Boys basketball: Despite struggles, first-year Springboro coach ‘excited about the future’

Panthers junior Sam Feldman, one of the top players in GWOC, leading young team

SPRINGBORO – During his time as an associate head coach at LaSalle High School, Brett Kostoff knew the Greater Western Ohio Conference was strong. He didn’t realize just how strong until he became the first-year coach at Springboro High School.

“Getting in the league, it deserves a lot more credit,” said Kostoff, who previously coached in the Greater Catholic League South that also includes Cincinnati schools Elder, Moeller and St. Xavier. “It’s a really good league. There is some serious talent in the GWOC.”

Kostoff coaches one of those top players in Sam Feldman. The 6-foot-4 junior ranks third in the GWOC in scoring with 16.4 points, first in rebounding with 9.8 and fifth in steals at 2.2

That Feldman ranks among the top players in the league isn’t surprising. That he’s doing it without another double-digit scorer on the team is.

Among the top-five scorers in the GWOC, Wayne’s Prophet Johnson (19.6 points) has Lawrent Rice (13.5) and Malcolm Curry (11.7) that defenses must account for, too. Centerville’s Tom House (18.1) and Rich Rolf (15.1) also have Gabe Cupps (14.8). Springfield’s Josh Tolliver (16.0) has Micha Johnson (11.3).

It’s not a knock on the youthful Panthers, but the team’s next highest scorer is freshman Maxim Butler (8.1). Butler is also the Springboro’s second-leading rebounder with 3.8.

“To Sam’s credit a lot of guys who average the kind of stats he’s averaging usually have a partner in crime, or multiple guys that can help,” said Kostoff adding that Feldman’s basketball IQ is among the best he’s ever coached. “I think that makes it even more impressive what he’s doing this year. We really don’t have a Robin (to his Batman) with him right now. We’re getting guys to develop with him but with every team we play Sam is their scouting report.”

Feldman averaged 8.6 points and 6.2 rebounds as a sophomore. A lineup that starts one senior, one junior, a sophomore and two freshmen has caused Feldman to take on more of a leadership role.

“We know we’re not the biggest or the fastest. But we’re always fighting,” said Feldman, who along with senior Kahleel Trent returned significant varsity action from last season “That’s been instilled from (Kostoff) from the start.

“We’ve taken our bumps and bruises and at times it’s been frustrating. We can definitely see the growth in all of our young players and our team. We’re excited for what’s to come.”

Springboro (1-11 overall, 1-5 GWOC) has lost its last two games by five points to Miamisburg and four points to Hamilton Badin.

Springboro has three seniors – Ben Marcum, Matt Yim and Trent – who rotate in. The rest of the roster is gaining valuable varsity time that will benefit the Panthers over the next few seasons.

“I’m excited about the future,” Kostoff said. “It’s also a credit to our seniors. They’ve taken on their role, whether I’ve started them or brought them off the bench. That’s not easy for seniors to accept that but they’ve been awesome. They’ve practiced hard. They’ve never complained. When they got in they performed the best of their ability.

“For the other guys the game is still going really fast for them. The speed of varsity, how to defend, how to talk through all the screens. You can see the younger guys calming down every game. … I told our coaching staff at the beginning of the season we’re going to have to live with some of the lumps that (the GWOC is) giving us. Two years from now, when they’re juniors, we’re going to look back at this and laugh hopefully at all the experience they gained.”

SCAL tightens up: Botkins, ranked No. 8 in the state in Division IV, looks to bounce back from last week’s 61-59 setback to Anna.

The loss was the first for the Trojans (12-1 overall and 6-1 SCAL). Anna, which salvaged a split with Botkins, is second at 9-4 and 6-2. Jackson Center (11-4, 6-3) is still in the hunt, too.

Centerville back in action: Centerville knocked off Cincinnati Woodward 75-70 on Wednesday night, the Elks’ first game since beating Wayne on Jan. 8.

Centerville (8-2 overall, 5-1 GWOC) is schedule to host Miamisburg (11-4, 5-2).

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