CANTON, Ohio – This trip to the Canton Civic Center went much better than the last one for St. Vincent-St. Mary, as the Fighting Irish took care of business with an 82-43 win Thursday afternoon over Youngstown Chaney in the Division II regional semifinals.
STVM relied heavily on its two-headed monster of Sencire Harris and Ramar Pryor, and the duo didn’t disappoint. Pryor led all scorers with 28 points, while Harris added 18 as the Fighting Irish pulled away after a tight first quarter.
“Those are the two guys with experience from last year, Ramar and Sencire,” STVM coach Dru Joyce said. “I thought in the first quarter we were a little tight and Sencire was letting the guys know to relax and calm down.”
Leading just 13-12 after the first quarter and with Chaney hanging around early in the second, Harris hit a turnaround jumper from free throw line extended and Pryor hit a 3-pointer to cap a surge that stretched the lead to nine. Then, with Browns running backs coach Stump Mitchell in attendance, it only felt appropriate that the running game showed up for STVM.
Harris got a steal that led to a Pryor layup, then Harris got out ahead of the defense for a runout and a layup and Pryor got a steal on the next possession that led to a breakaway dunk for Harris. When the dust settled, STVM was up 29-14 and in control.
“I thought we showed a lot of patience,” Joyce said. “When we turned up the volume, it was pretty much our game.”
Once STVM got rolling, they didn’t stop. The Fighting Irish defense harassed Chaney players and forced turnovers which became easy scoring opportunities. STVM had 16 steals, led by Harris with seven and Pryor with four.
“That’s what we needed,” Harris said. “We are always talking about defense, and we got locked in.”
While the defense was surging, Pryor was doing the same thing on the offense. He made 11 of his 16 shots, including four 3-pointers. When STVM was struggling to score, he stepped up and took control.
“As a senior and a leader, I felt like I had to take it on my shoulders,” Pryor said. “I have been in the gym all week and my shooting paid off I guess.”
One of the reasons for the slow start was because STVM was missing Lance Hayes, who missed the game with food poisoning.
“LA has been that third cog, the third piece of the puzzle,” Joyce said. “To not have him there definitely showed an issue. We will be happy to get him back Saturday. “
The last time the Fighting Irish played at the Civic Center was also their last loss, an 83-65 setback against Oak Hill Academy. STVM played that game short-handed as well, however, as Harris and Pryor didn’t play.
“To watch that game was very difficult, I wanted to be out there with them to play,” Pryor said. “Just to be back here again, it feels good.”
STVM will get a return trip to the Canton Civic Center on Saturday to play the winner between Glenville and Louisville for the regional title at 1:30 pm They will be at full strength, as Hayes is expected to return.