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The Road to Dayton: The Wildcats Gear up for the Postseason

By Eli Maistros '24, 02/29/24, 4:00PM EST


The Wildcats are set to tip off tournament play against Cuyahoga Falls and will play out of the Twinsburg District.

OHIO CITY, OH - An impressive regular season has ended for the 2023-24 Saint Ignatius basketball team and the playoffs are looming. In his fifth season in charge, Head Basketball Coach Cam Joyce has produced one of the most successful regular seasons in the school's storied history, tying a record by winning 19 games against the most challenging schedule in all of Division I (rated a 1.0155 by MartinRPI), while finishing second for points per game (77.5) and being the number one seed in the state coming into the postseason. The Wildcats are looking for their third final-four appearance in Joyce's tenure and, more importantly, the second state title in school history. 

All the success for the Cats started with Jack Zapolnik. The senior point guard has been exceptional this season, scoring 10.2 points per contest, dishing a team-high 4.2 assists per game and pulling down 3.1 boards a game. He's also catching fire as of late, as he's averaged 16.5 points in his last four contests, highlighted by a career-high 23-point outburst in the season finale against Brush and has dished 7.1 assists per game in the same stretch. 

His backcourt running mate, junior Quinn Woidke, has also had an exceptional scoring season. The younger of the two Woidke brothers is averaging 15.4 points per game, which leads the squad, while also grabbing 3.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Woidke seems to step up in the big moments, with 20+ point games in tight games against Reynoldsburg, Lutheran East and West. He also added 27-point games against St. Joseph Prep (PA) and Centerville, where he also hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game to overtime against the Elks. 

Down low, Reece Robinson has held down the paint on both sides for Saint Ignatius. Robinson has jumped from junior year, averaging 10.0 ppg and 8.0 rpg, while leading the team in total blocks with 26. Reece totaled six double-doubles this year, including three 20-10 games (VASJ, Dallas Jesuit (TX), Lutheran West), making the Cleveland State commit one of the best big men in the Buckeye State. 

Damon Friery is getting hot on the wing at a good time for the Wildcats, as the junior is clicking. The four-star forward is putting in 12.3 points per night in his last four games while also pulling down 4.1 rebounds. Air Force commit Sam Springer has played his role perfectly this campaign, scoring 8.7 points per game and rebounding the ball 4.8 times per contest. Springer is lethal from beyond the arc, making at least one three-pointer in 12 of 13 previous games while shooting at an impressive 39.3% mark. 

Senior Case Western Reserve signee Matt Ellis leads the charge off the bench. Ellis, who has played varsity since his sophomore year, scores 7.9 points per game and shoots 38.8% from beyond the arc. Mike Lamirand has been Mr. Do-it-all for this year's squad, coming in and filling whatever role is needed that night. Lamirand scores 4.6 points, pulls down 2.9 rebounds, dishes 1.4 assists, swipes 1.6 steals, and swats one shot a night, genuinely showcasing his versatility. 

In his first year at Saint Ignatius, junior Kalli Johnson has carved out a role on this loaded team. Johnson had his big game on the road against Buchtel, scoring 10 points and three steals to help lead a comeback win. 

Dual-sport athlete Sean Martin has taken backup point guard duties and provided ease when Zapolnik and Woidke need breathers. Martin has incredible court vision, often pulling off flashy passes and his background as a Division I football defensive back shows. He is averaging around a steal per game. 

Max Woidke rounds out the rotation and provides a spark off the Wildcat bench, usually at the end of quarters. The senior had his best game against St. Vincent-St. Mary on New Year's Eve when he poured in a much-needed 11 points with three steals to help propel the road win. 

On Saturday, the postseason begins at Sullivan Gymnasium, with a bout against Cuyahoga Falls. This will be the first-ever meeting between these two programs, and the winner will go on to take on the winner of Lakewood and Hudson in the District Semifinal on Wednesday, March 6, from Twinsburg High School at 7 p.m.

All playoff tickets can be purchased from the OHSAA Website. (Saint Ignatius is playing out of the Twinsburg District).

The SIBN will have live video coverage for all Saint Ignatius postseason games for free. (Due to OHSAA Regulations, the Final Four and the State Championship Basketball games will be broadcast on Spectrum).