COLUMBUS, Ohio — Senior guard Jayvon Graves didn’t want Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary to settle for almost again.
Graves poured in 25 points, grabbed six rebounds and had seven steals Saturday for the Irish in a 45-30 victory over Wauseon in the Division II final on Saturday.
St. Vincent-St. Mary won its record-tying seventh boys state championship and its first since 2011, but Graves wasn’t about to let the Irish fall short after losing in last year’s title game.
The school’s most famous alum, LeBron James, sent out his best wishes:
— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 25, 2017
“It means a lot after coming down here two other years and finally getting it done,” Graves said. “The seniors, they stepped up big.”
The Irish swarmed Wauseon with tough defense and double-teams, forcing 23 Indians’ turnovers that led to a multitude of transition points.
St. Vincent-St. Mary struggled to knock down shots early and missed its first seven, but finished the game shooting 40 percent from the field.
The school’s seven titles tied it with Middletown for most in boys basketball in Ohio.
2017 OHSAA DII State Champions! This is our program's 7th, which ties an OHSAA record for most in program history pic.twitter.com/lCQH9typFr
— STVM Athletics (@STVMAthletics) March 25, 2017
“For the school to have tied the record for the most state championships and to be a part of that, these guys . they understand they’re a part of something that’s bigger than themselves,” said coach Dru Joyce. “And they’ve been able to write their chapter, and I’m extremely proud of them.”
Graves, the Associated Press Division II co-player of the year, scored 47 points in the final two games, including the winning shot against Trotwood-Madison on Thursday.
Austin Rotroff led Wauseon with 18 points and nine rebounds while Carter Bzovi chipped in eight points.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Rotroff said. “Great season, and look forward to getting back at this summer and trying to get back here next year.”
Bzovi had six points and five rebounds in the first half, but was essentially shutdown for much of the second half.
After the Indians had clawed their way back into the game and cut the deficit 35-27, Bzovi’s 3-pointer rimmed out. St. Vincent St. Mary ended up scoring in transition, eventually going on a 10-point run to end the game.
“It felt good off my hand,” Bzovi said. “Looked like it was going in from my angle. Would’ve been a big shot but, obviously, it didn’t go down.”