DeSales Roundup: Gracie Sabo taking charge for girls basketball team

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Although it's her ability to take charges that often gets noticed, senior Gracie Sabo has become a key player for DeSales in multiple ways. “Everything she does is so crucial to the team. On both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, she’s our catalyst. She propels what we do,” coach Erick Herzberg said.

Having developed a reputation for taking charges, Gracie Sabo started this season averaging one per game for the DeSales girls basketball team.

When coach Erick Herzberg double-checked that statistic with Sabo after a 42-32 win over Whitehall on Dec. 29, Sabo immediately chuckled and noted a few that weren’t called.

“Even if it’s not called and you get (charged with) a blocking foul, you have to forget about that and keep going,” said Sabo, a 5-foot-10 senior forward/center. “(On Dec. 29), I stepped up about three or four times and only got one called.”

Sabo has come a long way from her sophomore year, when she drew just one offensive foul. She took 15 charges as a junior, when she averaged 7.4 points and 6.6 rebounds, and hopes to rival that number this season, in which Herzberg calls her a cog for everything the Stallions do on both ends of the floor.

“Everything she does is so crucial to the team. On both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, she’s our catalyst. She propels what we do,” Herzberg said. “In our zone (defense), she’s in the center of that so she is able to manage a lot of the communication in there and receive the calls from the bench. Offensively, she does so much to determine what we’re doing with her reads on the matchups and coming off the pick-and-roll when it comes to our high-post setups and low-post setups.”

Sabo was held to four points in each of DeSales’ first two games and six points in its third but averaged 4.0 rebounds and helped paved the way for 17.5 points per game from teammate Stefanie Karras. Karras scored a game-high 14 points in a season-opening 52-39 win over Thomas Worthington on Dec. 28 and followed that up with a career-high 21 against Whitehall.

“(Sabo) will either go in for a layup or kick it out, which has been very helpful because everyone will try to charge in on her, which leaves a lot of others open and several girls can get points,” Karras said. “We started realizing we needed to get more people in the middle in order to get the ball out, which has been working. Gracie is so key to that.”

Sabo acknowledged that taking charges is an acquired taste – one to which she quickly took a liking.

“When you see someone coming at you, that’s the first thing that pops into your head, (to) step up and be ready,” she said. “I got two in a game (last year) and I just kept it up. Taking that charge, it feels really good and everyone gets really excited. It brings good energy.”

Herzberg, whose team was 2-1 before its CCL opener Jan. 7 against Hartley, thinks increased offense from Sabo is inevitable. She scored in double-digits five times last year.

“I would think (opposing coaches) should be paying attention to her,” Herzberg said. “Our first (few) games, we were still catching up a little bit and fixing a lot of stuff.”

DeSales' Owen Hartsough works against Watterson's Pablo Smith during a game earlier this season. The Stallions were 2-6 heading into play Jan. 8, having snapped a 31-game losing streak.

Maturation pays off

for hockey team

The hockey team returns to action this weekend when it travels to the Walter F. Ehrnfelt Tournament at OBM Arena in suburban Cleveland, hoping to build on a season in which it already has broken a 31-game losing streak and captured two victories by shutout.

DeSales won its first game in almost two years Dec. 23 when it routed Dublin Scioto 14-0 at Chiller Ice Works and also beat Worthington Kilbourne 4-0 on Jan. 2 at Chiller Easton.

“They’re getting more experienced all the time and with experience comes confidence,” coach Darcy Cahill said. “We went up to Toledo before the season and beat (Toledo Whitmer) in a scrimmage, so that told the guys we were doing something right. They understand what we as coaches expect from them and they’re playing within the simple system we’ve put in place.”

A.J. Cagnina’s four goals and three from Tyler Thompson paced the win against the Irish, DeSales’ first since an 8-5 victory against Columbus Academy on Jan. 25, 2019. The game against Scioto also was the teams’ first meeting since the Irish’s Pete Hrelec scored a single-game state-record 11 goals in a 15-4 win over the Stallions last Feb. 12 in a Blue Jackets Cup consolation game.

DeSales was 2-6 overall and in the CHC-Blue Division before playing Newark’s junior varsity team on Jan. 8. They will play Cleveland Heights on Saturday, Jan. 16, and Perrysburg on Sunday, Jan. 17, and wrap up the weekend against an opponent to be determined Monday, Jan. 18.

The Stallions also were one of 16 varsity programs in central Ohio and 36 overall to be awarded a grant from the McConnell Education Foundation in late December.

The McConnell Education Foundation, which was founded by late Blue Jackets owner John P. McConnell, has awarded grants totaling more than $1.5 million to programs in the CHC and Ohio Scholastic Hockey League since 1998.

Quarantine interrupts 

boys team’s season

The boys basketball team split its first two games before a case of COVID-19 in the program forced a quarantine from just before Christmas into early January.

It forced the Stallions to postpone or potentially call off five scheduled games, including back-to-back road contests against Division I programs in Reynoldsburg on Dec. 28 and Pickerington Central the next night. DeSales’ scheduled CCL contest Jan. 2 at home against St. Charles was postponed 10 days.

The Stallions resumed play Jan. 6 with a 61-60 overtime win at Johnstown.

DeSales opened Dec. 18 with a 48-46 home loss to Ready but bounced back the next night with an 80-43 win at Dresden Tri-Valley. Desmond Watson had 22 points against the Silver Knights and a game-high 28 at Tri-Valley, while Atticus Schuler had 18 points and Austin Mann added 15.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave