By Ryan Kaczmarski
For the first time since then President Richard Nixon proclaimed, “I’m not a crook,” and Americans found out what Soylent Green was made of, the North Olmsted High School boys varsity basketball team clinched the Southwestern Conference championship. The Eagles finished the season with a conference record of 14-4, which tied Midview for the best record and secured the co-championship.
North Olmsted clinched at least a share of the SWC title with a 61-34 win over Avon Lake on Feb. 16, but the Eagles were not done yet, as they capped off the regular season with a 74-62 victory over Buckeye, Friday on senior night. Friday night’s win gave the Eagles a 17-5 overall record, tying the best record in the program’s history.
“It was really a special night for our guys, especially our seniors, to cap off a memorable and exciting season,” North Olmsted head coach Jason Frolo said. “It was a real wild ride, and I’m just proud of our guys (who were) tough all year and beating a good team like Buckeye.”
Buckeye, from the Patriot Athletic Conference, was no pushover, as the Bucks compiled an overall record of 16-6, and made 13 of 39 3-point attempts in Friday’s game. Frolo knew his team had to keep its foot on the gas, so they could end the regular season with a win.
“We won the conference on Tuesday, and there’s a natural reaction to relax after such a big accomplishment, but we said that we have more goals to accomplish this year,” he said. “We kept the pressure up, so we could send our seniors out as winners.”
The Eagles’ offense was led by senior guard Paris Villanueva, who scored 19 points against Buckeye, followed by Jimmy Clark with 18 and Andy Lucien with 14. Two of Lucien’s points came on a thunderous slam dunk, which sent the home crowd into a frenzy. In the last week, Lucien surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his high school career, and became the all-time rebounding leader for North Olmsted High School, surpassing the 644 mark.
“(Lucien) has put a lot of hard work into his game,” Frolo said. “We knew there was a lot of potential there when he was a sophomore, and the sky’s the limit with him. He has even more potential to succeed at the collegiate level as well.”
Frolo said that he is not only proud of Lucien’s individual accomplishments, but he is even more proud of the team’s accomplishments this season. Lucien concurred.
“I’d have to say that winning the SWC championship is at the top of the list,” Lucien said. “All the individual stuff is really special and fun, but when you put those together with the team accolades, it makes everything even more sweet.”
Following Lucien in scoring Friday night were Josh Hufstetler and Ryan Coleman with eight points each, Kevin Kidd and Andrew Bussman with five points each, Andy Kearney with four points and Ben Wykowski pitched in with one.
The Eagles started the road to the OHSAA Division I state championship last night, with a home game against Strongsville at 7 p.m.
North Olmsted clinches first SWC crown in 43 years