Sanders excited about taking over Galion boys basketball program


GALION — When Tyler Sanders left Crestline, he had no idea he would end up as the head varsity boys basketball coach at Galion High School a short time later. Sanders stepped down from the same position with the Bulldogs in February when there was no need for a head coach at Galion.

Then, the opportunity came about.

Ryan Stover spent a pair of seasons at Galion and went 13-31 during that time. Stover took a job at Highland High School to lead its boys basketball program, which left a vacancy at Galion.

“I didn’t expect that job to come open and it did,” Sanders said. “Playing Galion the last few years, I’ve seen the kind of talent they have.”

While at Crestline, Sanders climbed to fourth all-time in wins with 54. It took him just five seasons to get to that number. The Bulldogs had three straight winning seasons from 2019-2022. Prior to coaching at Crestline, Sanders was an assistant at Mansfield Christian.

“It was tough,” Sanders said about leaving Crestline. “We built a good culture over the last five years. We had a lot of kids buy-in and a lot of parents buy-in. The parents were super supportive.

“It’s never easy to leave a place that you love. I just knew no matter when it was, it was going to be hard. I just felt like now was the time. I’m thankful for the relationships I’ve built there.”

Sanders pointed to the Galion gig being the right job at the right time.

Walking into the Galion coaching job, Sanders will have some firepower to work with early. Galion will return its top two players from last year in Cooper Kent and Elijah Chafin, as well as Steven Glew, Max Albert, Coen Fuson and Quinn Miller. The Tigers lost just three regular contributors to last year’s team due to graduation.

“They can score the ball at a high rate, and I’m really excited about the pieces around them that help make them better,” Sanders stated.

Kent and Chafin are heading into their senior seasons, so Sanders will get just one season with them, though he’s happy to have that at least. The duo combined for 36.2 points per game during their junior seasons.

“It’s the hard part because it’s like they’re back for their senior year, but on the flip side, you’re going to wish you had them a little longer,” Sanders said.

Going from the Mid-Buckeye Conference to the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference will be a step up in competition in terms of basketball. It is one of the things that made the Galion job attractive to the school’s new coach.

“I’m super excited. The goal is to always coach faster, stronger basketball,” Sanders said. “The MOAC definitely offers that. There’s some really good teams.”

Shelby has won the league title the last four seasons since the school entered the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference. The Whippets will be the favorite once again in 2023-24.

“I’m sure Shelby is going to be the favorite at the top of the conference,” Sanders said. “You want to give teams like that your very best.”

River Valley will return its top player and should be a solid team once again, and Marion Harding returns a ton and should be in the running. Expect Pleasant to take a step forward, as well.

“I know the expectations are high with this group,” Sanders said. “On the flip side, you know the conference is incredibly tough. Our schedule is much tougher than it was last year. I think coach (Ryan) Stover did a good job of getting the kids ready for this schedule.”

Right away, Sanders hopes to improve on the defensive side of the ball. Galion has had no problem scoring the last two seasons, but the defensive lapses have been real. The Tigers gave up the following point totals in 2022-23: 94, 84, 82, 79, 78, 78, 75, 74, 74.

“Getting everyone to buy in on the defensive side of the basketball is going to be the task,” explained Sanders. “I’m not overly concerned with our ability to score the ball.”

This summer the plan is to implement the defense system within the team during the day that high school basketball can be in session during the month of June.

“(Galion has) beautiful facilities and an awesome gymnasium,” Sanders said. “Just being with a new group of guys is exciting. Getting to learn more about these kids and putting them in a position to succeed is probably the most exciting thing about it.”

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