John Car­roll cap­tures OAC cham­pi­onship

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Sports - By David S. Glasier dglasier@news-her­ald.com @nh­glasier on Twit­ter

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.

DAVID S. GLASIER — THE NEWS-HER­ALD

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.

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