By NATHAN INNIGER
One of the challenges of a high school coach is replacing players from year to year.
Coming into the 2012-2013 Findlay High School boys basketball season, Jim Rucki was tasked with the challenge of replacing five seniors, four of whom played specific roles on last season’s squad that advanced to the Division I district final.
Rucki had the chance to see several of his new faces in action Friday night as the Trojans handled Fostoria 69-35 in the nonconference season opener for both teams at Findlay High School.
To make matters more challenging for Rucki, Findlay (1-0) was without returning junior Adam Twining and starting point guard Michael Clark left the game in the second half when he tweaked an ankle.
The Trojans were just fine against an outsized Fostoria team, though.
Junior forward Austin Gutting and senior forward Joseph Davidson combined for 37 points and 16 rebounds to lead Findlay. Seven other players also scored in the game.
“(Gutting) used his body really well, he has a good power move inside,” Rucki said. “Joseph was good at the mid-range game tonight.”
The Redmen (0-1) stayed in the game early due to solid 3-point shooting. Dom Fuller made two of Fostoria’s three first-quarter treys. His second got Fostoria within 13-10 with 1:40 left in the first quarter. Fuller led the Redmen with a team-high 13 points in the contest.
But Davidson and Gutting both scored inside and lifted the Trojans to a 17-10 lead at the end of the quarter that would grow much bigger by halftime.
Findlay utilized man-to-man pressure, along with an aggressive zone defense, and put the clamps on a young and inexperienced Fostoria team that returns only three players from last year.
“We contested shots better in the second quarter than we did in the first,” Rucki said. “Our help and recovery was slow in the first quarter and they hit some (3-pointers).
“In the second quarter we were a little closer to them and when they missed, we got the rebound.”
The Trojans held Fostoria to an 0 of 8 effort from the floor in the second quarter and also forced six turnovers as their lead climbed to 37-11 at halftime.
“We have a lot of young, inexperienced kids and this is their first time playing varsity basketball. This is kind of a rough place to be introduced to varsity basketball at Findlay,” Fostoria coach Rick Renz said.
“Our effort was really good for the first game,” Rucki said. “(Fostoria) is really young, so that was a good way to open, I guess, for us.
“They are going to get a lot better and hopefully we will, too.”
Findlay outrebounded Fostoria 24-7 in the first half and many offense rebounds turned into baskets for the Trojans.
For Fostoria, despite the loss, there were some positives.
“We knew coming in that the odds were stacked against us,” Renz said. “What I liked is that we got down big at halftime, but we came out and you didn’t see any quit in our players. They kept their heads, they worked hard.”
Despite a solid effort, the Redmen were outrebounded 38-23 in the game and committed 19 turnovers.
“This game showed me some glaring weaknesses we have,” Renz said. “But they are fixable weaknesses that we can correct in practice, and it showed us what we need to do to get ready for the conference schedule,”
Meanwhile, Findlay’s entire roster outside of Twining played in the game. The experience could be valuable going forward for the Trojans.
“The positive side of not having Twining and Michael in the second half is some guys got to play a little more that we are going to need down the road so that was good,” Rucki said.
Findlay is back in action Tuesday when the Trojans travel to Bowling Green for a 6 p.m. junior varsity start. The Bobcats return an experienced group featuring University of Wisconsin signee Vitto Brown.
Cook 3-1—8, Ticey 2-0—5, Cannon 0-0—0, V. Cousin 0-0—0, Fuller 3-4—13, Sfero 0-0—0, A. Cousin 1-0—3, Hampton 0-0—0, Abell 1-0—2, Martin 2-0—4, Stennett 0-0—0, Ka. Bemis 0-0—0. TOTALS: 12-42 5-9—35.
Haynes 1-0—2, Miller 2-0—5, Niswander 2-0—6, Clark 0-2—2, Davidson 8-1—17, Gutting 10-0—20, Gobrecht 2-1—5, Kairys 2-0—5, Moss 3-1—7, Fisher 0-0—0. TOTALS: 30-55 5-12—69.
Fostoria 10 1 10 14 — 35
Findlay 17 20 16 16 — 69
3-Point GOALS: Fostoria 6-16 (Fuller 3, Cook, Ticey & A. Cousin 1); Findlay 4-12 (Niswander 2, Miller & Kairys 1).
rebounds: Fostoria 23 (Cook 5); Findlay 38 (Guttin 9, Davidson 7).
turnovers: Fostoria 19, Findlay 10.
junior varsity: Findlay, 45-16.