After securing title, Stritch looks to the tournament

J. Patrick Eaken

In Cardinal Stritch’s final regular season game, the Cardinals traveled across town to defeat Maumee Valley, 69-60.

That secured the Cardinals’ third Toledo Area Athletic Conference championship in four years, but even more importantly, was their 11th straight win heading into the Division III tournament. 

Stritch finished the regular season 12-4 overall and a perfect 5-0 in a TAAC season that was reduced to single round robin because of the coronavirus pandemic affecting teams that had to quarantine for sometimes weeks at a time.

“It has been a great accomplishment by this team with us starting out 1-4, and during the whole shutdown in Lucas County and practicing at St. Jerome for these guys to be able to run off 11 in a row and win a league title is something special, especially for these guys and the seniors,” said Stritch coach Jamie Kachmarik. 

“They have gotten a lot of respect for each other and have become a real close group in the locker room. That always helps and leads to success. It’s been good — it’s been fun.”

Stritch saw five games go by the wayside over two weeks, and then the Cardinals traveled to Williams County and routed Bryan (4-16), 90-51, in their first game back.

“We really shot the ball well there,” Kachmarik said. “In that game we made 14 threes — we were 14 of 20, so when you are shooting 70 percent from the three-point line that helps a little bit.

“(Six-foot-2 sophomore guard) Brenden Revels was 5 for 5 from three in the first quarter and ended up putting up 15 points. He came out on fire and (senior guard) Jhaiden (Wilson) was hot. We hit a ton of threes and shot a really high percentage in that game. 

“Jhaiden had 35 points in that game. He has been playing really well, and it was something that we just came out on fire and kind of put it to them in the first quarter. It was good because you never know coming out of quarantine what you are going to play like.”

Wilson also stepped up in the win over Maumee Valley (3-7 overall, 1-4 TAAC). The Hawks are better than what their record shows, says Kachmarik, but have not been able to get even half their games in.

“Maumee Valley was a really good game. It was a tough game but we ended up winning that, so it was a good victory,” Kachmarik said. “Jhaiden Wilson had 20 points in that game, but he also had 11 assists, and sophomore Romel Hightower had 17 points and 14 rebounds, so that was a good game for him. 

“Brenden Revels, the other sophomore, chipped in with 11 and (6-2 senior forward) Dwayne Morehead had 10 points and seven rebounds, so it was a good solid team effort. Maumee Valley came out and played really tough — they have a really good player in (senior shooting forward) J.R. Lumsden, who got his 1,000th career point that night. 

“They were basically coming out of quarantine on Wednesday of that week. They played Northwood on Wednesday (59-34 MV win) and then played us on Friday and Vanlue (74-65 MV loss) on Saturday, so after sitting for two weeks they decided to play games. Their kids are playing hard and playing a real good game,” Kachmarik continued.

Wilson, who has committed to playing collegiately at Wayne State University, currently has 1,186 career points. Wilson set the single game scoring record at Stritch, scoring 48 points at Kenton (77-56 Stritch win) on January 30, beating Austin Adams’ record of 44 points that he had against Northwood during the 2013-14 season. 

Wilson is averaging 26.1 points, shooting 52.8 percent from inside the arc (75 for 142), 38 percent outside the arc (68 for 179), and has made 81.8 percent of free throws (63 for 77). He is also averaging 4.8 assists, 2.8 steals and 2.3 rebounds, despite standing 5-foot-9.


‘Big’ presence inside

However, the combination of 6-8, 220 pound senior forward Ross Thompson and the 6-4, 170-pound sophomore forward Hightower presents another set of problems for opponents.

“Ross is a really starting to come into his own. The biggest thing with Ross is that teams have to game plan for him,” Kachmarik said. “I talked to the Toledo Christian coach (David McWhinnie) and (he said) it changes your offensive mindset because you’ve got a 6-8 kid inside who is athletic and can block shots, and that is the one stat that we are different than most high school teams probably. 

“If you look at the stats on blocked shots, Ross has got 40 on the season in 16 games, and Romel has 35, so between the two of them they have 75 blocked shots. That’s not talking about the shots that they alter, so Ross defensively for us is a big presence. He’s been doing a much better job. 

“We don’t need him to score a ton of points, but he’s in there and on any given night he can get you double figures, but he is also very consistent. He is going to get you 7-10 points a night, he is going to get you 6-10 rebounds a night, and then there is going to be that factor in blocked shots. He’s just been a good leader for us. His energy and his effort every game has been big, so he’s been really starting to play well for us,” Kachmarik continued.

Both Thompson and Hightower are shooting at over a 50 percent clip from the floor, and combined produce about 15 points and over 13 rebounds a game.

“Romel is starting to score a little bit more now. His rebounding is there, and he’s so athletic, so he goes and gets rebounds,” Kachnmarik said. “He had a double-double Friday night and he’s just been playing well. 

“He sprained his ankle at Kenton pretty bad and probably played only two minutes in the Kenton game, and then after that game was when we went into quarantine so that might have been a good thing for him because he got a got a couple weeks rest to rest that ankle. He’s come back and has not really missed a beat since then.”

In the Division III sectional final Friday night, Stritch was to host Lake (6-17), which beat Northwood (0-12) 48-37 Wednesday. A Stritch win and they advance to a district semifinal at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Mar. 4 at Central Catholic’s Sullivan Center. The district final is set for Saturday, Mar. 6 at 1 p.m. at the Sullivan Center.

“My mindset going in is that there is no tomorrow,” Kachmarik said. “So we have to be prepared and on any given night any team can beat anyone, so we have to be focused in on every game. I do a thing in the locker room where I build a staircase and it is one step at a time. We’ll talk about that — we’ll have a team meeting before practice and talk about, ‘You can’t take that next step until you take care of the first one.’ Hopefully, we can string together some victories.”




The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association