Nine months has not been long enough for Bloom-Carroll’s boys to heal.
The Bulldogs had the first undefeated regular season in school history in 2011-12. Isaac McGlone was a Division III state player of the year, and Tom Petty was named state coach of the year. But all that wasn’t enough to make up for a devastating upset at the hands of Worthington Christian in a district final.
“Every day we look up (at banners in the gym) and see a league championship and no district championship,” Petty said. “The thing that’s sad about athletics is we go 23-0, and I’ve thought more about one game than the other 23 combined.”
Bloom-Carroll still is agitated by the loss, which ruined what they thought could have been a state championship run. Junior Joey Schmitz said he thinks about the loss every day, and it always will be in the back of his mind. But with a new season about to begin, it’s time to move on.
Gone is 2011-12’s leading scorer, A.J. Ireland. But he and Rob Watts were the only two seniors on a team that blew away opponents with a quick-paced offense and suffocating defense. McGlone, signed to Eastern Kentucky, and Schmitz are the two top scorers back and want to make sure the Bulldogs don’t drop a level.
“We’ve got competitive guys on this team,” McGlone said. “We go into the season thinking we’re going to win every single game. We’re not like: ‘This is tough, this is tough.’ We want to come every day and get better, then we want to come every game and win.”
McGlone leads the Bulldogs in all areas. He’s an accomplished scorer who also excels at passing and on-ball defense. At 6-feet-2, he had good size for a point guard and can rebound with kids much taller than he is. Petty said he wants to get the ball to McGlone more in the post this year against smaller guards.
Schmitz will look to step into a larger scoring role. As the third option in 2011-12, he often benefited with open shots because of extra attention paid to McGlone and Ireland. Schmitz is a strong outside shooter and will be more of a focus by opponents this season, a challenge he welcomes.
“I’ve been working all summer, just working on my game,” Schmitz said. “Ball-handling, shooting, just becoming a better scorer. I think I’ll be able to step in to A.J.’s spot and score a little more this year.”
McGlone also is capable of scoring more, but Petty has confidence in Schmitz to have a breakout junior season.
“We feel that we’ve got the two best guards in central Ohio,” Petty said. “(Schmitz) made such an improvement from his freshman to sophomore year. But he’s made a bigger improvement. He’s much better than he was last year. He’s stronger; he’s working. He looks at it as a challenge. Joey will get his shots.”
With much of the firepower from 2011-12 returning to the offense, Petty has looked to the other side of the ball as an area in need of improvement.
“Our main concern is going to be defensively,” Petty said. “In A.J. and Robbie, we lost a few points, but you can get points back. But they took about 90 percent of our charges last year. We’ve gotta get people in those spots to be able to do that.”
Dalton Vannatta is healthy after missing most of 2011-12 with a knee injury. He and Jordan Bachman will be the players Petty hopes can fill that void. A.J. James also returns to provide senior leadership, as the Bulldogs hope to maintain the standard of excellence set in recent years.
Bloom-Carroll’s nonleague schedule is loaded with tough opponents. They play at Columbus Academy and Bishop Hartley and host Granville. Those games are designed to get the Bulldogs prepared for the postseason, and they hope this year’s tournament yields long-lasting memories for a different reason.