Finally home in the Dome, Walsh Jesuit boys basketball routs Revere

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
The roof of the Warrior Dome at Walsh Jesuit High School suffered damage in a wind storm in late November, rendering Walsh's home court unplayable for a month. Walsh returned to the Dome Wednesday for a game against Revere. [Photo courtesy of Timothy Howard]

CUYAHOGA FALLS — After a year as trying as 2020, many people will be thankful just to have a roof over their heads.

For about a month, the Walsh Jesuit basketball teams didn't even have that luxury.

Walsh Jesuit boys coach Kevin Byrne explained a wind storm on the Sunday after Thanksgiving damaged the roof of the Warrior Dome, rendering it unsafe to play on Walsh's home court.

"It was a very 2020 type of thing to have happen," Byrne said.

Byrne said Walsh was able to get the roof "patched" just before Christmas, although a permanent fix will have to wait until likely next summer.

As a result, Walsh spent most of the first month of the season traveling, save for one game played at Ricco Fieldhouse against  Cleveland St. Ignatius Dec. 2.

The Warriors finally got back to the Dome Tuesday, when they hosted Revere.

During the game, the Minutemen (2-4) were hit by a different kind of storm from Walsh senior forward Erik Stern, who scored a career-high 32 points and added 13 rebounds to lead Walsh (6-1) to an 80-63 win to close out 2020.

The 6-foot-8 senior showed off every aspect of his game, making four 3-pointers, clogging the lane and giving the Revere defense fits in the low post.

"He's really come into his own this year as a scorer," Byrne said. "He was a handful for them down low tonight. He was a ... 41-percent 3-point shooter coming into this game.

"I told him at the beginning of the year that I want him to be more aggressive."

Walsh Jesuit forward Erik Stern scored a career-high 32 points in Walsh's 80-63 home win over Revere on Wednesday night. [Photo courtesy of Timothy Howard]

Stern said he took his coach's words to heart.

"I made my first couple of shots and I just wanted to stay in attack mode after that," Stern said. "I like to let things come to me. I like to get my teammates involved. Tonight, I just wanted to stay in attack mode."

Revere coach Dean Rahas could do little but praise Stern's game.

"Hats off to him," Rahas said. "He had an excellent game. We just didn't have an answer for him all night. He was playing well inside and outside.

"We didn't shoot that ball well tonight," Rahas added. "When we don't shoot well, other areas of our game tend to suffer."

Stern made his intentions clear early. He made a 3-pointer to open the game and scored 14 of Walsh's 19 first-quarter points.

Revere stayed within shouting distance behind senior guards Jimmy Salamone and Andrew Rinn, its two top scorers.

Stern's huge night overshadowed a 28-point effort by Salamone. Rinn added 20 points and eight rebounds.

But Revere had no other player score more than six points and much of that came after the reserves entered the game.

Walsh's attack was much more balanced. The Warriors made a season-high nine 3-pointers by five different players.

"I would like it to be where that's normal for us," Byrnes said. "We had not been shooting the ball very well. Maybe coming home helped us a bit."

After Revere closed the gap to 19-14 early in the second quarter, Walsh seized command of the game with an 11-0 run.

Walsh then outscored the Minutemen 20-8 in the second quarter to take a 39-20 halftime lead.

Revere guard Jimmy Salamone drives to the basket during the Minutemen's 80-63 loss at Walsh Jesuit on Wednesday night. Salamone scored 28 points for the Minutemen. [Photo courtesy of Timothy Howard]

The Warriors came out smoking in the second half with an 8-0 run, and Stern was not the only Walsh forward who had a good night.

Junior Kole Kuczynski, who scored 10 of his 17 points in third quarter, had a stat-stuffing game, finishing with nine rebounds, four blocked shots and two assists.

"He was really active and really engaged tonight," Byrne said. "When that happens, he's a very good player."

With Walsh's frontcourt dominating the game, Rahas called a timeout with 2:24 left in the third quarter, facing a 57-28 deficit.

To its credit, Revere didn't quit.

Salamone asserted himself late in the third quarter and started to drive to the basket, albeit with Stern and Kuczynski on the bench.

The result was a 14-2 Revere run to end the third quarter, which cut the deficit to 59-42.

Revere closed to within 14 on several occasions in the fourth quarter, but Walsh's lead was never in jeopardy.

Stern nailed two more 3-pointers in the fourth quarter before both teams emptied their benches.

Walsh will open 2021 by hosting Firestone at the Dome Jan. 5.