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The news that keeps us Onward On!
Since 1925
The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

Men’s basketball holds on for historic OAC championship

Sean Finucane
John Carroll men’s basketball celebrates after a narrow victory against Mount Union in the OAC Championship.

On Saturday, Feb. 24, amidst an electrifying environment in the Tony Decarlo Center, the John Carroll men’s basketball team secured the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament Championship, the program’s most recent title since 2018.

Saturday’s matchup against No. 24 Mount Union proved to be a thrilling contest between the rivals. The Blue Streaks defeated the Purple Raiders 88-86 in one of the most highly anticipated games of the season. The two nationally ranked squads battled back and forth for the OAC Championship, with the Blue and Gold coming out on top.

It was an unmissable game in University Heights as the stands were packed with fans from both sides. The support of the John Carroll Community certainly added to the excitement and energy circulating in DeCarlo.

John Carroll started strong in the beginning of the game, going on a 14 point spree against Mount Union. The standout point guard and tournament MVP, Luke Frazier ‘25, sparked momentum for the Blue Streaks, scoring eight points in the first few minutes of the first half.

John Carroll continued to step on the gas throughout the first half. With their biggest lead in the game of 22 points, John Carroll’s drive was shut down by the Raiders, an unexpected response from the rival. Mount Union cut John Carroll’s lead in half with a swift 13 point run.

The OAC Player of the Year Luke Chicone ‘24 was a dominant player during the matchup. Chicone’s multiple drives to the basket demonstrated his key skills on the court and allowed the Blue Streaks to keep their lead. As time was counting down in the first half, John Carroll was able to enter the locker room with a 48-36 lead..

After the half, Mount Union found power and momentum and changed the dynamic on the court in their favor. On top of a competitive shift, John Carroll lost Chase Toppin ‘24, as he drew his fifth foul with too much time remaining., As a result, the Raiders continued to make shots and discovered more strength on defense.

With six minutes left in the second half, Mount Union closed the gap 65-70, trailing behind the Blue Streaks. The matchup quickly became a back and forth scoring contest as both teams were battling to keep the upper hand.

With 58 seconds left in the second, Mount Union’s Collen Gurley made a layup for the Raiders, evening the score at 77-77.

The crowd’s chatter was increasing as time was running out and the score of the game continued to vary.

With three seconds left on the clock and Mount Union up by two points, a play drawn for a last-ditch shot fromChicone was ended in a foul call against the Raiders, allowing Chicone to step to the line. Chicone’s calm and collected skills permitted John Carroll to gain the two points from the foul shots, tying the score 79-79. The second half came to a close and the Championship title was still on the line going into overtime.

In overtime, Mount’s attempt to comeback failed as John Carroll maintained the lead. The Raiders had one last chance to score as the game was 88-86, but could not push the point. When the clock ran out and Mount Union missed the shot, John Carroll was officially named the 2024 Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament Champions.

“You know we were excited, it’s a great feeling and the guys put that down as a goal for the season way back in October so it’s nice to cross that off the list and enjoy the moment and enjoy the celebrations after, but now we have six more,” mentioned student manager Deuce Zak ‘24.

“As coach likes to say, we have another 19 days at this point left in our season… and for us seniors that can feel very final but it’s all business now,” continued Zak. “We have six more games, six more opponents to look forward to, just gotta keep on taking care of business.”

The men’s basketball team is set to host SUNY New Patlz in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament right back in the Tony DeCarlo Center on Friday, Mar. 1 at 8:20 p.m. With the success of the 2024 season, there are high expectations for the team and will continue to fight their way deeply in the national tournament.

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