Whatever forecast St. John's Jesuit had for its City League basketball clash with the first-place Scott Bulldogs last night at Savage Hall, the Titans were not likely figuring on Snow.
But that was the difference between victory and defeat, as 6-foot-3 Bulldog senior sub Vio Snow delivered his best game of the season in lifting Scott to a 57-53 win before a crowd of over 5,000.
Snow led fifth-ranked Scott (17-1, 11-0) with 18 points and 11 rebounds and, most importantly, delivered in crunch time against upset-minded St. John's (14-4, 9-2).
Another hero was Scott's lightning-quick, 5-8 point guard, Kyle Lightner. He added 15 points, was the Bulldogs' glue down the stretch, and came up with a crucial steal to help lock things up.
"Vio Snow just played an outstanding game and he made four really big free throws at the end that clinched it for us," Bulldogs coach Joe Suboticki said. "He has that kind of talent, but he just hasn't been doing it on the court. Why, I don't know. But he sure stepped up big tonight when we needed it."
Scott's win set Tuesday's City League semifinal matchups at
Savage Hall. The Bulldogs will take on fourth-seeded, rival Libbey (11-7, 8-3) at 6:30 p.m., and third-seeded St. John's will battle its rival, second-seeded St. Francis de Sales (17-1, 10-1), at 8:30.
"Going undefeated in the City League, that doesn't happen very often," Suboticki said. "I've got to tip my hat to my kids. That's an outstanding feat."
Snow, whose full first name is Viomante, transferred to Scott from Nebraska along with his younger brother. They are nephews of Scott football coach Matt Davis.
"If I see my teammates struggling a little bit, I try to encourage them and try to contribute as much as I can," said Snow. "They had a rough time tonight, but we played as a team down the stretch and came out with the win."
The Titans, who shook off the doldrums of last week's 52-49 loss to St. Francis here, utilized a smaller linuep to force a quicker tempo from the start.
Led by senior guard Jonathan Dunn (21 points, eight rebounds), St. John's bolted to an 8-0 lead 2:45 into the game after the second of consecutive transition buckets from Dunn.
"We felt that we had kind of slowed down a little bit with the tempo, so we wanted to push the ball," veteran Titans coach Ed Heintschel said. "We've been emphasizing that, and I thought the guys did a pretty good job of that.
"Throughout the game, we had a number of good easy shots in transition. But, not enough."
Scott pulled within 15-14 by quarter's end, and took its first lead at 27-26 on a layup by Grant Maxey 2:00 before halftime. Lightner's long 3-pointer two seconds before halftime gave the Bulldogs a 33-30 edge.
The game became a defensive stalemate in the third quarter, with the teams combining to shoot 5-for-22 and Scott clinging to a 39-38 lead.
Fueled by 6-7 senior post player Andrew Taylor, who scored all 11 of his points after halftime, St. John's looked poised for the upset down the stretch.
Dunn scored from inside with 3:55 left, then added two free throws at 2:15 for a 50-47 lead. After Snow netted two foul shots at 1:56, Taylor converted a three-point play eight seconds later for a 53-49 Titan edge.
But Snow responded with a three-point play with 1:36 left to get Scott within 53-52. After Titans junior Joe Jakubowski missed the front end of a bonus chance with 1:16 left, Maxey put Scott ahead for good with a put-back bucket 12 seconds later.
St. John's chance to regain the lead was foiled with 12 seconds left by Lightner, who intercepted a pass from Taylor intended for Dunn.
"We just played defense and we were blessed," Lightner said of surviving the stretch run. "We did a good job of defending the floor. I tried to be the leader out there."
The Titans had to foul, and Snow hit both ends of a bonus with 8.8 seconds to go.
"It was nothing really," Snow said of the pressure-packed free throws. "[Suboticki] just told me to calm down and take my time. I stepped up and made it work."
After Titans guard John Floyd's 3-point try from atop the key rimmed out, Snow rebounded, was fouled, and hit one of two from the line to seal things.
Scott was 21 of 55 from the field, 12 of 18 from the line and outrebounded the Titans 36-34. St. John's was 17 of 47 from the field and 18 of 23 from the line.
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