The winter athletic season may be nearing an end, but the men's varsity basketball team—this week’s feature team—is looking forward to new beginnings as the proverbial second season starts tonight at 6 p.m. with a first round tournament game against Valley View at Lebanon High School.
Despite getting off to a slow start, the young team has seemingly hit its stride down the stretch. Since losing their first seven games in December, the Eagles (8-12 overall, 6-8 GCL) wrapped up the regular season by going 8-5 in 2011.
“With inexperience, hard times will come early,” said point guard Tim Szabo, one of the team’s three seniors. “Everyone was learning at the beginning of the season and we’re still learning now.”
According to Szabo and fellow seniors Logan Daugherty and Michael Russell (pictured below), the key to the team’s continual improvement has come on the defensive end of the court, where CJ has allowed opponents to score an average of just 46.2 points per game. That stinginess was on display during the month of February in which the squad recorded two signature wins against Division I opponents.
On the heels of the program’s monumental victory against Moeller last year, the Eagles beat a GCL South school for the second consecutive season with a decisive 54-41 win over St. Xavier at home, beating the Bombers for the first time since the 1997-98 season. The team then finished the season by downing the Greater Western Ohio Conference South co-champion Panthers 51-49 at Springboro.
“The win against Springboro really helps build up our confidence to make a run in the tournament,” Russell said. Sixth seeded CJ faces a familiar playoff foe in eighth seeded Valley View (14-6 overall, 9-3 SWBL), who they last played in the first round of the Division II Sectionals in 2009, winning 70-30.
“We can’t take them for granted,” Daugherty said of the Spartans. The winner of tonight’s game will move on to play seventh seeded Franklin (11-9 overall, 6-6 SWBL) on Tuesday, March 1 at 6 p.m. at Lebanon High School.