Sitting out doesn't deter Ross Thompson

J. Patrick Eaken

        Cardinal Stritch boys basketball coach Jamie Kachmarik has seen it before — as a college coach.
        Players transfer from another program, or they redshirt, and cannot play in games for a year. But, they still continue working out with the team and going to games, and one would think that is hard on a player not to be on the court game-time.
        Stritch 6-foot-7 junior forward Ross Thompson is on that boat right now. He transferred from Whitmer, so after the Cardinals finished half their season, he has to sit out the rest of the season per-Ohio High School Athletic Association rules. But Kachmarik says this guy is still getting after it.
        “The big thing with him is he just keeps developing more and more from game one to game 11 when he goes to play. He is very coachable and he works hard and now he’s lifting three days a week with coach Katafiasz in the weight room, practicing with us every day and then he’s gone on the scout team gone with the JV and competed, and has really become a leader with the team,” Kachmarik said.
        “Every day, it’s the same grind. He gets up in the morning and before he goes to school he does a cross-fit thing and the other thing about him is he’s a National Honor Society student, so he’s doing it everywhere and that’s his work ethic. That’s what is going to get him to play at that next level.
        “He’s talking during the games and kind of becoming a branch of the coaching staff. For a young man to transfer in high school and have to sit out, not a lot of them can do a lot of different things, but he has taken this role a lot like some of the guys that I was with who had to sit out because they transferred when I was coaching college basketball.
        “It shows the maturity level on him to want to work this hard. He has aspirations of playing college basketball and I think he’s well on his way, and starting here at Stritch, it’s been a good way for him to go,” Kachmarik continued.
        Thompson says there is a reason he just keeps on going, and doesn’t mind not being on the court during games.
        “I plan on playing basketball in the future,” Thompson said. “Basketball is what makes me happy, so I’ll do anything to get better and just keeping playing basketball and being a part of my team.”
        Kachmarik believes the transfer has worked out for Thompson in other ways, too.
        “I think it was a fit with our school being a little bit smaller. It’s helped him a little bit socially and with his self-confidence and stuff,” Kachmarik said. “I think that’s mostly it — I think his family has all been Whitmer people, so it was a big step for him to leave that family because they live over that way, but he thought this would be better for him academically and with the classroom being smaller, I think it’s much better for him.”
        After 11 games, Cardinal Stritch was 9-2, but since Thompson has stopped playing in games, the Cardinals have gone 4-2, falling to 13-4.
        Thompson was excellent during his team, making 61.3 percent of his two-point field goals (19 for 31), and he scored 43 points, averaging 3.9 per game. Plus, he was second on the team in rebounding (5.2), blocked 11 shots, and had five steals.
        “There are only a couple points and rebounds, but he blocked some shots, but he was just really getting into a groove,” Kachmarik said “I think if he had stayed with us, he would have started averaging close to double figures and more rebounds, and just like anything, he was just starting to grow into that. And, he’s growing into his body — he’s getting bigger, stronger, and faster, so I really look forward to a great year for him, not only this summer but next year as well.”
        Kachmarik has said repeatedly that not having him on the court is like having an injury, which the Cardinals have dealt with also.
        “Our team has been a little bit different because we had (6-6 forward) Devyn Jones, who is a senior for us, break his arm in game two against Waite, and then we lost Ross after the 11th game. Then Devyn gets his cast off (last week) so we’ll get him again,” Kachmarik said.
        “So we’ve had a lot of adjustments and we’ve had to do a lot of different things, but he just keeps working. He caught the attention when we played against a team in Indiana down in Kentucky — he caught the eye of some people down there to play AAU basketball for Spiece Indy Heat out of Fort Wayne — they just called and asked about him playing for them. It’s a great program AAU-wise.
        “So, everything is just so positive for him and his attitude is great. I just keep looking forward to working him and seeing him getting stronger. He’ll have a great year next year but I’m more excited to see what he does once he graduates from Cardinal Stritch.”
        Thompson says he is looking forward to joining the Indy Heat this summer. That will be the next time he steps onto the court for a game in organized basketball.
        “I’m really excited for it. It’s going to be a really good learning lesson for me. It’s going to help me a lot and it’ll help me become a better player,” Thompson said.
        For now, Thompson says he will still challenge his teammates to get their Toledo Area Athletic Conference championship and maybe even a return to the state tournament after reaching the Division III final four last year.
        “We’re going to be a good team at the end of the year,” Thompson said. “We all work really hard and work well together. We’re like one big family and we are all there for each other. We’ve got to keep each other working and stuff, but it’s been a good environment. I think we get as far as we can and just play as a family and just work hard together to get better.”


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