Coach Jacob Daniel needed much of the season to get familiar with his St. Charles Preparatory School basketball team.
After winning three consecutive CCL championships, the Cardinals finished 5-15 overall and tied DeSales for fourth (1-7) in the league behind tri-champions Hartley, Ready and Watterson (all 6-2). The reversal of fortune wasn't unexpected since the team lost four starters and six of its top seven players from a year ago to graduation.
Daniel said the season was a continued learning process, especially with the Cardinals' only returning starter, senior forward George Javitch, battling a back injury all season.
"I think we had a get-to-know learning process all year, especially with George being injured all year and only being able to play in 16 games," said Daniel, whose 44th-seeded team lost at top-seeded Pickerington North 59-32 on Feb. 24 in the first round of the Division I district tournament. "Pretty much all of our team was from the freshman and j.v. squads from last year. I had a period in November of figuring out what we had."
One diamond in the rough was Roland Rowe, who began the season as an unknown but became the team's point guard. The sophomore was second-team all-league, averaging 4.8 assists to go with 6.9 points and a team-high 1.7 steals.
"We lost a lot of games, but that never changed the energy in practice," Rowe said. "Everybody kept practicing hard and we kept trying our best to get better every game."
Daniel said Rowe was an unexpected contributor because he played football in the fall.
"A guy like Roland Rowe really surprised us because he didn't even start all of the games on the freshman team last year and we didn't have him in the fall because he played football," said Daniel, who completed his ninth season. "He just kind of showed up and before you know it, he was our starting point guard.
"Obviously, we didn't figure Roland out until late in November when we started playing other teams and seeing he had something special to bring in terms of ball-handling. He was the only guy from our program to make (all-) CCL and he was one of the top players in the area with nearly five assists (per game)."
Javitch (5.7 points, team-high 6.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists) led a three-player senior class that also included guard Machol Bol (2.8 points, 2.1 rebounds) and guard Matt Keyes (6.3 points, 2.5 rebounds).
Junior guard Jack Dawson averaged a team-high 8.9 points, and junior forward Alec Lohiser averaged 7.6 points and 4.4 rebounds. Other top contributors were sophomore forward Connor Carretta (6.7 points), sophomore guard Spencer Martin (7.4 points, 2.3 assists) and sophomore guard Eli Burkey (4.6 points).
"Nothing is set in stone about having a good year next season if we don't have one of the best offseasons we have had in the last 10 years," Daniel said. "There is nothing that says we won't win five games again unless you have a monster offseason, and we need a monster offseason from the guys coming back as well as some juniors from j.v. and from a pretty good freshman team."
Wrestlers finish second in CCL
The wresting team finished second in the CCL and had four Division I district qualifiers under first-year coach Mike Flusche.
In the CCL duals Feb. 22, the Cardinals defeated Ready 48-24 before losing to host Hartley 44-27 in the championship match.
St. Charles was 34th (8 points) at district March 2 and 3 at Hilliard Darby behind champion Lancaster (170) as 38 teams scored.
Seniors Kenton Colvin (138 pounds, 32-12 overall) and Ian Noonan (126, 31-6) and juniors Sean Grim (160, 25-9) and Steve Metzger (145, 27-20) all went 1-2 at district.
Noonan led the Cardinals in a sectional Feb. 24 at Newark by finishing second. St. Charles finished eighth (72) of 10 teams behind champion Lancaster (223).
In the Catholic Invitational Tournament on Jan. 13 and 14 at Cleveland St. Ignatius, Noonan was runner-up at 132, and Colvin and senior Jacob Waltermeyer (220) both placed sixth.
@ThisWeekHennenAt a glance
*Record: 5-15 overall, 1-7 (tied for fourth) in CCL
*Seniors lost: Machol Bol, George Javitch and Matt Keyes
*Key returnees: Eli Burkey, Connor Carretta, Jack Dawson, Alec Lohiser, Spencer Martin and Roland Rowe
*Finishes: Second in CCL, eighth at sectional, 34th at district
*Seniors lost: Kenton Colvin, Ian Noonan and Jake Waltermeyer
*Key returnees: Sean Grim and Steve Metzger