Ohio City - Coach Brian Becker's Wildcats, currently 7-2 and ranked eighth in the seven-county area by cleveland.com, are taking their game to the home of the Blue Streaks while Saint Ignatius and its outstanding Wrestling Program under Head Coach Mark Sullivan host this weekend's prestigious Catholic Invitational Tournament in Father Sullivan Gymnasium.
Saturday's Varsity tip off from John Carroll will be 7:30 PM and will be preceded by a Junior Varsity game at 6 PM. The JV 'Cats will take an 8-1 record into the friendly confines of the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center.
The Basketball Wildcats are no strangers to the 'Cats from Westerville South, as last season Saint Ignatius experienced an 84-83 overtime loss at South. With 53 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter Saint Ignatius held a five-point lead, but couldn't seal the deal from the foul line and South's Jordan McMillian, currently a junior, tickled the twine with a basket that sent the game into OT.
That late-game magic was with McMillian again last night (Tuesday), as his basket with 4.7 seconds left lifted Westerville South to a 54-52 victory at Pickerington Central. Westerville South, which got a team-high 13 points from McMillian, improved to 7-3 heading into Friday's game at Westerville Central. Saint Ignatius' only game this week is Saturday night versus South, so Ohio City's finest should be well rested.
Saint Ignatius won't have to deal with South's Ohio Mr. Basketball Kaleb Wesson on Saturday night, as the gifted post player has taken his skills to The Ohio State University and has recently earned a starting role for the Buckeyes. The South 'Cats also graduated some other key pieces from last season.
Westerville South has a solid basketball tradition under veteran Head Coach Ed Calo.
In March of 2016, the South 'Cats defeated Lima Senior, 57-55, in the Division I State Championship Game. Westerville South finished as the big-school State Runner-Up to Huber Heights Wayne in March of 2015.
Both 2015 and 2016 saw Westerville South eliminate Cleveland power Garfield Heights in the State Semifinals.
Another big victory for Coach Calo took place over Christmas break in December of 2016, when Westerville South "upset" perennial national power Huntington Prep (West Virginia) in the Rike Center at Otterbein University. The young men from Westerville South who showed the way that late December night didn't consider it an "upset" when it happened, and they still don't. Rightly so.
Along with ice-in-his-veins McMillian, some other Westerville South Wildcats to watch are Ryan Greggs, who scored 20 points in last weekend's 71-44 victory over East Tech, Manny Sunnyway, who matched McMillian's 15 points in a 61-58 victory over Gahanna Lincoln and Hafiz Turay, whose 15 points and seven rebounds complemented Greggs' 24-point night in a 69-60 triumph over Olentangy.
If you can't make it out to John Carroll University on Saturday night, the golden tones of the Saint Ignatius Broadcast Network, headed by "The Dean" Matt MacKenzie, will bring it to you live from the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center.
HERE IS COACH BECKER'S TAKE ON WESTERVILLE SOUTH: "They're a streaky athletic team that likes to run and press," Coach Becker said as the JV 'Cats were preparing to take the Father Sullivan Gym floor for their Tuesday evening practice. "They faceguard you and guard the ball and the wings real hard.
"Offensively it's an open post, so it's similar to the games we've been accustomed to," Coach Becker continued. "But they are extremely quick with both their foot speed and their hand speed. They don't back away from people. Those schools down in Columbus are all good competition. The Westervilles, the Pickeringtons, the Olentangies, the Upper Arlingtons, all those schools play really good basketball."
Coach Becker emphasized that on the big floor at John Carroll, he is hoping his Wildcats will be able to control the tempo, the pace.
"If we can do that, I think our size can do some damage. But again, we have to be able to control their quickness. They are a team that plays to the best of their abilities."
HAVE A GREAT REST OF THE WEEK AND ALL OF THE BEST TO COACH SULLIVAN AND HIS MEN OF THE MATS. THE CIT WILL BE THE RECIPIENT OF GREAT HOSTS IN WILDCATS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR MR. RORY FITZPATRICK, ASSISTANT ATHLETIC DIRECTOR MR. BRAD GANOR AND MR. JOE GINLEY, SAINT IGNATIUS' ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR.
WHEN YOU SEE THIS SEASONED REPORTER AT JOHN CARROLL I WILL BE A YEAR OLDER, MAYBE 21 OR 22 I THINK.