Since the City League adopted a championship game to determine its top boys basketball team back in 1968, no two teams have been more a part of that title-game picture than Scott and St. John's Jesuit, which meet for the crown once again tonight at 7:30 at Savage Hall.
It will be the second meeting between these perennial CL powers in six days. Fifth-ranked Scott (18-1) edged the Titans (15-4) last Friday 57-53 at Savage Hall.
Tonight's 39th annual title game will be the eighth between the Bulldogs and St. John's, all since 1990. The Titans lost the first two, but have won their past five finals against Scott.
No Bulldog title-game loss was tougher to swallow than the last one (2002), when Scott came unraveled in the fourth quarter of a 53-51 loss. The Bulldogs entered that game 16-3 and hoping to spoil top-ranked St. John's perfect regular season.
Scott appeared to have things locked up when 6-foot-10 senior center Derrick Ford's free throw with 4:27 remaining gave the
Bulldogs a 46-28 lead. But St. John's outscored Scott 20-2 over the next 2:53 to tie the game at 48 with 1:34 left, and Titan senior E.J. Johnson hit two free throws for the winning points with 1.2 seconds to go for 20-0 St. John's.
That collapse is no more than history to the current Bulldogs and second-year coach Joe Suboticki, whose team ran the table (11-0) in CL regular-season play, and advanced by beating rival Libbey 74-59 in Tuesday semifinals at Savage Hall.
Since taking the Scott post last season, the veteran Suboticki has guided the Bulldogs to an impressive 37-6 overall record (19-3 CL), including an upset of St. John's in last year's Division I district final.
Playing all seniors, Scott has not lost to an Ohio team this season. The lone setback came against Lawrence (N.Y.) Woodmere, 62-56, on Dec. 29.
Starting for the Bulldogs are 5-8 guard Kyle Lightner (16.3 points per game), 6-1 guard Terry Sandridge, 6-5 forward Grant Maxey (14.9 points, 10.8 rebounds), 6-3 forward Stephen Woodley (10.8 points) and 6-8 center Marcus Outlaw, with guards Vio Snow, LeeMark Swain and Irmon Young the top producers off the bench.
Snow contributed team highs of 18 points and 11 rebounds in the win over St. John's last week.
The Titans, bidding for a record-tying fifth straight CL playoff title, will likely counter with 5-11 senior guard Mike Floyd, 5-8 senior guard DeAndre Ware, 6-1 junior guard Joe Jakubowski (10.8 points), 6-3 senior guard Jonathan Dunn (19.6) and 6-7 senior forward Andrew Taylor (12.6 points, 7.2 rebounds).
The Titans used this guard-heavy lineup in an effort to force a quicker tempo against Scott last week. Coach Ed Heintschel's strategy paid off in establishing pace, but Scott thwarted the upset bid thanks to a late steal by Lightner.
The top Titan subs have been 6-5 junior guard Brian Morrison, 6-6 sophomore forward Kyle Jazwiecki, and 6-0 freshman guard Michael Taylor.
Scott has won a CL-best 17 championships, including three in the pre-title-game era. The Bulldogs are 14-7 in championship games, including winning their first 12 between 1972-1990 in the Red Division-Blue Division one-game format.
St. John's is 11-3 in CL title games, all since 1981 and all under Heintschel.
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