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Boys Basketball State Tournament

Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary Crowned Division II State Champions; Defeats Wauseon, 45-30

*Don DiFrancesco and Matt Medley contributed to this article*

Defense was the story for Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in the Division II State Championship. Plus a whole lot of Jayvon Graves. The Fighting Irish won their state record seventh OHSAA championship with a 45-30 victory over Wauseon in the Division 2 final on Saturday.

It marks the boys basketball team’s first state championship since 2011 and avenges last year’s loss in the title game, to cap off a remarkable four-year career for the team’s four senior leaders.

One of those senior leader was Graves, an outstanding 6’2” guard, who led the Irish with 25 points, many coming as a result of the full court press that SVSM employed for most of the game.

Graves swiped seven steals on the day, grabbing six rebounds.

That press forced 23 Wauseon turnovers and resulted in a 25-0 SVSM advantage in transition points.

Wauseon was led by 6’9” junior center Austin Rotroff; his 18 points and 9 rebounds were the top totals for the Indians who ended their season at 27-2.

St. Vincent-St. Mary (25-5) made effective use of the press and did a good job of fronting Rotroff—by far the tallest player on the floor—whenever the ball went inside.

Despite being undersized, Justin Sampson was praised by his teammates and coach after the game for doing a good job on Rotroff, as the 6-foot-4 forward grabbed eight rebounds on the day, scoring six points on the other end.

“He doesn’t do a lot that will get his name in the paper, but he goes up against guys, five to six inches taller than him all the time,” Head Coach Dru Joyce said.

“We call him the ‘third man,’ senior point guard Jon Williams said. “Sometimes he gets us going more than we get him going.”

Wauseon led 12-10 after one quarter. But after SVSM went ahead 16-14 with approximately five minutes remaining in the half, the Indians were never able to regain the lead. The Irish advantage went to eight as Graves hit a runner just before halftime.

The third quarter went back and forth with SVSM up 35-26 heading to the final eight minutes. When Rotroff split a pair of free throws with four minutes to play, Wauseon had reduced the lead to five at 35-30 and it looked like there might be a close finish. But the Irish again kicked the defense up a notch and went on an incredible 8-0 run.

Baskets by Graves, Lunden McDay, Justin Sampson, and Deamonte King, all following Wauseon turnovers, occurred in an amazing 54-second interval that spelled victory for SVSM.

That offensive explosion, sparked by defense, typified the way St. Vincent-St. Mary finished the job in Columbus this weekend, using scrappy play and hustle to create easy opportunities on the other end.

In their two games at the Schottenstein Center this weekend, STVM held opponents to 90 total points.

Watch highlights of the game along with comments from Coach Joyce and Graves below via Spectrum Sports:

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  1. Pingback: Northeast Ohio Sweeps Boys Basketball State Championships – Amico Hoops

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