(Posted March 6, 2019)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
In the course of taking a one-day-at-a-time approach, London High School’s boys’ basketball program skipped ahead to a fantastic season and a bright future.
When Zach Brown took the helm as head coach three years ago, he began instilling in his players a work ethic based on making progress each and every day.
His first year, the Raiders went 2-21. Last year, they went 6-18. This year, they accelerated that rate of progress four-fold, going 21-3 and winning the program’s first conference title in 17 years.
Brown credits the turn-around to “having the right coaches and players at the right time.”
“It was all about the young guys buying into the program, the program gaining consistency with what we were doing, and continual improvement,” he said. “Success in practice translated to success in games.”
And the fans turned out to celebrate the success.
“The biggest thing I and the players noticed through the season was how more and more people were coming out to games, how the student section started filling up,” Brown said.
At the end of the regular season, London hosted Jonathan Alder for what was a thrilling matchup. In front of a capacity crowd, the Raiders took the win, 45-44.
“It’s maybe the loudest, most packed game I’ve ever experienced,” Brown said.
The ever expanding fan base served as a huge motivator, he said, pushing the team to go all out for victories. On the way to the conference title, London racked up 20 regular season wins, won the holiday tournament hosted by Miami Trace, and hosted and won a sectional playoff game, beating Hamilton Township 61-42. Their season came to end with a tough loss to Granville in the second playoff game on March 2, but Brown said it will only serve as motivation going into the off-season.
Several players earned post-season honors. Sophomore guard Trey Woodyard was named Central Buckeye Conference (CBC) Player of the Year and first-team all-Central District. Sophomore forward Naz Cameron and junior guard Isaiah Hatem made second-team all-CBC and honorable mention all-District. Guard Jake Andrich, the team’s only senior, was named honorable mention all-CBC and honorable mention all-District. Junior guard Ben Kennell won the CBC sportsmanship award.
Brown, who coached at Cedarville University for four years before coming to London, was named Div. II Central District Coach of the Year. He credits his assistant coaches, Cory Bexfield and Stony Burks, for being a big part of the team’s great year, along with the cheerleading squad, student body, fans and school administration.
The success of not only the basketball team, but also the other sports programs at London this year has made a positive impact on the players, the school and the community, Brown said.
“What these coaches and programs are doing is leading the way for athletes to thrive at London. It’s an exciting time,” he said.