Warriors to play Lions for spot in D-II district final

Mar. 6—The Edgewood boys basketball team will seek its sixth straight win on Thursday night.

The Warriors, as the 14th seed, are scheduled to play No. 27 Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin in a Division II district semifinal at 7 p.m. at Warren G. Harding High School.

Edgewood enters the contest with an 18-5 overall mark.

"When I review the season, we've had a triple-overtime loss [70-68 against Geneva on Dec. 16], an overtime loss [69-67 to Madison on Jan. 12] and a three-point loss [67-64 to Perry on Jan. 6]," Warriors coach John Bowler said. "The team has really stuck together."

The Warriors lost Zach Carlton-Hull, a Division II Northeast Lakes All-District choice, to an injury, but other players have stepped up.

"[Senior] Logan Kray is one of the most unselfish players," Bowler said. "He played the role of point guard and facilitates the ball to his teammates."

Kray, a third-team all-district selection, is averaging 20 points with a season high 43 during a regular-season contest against Conneaut.

Edgewood reached the district tournament with a 77-57 win over Gilmour Academy in a D-II sectional final on Friday.

"We're playing our best basketball," Bowler said.

Senior Jacob Ernst scored a career-high 41 points against the Lancers.

"He's carrying the team offensively," Bowler said. "But he's guarded the other team's best player."

Ernst recently surpassed the 1,000-point plateau in his career.

Seniors Payton Williams and Brady Andrejack provide outside shooting, while sophomore Mason Thorr is an inside presence.

All three players captured honorable mention all-district accolades.

As potent as the offense is, Bowler likes the way Edgewood's defense has picked up.

"Defense is hard to play," Bowler said. "It is underrated in high school. You have to be willing to take charges. It's easy to play offense, but this team has decided to buckle down and play defense.

"[Assistant coach] Jay [Bowler] in his charge of the defense. Our help defense has been great."

John Bowler cited his assistant coaches — Jay Bowler, Tim Tallbacka and Joe Measel — as a big reason for the team's success.

"Those guys have really stepped up," Bowler said.

The Warriors played Geneva, Jefferson and Madison twice this season, and were in contention for the Chagrin Valley Conference Lake Division crown before Madison and Perry eventually tied for the championship.

"The teams we play are all competitive," Bowler said. "It prepared us for the tournament. The better teams we play, the better we're going to be."

To defeat the Lions on Thursday, Edgewood is going to need all phases working in sync.

"They're solid," Bowler said of NDCL. "We'll have our hands full."

The Lions are 12-12 with two straight wins in the tournament — 50-34 over West Geauga and 78-61 against Geneva — to capture a sectional championship.

"I can't wait for the opportunity," Ernst said. "NDCL is a great team. I'm looking forward to the game and can't wait to see how it turns out."

NDCL senior Evan Dugger is averaging 17.9 points, but the third-team all-district selection is out for the remainder of the season with an injury.

Still, players like Jaxon Mangelluzzi, Connor Hernan, Ryan Lipowski and Angelo Tamburrino are keeping the ship righted.

Against Geneva, Mangelluzzi had 22 points and Hernan chipped in with 17. In the win over WG, Mangelluzzi tallied 17 points and Tamburrino added 13.

The Edgewood-NDCL winner will return to Harding at 4 p.m. on Saturday for the district final against either Youngstown Ursuline (No. 2) or Streetsboro (No. 31).

"If we can rebound with them [NDCL], limit our turnovers and play defense, we'll be fine," Bowler said.