Second-year Eastwood girls basketball coach Gary Lemle picked up his 100th career victory last Thursday night.
That win was truly memorable for Lemle, but not quite as memorable as his very first head coaching victory, on Dec. 6, 2003 during his first season at Cardinal Stritch.
“It was a home game against New Riegel,” Lemle recalled. “We won in overtime, 57-54, and I remember telling my assistant, Jack Shader, ‘boy, I hope they’re not all this hard.’ ”
|Gary Lemle and his Eastwood team after career win No. 100.
(Photo by Susan Martis)
The Cardinals finished 21-4 that season (2003-04) and reached the Division III regional finals before losing to Smithville.
“We accomplished quite a bit, regional finals in my first year,” said Lemle, who was named the D-III Coach of the Year that season by the Associated Press. “We beat Patrick Henry in the district finals and a lot of my old coaching buddies were there. I was thinking, ‘these guys have been doing this a number of years and have never gotten (to regionals), and here I am doing it in my first year.’ I’ve learned to appreciate it, because I’ve never gotten back.”
Lemle’s 100th career win was a 49-48 squeaker at Otsego on Jan. 17. It also happened to be his 51st birthday.
“I don’t feel so young anymore,” he said.
Tuesday night’s 59-55 road win over Genoa gave Eastwood’s season record another boost. The wins lifted the Eagles to 5-9 and 4-5 in the Northern Buckeye Conference.
Lemle is now 101-87 in eight-plus seasons as a head coach. He led Stritch to four Toledo Area Athletic Conference titles in seven years before resigning and taking a year off in 2009-10. He took over at Eastwood last season.
The Eagles made a banner for Lemle and presented it to him following their win over Otsego.
“They all signed a basketball and took the ball back to put on the date and the score,” the coach said. “It’s in my office at work. I have good kids. They knew I wanted to get No. 100 and they wanted to get it for me. It was a lot of fun. They sang Happy Birthday to me in the locker room. It was a pretty cool day to be Gary Lemle.”
Lemle brought both of his Cardinal Stritch assistants, John Morrisey and Dave Martis, to Eastwood and those three are in the process of making the Eagles conference contenders again. Chances are they won’t catch NBC-leading Elmwood this season, but there is still a lot to play for.
“The NBC is really competitive this year,” Lemle said. “We’ve been in a ton of games. The one-point win at Otsego was big. We lost to Genoa the first time around, but it was a two-point game in the fourth quarter. We’re in the heat of it. We win a couple games in the league this week, we have an opportunity to finish in second place in the league. That would go a long way to giving them confidence and things like that.”
Senior guard Diana Bushman leads the team in scoring with a 14.4 average. She tied the school record with eight 3-point field goals and finished with 37 points in Eastwood’s 63-36 win over Lakota on Jan 5. Twin post players Presley and Kelsey Weaver are averaging 8.5 and 7.5 points a game, respectively.
Presley Weaver scored 17 points and Bushman added 15 in Tuesday’s win over Genoa. The Eagles connected on 14 of 21 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. Eastwood hosts Elmwood on Friday.