Northeast Ohio Huddle: Basketball teams excel at state, spring sports up next


Northeast Ohio Huddle

Basketball season came to a close with Northeast teams representing well in the state tournament. Track, baseball, boys’ tennis and softball started this week as well with Westlake turning in an upset baseball win and a freshman pitcher for Olmsted Falls wowing Normandy with her perfection.

With former Irish standout LeBron James watching, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary cruised past Dayton Thurgood Marshall to win the Division II boys’ basketball state championship last weekend. With Daylen Harrison scoring 21 points to lead the way, the Irish finished the year 23-4.

In the state title game, Michael Hammonds and Jakarr Sampson each scored 11 points with Sampson pulling down nine rebounds. Ricky Johnson Jr. also dished out seven assists.

In the semifinals, the Irish pounded a tough Columbus DeSales team 75-61 as Harrison had 23 points but teammate Hammonds leading the way with 25 points on 10 of 14 field goals. Johnson had five more assists.

It was the Irish’s fifth state title and first since King James graduated in 2003 and headed to the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. Head coach Dru Joyce enjoyed two state titles with James and coached the Irish to this year’s as well. 


Daylen Harrison, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary boys’ basketball: Harrison hit 8 of 13 shots from the field on his way to leading his Irish to a 59-53 win over Dayton Thurgood Marshall in the Division II state basketball championships. Harrison scored 21 points and was a perfect 4 of 4 from the free throw line. He added four rebounds with two assists. In his team’s 75-61 win in the semifinals over Columbus DeSales, Harrison scored 23 points on 7 of 11 field goals and 6 of 10 free throws. He had nine rebounds and three blocks and finished the tournament going 4 for 6 from the 3-point line.


Cleveland Central Catholic boys’ basketball: The Ironmen beat Piketon 76-52 in the Division III semifinals and turned around and beat Defiance Tinora 45-38 in the finals. The Ironmen used a balanced scoring and offensive attack as Chall Montgomery had 16 points and Derrick Buford and Brandon Campbell 10 each. The balanced rebounding was also a key as Central Catholic had six players with three or more boards and no one with more than six. That means all players were hitting the glass despite being outrebounded 36-31. The Ironmen finished the year 24-3.


Dazzling Desmar: Last week’s Player of the Week could have taken home the award for his performance this week as 6-foot-5 Warren G. Harding senior Desmar Jackson put on a dominating display in his team’s 73-59 loss to Northland in the Division I state semifinals. Jackson, a Wyoming recruit, scored 29 points on 13 of 22 shooting from the field that included 3 of 5 from 3-point land. Jackson added five rebounds, five steals and four blocked shots. Teammate Fred Williams added 11 points as Harding finished the year 23-3.  

Howlin’ Hoban: As the high school softball season opened this week, one team in Northeast Ohio boasts several Division I recruits, Akron Hoban returns shortstop Katie Gross, a University of Akron recruit, catcher Taylor Rice, a Miami University signee and Lauren McNeil, a pitching prospect heading to Kent State. Hoban was 26-3 overall and 13-0 in the North Coast League last year. Junior Jessacca Gironda also returns and has already committed to play soccer at Kent State. Coach Mitch Wagner has led the Bishops to two district titles and one regional title in the last two years.

Rebuilding Hoover: North Canton Hoover, the defending Division I softball state champion, lost 10 seniors to graduation off its 32-2 team. Five of those players signed to play Division I softball but the team returns Kent State signee Lindsay Sumser and her .319 batting average and 23 RBIs.

Wild Westlake: Westlake beat defending Division I baseball state champions Lakewood St. Edward’s 5-2. Dan Kraus and Will Shortreed combined to earn the win on the mound. Shortreed also responded with the game-tying RBI double in a 4-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning and Alex Pandrangi hit an RBI single.

First-Time Franklin: Olmsted Falls freshman pitcher Lauren Franklin, tossing her first-ever career varsity game, threw a perfect game as her team shut out Normandy 11-0. Franklin struck out nine and needed 49 pitches to earn the 5-inning mercy win. She threw 39 of her pitches for strikes while also getting a hit with two RBIs in the contest.

‘M’ for Muscle on the Mound: Mathews dominated Brookfield 10-0 in baseball action while McDonald shut out Wellsville 11-0 this week in softball action with two pitchers tossing no-hitters.

Rick Sommers led Mathews past Brookfield with his 5-inning no-no as he had 11 strikeouts and three walks. In her team’s win over Wellsville, Kaitlin Rutushin, a junior for McDonald, threw a no-no with 11 strikeouts and just one walk. She was McDonald’s single-season strikeout leader last year as a sophomore. She added three hits in the win. 

Sensational Shaffer: North Canton Hoover boys’ tennis coach Ryan Shaffer picked up his 500th career coaching win as his Vikings beat Kidron Central Christian 3-2. Shaffer is in his sixth season coaching both the boys and girls teams at Hoover. He was also a coach for the St. Thomas Aquinas boys and girls teams for 13 years.

Crusaders Cruising: Another state championship team with several returning players this year is Canton Central Catholic, last year’s Division III state title winners with a 30-4 record. Veteran coach Doug Miller (28 years) returns with his 525 wins and also returns Michael Marzec, Marc Davide, John Lindesmith, Nick Keller, Alex Myers and Taylore Baker as lettermen.

Big Sticks: Wooster’s girls’ lacross team pounded Beaumont in its season opener 15-4 as Jess Fugate and Rachel Deighan scored five goals each.

Summit Tops Stark: In the annual Summit-Stark County Basketball All-Star Games, Summit swept the boys and girls’ hoops games. The Summit boys won 111-97 while the Summit girls won 82-64.

In the boys’ game, Barberton’s Garrick Sims was named MVP with 17 points while Canton McKinley’s Terrell Lipkins was the Stark MVP with 20 points.

On the girls’ side, Stark’s MVP was North Canton Hoover’s Jessica Carpenter with 16 points while the Summit team was led by Toledo signee Andola Dortch of Akron Kenmore, Southeast’s Mya Levels and Akron Manchester’s Lexi Staubs with 12 points each. 

Akron teams rule East: A pair of Akron track teams entered the Eastern District and cruised to season-opening track wins at the Jeff Arthus Invitational at Claymont High in Uhrichsville. Akron Hoban’s boys won the meet with 124 ½ points while the Copley girls cruised behind 162 team points.


F.E. Cope Girls Invitational, Salem, Tonight, 4 p.m.: The 2008 champions of this invitational were Shaker Heights with host Salem taking runner-up and Poland Seminary taking third.

Kimberly Relays (Bedford); Avon Lake Invitational (Avon Lake), Saturday, 9 a.m.: In the Cleveland area, these two invitationals boast some of Northeast Ohio’s fastest teams as last year’s Avon Lake boys team champion was Rocky River and the girls’ team titles went to Akron North.

Small-School invitationals: The Newton Falls Tiger Invitational takes place at 10 a.m. on Saturday with 2008 girls’ champion being Chagrin Falls and the boys’ team champion being Chagrin Falls as well. The William E. Ward Invitational at East Palestine will boast boys’ team champion Boardman and runner-up Poland Seminary from last year while the West Geauga Wolverine Invitational had girls’ team champion Kenston with runner-up Chardon and boys’ champion Painesville Harvey and second-place team Painesville Riverside. Both of those meets are Saturday morning. Mineral Ridge also will host its Joe Lane Invitational on Saturday with several schools ranging from Ashtabula Edgewood to Rootstown taking part last year.

Dover at Indian Valley, baseball, 10 a.m., Saturday: These two teams used to battle in the East Central Ohio League but Indian Valley left for the Principals’ Athletic Conference this season, leaving this as a fantastic non-league game between the teams. Indian Valley advanced to the regional in Division III last year and returns several key players while Dover has most of its roster back from last year.

District 5 All-Star Games, boys and girls basketball, at Indian Valley, starts at 6:30 p.m.: The girls lead off this battle of all-stars from various Eastern District teams ranging from Dover to Steubenville.


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