Eagles Top #1 Team in Ohio
St. Edward defeated Solon 84-70 Tuesday evening in a highly anticipated matchup of local powers. Solon entered the game undefeated, and was ranked the top team in the entire state of Ohio. The Eagles, who narrowly defeated Central Catholic in OT on Saturday, had risen to #8 in the state polls. An overflow crowd was in attendance on the unseasonably warm evening, causing numerous game delays due to condensation on the floor.
Solon stayed even with the Eagles in the opening minutes, taking a 10-8 lead midway through the first quarter. Senior Emmett Chambers tied the game with a bucket, triggering a frenzy in the crowd. The St. Edward student section decided pregame to stay quiet until the Eagles scored their tenth point. They went berzerk for a few minutes, which seemed to inspire the Eagles and rattle the Comets. St. Edward went on a 14-0 run to lead 22-10 with 1:14 left in the opening period. The Comets regained their composure, scoring the final five points of the quarter to make the score 22-15.
The lead stretched to 26-15 early in the second quarter, but the Comets refused to go away. They cut the lead to 30-25 midway through the period, behind the stellar play of junior guard Trent Williams and senior guard Sincere Carry. The Eagle went on another run, building a 45-31 lead at halftime. Senior Elliott Tirbaso led the second period surge, coming off the bench to score nine points including a pair of three pointers. He even had a very rare four point play, making a three pointer while fouled and then hitting the free throw.
The scoring pace picked up in the third quarter, as both teams ran the floor with numerous transition baskets. The Eagles were able to sustain their lead throughout the period, using their strong depth to keep pace with the high-energy Comets. St. Edward led 74-58 at the end of three periods. Senior PJ Flannery made a trio of three point plays in the third period to help the Eagles hold the lead. One of those was a three point shot, while the other two were "old fashioned" three pointers -- a made field goal while being fouled, followed by a converted free throw.
Solon cut the lead to 12 with 4:38 remaining in the game, but was never able to get closer. Eagle junior Meechie Terry made an emphatic slam dunk to restore the lead to 16 with under three minutes to go. This closed the door on any faint hopes of a Solon comeback, and sent the crowd home happy.
Flannery led the Eagles scoring with 20 points; sophomore Grant Huffman had 16; Devontae Blanton had 14; Terry had 11. Sincere led all scorers in the game with 23 points for the Comets; Williams had 22. St. Edward (18-3) wraps up its regular season on Friday night at home against John Hay of the Senate League. It will be senior night, where the senior players and their parents will be recognized before the game.
Mike Deneen has extensive experience covering sports and community stories for the Lakewood Observer. Mike has been a Senior Industry Analyst for the Freedonia Group in Cleveland, Ohio, since 1998. He has appeared on CNBC’s Closing Bell, NPR’s MarketPlace and has been quoted multiple times in The Wall Street Journal. He has made multiple guest appearances on ESPN Cleveland radio. Mike also writes for Inside Northwestern, a website that covers Northwestern Wildcat Athletics. You can reach him on Twitter at @MikeDeneen1