Will Friday night be that special time – that seminal moment?
That is, will tonight’s Principals Athletic Conference game with host – and archrival – Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy be the time when Manchester High School head boys basketball coach Gene Schindewolf notches his 500th career victory?
But it won’t be easy, because the Royals won the teams’ first meeting this season 56-43 on Dec. 28 at Manchester.
So, if not tonight, then it could come in next Tuesday night’s league game at Fairless, or in next Friday evening’s home PAC contest with Tuslaw.
“I understand all the attention that this career wins thing is getting – I really do, and I appreciate that and am honored by it – but to be totally honest with you, I don’t think about it and don’t focus on it, and more importantly, it’s not about me and never has been,” said the 65-year-old Schindewolf, whose overall record is 499-345 (.591), including 451-300 (.601) at Manchester. “It’s about these kids and this team and trying to get better every day.
“I’ve had the privilege of coaching a lot of great players over the years and coaching with a lot of outstanding assistants. Anything I’ve been able to attain personally over the years is because of them and their contributions.”
Schindewolf, in his 34th season with the Panthers and his 39th overall as a high school coach after spending his first five years at Dalton before returning to his alma mater in 1985, garnered win No. 499 when Manchester put on an impressive display in edging defending PAC champion Northwest 64-60 on Tuesday night. The Panthers outscored the Indians 37-19 in the two middle quarters, including by a resounding 21-5 in the second quarter, to gain the victory. They were also stellar at the free-throw line, hitting 19-of-24 attempts.
Freshman Trent Pappas led the way with 17 points, while senior Sam Hettich added 12 and junior Ethan Wright 11 for the Panthers, who ended a two-game losing streak and improved to 7-9 overall and 3-5 in the league.
At that some point this season – the Panthers have six regular-season games left, along with their postseason play beginning in the sectional tournament – it’s almost certain that Schindewolf, who entered the year with 492 victories, will get that coveted No. 500 win and become the 47th coach in Ohio prep boys history to do it. And before the end of the year, the 1971 Manchester graduate will also likely pass the retired Vern Hoffman of Mansfield (501) and finish the year in 46th place.
Richard Kortokrax, who retired in 2015 after spending time at Kalida, Ottoville and Fort Jennings, is the state’s all-time leader – by a lot – with 877 wins in a six-decade career that began way back in 1960.
With all due respect to Kortokrax, Hoffman and all of the other 44 coaches with 500-plus victories, some of whom have strong local ties, no one in this area is concerning themselves with those coaches now. Whether he likes it or not, the limelight – all of it -- is on the guy from Manchester and the prospects of him soon joining that exclusive and prestigious club.