Things are starting to heat up in Northeast Ohio as it’s now down to four teams in each district. The Ashtabula district semifinals kick off this week with top-seeded Lutheran East taking on West Geauga March 4. The following day, second-seeded Lake Catholic plays third seed Glenville. Both games will be played at Lakeside High School with the two winners playing in the district final Saturday, March 7. Here are a few players to keep an eye out for at Lakeside High School this week.
A natural scorer, has enjoyed a breakout season for Lake Catholic. He’s a shifty point guard who can impact the game in a myriad of ways. He’s got elite ball-handling skills and has one of the quickest first steps in the area. The Dayton commit has a much-improved jump shot and gets to the basket due to his sheer quickness.
He’s got great hands for his size, making plays on the ball to prevent scoring plays for opposing teams. The 6-foot-7 junior has done an effective job scoring the ball in the open court and has shown positive signs of a more developed jump shot. His size along with teammate inside the paint brings a challenge to all teams left in the district.
A very skilled forward for the Cougars, finishes through contact well and is the team’s all-time leading scorer. Him and Frazier present one of the area’s best one-two punches and his presence near the basket is certainly felt. He’s aggressive even off the ball and his combination of size and mobility makes him one of the toughest forwards to stop in the district.
Byron Ottrix Jr is an upcoming junior guard for Glenville. A known scorer, the combo guard does a good job of beating defenders off the dribble with his ball-handling skills and quickness. He shoots the ball well from long distance and creates separation at will with the ball in his hands. Ottrix scored his 1,000th point back on Jan. 31.
During West Geauga’s 61-51 win against Edgewood in the sectional final, Irwin scored 18 points, becoming the team’s all-time leading scorer with 1,286 career points and counting. The rising junior also owns the single-season scoring record with 540 points this season. He averaged 22 points and 12 rebounds per game during the regular season and is a force inside the paint. It’s going to be a battle inside the paint between Irwin and players like and Jalin Billingsly Wednesday night.
A Rider University commit, has helped lead Lutheran East to an impressive season thus far. He’s a lengthy and explosive player who makes plays on both ends of the floor both on the perimeter and inside the paint. Benson can finish as good as anybody inside and scored a career-high 60 points Feb. 14 against John Hay.
Joe Malchesky, Lake Catholic
A bit overlooked due to the presence of and , Joe Malchesky has made a name for himself this season for the Cougars. Malchesky is one of the hardest working players off the ball I’ve watched throughout Northeast Ohio this season. The highlight of his season thus far was the regular season-finale against Mentor where he finished with 17 rebounds, helping lead the Cougars to an upset win over the Cardinals.
Just a few weeks ago, senior guard joined teammate as 1,000-point scorers for West Geauga. Bissler is a guard with solid size and has shown confidence in his jump shot this season. Averaging just under 20 points per game for the season, Bissler moves exceptionally well without the ball and puts himself in positions to score effectively off the ball.
It’s hard to find another player as confident in his own game as is. The junior knows how to steal the show late in games and appears to make all the right plays when his team needs a spark. Albert is a player that’s known to finish through contact regularly and plays a lot bigger than his 5-foot-10 frame.
The rising junior has enjoyed an improved season for Glenville this year while playing alongside guard Byron Ottrix Jr. He’s very active on the glass, using his size and athleticism to his advantage when going after a rebound. It’s never an easy task containing Smiley from scoring near the rim and with his strength at 6-foot-5, he causes mismatches constantly.