It wasn’t easy, but VASJ is back in the district championship game for another run at Columbus.
The Vikings held off Glenville, 71-64, in a district semifinal at Ashtabula Lakeside on March 8.
VASJ (16-8) has played in the state title game 5 years in a row. Three times the Vikings have taken home the state championship since 2013.
To continue on the road to a sixth consecutive trip to the state final the Vikings will need to defeat Lake Catholic in a district championship game on March 10 to advance to the regional tournament in Canton.
VASJ defeated Lake Catholic in the regular season.
“I’m not sure we played well, and a lot of it was my dad (Tedd. Kwasniak) wasn’t there. Not an excuse just our guys were off and I didn’t do a great job of substituting. We missed him,” VASJ coach Babe Kwasniak said.
“Glenville is really good. Talented. I’m happy we are playing Saturday.”
Jerry Higgins, who was named MVP of the NCL White Division and the player of the year in the D2 NE Lakes District, gave the Vikings a 64-51 lead in the fourth. But things changed in a hurry.
A 13-1 run by the Tarblooders, capped by back-to-back 3s by Dalvin Cravin, made it a 65-64 game.
After a pair of free throws by Jaden Hameed (12 nts) put the Vikings up 3, Higgins stole the ball from a Glenville guard and laid it in at the other end for a 69-64 VASJ lead with 30 seconds left left in the game.
“There were times we could have put the game away, but Glenville is really is talented and we had to grind it out,” Kwasniak said.
“We are happy to advance, but this is a matchup with Lake Catholic that is a huge challenge.”
Jason Priah contributed 10 for the Vikings.
VASJ held a 34-27 lead at halftime, and were still up by seven, 53-46, after three quarters.
The Vikings connected on 23 of 35 shots from the foul line.
Higgins led the way with 19 for VASJ. Latrace Jackson scored 12 for the Vikings.