CEDARVILLE — The celebration was subdued for a momentous occasion.
Friday’s outcome against Catholic Central was not in doubt during the final minutes for Cedarville. After the final buzzer sounded, there was a quick moment of jubilation with their classmates that led into a net cutting ceremony. Even that was short and altruistic.
It was while taking pictures together the smiles and joy on the faces of the Indians was most evident that the moment was setting in.
A goal had been accomplished on the team’s list for this season, the one it had yet to achieve together.
Cedarville secured its position as the Ohio Heritage Conference’s South Division regular season champions by defeating Catholic Central 58-34. It is the third OHC title for the Indians since joining the league in 2001.
“We all came together,” Mason Johnson said. “We play as one and we play as a family. I feel like after a couple of rough scrimmages, we all came together and locked in and just started playing every game like we always were able to since we were little.”
Johnson is one of seven Cedarville seniors that make up this year’s roster which earned their way to the top of the standings in their final opportunity. The Indians had four second-place finishes in the last five seasons, with a 2021 title sandwiched in the middle.
“We knew coming in this year it was gonna be a fun year,” Brayden Criswell said. “With all of us seniors playing through middle school to now, we all have some chemistry together and just winning the OHC is a good way to go out.”
Cedarville (16-5) was dominant during league play in finishing 13-3, producing five wins by at least 30 points while having the top scoring offense in the OHC. Its only three league losses came by a combined nine points.
Head coach Ryan Godlove said his current group of seniors during their freshman years got to see the work which was needed to win a league title as the team did in 2021, and it makes him happy watching them achieve their goals.
“This is something they’ve had on their mind for a while that they wanted to accomplish and work toward,” Godlove said. “For them to be able to do that tonight and secure the league title means a lot. For them to be as close as they are and to work at it for so long, this is a special group of seniors.”
The Indians will head into Sunday’s sectional tournament draw as a likely top-5 seed in the 26-team district field for Division IV schools.
Both Criswell and Johnson said they were excited about the next step they and their teammates want to take, the potential to reach a district final and play at UD Arena.
In the meantime, Cedarville now feels the impact of what the work it has put in was able to accomplish and can celebrate a league title.
“We wanted to win the conference and that’s always been our goal since day one,” Johnson said. “We want to go play at UD too. And part one is now done.”
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on X (formerly Twitter) @Steven_Wright_.