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Boys Basketball: 2023-24 Mogadore Wildcats season preview

Boys Basketball: 2023-24 Mogadore Wildcats season preview


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor



Russ Swartz

15th  year at Mogadore; 35th year overall

258-109 at Mogadore; 480-315 overall




   • Coaching Staff: Rod Swartz, JV; Anthony Ricci, assistant; Nate Robinson, strength and conditioning.

   • 2022-23 Record: 20-6 overall; 7-3 Portage Trail Conference.

   • Returning Lettermen (8): Layne Miller, sr.; Lucas Butler, sr.; Corey Lehner, sr.; Devin Graham, sr.; Tanner Buso, sr.; Zeke Cameron, sr.; CJ Westfall, sr.; Nick Stephenson, jr.

   • Lettermen Lost (4): Nick Coffman, Dillon Pendergast, Trevor Davis, Mason Williams.




Swartz-coached teams are consistently known for their gritty, but disciplined play.

This year’s Wildcats will expectedly fit into that mold again.

Many contributing players return from last year’s team that advanced to the district finals before being eliminated by Richmond Heights, which won its second straight Division IV state championship and ran its win streak to 49 games in the process.

“We need to continue to play hard, physical, smart and unselfish basketball, which is what our system is all about,” Swartz said. “We have four returning starters and other players that received valuable experience last season, which will hopefully add to our depth this season.”




The Cats’ backcourt will be the catalyst to creating an uptempo style of play that will be designed to spread the floor with player movement and ball movement.

First Team All-Portage Trail Conference performer Layne Miller leads the group.

He averaged 14.3 points per game last season and buried 70 3-pointers.

Miller plays at a controlled pace, can heat up from distance and is also a player that sees the floor well to create opportunities for his teammates.

Butler emerged as a trusted contributor last year and put together solid all-around numbers with 8.5 points, 3.4 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game.

He was named Second Team All-PTC. He handles the ball well and is another player that sets up his teammates very well with passes.

Lehner, a lefty, averaged 7.9 points, 3.3 assists and 2.8 steals per game. He is a energy and effort player that makes a difference outside the box score in many ways.




Stephenson is the team’s tallest player at 6-foot-3 and brings length to the frontcourt.

He had a solid year a season ago as a sophomore, averaging 5.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game.

His game can grow to the next level by playing under control and limiting plays that put him into foul trouble.

Graham (3.5 ppg) and Buso (2.4 ppg) will be two players expected to take on larger roles this season.




Nick Stephenson, jr.; Karson Jaber, jr.; Demitri Blagojevic, jr.




“Our late start, but we are used to that,” said Swartz, referencing the basketball program’s delayed beginning as they wait for the football program’s annual deep playoff run. “As I say each year, the teams on our basketball schedule do not care about our football success and how late we start. We must get ready quickly.”




“Last year’s champs, Warren JFK and St. Thomas, will be very good again. As will Lake Center Christian. This is a very good small-school basketball league.”

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