Akron, OH- The St. Edward Eagles (15-0) traveled on the road to take on the St. Vincent-St. Mary Fighting Irish (12-5) on Friday night in front of a nearly sold out crowd at the LeBron James Arena.
The Eagles entered this game on night two of a back-to-back, knocking off Benedictine in a 80-38 blowout last night. The Irish were entering this game winners of three out of their last five games, looking for some consistency as the high school playoffs are just under a month away.
St. Ed's started the game fast with an 8-2 run just 1:10 into the game behind threes from seniors Brevyn Coleman and Wendell Henry Jr. and a pair of free throws from Danny Lavelle.
The Irish bounced back quickly drawing 5 teams fouls putting the likes of Coleman in early foul trouble with two personals. Ed's would lead at the end of the first quarter by a slim 20-18 margin.
In the second, senior forward and Stanford commit Cameron Grant matched the intensity the Irish came out the break with. He scored 10 of his team high 16 points nearly outscoring the Irish by his lonesome. Irish junior guard Jayson Walker had 11 of his team high 16 points at the half as SVSM held an 8 point deficit 37-29.
Irish senior guard Kevin "Fats" Hamilton Jr. and 6'10 senior forward Darius Stratford gave SVSM a instant spark to the third quarter. Stratford used his size to dominate the boards, putting up 5 points and 4 rebounds to bring the Irish within four. Hamilton would score the next two baskets to tie the game at 40 gaining some momentum towards the team. Stratford finished with 7 points. Hamilton finished with 14.
Max McCellan gave the Eagles much needed offense of the bench in the third. Just when SVSM started to full court press them, McCellan found a way to knock down two highly contested threes to keep the team ahead. The Irish could never grab ahold of the lead at any point of the game. They would go into the fourth down 48-43.
Irish senior guard and Kent State commit Lance "LA" Hayes put the team on his back in the final quarter. He scored 10 of the team's 16 point including a clutch layup to cut the lead to 4 with under 5 seconds left as both teams played the foul game. Hayes finished the game tied for team high with 16
Ricky Bussey II for the Eagles in the fourth quarter battled Hayes, showing just the depth of Coach Eric Flannery's squad. His intensity of the Irish scoring 9 of the teams 17 quarter points from behind the arc and inside the paint. Bussey finished with 11 points.
The Eagles have now won five tough games in the past seven days, including two back-to-backs. When asked about how impressed he was with the team, Flannery responded,
"Anytime you beat SVSM on the road, that's a big win I don't care how you played. The players have bought into what we want them do, but there so much more left we have to do."
The Irish are home next Tuesday in a rivalry game against local rivals Archbishop Hoban, while the Irish will enjoy a week off before traveling to Ohio City to take on the St. Ignatius Wildcats next Friday.
I spoke with Ed's coach Eric Flannery and along with Ricky Bussey after the game.
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