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Published: Thursday, 12/4/2008

6 local teams play in NWO Prep Showcase

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Six local boys basketball teams will take the floor at Central Catholic's Sullivan Center this weekend facing five visiting teams from Columbus and one from Indiana at the first NWO Prep Sports Toledo Showcase.

The brainchild of Toledoan David Gatwood, the owner of nwoprepsports.com, the invitational tips off with two games tomorrow and concludes with four Saturday contests at Central.

In the 6:30 p.m. opener tomorrow, Central Catholic faces South Bend (Ind.) St. Joe's. At 8:30 p.m., defending Northern Lakes League co-champion Southview faces Columbus Brookhaven.

In Saturday's afternoon session, Scott battles Columbus Linden McKinley at 1:30 p.m., and Rogers takes on Columbus Africentric at 3:30 p.m.

In the evening session Saturday, two-time defending City League champion and 2008 Division II state runner-up Libbey faces Columbus East at 6:30 and St. John's Jesuit plays Columbus Eastmoor at 8:30.

"When I was younger I remember the Blade Classic, and Maumee used to have one, too," Gatwood said. "I thought this was something we could use around here so our kids wouldn't have to travel around the state and always have to play tough teams on the road. I thought we could bring in some of the better teams from around the state and let our kids play them here."

Tickets for each two-game session (Friday, Saturday afternoon, Saturday evening) are $7.

Start boys basketball head coach Gil Guerrero, who was about to begin the fifth season of his second stint guiding the Spartans, has instead become an assistant men's coach at Owens Community College under Express coach Kevin Skaggs.

Guerrero, 58, said he resigned at Start on Nov. 24 to expand his coaching duties at Owens, where he was already the head coach for the men's golf team. His primary occupation is as a special education teacher at Start, and he has been employed by Toledo Public Schools since 1985.

In his 10 total seasons at Start, Guerrero posted a 103-81 record, highlighted by the Spartans' City League championship in 1997. Start was 11-10 overall (5-6 CL) last season, losing eight of its games by five or fewer points.

"It's a tough situation," Guerrero said of his decision, which came 12 days before the start of the season. "But I got the opportunity to coach college basketball and, at my age, that opportunity probably wouldn't present itself to me again.

"I already coach golf at Owens, and this also gives me the opportunity to keep in better contact with my golfers out there."

Start athletic director Dan Sanders said he understands Guerrero's decision, but the timing puts the program in a bind.

"We're stuck," Sanders said. "We found out a week and a half before the season starts."

Sanders has appointed Guerrero's longtime varsity assistant, Ted Pasqualone, as the Spartans' interim head coach.

"It's not like we're doing anything different or changing anything," Pasqualone said. "I've been with Gil for 11 years, and everything I know about basketball I learned from him. I don't know if there's anyone around this area who knows the X's and O's better than him."

Pasqualone has taught government and world studies at Start for 14 years.

Genoa senior girls basketball standout Simone Eli has verbally committed to continue her career at Bowling Green State University as a preferred walk-on.

The 5-9 guard averaged 17.6 points and 5.6 assists per game last season as a junior, helping the Comets to a 20-4 overall record, and both a second straight Suburban Lakes League co-championship and a Division III district runner-up finish.

Eli will enroll with no scholarship her freshman year, but may be granted one in her second year, depending on availability of scholarship. The agreement with BGSU guarantees Eli a scholarship for her junior and senior seasons, according to

Genoa coach Tom Kontak.

Eli opened this season in

impressive style, scoring 33 points in Genoa's 68-44 win over Danbury last Friday, and added 20 in a 45-40 win over Oak Harbor on Tuesday. She will be the first Genoa girls basketball player to secure a Division I college scholarship.



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