2021 Stryker boys basketball picture

Members of the Stryker boys basketball team are (front row, from left) manager Parker Botjer, manager Noah Andres, Mateo Villanueva, Peyton Cioffi, Teyvon Harris, Blaze Campbell, Jacob Cadwell, manager Oakley Woolace and manager Brantley Shock; (back) assistant coach Chase Glock, assistant coach Mike Donovan, Levi Barnum, Elijah Juillard, Michael Donovan, coach Tyler Woolace and assistant coach Tye Towns.

STRYKER — Stryker’s boys basketball team has a lot of height this season, and head coach Tyler Woolace plans on using it.

The Panthers, who return three letterwinners, feature five players who are 6-foot-2 or taller. All eight players on the varsity roster are at least 5-10.

“If you have it, you better use it,” said Woolace, who enters his fifth year at Stryker with a 48-46 record. “Normally around here I don’t get that luxury, so if we have it, I really want to use it and then they’ve got to be willing to use it and use your height to your ability and don’t play down to the small teams, but make sure you’re playing with your height.”

Stryker finished 10-13 overall, including 7-5 in the Buckeye Border Conference, during the 2020-21 season. The Panthers nearly pulled off the upset against top-seeded Antwerp in a Division IV sectional final before falling 63-54.

Graduation hit the Panthers hard, though.

Ten seniors picked up their diplomas in the spring. Kaleb Holsopple, a two-time first-team all-BBC performer and 2021 honorable mention Northwest District pick in Division IV, averaged 13.5 points and 3.0 rebounds per game a year ago. Spencer Clingaman (second team BBC, 8.0 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game) and Amos Sloan (honorable mention) also earned league recognition, while Brandon Bowers and Joe Ramon both averaged seven points per contest.

Levi Barnum, Teyvon Harris and Jacob Cadwell return with experience for Stryker this season. Barnum, a 6-4 junior and two-year letterwinner, averaged 3.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

“From what I’ve seen with the last two weeks, he’s really prepared and really coming in and knows that he’s a leader and needs to make sure that these young kids are ready to go,” Woolace said of Barnum.

Harris (6-2 senior), who is also a multi-year letterwinner, averaged 5.0 points and 3.0 boards per game, while Cadwell (6-0 sophomore) chipped in 5.0 points and 2.0 assists.

Seniors Blaze Campbell (6-4) and Peyton Cioffi (6-3), as well as junior Elijah Juillard (6-6), also add plenty of height for the Panthers. Junior Mateo Villanueva (5-10) and sophomore Michael Donovan (5-11) are also expected to make an impact.

“The young kids, I’m excited to see what they’re going to bring to the table. We don’t have near as many kids that we had, so the playing time, everyone’s going to get plenty,” Woolace said. “We’ve got to be in good physical condition and make sure we’re ready to go, but I’m really excited for this year.”

Finishing strong will be key for Stryker, which went 3-8 in games decided by single digits. Two of those losses came in overtime and one in double OT.

“Sometimes those close games can hurt you, but the guys that are returning, hopefully it makes them understand how to finish it,” Woolace said.

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