They already have one state championship this school year.
And with their play on Tuesday, St. Vincent-St. Mary’s football stars, now playing basketball, have Irish fans believing another state title is possible.
They are Fransohn Bickley, Dante Booker, Jordan Hargrove, Travonte Junius, Joey Weber and Newman Williams, and they were the difference in St. V-M’s 79-71 win over visiting North Canton Hoover.
“It took them a little while to get into basketball shape, but we’re going to be good because of them,” Irish coach Dru Joyce said. “I’ve never had this many football players who were integral parts of the basketball team.”
Hoover, behind three 3-pointers from senior guard Dom Iero, had St. V-M (12-9) on its heels after one quarter, leading 21-15.
Two put-back baskets and a free throw by Williams pulled the Irish even at 28-28 with 3:35 left until halftime.
“I see my role as setting screens, rebounding, being physical, and playing aggressive defense,” said Williams, listed at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds.
Hargrove’s 3-pointer at 2:41 gave St. V-M a 31-28 lead, and the Irish led the rest of the way.
Junius capped a 15-2 run with a steal and layup to make it 36-28. Junior guard Jalen Hudson’s slam dunk and 3-pointer and senior Nick Wells’ rebound follow gave the Irish a 43-31 lead at halftime.
Trailing 54-51 late in the third quarter, Hoover (18-4) had a 3-pointer in the air that would have tied the score. But Junius scored a lay-in with six seconds left in the third quarter, and the Irish took a 59-53 lead into the final eight minutes. St. V-M scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to go on top 65-53.
“I just tried to find a way to pick our ‘hypeness’ back up,” Junius said. “That’s what we call it — ‘hypeness.’ ”
With 6-foot-5 senior forward Harrison Blackledge scoring 11 fourth-quarter points, Hoover cut its deficit to five points three times, but got no closer.
“I was proud of our effort,” Hoover coach Randy Montgomery said. “I felt like it was a good game for us to play because it was kind of a physical game. We didn’t rebound as well as we needed to.”
The Irish had 17 offensive rebounds.
Wells finished with 19 points and eight rebounds. Hudson had 18 points, four assists and three steals, and VJ King tallied 17 points and five assists.
Talking about Bickley and Hargrove, his two senior football-basketball players, Joyce said: “They want to finish this [season] the same way. They want to win the last one.”
Iero paced Hoover with 22 points, including six 3-point goals. Blackledge had 21 points.