Seidel family embracing South Central's regional appearance

Mark Hazelwood • Updated Mar 11, 2019 at 5:15 PM

GREENWICH — It wasn’t the first embrace, and far from the last.

But it was definitely the most special.

In the closing seconds of last Friday’s Division IV district championship win over Colonel Crawford, South Central head coach Brett Seidel cleared his bench.

Junior Isaiah Seidel was one of the starters who came off the floor, having scored 10 key points in the 48-37 win.

The father and son shared a hug and laughter — over mutual disbelief.

It had been five consecutive district title game losses spanning almost a half-century — and it was finally over.

“We’d come here every year and watch these district games,” Isaiah said after the Trojans won their first district title in 45 years. “We’d pray about it. This is what we dreamed of. It’s special, and something that means a lot to all of us.”

South Central (20-4) will make its first regional semifinal appearance since the 1973-74 season at 8 p.m. Tuesday night vs. New Middletown Springfield (21-5) at the Canton Fieldhouse.

It’s the same venue as it’s only other Sweet 16 matchup, a 57-53 loss to Dalton.

Brett Seidel is finishing up his 10th season as head coach of his alma mater, where he has a 130-99 record entering Tuesday.

As an accomplished player, he scored 1,224 career points, which was second all-time until last week’s overtime district semifinal win vs. Margaretta, when current standout Simon Blair (1,242) passed him.

Brett played in one district title game, a 70-63 loss to Crestline, as a senior in the 1994-95 season.

That aspect alone made the transition to head coach a challenge.

“It’s so hard to coach at your alma mater where everyone knows your past and who you were — and not who you are,” Brett said. “That’s a big deal. Me coaching my two sons, with my freshman (Sam) playing ahead of some of our upperclassmen, that’s a big deal.

“But from 1974 to now, that’s a long time coming,” he added. “And I’m just so happy for our community and I’m ecstatic for my players.”

On any given night when they were younger, Brett went upstairs to check on his two sons in their bedroom, only to find them playing basketball still.

“Most of the time he’d find me and my brother playing on the mini-hoop on our door,” Sam Seidel said. “We’d be playing out game-winning scenarios or March madness, just trying to get used to it — and now it’s real. This means everything to us.

“He’s put the time in and went through a lot,” Sam added of his father. “I’m just so happy for him. He deserves this.”

In the win over Crawford, the Trojans trailed 16-8 after one quarter. Sam Seidel opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer, which started a 10-0 run to give the Trojans the lead for good.

“I was just happy to be able to contribute by coming in and hitting a big shot for us and get us moving,” Sam said.

In the third quarter, Isaiah made a 3-pointer to extend the South Central lead to 27-21, then added a short jumper that snapped a 4:26 scoreless drought in the quarter to put his team up 31-27 in the final minute of the third.

In the fourth quarter, Isaiah then turned two-point game into four points twice at 33-29 (7:11) and 35-31 (4:54).

“My teammates hit shots early and I didn’t really get anything going,” Isaiah said. “I got some open looks in the second half, but I give credit to my teammates for finding me.”

Meanwhile, in the same class as Isaiah on top of playing the same sport, Blair has been a regular at the Seidel household.

“Coach Seidel is like a second dad to me,” Blair said. “Isaiah and I have grown up together and I go over there all the time. The bond coach and I have, I cannot express really.

“He’s always opened up the gym for me and pushed me to be a better person and a better player,” he added. “Coach is a winner, but a very humble person. I love that guy with all my heart.”

Even in the big win, Isaiah noted how reserved his father was — even after cutting down the net.

“He doesn’t want it to be about him, ever,” he said. “That’s how he is … just a very humble human being.”


South Central district title game history

Last Friday’s win over Colonel Crawford snapped a five-game losing streak in district title games for the South Central boys basketball program:

March 9, 1974: beat Mansfield St. Peter’s, 73-37

March 4, 1978: lost to Mansfield St. Peter’s, 83-46

March 4, 1989: lost to Tiffin Calvert, 70-53

March 9, 1990: lost to Mansfield St. Peter’s, 71-66

March 11, 1995: lost to Crestline, 70-63

March 7, 1997: lost to St. Paul, 57-55

March 8, 2019: beat Colonel Crawford, 48-37