Unbeaten Mahoning Valley teams thirsty for next challenges
Six area programs hope to end 2012 on a high note
By Matthew Peaslee
When asked if he was happy about where his team stood eight games into the season, Dennis Simmons was straightforward.
“No, not quite,” he said of his 7-1 East High Panthers. “We should be undefeated.”
It’s a goal for every program, but only six area teams stand unblemished four weeks into the season.
Led by 10 seniors, Salem is 6-0 with only one being a home game. The Quakers are feeding off last season’s 9-13 record because they know it could have been much better.
“We lost nine games where we were ahead in the fourth quarter,” said head coach Rich Hart. “We missed a layup or an easy basket in crucial situations that wound up sealing it.
“The kids have worked hard to make sure those chances, if they happen again, end up in our favor.”
Springfield is 6-0, too. Gunning for a back-to-back Inter Tri-County League Tier One titles, the Tigers face backyard rival Poland, which is also undefeated, on Saturday. Fans and administration may be looking forward to the tilt more than Eric Fender.
“Every game is just as important as the one before it or after it,” said the 2003 Poland grad. “I have great memories from my time there and I know there will be a lot of fanfare about it. And honestly, I do want to bring it back to the level of rivalry we had in the early 2000s, but it’s just another game.”
Fender and an assistant plan to be at the Bulldogs’ game on Friday against Fitch. Even with brother, Chad, on the Poland sidelines, secrets are never exchanged.
Senior Eoghan Bees and sophomore Mark Schuler lead the team in scoring.
LaBrae (5-0) is led by 6-foot-8 Peyton Aldridg,e who averages 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
“He’s so steady and doesn’t try to force things,” Vikings coach Chad Kiser said. “We have six guys that score in double figures because he can get them the ball, too.”
Bristol (6-0) and McDonald (7-0) are also unbeaten.