If Lonnie Robinson was popping a few antacid tablets last week during Greenon’s 46-42 win over Benjamin Logan, who could blame him?
The veteran girls basketball assistant usually dons his dress shirt and tie in a supporting role, filling the co-pilot’s chair on the bench.
But head coach Gary Falkenbach was in Connecticut on official Subway franchise business and the Raiders were in town … hungry for their second Central Buckeye Conference win over the Knights.
“Oh my gosh. I was nervous as all get out,” Robinson said with a laugh. “I’ve got big shoes to fill with Gary Falkenbach. I texted him (beforehand) and said, ‘It’s not the same without you.’”
Not to worry, though.
Robinson and company pulled off the big win without a hitch, grabbing sole possession of first place in the Central Buckeye Conference, Mad River Division.
The Knights (8-5 overall and 5-1 CBC) hold a half-game lead over Graham (7-6, 4-1) and are shooting for their third-straight CBC divisional crown.
“We have promises that we’ve made to ourselves and we think about them every single practice,” said Jenn Miller, a 5-foot-5 senior guard. “We want that CBC (title).”
Once mired in the middle of the Mad River pack, Greenon struggled to 8-13 and 9-12 in 2008 and 2009 before turning a competitive corner in 2010 (12-10).
Despite another 8-13 setback in 2011, the Knights kept moving forward and are 39-19 since (14-7, 17-7, 8-5).
They captured the Mad River Division outright last season at 9-1 and shared the 2012 title with Urbana and Graham at 8-2.
“We hadn’t won (a league title) since 1984,” Falkenbach said. “Last year we lost three seniors and the year before we lost seven. But we’ve got a neat little feeder program here where we’ve gotten third, fourth, fifth and sixth-graders into the Metro League.”
Falkenbach coached the Catholic Central girls varsity squad for six years before arriving at Greenon with big aspirations.
“One of the reasons I left Central was that I wanted more control (over the youth program),” he said. “We’ve got kids here excited about being around the girls and the program. I attribute our success to our young kids and that feeder program. Lonnie and I put it together.”
A 1981 Knights graduate and old school in every way, Robinson was a fierce competitor in his high school heyday, specializing in floor-burn hustle and head-first dives into Greenon’s then-unpadded walls.
Falkenbach brings to the program an equally competitive fire, having assisted Tony Ricciuto when former Georgia Tech and NBA star Jason Collier led Division IV Catholic Central to a Hoosiers-style state title in 1996.
Now in his seventh season, Falkenbach surpassed 100 wins last year at Benjamin Logan. Robinson has assisted for six of those years.
Lianne Masquelier, a 5-10 senior guard, leads the CBC in steals with 5.6 per game and is second in assists (6.2) Taylor Burson, a 5-11 junior forward, leads in blocks (2.3) and is third in rebounds (9.6). They combine for 21 points an outing.
“We don’t really get nervous,” said 5-8 senior Brooke Robinson. “We just kind of stick together and know what we have to do.
“We still have rough patches here and there, but we stick together. We all just really want to win.”