Ray Corbett had to wait to get everyone on his Grandview Heights boys basketball team together thanks to the lengthy postseason run by the boys soccer squad, which captured the Division III state championship Nov. 13.
Corbett believes the wait will be worth it, however, as multisport athletes help give his program the edge needed to win a fourth consecutive district championship.
Grandview captured a Division III championship in 2018, defeating Johnstown 54-49, and it won in Division IV in 2019 by defeating Fisher Catholic 51-30. Last season, the Bobcats beat Patriot Prep 57-40 for another Division IV title.
“There are certain things connected with kids getting used to success,” said Corbett, who is in his 35th season. “They don’t like to lose, and they find ways to succeed in the next sport.
“Whether it’s football or soccer, you like to see them succeed, and you want them to be as competitive as possible. That’s translated well for us.”
Junior Danny Claypool returns at point guard after scoring three goals in the state championship soccer game. He was third-team all-district and honorable mention all-league after averaging 10.1 points last season.
“It gets our minds off basketball and I think that helps a bit,” Claypool said. “It gives us something else to think about.
“It’s weird to say, but sometimes when you come back to basketball after a while off, it will help. I remember coming back after COVID and my shot had more spin on it from watching basketball. Sometimes that helps.”
Junior guard Tristin Pierce plays football and also competes in track and field for the Bobcats. Last season, he came off the bench to score eight points in a 50-48 loss to New Boston Glenwood in a Division IV regional semifinal.
“(Playing year-round) helps keep us in shape,” Pierce said. “You come into basketball in shape.
“Playing football definitely helps with your hand-eye coordination and your footwork. It helps with being able to move and catch the ball and all of that.”
Corbett said coaching at a school such as Grandview makes sharing athletes a necessity because of the smaller pool of athletes.
“It’s amazing because I’ve seen so many articles and interviews with professional coaches and athletes that were multisport athletes in high school,” said Corbett, whose team won its opener over Northside Christian 81-45 on Nov. 30. “The beauty of Grandview — and it was like that when I started here and it will be like this after I leave — is that we share the athletes.
“It’s a shame that a lot of times kids are influenced into specializing. I’ve never been a proponent of that. If I have a choice, I want to be able to coach kids with positive attitudes and those who have won at the highest level.”
•Coach: Ray Corbett, 35th season
•Top players: Danny Claypool, Ian Gecse, Tre Holliman, Aiden Leslie, Tristin Pierce and Ian Roediger
•Key losses: Adam Bechtel and Grant Culbertson
•Last season: 9-10 overall
•2020-21 MSL-Ohio standings: Worthington Christian (8-0), Whitehall (6-3), Bexley and Buckeye Valley (both 5-4), Columbus Academy (3-5), Wellington (2-6), Grandview (1-8)
•2021 postseason: Def. Fairfield Christian 59-27; def. Millersport 55-35; def. Patriot Prep 57-40; lost to New Boston Glenwood 50-48 in Division IV regional semifinal
•Outlook: The Bobcats return four starters with an eye on winning a fourth consecutive district championship. Senior Leslie (second-team all-district and all-league) is back at guard after averaging 12.5 points. Also back are junior guards Claypool (third-team all-district, honorable mention all-league; 10.1 points) and Holliman and junior forward Gecse, who is coming off a broken leg from football.
Junior forward Roediger and junior guard Pierce also played key roles a year ago. Forward Tommy Ernst is the team’s other senior, and juniors Will DeVere (guard) and Chris Kowalcyk (forward) and sophomore Jayden Brown (guard) also are in the mix.
•Quotable: “Last year we were shut down five times by COVID and never really got into a rhythm, even at the end. I like our focus. The kids have come in and I’ve been happy with how they’ve paid attention to the smallest detail. They’ve been crisp and have given us great practices.” — Corbett
•Coach: Tim Casey, 21st season
•Top players: Quinn Corna, Owen Gawel, Drew Graves, Nick Heath and Geoffrey Schoeny
•Key losses: Coleman Kegler and Deno Tzagournis
•Last season: 9-12 overall
•2020-21 OCC-Central standings: Hilliard Bradley (8-2), Olentangy Liberty (7-3), Dublin Coffman and Hilliard Davidson (5-5), Olentangy Orange (4-6), Upper Arlington (1-9)
•2021 postseason: Def. Walnut Ridge 59-48; lost to Worthington Kilbourne 50-43 in second round of Division I district tournament
•Outlook: Casey anticipates a solid balance among seniors Corna (6-3, guard), Graves (6-4, forward), Heath (6-3, guard) and Schoeny (6-0, guard) as the Golden Bears move past their first non-winning season since 2012-13. Corna averaged 14.2 points and 3.4 rebounds to lead UA, ahead of Heath’s 10.9 points and 3.2 rebounds.
Graves added 8.5 points and 5.0 rebounds. Schoeny, whom Casey said “might be the best-kept secret in central Ohio,” added 7.9 points, 3.2 assists and 1.4 steals despite being injured for part of the season.
Casey said the team is physically stronger, more emotionally mature and learning to play through mistakes — all factors he hopes overcome a lack of height. No UA player is taller than 6-4, although six stand 6-3. Senior Luke Eriksen (6-3) partners with Graves, classmate Jacob Schneider (6-2) and freshman Cal Thrush (6-4) inside.
Quotable: “The whole thing about this group is any given night, one of (Corna, Graves, Heath and Schoeny) could bust out. They’re all capable. It’d be great if all of those guys could average double figures. If we get some additional big contributions beyond them, it could shape up to be a great year.” — Casey
•Coach: Artie Taylor, eighth season
•Top players: Ben Beckman, Aurius Calloway, Roarke Marincic, Chase Ouellette and A.J. Taylor
•Key losses: Evan Henry and Marcus Stewart
•Last season: 8-11 overall
•2021 postseason: Lost to Ready 72-49 in second round of Division III district tournament
•Outlook: The return of three starters, including 6-6 senior point guard Ouellette — a four-year starter whom coach Taylor called “a key cog … (and) one of the best players in central Ohio” — has the Jaguars optimistic that they bounce back from a rare losing season and compete for a district championship. Ouellette averaged 13.0 points as a junior.
Wellington’s other two returning starters are senior Calloway (6-0, guard) and junior Taylor (6-5, forward). Taylor averaged 9.0 points as a freshman but is coming off a foot injury suffered this spring.
According to coach Taylor, junior Beckman (5-11, guard) and sophomore Marincic (5-11, guard) have the potential to be two of the team’s top shooters. Taylor expects the team to spend at least the early part of the season finding its comfort zone while ensuring they are able to play multiple offenses and defenses in the process.
Quotable: “We’re going to be growing and we’ll have to grow up fast. It’s not so much about being capable but finding a way to get comfortable, whether that’s being comfortable with taking a needed chance or getting comfortable playing at a high level.” — Taylor
This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Boys Basketball: Multisport athletes fuel Grandview Heights’ success