The boys basketball game Friday night at Archbishop Hoban ended with Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph players celebrating on the court and Knights players in total disbelief.
VA-SJ players jumped up and down after senior Jason Priah made a layup a split second before the fourth-quarter buzzer sounded to give the Vikings a 76-74 victory in a North Coast League Red Division game.
The loss was crushing for Hoban (8-3, 4-2), which held a 58-42 lead with 7:15 to go in the fourth quarter after two layups by senior Matt Salopek.
“Obviously, there is a lot of disappointment in the air and in the heart,” Hoban coach T.K. Griffith said. “The kids really wanted to get this victory.
“Anytime you give up a one-footer with nobody around, that is heart-breaking."
VA-SJ (10-3, 7-0) outscored Hoban 34-20 in the final seven minutes. Vikings sophomore Jaden Hameed scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter to set up the game-winner. Senior Jordan Calhoun inbounded the ball to Priah after the Knights were whistled for a double dribble violation with 1.5 seconds to go near half court.
“This is as good of a win as I have ever been a part of,” said VA-SJ coach Babe Kwasniak, who won three state titles as a player and has won three state titles as a head coach. “No. 1, I think T.K. is as good of a coach as there is in Northeast Ohio, and now we have been down nine in overtime and came back to beat them [80-78 on Dec. 14 at home] and our kids came back here and win in this hostile environment.
“We have a former wrestler of ours, a 21-year-old 2016 graduate [named Joey Tromba] who was just diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. I was in the hospital with him last Friday and a lot of talk was obviously about cancer, but most of the talk was about life, about just fighting. ... He said, ‘Hey, coach, the important thing is I am going to beat this thing by fighting as hard as I can.'”
VA-SJ displayed that fight and heart in a much different capacity Friday. Kwasniak said he, his players and his coaching staff — which includes his father, Tedd — are “dedicating our season to Joey.”
Hoban led 20-17 after one quarter, 40-32 at halftime and 54-42 through three quarters.
Salopek led the Knights with 16 points, nine rebounds and two assists, and junior Dominick Moegerle had 14 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
“I told Salopek, ‘Son, you are one of my favorite young men,'” Kwasniak said.
Hoban’s other scorers were senior Jake Snyder (14 points), senior Quan Easterling (13 points), sophomore Darryl Peterson (10 points, seven rebounds) and senior Bradley Reece (seven points, five rebounds).
VA-SJ 6-6 senior Khalil Mitcham scored 15 points and sophomore Jonah Waag had 12 points and five assists. The Vikings also received scoring from Calhoun (eight points, three assists), senior Graham Koppelman (seven points), 6-9 senior Latrace Jackson (six points, seven rebounds, five blocks) and senior Julius Cummings (two points).
Hoban finished 12-of-30 from the free-throw line and VA-SJ was 13-of-20.