Midview is off to a strong start, beating Columbia and Elyria Catholic to win its own Bob DiFranco Memorial Tournament last weekend.
It’s the second straight year the Middies have won the tournament and the sixth time overall in its 18-year history. It has special meaning in Grafton, as it’s named after the late Bob DiFranco, the Middies’ longtime coach.
We caught up with second-year Middies coach Jim Brabenec, who took over last year for Troy DiFranco, Bob’s son. The Middies lost seven SWC games by five points or fewer a year ago, including a stretch of three games in which they lost by one point.
QUESTION: Is there a little extra meaning when your team can win the DiFranco tournament, given all the history there?
ANSWER: It means a lot to win the DiFranco Tournament. The tournament has great meaning as it has raised over $50,000 in scholarship money for student-athletes at Midview over the past 18 years. The DiFranco family has been a staple in the Midview community and Midview basketball program. The tournament means a lot to our coaches and players. It is awesome to be able to win the tournament. Our kids really get excited for the tournament, and wanted nothing more than to keep the trophy at home.
Q: No surprise here — Gage Carnes is off to a hot start, scoring 26 points and grabbing 16 boards in the tournament championship game. How have your early opponents attempted to slow him down?
A: Gage is a tough guard for our opponents. Gage is able to do a lot on the basketball court, and Gage has been able to make the right plays so far so that he is not trying to force the issue. Our coaches and team believe in each guy on our roster, and Gage has been able to rely on his teammates to have success in the DiFranco tournament. His impact can still be felt even if he is not scoring the basketball.
Q: I noticed others had big games in support of Gage over the weekend — Vince Birth on the outside, Isiah Johnson getting to the basket. Can you detail how key those players will be for you?
A: Vince Birth has been a three-year varsity player at Midview. Vince hit some big shots in our tournament over the weekend that were real momentum shifters. Isiah Johnson really brought a spark off the bench in both games, as well. We have seven seniors on the roster who are all very capable of stepping up when called upon. Every player, one through 14, is key to the success that we had in the DiFranco tournament, and the success that we hope to have this season.
Q: Anything specific you’ll work with your guys on after your first couple games? Where do you need to improve?
A: Two games into the year, we are far from a finished product, just like every other team. We still need to keep getting better at every aspect of the game. Our practices still need to improve and have more energy for us to continue to grow. We have shown that we are capable of beating really good teams, but consistency as a group will be important for us as we start conference play.