Coach Jacob Daniel said his St. Charles basketball team has size and strength that he has not previously seen in his time leading the program.
The Cardinals used a four-guard attack last season, when they finished 12-9 overall and 4-4 in the CCL. This year, they have the personnel to match up with some of the top teams in the area.
"I like our size," said Daniel, who is in his 11th season. "I think we're going to be one of the bigger teams in our league instead of being small like last year."
The Cardinals return three starters in 5-foot-10 senior guard Spencer Martin, 6-8 senior center Victor Searls (honorable mention all-district, second-team all-league; 9.0 points, 6.0 rebounds) and 6-4 sophomore guard Jared Frey (honorable mention all-district, first-team all-league; 17.0 points). Sophomore guard Doogie James (5-8) also started several games last winter.
Two newcomers will join Searls in the front court in 6-6 sophomore forward Josh Whiteside and 6-5 freshman forward Chase Walker. Whiteside was a letterwinner at Gahanna last season and will sit out the second half of the season and the postseason because of OHSAA transfer rules. Junior Ryan Utt (6-4) has moved up from j.v. to enter the rotation at forward.
"We're big, but we're not long like we were three years ago," Daniel said. We have size and thickness. Victor, Chase and Josh are three of the thickest guys we have had since I have been here."
Junior forward Alex Herzberg (6-2), sophomore guard Juan Reeder (6-2) and sophomore forwards Ike Searls (6-1) and Chase Wilkins (6-1) round out the roster.
Football injuries have taken a toll, though. St. Charles lost senior Roland Rowe, a two-year starter at point guard, to a knee injury and senior forward Cam O'Neal will miss the season after injuring both shoulders.
Walker led four players in double figures with 14 points as the Cardinals opened with a 68-54 victory over visiting Watkins Memorial on Nov. 27. Martin and Victor Searls both scored 12 points and Frey added 10.
"Our offense has been good," said Martin, whose team opens league play Dec. 13 at Watterson.
"We have been able to score efficiently whether or not we're in transition or in set plays in the half court. We still need to work on our defense."
Hockey team expects more balanced attack
Coach Rob Sangster expects to have a more balanced attack in his eighth season leading the hockey team.
The Cardinals won their first five contests as they look to improve on last season's finish of 16-10-3-1 overall and 7-6-1-1 in the Capital Hockey Conference.
"This year, our scoring has been coming from multiple lines and that might differentiate us from last year," Sangster said. "We're a good skating team. It's a group of guys that don't quit. Sometimes we struggle coming out of the gate to find our pace, but they keep working on that and plugging away."
Sangster said his team's scoring would come from the usual suspects of senior forward Marco Giambrone and junior forward Diego Pitones, as well as from senior forwards Nick Currie, Nick DiVita, Joe Kanowsky and Owen Zimmerman, junior forwards Niko Fallieras and Brant Shepherd and sophomore forwards Myles McKinney and Sam Mickey.
Senior Nick Demers, junior Sam Carey and sophomores Tristan Fahs and Erich Schoettmer will lead the defensemen with senior Drew Dudas and juniors Ryan Lewis and Alex Jimenez rotating into the back.
St. Charles has four goaltenders, and Sangster said the coaches will go with the hot hand. They are junior John Martin and sophomores Lennon Aledia, Tyson Cooper and Grant Wolf.
The Cardinals opened the season by winning a pair of CHC contests. They defeated Olentangy Orange 4-1 on Nov. 22 and two-time defending district champion Dublin Jerome 4-2 on Nov. 24.
They lost to the Dayton Stealth 4-1 in the Blue Division championship game of the Chiller Thanksgiving Classic on Dec. 1 to drop to 5-1. Also in the event, St. Charles defeated Strongsville 5-0 on Nov. 29 before defeating Orange 4-3 and Hilliard 9-1 on Nov. 30.
"We had to come back in the first two games against Orange and Jerome, but they both are going to be pretty solid," Sangster said. "The two league wins to start were important because they are hard to get. We have a well-matched district because all of the kids battle hard and have a tremendous amount of pride in their games."
Bowling team dedicates season to former coach
The bowling team has a new coach in Brennan Weiner.
He takes over for Bill Pritchard, who was the head coach for two seasons and was a longtime assistant before that. Pritchard died of cancer Aug. 10.
"We're definitely feeling a hole in the program," said Weiner, who teaches Latin at St. Charles. "We're dedicating the season to Bill.
"We're definitely keeping some of his tenants like being focused and not goofing off at practice. That being said, we need to still have fun and support one another."
Weiner said he is more of the administrative coach with most of the technical coaching coming from his assistants, 2019 graduate Dominck Koeth and his father, Dan Koeth.
Seniors Jack Anderson, Dino Colasurd and Vincent Foresta are back from a team that finished 14-2 overall last season and tied DeSales for the CCL championship at 7-1. It also was runner-up (10-2) in the COHSBC-D behind the Stallions (12-0).
Seniors Gio Cocchiarale and John Melliere and juniors Nick Bastaja and Max Taylor are vying to fill out the five-player lineup.
"We have a lot of good talent coming back, and we're working to get better," Weiner said. "I think we have a great chance at going to state with the talent we have. It's really exciting."
The Cardinals opened Dec. 2 by defeating Mifflin 2,051-1,279.
Below are the coming schedules for the St. Charles basketball, bowling, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
Dec. 5 -- At Columbus East
Dec. 10 -- Home vs. Fairfield Union
*Dec. 6 -- DeSales at Capri Lanes
*Dec. 9 -- Independence at Holiday Lanes
*Dec. 10 -- Ready at Game of Western Columbus
*Dec. 7 -- Upper Arlington at OhioHealth IceHaus
*Dec. 8 -- Watterson at OhioHealth IceHaus
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 6 -- Home vs. Lakewood St. Edward
Dec. 7 -- St. Charles-Columbus School for Girls Sprint Showdown at home
Dec. 7 -- Bad Apple Brawl at Mount Vernon