Charlotte Catholic coach Mike King describes point guard Josh Brodowicz simply:
“He’s a winner,” King said of his 5-foot-8 senior. “He’s got a great sense of confidence and courage. He believes in himself no matter who we play against. All of that is Josh in a nutshell.”
Brodowicz has led the Cougars (31-1) to Saturday’s N.C. 4A state championship game in Chapel Hill. The Cougars, in the finals for the first time, will face Cary (31-1) at 7:30 p.m. at the Smith Center.
In his three seasons, Brodowicz has helped Catholic to two winning seasons and a 58-25 record. As a freshman, he led Catholic’s junior varsity to a 15-10 finish.
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In the five years before Brodowicz arrived, Catholic had one winning season and was 71-61 overall, including a 22-7 finish in the 2011-12 season. Until this season, that Cougars team enjoyed one of the school’s best seasons, reaching the playoffs’ third round before losing to Concord.
But Brodowicz’s final team has left no doubt about its place in Catholic lore:
▪ The Cougars set a school-record for wins.
▪ They swept to regular season and conference tournament championships in the SoMeck 8.
▪ They won the N.C. Western regional championship for the first time.
And, now, the biggest moment in the school’s basketball history awaits.
“It’s been a blast,” said Brodowicz, 18. “Playing at Wake Forest’s stadium (the regional final at Lawrence Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem) and now playing at the Dean Dome, I know most people don’t get to do that. But it’ll be way more fun if we can win this thing on Saturday.”
Brodowicz said the key to this year’s team is everyone accepting their role. Freshman B.J. Mack, a 6-7 center, leads the Cougars in scoring at 11 points per game. Brodowicz is the team’s only other double-figure scorer. Jack Larkin, Justin McKinstry, Jimmy Abate and Sam Smith all average about eight points.
Brodowicz averages 10.6 points and is second in rebounding (3.4). He leads the team in assists (3.5), steals (2.7) and is an aggressive defender, often matched against bigger players.
"He is the engine that makes them go,” said Ardrey Kell coach Mike Craft.
Ardrey Kell handed Catholic its only loss this season.
“He is a tough competitor and I don't think they have the kind of season they have had without his leadership,” Craft said. “He is a coach on the floor and the entire team feeds off his toughness. Simply put, he is a winner."
Brodowicz’s family has strong ties to Charlotte Catholic. His brothers - Jack and C.J. - played there. A cousin, Ben, started at cornerback on Catholic’s 2015 4A state championship football team. Mike Brodowicz is his uncle and Catholic’s football coach.
Jack Brodowicz was on the 2011-12 basketball team that finished 22-7. All season, Josh has kidded his brother that this season’s team is better. He felt early on this team could be special. It includes nine seniors and Mack, a major-college prospect in the post.
“We have players who could average 20 points and get all this attention,” said Brodowicz, who carries a 4.15 grade-point average. “But we chose to play unselfish. My players trust me to bring the ball up and they know if they get me the ball, I’ll get it right back to them. We find the open guy and expect him to knock it down.”
Brodowicz said the team-first attitude has been key to the Cougars’ success.
“I think you may be able to stop one of us,” Brodowicz said, “but I don’t think you can stop all of us.”
Wertz: 704-358-5133; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr