Columbiana County Comets shoot for the stars
LISBON — After winning the state softball tournament in September, the Columbiana County Comets basketball team is looking to taste gold again at the Special Olympics Ohio Division III state basketball tournament.
“That was fun winning that title,” Comets player Jamie Gordon said. “Just having fun is what we want to do.”
The Comets beat Cuyahoga Midpark Grinders 65-54 on March 5 to win the Ohio North Region Division III championship to return to the state tournament for the first time since 2013 when they won back-to-back titles.
The Comets will face Lucas County in the opening round of the Ohio Special Olympics Division III basketball tournament taking place at Dover Middle School on March 23-24.
“A lot of these guys on the basketball team were on that softball team and they got a taste of the championship there,” Columbiana County Comets coach Andy Geseman said. “It’s carrying over to this basketball season.”
Breion Price led the Comets in the regional final with 38 points. Bryan Weingart had 14 points and Chuck Cumming had 11 points.
“It was awesome to win the state qualifier,” Comets player Keegan Todd said. “Working together and fighting for the ball helped us win.”
“We’ve been working as a team this year,” Price said. “The coaches have been motivating us and its the family.”
“A lot of these guys on the basketball team were on that softball team and they got a taste of the championship there,” Comets coach Andy Geseman said. “It’s carrying over to this basketball season.”
Geseman said that the biggest the biggest motivation to his team is preaching family and having fun.
“Myself and Coach (Doug) Berdine have been doing this for about nine years now and what has always brought the teams together has been family,” Geseman said.
Six players from the back-to-back championships teams are still on the team this year (Bryan Weingart, Jamie Gordon, Breion Price, Ricky Andrews, Chuck Cummings and Keegan Todd).
“I love that we are going back,” Weingart said. “It was an amazing feeling the last time we won.”
Along with preaching family Geseman says a big thing he does is conditioning his team during practice.
“The guys really don’t realize how much all the running counts,” Geseman said. “I’ve seen in the fourth quarter where the other team is huffing and puffing hands on their knees while my guys are still standing up.”
“Coach pumps us up before the games,” Gordon said. “We are ready to run and have fun.”
Geseman also credits all the support he and his team gets throughout the season to the teams success.
“We couldn’t do this without the support of the parents and guardians,” Geseman said. “I have the greatest parents and guardians here for my team. Without my coaches — Doug Berdine, Chris Berdine, Caleb Berdine, Jim Grace, Rich Dennison, Ivan Monroy, Emily Berger, Terry Bacha and Jacob Henderson — I couldn’t do what I do.”
The team is buzzing as a chance to become state champions once again is nearing.
“The team is very excited,” Geseman said. “They know what’s at stake and want to win it more than anything.”