On Monday, for the first time since the 1979-80 season, the Saint Ignatius basketball team traveled down W. 140th Street in Cleveland to play at John Marshall.
The brand-new gym at the recently rebuilt John Marshall High School, dubbed "The Court Room" by its athletic department, housed JV and varsity contests between the Wildcats and Lawyers.
The two games resulted in two wins for the red-hot Wildcats.
The JV Cats began their game with a flash of offense and did not relent. The visitors opened a 16-4 lead by the end of the first, and cruised to a 66-37 final score over the Lawyers by game's end.
The varsity squad roared out of the gate in the same way. Head Coach Brian Becker '77 utilized his typical starting lineup of Lukas Bielek, Chase Toppin, Connor Cmiel, Henry Raynor, and Kevin Davet to start. The quintet wasted little time in lighting up the scoreboard, tearing off a 14-1 lead in the blink of an eye.
Solid work inside and outside on the offensive end allowed the Wildcats to open a 25-7 advantage after the first quarter. John Marshall tightened its defense to start the second, but great passing and work around the perimeter created open shots for the Wildcats. Bielek and Jonathan Effertz nailed 3-pointers to help the Wildcats run into the break with a 42-19 lead.
John Marshall worked to make adjustments at halftime. A familiar face runs the show for the Lawyers' basketball program – Rich Austin '10. A gifted player for the Wildcats, Austin is an excellent coach for the Lawyers.
Despite John Marshall's adjustments, the hosts experienced a cold streak shooting the ball. The Wildcats carried a 63-25 lead into the final stanza.
Coach Becker ensured plenty of playing time for his non-starters in the final quarter. Darius Moss, Wilson Young, Tommy Spear, and Rory McConville all scored late for the Wildcats. Moss did work in the post and in the intermediate game, Young drilled deep shots, Spear hit a nice jumper from the short corner, and McConville drove to the basket with authority.
The Wildcats emerged from the Monday night contest with an 83-35 victory, the team's fifth consecutive win. The victory marks the Wildcats' 34th straight win over John Marshall, dating back to the 1968-69 season. The Basketball Cats now stand at 10-6 on the year.
Next up for the Wildcats is a back-to-back this weekend. The team will host St. Edward on Friday evening before heading to Beachwood on Saturday night.
The Wildcats' tripleheader vs. Stow-Munroe Falls has been moved to Saturday, February 23. Freshmen Gold will tip off at noon, followed by JV at 1:30 pm and varsity at 3 pm.