skip navigation

Hoops Celebrates Fourth Consecutive District Title

By Eli Maistros '24, 03/12/24, 2:45PM EDT


The Wildcats cruise past Lakewood and Elyria to claim the Northeast 1 District Crown; their fourth in as many years.

TWINSBURG, OH - After an 89-50 win over Cuyahoga Falls in the OHSAA Sectional Final, the Wildcats advanced to the District rounds of the OHSAA Tournament. Playing out of the Northeast 1 Twinsburg District, the Wildcats sought a fourth consecutive District Crown. 

The Cats would draw the Lakewood Rangers in the District Semifinal and face the Elyria Pioneers in the District Championship on Wednesday and Saturday at Twinsburg High School. 

The Wildcats got off to a flying start in the District Semifinal, going up 7-0 within two minutes. After trading buckets, a Quinn Woidke three-pointer increased the lead to double digits, and Kalli Johnson connected on a second-chance floater during the next possession. With time winding down in the quarter, Sean Martin grabbed an offensive rebound and played the ball to end the period with the Wildcats up 20-6. 

The Rangers’ sniper, junior Luke Vannucci, knocked his first trifecta down to open the quarter, but Saint Ignatius answered with an 8-0 run to take command of the game. The other Lakewood guard and their leading scorer, Lucas Senguine, canned a triple from the top, but Damon Friery exploded for a personal 5-0 run capped with an and-one through contact to put the Cats up 34-13 at the break. 

Two quick Wildcat buckets off of steals forced an immediate Lakewood timeout, and Vannucci hit his second three of the game out of the break. The teams traded buckets, and another Friery lay-in down low forced a Ranger timeout. Zapolnik converted on an and-one, and Friery had a wild stretch of three missed layups, all coupled with an offensive rebound before eventually converting. The Wildcat lead reached 32 after a Matt Ellis three, and they ended the quarter up 57-25. 

Both teams emptied their benches in the fourth quarter, getting the reserves some valuable playoff time. Pearce Gibbs, Ezekiel Alfonso-Tavarez, and Conor Mangan all got on the board and helped grow the lead. The Wildcats were up 71-36 by the final buzzer, and the Road to Dayton continued. 

On Saturday, Saint Ignatius returned to Twinsburg High School for the District Final, where they matched up against the Elyria Pioneers, who came in off a 60-53 win over Austintown Fitch on Thursday. 

Like the Lakewood game, the Wildcats came out flying, going up 10-3 behind five tough-nosed layups. The Pioneers’ Jayden Crutcher hit his second three of the quarter and a free throw to give Elyria seven points, a mark they stayed at until midway through the second quarter. Zapolnik knocked down a long-range triple, and Reece Robinson canned two free throws to end the first quarter up 17-7. 

Friery converted on a long midrange shot, and Ellis canned a corner three before stealing the ball and flipping it over his head and in the hoop to force a Pioneer timeout. Martin drained a corner triple, Friery scored four straight, and Woidke scored a tough inside bucket to push the lead to 33-7. 

SIBN Players of the Game vs. Lakewood: Damon Friery and Max Woidke

Finally, Cam Bell scored for Elyria to end a 16-0 run, but the Wildcats flexed their muscles by grabbing four consecutive offensive rebounds, leading to another Friery basket. Ronald Grimmett hit a corner three at the end of the quarter, but Saint Ignatius held a strong 38-12 lead at halftime. 

Elyria looked like a completely different team out of the break, with Crutcher hitting a three-pointer right away and Brian Todd followed with an and-one bucket. Taylor Blanton forced a steal, and Crutcher converted on an and-one four-point play to cap a 10-0 run. Friery finished on the baseline to stop the run, but Blanton hit a wing three to cut the lead to 15. 

Once again, however, the Wildcats caught stride, going on a 15-0 run with Ellis, Woidke, Zapolnik, and Mike Lamirand all scoring multiple buckets. In the run-filled third quarter, they turned into more Wildcat domination, with the period ending 57-32. 

Halfway into the fourth quarter, Ellis pushed the lead to 30 with his 14th point, and both coaches brought their reserves in. Saint Ignatius continued to manage their gaudy lead and were crowned District Champions for the fourth straight season in a 76-47 win. 

The Wildcats move into the Sweet 16 and will face Massillon Jackson in the OHSAA Regional Semifinal on Wednesday, March 13, at 7:00 p.m., from the MAAC at Kent State University. Jackson survived a comeback scare from Mentor in the District Final, winning 80-75 to advance. 

The winner will advance to the Regional Championship hosted at Kent State University on Friday, March 15, at 7:00 p.m., and will play the winner of GlenOak/Brunswick. 

SIBN Players of the Game vs. Elyria: Matt Ellis and Sean Martin