By CHRIS LARICK

Staff Writer

Nathan Luoma will have a chance to live his dream.

The Geneva basketball player, chosen as the Star Beacon Ashtabula County, Coaches Northeastern Conference and Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation Player of the Year recently, has accepted an offer to attend and play basketball for the College of Wooster next year.

Though Wooster is a Division III college and consequently can't award athletic scholarships, Luoma will receive enough academic scholarship money to consider it a "pretty good plan."

More importantly to Luoma, the son of Ed and Cindy Luoma of Geneva, he'll have the opportunity of playing basketball for the Fighting Scots.

It won't be an easy task. Wooster won its first nine games before losing last year, then embarked on a 13-game winning streak. Overall, the Fighting Scots were 26-4, including a 71-69 loss to Wittenberg in the NCAC tournament and a 91-88 defeat by Transylvania in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

"I went down there and played in open gym," Luoma said. "They reminded me of Geneva, my team, in that they did everything together.

"Their coach (Steve Moore) is the nicest gentleman that you could know. He let me know he wanted me and I knew right away I'd go there."

Of this year's Wooster roster, just two players were seniors and only one of those two, 6-foot point guard Kyle Witucky, played guard. Assuming all of the undergraduates return, Luoma will be battling with at least six other candidates for a spot on the roster.

"They want me as a shooter," Luoma said. "They've seen me shoot and know my defensive stretch. (Moore) knows I can shoot it. He wants to see me attack more. He saw the game when I did drive to the basket (against Chardon). I'm capable of doing that."

The 6-foot-2 Luoma weighed only about 160 pounds this season, so one of his goals will be to get bigger.

"I'm getting stronger, lifting every day," he said. "I'll probably go to the Euclid Sports Plant again this summer. I play basketball every day. I go to open gym (at the old high school) all the time, play with the old guys - Olajuwon Cooper, Matt Mallone and sometimes Ray Harris. When I play with the (high school) kids, we play in the new gym. It's funny to play them; we're known as the alumni team now."

Luoma plans to work this summer to earn money for college. He'll work in the banquet room at the Geneva-on-the-Lake State Park Lodge and do some landscaping as he has for three years.

"I've got a big step ahead of me," he said about next year. "But I've worked my tail off all my life. I've got to play. That's what I worked for all my life."

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