It will be a new look Bulldog basketball team as Swanton takes the floor for the 2017-18 season. Gone are head coach Matt Smith and a group of seniors that included All-Ohioan Gunnar Oakes.
Smith had led the Bulldogs since 2008, but stepped aside as coach to focus on being principal at Swanton Middle School. Joel Visser takes over as coach after leading Tipp City Tippecanoe to a 29-21 record the previous two seasons. He was District 9 Coach of the Year for the 2015-16 season.
Oakes was Northwest Ohio Athletic League scoring champion as a senior and averaged 20.4 points per game overall to be named second team All-Ohio in Division III. Other seniors lost to graduation included Duyane Goings, Zach Dziengelewski, Tanner Prentice, Nick Koback, Garrett Chandler and Connor Yaney.
Three key players return from the Bulldogs’ 2016-17 squad. Junior Dylan Gilsdorf returns after averaging 4 points and 3.2 assists per game, and junior Randy Slink is back after scoring 4 points and pulling down 3 rebounds per contest. Junior Jared Wilson is another returning letter winner for Swanton.
Visser said that youth and inexperience at the varsity level will be weaknesses for Swanton. Several newcomers will be counted on by Visser in his inaugural season with the Bulldogs.
Among them are seniors Zach Bloom and Reece Pawlowicz, juniors Carter Swank and Hunter Mix, and freshmen Josh Vance and Andrew Thornton.
Visser said a strength for the Bulldogs is the “ability to get up and down the floor with talented multi-sport athletes who will compete and play hard.”
The coach said he has “a strong, athletic and young team who will continue to develop in hopes of playing our best basketball come tournament time.”
As for the league race, like most everyone else, Visser sees Wauseon and Archbold as favorites as they return key players for teams that advanced to state last season.
Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010