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Experience, balance remain pillars of Oakridge boys basketball’s game plan in 2021-22

Eagles should be in the title-contention mix in a competitive league.

Media day photos by Cody Ottinger and Kara Raeth | CatchMark

Oakridge’s 2021-22 boys basketball team attended the VanDyk Mortgage West Michigan Conference media day on Wednesday, Nov. 24, at the Viking Athletic Center (VAC) in Whitehall.

Check out the photos above, and continue reading for a season preview on the Eagles.

COACH: Tracy Ruel (12th season).

LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: 9-7 overall (7-5 West Michigan Conference, 4th place).

RETURNING STARTERS: Garrett Wever (Senior, Guard, 6-0); Ethan Jozsa (Senior, Center, 6-4); Hunter DeLora (Senior, Forward, 6-1).

KEY RETURNEES: Matt Danciek (Junior, Guard, 5-10); Bryson Foster (Senior, Guard, 5-8); Gavan Bignall (Senior, Guard, 5-9).

NEW PROSPECTS: Peyton Ruel (Freshman, Guard, 5-10); Ryan Cribbins (Junior, Guard, 5-9).

STRENGTHS: Three returning seniors will provide team leadership for the Eagles. In addition to their guidance, their experience in several competitive games last season will come in handy. The balance of utilizing big man Ethan Jozsa and the speed of their guard play will provide a versatile offense.

WEAKNESSES: Team size is a bit of a concern for the Eagles. They will need to emphasize the importance of team rebounding to compensate for their lack of height.

SEASON OUTLOOK: After finishing in the middle of the conference last year, the Eagles will focus on capitalizing in close games with their experienced seniors and moving up the conference leaderboard.

Oakridge will work to shift its game plans to match the talents that they have available.

“We are changing a little bit. We have more guards, so we are adjusting our scheme to match our personnel,” Oakridge coach Tracy Ruel said.

Exploiting the talents of Jozsa and allowing skilled guard play to pace each game will provide Oakridge the best opportunity to win games.

Ruel believes the conference will be competitive from top to bottom, which could make it a great final season in the current setup of the league before it expands from eight to 14 schools in 2022-23.

“I’ve had a group of guys (Wever, Jozsa, DeLora and Ruel) that have really put time in the offseason. (I am) looking forward to watching that pay off,” Tracy Ruel said.

Media Specialist for CatchMark Technologies and CatchMark SportsNet.

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