The St. Vincent-St. Mary boys basketball team will open its season against University High School of Normal, Ill. at 11 a.m. Saturday at the University of Illinois-Chicago a little short-handed.
The Fighting Irish football team, which features several athletes who also play basketball, will meet Bellevue at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Division III state championship game at Fawcett Stadium in Canton.
“We will both be playing at the same time,” Irish basketball coach Dru Joyce II said. “This part of a showcase of six games and we will playing in the second game.”
“We are taking 12 to make it look like we have a [varsity] team, but of the 12, I will probably play seven for sure, maybe eight and of that eight three will be freshman.”
The three freshmen are 6-foot-7 Vincent King Jr., 6-4 Henry Baddley and 6-3 Zach Corrigall.
Joyce said King and Baddley will start Saturday with 6-6 senior Nick Wells, junior Jarel Woolridge and 6-5 junior Jalen Hudson, a transfer from Virginia.
“Nick Wells is probably the only one that has major varsity playing time for me,” Joyce said.
Junior Joey Bisesi, sophomore Johnnie Robinson and Corrigall are top reserves.
Joyce said seniors Fransohn Bickley, Jordan Hargrove and Joey Weber, and juniors Travonte Junius, Newman Williams and Parris Campbell Jr. will join the basketball team after the football team concludes its season.
“It is going to be an experience Saturday,” Joyce said. “I have confidence in the young guys. They are very capable. They are pretty talented. My concern more so is the lack of depth as far as getting guys a break. It is important for us that we control the tempo and play at a pace that isn’t normally a St. Vincent-St. Mary pace. It is a great opportunity for these guys. We have a good chance to win.
“I am also very excited for the football guys. They worked hard to get to where they are. It is not often that you get to play in a game like that. Having an opportunity to play for a state championship is great. We will surely miss them.”
Normal was the Class-AA state runner-up last season. Joyce hopes to get the football players back soon with upcoming games against Cleveland Central Catholic, Seton Academy (Ill.), Archbishop Hoban and Lakewood St. Edward.
St. V-M will be without junior Aaron Bushner, who suffered a knee injury during . The Irish also saw five players transfer out during the summer: Chaz Brantley to Firestone, Angelo Cugini to Cuyahoga Falls, Victor Dorsey to Springfield, Justin Blanks to Norton and Satchel Pierce to Kiski Prep (Pa.).
“It’s tough losing those guys, but they made their decision and I wish them well,” Joyce said. “We are still going to be good. There are some players you will hear about when the season starts. We’re excited to get the season going.”