It would be hard for first year head coach Steve Ernst to look back on his team’s season and think of it in any other fashion than a success. That’s tough though for a coach aCHS champss competitive as Ernst, coming off a loss in the Class B Regional Finals to Godwin Heights, the state’s top Class B team.
However, Ernst guided his team, made up of mostly underclassmen to 15 wins this season, a Class B District Championship and a trip to the Class B Regional Finals for the first time since 1996.
Ernst, though, chooses to measure the success of the season in other ways.
“I found out Charlotte kids are still tough as nails,” Ernst said “That old Charlotte toughness still exists.”
His team battled Hastings to a District title on Friday, March 13, dropping the Saxons 63-37 in a game that was close until the fourth quarter. Charlotte followed up their first District Championship since 2011 with a Regional semi-final win, 70-61 over Haslett on Monday, March 16.
Sophomores Sy Barnett and Kyle Peterson paced Orioles offense, while senior point guard Matt Donley controlled the game late as the Orioles ran their four-corners offense. A host of Orioles were solid at the free throw line down the stretch when Haslett tried to extend the game by fouling.
“The thing I’m most proud of is that these kids really played hard,” Ernst said.
Even in defeat — the Orioles fell 81-37 in the Regional Final Wednesday, March 18 — his team fought to the end.
“It was a good sign last night that our team wasn’t ok with getting (beaten) that way,” Ernst said. “We had a pretty solid program here at one time. These kids showed that yesterday and Monday that we can again. We’re developing real pride in the program, which takes some work.”
The pride was felt throughout the community as Ernst noticed the Charlotte High School gym starting to resemble the gym he played in.
“I was lucky enough to play in the best high school basketball environment in the State of Michigan with a fan base that was like no other,” Ernst said. “The support has been great.”