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‘Business as usual’ for Wolverines

Times Observer file photo by Cody Elms Sheffield senior Leihden Wotorson makes a move on a Kane defender last season.

Sheffield head coach Jordan Copley enters his fourth season laser focused on execution and high-performance basketball, as the Wolverines look to kick off their 2023 basketball season tonight hosting the annual Sports Boosters Tip-Off Tournament.

“Fundamental basketball and playing smart basketball,” Copley said of what he expects to see from his team to find early success. “Executing, knowing what’s going on, and being on the same page.”

The Wolverines come into this season down several major contributors from last year, including the big man down low Connor Finch. Along with Finch, the Wolverines graduated Lucas McNeal, Mason Silvis and Gage Mott-Macalush. Despite experience, Copley is confident Sheffield will find ways to win.

“It’s business as usual,” said Copley. “We’re going to keep playing the same kind of ball we’ve been playing for the past three years. Obviously losing key seniors from last year hurts. Any time you lose guys that have put in the kind of time they put in, but these guys have been in the gym working on everything just like in the past.”

Senior Dylan Hardwick received accolades during football for his leadership and Copley is seeing the same attributes from the gridiron transition over to the basketball court.

“He’s a good voice to have when you need him to be honest with you,” said Copley.

“As an incoming senior I know that the shoes I have to fill are huge,” said Hardwick. “I played with Lucas (McNeal), Connor (Finch), Gage (Mott-Macalush), Mason (Silvis) in multiple sports. Those kids taught me a lot, so for me my main thing going into this season is I want to prove people wrong. The players we lost leave a big void that will open up room for the naysayers to come in and do what they do best and doubt us. Leihden Wotorson, myself, and a few others have stepped into a leadership role that is huge for our team. We are a young team having only two seniors so our group knows how crucial it is to be leaders to develop these younger guys. Coach has been putting in work with us day in and day out giving it 100% like he always does. We just have to translate it this year and shock D9.”

Wotorson, a junior, has stepped into a leadership role as well for Sheffield with the void left from graduating seniors.

“I think Leihden’s coming out all gloves off this year,” said Copley. “Obviously with the supporting cast that he had last year it was easier to defer at times. I think Leihden is a fantastic basketball player with the capability of doing just about anything you need him to do on the court.”

Wotorson too is ready to step into a role he hasn’t had to in the past.

“As a junior now, last year I played a good amount of varsity and I understand that I need to be a leader for the team this year,” said Wotorson “It’s tough losing that many guys who contributed a lot to this team but there’s nothing we can do about it, and we need to move on from that and figure out what we have to do this year. Players like me and Dylan have stepped up a bit more as leaders on the team, but we see anybody on the team as leaders. Anyone on the team can guide and help one another and that is what will help us throughout the season.”

Alex Richards is the only other senior for the Wolverines, while Wotorson is joined by fellow juniors Colby Barr, Andy Kyler, Andrew Hoden and Aiden Chin-Young.

Sophomores include: Austin Fiscus, Jack Chapman, Amond Bowman and Allen Eaton. Rounding out the roster are freshmen Reed Grubs, Blake Silvis and Chase Fetzick.

Following the tip-off tournament, the Wolverines will stay at home for their next three games, hosting cross-county rival Youngsville on Dec. 5, followed by Smethport on Dec. 8 and Titusville on Dec. 12.

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