VASJ coach Babe Kwasniak doesn’t want to get too excited about one game, but it was certainly one game to be encouraged about.
With an inexperienced, but talented group, the Vikings beat down rival neighbor Euclid, 98-66, in the season opener at Viking Village on Dec. 1.
VASJ created pace with its offense, added to it with full-court pressure and senior star point guard Jerry Higgins scored a career-high 33 points as the VASJ got the season off to a rousing start.
“We have one known commodity and a lot of unknowns, and the known was very good tonight and the other guys showed the bright lights of a big game weren’t too bright,” Kwasniak said.
Jason Priah made three 3-pointers and scored 11 points for the Vikings. Khalil Mitcham, Latrace Jackson and Jaden Hameed added nine points apiece and Enavell Lighty scored eight as the Vikings’ depth supported Higgins.
“It’s a completely different style,” Kwasniak said. “We’ve never played like this before. We’ve never played this many guys before. Everything was completely new. We just had a feeling it would work.
“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. It was a good win, but it is just one win. It is just game one. Let’s see where we can go now.”
VASJ junior Jordan Calhoun added seven points. His most valuable effort was delivered on defense, where he guarded Euclid sophomore Garvin Clarke and harassed the Panthers’ best player each minute the two players shared the floor.
Clarke was held to five points in the first half as VASJ built a 45-25 lead. The Vikings led by as many as 27 points in the third quarter.
Clarke scored 21 points to lead Euclid. William Saunders added 11 points and Travis Sanders chipped in 10 in T.J. Kwasniak’s debut as the Panthers’ coach.
“T.J. is a great coach and he will get things turned around at Euclid,” Kwasniak said. “We did a lot of good things tonight, but it is one game. We have to get better and hopefully we will. But, no doubt it is a great start to the year.”