Despite an 18-6 record and the first sectional championship in school history, there’s an empty feeling at Cincinnati Christian.
“The trophy case at school is full of girls basketball trophies, baseball, softball, volleyball, even a few soccer trophies, but there is absolutely nothing in there for boys basketball,” CCS coach Danny Celenza said. “Soon there will be, but the trophy you get for winning a sectional title is the district runner-up trophy. That’s not what these guys want.”
The Cougars want the Division IV district championship trophy, and the net that comes with it, and they can bring home both win a victory tonight at 9 against Jackson Center at the University of Dayton Arena.
“The sectional title was great,” Celenza said. “But it means nothing if we don’t get a district title and so on and so on.”
A win tonight would advance CCS to the regional semifinals, where the team would be two wins away from a trip to state. It’s a path the Cougars’ opponent knows well.
Jackson Center advanced all the way to the state championship game last year, and four players are back from that squad and are a big reason why the Tigers are 21-3.
“Playing in big games, that experience is beneficial,” Jackson Center coach Scott Elchert said. “But we also know that you’ve got to make sure you turn it to your benefit in order for it to come to fruition.”
Jackson Center is led by guard Alex Meyer, a senior who joined CCS senior Ryan Arington on the All-Southwest District first team. Meyer averages 17.0 points per game.
Trey Elchert, another senior guard, was named all-district special mention.
“They are very much a guard-oriented team,” Celenza said, noting that sophomore Gavin Wildermuth also is a threat. “They lost quite a bit from last year’s team that went to state, but they still are very solid.”
Led by the 6-foot-6 Arington, the Southwest District Player of the Year who averages 24.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, the Cougars will have a height and depth advantage against Tigers.
“Their top four guys play 32 minutes, so that’s something we hope we can use to advantage,” Celenza said. “They are very much a half-court oriented team, so we want to push the tempo whenever we can. We practice on a college-size (94 feet) floor every day.”
Scott Elchert, who has coached the Tigers for 19 years, said his team’s strength is defense, and it’s going to have to be at its best tonight.
“They are a dangerous offensive team, and it starts with Arington,” he said. “But (David) Jeffries and (Kyle) Logan are nice players, too, from 15 feet in. They are an athletic team, and they rebound the ball well.”