John Carroll captures OAC championship
All of the John Carroll University players joined the celebration at DeCarlo Varsity Center after the Blue Streaks clinched the Ohio Athletic Conference regular-season title on Feb. 14 with a 91-78 victory over Heidelberg.
But the on-court embraces, impromptu team picture and cutting down of the net had special meaning for Matthew Csuhran and fellow seniors John Cirillo, Tony Vuyancih and Brian Papich.
Honored before the game on senior night, they all made substantial contributions to a solid win that ensured the first outright OAC regular-season title for the JCU men’s program since 2010. The Blue Streaks shared the title with Capital in 2012.
With their fifth straight victory, the Blue Streaks improved to 20-4 overall and 14-3 in the OAC.
No matter the outcome of JCU’s regular-season finale at Capital on Feb. 17, second-place Marietta (195, 13-4 OAC) can’t share the title after dropping both regular-season games to the Blue Streaks.
“We’ve won a lot of games here, but this means so much because it’s our first (regular-season) title. It’s crazy,” said Csuhran, who finished with 15 points and a 11 rebounds.
JCU’s record is 83-23 during the run of these four seniors.
Freshman guard Jackson Sartain netted a gamehigh 26 points for the Blue Streaks. The Medina product was 9-of-10 from the field overall while canning eight of nine 3-point attempts.
Vuyanchih, Cirillo and Papich each scored nine points as the Blue Streaks overcame a sluggish start to stem a determined effort by the Student Princes.
“These guys mean everything to me. Winning this title means everything to me,” Vuyancih said after being accorded the honor of making the first cut of the net.
“The thing coach Pete (Moran) talked about al season was us seniors showing leadership qualities,” Vuyancih added. “There are so any talented, young players on this team, but it was on us to set the tone.”
The Student Princes raced to an 8-0 lead and had the upper hand through long stretches of the first half before the Blue Streaks took a 43-38 lead at halftime. Heidelberg (1014, 6-11 OAC) kept it close in the second half, too, until the Blue Streaks moved ahead for good at 55-54 on a 3-pointer by Csuhran at the 14:04 mark.
“Senior night nerves might have had something to do with us starting slow. But we hung tough and came back,” Cirillo said.
Papich said he and his teammates were especially pleased for Moran, who is in his first season as head coach at JCU after the 25year run of his father, Mike Moran.
“To do this in coach Pete’s first year is so emotional,” Papich said.
Moran asked his players to cut down only one net as an acknowledgement of work still to be done. The Blue Streaks earned a bye to the quarterfinals of the OAC tournament. They will host that game on Feb. 20.
John Carroll senior guard Tony Vuyancih helps cut down the net after the Blue Streaks clinched the OAC regularseason title with a victory over Heidelberg on Feb. 14.