Viking Cagers Settle For Runner-up Trophy
In sports, it often doesn't pay to put much stock in so-called ° omens. "
During the Ohio high school regional basketball playoffs, one Villa
Angela-St. Joseph fan noticed that the state Division III championship game
was slated for March 19-the Feast of St. Joseph. ¢couldn't it be neat if
the St. Joe team won a state title on St. Joseph's Day?"the fan thought.
"Perhaps it's a good omen. "
well, that turned out to be wishful thinking. Coach Babe Kwasniak's
Vikings did make it to the final game in Columbus, but their rather
remarkable season came to an end with a 66-44 loss to Lima Central
Catholic-the same team they had beaten a year earlier to claim VASJ's
sixth state basketball crown. In fact, it was the third year in row that these
two squads met in the championship finals.
Almost incredibly, it marked the fourth straight appearance in a state
championship game for this year's Vikings seniors-first-team All-Ohio
guard Sherman Dean III, Kevin Roberts, Jacob Stauffer, Anthony Turk and
Phillip Bessick. Certainly, they'd hoped to end their high school careers on a
final victory note. But it wasn't to be. And, understandably, they and their
teammates seemed less than jubilant in settling for the runner-up trophy on
Ohio State's Schottenstein Center court.
Nonetheless, the 2016 VASJ squad far exceeded anyone's
expectations-especially considering that all five starters on the 2015
championship team had graduated. Starting from scratch, Coach Kwasniak's
cagers fashioned a very memorable tournament run.
And watch out for them again next year. The leading scorer for the
Vikings in the state title game was sophomore guard Jerry Higgins, whose
shot at the halftime buzzer narrowed Lima Central's lead to 27-26. Higgins
finished the game with 15 points. Among the others expected to return next
season are 6-7 freshman Alonzo Gafney, 6-2 junior Noah Newton, and 6-3
junior Dan McGarry who made a significant contribution under the basket