VASJ coach Babe Kwasniak wanted to see his team shift from regular-season mode to tournament-mode regardless of the opposition in the postseason opener.
The Vikings routed Trinity, 88-47, in a Division III sectional final at Viking Village on March 3.
VASJ (17-6) trailed, 6-5, before going on an 18-0 run to assume control and move on to the district semifinals vs. Beachwood on March 6 at Garfield Heights.
“I loved the body language and the fact that the kids got out there and were so unselfish and made mistakes and got past it immediately,” VASJ coach Babe Kwasniak said.
“It’s not that we have to win seven games to win a state title, we have to go 1-0 seven times – and the regular season was the preseason. Now it is time to lock in and get after it and we will practice tomorrow and get better.”
Beachwood defeated MLK, 57-55, in overtime to claim a sectional title and advance to the district semi vs. VASJ on March 6 at Garfield Heights.
Alonzo Gaffney scored 17 points, Jerry Higgins added 15 and Noah Newlon chipped in with 12 for the Vikings. Twelve VASJ players scored in the sectional championship victory.
VASJ standout senior Danny McGarry, a first team all NCL White selection, was held out of the game vs. Trinity for precautionary reasons with an ankle injury, but he is expected to play against Beachwood in the district semifinal.
“We were in March mode tonight and that was great to see,” Kwasniak said. “The guys know what is at stake. The great thing about this program right now is they know exactly what is ahead of them and this was a really good first step.”
VASJ has been to the state finals four straight seasons, winning state titles in 2013 and 2015.