EAST LIVERPOOL -Youngstown Ursuline did not need the Luck of the Irish to come away with the title.
The Fighting Irish used their athleticism and sharp shooting to slowly pull away against the Potters as the Urusline boys' basketball team came away with a 58-44 victory over East Liverpool in the Championship Game of the Potter Holiday Classic Friday night at Potter Fieldhouse.
The Irish (2-6) entered the two-day tournament winless on the season, but Ursuline defeated Linsly in Thursday's first semifinal before defeating East Liverpool to win the tournament title.
East Liverpool’s Derek Thompson lays the ball up against Youngstown Ursuline on Friday at Potter Fieldhouse. (Photo courtesy of Jimmy Joe Savage)
"We knew how good the competition was here," Ursuline head coach Keith Gunther said. "We have been coming here for seven years, and we have won this tournament three or four times.
"We struggled the last couple of years here. Two years ago, we lost to Buchtel. Last year, we lost to Northwest. We had a couple of rebuilding years.
"This is a great tournament. East Liverpool really does a great job. They feed us. They really take care of us. It is a coaches dream to play in a tournament like this. It is a great atmosphere."
Youngstown Ursuline 58, East Liverpool 44
YU 14-18-13-13 - 58
EL 12-09-11-12 - 44
YU (58): Desmond McElroy 10 2-2 27, Mark Hughes 0 0-0 0, Ryan Strollo 5 0-0 14, Chris Gunther 1 0-0 2, Preston Williams 3 3-4 9, Ben Phillips 1 0-0 2, Kevin Jackson 0 0-0 0, Khalid Pierce 2 0-1 4. Totals: 22 5-7 58.
EL (44): D.J. Austin 0 2-2 2, Hayden Cunningham 4 3-4 14, Austin Emmerling 1 0-2 2, Derek Thompson 2 9-13 13, Owen Crawford 0 0-0 0, Rian Burson 0 0-0 0, Aaron Long 1 1-2 3. Totals: 11 16-25 44.
3-Pointers: Youngstown Ursuline 9 (McElroy 5, Strollo 4); East Liverpool: 6 (Cunningham 3, Reynolds 3)
Linsly 57, Berkshire 55
LI 19-12-17-09 - 57
BS 11-20-16-08 - 55
LI (57): Rashard Johnson 0 0-0 0, Anthony Wallace 11 2-2 25, Colton Coss 1 0-0 3, Toddy Goodwin-Rowe 4 0-0 9, Jibri Blount 5 0-0 10, Cole Griffin 1 0-0 3, Mackenzie Hammond 1 0-0 3, Logan Goodnight 0 0-0 0, Austin Whipkey 2 0-0 4. Totals: 23 2-2 57.
BS (55): Jarrett Smetana 1 1-2 3, Erick Burzanko 3 0-0 6, Tim Ludlow 13 6-8 34, Iain Laymon 0 0-0 0, Ian Monroe 0 2-4 2, Josh Garrett 0 0-0 0, Dave Mayer 5 0-0 10. Totals: 22 9-14 55.
3-Pointers: Linsly: 5 (Wallace, Coss, Goodwin-Rowe, Griffin, Hammond); Berkshire: 2 (Ludlow 2)
The loss drops the Potters to 3-8. East Liverpool defeated Berkshire in the semifinals.
"We battled," East Liverpool head coach Nate Conley said. "We didn't play real well, but we battled, and that is good to see with having so many young kids.
"Ursuline is a good team. They play stiff competition. They play teams like Warren Harding and Akron St. Vincent St. Mary.
"We battled tonight. It was good to see with the amount of inexperience we have."
The Irish outscored the Potters in all four quarter of the game. The biggest difference came in the second stanza as Ursuline outscored East Liverpool, 18-9. Despite the double-digit victory and outscoring the Potters in all four quarters, the Irish were never able to really pull too far ahead.
Ursuline never scored more than six-straight points in the game, though the Irish did score five-straight points multiple times. The six-point spurt came on two 3-pointers.
Two players scored in double digits to lead the way for the Irish. Desmond McElroy recorded a game-high 27 points, and Ryan Strollo collected 14 points.
Three players scored in double digits for the Potters. Hayden Cunningham netted a team-high 14 points, Derek Thompson tallied 13 points and Kade Reynolds delivered 10 points.
Also for East Liverpool, Aaron Long tallied three points, and D.J. Austin and Austin Emmerling each added two points.
The Irish made 22 field goals in the game, nine of which came from beyond the arc. The Potters made 11 field goals with six coming from long range. Ursuline finished the game 5-of-7 from the free-throw line, while the Potters were 16-of-25 from the charity stripe.
East Liverpool outrebounded Ursuline, 26-21. Thompson grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the way for the Potters. Kevin Jackson and Khalid Pierce each pulled down four rebounds for the Irish.
The Potters committed 19 turnovers in the game. The Irish committed 12.
Neither team was able to gain the momentum early in the game. Neither team led by more than two points in the first quarter, and neither team scored more than four-straight points. McElroy drained a 3-pointer to put the visitors up 14-12 after one quarter of play.
The Irish began to increase their lead in the second stanza. Two foul shots by McElroy and a 3-pointer by Strollo put Ursuline out in front, 28-19. The Irish scored the final four points of the frame to take a 32-21 lead into halftime.
"Their defensive intensity is great," Conley said. "We handled it well at times, and at other times we had some costly turnovers which led to two points for them.
"We have played a tough schedule. We are going to continue to get better."
In the third quarter, 3-pointers by McElroy and Strollo put the Irish ahead, 40-26, with less than five minutes showing on the clock. East Liverpool scored the next five points to pull back within single digits, but the Irish was able to extend their lead to 45-32 entering the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, a 3-pointer by McElroy and a bucket by Pierce gave the Irish their biggest lead of the game at 55-38.
"We are settling in a little more," Gunther said. "We are more seasoned. We are able to coach them. They are playing smarter.
"Early on, there was too much running and gunning. We were shooting too many 3s. Here, we moved the ball. Our shooters set their feet. We were able to get to the basket.
"Ryan and Desmond can really shoot the ball. Our guards were able to drive and kick. Kevin Jackson was in foul trouble tonight. Khalid Pierce is a football player. He's a man under there."
The Cadets defeated the Badgers, 57-55, on a game-winning basket by Toddy Goodwin-Rowe as time expired in the consolation game.
With the win, the Cadets are now 3-3 on the season.
Linsly led 55-52 with under two minutes to play. Then, Berkshire's Ian Monroe made 1-of-2 from the foul line with 1:48 left to play in the game making the score 55-53.
Neither team was able to score again until there was less than 10 seconds to play in the game. Berkshire's Tim Ludlow scored to tie the game at 55, and the Cadets called time out with 7.4 seconds showing on the clock.
Linsly called another time out when the Cadets got the ball into the frontcourt with 4.1 seconds remaining to set up the final play of the game which resulted in Goodwin-Rowe driving to the basket and scoring a time expired giving the Cadets the hard-fought victory.
Anthony Wallace and Jibri Blount both scored in double digits to lead the way for the Cadets. Wallace scored a team-high 25 points, while Blount netted 10 points. Goodwin-Rowe recorded nine points.
"We knew they were going to focus on Anthony," Linsly head coach James Wallace about his team's final play. "Anthony is a special player. I think when he took the ball it out it kind of confused them.
"We were able to get the ball into our point guard hands, and he was bale to drive to the hoop. Jibri is our best finisher, and he was able to get open on the other side if Toddy couldn't finish."
Ludlow delivered a game-high 34 points to lead the way for the Badgers, while Dave Mayer recorded 10.
"We knew Ludlow was a special player," Coach Wallace said. "He is a college player playing high school basketball. Defensively, we tried to disrupt him.
"Offensively, we shot out selves in the foot with turnovers which stifled our runs and let them have some runs.
"They are a good team. They are well coached. They know how to win. They have won three-straight district titles.
"Winning this game was a big step for us."
The Cadets got off to a fast start as Linsly jumped out to a 19-11 lead over the Badgers after one quarter of play. The Badgers fought back in the second stanza. Berkshire outscored Linsly, 20-12, in the quarter to tie the score at 31 at halftime.
The back-and-forth affair continued in the third quarter. Linsly outscored Berkshire, 17-16, in the third to take a 48-47 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
"This is a really-nice tournament," Coach Wallace said. "I haven't been here since they redid the the floor. It looks really nice. They spent a lot of money on it.
"It is a beautiful facility. It was a great atmosphere. We were treated really well. There were four-quality teams here. It was good competition. Our kids played really hard."
Following the championship game, East Liverpool Athletic Director Bob Shansky announced the all-tournament team as well as the tournament MVP. The all-tournament team was made up of Anthony Wallce, Ludlow, McElroy, and Cunningham. Strollo was named the MVP.
Shansky also presented the team trophy to the Irish. Gunther then presented the trophy to Jackson's mother. Jackson's father passed away a couple of weeks ago.
"Hayden had a good tournament," Conley said. "I'm sure he would have much rather have had the team trophy instead of making the all-tournament team. He has gotten better. He is still young. The kid is a pretty-good basketball player."
East Liverpool's next game is Friday at Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. Ursuline plays Friday at home against Canton Central Catholic. Linsly plays Thursday at home against Shadyside.
"We are going to be able to get some fresh legs," Conley said. "We are going to have a busy week next week. we play Friday and Saturday. We are going to continue to get better."