Chardon will graduate eight seniors from its basketball team, a group that played under Doug Snyder in 2007.
When Chardon basketball coach Doug Snyder stepped down from varsity to seventh grade coach in 2007, he stepped into the lives of this year’s seniors.
He also coached them in youth and summer leagues as they grew up.
No wonder he says the group is a special one to him.
“It has been a pleasure to watch them mature and grow into young adults, and I have enjoyed being part of their middle school and high school lives,” he said.
They’re a fun-loving group of guys, he added — and they enjoy competing.
“It seems somewhat fitting that we finish their high school basketball careers together.”
The feeling has been mutual, say the seniors asked after senior night who welcomed their coach back to the varsity program just this year.
“Snyder coming in, he definitely turned things around,” said Joe Fodor.
“It’s been a lot more positive,” said Jason Janda. “This year coach Snyder came in and really helped us change the attitude.”
On Senior Night last week, the Hilltoppers took on the Mayfield Wildcats.
As is often is the tradition, five seniors started the game. But because there are eight senior Hilltoppers, seniors voted and chose Trevor Miducki, Kyle Spear and Nick Rebera — none of whom had started this year — to join more regular players Andrew Gray and Jason Janda.
Joe Connick, Joe Fodor and Zach Weiland round out the senior group.
Despite its new group, the team kicked off with an 8-2 lead. In fact, Miducki let two 3-pointers fly and swished them both.
With the Chardon Crazies student section support, Chardon forced Mayfield to take a timeout and played the first four minutes of the game with the expected intensity of the special night.
“It was a good way to start off the game,” Miducki said. “It was a good game to be out there with my brothers.”
“It was nice they said we could start, instead of the usual five we have out there,” said Rebera. “They wanted us to experience starting in front of this crowd.”
As is often the case, the night came faster than seniors expect, Miducki added. Weiland, Gray, Janda, Fodor and Connick — all football players — were experiencing the goodbye, with their parents and friends, for the second time.
Although the team had higher expectations than its 7-13 record, when you consider last year’s two-win season with predominantly the same group, the program seems headed in the right direction.
“We had ups and downs and we just had the downs at the wrong time,” said Zach Weiland. “We played really good at the beginning of the season; we started off 5-3. We’ve had a six-game losing streak. Hopefully we can finish on a high note.”
The game was tied at 29 at halftime. Then Chardon just couldn’t get the offense going against Mayfield’s tough man-to-man defense. The final score was 59-48 Mayfield.
Weiland led the group with 13 points. Gray was next with eight points; and Miducki, Riley Thompson and Drew McCartney each had six points.
Foder led the HIlltoppers with five of the team’s 23 rebounds. Chardon committed 24 turnovers to the Wildcats’ 20.
Despite the disappointing loss, “It was definitely surreal,” Janda said. “Coming out with everybody playing four years now — it was great, so fun.”
Coach Snyder told the team in the summer that defense could be taught in a short amount of time, Fodor remembered.
“We were always working on our offense,” Fodor said. “Lately we can’t get a rhythm on offense. We are holding the teams to 50, 60. We just have to start scoring.”
Chardon lost its two games over the weekend to Premier Athletic Conference foes Riverside and Lakeside. The losses put the team on a downward slide as it prepared for its tournament game, a third rematch against Lakeside, a team that has beaten Chardon twice.
That home game was played Feb. 26 after deadline.
Dragons football coach Frank Hall, a former Chardon coach who will be in a lot of people’s minds this week as the school honors its fallen students two years ago, was in the stands watching.
Snyder’s son, Cooper, is a sophomore next season, and there will be a small core with experience to guide the team next season.
“We have made many strides this year,” Snyder said. “I wish we could have pulled out a few more games for them, but they do have some nice wins to remember this season: Madison, North, West G and Aurora, to name a few.”
He continued: “I believe they are destined to accomplish great things as they branch out and start the next chapter of their lives in the near future. I wish each young man all the very best in their lives. I will miss them.”
The junior varsity score was 42-39 in favor of Mayfield.
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