NORTH CANTON, Ohio - St. Clairsville knew exactly what it was getting into when it made the trip to Walsh University on Sunday afternoon.
And the Red Devils wouldn't change a thing about the experience they gained. They obviously wish the outcome, a 75-56 setback at the hands of Division I power Cleveland St. Ignatius at the second annual Dunk4Diabetes Shootout.
The Devils built their schedule last spring with the intentions of challenging themselves as much as possible before the postseason with hopes of making another run deep into March.
St. Clairsville’s Dan Monteroso receives applause after being named Most Valuable Player of Sunday’s game against Cleveland St. Ignatius.
Photo by Grant Traylor
"To be honest, I was really, really pleased when I found out we were playing Ignatius," St. Clairsville coach Kim Clifford said. "We designed our schedule to play some different teams. We've played some quicker teams and this was our big, strong team. This was a great game for us if we take it and understand that you can't afford to take a possession off when you're playing at this level."
The Red Devils weren't one bit intimidated by a Wildcats squad that was big, strong, long and athletic at basically every spot on the floor.
St. C. actually led the game 19-15 in the latter portion of the first half thanks to some blistering shooting early. The Red Devils were able to handle the Ignatius pressure and it led to some open looks from beyond the arc. The Devils hit five treys in the first quarter, including a pair from senior Adam Jeffries.
"When the ball goes in, life is beautiful," Clifford said. "We shot the ball well early. I think we hit every three we shot early, but we know that's not going to be the case the entire game and then you have to shift to plan B."
However, from that point on, the Wildcats took over. Senior Derek Sloan - the 6-ffot-5 small forward, was a beast on the glass, while junior Francisco Santiago caught fire from the outside.
"We just couldn't stop them on the inside," Clifford said. "Like I told the kids, we had Riley (Carlton) guarding a 6-6 kid in the post. But, we may have to do that again at some point before the season ends. From a coaching and understanding what we need to do standpoint, this is a big win for us."
All told, the Wildcats went on a 20-0 run before senior standout Dan Monteroso scored his seventh point of the game.
St. Ignatius outscored the Red Devils, 20-10, in the second to take a 44-29 lead into the half.
"This is a loss on the scoreboard, but it's a big win for us to come up here, play in this event and be exposed to this type of competition," Clifford said.
The Wildcats iced the game away by outscoring St. C. 31-27 in the second half. The Ignatius size advantage was further proven by the fact that the Red Devils didn't collar one rebound in the third quarter and only 12 in the game.
Monteroso finished with 24 points, which allowed him to become the 45th player in Ohio history to surpass the 2,000-point barrier in his career.
Just before the end of the third quarter, Monteroso stepped to the line with 14 points and sitting on 1,999 for his career. He sank both and the large following of Red Devils' fans rose to its feet, giving him a standing ovation. Between periods, he was recognized over the public address system.
"When he went to the line, I didn't know he needed just one point," Clifford said. "I knew he had 11 at halftime, but I lost track during the course of the third. When I heard the ovation, I knew he had accomplished it and I felt really good for him. He's a special player."
For the game, Monteroso led all scorers with 24 points.
The 2,000 points capped a hectic weekend for Monteroso. On Friday, he gave Purdue a verbal commitment to continue his football career.
Jeffries complemented Monteroso in the scoring column with 11 points. Senior Riley Carlton added eight, while senior Jerrid Marhefka added seven.
Ignatius received 23 points from Santiago and 21 points and 12 boards from Sloan. Kyle Berger, who is drawing major college football interest, had 10 points.
St. Clairsville was charted for 11 turnovers, which was three more than the winners.
The Red Devils are now 11-2 and will return to Buckeye 8 action Tuesday in the friendly confines of the Devils' Den when they host Harrison Central.