YOUNGSTOWN >> For 23 minutes, the Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin boys basketball team held the momentum in a Division II district semifinal against Canfield on March 1.
But once the Lions lost the momentum, it was gone for good.
Sparked by back-to-back 3-pointers from sophomore Ben Weaver, Canfield scored the last 11 points of the third quarter and the first six points of the fourth, making for a 17-0 run that paved the way for a 66-57 win for the Cardinals.
The win puts Canfield (20-5) into the district championship game against the winner of Youngstown Chaney and Alliance. NDCL’s season ended at 15-10.
“We didn’t identify the 3-point shooter two possessions in a row,” NDCL coach Pat Vuyancih said. “That specific kid hit two 3s back to back. We didn’t get out on him and after him and he made us pay. That put them on a run and that was the difference.”
Weaver’s two triples came out of a timeout following drive by NDCL’s Jaxon Mangelluzzi that opened a 49-39 NDCL lead late in the third. After the two 3s from Weaver, Jake Schroeder recorded an and-one, and then Tony Russo stole the ball and went coast-to-coast at the buzzer for a 50-49 Canfield lead going into the fourth.
It was Canfield’s first lead of the game, one which the Cardinals never relinquished.
“Shooting makes up for a multitude of sins, doesn’t it?” Canfield coach John Cullen said. “We missed a lot in the first half. We made the shots in the second half. Weaver’s two 3s were big — we scored 11 points in about a minute — and I that took the wind out of their sails and put it in ours.”
If the 11-0 run didn’t do it, than the 6-0 run to start the third, which opened a 57-51 lead, probably did the trick.
While NDCL did get the margin down to four a 60-56 lead with 1:35 remaining on a Brandon Smul 3-pointer, the Lions were never able to get the gap to a one-possession game in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter.
Schneider had 26 to lead all scorers. Weaver had 16 and Ray McCune had 17. But Cullen credited defense, particularly that played by sophomore Drew Shapiro, who held NDCL sharpshooter Evan Dugger to 19 points — only four of which came in the second half.
“(Dugger) hit a fade-away in the second half, but I thought Shapiro did a good job,” Cullen said.
Vuyancih said his team got good looks, but they didn’t fall.
“John Cullen is a legendary coach around here,” the NDCL coach said. “He kept subbing well. He used his bench well. .. I think it was more we didn’t hit some shots more so than what they were doing.”
Aside from Dugger’s 19, NDCL got 14 from Mangelluzzi and 10 from Connor Hernan.
Despite the loss, Vuyancih said this year’s senior class and team in general re-calibrated the bar for NDCL boys basketball.
“These seniors won four games last year and three the year before,” Vuyancih said. “There are some seniors who stopped coming out. These five stuck with it.
“We’ve got a great program and kids coming up built for the system I’m putting in. It’s going to be even better going forward.”