Lowellville is ready to take next step with an experienced group

Lowellville welcomes Leetonia in the opener.

Lowellville Rockets High School Basketball

2017-18 Lowellville Boys’ Basketball Preview
Head Coach: Matt Olson
Record: 11-12 (5-5), T-3rd place in ITCL Blue

More:High School Basketball previews from other teams

The Good News
Coach Matt Olson was hired in October of 2016 and managed to guide the Rockets to an 11-11 regular season mark. Seven returning letter winners are back including four starters. Senior power forward Alex Mamula (2nd-Team All-ITCL) along with his classmate Nate Solak – who was sidelined for part of last season with an injury – are back to the lead Lowellville into the new campaign. Mamula closed out his junior campaign by scoring 9.5 and pulling down 5.9 rebounds. He also shot 47.7% from the floor (92-193). Solak connected on 38.6% from long distance (17-44) while averaging 10.9 points. The Rockets will have juniors Matt Hvisdak (1st-Team All-ITCL), Jake Rotz, Dylan Durkin, Bryan Harris, and Joe Ballone all back in the mix this season. Hvisdak played a key role on the team last year by finishing third in scoring (9.7) and leading the Rockets in assists (5.5) and steals (2.7). Lowellville’s leading rebounder Rotz is back as well after averaging 6.9 boards and 7.8 points per outing. Rotz also took the team-high field goal percentage (49.4%). Also competing for playing time are senior Anthony Mesaros and junior Micah Mamula. “We have 9 guys and possibly more competing for playing time,” indicates Olson, “So, we should have some depth this season if we can stay healthy. We also have some good size inside with Alex (Mamula) at 6’4 and Jake (Rotz) at 6’5. That should open up the perimeter for our point guard (Hvisdak) and our shooters. We know we will be playing some really good competition in our new league and non-conference schedule, however, we feel as a unit that if we play our best basketball we can compete with anyone.”

2017-18 Schedule
Dec. 1 – Leetonia, 7
Dec. 5 – Campbell Memorial, 7
Dec. 9 – at Mathews, 7
Dec. 12 – Mineral Ridge, 7
Dec. 15 – Waterloo, 7
Dec. 19 – at Western Reserve, 7
Dec. 22 – at Sebring, 7
Dec. 29 – Struthers, 7
Jan. 2 – at Crestview, 7:30
Jan. 5 – Jackson-Milton, 7
Jan. 6 – South Range, 7
Jan. 9 – Springfield, 7
Jan. 12 – McDonald, 7
Jan. 16 – at Mineral Ridge, 7
Jan. 19 – at Waterloo, 7
Jan. 23 – Western Reserve, 7
Jan. 26 – Sebring, 7
Jan. 30 – at Jackson-Milton, 7
Feb. 2 – at Springfield, 7
Feb. 6 – at McDonald, 7
Feb. 9 – United, 7
Feb. 13 – at East Palestine, 7

Challenges
The Rockets have seen their team scoring average dip in each of the last two years (2014-15: 66.3; 2015-16: 63.0; 2016-17: 54.4) while seeing their rebounding totals fall by 10-caroms a game within the last season (2015-16: 36.4; 2016-17: 25.8). Lowellville lost a pair of seniors from last year’s group – Jon Chiclowe (14.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.9 spg) and Devin Wright (5.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg). Chiclowe was the leading scorer last winter.

Last 10 Years
Overall Winning Percentage: 59.9% (136-91)
League Championships: 1 (2015)
Playoff Record: 10-10
Sectional Championships: 6 (2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2011, 2010)
District Championships: None

2016-17 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 54.4
Scoring Defense: 54.6
Rebounding: 25.8
Field Goal Percentage: 39.5%
Three-Point Percentage: 28.2%
Free Throw Percentage: 61.8%
Turnovers: 13.3

2016-17 Results
Sebring 50 Rockets 43*
Western Reserve 54 Rockets 38
Rockets 65 East Palestine 62
Rockets 93 Mineral Ridge 46
Sebring 57 Rockets 49
Rockets 71 Jackson-Milton 50
Rockets 65 Columbiana 55
#3 McDonald 81 Rockets 35
Rockets 56 Southern 48
Struthers 67 Rockets 48
Western Reserve 70 Rockets 51
Rockets 44 Campbell Memorial 43
Rockets 74 Mineral Ridge 58
Rockets 46 Sebring 44
Rockets 65 Crestview 37
United 52 Rockets 44
Rockets 63 Jackson-Milton 41
Lisbon 54 Rockets 45
Rockets 65 Leetonia 56
McDonald 75 Rockets 48
Springfield 49 Rockets 40
Wellsville 63 Rockets 57
South Range 39 Rockets 35
*-Playoff

AP Rankings (Last 10 years)
Last game vs. Top 10 team: vs. #3 McDonald, 81-35, loss on Jan. 27, 2017
Record vs. Top 10 teams since Jan. 2010: 0-4

Key Number
The Rockets won 71 games within a four-year span (2012-16).

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