St. Vincent-St. Mary junior Jalen Hudson embraces the new year, and so do his teammates.
Hudson and the rest of the Fighting Irish faced some humbling moments through the opening seven games of the season.
On Friday night, St. V-M won its second game in a row with a 69-54 victory over host Firestone before an enthusiastic crowd.
Hudson scored 22 points and blocked three shots for the Irish (4-5), which trailed the Falcons (6-3) just once.
“We are just starting a new season,” Hudson said. “We are starting with a good win here and plan to keep picking it up. Our record is not very good. We are basically starting over. We have gotten two nice wins here, [Cleveland] Benedictine to close out 2012, and Firestone to begin 2013.”
Hudson, who is 6-foot-6, combined with 6-7 freshman VJ King and 6-6 senior Nick Wells to give the Irish a formidable front line.
“Those three guys are our principal scorers,” St. V-M coach Dru Joyce II said. “They are the ones who need to get the shots and make the shots. I was really pleased with them.”
King had 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
“This is a great win,” King said. “My teammates really stepped up today. We needed all of them. We were really focusing on defense because we know the offense will be there.”
Wells had 10 points and 15 rebounds for St. V-M, which led 17-8 after one quarter, 39-25 at halftime and 50-38 following three quarters.
“We just have to focus on not settling and taking the ball to the rim,” King said. “Firestone settled back into a 2-3 zone, but we still had to penetrate. We are working on that and getting better.”
Firestone 6-5 senior Jerome Lane and 6-3 junior Miles Kirk got into foul trouble in the first half, which limited their minutes. Lane picked up his third foul with 2:48 remaining in the first quarter and Kirk got his third foul with 4:49 to go in the second quarter.
“Without Jerome Lane, they were pretty weak inside,” Hudson said. “We realized that and just took control of it.”
Lane scored all of Firestone’s 16 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 21 points, 13 rebounds and two steals.
Firestone 6-4 senior Kevin Gladney had 15 points and six rebounds, and 6-4 junior Evan Kennerly contributed six points and nine rebounds.
“St. Vincent-St. Mary passes the ball very well,” Firestone coach Dave Milo said. “They are a nice passing team. They work the ball to get the good shots. They attacked the hole, which we usually do, we just haven’t done it lately.
“You just can’t get into foul trouble that early, especially playing a zone. We got good shots and stopped taking all of those threes, but we just couldn’t get the ball to fall. It is frustrating because that is two games in a row.”
Irish seniors Joey Weber and Jordan Hargrove each scored six points, and junior Jarel Wooldridge had five points and four assists. Senior Fransohn Bickley chipped in two points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals.
“We are getting better against a zone [defense],” Joyce said. “I was pretty pleased at times with what we did against a zone. Our guys are getting better at throwing into the post. The post guys are making plays. What upset me are the turnovers. Some of them were senseless plays that you can’t have against a good team.”
Falcons senior Darin Adams scored six points and junior Jae’Quan Jones had four points and five assists.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.