In a case of role reversal, St. John's Jesuit avenged two losses from earlier this season by upsetting the fifth-ranked Scott Bulldogs 74-59 in a Division I boys basketball district final last night before a crowd estimated at 6,000 at Savage Hall.
The Titans (19-5), who never trailed, jumped out quickly to set the game's tempo, and put four players in double-figure scoring to eliminate the 21-2 City League champions. All-district guard Jonathan Dunn paced St. John's with 17 points.
The Titans play second-ranked Mansfield Senior (22-1) in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Savage Hall.
"We could not have done this in December, I don't even think in January," Titan coach Ed Heintschel said. "It took that February sequence of [key CL] games for us to toughen up. We weren't tough enough then, but we're coming into our own."
Last season, it was Scott that had two regular-season losses to a state-ranked St. John's team, only to grab a 12-1 lead in the district final here and hold on for a 63-61 upset.
St. John's was beaten 57-53 and 56-51 by Scott this season, the latter in two overtimes in the Feb. 23 CL championship game.
Sparked by two transition lay-ups from senior guard DeAndre Ware (11 points), and the first of five 3-pointers from junior guard Joe Jakubowski (16 points), the Titans took a 7-0 lead 3:25 into the game. And it was 11-2 after Andrew Taylor (16 points, seven rebounds) hit four straight free throws.
Scott never got closer than seven thereafter.
"After that we never looked back," Ware said. "We just kept playing. The whole season, we hadn't had a complete game. So, we just said to each other that we were going to try to play hard the whole game. We were hungry. We wanted it bad."
Ahead 19-9 after one quarter, St. John's opened the second with a 13-6 surge, including back-to back 3-pointers from Jakubowski.
"The past two games we had good looks but we just weren't hitting shots," Jakubowski said. "This game we came out and everyone was firing on all cylinders. We were clicking, we executed, and the rest is history. We all hate losing and we took those [earlier] two losses hard."
A Dunn free throw made it 32-15 2:55 before halftime.
"We had that [earlier two losses] in the back of our minds," Dunn said, "and we didn't want to lose again. We didn't want our season to end."
Trailing 37-23, Scott opened the third quarter with an 8-3 surge to get within 40-31 on two free throws from senior forward Grant Maxey (16 points, 13 rebounds) with 4:53 left.
That was as close as the Bulldogs would get as St. John's closed the third with a 13-2 run for a 54-33 edge.
"I thought we were just really focused and our defense is better than it was earlier in the year," Heintschel said. "It's just a matter of repeated fundamentals and guys understanding what the heck they're supposed to do.
"They've got it right now. I don't know what'll happen the rest of the way, but this was a great win tonight."
Scott's ineffectiveness had much to do with the off-night of 5-foot-8 senior team leader Kyle Lightner. The all-district guard (16.3 points per game) scored just two points on 1-of-11 shooting.
Backup guard LeeMark Swain had 15 points in the loss.
"They just really outplayed us," Scott coach Joe Suboticki said. "We didn't shoot [well] and they hit everything. It started to snowball and we just never could recover.
"I don't know what the heck was wrong. We kind of did everything [in preparation] like we did last year, and it just didn't work this time."
Contact Steve Junga at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6461.51.19518 6.431423