Though DeSmet coach Bob Steiner suggests that CBC coach Bob McCormack wouldn't have been happy with the prediction of a 20-9 season in October, the third-year CBC coach insists that his team, in fact, overachieved. Over the course of the year, CBC went 19-2 against all teams, save St. Louis University High, DeSmet and Vashon, against whom they were 1-7, SLUH nipping them by only four points in the two defeats.
The sheer number of sophomores on the squad may have contributed to the inconsistency in the biggest games. Playing on the B-team level, that group surely would've gone undefeated. In two years, the core of Larry Jones, Ryan Woods, Kevin Muesenfechter, Ryan Sapp and Tamarr Maclin, one of the better sophomore talents in the state, should have the program competing at the highest level.
"With all the young kids and only two seniors, it's something to be proud of," says McCormack, who still holds the school's single-game scoring record of 46 points. "I don't look at it as a disappointment. It's disturbing to know you're a point away from being at Columbia. But people at the game know how close we were -- they know how we could've won that game."
As McCormack points out, despite its nucleus of youngsters CBC managed to take the Vashon Wolverines to the final buzzer in their quarterfinal match. Both teams, in fact, feature a bevy of young talent, and they're generally regarded as annual threats to challenge for the state title in the large-schools division, 4A. As well as CBC has done, Vashon's done even better, going on a stunning run of Final Four appearances during the last two decades. Coach Floyd Irons consistently takes his team to Columbia for the state-championship tourney.
The Wolverines are led by guard Joel Shelton, who averaged nearly 20 points a game on the season. Though he's smallish, his clutch shooting makes him one of the most talented, pure players in the state. Lorenzo Gordon gives Vashon a tough presence inside, with a soft touch around the basket. And sophomore point guard Jesse Akins proved his mettle in the late going against CBC. He'll only get better.
CBC has a cupboard full of young talent, too. Up front, Muesenfechter proved a willing banger. Woods is cut from the same cloth; he's a fine defender whose offensive game is still coming along. Jones had some big scoring moments and provided needed size in the paint. Sapp could develop into a nice all-around guard, and Mike Van Hee should prove one of the better jump-shooters in the area next year, with additional scoring responsibility clearly falling on him.
The most sought after of the lot, though, should be Maclin. A standout during his freshman season, Maclin had an uneven sophomore year. Tellingly, his best games came during the Cadets' big midseason push, his lesser games often mirroring CBC defeats. Although he's still emerging, his name has already been linked to some good programs. Add a mean streak to his big, athletic frame, and a Division I future should be his for the taking.
"It feels good that people look at me as one of the best players in the state," he says. "It's a big honor -- wow. I'm trying to go out and not have a big head. I see faces (of coaches in the crowd), but I don't pay attention. I get letters all the time, but I tell my coaches to keep them -- I don't want to see them until after the season."
The key ingredient in all their futures is consistency. This campaign's ups and downs should only enhance the seasoning of CBC's crop of good young players, some of whom could become very good indeed.
"Sometimes you're a father, mother, counselor, coach, psychologist all wrapped up in one," says McCormack. "It's a little bit different in high school. There's no scholarships and so many other things going on. In college, it's an $80,000-$100,000 investment in them over four years. What's expected from coaches is a total, total commitment.
"In high school, you have to be more lenient about things. It's not all black-and-white; there are some gray spots. What's so funny is that coaches like myself put their heart and soul into the job, and 15-, 16-, 17-year-old kids determine how you feel six months of the year. They really do."
-- Thomas Crone