Type to search

Rovers falter under Chippewa’s pressure in season-opening loss

Rovers falter under Chippewa’s pressure in season-opening loss


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


It would be difficult to dream up a worse matchup for the Rootstown boys basketball team to open its season against than the Chippewa Chipps.

The Rovers’ lack of depth and experience in the backcourt was already an understandable concern entering 2022-23. The program lost all five starters from a year ago, including a veteran group of guards that had seen just about everything.

On Friday, the new look Rootstown backcourt was thrown to a Chipps’ defense that is fueled by a collection of guards that are relentless, hard working, quick and physical.

Choose your adjective and Chippewa looked the part on Friday.

From the opening jump, the Chipps hounded Rootstown ball-handlers all over the court and caused constant chaos.

The Rovers could not keep up and turned the ball over 27 times — almost more than their field-goal attempts (30) — which created countless transition points for Chippewa that floweded the scoreboard that turned a very early 6-4 Rootstown lead to a 40-7 advantage for the Chipps on their way to a 68-31 non-league victory in Rootstown.

Rootstown’s Cameron Mahone releases a free-throw attempt on Friday.
Tom Nader/Portage Sports

“We definitely knew they were going to get up and pressure us. They are a very physical team and really made things tough on us tonight,” Rootstown head coach Cody Calhoun said. “Tonight was a good test for us and a good learning experience. That is not the type of pressure you see every day so for our team to see that in our first game, we need to learn from it.”

Even with the Rovers finding some easy buckets in the opening minutes, the Chipps’ pressure was evident and even had a way of making the Rovers’ successful passes seemed rushed and ill-fated.

In the blink of an eye, Rootstown’s early 6-4 advantage turned into a 34-1 run for Chippewa (1-0). In fact, the Rovers (0-1) went nearly 12 minutes without a field goal before a Cameron Mahone layup with 2:23 to play ended the drought that included 23 turnovers and two 10-second violations.

By halftime, the 34-1 run stretched out to 45-6 for the Chipps’ to establish a 49-12 lead.

The group of Nick Tsimpris, Owen Riggenbach, Brendan Donnelly, Caleb Gasser and Logan Toler were the catalyst for the Chipps’ impressive defensive catalyst. The quintet combined for 14 steals.

They also got it done offensively, too, accounting for 33 points, with Gasser scoring 14.

Chippewa’s offensive leader, however, was 6-foot-4 forward Ethan Douglas, who finished with 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting.

Douglas, who also had a game-high 10 rebounds and four blocked shots, ran the floor well and was often the beneficiary of well-executed transition passes that moved the ball up the court quickly. He had a pair of dunks and also a number of opportunistic offensive-rebound putbacks.

Rootstown was led in scoring by Cameron Mahone, who had 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor. He also had six rebounds, while Ryan Piscitani also pulled down six boards.

Rootstown senior Cole Hostetler defends Chippewa’s Caleb Gasser during Friday’s second half in Rootstown.
Tom Nader/Portage Sports

For the game, the Rovers shot 12-of-30 (40 percent), but it was finding the shots before the turnovers that was the main issue.

“We talked about that. The few times we protected the ball, we were getting shots that we could be happy with,” Calhoun said. “Of course, taking care of the ball always has to come first and it didn’t tonight.”

The boys varsity game was the conclusion of a long day of basketball in Rootstown that featured four games total.

There was both a JV girls and boys game between the two schools, as well as a varsity girls matchup between the Rovers and Chipps. Chippewa won the varsity girls game 63-52.

It was legendary coach Denny Schrock’s 700th all-time win. He became just the fourth high school girls basketball coach in Ohio history to reach the 700-win milestone.

Schrock’s career record is a staggering 700-159 in two stints with Chippewa (1979-2003 and 2011-present) and three seasons at Jackson (2004-06).

In between the varsity girls and varsity boys game, Rootstown athletic director Keith Waesch announced the milestone victory for Schrock and gave Chippewa administration the floor to honor their coach.

Leave a Comment

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