Lakeview provides early scare
By Matt Goul
A nearly flawless start by the Lakeview High School boys basketball team pushed Villa Angela-St. Joseph in Thursday’s Division II regional semifinal at the Canton Civic Center.
But a flawless finish by VASJ and its three-pronged point guard offense pushed the Vikings to the next round of the OHSAA boys basketball tournament and ended the Bulldogs’ season.
Senior Jerry Higgins scored 30 points, freshman Jaden Hameed had 19 and Jordan Calhoun added 15 to boost the Vikings for a 74-59 win.
The Vikings (18-8) trailed by nine early, but stormed back to take a one-point lead at halftime. They then extended their advantage until the Bulldogs (20-7) pulled within one.
At that moment, early in the fourth quarter, Higgins’ mood changed.
“I realized that I didn’t want to go home,” he said. “So they got me the ball.”
Higgins scored 13 of his points in the fourth quarter.
Lakeview, which committed just six turnovers, had only one in the second half. It came late, as Higgins poked away a loose ball and headed down court as part of his fourth-quarter surge.
“That’s Gene’s super power,” VASJ coach Babe Kwasniak said of his senior point guard. “It’s not that he had 30. It’s that he can just wear you down. That’s the thing. He doesn’t get tired.
“We looked a little too amped up early.”
VASJ has used Higgins, Hameed and Calhoun all season at point guard.
“As the season progressed, we just figured out if one’s not playing good, the other two can pick it up,” Calhoun said. “If two aren’t playing good, the other can pick it up.”
Higgins referred to his late surge as “icing on the cake.”
Calhoun and Hameed provided the early comeback to answer Lakeview, which was led by Daniel Evans with 21 points and Carter Huff with 13. T.J. Lynch scored 11 points while Drew Munno contributed 10 rebounds and seven points.
Evans hit five of Lakeview’s eight 3-pointers to keep his team in contention.
Kwasniak praised Lakeview, suggesting his team would be even better if Ryan Fitch — the Bulldogs’ coach — was in charge of his team.
However, Kwasniak decided early in the year to let all three of his guards take turns running his team on the court.
Higgins, who hopes to reach Columbus and the state championships for a fourth straight year, said it took him some time to adjust.
“Now I’m kind of used to it,” Higgins said.
It just might be what helps VASJ reach the state championships for an unprecedented sixth straight year.