By Lenny Sementi
This season was on the brink of being cancelled before last week’s about face by the IDPH and the governor’s office. For head boys basketball coach Justin Bozarth and his top assistant Bob Taylor that change was a chance to spend more season on the hardwood with their seniors.
Grant Hardwick, Cole Cunningham, Rohan Patel, Ben Tiezzi and Aiden Beachy had big grins on their face last Friday when the state gave the ok for games to be played in state regions reaching Phase 4 mitigations. Which is where Tuscola’s Region 6 currently resides.
“Coach Taylor and I are ecstatic that our seniors are going to get another season with last week’s news,” stated Bozarth. “This is the one class that Coach and I have coached all the way through junior high. From 7th grade on, they’ve only known us as basketball coaches. We’ve got a strong connection with these guys because of that.”
Cummingham is a grinder and has strengths on both ends of the floor. “Cole was one of the better shooters in the area last year, who we hope this year shows a new level to his game by attacking the basket and being able to score from multiple levels, Bozarth said. “And he drew our toughest defensive assignment in most games last season.”
Hardwick was an honorable mention all Central Illinois Conference performer on last season’s 26-win team. He can go on runs outside the arc like no else in the area and also has the ability to beat you off the dribble and get to the basket. “Grant has a knack for making big plays when needed,” commented the coach. “He’s a great shooter, who like Cole, hopes to show a new offensive package this year by also scoring at the rim.”
Rohan Patel is good outside the arc as well and has fired up thousands of shots in his driveway since last March adding a mid range jumper and some skills in the paint. He also is willing to do the dirty work on defense in the land despite his lack of size. “I predict Rohan will lead us in charges taken this year,” the coach added. “He’s great defensively and had several high scoring games for a JV a year ago.”
“Tiezzi has a great basketball mind and would make a great coach one day if that happens to be his choosing. He earned varsity minutes for us as a junior and will slide into a starting spot when we tip it off. He’s a guy that can impact a game in a variety of ways because of his mental abilities.”
Beachy is another guy that can play both in the back and frontcourt. He is a hard nosed physical type player who works extremely hard in practice. “Aiden’s offensive fundamentals are improving but his strength has always been on the defensive end,” coach quipped.
“There’s experience and smarts within this group. In their six years representing our community through basketball, they’ve continuously elevated our program to new heights and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for them this year.”