Cardinal Stritch cagers: Boys reload with transfers — girls finding new light

J. Patrick Eaken

After reaching the Division III state final four last year, some say Cardinal Stritch graduated too many seniors and won’t find their way back.
        Hold on a minute. Coach Jamie Kachmarik has transfers from Central Catholic, St. John’s and Whitmer, plus he returns 6-foot-3 senior point guard Joey Holifield, who has signed to play at NCAA Division Oakland, and 5-7 junior shooting guard Jhaiden Wilson.
        Kachmarik says his team is “athletic and quick” and will play up-tempo on offense. They lost their season opener to St. Francis, 55-52, but turned that around by getting a win over Waite, 72-43.
        Among the transfers are 6-2 senior guard Brandon Burks (Central), 6-6 senior forward Devyn Jones (St. John’s), 6-3 senior forward Justin Wiggins (St. John’s), and 6-8 junior forward Ross Thompson (Whitmer). At least one will have to sit out the second half of the season because of transfer rules, however.
        “We have a lot of weapons who can score.  Joey Holifield and Jhaiden will score the ball but many others will contribute as well,” Kachmarik said. “Joey Holifield is one of the best defenders in this area. Not many high school kids want to defend like Joey wants to. He takes pride in his defense. Devyn Jones and Ross Thompson are tall and long, which will help our defensively.”
        That does not guarantee a Toledo Area Athletic Conference championship. Because of the success of Stritch, Maumee Valley, Ottawa Hills and Toledo Christian in the tournament, the TAAC has proven to be one of the strongest small school basketball leagues in Northwest Ohio.
        “The TAAC is always a tough league year in and year out. We will need to be ready to compete each night we take the floor. We hope to compete at the top of our league,” Kachmarik said. “The league will be competitive as always. 
        “Our league has many new faces at head coaches.  There are three new head coaches in the TAAC this year.  So it will be a challenge playing against new styles that these new coaches will bring to the league. Plus Coach (Dave) McWhinnie (TC) and Coach (John) Lindsay (OH) are two of the best head coaches in the Toledo area and throughout the state.  It will be another fun year in the TAAC.”
        The biggest issue facing Stritch is the graduation of Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press first team selections Jordan Burton (14.4 points, 5.3 assists) and Little Anderson (13.8 points, 7.7 rebounds)
        “We have new faces, so it is a matter of how long will it take for our new guys to mesh with the returners,” Kachmarik said.
Kachmarik’s assistant takes helm
        The Stritch girls program faces different challenges, like rebuilding the program after a 3-19 season. So, the Cardinals hired a Kachmarik protégé to get the ball rolling.
        In non-league action, the Cardinals already have wins over Waite, 49-31, and Woodward, 41-27, but lost to Swanton, 78-22.
        As the new coach, Stritch hired one of its own in Brad Hohenberger — he is currently a social studies teacher at the school and also a 2006 graduate. He was brought over from last year’s boys state final four team, where he served as an assistant.
        “I am honored and blessed to be able to lead this program. Cardinal Stritch means so much to me and I see great potential here. I cannot wait to get to work and start building something truly special,” Hohenberger said.
        Although never a varsity head coach before, he was a varsity assistant and freshman head boys coach at McLean, Virginia, a varsity boys assistant coach at Perrysburg, and for two years was the freshman head coach and varsity assistant for the boys team at Stritch.
        His playmakers are senior guard Hope Yost, junior guard Samantha Turner, junior forwards Samantha Borragina and Allison Fellman, sophomore guard Keera Garmon and freshman guard Sydney Payeff. But there are others in the mix who could contribute.
        “The biggest sleepers on this team are (sophomore guard) Keera Garmon, who was hurt for a part of her freshman year, and this year could take on a huge scoring load for us as a sophomore. Sydney Payeff as a freshman is also someone who will be looked upon to take on a huge role as the starting point guard. Miranda Nino, is a junior who is in her first year on varsity that could also light up the score book with her outside shooting.”
        Is there a championship in store for the girls team at Stritch?
        “I think this year’s team has a chance to finish in the middle of a very competitive TAAC this year. We are playing a new up-tempo style this year that is sure to surprise some people,” Hohenberger said.
        “The TAAC is strong this year. Toledo Christian looks to be a powerhouse and at the top of the league with Ottawa Hills right behind them. Maumee Valley and Northwood will also have extremely competitive teams this year. Every night in the TAAC should be a must-see battle.
        “We are very athletic this year and have lots of team speed. Our guard play and outside shooting should make us a threat night in and night out. Lack of a true post game will be a challenge and will cause us to have to do a few things creatively in terms of game planning.
        “This year’s team is very young, but the mindset, skill level, and work ethic are very much improved from last year. We are going to look to compete and really surprise some people this year. I think we are a team to look out for.”


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