CANTON: A mismatch on paper turned into a mismatch on the basketball court Tuesday night at the Canton Memorial Fieldhouse.
Windham entered its Division IV regional semifinal with Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph at a clear size disadvantage, and it showed following 32 minutes of play when the Vikings defeated the Bombers 93-56.
VA-SJ (22-4) featured a starting lineup of players between 6-foot and 6-foot-9. Windham (23-3) countered with a starting five of players between 5-foot-7 and 6-foot-2.
The Vikings have two Division I college signees — 6-3 senior guard Duane Gibson Jr. and 6-7 senior forward Demonte Flannigan — and a highly touted 6-9 sophomore center named Carlton Bragg who is garnering interest from a host of Division I colleges.
The Bombers have no Division I college signees on this year’s team and have not produced one during the 38-year tenure of coach Marty Hill. Windham has produced several Division II and Division III college players during Hill’s 38 seasons as coach.
Gibson, an Evansville recruit, finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and six steals. Flannigan, a Cleveland State recruit, had 11 points and six rebounds.
Bragg scored 23 points and grabbed five rebounds.
“What was impressive about them was, we knew they were athletic, but man, their shooting was out of sight,” Hill said. “They had guys off the bench who could shoot. They are really a quality team with good athletes and good shooters. They are going to be a tough team to beat.”
Parker Rickey, a 6-1 sophomore, paced Windham with 21 points, six rebounds and four steals. The Bombers also got 11 points apiece from 5-10 senior Matt Knight and 6-2 senior Cameron Pozsgai.
“When we came into this game we knew we were going to have to make a lot of perimeter shots,” Hill said. “We were not going to get a lot of shots inside against them, and we don’t anyways usually. Cameron gets some inside. We shot the ball much better in the second half, especially Parker.”
When asked if this is this one of the biggest height disadvantages he has had as Windham coach, Hill, 60, said “Oh, man, for sure, probably ever.”
“They are very athletic. It isn’t that they are just big, they’re big kids that can shoot. They are all pretty good passers.”
VA-SJ led 30-13 after one quarter and 44-21 at halftime. The Vikings edge grew to 70-35 following three quarters. Sophomore Simon Texidor Jr. scored 17 points for the Vikings and junior Deandre Forte added 11 points.
“I am happy with our kids,” Hill said. “We have had a great season. I told the kids that this is just one of those things where you get this far in the tournament, sometimes you run into a better team. They are a better team than us. It doesn’t take away from what we accomplished. We are a good team, too. I am proud of our kids and how they played all year. They have plenty to be proud of. We went undefeated in our league [Portage Trail Conference County Division] and won the district for the third time in a row [and eighth in 10 years]. There were a lot of great things that happened this year.”