Valiant Titans come up short in ColumbusWritten by Owen Wilson | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The St. John’s Jesuit Titans put up a valiant effort but in the end were just not up to the task of taking down the 16th ranked team in the nation, falling 55-41 at Value City Arena in the DI State Semi-Finals to Cincinnati Princeton. After hanging with Princeton for the first three quarters, the Vikings pulled away for good in the 4th quarter. Led by back to back steals and lay ins by Ohio University-bound Marquis Horne, Princeton opened up a lead that the Titans could not conquer, highlighted by Ohio State recruit Jordan Siebert’s monster ally-oop with 6:53 to play.
With St. John’s up 32-29 with 3 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, Princeton’s fast break, which had been stifled by the Titan guards all game, finally got out on the break and took over with a 13-0 run. By the time Horne, who led the Vikings with 18, had put in his second layup, the Titans found themselves down 10. As St. John’s frantically tried to mount a comeback, Princeton’s defense caused turnover after turnover effectively ending St John’s quest for a title in Coach Ed Heintschel’s 6th trip to Columbus.
The difference in the game came down to the 24 turnovers committed by a Titan team that is usually very good at protecting the ball. Although they committed 9 turnovers in the first half, they were able to minimize the damage as the Titans did an excellent job of getting back on defense, resulting in a handful of blocked shots. However, late in the game as Princeton pulled away, many of the Titans looked completely spent and could not get back in time to defend.
It was the defense that Princeton coach Josh Andrews credited for turning the tide of the game in the second half, “We put Steve Martin in there and when he got that 5 second call, that really swung the momentum.” In response to what went wrong in the second half coach Heinstchel said “They had used the same press all night and we had had some success against it, but we got into some bad positions. I know what happened, I just don’t know why.”
The Titans were led by senior Mike Taylor who carried the team in the first half, scoring 13 of his team high 18. Senior forward Tim Simmons also worked hard, gathering 10 boards to go with his 11 points.
This Titan team, thought by many to be dead when they started the season 5-5, came together behind some strong senior leadership to reel off 15 straight wins and capture a city championship before coming up just short in their Final Four matchup with an extremely deep and talented Princeton team. That depth and athleticism really showed as St. John’s defense tired in the second half, allowing Princeton to shoot 53% in the second after being held to just 34% from the floor in the first.