The Wauseon boys basketball team’s season ended in defeat Saturday, but by no means was it a loss. They tied the program’s best finish with the 1994 team who also finished as state runner-up, and they also broke the school record for wins in a season.
Coach Chad Burt, who was a player on that team from 23 years ago, knows how special this group is and what this season means to the Wauseon community.
“We’ve got a great community. We’ve got homegrown guys,” Burt said after the state championship. “We’ve literally seen these kids grow up. When I say we, I’m saying the community. I’m saying teachers. It is a true hometown. To me, what Ohio high school basketball’s all about.
“It is an awesome experience and I’m glad that we could do it with these guys. The coaches, and these guys as players.”
The 2016-17 squad lost just twice this season, and outside of Saturday’s state championship, the other defeat came in the second game of the season to Genoa on Dec. 6. They were also without key contributor Austin Rotroff, who missed the beginning of the season while nursing a knee injury.
The Indians captured their first outright Northwest Ohio Athletic League Title since 2000 as they posted a 7-0 record. It was Wauseon’s third straight league title in boys basketball.
A member of all three of those championships was senior Carter Bzovi. And he is happy that the senior class, which consists of himself, Brendan Britsch and Logan Hines, can finish their careers with such a great season.
“It is definitely a pleasure to end my career and our three careers (at the state tournament),” said Bzovi. “We’ve all stuck it out. And I think at seventh and eighth grade we probably had 15 guys on our team. Now we’re down to three. It’s a credit to these guys and we’ve stuck it out. It’s been fun.”
To finish as one of the state’s final two teams is a fate that few high school basketball players get to experience. Coach Burt got to both play in a state final and take a team there as a coach, so he knows the significance of this season.
“Ten years from now when they get to walk into the school and see that state runner-up trophy in the trophy case. And get to bring their kids back and see their picture on the wall. They’ll realize how special of a season it was for sure,” said the Indian coach.
The future looks bright for the program as well. They will return their second and third leading scorers in juniors Brooks Gype and Rotroff, in addition to many other key players.
“It’s kind of been surreal. It doesn’t feel like it’s actually reality,” said Gype on the experience of making it to state. “You know, it’s a childhood dream to come to the state tournament and play in front of all these fans. Next year, it’s gonna be at the top of my list and one of my goals throughout the summer to grind towards getting back here next year.”
Rotroff echoed those sentiments.
“It’s been a lot of fun. A great season. (I) look forward to getting back at it this summer and trying to get back here next year,” he said.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010