JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge
FOSTORIA - Fostoria's boys basketball team had everyone in the Northern Ohio League chasing it this season.
And why not. The Redmen had Chase Munoz and Chase Brandeberry, who led Fostoria (19-1) to the NOL title and a final ranking of sixth in Division II of the Associated Press state poll.
Coach Rick Renz's fourth season has been a memorable one and best since the 1984 team also finished the regular season 19-1.
"It's really a tribute to the way these kids have worked for me the last four years," Renz said.
Fostoria is a senior-led group that finished 13-10 a year ago.
Few, if any, expected what transpired this season.
"I couldn't have asked for a better senior year," said Munoz, a 5-foot-8 senior guard, part of Fostoria's Chase squared.
Chase Brandeberry, a 6-2 senior post, leads the Redmen with a 14.7 scoring average. Munoz is second at 12.2 to go along with a team-best 7.9 assists per game.
Brandeberry said the credit deserves to be shared by the entire team.
"It was work paying off that goes all the way back to August," Brandeberry said. "We also have the chemistry. Anybody can step up on any given night for us."
Putting this team together started four years ago when Renz became the Redmen's coach after Keith Diebler left for Upper Sandusky.
Renz coached eight years at Old Fort, followed by a year at Lake before getting the opportunity at Fostoria.
He was in charge Lake when a lack of funding within the district raised the possibility of eliminating extracurricular activities, including basketball.
For Renz, who already lived in Fostoria and had to commute to Lake every day, there was not a better coaching position to come open than Fostoria's.
"I was in the middle of all of that," Renz said of Lake's financial difficulties. "I was living in Fostoria and working at Lake. I hated leaving [Lake] after one season but it worked out perfectly."
In his first season the Redmen finished 2-19. The second season resulted in some improvement and a 10-12 record.
The Redmen then posted a winning record last year, 13-10, which included a sectional championship before bowing out in a district semifinal to Lexington.
Renz believes an upset of fifth-ranked Sandusky Perkins in the sectional championship game last year has served a purpose for this successful season.
"They realized then [after beating Perkins] just how good we could become if we worked hard at it," Renz said.
The Redmen's only loss this season came in the second game when Norwalk prevailed 57-51 in overtime. They bounced back like champions en route to winning the NOL for the first time in four seasons.
"The key to success for us is we're truly a team," Renz said. "It's like a family. None of our kids are concerned about our statistics. If you're open you're going to get the ball."
Micah Hyde, a 6-1 junior who is the only nonsenior in the starting lineup, ranks third on the team in scoring with a 10.6 average. Wade VanHoose (8.0) and Stephen Roberts (7.5) complete the starting unit.
"It's been a fun year," said Roberts, a six-foot wing player. "We won the league championship in football and we wanted to do it [in basketball].
"We expected to be good, but we didn't think we would be 19-1."
Fostoria, which plays an up-tempo game plan, has averaged 71 points while holding opponents to an average of 56.
The Redmen play Oak Harbor (2-18) tomorrow night in a Division II sectional semifinal.
Brandeberry said the regular season accolades, such as winning the league championship, are not on the Redmen's minds now.
"It [winning the league title] was a great accomplishment and it was one of our goals," he said. "But now it's 0-0 and winner takes all. If you lose you go home."
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