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Home Sweet Home; Wildcats Earn Their First Home Win Since December

By Danny Gibel '22, 01/26/22, 11:30AM EST


Jonathan Effertz scores 20 points, knocking down six three-pointers in the 69-38 win.

OHIO CITY, Oh - The Saint Ignatius Wildcats were back home in the friendly confines of Sullivan Gym on Tuesday night. The 7-6 Basketball Cats have played only four games on their home floor. The Tuesday night matchup with the Villa Angela-St. Joseph Vikings began three games in five days for the Cats.  

The Vikings made the trip over from the East Side with a 4-7 record on the season but had won their last two games. In a similar fashion to Benedictine, the Wildcats also have an excellent track record when they square off with VASJ, 3-0 over the last three seasons, including last year when the Cats defeated the Vikings 71-37.  

This time around, it was no different as the Cats outmatched the Vikings, especially in the second half and secured a 69-38 win.  

This is now the third time this season that the Wildcats have won two straight games; however, they have yet to win three games in a row. It will be no easier for them to accomplish this feat this time either, as the St. Vincent-St. Mary Fighting Irish await them on Thursday night down in Akron.

The game began with CJ Yarian winning the tip-off for the fourth consecutive game. However, nothing became of it as both teams stayed off the scoreboards until the 6:42 mark in the first quarter. The first points for the Cats came on a Jonathan Effertz three-ball from the top of the arch.   

The early three-pointer by Effertz reignited what has been a recent surge at home for the senior guard. Effertz is averaging 19.5 over the last two games at Sullivan Gym, something he attributed to familiarity with the gym and a desire to win at home, "Definitely being here in practice every day, it helps," says Effertz. "You know the feel of the rims; you know the feel of the gym. [And] Coach Cam always says you have to win at home, and we've had two wins at home, so it was nice to get a win."

The Wildcats, fueled by another three by Effertz and early points from Yarian, buried the Vikings in an 11-1 hole with 5:05 left in the opening quarter.  

The offense came steady and often for the Cats early in the game as they led 21-6 after one quarter. Everything seemed to be working on both ends of the floor and A.J. Fletcher buried a corner three early in the second quarter. Yet, shortly after that, the offense fell to shambles as Fletcher's three ended up accounting for three out of the five points the Wildcats were able to muster up in the entirety of the second quarter. Turnovers also played a prominent role in the failures of the second quarter, with the Cats committing nine in the first half. Luckily, the defense held firm and prevented the Vikings from making a good run at the lead.

The Wildcats made their way to the locker room with a 26-18 lead at halftime. It was not the lead the team expected after their hot start, and they needed to come out firing in the third quarter.  

Effertz came out in the third quarter just as he did in the first quarter, with a three-pointer to increase the lead to 29-18 at the 7:43 mark in the third quarter. Effertz's three-ball gave the Cats' the quick jolt of offense they needed to get rolling in the second half.

The lead continued to build for the Wildcats as Matt Ellis drove down the lane to get a layup down low twice during the third quarter. The second gave the Cats a 37-22 lead with two minutes remaining in the third quarter. The sophomore guard quietly finished with an even 10 points on the night, his second-highest point total of the season.  

As the game entered the fourth quarter, the Wildcats maintained a 45-27 lead after scoring 19 points in the third quarter and holding the Vikings to just nine points. 

SIBN Players of the Game vs. VASJ: Jonathan Effertz

The fourth quarter also began with a Wildcat three-ball by Buckner. Buckner created a wide-open shot with a great ball fake and hit the three before the defender could recover. 

Later in fourth, Effertz continued to shoot the lights out from beyond the arch. Effertz nailed three trifectas before the four-minute mark. The first one was from the corner, the second was a near logo three, from 26-feet out and the third was a wide-open rainbow shot from the top of the arch that made it a 59-31 score.

"It felt good," Effertz says about his performance on Tuesday, "My teammates got me in position to be open and I just let it fly, and it went in."

The Wildcats cruised for the next several minutes and ran out the remainder of the fourth-quarter clock. Sean Martin got the last basket for the Cats, the sophomore cut inside to the paint, caught a pass in stride from Shondo Green Jr. and banked a tough shot off the glass. With Martin's basket in the final seconds, the final score was 69-38.  

The Basketball Cats improved to 8-6 with the win over VASJ and enjoyed their first home win since December 10, 2021, against Lutheran East. Home court advantage will be a significant factor in the remainder of the season, much more so than it has been up until this point in the schedule.

Five out of the season's last seven games will be played in Sullivan Gym. The only road games left for the Cats are against St. Vincent-St. Mary and St. Edward.  

Effertz, the SIBN Player of the Game, stole the show in this one. The senior captain's night ended with 20 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals. Effertz shot six of nine from three, good enough for 66% and a season-high in made shots and attempts.

Buckner finished with seven points, six rebounds, six team-high assists, and three steals.   He impresses as he fills in for CJ Little at the guard spot. Carter Jackson had four points, six rebounds and three assists. Fletcher had six points, two rebounds and a steal. Ellis added 10 points on four of six shooting from inside the three-point line. Yarian had seven points, five rebounds and two assists.  

Next for the Wildcats is a matchup down in Akron with St. Vincent-St. Mary, where Head Basketball Coach Cam Joyce will face off with his father, Dru Joyce, head coach of the Fighting Irish. This will be the third time the father and son coach against each other. Dru Joyce owns a 2-0 record early in this family rivalry. JV will tip-off at 6:00 p.m., with the varsity game set to follow at 7:30 p.m. The SIBN will have live-video coverage from The Lebron James Arena. Also, follow @SIHSSports for in-game highlights and updates.