Legends, legacies whet Silver Knights appetite, drive

The Summit Country Day’s varsity basketball team won a Division III state championship in 2012 and has become a regular on the regional tournament stage, but victories are only part of the program’s success.

Coach Pat Cosgrove, a 2001 Summit graduate and former Silver Knights player, said the high quality of the student-athletes is a key attribute. 

“All it takes is one conversation with anyone that’s played in the last decade to know it’s definitely a family atmosphere with lots of opportunities,” Coach Cosgrove said. “We have good teams, but we have good kids that really go places.”

The Silver Knights’ style varies based on its personnel but recent teams have had multiple offensive options and stingy defenses. The program lost just eight Miami Valley Conference Scarlet Division games in seven seasons.

Hard-working teams with talented players have been hallmarks of recent Silver Knights programs. Class of 2013 star Kevin Johnson (University of Cincinnati) and Class of 2014 standout Antonio Woods (University of Pennsylvania) are among those who went on to play collegiately. Class of 2012 player Holden Hertzel (Center College, Mount St. Joseph University) and Class of 2009 stalwart Khiry Hankins (Holy Family University) are other notable alumni.

Coach Cosgrove has worked with The Summit’s basketball program since 2004. He spent eight years as a varsity assistant, one year as the junior varsity coach and one season as the freshman coach. A 2006 graduate of Xavier University, Coach Cosgrove teaches fifth and sixth grade at Holy Family School in Price Hill. His coaching honors include Miami Valley Conference Scarlet Division coach of the year (2017) and The Cincinnati Enquirer Division III coach of the year (2017).

Two legendary stories of The Summit’s lore remain among the program’s building blocks.

The late Robert T. Hertzel, who graduated from The Summit in 1981, was on a team which fell just short of winning a state championship. When he developed cancer in 2009, he used his diagnosis to convey awareness through a blog that attracted thousands of followers. After his passing in 2011, The Summit boys’ basketball team, which included his son, Holden Hertzel, dedicated their season to him. The 2011-12 team went on to win the state championship, with Holden scoring the final points. 

In 1978-79, coach Joe Cruse led the basketball team to a 24-1 record and a state semifinal. The Silver Knights were so dominant that, after breaking multiple school and city records, then-Cincinnati mayor Bobbie Stern declared March 26, 1979 “Silver Knights Day.” The roster featured a pair of superstars in Dexter Bailey and Dan Fleming. Bailey (Class of 1980) played for Xavier University, was drafted by the Denver Nuggets and also played professionally for Argentina, Chile and Mexico. Fleming (Class of 1981) played for Northern Kentucky University before embarking on a long coaching career.