The Walsh Jesuit boys basketball team has experienced some more ups and downs during its last few ballgames.
The Warriors have lost by 28 points, won by two points, and lost by 29 points.
The 28-point defeat was against North Coast League Blue Division leader Archbishop Hoban at home Feb. 3. The Knights posted a 52-24 victory over Walsh Jesuit.
Junior Ben Merril led the Warriors offensively. He was the only Walsh player to reach double digits, scoring 10 points. In addition, sophomore Tommy Cummings produced six points and junior Phil Vincent contributed five markers. Other Warriors cracking the scoring column were senior Steven Walko with two points and sophomore Austin Lustik with one point.
One week later, Walsh Jesuit was in action again. This time, the Warriors traveled to division adversary Padua Franciscan Feb. 10. After falling behind 13-5 in the first quarter, Walsh rallied to prevail over the Bruins by the score of 51-49.
Cummings rebounded his own missed shot and then put the ball back in the basket as the final buzzer sounded to account for the margin of victory.
"This was a strong team performance from start to finish," said Walsh Jesuit head coach John Norris. "We assisted on over 50% of our field goals and turned the ball over just 10 times for the game. We showed great toughness at the defensive end by limiting a high-scoring offense in Padua to under 50 points for the just the third time this season. And this was the second time we've held them under 50 points."
Once again, Merril led the way, this time pouring in 16 points. Senior Kevin Kukla was also in double figures with 10 points, while Vincent produced nine markers.
Cummings and Lustik tallied six points apiece for Walsh Jesuit. Senior Brad Johnson and Walko rounded out the scoring for the Warriors, as each added two points.
"We did a great job as a team in forcing contested shots all evening, and by limiting our turnovers, we disallowed them the ability to get out to easy scores," said Norris. "I was very proud of how we played down the stretch by handling pressure, making free throws, and executing in our final possession to get the win."
On Feb. 14, Walsh Jesuit hosted rival St. Vincent-St. Mary. The Warriors didn't feel the love, though, as the Irish posted a 72-43 victory over the Warriors.
Walsh Jesuit only trailed by eight points at intermission, but the Warriors could not keep up with St. V-M in the second half.
"Our effort and execution was very sound through the first 16 minutes of play," said Norris. "But a tough stretch of four minutes in the third quarter allowed the Irish to make a run we could not recover from."
A total of nine players scored for the home team, led by Kukla's 12 points. Merril was next with seven points, and Cummings and Vincent both contributed six markers.
Lustik scored four points and Johnson contributed three points. In addition, Walko and Lucas had two points apiece and Venneri tallied one point.
"We competed well on the defensive side of the ball, and were able to execute many of the offensive goals we had in place for this game," said Norris. "But we were not able to get the stops we needed to and finish or convert the scoring chances we had against a very good team."
Walsh Jesuit now owns an overall record of 9-9. The Warriors are also 4-4 in the Blue Division. Hoban sits atop the current division standings with an undefeated mark of 8-0.
Walsh Jesuit was also seeded seventh at the recent Division I district tournament draw at Copley High School. The Warriors will open the postseason tournament at sixth-seeded Highland March 1 at 7 p.m.