Solid Team Effort Cages Wolverines
March 13, 2024 by Rich Kelly

The Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin Lions and West Geauga Wolverines are a budding neighborhood rivalry in the making. Both teams have traditions built on success in sports, and their basketball teams are no different.

The Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin Lions and West Geauga Wolverines are a budding neighborhood rivalry in the making. Both teams have traditions built on success in sports, and their basketball teams are no different.

Feb. 27 in the Wolverina, the teams squared off in a sectional Division II semifinal contest. Both teams lost a top player recently, but the difference in this game was that the Lions have had a few weeks to adjust to losing Evan Dugger to a knee injury by making adjustments for several games without him.

The Wolverines, on the other hand, had only a single day to plan without one of their most recent scoring threats in Carson Weisman, who sprained an ankle the day before in practice.

The game was played with super intensity, as expected, but the Lions had more balance, leading them to a thrilling 50-34 victory.

Players have stepped up for NDCL Head Coach Pat Vuyancih, doing what they needed to do to improve. Still, replacing Dugger’s overall effort has not been easy.

“We always try to win our games with defense,” Vuyancih said. “Doing that will always bring solid scoring chances to the offense. Tonight we got big moment from a lot of kids.

“I can’t say enough about how Jaxon Mangelluzzi has gone into attack mode for our offense. Tonight he attacked more than he has before, but he knew it had to be that way. Brendan Sawitke gave us some special production off the bench with that and-one play in the second half. Brendan Hernan made some big free throws, and Connor Hernan grabbed some big rebounds when we needed them. We wanted to win this big game for our seniors, too. “

Dugger was one of them, Mangelluzzi the other, on this young and growing team. Mangelluzzi paced the attack with 17 points and eight big rebounds as the Lions used an edge on the boards to secure the win.

Connor Hernan snared 10 missed shots for his team, now (11-12) as they headed into a Saturday night contest in Geneva against a formidable group of Eagles.

West Geauga Head Coach Micah Young was proud of his team, but losing Weisman one day earlier made a huge difference; he had picked up some serious scoring efforts leading into tourney action.

The flow of the game just wasn’t there for the Wolverines, who finish at 14-9 on the season.

“We just couldn’t buy a basket tonight,” Young said. “We have no excuses, though. NDCL plays a solid brand of basketball. They made the adjustments they needed to make, and we just haven’t had enough time without Carson to do that.

“My message to the kids in the locker room was that they have much to be proud of now. We went (from) 10-14 last year, in my first season, to 14-9 this year. We have already talked about winning 17 next year as a goal to shoot for, with a league title in the blend as well. We’re capable of it — now to just work toward it.”

There was no danger of fire starting in the nets, with both teams ready to play solid defense. Ball control and good shots were the norm, but the Lions hit on 18 of 46 shots as compared to just 11 of 47 for the Wolverines.

Landon Lear picked up the slack for Weisman’s loss as best he could for Coach Young, but knowing he would already be the focus of the West Geauga offense all night, he had company anywhere he went and tallied 15 points. A six-of-19 shooting night, a major rarity for him, kept things from getting hot for West G.

Colin Whiting did a good job supporting the attack with 13 points.

Mangelluzzi’s 17 topped his team, and Angelo Tamburrino played a huge game with 13 points as well. Sawitke added seven; the Hernans each tallied five; and Dominic Paros and James Javorek each hit three.