In the final game of Belen Jesuit's Vince Fernandez New Year's Classic, the Wildcats seized an opportunity to return home with a win.
The Saint Ignatius varsity basketball team cruised to a victory on Saturday afternoon, besting Monsignor Pace, 78-32.
The resounding win sends the Wildcats back home with a 6-4 record, after the men of Cam Joyce tallied a 2-1 mark in Miami.
The Wildcats pounced on Monsignor Pace from the start. Henry Raynor hit an early 3-pointer, and Chase Toppin roared down the court for a bucket and an and-one. Before anyone had blinked, the Cats held a 10-0 lead.
The Spartans broke the shutout with a pair of free throws, but Saint Ignatius did not stop scoring. Before the game, Coach Cam encouraged the importance of not relenting. The game isn't over until the scoreboard hits 0:00. The Clevelanders took that to heart. A smooth move by Emmett Hanna helped to set the score at 25-10 after the first half.
In the second quarter, the Wildcats broke the press time and again, with Toppin leading the effort. The Cats drove to the lane without resistance, pouring in buckets. Jon Effertz also converted on a pair of 3-pointers, showing off his silky smooth form. Tommy Spear got in on the action, too, notching a pair of assists on Will Yontek layups and scoring some points of his own. Spear also earned some shots at the line with his play inside.
At half, the Wildcats held an insurmountable 57-18 lead.
To start the second half, Coach Cam inserted his starters to get them some playing time. The Wildcats continued to play hard, and made one of the plays of the year thus far.
On a fast break, Effertz found some space to work with. Coach Cam encouraged him to take a layup. Technically, Effertz followed his advice. The sophomore laid it off the glass, leaving it high enough for Raynor to throw it down with two hands. The monster dunk was a spectacle, a thing of pure beauty. If you haven't seen it, you can watch it here.
In the rest of the second half, Coach Cam made sure he got some playing time for his bench players. Micah Anglin drove to the hoop and scored. Aidan Hubbard got some boards. Nick Lamirand tossed in a layup. Shondo Green tallied some points.
And to the delight of his teammates, Declan Mangan scored. The junior hit a beauty of a bank shot 3-pointer late in the game. Mangan, a true glue guy, is beloved by his teammates. He's the type of player that every team needs. An energy guy who works hard every day and does whatever his coaches ask him to do. It was good to see him score.
After the buzzer sounded on a 78-32 win, Effertz was named to the All-Tournament team. Effertz certainly earned his way there, as the sophomore notched 29 combined points on Friday and Saturday. The young guard has his shot back, which is dangerous for opponents.
The Wildcats will come back to Cleveland with a 6-4 record. The team will come back with a bit of a tan and heaps of confidence, along with good team camaraderie. The Cats will return to home court on Friday, as St. Edward comes to Sullivan Gym for a 7 pm tilt.