The Walsh Jesuit boys basketball team showed the toughness and grit that coaches love Friday night before a capacity crowd of about 1,200 at Archbishop Hoban’s Barry Gymnasium.
Warriors sophomore Anthony Rozum rebounded a Knights’ missed 3-pointer as time expired, and coach John Norris pumped his fist after a 48-47 come-from-behind victory.
Seniors David Croft and Mark Mittiga both scored 16 points to guide the Warriors (10-2, 5-0) over the Knights (8-3, 3-2) in a North Coast League Blue Division game.
Walsh trailed by eight points multiple times and grabbed its first lead with two minutes and 50 seconds to go in the fourth quarter.
“Any league win on the road is a big win, especially coming to a rivalry like this and an atmosphere out there that was just crazy,” Mittiga said. “It is a huge win. To be undefeated in a league that has some of the best teams in the area is awesome.”
Croft scored nine points in the second half, and Mittiga added seven points.
“They just did a great job of playing with each other and the other players on the court do the same,” Norris said. “They all show patience. We have two guys who are very difficult to defend in Mark and Dave. They both have the ability to score inside and out. They don’t rush their shots. They are very patient and take what the defense gives them.”
Junior Christian Waite scored 15 points for Hoban and senior Jaelen Hollinger added 11 points, 10 rebounds and two steals. The Knights scored a season-low 20 points in the second half.
“That is a great team over there,” Norris said. “They do a lot of things well and there is a lot of talent on that side. They are well-coached. This just shows a lot of the toughness of our players to not get down, to stay positive and stick to our identity, which is being able to get stops, making good decisions on offense and sharing the basketball well. We did a tremendous job of that, in the fourth quarter in particular.
“We held them to one field goal in the fourth quarter. To hold a team like that to one field goal in the fourth quarter is a lot of overall toughness and team discipline with all five guys playing together.”
Croft also had eight rebounds and two blocks. Juniors Max Siwik, Bryan DiCillo and Gaven Cona and freshman Mitch Peterson scored the Warriors’ other 18 points.
“This was by far the most exciting win,” Croft said. “Both schools had great student turnouts. It was a hostile environment and both teams embraced it. We are glad we came out on top. This is a great win for our team moving forward.”
Seniors Saadiq Muhammad and DeAllen Jackson scored eight points apiece for Hoban.
“The kids did everything we asked them to do,” Hoban coach T.K. Griffith said. “We are in a rut right now in the middle of the season and we are just not shooting the ball well as a team. . . . I thought we played a great game. We just didn’t win on the scoreboard.”
Hoban led 16-12 after one quarter, 27-25 at halftime and 40-37 following three quarters.
Walsh hosts Hoban on Feb. 22.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.