varsity basketball team,
first row, from left: Jordan Skinner, Dylan Borchers, Brandon Frye,
Rory Hotaling, Brent Robinson and Anthony Brandon; back row: Matt
Wallace, Evan Davis, Andrew Richlen, Dustin Rudegeair, Aaron Cobb
and Jacob Chima.
strive to never let up
When asked what makes this years YSHS boys basketball team different
from Bulldog teams in the recent past, team leaders Andrew Richlen, Brent
Robinson and Dustin Rudegeair say the same things: more focus, more desire,
Early in the season, during a game against Troy Christian, coach Brad
Newsome gave the team a special speech at halftime. He showed them a picture
in Sports Illustrated of Shaquille ONeal with an intense look on
his face. The caption said, Get out the way!
That was one thing the whole team really picked up on right away,
until that halftime speech, we hadnt played with much intensity,
said Rudegeair, a junior forward averaging 18 points and 10.8 rebounds
But in the second
half of that game, the Bulldogs gave birth to the team that has risen
to third in the state and second in the Miami Valley in Division IV as
well as the No. 1 seed in the Division IV sectional, which will be held
at the University of Dayton.
After the speech, Get out the way became something like
a motto for us, Robinson said. It reminded us that if we want
to be as good as Shaq, we need to put out an incredible effort.
But Robinson has another motto in mind if and when the team reaches its
goals. What we really want to be, Robinson said, is
While only Robinson will say it straight away, it seems that all three
Bulldog stars have a trip to Columbus on their minds. Every year
our goal is to win a state championship. It has to be; thats why
you play, said Robinson, a senior guard averaging 18.2 points and
5.6 assists a game.
This year, however, that goal seems a little more realistic than in the
Sure, we could get to Columbus. If we play as well as we possibly
can, theres no telling how far well go, Richlen said.
We could go all the way, and we know it.
The three top Dogs also know that other YSHS teams have failed to
live up to high expectations. The Bulldogs lost in the second round of
the playoffs to No. 1 seed Bethel last year, and lost in the first round
to Cedarville in 2001 and 2000. All three leaders said that intensity
and desire are what separates this years team from those that exited
the playoffs early.
We cant really focus on the expectations other people have
for us, we just have to continue to work hard to meet the expectations
we have for ourselves, Robinson said.
Rudegeair and Richlen agreed. We have to take things more seriously
than we did last year, and that starts with practice, Rudegeair
This year we realize that as the playoffs approach, we can never
let up, not for a minute, in practice or in the games, added Richlen,
a senior center averaging 10 points and 10 rebounds a game.
All three also indicated that as team leaders, it will be their job to
make sure they continue to motivate the team. Richlen said that all year
he has tried to be vocal on the court and in the locker room. When
someone misses a layup or throws a bad pass, I try to speak up, to be
a leader, he said. Its not because Im mad at somebody,
its just that we all know come playoff time we cant afford
One thing the talented trio can take comfort in is their ability to pick
each other up on the court. After playing organized basketball together
for five or six years, and playground ball for even longer, each seems
to know the others games as well as his own. This familiarity allows
the players to motivate and challenge each other, and compensate when
one of them has an off night.
I think the Cedarville game is a good example of how we helped each
other out, Richlen said. Brent struggled, but Dusty and I
came through to pick up the slack.
Robinson had similar thoughts about the game against Dayton Christian.
That was a big game for us because it was against a Division II
school, and each of us struggled for a stretch in that game, but the other
two always stepped up to fill in, he said.
The Bulldogs head into the playoffs seeded first in their sectional, and
a target on their backs. The Bulldogs also have to contend with one of
the most storied cliches in sports: it is extremely difficult to beat
a team three times in one year. But if the Dogs want to advance
to the district finals, that is just what they will have to do. In fact,
they may have to do it twice in a row.
YSHS opens the playoffs against Miami Valley on Tuesday, Feb 18. The Dogs
have already defeated Miami Valley twice this season, 7155 on Dec.
20 and 7150 on Jan. 28. If the Bulldogs beat the Metro Buckeye Conference
foe for a third time this year, they will likely face Xenia Christian,
another MBC rival, for the third time. In December, YSHS downed Xenia
Christian, 8172, in Xenia. Later in the season, on Jan. 24, the
Bulldogs completed the regular season sweep of winning 9282 at home.
In the playoffs you cant look past anybody, but you have to
be especially careful with teams you have beaten before, Robinson
said. Theyre always hungry for revenge.
We know we cant take any team lightly, but Coach has been
reminding us how important it is to take it one game at a time,
If the Bulldogs advance to the third round of the sectional, there is
a good chance they could match up against yet another team they have defeated
this year, cross-county rival Cedarville.
It would be nice to see Cedarville in the tournament again,
Rudegeair said, but thats too far away to worry about. We
have to win two playoff games against tough opponents before that would
even be possible.