SouthtownStar girls basketball Coach of the Year: Ed Schodrof

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Ed Schodrof accepted quite a challenge in 2008 when he took the girls basketball job at Joliet Catholic.

The varsity team had just come off of a 2-25 season.

“People thought I was kind of nuts taking a job in the East Suburban Catholic with a team in that condition,” the SouthtownStar 2013-14 Girls Basketball Coach of the Year said. “I didn’t know how we were going to do it (compete), but I had faith that there was a way.”

After a six-year journey from 7-21 to 28-3 and a second-place finish in Class 3A, Schodrof can consider it mission accomplished.

“When I look back at the whole six years, what I’m most proud of is that we took something from nothing and made it into something,” Schodrof said. “That means a lot.”

The Angels, led by Michigan State-bound Jasmine Lumpkin and sophomore sensation Nicole Ekhomu, were one of the Southland’s most successful teams, finishing 8-1 in the East Suburban Catholic behind Class 4A powerhouse Marian Catholic.

Joliet Catholic finished with a flourish, scoring sectional wins over Morgan Park and Bishop McNamara, beating Washington in the Lewis Supersectional, then ending Quincy Notre Dame’s 25-game postseason winning streak in the Class 3A semis.

The big turnaround in the Joliet Catholic program came in 2012-13, when the Angels went from 9-16 the previous season to 24-5. It came to a stunning end, though, in a sectional semifinal loss to Bishop McNamara.

Schodrof blamed it on himself for not building multiple defenses into the system. During the offseason he added a 1-3-1 defense, along with a more intense weight-training program.

“The Journey” was on.

“That was our slogan for the whole year,” Schodrof said. “We were good because we had talent, but beyond the talent we had chemistry, good kids who worked hard, kids with a vision and a belief they could do it.

“It was a long process, but all so very worth it at the end. No question about it.”

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