St. John's Jesuit of Toledo Ohio needed overtime to top Mercer Island on Thursday, 62-61, in the second round of the Arizona Basketball Challenge in Mesa, Arizona.
In their first loss of the season, Mercer Island (8-1) fought back from double-digit deficits in both the first and second half against a top-ranked St. Johns squad, anchored by Marc Loving, a 6' 9" senior forward commit to Ohio State. Kaleb Warner, who led all Islanders with 21 points, put back a miss with 1.5 seconds left to tie the game at 54 at the end of the regulation. The Titans (7-2) tightened their defense in overtime, and their senior point guard, Austin Gardner, controlled the basketball as they squeezed out the one point victory.
Loving led all scorers with 32 points, hitting 3 threes, all 7 free throw attempts and a bunch of twos from close range, getting to the rim throughout the game.
St. John's Jesuit, ranked #3 in Ohio and in-and-out of the top 100 high school teams nationally, according to MaxPreps.com, is likely one of the toughest and most talented teams they'll face this season.
"Marc Loving is one heck of a player. He is easily the best talent I've coached against in four years. His game is effortless but great at the same time. He earned every bucket tonight," Islanders Coach Gavin Cree said.
Kaleb led the Islander offense slashing to the basket and hitting 3 threes. Joe Rasmussen dominated the boards again and scored 18, though St. Johns defended the post entry pass making it hard for MI to feed him the ball. Nick Nordale added 9 points, Jake Shaddle scored 5, Espen Platou 4, and Will Taylor 4.
"It was a tough game but playing top end talent will help to make us better in the end," said Cree. "We learned some things today."
The Islanders to open the tournament on Wednesday.
The team squares off with Gilbert High School tomorrow at 10 a.m. in the final game of round robin play with an opportunity to take the top seed in their pool.