Bloomington, Ind. – As odd as it may sound, the losses suffered this season by the St. Edward's (Ohio) High School basketball team might wind up being Tom Pritchard's gain.
The losses that have hit the St. Edward's H.S. basketball team have been profound. The first came in the off-season, when starting point guard and elite 2010 recruit P'shon Howard transferred to Oak Hill Academy. Then, in a nationally-televised win over Campbell Hall (Cal.) H.S. in early December, St. Edward's lost top-five forward Delvon Roe and starting guard Alex Sterba to season-ending knee injuries.
For a team that had designs on huge things this season, those losses were a big blow.
"At the beginning it's a shock and a little bit frustrating because of the expectations we all had as a team," said St. Edward's H.S. Coach Eric Flannery. "We weren't just focused on a state championship. I think we really had a great opportunity to win a national championship."
While St. Edward's has managed to cope with losses and remains one of the elite teams in Ohio at 9-3, it's slipped from USA Today's national rankings and thoughts of the mythical national title have evaporated.
"Losing three guys that were projected starters, and one was a top-five player in the country certainly brings your talent level down," Flannery said. "But we have to take it as a challenge. Once we got past that shock and disappointment, we know who we are now. We are who we are. Now we have to focus on getting as good as we can come tournament time and try to win a state championship."
If that's going to happen, Flannery will need significant contributions from players whom he didn't necessarily envision playing as big of a role on this year's team when the year started. But he also knows he's going to have to rely a great deal on the 6'9", 260-pound Pritchard, who's gone from the perfect complementary player next to Roe to the primary offensive option.
It's a new role for Pritchard, whose played alongside Roe throughout his high school career as well as in AAU basketball. But it's one that Flannery thinks will help him as he prepares for a future in Bloomington playing in the Big Ten.
"As much as it hurts us (to be missing those three projected starters), it's going to be a great thing for Tom individually," Flannery said. "He's never been in the role of being the main guy. Now he's trying to adjust to finding different ways of helping his team score when teams are really focusing on him."
Pritchard has responded by averaging 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds on a team that is ranked second in the seven-county area surround Cleveland according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He's had some very big scoring games at times in his new role, but he's had others where teams have managed to contain him by committing multiple defenders to him when he touches the ball.
"When you have two, three or four guys on you sometimes, it's tough to be successful," Flannery said. "When he struggles is when the other team has really focused on stopping him and other guys on his team haven't stepped up."
But all that attention from other teams – along with the success St. Edward's has still enjoyed - has given Pritchard an extra dose of confidence that he should be able to carry over to the college area.
"Being the guy, it almost makes him think outside the box a little bit more, and give him a little more confidence when he plays well that he's capable of stepping up and doing more than what he's used to doing in the past," Flannery said.
Pritchard Stands To Gain From St. Ed's Losses
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