CLEVELAND, Ohio — The new year brings a jamboree of basketball on the first weekend, but the annual Scholastic Play By Play Classic has a new look and venue.
Traditionally a one-day event held at Baldwin Wallace, the Play By Play Classic shifts to Elyria Catholic for two days. It begins Saturday with four games, followed by a Sunday blitz of seven matchups.
SATURDAY’S PLAY BY PLAY CLASSIC LINEUP
*All games at Elyria Catholic
Shaker Heights (3-4) vs. Richmond Heights (7-4), 3:30 p.m. — The opening matchup could be a high-octane one as junior Dakota Cochran leads Shaker vs. Division IV power Richmond Heights.
Canton McKinley (4-4) vs. Cleveland Heights (5-3), 5:15 p.m. — McKinley beat common opponent St. Ignatius earlier this season. Following Cleveland Heights’ loss last week to Cleveland Central Catholic at Garfield Heights’ holiday showcase, a win could serve as a boost with the Tigers leading into their Lake Erie League showdown next Friday against Lorain.
Lutheran East (5-3) vs. Lakewood (6-1), 7 p.m. — Lakewood has won six straight since a season-opening loss at St. Edward. Sam Liggins’ Falcons should put that run to the test. Lutheran East has momentum with an 81-70 win Friday night against Lake Erie League, and potential Division III tournament rival, Warrensville Heights.
Olmsted Falls (7-1) vs. Brunswick (6-3), 8:45 p.m. — Brunswick looks to break a three-game skid, coming off Friday’s home loss to Mentor in the Greater Cleveland Conference. A win for Olmsted Falls here would boost its resume for the postseason. Coincidentally, Olmsted Falls plays in the Division I district at Elyria Catholic.
SUNDAY’S PLAY BY PLAY CLASSIC LINEUP
*All games at Elyria Catholic
John Hay (1-6) vs. Gilmour (6-2), 10:15 a.m. — Gilmour senior guard C.J. Charleston shined last week at Garfield Heights with 31 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in a 10-point win vs. Buchtel.
31pts , 8 reb, 7 ast 3 stl MVP for Gilmore pic.twitter.com/kVIie5XklF
— Sonny Johnson (@sonnyjohnson32) December 28, 2018
Solon (4-4) vs. Lake Catholic (5-2), noon — Solon had an up-and-down December, while Lake Catholic is coming off a tough North Coast League loss Friday night against Archbishop Hoban.
St. Edward (6-3) vs. Kennedy Catholic (5-2), 1:45 p.m. — Kennedy Catholic came last year from the western Pennsylvania border to take down Garfield Heights at the Dunk 4 Diabetes at John Carroll. The defending three-time PIAA small school champions return with a familiar cast of Division I recruits, including center Oscar Tshiebwe (West Virginia), Maceo Austin (Duquesne) and Mattia Acunzo (Toledo). The Eagles have a Saturday trip to Benedictine before this one, which will be one of two matchups with Kennedy Catholic. They will meet again Jan. 18 in Erie, Pa.
St. Vincent-St. Mary (6-2) vs. Lorain (9-0), 3:30 p.m. — This should be the most anticipated game of the season so far. Lorain is the No. 1-ranked team in the cleveland.com rankings. St. Vincent-St. Mary is No. 2. Both teams reached Columbus last year and could be improved. Lorain is led by recent Miami (Ohio) commit Devon Grant at point guard and Taevon Pierre-Louis. STVM has been headed by steady Lunden McDay, guard Chris Painter and breakout sophomore forward Malaki Branham. Add to it that STVM sophomore guard Seth Wilson grew up in Lorain, and this matchup also has its subplots.
Garfield Heights (4-5) vs. Brush (8-0), 5:15 p.m. — Chet Mason’s undefeated Arcs have been one of the area’s top teams. Garfield Heights played them last year at Baldwin Wallace and entered with an undefeated record. Everything changed that night, as Brush emerged with a 63-60 victory. Can a struggling Bulldogs squad (3-5) turn around its season in the rematch?
St. Ignatius (4-4) vs. Elyria Catholic (4-4), 7 p.m. — The Panthers not only get to host this event, but have a primetime matchup for senior guard Jarred Logan and Co.
Buchtel (4-2) vs. First Love Christian, 8:30 p.m. — The crowd will want to stick around to check out heralded freshman Chris Livingston and returning Akron City Series MVP Jonathan King. They will receive a stern test from First Love of western Pennsylvania.
CHICONE STEALING SHOW
Luke Floriea’s junior year at Mentor seems to have a theme to it.
During football season, he shared the ball with sophomore Ian Kipp at quarterback. Now, it’s another sophomore: Luke Chicone.
The point guard tandem has helped Mentor to a perfect start, including a strong punch Friday night in their 88-67 win to take over first place in the Greater Cleveland Conference standings at Brunswick. Floriea scored 22 points and Chicone added 19 after both teams entered the matchup unbeaten in GCC play.
Chicone has shined, culminating last weekend with a 27-point, six-assist night in the Cardinals’ 83-81 win vs. Benedictine at the NEO Youth Elite Christmas Classic in Garfield Heights.
— Sonny Johnson (@sonnyjohnson32) December 30, 2018
If that wasn’t enough, Chicone helped spread plenty of holiday cheer during Mentor’s break. He scored 14 points with seven rebounds and six assists in an 81-61 win Dec. 21 vs. defending GCC champ Solon. A day later, Chicone added 19 points, six rebounds and six assists in a 78-60 win vs. Olentangy Orange. A night before the Benedictine win, he had another 20 points, six rebounds and six assists vs. Willoughby South.
Floriea also averaged about 15 points per game in that stretch, and Mentor is starting the new year in the driver’s seat of the GCC race.
JOYCE TO BE HONORED TONIGHT
St. Vincent-St. Mary will induct its Hall of Fame class on Saturday with a home game against Buchtel. STVM coach Dru Joyce is part of that class and will be honored before tipoff.
The rest of the class includes Angelo Caponi (Class of 2001), Kevin Fratturra (’93), Art Hunter (’49), Mike Hurley (’02), Ryan Hurley (’03), Andre Knott (’96), Richard Lang (’56), Brian Unk (’92) and Brandon Weems (’04).
The entire class will be honored at halftime.
Knott is the Cleveland Indians field reporter for SportsTime Ohio, while Weems — who helped STVM to two state championships, including one with LeBron James — is a scout for the Cavaliers.
Joyce has coached STVM to five of its record eight state championships in boys basketball. He was an assistant for two more state title runs.