Girls basketball: Smoot leading Catholic Central on and off the court

SPRINGFIELD — As the numbers for the Catholic Central High School girls basketball program started to decline this summer, senior Jordyn Smoot started making phone calls to her freshman classmates, including several who had never played basketball.

She was going to do whatever it took to keep the program going strong. On the first day of practice, the Irish had 10 players, including seven freshmen.

“She’s been able to show them the standard for Central that she was able to learn early in her career,” said Catholic Central coach and Jordyn’s father, Randy Smoot.

The senior has done it all for the Irish this season. Jordyn Smoot is averaging 18.3 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.9 steals. Catholic Central is 8-14, beating several strong programs, including Greenon and Fairbanks.

In the Irish’s regular-season finale on Feb. 12, Smoot recorded her first career triple-double with 31 points, 11 rebounds and 10 steals in a 61-15 victory over Miami Valley.

“The stats are the part that everybody will see, but the leadership part of it, keeping the program together and helping these young girls is what’s been the most important,” Randy Smoot said.

Smoot transferred to Catholic Central as an eighth grader. She was nervous at first, but ultimately fell in love with the school and the basketball program, she said.

“Everyone was really inviting and it didn’t feel like there was a hierarchy — everybody just wanted to be really good,” Jordyn Smoot said.

She started on the varsity as a freshman, playing on back-to-back Ohio Heritage Conference championship squads that included standouts such as Abby Peterson and Mallory Mullen.

“I learned different things from all of those players,” Jordyn Smoot said. “Abby taught me to work hard and be a competitor. She would invite me to work out with her and her work schedule was insane. Mallory taught me how to be an awesome person on the court, as well as off the court. I learned a lot from those two that I was able to teach the younger girls this year about how important it is to be a role model, to never get complacent and strive to be better.”

A few days before her senior season started, however, Tony Ferraro was unable to coach after being injured in an accident. Jordyn Smoot thought about transferring, but eventually her dad decided to serve as coach this season. He coached his daughter’s eighth-grade squad.

“I started playing for him in fourth grade and being able to end playing for him was super surreal,” Jordyn Smoot said. “We’ve had ups-and-downs. We’re super competitive and not always agreeing on things, but it’s been a lot of fun. I’m really glad and I thank him a lot for sacrificing his time to come and coach and end it together.”

With a mostly new group of players, Jordan decided to start a Big Sister, Little Sister program where the older players would mentor younger players. The high school players also mentored the middle school players as part of the program.

“We started to learn about each other and work together,” Jordyn Smoot said. “We became friends and that’s a bigger success than the wins and losses because it made playing a lot easier.”

The players would write notes to each other every game, inviting them to the games and allowing them to wear their varsity sisters jerseys to the game, Randy Smoot said.

“It’s what she envisioned to do at Central and for her to be able to accomplish it this year and see girls in the stands wearing those varsity players’ jerseys, it was incredible to see,” he said. “It gives me chills just thinking about it. It’s a microcosm of who Jordan is, but also what Central allows us to develop. For her to do this in her last season, it’s been incredible.”

The 15th-seeded Irish will play No. 6 Jackson Center (13-7) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Versailles High School.

“If we play our A-game, I think we can compete,” Randy Smoot said.

As her career winds down, Smoot is thankful she could stay at Central, a place she calls home.

“I was especially glad to stay this year because our team is super young,” Jordyn Smoot said. “Being able to be a role model for them and finding new friends through this team, I don’t think I could’ve gone anywhere else.”

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