Christensen enjoying role at state tournament
IRONTON — Former Ironton basketball player and Fairland assistant coach Zach Christensen is still writing his story in the Ohio high school basketball realm.
Christensen reached the district finals twice as a player for Ironton and reached the regional finals once.
He also appeared in a state semi-final as an assistant coach for the Fairland Dragons in their 2016-17 season.
“First, I would like to thank my wife and family for allowing me to spend so much time with the game I love.” said Christensen.
“I also can’t be thankful enough for Mark LaFon, Nathan Speed, Brook Cupps, the kids, and the communities. I wouldn’t be here at all without them.”
Brook Cupps is the current head coach of Centerville, who Christensen is currently coaching under, and the Elks are ranked No. 4 in the state as they are prepping for the state semi-final game on Saturday.
Centerville is 24-3 and looking to take down the No. 1 ranked team in Ohio at the Division I level, Mentor (25-0).
The Elks have won three straight district titles and Christensen says that is just a “testament to what Brook (Cupps) has done.”
Cupps relies on four basic values that have really stuck with Christensen.
“We are a value based program — Tough, Passionate, Unified, and Thankful. Our head coach does a great job of implementing these values at a young age. Cupps is interactive early in their basketball careers and it is astonishing to see how involved he is,” added Christensen.
While learning the ropes of coaching at the highest high school level, coach Christensen has also got to work with some of the top talent in the state of Ohio.
Centerville features sophomore guard Gabe Cupps, who is famously known for his 3-point contest with LeBron James in a video that went viral during his time with the Blue Chips AAU team. The 6’2 underclassmen is averaging 15.8 points per game and dishing out 5 helpers per contest as well.
The Elks also star Rich Rolf and Tom House.
Rolf is a 6’7 junior forward that scored 14 points and snagged 8 rebounds in the teams win over Moeller in the regional championship game. House is a 6’5 junior and was not expected to play in the regional game due to a MCL sprain, but after being cleared the morning of the game he went on to hit four triples which included the game winner.
Christensen says he has enjoyed working with these young men and is eager for these athletes to continue their success.
“We want to teach these kids the value and structure of worth ethic. You can be good at anything if you work at it and that’s not just in basketball, but in life in general. Our team goal from day one has been to attack opportunities with purpose — do purposeful work that will help them mature and become productive citizens in their communities as adults.”
The team offers a Breakfast Club which is a 6 a.m. workout before school that is completely voluntary. They also have “skull sessions” where they write daily reflections in a journal. This is all to “steal inches” from their opponents and instill a lasting work ethic in these young adults as they chase championships.
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