Notebook: Seniors led St. Charles Cardinals hockey team to district final

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
St. Charles’ Diego Pitones glides past Upper Arlington’s Whitty Tevonian in the district final March 6. The senior forward recorded 16 goals and 12 assists to be named second-team all-league as the Cardinals finished 20-7-1 overall.

Sam Mickey saw a teammate in need and headed back to the ice. 

The top-seeded St. Charles hockey team had lost 1-0 to second-seeded Upper Arlington in the district final March 6 at OhioHealth Ice Haus, and the junior defenseman saw senior forward Diego Pitones was caught up in the moment. 

Pitones was filled with emotion as he looked into the stands, at the scoreboard and to the ice after his final high school game. Mickey did an about face, entering the skating surface and greeting his teammate with a hug rooted in the brotherhood built over several seasons together. 

“I just told him that I loved him, and it was one heck of a season,” Mickey said. “He loves this program more than anyone I’ve ever met. He loves this team, and he loves this sport. 

"This was extra tough because this was his last game, but I told him he played a heck of a season and that he was the basis and backbone of the team. He was our leader all year, and I wanted to make sure he knew we respected him and thought of him as our captain.” 

The Cardinals finished 20-7-1 overall and won the CHC-Red Division at 12-2-1 with 25 points, finishing ahead of second-place UA (24 points, 11-3-0-2). 

St. Charles played UA four times with three of the games decided by one goal. The Cardinals won 4-3 in overtime Feb. 3 and 1-0 on Feb. 7 in league play. The Golden Bears won the Blue Jackets Cup final 4-2 on Feb. 14, with the fourth score coming on a late empty-net goal. 

“The only thing I can say is we had a super group of kids that battled hard every time we hit the ice,” said coach Rob Sangster, who completed his ninth season. “It’s an unbelievably positive group, and I really enjoyed coaching these kids.” 

Pitones was second-team all-CHC with a team-high 16 goals and 12 assists. 

Senior forward Alex Jimenez had 10 goals and seven assists, senior forward Niko Fallieras added five goals and six assists and senior forward Quinn Brady added five goals.  

Seniors Sam Carey (1 goal, 5 assists), Ambrose Heyer and Ryan Lewis were key defensemen. 

“The seniors were a terrific group of kids,” Sangster said. “What they did in terms of making life easier for the younger kids was amazing. They really set the tone with dedication and the hard work they put in during the summers, and they especially set the tone for how they treated the kids coming in.” 

Junior defenseman Tristan Fahs was first-team all-CHC, and junior defenseman Erich Schoettmer (6 goals, 11 assists) was second-team all-CHC. Mickey added two goals and six assists and Pat Moore was a key sophomore defenseman. 

Junior forward Myles McKinney will be the top goal-scorer expected back after having 12 goals and 9 assists. Junior forward Dominick Evangelisti (5 goals, 8 assists) and freshman forward Sean Moore (6 goals, 3 assists) are also expected to return. 

Junior goalies Cooper Tyson (.885 save percentage) and Grant Wolf (.923 save percentage) should be back as well. 

“We knew coming into the season that we were going to have a good team and that we were closer than we ever have been,” Mickey said. “After a couple of hiccups with the (COVID-19 coronavirus) quarantines, we were playing a lot of games. We played four games in six days at one point. We stuck with it, played our game and we made it to the district final.” 

Bexley's Cade Phillips (left), Chris Mitchell, Tucker Harpe and Worthington Christian's JaVaun Robinson battle for a rebound Jan. 15. Phillips was one of five seniors for the Lions, and Mitchell and Harpe are expected to be among the top returnees.

•The Bexley boys basketball team made significant strides in the eyes of sixth-year coach Todd Phillips. 

The 11th-seeded Lions finished 10-6 overall after losing 47-31 at home to 13th-seeded Watterson on Feb. 24 in the first round of the Division II district tournament. The Eagles would go on to win a district title. 

Bexley also tied Buckeye Valley for third (5-4) in the MSL-Ohio behind champion Worthington Christian (8-0). Last year, it was 0-12 in the league and 7-18 overall. 

“It was an up-and-down, Jekyll-and-Hyde kind of season but we took some big steps, especially in the league,” Phillips said. “We beat everyone in the league except for Worthington Christian and Whitehall, so we had some growth there.” 

Guard Will Cordle (honorable mention all-league, 9.3 points per game, 4.1 assists) and guard/forward Cade Phillips (honorable mention all-district, second-team all-league, 10.1 points, 5.1 rebounds) led a five-member senior class. 

“It was a special year in a lot of ways with our five seniors,” coach Phillips said. “They each made an impact on us both on and off the court. 

“It was a special group for me in particular because these kids became friends with my son (Cade) when we came here. They were there in the summer workouts, and they were coming over to our house. You have to replace seniors in a different way every year, and we’ll have to find a way to replace them.” 

Leading scorer Henry Brandt is expected to lead the returnees. The junior guard averaged 14.1 points and was 48 of 118 from 3-point range (40.7 percent) to earn third-team all-district and first-team all-league honors. 

Junior forward Chris Mitchell (honorable mention all-district, second-team all-league) averaged 10.1 points and a team-leading 8.1 rebounds. 

A pair of juniors –forward Tucker Harpe and guard Griffin Wagenbrenner – also saw considerable playing time, and sophomore Dom Gutter will return at point guard. 

“We have five guys expected back that played a ton of minutes,” coach Phillips said. “We won’t lack for experience, but we have to find some depth behind them.” 

shennen@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekHennen 

BEXLEY BOYS BASKETBALL 

•Record: 10-6 overall 

•MSL-Ohio standings: Worthington Christian (8-0), Whitehall (6-3), Bexley and Buckeye Valley (5-4), Columbus Academy (3-5), Wellington (2-6), Grandview (1-8) 

•Seniors lost: Michael Agriesti, Will Cordle, Jude Nathan, Cade Phillips and Grant Sheridan 

•Key returnees: Henry Brandt, Dom Gutter, Tucker Harpe, Chris Mitchell and Griffin Wagenbrenner 

•Postseason: Lost to Watterson 47-31 in first round of Division II district tournament 

ST. CHARLES HOCKEY 

•Record: 20-7-1 overall 

•CHC-Red standings: St. Charles (25, 12-2-1), Upper Arlington (24, 11-3-0-2), Olentangy Liberty (22, 10-3-1-1), Olentangy Orange (21, 10-4-0-1), Dublin Jerome (10, 4-10-1-1), New Albany (5, 1-9-2-1) 

•Seniors lost: Chris Benson, Sam Carey, Niko Fallieras, Ambrose Heyer, Alex Jimenez, Ryan Lewis, John Martin, Diego Pitones, Nate Polinsky and Brant Shepherd 

•Key returnees: Dominick Evangelisti, Tristan Fahs, Myles McKinney, Sam Mickey, Pat Moore, Erich Schoettmer, Cooper Tyson and Grant Wolf 

•Postseason: Defeated New Albany 5-1; def. Thomas Worthington 3-0, def. Oxford Talawanda 2-0; lost to UA 1-0 in district final