Type to search

Shooting advice from Rod Swartz sparks Graham, Wildcats

Shooting advice from Rod Swartz sparks Graham, Wildcats


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


For a player seeking advice on how to pull out of a shooting slump, it would be difficult to find someone better to work with than legendary Mogadore high-scoring alumni and current assistant coach Rod Swartz.

That player was Devin Graham.

And Swartz, who scored 1,494 career points for the Wildcats, was there for him.

With just the amount of fundamental advice, Graham has quickly found his touch from the perimeter.

On Friday, Rootstown got to see it from the front row.

In a dominating 71-51 road victory, Graham scorched the nets for a game-high 21 points on an efficient 9-of-12 shooting. It wasn’t all about scoring for Graham on Friday, though, with the Mogadore senior adding five rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots.

As for the shooting advice his brother Rod gave to Graham, Mogadore head coach Russ Swartz was not granted the details nor did he seek them out.

“I know we wanted to get more lift in Devin’s shot because it was such a line drive lately, but I don’t know what exactly Rod worked on with him,” Russ Swartz said. “All I know is that during that same day of practice, Devin started making a lot more shots, and I told him, ‘Whatever he told you to do, just keep doing that’.”

It allowed Mogadore to keep on doing something else, too: Winning.

Friday’s win at Rootstown was the Cats’ sixth straight after opening the season with three losses in their first four games.

Mogadore (7-3, 2-1 PTC) has made it a customary part of the year to start seasons slow after the team is delayed in practicing together — and also getting into basketball shape — by consistently deep postseasons by the football program.

It is now apparent, though, that the Wildcats have found the basketball versions of themselves.

Time and time again on Friday, the Cats used their defense — with steals and defensive rebounds — to quickly get out into transition.

In the blink of an eye, with the ball moving far more frequently through passes than dribbles, Mogadore found easy points as they passed by Rootstown’s transition defense.

Oftentimes it was Corey Lehner or Graham leading, finding Wildcats filling the lanes for a variety of layups or opportunities to keep the ball and bodies moving.

Lehner led Mogadore with seven assists, adding 15 points, five rebounds and three steals.

One of Lehner’s primary offensive targets was Layne Miller, who finished the game with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range.

It was all part of a night of offensive efficiency for the Cats, who shot 9-of-25 from beyond the arc and, remarkably, 21-of-30  (70 percent) on 2-point shots.

Mogadore used the scoring barrages to jump out to a 22-10 lead after the first quarter and 38-20 advantage by halftime.

“I would say that it has probably been for the last six games that we have been running in transition really well,” Swartz said. “It is one of those things that you see the easy points, but it really always has to start with a defensive stop first. Right now, we are a little bit of hit and miss with those defensive stops. We need to get better there. We need a little more consistency, but we have shown that we can do some good things when we are locked in.”

For Rootstown (2-9, 0-4 PTC), offense did not come as easily. The Rovers are averaging 43 points per game this season and scored more than 50 points for only the second time this season.

The Rovers were 17-of-63 from the field (27 percent).

“I felt like, in the first half, when our shots went up, we had too many players standing around,” Rootstown head coach Bobby Staudt said. “We didn’t go in for rebounds, and we didn’t get back fast enough. In the second half, I thought our decision making improved, but we have to be able to put things together for four quarters.”

Leading Rootstown in scoring was Cameron Mahone, who finished with 15 points and nine rebounds. Aiden Rodstrom added 10 points, five assists and 12 rebounds, while Blake Mullaly was a third player in double-digits with 13 points.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *