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Cash returns as Knight hoops coach

By MICHAEL LEONARD Sports Editor Published: June 21, 2017 12:00 AM
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It's a case of "Back to the Future" for the Nordonia boys basketball program.

Former Knights head coach Matt Cash has been offered the head coaching position for a second time after coach Mike Griffen decided to step down.

According to Nordonia athletic director Rob Eckenrode, Cash was offered the position on May 31.

According Nordonia Hills City Schools superintendent Joe Clark, Cash's hiring will be confirmed by the Nordonia Board of Education at its June 22 meeting.

Under the current contract, Cash will be paid $7,635 as head basketball coach via a supplemental contract with the district. Cash has remained a social studies teach at the high school and will be making $68,126 a year.

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"I'm exciting that he's coming back," Clark said. "I know he had young kids when he decided to step back. Last time he coached with us, he had exciting teams that played a lot of defense, so I'm looking forward to seeing them play."

Cash spent six years as Nordonia's head boys from 2009 to 2015. He led the Knights to a district championship in 2013, which was Nordonia's first district title in boys basketball in 20 years.

Griffen cited time commitment issues for stepping down after he was hired as an associate principal at Lee Eaton Elementary School.

Eckenrode said he felt Cash was in good position to excel in his second stint as head coach.

"We decided we're going to give him a second chance to run the program basketball-wise," Eckenrode said. "I think Matt's grown and matured. Matt's got children of his own now. Matt was quite successful in his time here."

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Although he stepped back from being the Knights' head coach, Cash didn't step away from the game. He spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach at Revere High School under coach Dean Rahas.

Cash said his return has been "fun so far" and that his relationship with Nordonia players as teacher helped bring him back to the coaching spot.

"I still have great relationships with the kids," Cash said. "When Mike decided to step down, the kids came up to me and asked if I was going to come back. Since I really love the kids, it was a no-brainer."

While noting he enjoyed his time at Revere, Cash said the time was right for him to return to Nordonia and bring a bit of stability to the program.

"Nordonia was going on four head coaches in four years," Cash said. "I didn't want to see that happen."

Cash said his commitment to up-tempo basketball remains intact.

"We're going to play hard for 32 minutes," Cash said. "That's been the mindset we've had since we came here and the kids have really bought in. We're going to do things right. We are going to be an aggressive team. We're going to ramp up the defense, because we lost a bit of size."

In terms of what has changed from his first regime, Cash believes he has a better demeanor for the job now.

"I'm a little bit older now. I'm more calm," Cash said. "Having children, they calm you down a lot."

Cash said he's already enjoying working with Nordonia football coach Jeff Fox again, as the two programs have several students playing both sports.

"I want those kids to play as many sports a possible," Cash said. "That's what high school sports is all about."

Cash said he plans to have his former assistant coaching staff return with him to the job. The staff includes Cash's father -- Bill Cash -- as varsity assistant coach, Dave Smith as junior varsirty coach and Sean Phillips as freshman coach.

"It's bringing back the old regime," Cash said.

Nordonia boys basketball is scheduled to open its 2017-18 season by hosting Mayfield Dec. 1.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

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