skip navigation

The Cats Are Still Dancing; Win a Tight Battle Against Brunswick

By Eli Maistros '24, 03/19/24, 11:15AM EDT


Trailing by nine heading into the fourth, the Wildcats storm back and advance to the Final Four.

KENT, OH - The Saint Ignatius Wildcats drew a familiar opponent that they saw earlier this season for the OHSAA Regional Final. Coming off an overtime thriller win against St. Edward and a 53-46 victory over Canton GlenOak, the Brunswick Blue Devils were primed for revenge after a 76-59 loss to the Wildcats on January 7 in the Play-By-Play Classic. 

Brunswick was a much different team than the opponent the Wildcats saw at John Carroll University in early January. The Cats season would be on life support throughout the night at Kent State University but found a way to pull out a 46-43 victory to punch their ticket to Dayton. 

Both offenses were ice-cold to start the night, with neither team able to capitalize on their open looks. Neither team was in any rush to score either, taking chunks out of the clock on each possession, a trend that continued for the rest of the game. 

Finally, Tommy Morgan broke the deadlock, hitting a three-pointer at the 4:54 mark, but Jack Zapolnik responded on the next possession with a triple from the corner. Brunswick scored a layup a minute later, and Quinn Barnett hit a nasty stepback three to keep the run going as the Blue Devils were on an 8-3 run in the first. 

Juniors Damon Friery and Quinn Woidke nailed deep trifectas to cut the deficit to one. Still, Barnett hit another fallaway deep ball before Friery and Trey Drexler traded buckets to end the first frame 15-11 in favor of the Blue Devils. 

Friery hit a running floater to start the second, and the Cats took their first lead with an Ellis steal-and-score. Once again, the scoring went silent, with each team's offense sputtering and no one scoring for the next three minutes. 

When the Blue Devils did score, Woidke and Friery had answers, maintaining a three-point advantage, but Barnett kept his hot night going with another triple, and neither team struck again in half, ending it 22-22.

Brunswick scored the first four points of the half, including two technical free throws for an end of the half altercation and answered a Reece Robinson elbow jumper with a Morgan triple to push the lead to five. 

A Drexler layup made it seven, and after a 1:16 long possession with four offensive rebounds by Saint Ignatius, Barnett hit a tough floater through contact. Friery split a pair of free throws, and Morgan snuck free down low for a layup, which ended the quarter with the Blue Devils up 37-28. 

Having to sit out most of the first and third quarters in foul trouble, Robinson came into the fourth quarter fresh, and it showed on a putback and one to stop the bleeding to open the quarter with 7:53 to go. Woidke split a pair of free throws but cut the lead to three with a layup off a Kalli Johnson offensive rebound. 

Following a missed three, Robinson corralled another offensive board and dropped a push shot to shrink the deficit to one with five minutes to go. Drexler stopped the Wildcat run with a transition layup, but senior Mike Lamirand answered with an athletic finish at the rim. 

SIBN Players of the Game vs. Brunswick: Reece Robinson and Damon Friery

Morgan pushed the lead back to three, but once again, Robinson was able to clean up a Wildcat miss and score inside. It was fitting he gave Saint Ignatius their first second-half lead almost a minute later with yet another putback bucket. 

Barnett hit a crafty layup to give Brunswick the lead with 1:09 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats would burn their final timeout with 1:06 to play. Out of the timeout, Robinson missed a go-ahead hook shot, Friery was in the right spot as he grabbed the offensive board and would be fouled on the putback with 53 seconds on the clock. 

The junior had ice in his veins as he calmly knocked down both free throws to give the Wildcats a 44-43 lead with 53 seconds remaining. It was now up to the Wildcat defense.

Out of the timeout, Zapolnik poked the ball free out of the inbound pass and Sean Martin dove on the loose ball. The officials would call a jump ball with the possession arrow in favor of the Blue Devils with just 14 seconds on the clock. 

The Wildcats had three fouls to give in the remaining seconds and they would be economical, fouling Brunswick twice to take a few seconds off the clock and not allowing them to set up their offense. Drexler would take a corner three with eight seconds left, but Lamirand would swat the shot out of bounds. 

On the inbounds pass in the corner, Brunswick would heave a pass near half court, but Drexler could not handle it. Woidke broke free with the possession and would lay it in as time expired, sending Saint Ignatius to the Final Four for the third time in four years. 

Brunswick would hold the Wildcats to 46, their lowest score in a game this season. Friery would be the leading scorer for the Cats, putting up 15 and five rebounds. Robinson would collect a double-double with 11 points and 11 boards. Woidke would add 11 points, six rebounds, two assists, and three steals. Zapolnik would total eight assists in the win. 

The Wildcats will face Delaware Hayes in the OHSAA State Semifinal on Saturday, March 23, at 5:15 p.m. from the University of Dayton Arena. It will be the first match-up between these two programs on the hardwood. The Wildcats are seeking their first State Championship appearance since the 2000-01 Championship season. The winner will play the winner of Toledo Whitmer/Centerville on Sunday at 8:30 p.m. for the OHSAA Division I State Championship.