YOUNGSTOWN, OH- The OHSAA playoffs have begun for boy’s basketball, and the first round of action at the Cafaro Gymnasium did not disappoint. The Youngstown Ursuline Fighting Irish defeated the Howland Tigers, 72-70, on the home Lyden Court. The Irish, who controlled the lead for the majority of the game, struggled to guard the three-point line in the late fourth quarter. Howland’s long-range shooting cut what was a double-digit lead to two points. However, the Irish put Howland in foul trouble late and would escape to win from the free-throw line.
Three Fighting Irish players scored in double figures during the night. The leading scorer was senior Daysean Harris, who put up 15 points, along with three rebounds and an assist. Sophomore JaKaylen Irving and freshman Terrance Pankey each dropped 11 points, Pankey having three rebounds and two assists. Irving and sophomore Brady Shannon led the team in rebounds, with six apiece.
Like the Fighting Irish, Howland had three players in double-digit scoring; however, their best performance belonged to senior Cam Durig. Durig posted a double-double against the Irish, scoring 17 points while grabbing 10 rebounds with two assists. Although Durig had a double-double, senior Justin Jones was the leading scorer for Howland. Jones put up an impressive 24 points with four rebounds. The third man in double-digits was sophomore Anthony Massucci, who scored 10 points, with three rebounds and four assists. The leader in assists was junior Jordan Sperling, who dominated in the second half. Sperling had nine points, with five rebounds and five assists.
The Fighting Irish were 21 of 58 from the floor, 10 of 29 from three, 20 of 29 from the free-throw line, and grabbed 27 rebounds total. As for Howland, they were 20 of 47 from the floor, 8 of 18 from three, 8 of 9 from the charity stripe, and grabbed 31 boards. The Irish will now prepare to take on the West Branch Warriors, who went 18-4 in their regular season campaign. The game is slated for Friday night at West Branch.
*Story contributed by YSN’s Dom Joseph