Jon Andrews has his hands full with basketball at Carroll Christian.
He's one of the few coaches in the area that runs both the varsity and junior varsity programs at the same school.
“There has been nobody one else that has stepped up to do it, and its kind of how our school has been doing it for the last how many years,” said Andrews, Carroll’s third-year coach. “I like it a lot and I enjoy teaching both teams.”
But the job comes with many challenges, he said, such as crowded practices.
“You have 22 guys on the practice floor,” Andrews said. “It has its frustrations when you have only so many practices to get in and you are trying to prep the varsity team for their games, but also trying to teach the JV players some concepts that they haven’t even learned yet.”
Coaching games is more difficult.
They are held back-to-back, which doesn’t give Andrews much time to decompress after a tough loss.
“It’s hard when you have an emotional JV game and have to turn around and coach the varsity,” said Andrews, who has even sought help to lighten his load, but thus far without success.
“I have looked around for an assistant and really haven’t found anybody who has been available,” he added.
To ease his burden, Andrews relies on his older and more experienced players to help teach the younger set.
“A lot of the guys are juniors and seniors that have been there to mentor some of the freshmen coming in, help them learn the offense and push them to be better,” Andrews said. “I encourage my older guys to step up and help these freshmen. This year on the JV team, I have eight freshmen and one eighth-grader who have never played for me before.”
Senior guard Justin Finch says he and his varsity teammates enjoy mentoring the younger players.
“It’s a privilege for us to take on the role,” Finch said. “I think its also necessary for us to pave the way for underclassmen that are coming in.”
All of those efforts could make a big difference this year, now that the varsity is on the upswing at 3-3.
That's pretty heady stuff for a program that earned only two wins in Andrews' first year and five victories last winter. Andrews says the program hasn’t posted a winning record in two decades.
Carroll won a Maryland Association of Christian Schools Athletic Conference Large Division title in 1997-98, and added its third consecutive state crown that season.
“There is a lot of energy with the team this year,” Andrews said. “The guys are giving a lot more effort in practice. There is more desire to play and to win games. I honestly think we could end up winning anywhere from 13 to 16 games.
“My goal before the season was to win 10,” he added. “Now, seeing where we are at and what we have done, I’d like to win 15 games this year.”
Carroll Christian is a deeper and more talented team than past years, and those assets are showing up on the court. The Patriots are scoring more points and playing better defense with sophomore guard Josiah Albaugh leading the team in scoring (15.5 ppg) and ranks fourth in rebounding (4.7 rpg).
Albaugh, who starts in the backcourt along with sophomore point guard Sean Goldsmith, might be the most improved player on team after averaging 4.3 points per game last year.
One of Albaugh’s highlights of the season was his effort against Rosedale Baptist, when he totaled 18 points and five rebounds in a 51-48 victory.
“I think the biggest difference between this year and last year has been his confidence,” Andrews said. “He knows the speed of the varsity game now, and he knows when to use his speed to get his shot off.”
Junior center Joshua Mathews, a 6-foot-5 transfer from Liberia, gave Carroll Christian’s inside game a boost.
He’s averaging 10.8 points and 12 rebounds, and leads a frontcourt that also features junior Matt Maldonado and senior Jason Brodbeck. Mathews’ best performance came in a 55-42 victory over Cumberland Valley (Pa.) Christian School. He had 20 rebounds, nine points, four steals, and three blocks in that game.
“The biggest thing he has brought to us is rebounding, and he is a scoring threat,” Andrews said.
Finch, senior forward Christian Wooden, and senior center Micah Borger work as the top reserves. Sophomore guard Dominic DiMaggio, senior guard Jonathan Bernatowicz, and senior forward Alberto Echegoyen are also competing for playing time.