By Ty Bartell

CANTON OH- Hop in the delorean and send that baby back 30 years because The Ursuline Fighting-Irish boys basketball team is in the state final four for the first time since 1994! Following a convincing, 60-35 regional final win in a regular season rematch against The Canfield Cardinals! The Irish will now head to Dayton for the first time under 21-year head coach Keith Gunther.

The first quarter started off with Ursuline’s freshman Jaylen Gunther blowing the roof off The Canton-Memorial Fieldhouse with his 3-point shooting in the first quarter, knocking down four shots from distance, Gunther helped lead Ursuline to a 20-10 lead after the first quarter. Ursuline kept momentum into the second, as the tempo of the game changed, different players stepped up for The Fighting Irish and in the second quarter it was Jayden Payne! Grabbing a total of four offensive rebounds in the quarter, Payne also managed eight second chance points in the second quarter alone, enabling Ursuline to hold a 32-16 edge over Canfield at the halftime buzzer.

Out of the half, Ursuline continued to pile it on, increasing the lead to as much as 24 points in the third! Off the bench, The Irish got big contributions from Myles Miller who locked things down defensively and found his shot more than once offensively. Senior Jayden Payne brought the pain in the fourth quarter, opening up with the first seven points scored in the frame, Payne helped push Ursuline past the markers and book The Irish’s ticket to the state final four for the first time in 30 Years!

Jaylen Gunther and Jayden Payne earned Players of the Game honors with Gunther scoring 16 points and Payne scoring 15 points in the win. Beyond that, Ursuline had a key 12 points off the bench from Myles Miller while Geno Lucente did all the little things right to helpt the Ursuline machine run! Through adversity in the last two decades, Ursuline Head Coach Keith Gunther finally realizes a dream of a lifetime, getting his Ursuline Irish team to the state final four! Although some tough times in the past with plenty of heartbreaks and questioning of oneself in the last 21 years, Coach Gunther can finally say what he and The Fighting Irish basketball community have longed for. The Ursuline Fighting Irish are going to Dayton!

Ursuline (24-3) has now won 12 consecutive ball games this season as they will match up with The Kettering Archbishop Alter Knights (21-7) on Saturday, March 23rd with a 10:45 a.m. tip-off at The University of Dayton. Meanwhile, Canfield ends the season 23-5 as their 14 game win streak was snapped; however, a memorable and successful season nonetheless for The Cards! With legendary Cardinals Head Coach John Cullen electing to hang up the boots after this season, a decision made in the regular season, Coach Cullen coached The Cardinals from 1982-2010 and this latest stint from 2022-2024, capturing six district championships in his time with Canfield and 11 as a head coach, overall.
Thank you for keeping up with Canfield and Ursuline basketball all season long and stay tuned for continued high school athletics with live games, scores, stats, stories and more on YSN!