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Decade Rewind: Matt Creamer leads Central Catholic to unprecedented success

The Canton Repository 2010s Decade Boys Basketball: Creamer helped the Crusaders to their most productive decade in school history. It is an era that nearly never happened.

Central Catholic enjoyed plenty of success over the years in boys basketball. But none of those teams ever managed to win a district title.

That all changed when Matt Creamer arrived as head coach in the 2013-14 season. He won a district title that first year, added two more by 2018, and enjoyed a decade of postseason success unseen before in program history.

It’s an era of incredible success that nearly never happened.

“I was pretty close to never being a head coach again,” Creamer said. “My sons were growing up. My oldest son, Christian, was in high school and had told me before I got the offer that he really didn’t want to switch schools.”
The offer from Central Catholic came. Everything changed. Difficult conversations were had. A head coach was reborn.

“I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to be a part of it,” Creamer said. “I didn’t want to miss time with my sons. I told my wife that and she ended up pulling Christian and Cameron into a room and telling them, ‘If you ever wanted to have an opportunity to play for your dad, this is probably your only chance. Think about it.’ They ended up telling me that they were willing to switch schools and that was the deciding factor that kept me going.”

It’s a decision that paid big dividends for all involved. Matt Creamer won Division III district titles in 2014, 2015 and 2018. Christian was a member of the 2014 and 2015 championship teams. Cameron won district titles in 2015 and 2018.
“Those are some really great memories,” Matt Creamer said. “Christian was a big part of that first district title in 2014. He had to sit out 11 games because of the transfer rule. He really managed to win over the rest of the locker room and he stepped up in a big way. That group really came together as a team.”

Central has managed to have plenty of success at the district level despite rarely entering the tournament as a high seed. You can thank a difficult schedule for that. But that scheduled pays dividends in other ways.

“We have beaten the No. 1 seed four out of the five times we have played them in the district tournament,” Matt Creamer said. “I think that’s the result of the nature of our schedule. We always play bigger teams. I try to have eight or nine Division I teams on the schedule in the regular season. We have played Zanesville regularly. That really sets the table for us and gets us used to playing elite competition. Getting used to that kind of environment has helped us knock off some teams with better records than us over the years.”

Central now is able to add boys basketball to its list of premier sports.

“I was honestly shocked when I found out Central had never won a district title when I took the job,” Creamer said. “It’s a school that has such a rich history in football, baseball, tennis and golf. They had really good basketball teams as well, but they were stuck in Division II and running into some really good Orrville and Triway teams.”

Breaking district title droughts is nothing new for Creamer. He guided Massillon to its first district title in 30 years when he led the Tigers into the regional tournament in 2003.

“I think things have worked out pretty well,” Creamer joked. “I’m just looking forward to the day we can get back to work on our offseason stuff."

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