BARBERTON — The St. Vincent-St. Mary boys basketball team features seven players who stand between 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-5.
All seven made an impact Wednesday night when St. V-M beat Ellet 79-49 in a Division I district semifinal game on Greynolds Floor at Barberton High School.
Sophomore Malaki Branham and senior Lunden McDay led the Irish (20-3) into a district final against either Copley or Walsh Jesuit at 7 p.m. Saturday at Barberton.
Branham totaled 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and two blocks against Ellet.
“We did well on the defensive end,” said Branham, a 6-foot-5 forward. “I think we need to execute more offensively against a 2-3 [zone] because that is what people will be playing against us because they think we can’t shoot over it.”
McDay, a 6-3 Ohio University recruit, finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, three steals and three assists. Jordan Addison, a 6-3 senior, scored 10 points.
“We were pretty good defensively,” St. V-M coach Dru Joyce II said. “We held them to under 40 percent shooting on 2-pointers and 3-pointers, so that was good.
“Offensively, we took some ill-advised 3s that we didn’t have to take that they gave us, but beyond that, I thought we did a great job of moving the ball around and exploiting the weaknesses in the zone when we went inside.”
St. V-M led 17-11 at the end of the first quarter, 32-14 at halftime and 52-33 through three quarters. Branham had two slam dunks in the fourth quarter as the lead grew.
Jarmond Hogg, a 6-4 senior, paced Ellet (14-11) with 19 points and 5-10 junior Adonis Jordan scored 10 points. Orangemen junior Trevin Carter contributed seven points and five rebounds, senior Jesse Nance scored five points and senior Anthony Jordan had four points and seven rebounds.
“These seniors have given us a lot of wins,” Ellet coach Mark Fisher said. “We tried as hard as we could, and we ran into a better team with a lot of talent. That is what life gives you sometimes. You feel bad one day and you feel really good another day. ... It felt great winning that sectional [final against Stow on Saturday] and earning the right to be here, and then you run into this and you feel bad.”
Seth Wilson, a 6-3 sophomore, and Chris Painter, a 5-11 senior, returned to St. V-M's starting lineup after missing two games because of a suspension for their part in a scuffle during a win over Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph. St. V-M then defeated Canton McKinley and Firestone without Wilson and Painter.
Wilson had eight points and four assists Wednesday, and Painter had seven points and three assists.
“I missed my guys, Chris and Seth,” Branham said. “They are a big part of the offense. They move the ball around and they also make shots.”
Irish junior Marcus Johnson had seven points and eight rebounds, senior Keyshawn Jones had six points and seven rebounds and senior Josh Jones scored five points.