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Wildcats Drop Two; Look to Rebound Against the Rival Eagles

By Danny Gibel '22 & Matt Kelly '22, 01/19/22, 1:00PM EST


After a tough weekend on the road, the Basketball Cats return home to Ohio City where they will square off with the St. Edward Eagles on Wednesday night.

KETTERING, Oh - Coming off of just one game in the prior two weeks, the Wildcats made the long road trip to Kettering, Ohio, a city right outside of Dayton, to take on the nationally-ranked Wheeler Wildcats (GA) in the Flyin’ To The Hoop Showcase. The Wildcats wanted to extend their winning streak to three after wins over Bishop Monague (LV) and Cleveland Heights. However, the Wheeler Wildcats from Marietta, Georgia, rode a hot start to win by eight points, 62-54. The Wildcats fell to 6-4 on the season.

This game marked the sixth neutral site of Saint Ignatius’ first 10 games, an unusually high amount of games played neither at home in Sullivan nor in true road fashion. The Wildcats have traveled to Mason, Palm Springs and now Kettering to take on teams from Indiana, California, Nevada and Georgia in these six games. Against teams from out of state, the Wildcats were 3-3 after the game against Wheeler.

Both teams got off to very hot starts offensively. The Saint Ignatius Wildcats had two early threes apiece from Jonathan Effertz and CJ Yarian, who combined had all the Wildcats’ points in the first quarter, but ended the quarter trailing Wheeler 20-14. In the early second quarter, Wheeler maintained their momentum and added 18 more points, but the Wildcats responded with just three points from Ace Buckner, 6 points from Carter Jackson and two points from Yarian to end the half at 25 to Wheeler’s 38.

In the third quarter, the Wildcats saw some new faces add on offense in this game. Although Wheeler had extended their lead to 15 at 48-33 late in the third quarter, the Wildcats closed it to 10, heading into the fourth, down 48-38. The Wildcats had their best defensive quarter of the game, holding Wheeler to just 10 points after allowing 20 and 18 previously.

A robust and aggressive comeback sustained throughout the fourth quarter had its share of mini heartbreaks and moments of true hope, but the Saint Ignatius Wildcats came up short. In the end, Jackson and Effertz tallied 13 points each, Yarian nearly had his second double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds, CJ Little had nine assists along with two points and four rebounds and Ace Buckner tied the team-high for blocks with Yarian at two. The team collectively shot 38% (20/53) from field goals, 29% (6/21) from 3, and 73% (8/11) from the free-throw line.

Two days later, the Wildcats prepared to regroup in their final true road-trip game of the season at Rossford High School against Sylvania Northview.

ROSSFORD, Oh - The Wildcats took part in the second annual MLK Showcase at Rossford High School on Monday. The Cats made the two-hour trip West to take on the Sylvania Northview Wildcats. Northview entered the matchup with a perfect 12-0 record and averaged 76 points per game as a team this season. Northview is fueled by a big three of Sean Craig, Grant Kopan and Kasey Hunt. These three players combined for 63 points in the contest as Saint Ignatius did not have an answer defensively to stop them.  

This was the second game in three days for the Wildcats, with the blue and gold also taking the court this past Saturday down in the Flyin’ to the Hoop Showcase. The Cats fell 62-54 to Wheeler, the two-time defending State Champions from Georgia.

The Wildcats struggled to get their offense rolling in the first quarter as they found themselves down 14-5 midway through the quarter. Jonathan Effertz and C.J. Yarian got a bucket to give the Cats a quick 4-0 run to cut the lead down to five points. Effertz and Yarian were coming off of solid games against Wheeler, scoring 13 and 18 points.

Shortly after the scoring run, Yarian drew his second foul, trying to contest a shot by Craig. Head Basketball Coach Cam Joyce then sat the 6’10’’ senior for the rest of the first half to keep Yarian out of any further foul trouble.

Craig made both of his ensuing free throws after the foul by Yarian. Ace Buckner quickly answered those two points, who sank two free throws of his own on the Cats’ next possession.  

Northview got another basket late in the first from Hunt, who buried a three-pointer right in front of the Wildcats bench.

After one-quarter of play from Rossford, Saint Ignatius found themselves only down six after a lackluster quarter of offense.

Shondo Green Jr. opened up the second quarter with two deep three balls to cut the deficit to two points. This was the closest the Cats would get all game to tying or taking the lead, as they could not get over their offensive problems and go on a scoring run.

The Wildcats spent much of the second quarter being extremely patient when looking for shots on offense. The patience did not amount to much, other than a mid-range jumper by Effertz, and the Cats trailed 32-21 with 2:25 left in the second quarter.

Effertz, with 55 seconds left in the second, had an excellent finish down underneath the rim as the score was now 32-23. Effertz fought through contact and spun the ball high off the glass for a chance at a three-point play; however, the free throw did not fall for the senior guard.

Northview got a quick basket down at the other end by Hunt for the final basket of the first half. The Wildcats trailed 34-23 at halftime and needed energy in the second half.  

Unfortunately for the Cats, it was Northview who brought the energy. Northview came out of halftime with an 11 point lead and immediately buried the Wildcats by going on a 15-3 run in the third quarter.  

A.J. Fletcher and Timmy Ruddy ended the run for Northview with a three-pointer by Fletcher and then a steal and fast-break layup by Ruddy. Here, there looked to be a glimpse of hope for the Cats as they seemed to be picking up the aggression on offense and defense. However, it was just a glimpse, Northview regained their composure and the two teams traded baskets for the remaining minutes of the third quarter.

At the break between quarters, Saint Ignatius trailed Northview 54-36 and needed a substantial offensive stretch to get back into the game.

As the fourth quarter went on, it was clear that the Wildcats were just not able to get comfortable on the floor as they trailed 58-40 with 6:04 left in the game. Northview was playing solid defense and the open shots rarely fell through the net.

About halfway through the fourth quarter, Northview began to pass heavily on their offensive possession to drain the clock and give the Cats little to no opportunity to mount a comeback.

The only offense that the Cats generated was just the three-point shot. Matt Ellis, Yarian and Effertz buried a triple throughout the final quarter. The Wildcats still trailed 65-52 after Effertz’s 28-foot pull-up three-pointer.

It soon became apparent that there was not enough time left for the Wildcats to close the gap on the scoreboard. The final score from Rossford was 70-55 as the Basketball Cats dropped their second game in a row.

Jackson finished with 11 points and four rebounds. Effertz also had 11 points. Yarian and Green added seven points each as well. The Wildcats shot 40% from the field, 39% from three and 77% from the free-throw line. In 11 games this season, the Cats are averaging 64 points in wins and 54 points in losses.  

Next up for the Wildcats is a matchup with the St. Edward Eagles on Wednesday night. The Eagles are putting together an impressive season with an 8-2 record and the latest AP Poll has them ranked ninth in Ohio.

Tip-off between the two Westside powerhouses is set for 7:00 p.m, following the JV game at 5:30 p... The SIBN will have live video coverage from Sullivan Gym for both games. Also, follow @SIHSSports for in-game updates.