By ANDY WOLF
The Fostoria-Elmwood rivalry is certainly an ongoing one.
Both boys basketball coaches, Thom Loomis for the Redmen and Ty Traxler for the Royals, agreed the rivalry lives on because of proximity, competing against each other in multiple sports and also in travel leagues in the offseason.
The familiarity level is rather high.
“There’s definitely a relationship between our kids,” Loomis said. “That lends to the rivalry when we face each other.”
“You know how it is in today’s age; they’re all friends on social media,” Traxler said. “Everybody always wants to have those bragging rights.”
The two teams will meet for the first time this season at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Bloomdale in Northern Buckeye Conference play.
Fostoria is off to an 8-2 overall start, 5-1 in the NBC while Elmwood is 6-7, 2-4 in league play.
While the schools have always competed hard against each other, the Royals have dominated the series since the formation of the NBC for the 2011-12 season.
Elmwood dropped the first two games in the series that season but has won the next 14 with the NBC’s home-home league schedule format.
None of it matters to Loomis.
“We’re where we are in our season for a good reason; our kids have worked really hard,” Loomis said. “We’re really trying to take it with a one-game-at-a-time approach. This is the next one so it’s the most important one on the schedule.”
His team is a confident bunch, anyway, something he saw built over the summer with their productive play.
“We played some really good competition, started out slow and started to play really well and beat some people we hadn’t beaten before,” Loomis said. “That confidence (formed) over the summer (is from) realizing that when they play together as a unit and when they play solid defense, that we can play with most of the people on our schedule.”
The Redmen are led by Avondre Reed’s 20.2 points per game and 31 assists. Dom Settles chips in 13.6 ppg and has a team-high 30 steals.
Devin Mauricio also fills out the stat sheet to average 5.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.8 steals.
For the Royals, Traxler noted his team has been struggling with filling different roles vacated by graduation and also battling injuries.
“Obviously this year with (Fostoria) coming in at 8-2 and us struggling a little bit, we’re kind of fighting for our lives and they’re obviously coming in and playing real well,” Traxler said.
Bryce Reynolds leads the Royals at 14.4 ppg and has made 37 3-pointers.
Josiah Childress also averages 9.2 ppg, 4.92 rpg and 1.0 spg while Terrel Lawson has added team-highs of 40 assists and 14 steals.
“We’re having trouble making those plays to get over the hump,” Traxler said. “We’re trying like the dickens to get healthy, too. We’ve had two games with our full core of nine players, last one of those was the Liberty-Benton game (Dec. 23) — which was definitely our signature win of the season.
“That’s as well as we’ve played and the healthiest also — but those aren’t excuses. We’ve got to make plays at the end of games.”