One of the area’s best basketball programs of recent years has high expectations again — and a first-year varsity head coach.
Nathan Martindale was hired in September after the resignation of former Dayton Flyers assistant coach Kevin Kuwik, who was only in the position for a little over a month after being hired to replace the super-successful Travis Trice Sr.
“It’s been an unbelievable opportunity for me,” Martindale said. “I’m extremely grateful and thankful for all the people that have given me an opportunity to be in this position.”
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This might be a new challenge for Martindale, but he is a familiar face to most of his players thanks to spending the previous seven years involved with the program, including the last six as coach of the junior varsity.
His first varsity squad has three seniors who averaged double figures in scoring last season: Darius Quisenberry, Deshon Parker and L’Christian “Blue” Smith.
Quisenberry (Youngstown State) and Parker (James Madison) have both signed letters of intent to play Division I college basketball while Smith has pledged to play football at Ohio State next season.
Trice, who won 197 games and a state championship in 10 seasons as head coach of the Warriors, said he believes the program is in good hands.
"This team is going to be really special this year,” Trice said. “They’ve got a good group of older veteran guys and some young guys that can really play. I think they’re in great hands.”
He called Martindale, a Cedarville High School graduate who was a multiyear starter in football and basketball, a student of the game.
“He’s one of the hardest-working guys that I’ve been around,” Trice said. “I know he’s got the guys’ best interests at heart, and I think the guys know that. So I feel really good about him being there.”
Martindale’s first team got a lift in early November when Smith, who led the Warriors in scoring (17 ppg.) and rebounding (10.0 rpg.) last season, announced he would remain at Wayne rather than graduate early and begin his Buckeye football career in January.
That gives Wayne a formidable lineup, and Martindale said he doesn’t plan to change much from Trice’s winning formula.
“It’s about making sure we’re continuing to do the things we’ve done in the past but continue to set the bar even higher than what it’s been,” Martindale said. “I have high expectations and our kids have high expectations, but I think we’ve built that mentality through the success that we’ve had.”
The Warriors, who went 15-9 last season, open this campaign against Pickerington Central on Saturday night at Whitehall-Yearling High School in suburban Columbus.
“I think the main goal for me and this team and our coaches is to teach life lessons through the game of basketball,” he said. “We want to develop leaders and high character young men. Last but not least: Something we preach a lot is trusting the process.”