BBHHS boys’ basketball team wins fourth straight conference title

by Dan Holland

The Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School boys’ varsity basketball team won its fourth-straight conference title this year in the Suburban League National Division, finishing the regular season with an overall record of 18-4, and a 12-2 record within the conference.

As of press time, the team was in its second round of playoff competition. Other significant victories this year included wins against rival North Royalton and defending Division II state champions Akron Buchtel.

The Bees pulled out a 47-38 come-from-behind win at home against a highly-ranked Glenville Tarblooders team to close out the regular season on Feb. 23, following two unexpected back-to-back in-conference losses just prior.

The No. 2-seed Bees subsequently won a Division I first-round playoff matchup 52-40 against the Highland Hornets in the OHSAA tournament at home on March 2. Senior Luke Skaljac led the Bees with 23 points.

Steve Mehalik, now in his 17th season as the Bees’ varsity head coach, said it was the team’s goal to clinch another conference title.

“It’s hard to do. It takes everyone’s best effort in every game,” said Mehalik. “Winning the conference has always been a goal of ours, but that’s part of the reason why we stumbled in two games later in the season. Once we clinched the conference, it was tough to keep the kids focused. We lost that edge and had a little downturn, but we got it back against Glenville. We really needed that last win heading into the playoffs.”

Standout seniors this year include Luke Skaljac, a Miami University (Ohio) recruit who was named conference MVP for the second year in a row. Other senior standouts include Colin Seibert, Kyle Keener, Luke Reasor and Junior Kambomba.

“They’re all competitors,” said Mehalik. “We also have [junior] Brady Ganley – we’ve had all of the Ganley family come through the program over the years. We have a group of guys who like to get after it, and they all work hard.”

Maintaining a winning culture is an additional goal each season, said Mehalik.

“There’s a quote we have on our wall from Dabo Swinney, the Clemson head football coach, that says ‘You have to fight for your culture every year,’” he said. “I always wonder every year if the current group is going to do things right like the groups have in the past. This group has been great, and our seniors have done an outstanding job of keeping up with what we do as a program.”

Among other team-building activities, the Bees participated in a basketball tournament in Florida during Christmas break.

“We lost in the championship game, but one of the teams we beat was loaded with talent,” said Mehalik. “That was a highlight of the season; just having fun with the guys and seeing them on the beach throwing the football and playing spike ball. It’s business, but it’s fun too. You have to make it fun.”

Mehalik, a 1991 BBHHS graduate, said it is important to maintain a brotherhood of current and past players in the program. Champion Night took place during halftime of the final home game against Glenville, during which players from Bees championship teams from 1962-1967 were honored.

“We want to make it a great experience and respect and maintain the brotherhood,” said Mehalik. “We take pride in the fact that we have one of the best basketball programs in Ohio, and we’re just trying to maintain that. It’s been built over the decades by all the coaches before me, and we want to make sure we do things correctly. We just want to uphold the winning tradition of the brotherhood.”

Mehalik said he hopes to continue building on the team’s winning ways next season. “Thirty days after the season ends, we give them that down period when we won’t do anything as a team – which we all need – but then I know they’ll get back in the gym, and we’ll figure it out for next year.”

“The two starters we will lose are big: Kyle Keener and Luke Skaljac,” he added. “But we’ll have three returning starters coming back next year, and we do have some talent coming up. It’s just a matter of being able to defend our culture.” ∞

Photo: The BBHHS varsity boys basketball team is shooting for the 2024 state title. Photo submitted.