Just two days after a heartbreaking loss to Lake Catholic, the Saint Ignatius varsity basketball team wanted to bounce back against a very tough opponent in St. Vincent-St. Mary.
Unfortunately, the Wildcats could not do so, losing to the Fighting Irish, 72-55.
The Irish started the game with a bang. The visitors held a 26-15 lead at the end of the first quarter. St. Vincent-St. Mary’s talent and athleticism were on full display from the start.
“We tried to come out and play a zone against them,” Head Coach Brian Becker ‘77 said of the first quarter. “But Chris Painter hit three 3’s in the first quarter, and the rest of their team shot incredibly well.”
The second quarter was very low scoring. Both teams did not score more than eleven points. The score at halftime was 37-24, with the Wildcats trailing. The squads played impressive defense on both ends.
“We were forced to play man-to-man,” Coach Becker said of the first half. “Against man-to-man their bigger, stronger, quicker, more athletic, they're just flat out better than us. When we’re forced into a man-to-man situation, it makes it tough to beat a team like that.”
The leading scorer for the Wildcats at half was Lukas Bielek, who had 14 points. During the break, the Saint Ignatius Athletic Department recognized the 2017-18 Wirtz Athlete of the Year, Bain Kurtz. Bain won three state championships with the Ice Cats and helped the Lax Cats reach two straight OHSAA Division I Championships.
The third quarter saw the Irish increase their lead. The visitors built the score to 52-34 entering the fourth.
In the final quarter of play, the Wildcats did not surrender. However, the hosts were not able hang in there with the Irish, as St. Vincent-St. Mary had an answer for every Saint Ignatius basket. The Wildcats finished on the losing end for the fourth straight game, 72-55.
The two leading scorers for the team were Lukas Bielek and Chase Toppin, who combined to contribute 35 of the team’s 55 points.
Looking forward into 2019, the Wildcats will be working to find more open looks, spending time in practice on new schemes.
“The effort is there, we just have to find ways to put the ball in the basket,” Coach Becker said. “I’ll design some stuff to get us some better looks. We have to have some more contribution from some kids on the bench, and they are capable of doing that. We just have to put them in the right situation and I’ll do that.”
The next game for the Wildcats will be on Friday, January 4, at 7:30 p.m. in Sullivan Gym. The Basketball Cats will play the 1-4 Massillon Tigers. Both the JV and Varsity games can be heard on the SIBN.