TWINSBURG OH- Year in and year out, hundreds of basketball teams from all over the state of Ohio compete for the right to make that special trip to Dayton. However, rewind that back in the tournament and a lot of coaches and teams will tell you about not looking ahead and the first step is usually to win districts. In Division 1, that is a lot easier said than done, as a gauntlet type setting is a statewide agreed upon term to describe the setting of a D1 tournament. Needing a little bit of luck and a whole lot of skill, The Archbishop Hoban Knights were knocking at the doorstep of districts once again! Standing in their way? Another group of Knights that had fought valiantly, admirably and honorably to get to the exact same doorstep, just sporting different colors. Of course we are talking about The Macedonia Nordonia Knights, in what could be perfectly described as a “Fight Knight” for a district championship.
Both teams checked a lot of boxes for what is needed to make these types of tournament runs. Size? Check! Speed? Check! Athleticism? Check! Never say die attitude? Check! Just like any other fight night, it was two heavyweights ready to throw their best shots at one another to earn the right to go to regionals! Nordonia opened up the scoring grabbing back-to-back buckets and capturing an early 4-0 lead. However, similar to games previous in the tournament, Hoban went running! Getting multiple scorers involved early on, The Knights held a stern 19-6 lead after a quarter. Becoming reminiscent of games against GlenOak and Massillon Washington where both teams jumped out to a lead on Hoban, but got swallowed up in a three-point barrage before falling too far behind. Nordonia had different plans! As the Nordonia Knights mounted a comeback quarter, one that forced Hoban into a lot of turnovers, which Nordonia took advantage of in the scoring column. In the waning moments of the first half, The Hoban Knights defense clamped down and ensured a halftime lead, albeit a slim one, 27-25 heading to the locker room after sixteen minutes of play.
Out of the half, with the game close, who was going to recapture momentum after a ten minute intermission? Jonas Nichols had the answer, opening up the scoring with a bread and butter mid-range jumper that got the ball rolling for Hoban. Nordonia struggled for answers, as Hoban applied the same defensive pressure in the third quarter as the final moments of the second and effectively pitched a third quarter shutout of Nordonia. Winning the third quarter 15-0, The Hoban Knights saw themselves jump back out to a 17 point lead with eight minutes to go! Despite a fourth quarter comeback attempt, Nordonia bowed out to The Hoban Knights, who went on to clinch the Northeast 1 district and booked their ticket to Kent State for a regional matchup!
Congratulations go out to Nordonia for an incredible season! As we here at YSN wish their seniors nothing but the best and hope they go on to do big things in the future! For the returning Knights, we wish you good luck in the 2023/24 campaign! Following the win, Hoban (22-3) will now square off with Northeast 4 winner, Lakewood St. Ed’s (21-2) on Tuesday, March 7th for a 7 p.m. tip-off. Interviews with Player of The Game Andrew Griffith and winning Coach T.K. Griffith can be found below!