­Lions Pressure Sends Warriors Home
March 14, 2024 by Rich Kelly

It’s no secret that NDCL's boys basketball team needed to come closer in recent weeks once it was determined that top player Evan Dugger was done for the season.

Game photos click here.

It’s no secret that NDCL’s boys basketball team needed to come closer in recent weeks once it was determined that top player Evan Dugger was done for the season.

This stepping-up paid off in a district semifinal contest at Warren G. Harding High School.

The Lions went toe-to-toe with a rock-solid Edgewood Warrior team that had shown its strength a few nights earlier by drilling a tough Gilmour team.

A huge second half for the Lions, including a perfect 10-of-10 effort from the floor in the fourth, proved to be the difference in NDCL’s 70-46 victory.

“We wanted a fast-paced game tonight,” Lions Head Coach Pat Vuyancih said. “We saw what they (Edgewood) can do. They play a tough schedule, too, but we felt we could go deeper into our bench and wear them down late, and that’s how it worked out for us.

“Our pressure was great all night long, and we got them into having tired legs late that gave us some fast-break chances, and we did the job.”

Edgewood attacks the basket, especially behind seniors Jacob Ernst and Logan Kray. Both also are deadly from long range, but Ernst in particular attacks and attacks again, as he did in scoring 41 on Gilmour in a 20-point victory.

This time, as Ernst attacked, both Connor and Brendan Hernan were able to be in front of him as he went to the hoop. Many Warrior shots rolled around the rim after contacting the backboards, and both Hernans kept the ball alive enough to push it outside, igniting those fast-break chances.

The Lions were only 13-of-35 shooting in the first half, as Edgewood played some good defense of its own, and the 28-24 Lion halftime lead seemed tenuous at best.

But with the Hernans, aided by Luke Keep and Braden Buell, taking control of the boards in the second half, the Lions hit on 19 of 27 shots for the win.

Connor Hernan led the way with 17 points and eight rebounds. Brendan Hernan added 10 points and four assists, all court-long passes to his brother. Jaxon Mangelluzzi added 14 points to complete the team effort.

After the game, NDCL stood at 13-12 on the season. The Lions’ plethora of fresh bodies from the bench provided the edge they needed against the 18-6 Warriors.

They finished their season falling to Youngstown Ursuline, 61-44, March 9 in the Division II district title game. Per the OHSAA site, NDCL held a 33-25 halftime lead but lost its touch in the second half to close the season at 13-13 overall.

With minimal graduation losses, including Dugger, next season should be solid for Coach Vuyancih and company.