VASJ?slams Leipsic for D-IV?title

COLUMBUS – The dunks were many and varied, including some one-handed straight-aheads, a couple backdoor two-handeds and a front-side reverse off an alley-oop pass.

The Villa Angela-St. Joseph production offered just about every slam style possible with or without a one of those mini-trampolines a road-show act featuring a catchy name like the Flying Marconi Brothers might employ.

But for sheer impact, there were no baskets bigger for the Vikings than a couple of long-range shots that were much more substance than show.

Leipsic, the tiny engine that really thought it could, had clawed its way back into the challenge when Austin Brown hit a couple foul shots to trim VASJ’s lead to 41-39 with 4:48 still to play in the third quarter.

But then Simon Texidor Jr. knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in a matter of just 28 seconds to quell the threat and start Villa Angela-St. Joseph on its way to an 87-63 win for the Division IV state boys basketball championship at Value City Arena here Saturday.

“For them, that was huge,” Leipsic coach Scott Maag said after his team finished 25-5 when its first state tournament appearance in 88 years fell just short of a title. “We knew about him. He was 3-for-5 on 3-pointers and they only made four. We knew he was that guy.

“They were killing us inside and we had to deal with that,” Maag said. “I thought we did a good job of walling up in there, but then he hit those shots and we had to get out on him and that opened it back up inside. When they get to the rim, they really attack it.”

Brown scored on a post move inside to cut the lead to 47-41, but VASJ went on a 17-6 run to close the quarter, mostly on putbacks, transition and fast break layups.

Leipsic could draw no closer than 15 points the rest of the way.

With the likes of 6-foot-9 sophomore Carlton Bragg, along with a pair of 6-7 guys in Demonte Flannigan and Dererk Pardon, that might have happened regardless. But it wasn’t until Texidor nailed the 3-pointers that the Leipsic defense caved in.

“Those shots were enormous,” said VASJ coach Babe Kwasniak, who played on the 1994 and 1995 championship teams that were coached by his father, Tedd Kwasniak. The elder Kwasniak now serves as an assistant coach.

“Dad calls him Tommy Gun. He really has a shooter’s mentality,” Kwasniak said. “Those were huge shots.”

Leipsic gave up an average of five inches per man in the starting lineup. What made it tougher on the Vikings is that Villa Angela-St. Joseph was more than willing to play the up-tempo style Leipsic favors.

“They’re pretty good, but I guess you all knew that,” Maag said. “They pressed us early and we were able to get some baskets and easy shots and they took the press off. I think the speed of our game affected them a little bit, but their athleticism and their height affected us.”

Duane Gibson Jr., the Vikes’ 6-3 point guard, displayed the best of both. Gibson was the game’s top scorer with 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting. He also had eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals.

“That point guard was phenomenal. He went anywhere he wanted to get shots,” Maag said. “I was impressed with Bragg and (Flannigan) and how quick they got up off the feet.

“Bragg stepped back and hit a three and he’s about 6-7 or 6-9,” he said. “We don’t see 6-7, 6-9 guys in Putnam County put up many 3s. They’re usually inside getting rebounds and scoring inside. Their big guys were talented and their point guard is the best player we’ve seen all year.”

Flannigan (12 rebounds) and Brian Parker each added 15 points, Texidor had 11 and Bragg 10.

Devin Mangas had 18 points to pace Leipsic. Brown had 16 points and nine rebounds and Caleb Barrera contributed 10 points.

The championship was Villa Angela-St. Joseph’s fifth in 12 trips to the state tournament beginning in 1979. The Vikings have now won titles in every division except Division III.