Aurora -- Despite finishing with a 1-22 record, the Aurora boys basketball team was filled with hard working players "who worked to get better all the time," according to Jim Wallish, the team's first-year coach.
"There is no formula for dealing with a losing season," Wallish said. "I believe it was easy to remain positive because everyone was supportive and great to be around. All of us knew things were not great by our record, but we all knew we could stay positive because of the attitude and character of everyone involved."
Aurora's lone victory came on Dec. 22 when the host Greenmen defeated Streetsboro, 52-50. When asked what was working well for his team that night, Wallish said the players had a sense of confidence and trust in their teammates.
"For the first time in the season, I think they trusted their ability and their teammates," he said. "They made passes, shots and defensive rotations with a confident approach."
Wallish said "inexperience on all fronts" contributed to the team's final record.
"I believe inexperience showed in games, especially toward the end of the season," he said. "Down the stretch, we led in the second half in almost all of our games. We hadn't played ahead with the lead very much, and our experience showed.
"There was inexperience with our program philosophy because the boys hadn't played for me before," he said. "It took a little bit of time for them to grasp some of our concepts. We still haven't mastered all of our philosophies, but that comes with time.
"Finally, there was inexperience as a coaching staff with the league. Once you start to see teams once or twice, you start to understand some of the things they like to do, and some of the approaches you would like to have against them."
SCORING leaders were senior Ben Branscom, who averaged 7.5 points a game, followed by junior Paul Kollat (7.2) and sophomore Joe Dinardo (7.0).
Senior Kendall Fayne led the team in rebounding, averaging 5 a game, followed by sophomore Pavel Galchenko (4.5) and junior Drew Daff (3.0).
Dinardo led the team in assists with 3.5 a game, followed by junior Kollat (2.5).
There were other contributors, too.
"Seniors like Matt Mihalik and Nick Reminder just tried to work a little bit harder and do things a little bit better, and the rest of the team followed," Wallish said.
"Players like Jeff Busath and Andrew Rinicella probably didn't get as much playing time as they would have liked, but they were among the first players cheering on their teammates and showing support," he said. "Players who do that are extremely valuable to a team.
"I learned a lot about players like Anthony Quaranto," he said. "Regardless of the results, one thing this program learned was who wants to fight back when things aren't going well and who will work hard for themselves, their teammates and Aurora basketball. I know Anthony will play as hard as he can for as long as he can and won't back down."
A football injury halted senior forward Patrick Dougherty, while junior forward Joe Roberto missed a large portion of the season with an injury.
"We had the chance to see Joe play at the end of the year, and his motor never stops," he said. "He works very hard."
Looking ahead to next season, Wallish said he will emphasize "a commitment to becoming better players and a better team in the off-season.
"There will be plenty of opportunity for the boys to develop their games. From practices to shootouts and team camps, we will provide them the opportunity to make themselves better and, ultimately, make our program better."
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