A special season for the Villa Angela-St. Joseph Vikings hit another high mark on Valentine’s Day at Sullivan Gymnasium against the host St. Ignatius Wildcats.
VASJ guard Simon Texidor knocked down seven of his team’s 10 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 25 points and Brian Parker added 19 in the Vikings’ 76-57 victory.
It was the first time VASJ won at Sullivan Gymnasium in the 21st century and he Vikings maintained a perfect record against Ohio teams while improving to 15-2 overall.
“I have so much respect for (St. Ignatius coach) Sean O’Toole. They know our offense as well as we do, so they defend the living daylights out of you and everything is a challenge,” VASJ coach Babe Kwasniak said. “It was so physical, like hand-to-hand combat out there. I am proud of our guys. Simon is in my opinion the best shooter in the state of Ohio and he makes us so tough to defend.”
Texidor hit three 3s in the first quarter and Jeff Grudzinski came off the bench to make two triples in the opening 8 minutes of play as VASJ never trailed while jumping out to a 22-10 lead.
St. Ignatius cut the deficit to 25-19 early in the second quarter, but the Vikings held the Wildcats to three points over the next 6 minutes and took a 34-22 lead to halftime after a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Texidor.
“It is really pick your poison if teams want to pack it in on the inside we can hurt you on the perimeter,” Texidor said. “We can be real dangerous. It can be very hard for the defense.”
St. Ignatius made several runs in the second half, but VASJ was able to hold off the Wildcats with a balanced offensive attack that included Texidor’s outside marksmanship and attacking the rim by Parker and Carlton Bragg (13 points).
Texidor hit a pair of critical 3s from the corner in the fourth quarter to help put the game away, and Bragg had an alley oop dunk off a lob from Mo Johnson and a breakaway slam.
“Our kids get it. You think of the size of our school and the size of their school and to come here and not only get one win but win the JV game too …. It just makes me very proud,” Kwasniak said.
“They are so physical and strong. They wanted to take Simon away, but we did a good job of driving and kicking. We average 83 points a game, but you have to assume you aren’t going to score 83 points against a team as good as St. Ignatius.”
Parker had three traditional three-point plays and was able to use his strength at the rim to score key points for the Vikings.
“We haven’t beaten St. Ignatius at their place this century so I was jacked up because we knew it was a big game and we wanted to come out of here with a win, especially in my last time on this floor,” Parker said.
Kwasniak was thrilled with the win, but had a couple of other things on his mind, including his JV team remaining unbeaten and a special dedication to a VASJ administrator who was not able to be in attendance.
“I want to dedicate this win to Tim Neary (VASJ administrator) who got married tonight—this was for him!” Kwasniak said.
VASJ, which earned the top seed at the upcoming Division III Garfield Heights district, has five regular season games left including showdowns with nationally ranked Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary and D-I powerhouse St. Edward.
Johnson chipped in five points and played a solid game at point guard for the Vikings. Northwestern recruit Dererk Pardon also had five points for VASJ.
Andre Wolford led St. Ignatius with 20 points. The Wildcats were playing without standout Deven Stover (eye injury).