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

this season.

John Sheridan


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Volume 7, Issue 4, Posted 6:02 PM, 04.06.2016