Posted On: 01/29/18 5:01 AM

Surprise, surprise, there’s another slate of terrific games in Northeast Ohio to begin February. These teams are battle-tested come March and it’s likely a key factor why four Cleveland-area teams swept the State Championships last season.

Jan. 29: Cleveland Central Catholic at St. Vincent-St. Mary

You’re not going to get the flash or Division I talent of a Garfield or Shaker when you watch CCC, but they’re quietly one of the best teams in the area. Senior twins Delshawn Jackson and Dyshawn Jackson set the tone for the Ironmen with pressure defense in the backcourt. Senior 6’6” forward Dwight Love has provided production in the paint too. The Fighting Irish will need to limit turnovers, meaning calm performances from Scott Walter and Seth Wilson, whose chemistry has developed over the course of the season.

Feb. 2: Benedictine at Lake Catholic

Lake Catholic, last week’s #10 team in the Division II AP Poll, has arrived onto the scene a year or two before anticipated with their sophomores Luka Eller and Luke Frazier playing outstanding ball. Both 2020 prospects can shoot the rock and Eller, a 6’7” forward, is especially making waves with his improvements this season. A more experienced Benedictine team will come into their gym on Friday, led by explosive lead guard Davin Zeigler.

Feb. 2: Cornerstone Christian at Gilmour Academy

Cornerstone Christian went 5-1 in January with notable wins over Garfield Heights and Lutheran East, their only loss against Solon. We can’t identify another Division I team in the state who could’ve had that type of success against that schedule. Expect to see them at The Schott at the end of the season.

Gilmour Academy poses a few interesting individual matchups. First of all, junior point guard CJ Charleston’s speedy driving ability will be confronted by a longer 6’3” opponent in Mike Bothwell. Also, Marion signee Dechlan Kirincic goes against unsigned 6’6” forward Kendall Saunders.

Feb. 2: Lakewood St. Edward at Lutheran East

Even though Lutheran East is .500 coming into the week, we believe they’re lurking in Division III now that transfers David Gulley and Nehemiah Benson are back. If those two find chemistry with Falcon mainstays Jordan Burge and EJ Farmer, it’s hard to find another Division III team in the area who has a higher ceiling. The regular season’s end is approaching quickly however and tests against Cleveland Heights and Eds this week could prove beneficial in the long-run.

Feb. 3: St. Ignatius at Benedictine

We need to take a moment to send some recognition to head coach Brian Becker and the entire Ignatius staff for their job this season. The expectations were relatively (by Iggy standards) low this season with the graduation of their frontcourt players. Somehow, they’ve only lost games to St. Edward, Solon, and Cornerstone Christian this season and got a huge win against Garfield last Friday. Benedictine is next on the slate and we expect an all-out war of experienced upperclassmen to close out the week.