sports 2 days ago

Top-ranked St. Peter's ends East Canton's incredible journey

The Repository, Canton, Ohio — Mike Popovich The Repository, Canton, Ohio

March 14--CANTON -- Head coach Kyle McBride would not want the East Canton Hornets to remember how it all ended.

The journey the Hornets took to Memorial Field House was an incredible one. They left knowing they could match up with some of the state's top Division IV teams, including the best.

Unbeaten and top-ranked Mansfield St. Peter's brought down the curtain on East Canton's amazing year by beating the Hornets 68-56 in Tuesday's regional semifinal. The final score does not reflect the fourth quarter rally the Hornets made to give themselves a chance. St. Peter's hit eight straight free throws in the final 14.6 seconds to close out the scoring, including four after East Canton was called for two technicals.

The Hornets cut an 11-point fourth quarter deficit to three with just over a minute and were within four in the final half minute.

"Holy smokes, the effort our kids gave to keep fighting back," McBride said. "We were down 11 and kept clawing, scratching and coming back. I can't be more proud of these guys."

For a second, it appeared the Hornets would have a chance to slice into the Spartans' lead again after a Mitch Mitchell layup made it 60-56. East Canton forced a turnover on the next St. Peter's possession. Mitchell was then whistled for a double-dribble violation, even though it appeared he did not have possession and the ball being touched by teammate Dallas Moldovan.

The questionable call drew the ire of McBride, who was assessed a technical with 14.6 seconds left. Another technical on the Hornets led to more free throws for the Spartans.

Jared Jakubick hit six straight free throws down the stretch and scored a game-high 30 points for the Spartans (27-0).

When later asked about the double-dribble call, McBride said, "I actually have to go back and watch it. You're caught up in the moment. We're fighting back. We're scratching and clawing to get that thing within a possession and see if we can kind of do what we did the rest of the tournament."

East Canton (19-8) led 12-5 early, but a 15-1 run pushed St. Peter's ahead for good.

"Ultimately it came down to that stretch in the second quarter where a couple of their guys who weren't Jakubick or (Elijah Cobb) hit shots," said McBride. "... Then a couple guys who have been clutch for us from the free throw line, we missed the front ends of shots. We left some points on the floor."

Moldovan led the Hornets with 13 points and Joey Knopp finished with 12. The two juniors will hope to continue the winning legacy led by seniors such as Mitchell, Anthony Baad and Damian Clark. Mitchell and Baad finished with nine points apiece. Clark had eight points, nine rebounds and a final block when St. Peter's tried to score at the buzzer.

"It's so hard for them to comprehend right now, but they made so many great memories for me, our team and for the village of East Canton," McBride said of his seniors.

Reach Mike at 330-580-8341 or

On Twitter: @mpopovichREP


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