HILLIARD, Ohio -- New year, same Jags. Starting 2021 just like they finished 2020, Hilliard Bradley applied its special brand of selfless team play against a formidable out-of-area opponent in Cleveland St. Ignatius, knocking off the Wildcats 50-37 on Saturday afternoon.
It didn’t start smoothly, however. The Jaguars struggled to get going on offense, not finding much success with neither mid or long range shot attempts. After falling behind 8-3, Bradley closed the opening quarter on a 6-0 run, highlighted by senior Keaton Norris’s crafty underneath the hoop finish.
The Jaguars found their shooting stroke in the second quarter, sparked by two back-to-back threes from freshman starting wing guard Jeb Bischoff. Fellow starting freshman Cade Norris made an impact on the boards and free-throw line, as he took on the much larger Wildcats frontcourt, led by senior Will Yontek and junior CJ Yarlan. Norris finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. Eight of his points came at the foul line.
After the deficit stretched to double digits, St. Ignatius slowly gained some offensive life and cut Bradley’s lead to five headed into the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats momentum was cut short into the fourth, as Keaton Norris started the quarter by making his first three-point attempt of the game and leading an impressive 10-point charge. He was joined by fellow senior guard AJ Mirgon who had five of his 12 points in the quarter and Cade Norris, who made all four of his free throws.
The Jaguars finished and outscored the Wildcats 19-11 in the fourth and marked an impressive win on multiple levels. After losing junior wing forward Tayshaun Mayfield to injury before the season, no one on Bradley’s varsity roster lists over 6-foot-2. The Wildcats featured six players on Saturday at his height or taller, which provided a clear size advantage.
The Jaguars responded with disciplined defense and aggressive work on the glass, as Bradley won the free throw advantage with 10 more attempts than Ignatius.
The Wildcats failed to really get any offensive flow going as Yontek led the team scoring with nine points. They were without the services of their senior captain Henry Raynor, a 6-foot-7 wing forward who committed to Hillsdale College in Michigan. This marks the third straight loss for St. Ignatius, who is now 5-3.
For the Jaguars, all five of their wins have been by double digits, winning by an average margin of 23 points. The Jaguars have not lost a game since Trotwood-Madison beat them on February 1 of last year.
After COVID-19 disrupted a regional and state title run in 2020, performances like today indicate this year’s Bradley team has a strong chance for a shot at redemption.
Will Yontek (6’7 PF / Cleveland St. Ignatius / 2021): With Raynor not playing, Yontek was the source of most offensive production for the Wildcats today. The most consistent player on his team from start to finish, he led Ignatius with nine points and six rebounds. He scored most of his points directly inside and also was able to convert at the free throw line. Yontek has really nice length and is attracting attention from a handful of in-state D3 programs.
Keaton Norris (5’11 PG / Hlliard Bradley / 2021): The Wright State commit was not finding much production early on, scoring only four points in the first half. But it’s the senior guard’s maturity and confidence that allowed for him to respond positively in the second and finish with a game high 20 points. Norris rightfully earns recognition for his long-range ability and today he scored two crucial three-pointers in the fourth quarter. However, Norris made most of his offensive impact this afternoon around the rim, as he did an excellent job slicing through the defense and finishing with a beautiful touch. Norris is an artist when it comes to driving and finishing in the lane, something he does better than most guards in the area. The coach’s son hardly makes an on-court mistake and displays a demeanor any coach would want in their lead guard.
AJ Mirgon (5’11 PG / Hilliard Bradley / 2021): The two-sport athlete put together the most all-around game for the Jaguars today, pitching in 12 points, two rebounds, three assists and forcing multiple turnovers. Mirgon may not be the best at any given skill, but he always delivers on both ends of the floor and has been a reliable and trusted player in the Bradley system for three seasons now. On Saturday he sealed the Jaguars victory after following his own free throw miss late in the fourth with a rebound, score and foul for a three-point play. With scholarship offers in both football and basketball, Mirgon is a dependable leader and proven winner.
Cade Norris (6’2 WG / Hilliard Bradley / 2021): Next up in the impressive Norris bloodline, Cade is a bit different than his two older brothers. Already several inches taller, Cade spends much more of his time in the post. Although he was still several inches shorter against the long Ignatius front court, Norris showed no fear in the paint. He pulled in an impressive game high eight rebounds, while also drawing fouls and converting 8/10 free throws. What’s additionally impressive for Cade is being a freshman and already contributing and fitting in on a senior-led team. As Norris may continue to grow and if his handles and long-range shooting follow suit of his brothers, he certainly will be one of the area’s best prospects in his class