Shaker Basketball Clinches Second Straight NOC Division Title With Two Top 5 Wins


Will McKnight

Kaley Roy jumps for a Layup against Medina on Feb. 14.

In the wake of two top five wins against No. 1 St. Edward and No. 5 Medina, as well as clinching a second straight NOC title, men’s varsity basketball coach Danny Young was busy responding to dozens of congratulatory tweets and recognition.

The tweets didn’t come from just fans but also his own players, such as senior Rosel Hurley, who tweeted on Tuesday, “Love my team and my coaching staff! Best in the game!”

“We were just happy that we proved everyone wrong,” Hurley said. “There are a lot of people that doubt the talent we have, but we believe that we can hang with any opponent.”

The praise was well-deserved, considering Young led his team to a 53-50 victory over the No. 1 team in the state, handing St. Edward just their second loss of the season, and their first from an Ohio opponent. The Eagles (16-2) were more than a worthy opponent, but the Raiders couldn’t let the win get to their heads as they headed into a match up on Friday against Medina.

Both teams gave Shaker a tough game, but Shaker led for most of the game in both instances.

Against St. Edward, they controlled the low scoring first half thanks to a 14-0 run in the first quarter led by junior Kaleb Roy, who was key for Shaker, hitting big shots when they needed them. Esa Ahmad, typically crucial to the Raiders’ chances, went down late in the second quarter with a gash above his eye that would later require stitches.  At the half, Shaker held a 27-21 lead, thanks to seven points from Roy and senior guard TJ Steele.

The Raiders started the third quarter with a 8-0 run, pushing their lead to 14. Roy continued to shoot well, and his hot hand became crucial as the Raiders worked hard to hold their lead.

“I was focused on what coach had been telling us,” Roy said. “Play harder than them and play smarter than them.”

The Eagles cut the deficit to nine as Shaker led 40-31 at the end of the third.

Ahmad returned to the bench in the second half, wearing number 33 instead of his blood-stained number 1 jersey, and sporting bandages around his head. Ahmad didn’t score much in the first half, which is very uncharacteristic for the 6’ 6” forward. However, he scored 10 points in the second half and locked down the paint defensively with help from junior Courtney Mays. Ahmad finished with 14 points.

With 40 seconds left in the game, the Raiders led by nine and the student section erupted in a “start the buses,” chant. But the game was far from over.

St. Edward hit a three pointer with 32 seconds left to cut the difference to four, 52-48. The Eagles then stole the inbound pass with a heavy full court press and scored. Shaker lead 52-50 with 30 seconds left. The Eagles then stole another inbound pass, but missed a tough shot. Ahmad grabbed the rebound with six seconds left.

The gym erupted as Ahmad was quickly fouled and sent to the line. He hit one of two free throws, and then forced a tough three from Eagle Kipper Nichols at the buzzer. The shot was short, and the Raiders won the game — and a turn atop the state basketball poll. The student section attempted to storm the court, only to be held back by security and Athletic Director Don Readance.

The Raiders could face the Eagles again in the state semi-final game.

Shaker’s momentum continued in their 69-63 win over Medina, which clinched a second straight NOC division title. The Raiders enter the state tournament with a high morale.

Hurley, Ahmad, Steele and Roy scored in double figures; the Raiders shot above 50 percent for the game. Ahmad had 17 points and 13 rebounds, and added two blocks.

“Coming into this week we knew what was ahead,” Hurley said. “Coach kept us humble. The whole team was on the same wavelength this week. We were playing hard and communicating on defense and we shot the ball well. We’re looking to ride this into the tournament.”

When this story was originally published, we wrote that this was the men’s basketball team’s third straight NOC division title. It is actually the team’s second straight NOC division title and the story has been revised to reflect this change. 

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