The Press Newspaper
Eric Cellier has had tough acts to follow at Toledo Christian High School.
Not only did his brother, Adam, help the Eagles’ basketball team reach the regional tournament in his playing days, but his sister, Emily, scored more than 1,300 points during her career at TC.
With siblings like that – not to mention having a father, Doug, who is a former wrestler – it’s easy to see why Eric will do whatever it takes to succeed on the basketball court.
“We certainly expect him to be an all-league player for us,” Toledo Christian coach Dave McWhinnie said. “He’s one of those kids who gives effort all the time. He loves the game and has a passion for the game unlike any player I’ve ever seen. I don’t have to say a whole lot to motivate him. He just plays hard. He wants us to win every game.”
That’s why it wasn’t a surprise to anyone who knows Cellier, who lives in Northwood, that he took the Eagles’ loss to Lake this season so hard. TC has since reeled off 10 straight wins since that season-opening 44-41 loss and is 5-0 in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference.
“Against Lake, everyone was out of the locker room and he still had a towel on his head,” McWhinnie said. “He wants to win every game. He said, ‘Coach, this can’t happen again.’ He’s just an incredibly determined young man. He’s not a kid I have to say a whole lot to to motivate because he wants it as bad as anybody. He doesn’t let anything get in the way of his goals.”
Lake, which is now 12-1, held Cellier to just seven points.
“It was probably the worst game of my career,” he said. “That loss was devastating. We came into the season with high expectations, and to start the season off like that was not how we planned. We had a goal to go undefeated. It was so hard, not just the loss but the way I played individually. If I had played better, we could have won.”
Through 11 games Cellier, a 6-foot-2 guard, was averaging 20.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.6 steals a game. He was shooting 57 percent from two-point range, 37 percent from 3-point range and 76 percent from the free throw line.
Last Friday, in the Eagles’ 82-38 demolition of Emmanuel Christian, Cellier scored a career-high 40 points despite sitting out the fourth quarter. His previous career high was 27 points.
“It felt great,” said Cellier, who shot 17-of-24 from the field. “It started with my teammates. We pressed the whole game, and I’m out in front of our press and I was getting layups. I got a couple short buckets for my first 11 points and I had 18 in the first six minutes. Once I got that, I knew I had something going. Once I got to 30, my teammates were trying to get me 40. A lot of that goes to my teammates and my coaches.”
Last week Celler was voted the State Player of the Week in a poll conducted by the JJ Huddle website. He was nominated by McWhinnie and won the honor after scoring 26 points against Ottawa Hills and 24 against Van Buren. He shot a combined 16-for-17 from the field and free throw line against Ottawa Hills, and 9-of-11 from the field against Van Buren.
Celler said winning the JJ Huddle poll was “awesome.”
“I wasn’t expecting anything to come out of it,” he said. “Coach told me I was nominated. I’m not a person to get people to vote for me, but I told three or four of my friends in the TAAC – one was on the team – to vote for me and they blew it up. From them, I got a couple thousand (votes). People on Facebook I didn’t even know posted it. It got kind of ridiculous.”
McWhinnie said Cellier, who has a 3.5 GPA, has been the consumate leader for a team that usually features five senior starters. The Eagles were the preseason pick to win the TAAC title.
“He is a tremendous leader in the classroom and on the court,” the coach said. “Guys will follow his lead. He’s been one of the guys who helped organize our morning workouts this fall. He has the ability to shoot, and he has the unique ability to finish around the rim, have a mid-range game and shoot 3-point shots. The biggest difference this year is he’s gotten a lot stronger. He’s more crisp on his moves.”
Cellier hopes to play basketball at the Division III level next year, but he has some unfinished business with the Eagles this season.
“We’re really close,” he said of his teammates. “I was nervous about our chemistry early in the year. You could tell at the beginning of the season it wasn’t that good, especially with our press, but as the season has gone on we’re starting to get better and people know their roles a lot better.”
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