COLUMBUS — The Fighting Irish of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary moved one step closer to winning their seventh state championship after rolling to a 70-51 victory over Vincent Warren in the Division II boys state basketball semifinals on Thursday at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
Nick Wells (6-6, senior, forward) led a trio of players in double figures for SVSM (20-9, No. 11 AP) with 18 points after finishing 7-of-8 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. Wells also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. SVSM outscored Warren (26-2, No. 9 AP) in every quarter, breaking open a close game late in the second stanza.
“I thought we executed our gameplan pretty well,” stated Akron SVSM coach Dru Joyce, who has led the Irish to four of the six crowns. “The second half our guys did the right things. We were patient for the most part, it was about defending and we defended well.”
Said Vincent Warren mentor Blaine Maddox: ““They’re long, and good, and fast, and can shoot. We’re a full-court, half-court, trapping team. That wasn’t a good match for us.”
Freshman VJ King (6-7, guard) added 14 points and six boards, while Jalen Hudson (6-6, junior, guard) had 12 points for the Irish, who won state titles in 2011, 09, 03, 01, 00 and 1984. Three of those (03, 01, 00) were won with LeBron James on campus.
Reece Patton (6-3, junior, forward) scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed a team-high six boards for the Warriors. Michael Hall (6-5, soph, forward) had 15 points, and Evan French (6-3, junior, forward) was held to five points, 14 below his season average.
“They got into him (French) real well, and foul trouble was a little concern,” concluded Maddox. “Reece and Hall stepped up, but we needed all three tonight.”