Can The St. Marys Boys Team Turn Its Season Around?

The St. Marys Roughriders boys basketball team enters their game against Elida on Friday on a five-game losing skid.
Sports Editor

The St. Marys Roughriders boys basketball team is in need of a win in the worst way. After a 3-2 start and a three-game win streak, the Roughriders (3-7, 0-3 WBL) have dropped five straight — with their latest loss coming in another agonizing fashion in a 54-53 last-shot loss to No. 4 ranked St. Henry on Tuesday.

In breaking down the Roughriders’ recent struggles, in four of those losses the Roughriders have lost by six points or fewer, two points or fewer in three of those five losses. Aside from the 31-point defeat to Shawnee, St. Marys has lost by a combined 10 points.

“I love this group and I wouldn’t want any other group,” Roughriders Craig Szymczak said after last week’s game against Kenton. “We have a gauntlet coming up with six games in the next two weeks. We are getting better and we are a team that no one is going to want to play at the end of the season.”

There are actually reasons to be optimistic, and there are obviously reasons to be skeptical of St. Marys in its remaining 12 games.

In one reason to be optimistic — St. Marys still has 11 games on its regular season schedule, plus one game to be rescheduled against Fort Recovery and add another game in a sectional semifinal. Szymczak has said numerous times that the team can still turn the season around and there is still that opportunity — even if recent history suggests otherwise.

If St. Marys were to win half of the 12 remaining regular season games — giving it nine wins — that in itself would be an improvement since it would be the highest win total in a season in the four years under Szymczak.

The other factor to keep in mind is how St. Marys has lost. The saying goes that a team has to be both good and lucky and St. Marys is playing good, just not lucky — hence the close defeats against Van Wert, Piqua, Kenton and St. Henry.

In a game where Van Wert missed 11 straight 3-pointers, what are the chances the Cougars make their final two to overcome a two-possession deficit in the final 1:24? With a player in Piqua’s Micah Kran who had not scored all night, what are the chances his heavily-contested 3-pointer makes it into the basket and the  Roughriders fail to score a bucket in two chances during its final possession? What are the chances that St. Henry misses a shot, rebounds and makes the bucket despite its 16 turnovers that turned into 25 St. Marys’ points?

The Roughriders have shown that they are good enough to play against any team anywhere in any game — aside from state-ranked Ottawa-Glandorf and Shawnee — but they have shown that they are not lucky enough to win those games.

“We need something good or we need to make something good happen,” Szymczak said after the Shawnee game. “It is not like game No. 15 or 16, we have a whole lot of season to go and we can still turn it around.”

There are, however, reasons to be skeptical when it comes to St. Marys turning the season around.

The main culprit is the schedule. The Roughriders don’t catch a break throughout the remainder of their schedule except for maybe Bath (1-13, 0-3). Their next three opponents have winning records and six of their next eight all have winning records. In addition, The Riders are in the middle of playing seven games in a 15-day span.

Recent history is another reason to be skeptical.

St. Marys was 8-8 two years ago before losing to Celina, and that critical loss at the Celina Fieldhouse affected the team the rest of the way when they did not win another game. Last season, St. Marys consistently struggled to finish games and Szymczak’s teams have not shown that ability to bounce back yet. But, the coach continues to be optimistic about his players and his players have continued to show the confidence in their abilities and in the team.

And just like Szymczak has said throughout this season, once something good happens, things can change. The question is, when will something good happen?

“I love this group and I wouldn’t want any other group,” Szymczak said. “We have a gauntlet coming up with six games in the next two weeks. We are getting better and we are a team that no one is going to want to play at the end of the season."