JCU Men’s Basketball Tip-Off Tournament showcased bright future for remaining season


JCU Sports Information Department

Luke Chicone shooting for the Blue and Gold against Ohio Wesleyan.

Michael Gallipoli, The Carroll News

The opening weekend for the John Carroll University Men’s Basketball team could not have ended better with the Blue Streaks finishing the weekend 2-0, recording commanding wins over both Wittenberg and Ohio Wesleyan University, a nice confidence boost for such a talented team. 

On Sat., Nov. 12, the Blue and Gold opened up their new season with a home game against Wittenberg University in their first game of the JCU Men’s Basketball Tip-Off Classic sponsored by Kaulig Companies. The Blue Streaks took no time to put the league on notice with a dominant 94-72 win, a sign that this season could be special. 

A big reason for this victory is four Division I transfer students John Carroll gained this offseason: Luke Chicone 26’(Youngstown State University), Luke Frazier 26’ (University of Dayton), Jerry Higgins III 25’ (The Citadel) and Luka Eller 26’ (Miami University). The Blue Streaks also received great pieces in Henry Raynor 26’ (Hillsdale College) and Will Yontek 25’ (Marietta College). 

With the first game getting underway, John Carroll started strong with Chicone getting the scoring started off a mid-range jumper. The first eight minutes of the game was a back and forth battle between the two teams, trading buckets on both ends of the floor as the Blue and Gold displayed their full court press, meaning to speed the other team up causing more turnovers.

At the 11 minute mark, JCU Head Coach Pete Moran highlighted his Platoon-style subbing system most notably seen at Kentucky’s basketball program. In this system, all the players on the court are subbed out for five new players, helping the Blue Streaks stay rested after the constant pressure they put on opposing teams. The second group that took the floor was led by Higgins III who displayed his flashiness any chance he got. Higgins plays with extreme energy, always moving around the floor, and is not afraid to show off his handles. 

As the half came to an end, John Carroll established a healthy 43-34 lead. However, the Blue Streaks were not satisfied as they came back out playing even more aggressive. 

John Carroll opened the half with a six-point run thanks to three nice buckets from Henry Raynor ‘25. The Blue Streaks would not look back and, by the ten minute mark, they established a twenty point lead. 

Jerry Higgins III on the court for John Carroll against Ohio Wesleyan where he led the team in points. (JCU Sports Information Department)

John Carroll finalized this game with a 94-72 victory. Leading the way in points was Higgins with seventeen. On the boards, Yontek snatched eight and Raynor grabbed seven. The Blue Streaks also shot an astounding 60-percent from beyond the arc, and 70-percent from the free throw line. 

This first win against Wittenberg was just the beginning of the successful weekend for the Blue and Gold as they faced up against Ohio Wesleyan University on Sun., Nov. 13 and ended with similar results. 

John Carroll set the tone early, winning the tip and scoring on their first opportunity. Chicone set the tone scoring two quick buckets early, giving John Carroll an early lead. The Battling Bishops fired back with Jack Clement ‘23 scoring a quick five points. 

The first half was a back and forth battle with twelve total lead changes, but the Blue Streaks went into halftime with a 33-25 lead. 

John Carroll’s signature full court press was the difference maker, causing eleven turnovers which resulted in ten points for the Blue Streaks. This full court press style of defense comes in waves and comes often. 

Coming out of the half, the Blue Streaks were all gas no brakes, scoring three quick buckets to build their lead to 40-25. John Carroll did not look back, leading the rest of the game in dominant fashion. 

The Blue Streaks kept up the constant pressure from their press defense and made great passes resulting in easy points. John Carroll closed out the game victorious by a score of 70-55. 

Leading the way in points for the Blue Streaks was Yontek with fourteen. On the boards, Eller led the way with ten. 

Higgins III was awarded Tournament MVP for his performances as he showcased a dominant performance in the first game and finished the game against Ohio Wesleyan with 11 points and three steals. 

Yontek was awarded with All-Tournament Honors for his play as well. 

This new look Blue Streak team is sure to be one to watch as the season goes on. Their fast paced offense is always moving in open lanes that result in easy points. A very important part of this team is the full court press which catches teams off guard and causes easy turnovers. This press will be sure to be a problem for teams as the season progresses. 

Up next, the Blue and Gold will travel to Wheaton, Illinois to play in the Wheaton Tournament on both Fri., Nov 18 and Sat., Nov 19.