The St. Charles Preparatory School basketball team will have to rely on a new cast if it is going to earn its fourth consecutive CCL championship.
The Cardinals return only one starter from last season, when they finished 24-3 overall and captured their first Division I district title before losing to second-ranked Pickerington Central 75-53 in a regional semifinal. It was St. Charles' first district championship since 1995 when it played in Division II.
The team was led by three 2017 graduates -- 6-foot-11 forward Nick Muszynski (second-team all-district, first-team all-league), point guard Braden Budd (honorable mention all-district, first-team all-league) and 6-7 forward Tavon Brown (honorable mention all-district, first-team all-league).
Muszynski, who now is playing at Belmont University, averaged 16.0 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks last season. Brown, who is playing for Hillsdale, averaged 10.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Budd averaged 13.6 points, 2.6 assists and 1.3 steals.
"We're not going to replace those guys," said ninth-year coach Jacob Daniel, whose team went 8-0 in the CCL. "We had a 6-11 guy and a 6-7 guy and we had a lot of length. This year we have 10 to 12 guys who like to play basketball and work really hard. We will be doing a lot more teaching this year instead of scheming like we have done for the past couple years."
Senior George Javitch was second-team all-league last season, averaging 7.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists. The 6-3 forward is the only returning player with significant varsity experience, but he was battling a back injury during the preseason.
"Being a senior is a big deal and I want to cherish every day and every practice because this might be my last season of competitive basketball," Javitch said. "It's a daunting task to live up to the expectations of the last three years, but we have the talent and skill to hopefully make a run at it."
Matt Keyes, a 6-1 senior, played point guard for the junior varsity last season.
"The leadership of last year's seniors was great because they had been in the program so long," Keyes said. "I learned a lot from them about what I needed to do to be a leader. Now we have sophomores and juniors that have never played varsity before, so I need to work with them and help them out."
Machol Bol, a 6-1 guard, is the team's other senior.
Rounding out the roster are juniors Jack Dawson (6-1, guard), Charlie Hackett (5-10 guard) and Alec Lohiser (6-3, forward) and sophomores Connor Carretta (6-1, forward), Spencer Martin (5-9, guard), Roland Rowe (5-9, guard) and Victor Searls (6-5, center).
"Hopefully we can surprise some people," Daniel said. "It could be an uphill battle, but we have some good guys working to get better."
The Cardinals started 3-0, winning the Melanie Williams Tournament on Dec. 1-3 at Andrews Osborne Academy in Willoughby. They defeated Cleveland Bard 81-29 on Dec. 1, Geneva SPIRE Institute 52-47 on Dec. 2 and Andrews Osborne 83-76 in two overtimes Dec. 3.
St. Charles opens CCL play Friday, Dec. 8, at Ready.
Hockey team looks for another division title
The hockey team is seeking its fifth consecutive Capital Hockey Conference division title, but fifth-year coach Rob Sangster said there is a more important goal for his program.
Sangster said St. Charles should be most concerned with staying in the CHC-Red Division, which is comprised of the league's top-flight teams. The Cardinals went 14-2 (28 points) in the CHC last season to tie Olentangy Liberty for their third consecutive CHC-Red championship.
They won the CHC-White in 2014 to move up to the CHC-Red. The last-place finisher in the CHC-Red moves down to the CHC-White the following season.
"I think that the league titles are nice to have but a bigger concern is staying in that upper division to have the tougher games going forward," said Sangster, whose team finished 28-9-1 overall last season after losing to Liberty 4-1 in the district final. "If we're fortunate enough to win the league title, that's great. But for the long-term health of program, we want to stay in the (Red) division to make sure we're playing the top teams as much as we can."
St. Charles rotated a pair of goaltenders last season and both return in seniors Ben Carey (CHC-leading .970 save percentage) and Jacob Badger (.919). It also returns three defensemen in seniors Noah Baker, Joe Halsey and Zach Lynch.
Seniors Will Hoag, Colin Hobart and Graham McPherson and sophomore Marco Giambrone are back at forward.
"We have to figure out how to put the puck in the net," Sangster said. "We have a bunch of guys who scored four to eight goals for us last year.
"Defense will come first. We're going to have to be able to win games 1-0 and 2-0. We could struggle when we don't take care of the puck on our end because we're probably not going to put up seven goals per game. Defense and goaltending will be keys for us."
The Cardinals opened by finishing as runners-up in the Gray Division of the Chiller Thanksgiving Classic on Nov. 24-26. They defeated Dublin Coffman 6-2 on Nov. 24 and Mentor Lake Catholic 2-0 and Upper Arlington 3-0 on Nov. 25 before losing to Dublin Jerome 6-2 in the championship game Nov. 27.
St. Charles improved to 6-1 by opening league play with three consecutive wins. The Cardinals defeated Springboro 4-2 on Dec. 1, Olentangy 3-0 on Dec. 2 and Watterson 6-4 on Dec. 3.
Dec. 1 -- Cleveland Bard in Melanie Williams Tournament at Willoughby Andrews Osborne
Dec. 2 -- Geneva SPIRE Institute in Melanie Williams Tournament at Willoughby Andrews Osborne
Dec. 3 -- at Willoughby Andrews Osborne in Melanie Williams Tournament
*Dec. 8 -- at Ready
Dec. 9 -- at Columbus East
Dec. 16 -- at Briggs
*Dec. 22 -- at Watterson
Dec. 23 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
Dec. 27 -- vs. Cincinnati College Prep
Dec. 28 -- Westerville South in Phil Brown Classic at Otterbein
*Jan. 5 -- vs. Hartley
*Jan. 12 -- vs. DeSales
*Jan. 19 -- vs. Ready
Jan. 20 -- at Groveport
Jan. 23 -- vs. Fairfield Union
Jan. 27 -- at Logan
*Feb. 2 -- vs. Watterson
*Feb. 9 -- at Hartley
Feb. 10 -- at Toledo Start
*Feb. 16 -- at DeSales
Nov. 24 -- Dublin Coffman in Chiller Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin
Nov. 25 -- Mentor Lake Catholic and Upper Arlington in Chiller Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin
Nov. 27 -- Dublin Jerome in Chiller Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin
*Dec. 1 -- Springboro at South Metro Ice Complex
*Dec. 2 -- Olentangy at Chiller North
*Dec. 3 -- Watterson at Chiller Dublin
*Dec. 8 -- New Albany at Chiller Easton
*Dec. 9 -- Dublin Jerome at Chiller Dublin
*Dec. 10 -- DeSales at OhioHealth Ice Haus
Dec. 15 -- Cleveland St. Ignatius in Parma Padua Holiday Tournament at OBM Arena in Strongsville
Dec. 16 -- Parma Padua and Lakewood St. Edward in Parma Padua Holiday Tournament at OBM Arena in Strongsville
Dec. 17 -- TBA in Parma Padua Holiday Tournament at OBM Arena in Strongsville
*Dec. 22 -- Olentangy Orange at OhioHealth Ice Haus
Dec. 26 -- Sylvania Northview in Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit Warrior Shootout at Kent State
Dec. 27 -- Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit and Wooster in Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit Warrior Shootout at Kent State
Dec. 28 -- TBA in Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit Warrior Shootout at Kent State
*Jan. 5 -- Upper Arlington at OhioHealth Ice Haus
*Jan. 7 -- Dublin Jerome at OhioHealth Ice Haus
Jan. 12-15 -- Hignite Memorial Cup at Chiller Springfield and Kettering Ice Arena
*Jan. 19 -- Dublin Coffman at Chiller Dublin
*Jan. 20 -- Olentangy Liberty at Chiller North
*Jan. 21 -- Gahanna at at OhioHealth Ice Haus
*Jan. 26 -- Olentangy Liberty at OhioHealth Ice Haus
*Jan. 28 -- Upper Arlington at OhioHealth Ice Haus
*Feb. 3 -- Thomas Worthington at OhioHealth Ice Haus
Below are the coming schedules for the St. Charles bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 7 -- Independence at HP Lanes
*Dec. 12 -- DeSales at HP Lanes
*Dec. 13 -- Whitehall at HP Lanes
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 9 -- Olentangy Orange at Columbus School for Girls
Dec. 9 -- Wolfpack Classic at Worthington Kilbourne