Success is far more than an expectation at Concordia Lutheran at this point. Coach Dave Miller has won a Sectional title in each of the last nine years except 2014, where he still won 19 games. No player in this year’s program has a high school varsity season that did not end with a sectional trophy.
Part of that success comes from what Miller said was his initial message to his team this season: “be better today than yesterday.”
On top of that, there is reason to be excited in Northern Kentucky commit Carissa Garcia. Steadily, she has upped her game every season until last year’s 20.1 point per game effort that saw the Cadets top a deep Angola team for a sectional title. Garcia is a lights out shooter and a threat to pull up any time. She hit 45 percent of her three point attempts (70-of-154), which was actually a percent higher than she hit from two point range. She had no trouble getting inside either, hitting 83 percent of her free throws so you cannot really foul her to stop her either.
She will be joined in the backcourt by sophomore CC Calloway, who will go a long way in establishing Concordia’s defensive identity. While a lot of teams were concerned with Garcia last season, Calloway swiped 55 steals with a career high 11 coming against East Noble. She is a tenacious defender that will add a lot to Garcia’s game on offense if she can play point guard and allow Garcia to play off ball. Several other sophomores could also see valuable time on the wing.
“We are still young, so I think a big thing is just trusting each other, trusting our teammates, being patient and every day in practice we have to get better,” Garcia said.
The interior is more of a question mark due to the loss of Chanteese Craig, a sophomore, to injury. Craig was a somewhat surprising force inside last season, as the team leader in rebounds, steals and blocks.
A big part of that load will fall to twin sister Chastity Craig, who played for about half a game on average last year but didn’t have nearly the impact. Nautica Rogers battled injuries and only played in 11 of 25 games last season, but is back healthy to contribute on the interior.
“We want to get quicker up and down the floor. Without Chanteese, that hurts us with her interior presence on both ends of the floor. That really changes things for us a lot,” Miller said.
Another plus for the Cadet team is the addition of longtime area coach Greg Friend, who joins the staff after two years at the helm of Snider. Concordia is Friend’s alma mater. His addition is strong next to Miller, who has won 433 games in his 29 year coaching career.
“I feel you can never count us out. We are always going to have strong defense, our fundamentals are always there,” Garcia said. “I feel if you ask anyone, we are always a tough team to play because of our defense and the way we are coached.”
One the area’s best coaches and one of the area’s best players. What more could you ask for? Many expected Concordia to take a back slide last season, yet they plowed through and won a fourth straight sectional title. Garcia’s scoring punch will be hard for most teams to slow down.
Why not higher?
The loss of Chanteese Craig is hard to ignore and it costs Concordia a little bit on this list. Who can be the number-two behind Garcia?
Hard to cut it to one game here. The Cadets will travel to Bellmont, Homestead and Norwell in the first two and a half weeks of the season. They posted a 2-1 mark last year in those tests, but having to travel to all three places so quickly is no joke. Bellmont on November 6 will tell us some things, but by the time they visit Ossian on November 20, we will know an awful lot about Concordia.
“Game to game will be pretty interesting. Several schools graduated a lot of kids so what they put together and who is coming up will determine their success. It will be interesting,” Miller said.