Cougars have tough challenge in Irish

Game 8  JAN 16 SUN 12:00 pm  Toledo Central Catholic Fighting Irish vs. Cincinnati Mt. Notre Dame Cougars

By Dave Mast

While the mass exodus from Notre Dame following the exit of head coach Dante Harlan may have depleted some of the talent from the Cougars’ program, it hasn’t done anything to squelch the competitive fires which have built the school’s program into a juggernaut. New head coach Kelly Main has vowed to continue to strive for excellence, and will not use the personnel changes as an excuse.

“The transition has gone fairly smoothly,” said Main of the big changing of the guards. “We have taken the approach that we are going to focus on the things that we have control over and to not make excuses or dwell on the negatives that occurred throughout the offseason. We strive to have a purpose every day of improving ourselves in the classroom, on the floor, and outside of school as well. This is a great group of young ladies with tremendous overall character. We are taking the approach that we will simply out-work our opponents and try to get better in some aspect of the game each day.”

Main does have one huge piece of the puzzle remaining in the fold. Notre Dame senior point guard Kathryn Reynolds will have to be
the one who navigates through the feisty Irish defense. When she isn’t looking to score, she will be trying to get the ball down low to six-foot-one Jazmin Hayes in the paint for some quality looks.

Central Catholic underwent its own major alteration this offseason. Gone through retirement is legendary coach Steve Pfahler, who was replaced by his longtime assistant coach Marty McGurk.

The team of Pfahler and McGurk has been a monumentally successful one at Central Catholic, having won nine City League titles,
eight District championships and making four State tournament appearances since the two joined forces in 1995.

When McGurk joined Pfahler 15 years ago, he brought with him an affinity for a smothering pressure-style defense, which has been
the Fighting Irish’s biggest weapon over the years.

McGurk had plenty of credentials as a head coach before moving to the Fighting Irish. He coached at Springfield High School from
1988-1995, and prior to that had won five Blue Division titles and one District championship with Notre Dame Academy.

Featured in the Fighting Irish’s defensive scheme will be a couple of quick junior guards in Jamie Sobczak and Sydney Shaffer. “They can create a lot of havoc when they get going,” said Tom Jenkins of OGBR. “They’re both lightning fast and extremely explosive.”