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Basketball Cats Get First Win of the Season

By Danny Gibel '22, 12/06/21, 10:45AM EST


After a shaky start, the Wildcats outscore the Lancers 49-31 after the first quarter for a 63-45 victory over Gilmour Academy.

Gates Mills, Oh - The 0-1 Basketball Cats came into Friday night’s matchup with the 1-0 Gilmour Lancers looking to rebound after a loss to Cathedral (IN) in the first game of the season.  These two Northeast Ohio schools are not too familiar with each other on the hardwood as they have not faced off at any point in the previous five seasons.  The Wildcats started out the gate slow in the first quarter but were able to dominate in all aspects throughout the rest of the game.  

The Wildcats traveled to Gilmour Academy to take on the Lancers in their first official away game of the season, with the first game taking place at a neutral site.  The Cats did have to face a challenging environment on the road but did have a large showing of support from fellow students and other members of the Wildcat faithful.  

The game began with C.J. Yarian winning the tip-off for the Cats. Yarian would be an essential factor in the game with a double-double performance, putting up 11 points, ten rebounds and added three steals.

Neither team scored during their first couple of trips down the court.  With a three-pointer from the right corner, Ryan Mueller of Gilmour got the Lancers on the scoreboard of the scoreboard.  

The Wildcats would get their first lead a couple of minutes into the first quarter.  Bradyn Sczepaniak received a pass in the corner and then drove down the baseline and body his way inside for a layup to give the Cats a 6-5 lead.  

Matt Ellis would extend the lead to 8-5 after going 2-of-2 from the free-throw line after getting fouled on a fast break layup attempt.

Shondo Green also nailed a deep jumper for two points, which gave the Wildcats a 10-7 lead after Mueller made two free throws at the other end.

With about a minute left in the first quarter, Jon Effertz buried a high-arching mid-range jumper that put the Cats up 14-11.  However, Mueller hit a buzzer-beater three-pointer from the top of the arch to tie the game at 14.  

The second-quarter scoring began with a fast break steal and score by Timmy Ruddy.  The basket by the senior guard gave the Cats a 16-14 lead early in the second quarter.  

Yarian then scored the following seven points for the Wildcats.  Those points came from all over the court: a beautiful sky-hook layup down in the paint, a mid-range jumper from the right elbow and a three-pointer from the top of the arch.

“I’m able to use my height to locate the ball better than everyone else on the floor,” explains Yarian. “We had to bounce back after the last game, which left a bad taste in our mouth; we came out and were ready to play.”

The Wildcats and the Lancers went back and forth over the next few minutes until Gilmour narrowed the gap to five points.  A.J. Fletcher answered by drilling a deep three-pointer to give the Cats an eight-point advantage.

The first half came to a close with the Wildcats leading the Lancers 32-22 after Effertz maneuvered his way to the basket in the closing seconds to give the Cats a ten-point lead.  

The Wildcats continued to increase their lead in the third quarter.  Sczepaniak got the scoring started as he cut under the basket, faked out a defender mid-air, and lofted the ball high off the glass with his left hand.  

To get the deficit back to ten, Gilmour answered with an inside shot by Adisa Molton II, who finished with ten points.

Effertz was quick to respond for the Cats.  On the very next possession, the senior sharpshooter had his first three-point ball of the night to increase the lead to 13 points. 

SIBN Players of the Game vs. Gilmour Academy: Braydn Sczepaniak and CJ Yarian

The Lancers attempted to begin a comeback bid in the latter half of the third quarter but were halted in their efforts by Sczepaniak and Charlie Hyland, who each came up with clutch shots to get the momentum back from Gilmour.

The third quarter ended with the Wildcats commanding a 15 point lead over the Lancers after Effertz made another closing seconds layup to score 45-30.

Sczepaniak and Effertz began the fourth quarter with a layup apiece, which gave the Cats a 16 point advantage.  However, Nathan Flaherty responded to the Cats’ second-half momentum by hitting a corner three.

A couple of possessions later, Yarian got on the score sheet again with a baseline jumper which made the score 51-38 midway through the fourth quarter.  A couple of seconds later, Flaherty’s nice pass to Brandon Rose for a layup brought the Lancers to within 11.

Ruddy and Sczepaniak helped thwart a possible comeback by the Lancers with inside shots on back-to-back possessions.  Ruddy caught a tipped pass and drove in for the layup. Sczepaniak showed his quickness beneath the basket and zipped around Mueller for the right-handed shot.  The Cats now had some breathing room as they led 55-40.

The Wildcats continued to expand their lead with another basket by Sczepaniak,  catching a pass in stride as he cut toward the basket for an easy two points.  Fletcher then got his second bucket of the night with an inside layup by showing up his speed as he beat Mueller to the net.  In the closing minutes of the ballgame, Owen Maruca laid in a fast-break layup on a great pass from Rakyi Davis.  

Sean Martin added on a layup of his own to close out the game and the Wildcats emerged with their first win of the season by defeating the Lancers 63-45.  

Sczepaniak led all scorers with 14 points and three rebounds.  Yarian filled up all aspects of the scoresheet, finishing with 11 points, ten rebounds, two assists and three steals.  Effertz tacked on 11 points, three boards, and two assists.  Calvin “C.J.” Little had a great point guard’s night as he dished out six assists, grabbed three rebounds, and added four points.  Every player on Head Basketball Coach Cam Joyce’s bench contributed to the win as every active player saw minutes on the hardwood.  

“Me and my teammates are always in the gym working on getting better,” says Sczepaniak. “We’re going to have a great season, but we need to put in the work to get there.”

On Friday night, the Wildcats earned their first win of the 2021-2022 campaign.  Although it was just game number two, the Basketball Cats needed to get this win before heading back to Sullivan Gym for the season’s home opener on Tuesday against the 1-0 Walsh Jesuit Warriors.  The Warriors are hot off a dominating 80-33 victory over Notre Dame Cathedral Latin.  Freshman Blue will tip off at 4:30 p.m., followed by the JV team at 5:45 p.m. The Varsity matchup is set for 7:15 p.m.  For coverage of the Jesuit triple-header, tune into the SIBN and follow @SIHSSports on Twitter for in-game updates.