Boys bring home first district title in 21 years

Boys bring home first district title in 21 years

Not since 1997 have the boys hoisted the District championsip plaque. After falling short last year on the road against Fair Grove at Fair Grove. The Irish once again traveled to face a finals team on their home court. This year's contest would be against a scrappy, well-coached Strafford team that entered the game with a 22-6 record. While the Irish beat the Indians back on January 18th, this opponent was riding high and seemed to be playing on a different level in their final season with Coach Mike Wilson.

The game started out with the kind of intensity you would expect and the lead exchanged multiple times in the first quarter. The Indians answered with 22 points in the 2nd quarter, eliminating the Irish one-point lead and stretching to as many as eight behind the hot hand of Riley Oberbeck. The Irish answered with a Wallace Squibb rebound/putback with one second left on the clock to take the game to the half 35-30, Strafford. 

The Irish came out quick in the 3rd, chiseling away at the Strafford lead with two free-throws and a layup by Ian Cochran. The lead was eliminated with 3:05 left in the 3rd by a Michael Manzardo 3-pointer. The Irish would keep that lead throughout the 4th lead by Junior Jake Branham who was a perfect 3-3 from the field and 6-6 from the free-throw line. The Indians made a final push, managing to tie the game at 60 with just over two minutes remaining. But the Irish answered with pivotal free thows by Jake Branham and Michael Manzardo. Irish quarterback Tyson Riley put the finishing touch on the game with a full-court pass to Michael Manzardo who would convert to end the game at 68-62.

The Irish were lead by Jake Branham with 35-points included a perfect 15 of 15 from the free-throw line. This was his 3rd highest scoring output of the season. The team also collectively shined at the free-throw line, converting 23 of 27 shots. The 85% was the second highest of the season.

The Irish will move on to face Mt. Vernon in the state sectional game on Wednesday, February 28th at Willard High School (7:45pm tip-off). The Irish split regular season games with the Mountaineers.