12/28 - 6:00 PM Boys Basketball Final Bishop Watterson 68 Villa Angela-St. Joseph 65
MASSILLON, Ohio — Villa Angela-St. Joseph's top-ranked boys basketball team struggled defending the long shot Saturday and it led to the Vikings suffering their first loss of the season as they fell to Columbus Bishop Watterson, 68-65, at the Play 4 Cancer Shootout at Massillon Jackson.
Bishop Watterson shot 10 of 16 from behind the arc, seven of which came in the first half to nearly negate a great start from VASJ, ranked No. 1 in the cleveland.com Top 25. The Eagles outscored VASJ, 40-32, in the second half to secure the win.
"You've got to give credit where credit is due," Villa Angela-St. Joseph coach Babe Kwasniak said. "In my four years, I thought that was the best high school basketball team we've played ... sometimes, you've just got to say, 'You know what, they're really good.'
"We had our chances, but I think Bishop Watterson is everything that's right about high school basketball."
The Vikings led by 12 points in the first quarter, but it disappeared midway through the second quarter. Despite leading 33-28 at halftime, VASJ fell behind for good when Bishop Watterson went on an 11-1 run at the start of the third quarter.
In that quarter, the Vikings scored just nine points, attempted eight field goals and committed eight turnovers.
"After getting a good feel of the game, we thought we could put a little more pressure defensively," Bishop Watterson coach Vince Lombardo Jr. said. "We always tell our guys, 'Let the offense work for you.' And I thought they did a better job of that in the second half."
Brian Parker led the way for the Vikings with 20 points. Simon Texidor scored 16 points and Dererk Pardon had 12 for VASJ. Carlton Bragg had 11, but six of those came on back-to-back threes late in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings had no answer for the three-point shooting of the Eagles, led by 20 points from Matt Lehmann and 14 from Cody Calhoun. The duo combined to hit nine of Bishop Watterson's 10 threes.
"In basketball, you can do a lot of things well, but the ball's got to go in the hole," Lombardo Jr. said. "We shoot the ball pretty well. Today we got some good looks and some guys stepped up, and hit some big shots."
VASJ never overcame its mistakes in the second half, and Bishop Watterson made the Vikings pay by hitting seven consecutive field goals in the fourth quarter and six of nine free throws to close the game.
"We just made some mental errors that I could say our guys don't normally make, but they haven't been in this position yet," Kwasniak said. "There's no substitute for experience. We just made some knucklehead plays. I did some knucklehead things.
"It's a good experience for us. That's a really good basketball team and I'd be really shocked if they weren't in Columbus this March (for the state final four)."
Both teams are defending state champions, with Villa Angela-St. Joseph winning the Division IV championship and Bishop Watterson doing so in Division II.