Barberton High School head varsity boys basketball coach Ken Rector's message to his squad throughout the preseason was simple but ambiguous.
Rector's continual refrain was "be special."
While the challenge presented by the 17th-year Magics head coach had no definitive criteria, each player on the 2012-13 roster received the message that their leader had high expectations for them this winter.
It came as no surprise, either. After recording a 14-7 record in the 2011-12 season and the program's 45th consecutive winning campaign with many of the same players, they, too, had high aspirations.
The Magics are currently in their second season playing as an independent. Without a league or conference championship to chase, Rector said earlier this month that his primary goal for his team this season is for it to win the Division I Canton district tournament title.
To give the Magics their best shot to challenge for the postseason hardware in March, Rector has his team playing a schedule that features many of Northeast Ohio's elite squads.
Roughly midway through the grueling slate of contests, Barberton has compiled an 8-3 mark and is ranked No. 20 in the latest Plain Dealer Top 25 Poll.
The Magics' seven-player rotation is headlined by sensational sophomore point guard Josh Williams and senior four-year varsity starter Scot Sabol.
Williams - who has already been offered a basketball scholarship by the University of Akron - averaged 15 points and four assists per game last season en route to being named an all-district selection and an all-state honorable mention honoree as a freshman. Sabol - labeled by Rector as possibly the best shooter in the area - averaged 10 points per game last season and made 42 percent of his shots from beyond the 3-point line.
Barberton will return to the hardwood on Saturday when the Magics play the Uniontown Blue Streaks at the Hoover Classic in North Canton.
A few weeks ago, Rector answered questions about the 2012-13 Magics boys hoops squad for WKYC's usatodayhss.com Web site.
WKYC's usatodayhss.com Web site: What is your team's motto this season?
Barberton varsity boys basketball coach Ken Rector: "Get a Straw" - suck it up; no complaints or excuses.
WKYC: What must happen for your team to be able to accomplish its goals?
Rector: We must stay healthy and continue to improve.
WKYC: Who are your team's leaders/captains this season?
Rector: [Seniors] Jerry Williams and Nate Painter.
WKYC: What is your team's greatest strength this season?
Rector: Its perimeter play.
WKYC: What is your team's biggest weakness right now?
Rector: [Lack of] depth.
WKYC: What makes your team this season unique from other area squads?
Rector: Its tough, independent schedule.
For more Northeast Ohio high school sports news, scores, photos and videos, visit usatodayhss.com/Cleveland.