You never forget your first win.
For Cam Joyce, his first came on Sunday. Coach Cam's Cats earned a 65-47 victory over Richmond Heights at the Great Lakes Classic at Cleveland Heights High School on Sunday.
The win will forever be special to Joyce and the Wildcats. But this milestone victory is just the first of many.
"It was a weight off my shoulders, but not really too much. I always believed we'd get one win this season," Joyce joked. "I was happy for our team and everyone around me. This is not about me. It's the team's and the coaching staff's first win. I was happy that my wife, parents, siblings, friends, and in-laws came to support, which is pretty cool. It was nice to have a lot of family there for my first win – that made it special, as did the people who reached out to me. It will be something I will always remember. But I'm excited to get win #2 now."
Both the Wildcats and Spartans played other opponents at the All-Ohio Nike Showcase at Gahanna Lincoln High School on Saturday, so the teams were no strangers. Coaches from the squads scouted each other out.
The Wildcats made adjustments from Saturday to Sunday, and it showed. The passing looked much crisper. The defense transitioned to playing more zone. The team took open 3-pointers.
"I liked how we responded. Saturday was a tough loss – we had opportunities to win that game. The big one is making free throws," Joyce said. "To have a back-to-back against a talented team in Richmond Heights and play well is good. I was happy how they responded to the adversity. I told the guys that scheduling the back-to-back was on purpose. If we make it to Columbus, you play back-to-back. This is good experience."
From the start, the Wildcats looked like a well-rounded squad. The men of Ohio City burst out to an 11-5 lead, using solid shooting and good defense. Richmond Heights used its size to narrow the deficit to 14-13 at the end of the quarter, despite a nice Emmett Hanna trey.
The Wildcats again set about building a lead in the second quarter. While Chase Toppin sat with foul trouble, Caleb Blake and Danny Nunez directed the offense. The pair found players with open looks, including Tommy Spear. The senior drilled a pair of important 3-pointers, helping the Cats head into the locker room with a 29-24 lead.
In the third quarter, the Wildcats started to take control. The suffocating defense started to get into the Spartans' heads. Richmond Heights started taking ill-advised shots and turning the ball over. The Cats took advantage, getting open looks under the hoop and from the field. Nunez continued to find Henry Raynor, Will Yontek, and others for easy buckets. At the end of the third, the Wildcats enjoyed a 47-39 lead.
In the first part of the fourth, the Wildcats put the game away. Raynor dominated down low, finding open looks and even creating his own shots. Thanks to Raynor, the Wildcats romped to an 8-2 run to start the quarter. Richmond Heights burned a timeout with 5:54 left and the Cats up 55-41.
The Wildcats kept playing strong defense down the stretch, creating turnovers and frustrating the Spartans. Joyce played everyone at the end of the game to cement the win. The Wildcats walked out of the gym with a 65-47 and a weekend split.
Raynor finished as the game's leading scorer with 25 points and 9 rebounds. Hanna also topped double digits with 10 points. Raynor enjoyed quite a weekend, totaling 46 points over two games.
"From day one, I've said that Henry is going to make a big jump this year," Joyce said. "He made a big jump last year, but I think he could make a bigger jump this year with becoming more of a go-to guy. He showed that this weekend. He provided top minutes, especially with Chase Toppin, our other top player, being in foul trouble both games. He provided that scoring spark that we needed. He showed he can shoot it from outside, score in the paint, and defend.
"I was really happy with his presence on the defensive end," Joyce continued. "Being there to help on drives, rebounding. I always wanted him to be more active defensively, and he showed that. He played a lot of minutes. That's a testament to his endurance. But he's put a lot of work in. He asked me to come shoot on Thanksgiving. He wants to be good. He'll be a good college player. He's a Division I level player. He has a lot of interests, and he's a really smart kid, so he's got some academic schools, as well. I'm excited about Henry, he's going to keep getting better. This is just the beginning."
Raynor and the 1-1 Wildcats now set about preparing for the home opener. Coach Cam's Cats will play their first home contest on Saturday, hosting John Marshall at 7 pm.