Watterson Roundup: Boys basketball team hopes veteran roster can spark rebound
The return of an experienced cast has the Watterson boys basketball team hopeful that it can return to form this winter.
After earning a Division II district runner-up finish and sharing the CCL championship with DeSales in 2018-19, the Eagles had just three seniors last season and finished 11-12 overall and 2-6 in the league.
Six seniors and a junior who contributed last season are back for Watterson, which is scheduled to open Dec. 19 at home against Hilliard Davidson after the CCL delayed the beginning of the winter sports season because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“Things have been going great so far,” senior Sam Intihar said. “We’ve been competing against each other, going hard in practice every day. Taking care of the ball to not give other teams more possessions and playing solid defense against whoever we play against (will be key).”
Watterson has a lineup filled with players who are 6-foot-1 to 6-5.
Among those is Intihar, a 6-1 guard who averaged 5.0 points last season.
The leading returning scorer is senior Davis Boone, a 6-3 post player who averaged 10.5 points and was second-team all-league.
Senior Noah Gruver (6-3, wing player) averaged 7.0 points, and senior Noah Grayem (6-3, wing player) averaged 5.0 points.
Seniors Jake Hoying (6-2, wing player/post player) and Nick Malagreca (6-2, guard) and junior Gilbert Oduro (6-5, post player) also have returned, and sophomores Pete Mangold (6-1, guard), Cole Rhett (6-5, post player) and Owen Samenuk (6-1, guard) are expected to play key roles as well.
The roster also includes juniors Charlie Lewis (6-0, guard) and Sam Schuler (6-2, wing player/guard).
“We only had three seniors a year ago, so we return a number of lettermen,” 28th-year coach Vince Lombardo said. “We’ve got a big senior group. All of our freshmen are just on the freshman team’s roster and the (junior varsity) will be primarily sophomores. I think it’s going to be an interesting year for us. We’re excited for our returning guys. Right now I’m very optimistic that we can develop into a good basketball team.”
Last season, Watterson won four of five heading into postseason and was seeded ninth for the district tournament but lost 42-38 to 18th-seeded Bexley in a first-round game.
Mike Bruzzese (9.5 ppg), Chris Crane (6.0 ppg) and Mason Graney (5.0 ppg) were lost to graduation.
“I’m going to be cautiously optimistic that we can have a good year, provided we can get playing,” Lombardo said. “It’s a good group. So far in practice, I’ve been very pleased with our energy and that we have an opportunity to have some good depth and good balance in our lineup as things evolve.
“We’ve got a good group of guys and I’m looking forward to working with them and developing chemistry so that we’re in a good position to play good basketball.”
•Coach: Vince Lombardo, 28th season
•Top players: Davis Boone, Noah Grayem, Noah Gruver, Jake Hoying, Sam Intihar, Nick Malagreca and Gilbert Oduro
•Key losses: Mike Bruzzese, Chris Crane and Mason Graney
•Last season: 11-12 overall
•2019-20 CCL standings: St. Charles (7-1), DeSales (6-2), Ready (5-3), Watterson (2-6), Hartley (0-8)
•2020 postseason: Lost to Bexley 42-38 in first round of Division II district tournament