When the bar is set as high as Villa Angela-St. Joseph has it set, even a 25-point win in a district semifinal is easy to pick apart.
But when the dust settled on March 9. VASJ had easily disposed of Elyria Catholic and advanced to the Division III Garfield Heights District championship game, but that in no way meant the Vikings were satisfied.
“With all due respect to Elyria Catholic, I commend them for the way they played and came right at us, but you have to be able to play a ‘C’ game and still win a district semifinal, and that is OK because you aren’t going to win every tournament game by 40 points,” VASJ coach Babe Kwasniak said following an 87-62 rout over Elyria Catholic in a Division III district semifinal at Garfield Heights. “We know we have to be better, especially defensively, otherwise we can go home on Friday (district final).
“It isn’t about your weakest link, it is about leadership and we have great seniors and great leaders on this team and they understand what we need to do over the next three days to get ready.”
VASJ will play the winner of Beachwood and Warrensville Heights in a district final on March 13.
Elyria Catholic scored the first five points of the game, but VASJ (18-4) responded with a 13-0 run to assume command. The Panthers tied the Vikings at 21, but VASJ senior guard Simon Texidor hit a pair of 3s to give his team a six-point lead after one quarter that the Vikings never relinquished.
Led by Northwestern recruit Dererk Pardon’s 19 points, 16 rebounds and 8 blocked shots, VASJ led by 16 at halftime and rolled through the second half unchallenged.
“I think we played kind of sluggish on the defensive end, but we went back to our principles and won the game,” Pardon said.
“Everybody we play against is going to give us their best shot. We have to play better and get the job done Friday.”
Brian Parker and Carlton Bragg each scored 18 points for VASJ. Tre’Von Williams and Texidor both chipped in with 10 for the Vikings.
“In a normal scenario, those who haven’t seen us play, there should be no such thing as an ugly win,” Kwasniak said.
“I think we were a little taken back that they came right at us and I commend Elyria Catholic for that. I think it is a matter of having high standards and this is good for us. …. Either team will be a worthy opponent on Friday, but this is all about us and we have to play better. But give it up to those guys, they were 16-6 for a reason and they didn’t try to change their style.”