Struthers’ Ryan had banner season
STRUTHERS — While the winter sports season may wind up being remembered with an asterisk in the Ohio High School Athletic Association record books for one reason, Struthers senior Carson Ryan will remember it for several others, including reaching the 1,000-point career milestone.
The 6-foot-5 guard walked off the court for the final time in his prep career March 7 following the second-seeded Wildcats’ tough 53-50 loss to top-seeded Chaney in a Division II district final at Boardman.
Ryan became the eighth player in Struthers’ program to surpass 1,000 career points. The four-year starter finished with 1,150 points and played in two district finals.
“I’ve always dreamed of playing in the regionals,” he said. “That was always my biggest goal, my biggest dream. We made it to the district final in my sophomore year and lost to Lakeview. So it was really tough to get a second chance and come up just short. It hurts.”
It likely also marked the last game for Chaney, which was set to play Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in a regional semifinal March 12. But that same day, the OHSAA announced it was postponing all remaining winter tournaments.
“I feel bad for Chaney because they didn’t get a chance to see how it would end,” Ryan said. “I wanted to see how well they’d do. But life, health is more important.”
Struthers coach Michael Wernicki also put his spin on it.
“It was a year with an interesting twist,” said Wernicki, whose team finished 21-4. “We were down by one point with maybe six seconds left and then we were crushed emotionally. If we had won, we’d be in (Chaney’s) shoes wondering what would’ve happened.”
Ryan, though, will have plenty of cherished memories as his name will be on the poster of career 1,000-point scorers. He passed that milestone during a 19-point effort in a home win over Lakeview on Jan. 28.
“It was a special moment, especially to do it at home with the support of family and friends and the Struthers community,” said Ryan, who has not made a college decision yet. “They stopped the game, coach Wernicki gave me the ball and I went into the stands and gave the ball to my mother and gave my dad a big hug. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
Ryan is hoping that the younger kids watching him reach that standard will be motivated to improve their skills and someday help make their mark in the program.
“I remember watching Nate Jacubec get his 1,000th when I was in middle school and then I saw Anthony Carbon do it when I was a freshman,” he said. “It’s a big achievement, but it does come with team success. So for that reason, I hope me getting there motivates some of the future players in this program to work hard.”
Ryan said he’ll eventually get over the end of the season for the Wildcats, who won the Northeast-8 title at 12-2.
“I’m more of a team-goal type of guy,” he said. “It’s awesome that we’ll be on the wall of champions for winning the conference championship, so that’s a plus. But we had our eyes on something a little bigger. We wanted that district title and I wanted to get us into the regionals.”
That psyche is what Wernicki enjoyed the most about Ryan, who averaged 15 points and 8.1 rebounds per game as a senior.
“I only coached him for two years, but he’s a four-year starter and he understood what was needed for us to be successful as a team,” Wernicki said. “He was goal-oriented about the team, not about individual stats and honors. I’ve always believed that individual success is a product of team success. We had five guys that averaged between 9.5 and 15 points per game, but we had 21 wins.
“There are guys on some bad teams who might average over 20 points per game because he’s their only scorer and he takes many more attempts. But Carson played within the system, and we had three others who made all-conference because people respected our record. Without the team success, their numbers could be bloated. But Carson was always team-first and that rubbed off on some of our younger guys. He’ll definitely be missed.”