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Roosevelt notes program progress in year two under coach Black

Roosevelt notes program progress in year two under coach Black


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


Kent Roosevelt boys basketball coach Curtis Black has a direction he wants to take the program.

His players are moving in the same direction.

As a coach, there may not be a better feeling.

Black recently completed his second season as the leader of the Rough Riders’ program.

The team finished 10-12 overall and were 6-8 inside the Suburban League’s American Conference. Five of the team’s 12 losses were by eight points or less.

“Year two felt great,” Black said. “I felt a new sense of confidence in my ability to coach, and I think that having a year of experience and situations under my belt truly helped me a lot this season.

“It was also amazing to see the things we preached in year one become a reality in year two,” Black added. “Our kids definitely understand the direction we are trying to take the program.”

For Roosevelt’s opponents this season, though, it was difficult to determine which direction to prepare for.

Nine different Riders averaged between 3 and 8 points per game this season — led by Grant Leslie, Ryan Slouch and Tyrel Ellington — and eight of the team’s 12 varsity players led the team in scoring in at least one of the 24 games.

“Our roster and player skill-sets allowed for depth with some of what we run offensively and our kids had unselfish attitudes,” Black said.

In most cases, the balance had its advantages, but did also have some disadvantages.

“That kind of output often made us difficult to scout, but it also led to some inconsistent games for us, as well,” Black said.

Black, though, had plenty to point to in regards to proud moments from the season, starting with, naturally, the team’s double-digit victory over arch-rival Ravenna.

Roosevelt knocked off the Ravens 61-49 on Dec. 27.

“Any time you can win that rivalry game, that sits at the top of the list for proud moments,” Black said.

The team’s victory over Ravenna capped a high point in the season as the team’s fifth straight win between Dec. 12 and Dec. 27.

Also inside that win streak was a key triumph over Revere, which was the American Conference league champion last year.

Black also considered the team’s narrow win over North Royalton, 49-46, to close out the season on Feb. 20 as an important moment for the program.

“That was a great win for us, beating a 16-win, No. 22-ranked team,” Black said.

By season’s end, the Riders finished in a tie for fourth place and were the best team in the league, holding teams to the fewest points allowed in the American Conference.

“Our scoring totals were not high, but defensively, we held a lot of really good players and high-powered teams to lower offensive outputs,” Black said. “I give our guys credit for their effort on the defensive end this year.”

Every part of the season is part of a larger scope that Black is trying to build.

“All of our coaches and players want to build the culture of basketball in the city of Kent,” Black said. “You see it with the championships that the Kent Youth Basketball Association has played for all winter, you see it at the middle-school level with our seventh graders getting a league-tournament win and our eighth graders losing in the league championship — all the way up to our varsity guys going into a sectional-final game against Green,” Black said. “We aren’t celebrating shortcomings by any means, but we are noting the progress.”

Expect more notes for 2024-25 for the Rough Riders.

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