Aurora sixth-grade hoops team ends top season

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FROM STAFF REPORTS

Aurora -- The local sixth-grade boys basketball travel team recently finished its third and final season together, posting a 35-2 record.

"We had won our share of games, but we had some specific things we wanted to accomplish this season," said coach Bob Marchese. "We wanted a league championship and we wanted to win the Aurora tournament."

The team did both.

The squad also won all five tourneys it participated in -- Stow Classic, Hudson Hoop Classic, the Premier at Spire, Jared Ellsworth Celebration and the Aurora tournament.

Aurora defeated some top teams such as Mentor, Perry, Solon, Chagrin Falls, Cleveland Heights, Green, Glen Oak and Jackson. "We played some great teams and we found a way to consistently come out on top," said Marchese.

"I have coached many teams over the year and I've not seen a team improve and succeed the way this team did. The boys worked hard to improve in everything we threw at them."

Grant Huffman, the starting point guard, was the engine for the team, "He was such a threat because he was our best defender and could break down defenses off the dribble," Marchese said. "He demonstrated an exceptional grasp of the game."

Will Carpenter became a force in the post. "He has great hands and was able to catch anything his teammates threw," said the coach. "When we ran the pick-and-roll with him, teams had a tough time stopping him. Defensively, he probably blocked over 50 shots."

Two other contributors in the post were second-year player Colin Krupinski and newcomer Lenny Feckner.

"OFFENSIVELY, they did a great job on the pick-and-roll and got themselves open for big points when teams tried to stop our dribble penetration," said the coach. "They also came up big on the boards."

Jake Marchese and Jack Roche were outside shooting threats. "Teams would try to key in on stopping our drives and then Jake and Jack would spot up for the open shots and bury them," Marchese said. "They hit some devastating 3-pointers in some big games."

Ethan Hays was an exceptional offensive contributor. "He really grew as a distributor, and he could score from anywhere on the floor. He has a great shooting touch," said Marchese.

R.C. Schmeider was a defensive stopper. "We usually counted on him to defend one of the opposing team's best players," said the coach. "Offensively, as a guard, he contributed with some timely shooting and incredible passing."

Jack Deptola and Reece Herendeen were scrappy players who did whatever the team needed. "They could hit shots from long or short range, and had a ton of heart and hustle. They's dive for loose balls or beat everyone down the floor on the break," said Marchese.

The coach noted the team started out 0-10 at the beginning of their fourth-grade season, went on to a record of 78-9 in the next 87 games.

"This was a whole lot of fun," Marchese said. "It's a group of talented players and great young men. I look forward to watching them move on to middle school and high school ball. If they stay together, Aurora High is in store for some great basketball in a few years."

Assisting Marchese with coaching were Greg Roche and Chaz Deptola.

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