Lakewood, OH- They say good things come to those who are patient. That exactly was the cause Friday night as the #2 St. Ed's Eagles (18-2) hosted defending the Division IV state champion #1 Richmond Heights Spartans (22-0) in a game where the Spartans were looking to prove they belong amongst the top schools in Northeast Ohio.
Teams who usually are undefeated, aren't looked at as underdogs, but amongst the community of high school aficionados they just were due to their Division IV schedule, which ultimately is out of their hands. The Eagles midway through the season completed a 5 game gauntlet in 7 days over powerhouses like St. Vincent-St. Mary and Garfield Heights, winning all five game's impressively. The Spartans, when matched up against against teams in Division I went 3-0, not including an impressive 57-54 win over Lutheran East, who's Division III in the PBP Classic
Coach Quentin Rogers team showed its athleticism right away with Dorian Jones and fellow teammate Jeremy Wilson who opened the game with four combined made threes. Eagles seniors Brevyn Coleman, Cam Grant and Wendell Henry each scored at least seven points, as well as combining for four threes in the quarter to give St. Ed's a 24-22 first quarter lead.
Neither team could establish a firm lead in the second, as the Eagles jumped out to a 29-25 lead before the Spartans immediately cut into the deficit with a 6-0 run of themselves. Henry scored the last six points for the Eagles helping them to a 41-37 halftime lead.
Jones went on a 4-0 run himself to tie the ballgame at 41 before sophomore guard Damaris Winters awoke the crowd with 3 huge triples to put the Spartans ahead by 1 with 3:07 on the clock. Coleman scored 10 of the Eagles 15 fourth quarter points keeping the game interesting as the Spartans held a 57-56 lead going into the final quarter.
The final quarter was potentially the greatest quarter of basketball played all season by both teams. Senior Danny Lavelle hit a triple to give the Eagles early fourth quarter 1 point lead. The Spartans jumped out to a 7 point lead before Cam Grant made a layup while being fouled to cut the deficit to two with 3:24 in the game. Winters caught lightening in a bottle by knocking down three more triples to push the Richmond lead to four late. Lavelle made a layup, cutting it to two. On the next possession Jones threw down a thunderous dunk in transition over Eagles guard Lucas Perusek electrifying the Spartan crowd and pushing the lead to four.
St. Ed's junior Brian Sullivan had two steals and four quick points tying the game. Junior Spartan Hosea Steele then followed with a strong layup while being fouled and Winters knocked in a extra free throw to secure the Spartan win 83-80.
"We wanted to come in and show who we are " said Rogers post game. "We don't get a chance to play teams like this often. We wish we could play championship chasing teams more often"
Jones led the Spartans with 23 points. Winters followed with 21 points (19 in the second half). Wilson and Steele both finished with 14.
Coleman led the Eagles with 20 points. Henry finished with 18. Grant finished with 16.
Both teams attention is now focused on the district playoffs, as both are #1 seed in their respective divisions.