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St. Edward staves off latest challenge to top spot in boys basketball rankings

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 1/23/2023 Matt Goul,
St. Edward's Lucas Perusek drives to the hoop Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, during the Chet Mason Invitational at Brush in Lyndhurst. St. Edward beat Garfield Heights, 56-48, in overtime. © Matt Goul, St. Edward's Lucas Perusek drives to the hoop Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, during the Chet Mason Invitational at Brush in Lyndhurst. St. Edward beat Garfield Heights, 56-48, in overtime.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — For the second straight year, Lucas Perusek provided St. Edward with a spark on short rest vs. Garfield Heights on a neutral floor at Brush.

The difference this time is, he is now the starting point guard for the area’s No. 1 ranked boys basketball team.

Perusek scored 16 points with seven steals Sunday in the Eagles’ 56-48 overtime win against Garfield Heights to keep his team undefeated on the season in one of their closest games. Perusek found Brevyn Coleman for a tying 3-pointer that forced overtime in the final seconds of regulation, rallying from a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

The performance comes on year after Perusek came off the bench to push St. Edward on short rest — playing a third game in as many days — at the Chet Mason Invitational in Lyndhurst. He did it again with a bigger, established role for the Eagles, who maintain their hold on the No. 1 spot in the Top 25, which sees Richmond Heights move up to No. 2 since last week and Akron East make its debut.

Read the full Top 25 below, including recent results, this week’s schedules and a breakdown:

1. St. Edward (13-0)

Last week: Ranked No. 1; Jan. 17 beat SPIRE 77-64, Jan. 20 won at Villa Angela-St. Joseph 87-60, Jan. 21 won at Cleveland Central Catholic 64-51, Jan. 22 beat Garfield Heights at Brush 56-48 (OT)

This week: Thursday vs. Benedictine, Friday at No. 3 St. Vincent-St. Mary

Perhaps the most impressive part about the Eagles’ win Sunday vs. Garfield Heights is they shut out the Bulldogs in the four-minute overtime. It is only the fourth time a team has stayed within single digits of St. Edward, which opened with a four-point victory against Medina and more recently beat Lutheran East by five. The Eagles also beat Brush by single digits on the same court that they defeated Garfield Heights.

2. Richmond Heights (16-0)

Last week: Ranked No. 4; Jan. 16 beat Fairfield at Flyin’ to the Hoop in Kettering 56-53, Jan. 17 beat Orange 84-43, Jan. 20 beat Harvey 91-63

This week: Tuesday at Beachwood, Friday at Ashtabula Edgewood

The Spartans’ victory against Fairview at Flyin’ to the Hoop marked their fifth win against a Division I program. The defending Division IV state champions can match up with anyone.

3. St. Vincent-St. Mary (12-4)

Last week: Ranked No. 2; Jan. 17 lost at Stow 61-58, Jan. 21 beat Grand Rapids Central Catholic (Mich.) 72-55

This week: Friday vs. No. 1 St. Edward

STVM bounced back from that three-point loss to Stow by turning away Grand Rapids Central Catholic from Michigan on Saturday at the Legends Classic, which included Buchtel taking on another team from that state. That strong schedule, considered the toughest in Division I by Martin RPI, includes wins against Centerville, Sierra Canyon (Calif.), Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller and The Skills Factory — a resume that makes it difficult to drop the Fighting Irish far after any loss at this point.

4. Garfield Heights (12-3)

Last week: Ranked No. 3; Jan. 20 lost at Maple Heights 48-47, Jan. 22 lost to St. Edward at Brush 56-48 (OT)

This week: Tuesday at No. 10 Cleveland Heights, Friday vs. Shaker Heights

The Bulldogs carry a two-game losing streak into their trip to Cleveland Heights for first place in the Lake Erie League. They beat the Tigers, 49-42, on Dec. 1 to establish their standing in the LEL. The close loss to top-ranked St. Edward should not drop them far. The other loss this season came to Dayton Chaminade Julienne, a favorite for the OHSAA Division II state championship.

5. Brecksville-Broadview Heights (13-1)

Last week: Ranked No. 8; Jan. 16 beat Avon Lake at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse 57-48, Jan. 20 won at Wadsworth 63-59

This week: Tuesday vs. No. 7 Stow, Friday at Hudson

Brecksville’s latest stretch of wins included handing Avon Lake a second straight loss to start last week at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. Junior guard Luke Skaljac and senior forward Chase Garito then led the Bees at Wadsworth, setting up a rematch Tuesday vs. Stow that could all but clinch the Suburban League National Conference.

6. Lutheran West (12-1)

Last week: Ranked No. 6; Jan. 17 won at Trinity 56-53

This week: Tuesday vs. Brooklyn, Friday at Orwell Grand Valley, Saturday at No. 13 Mentor

The Longhorns trailed by 11 points with about three minutes left last week at Trinity, which gave them their toughest game since their only defeat back on Dec. 15 against Holy Name. Second-year coach Jordan Duke has turned this program into a Division II state-title contender with road wins vs. St. Ignatius, Maple Heights and a neutral-court victory vs. Ottawa-Glandorf.

7. Stow-Munroe Falls (12-2)

Last week: Ranked No. 17; Jan. 17 beat St. Vincent-St. Mary 61-58, Jan. 20 won at Green 40-36

This week: Tuesday at No. 5 Brecksville, Friday vs. North Royalton

Stow’s only two losses came in triple overtime Jan. 6 to Nordonia and by 19 points in mid-December to Brecksville. The Bulldogs get a chance to avenge that loss to the Bees on Tuesday, as their postseason resume continues to be bolstered with last week’s wins adding to that win last month against Walsh Jesuit.

8. Archbishop Hoban (12-2)

Last week: Ranked No. 5; Jan. 20 lost to Cincinnati Taft 51-44

This week: Tuesday vs. No. 17 Walsh Jesuit, Friday vs. Cleveland Central Catholic

Defending OHSAA Division III state champion Cincinnati Taft, which is now in Division II, beat another D-I foe from Northeast Ohio. The Senators followed up their win vs. Brush at Flyin’ to the Hoop by halting Hoban’s nine-game win streak.

9. Buchtel (12-5)

Last week: Ranked No. 9; Jan. 20 beat Ellet 77-47, Jan. 21 beat Ferndale (Mich.) at St. Vincent-St. Mary 77-66, Jan. 22 lost to Akron East 68-65

This week: Tuesday at No. 25 Akron East, Friday vs. Akron North, Saturday at No. 12 St. Ignatius

Three of the Griffins’ four losses came out of state before Sunday’s continuation with East, which halted their six-game win streak. The initial Akron City Series rivalry game had been halted Dec. 16 because of a fight among students in the crowd. Buchtel’s ranking remains buoyed by big wins, including a 67-62 victory vs. Cleveland Heights at the Scholastic Play By Play Classic on Jan. 8. More recently, Khoi Thurmon’s 26-point game led Buchtel on Saturday vs. Ferndale. They get a full rematch with East within 48 hours of Sunday’s loss.

10. Cleveland Heights (11-5)

Last week: Ranked No. 10; Jan. 20 won at Shaker Heights 75-63, Jan. 22 lost to Brush at CMI Invitational 60-58

This week: Tuesday vs. No. 4 Garfield Heights, Friday vs. No. 14 Maple Heights

All six of the Tigers’ remaining regular-season games are in the LEL. They have won five of their last seven since a two-point loss to Toledo Central Catholic. A 76-60 win against Lutheran East on Dec. 22 remains their signature performance.

11. Lutheran East (11-4)

Last week: Ranked No. 11; Jan. 20 beat St. Ignatius 66-64, Jan. 22 beat Shaker Heights at Brush 85-58

This week: Tuesday vs. Mayfield

Cody Head is heating up after a strong start to the season at shooting guard. He’s back at the point, and the Falcons have won three straight since three consecutive losses to No. 2 Richmond Heights, No. 1 St. Edward and Combine Academy of North Carolina — all on the road or at neutral sites.

12. St. Ignatius (10-6)

Last week: Ranked No. 7; Jan. 20 lost at Lutheran East 66-64, Jan. 21 beat Benedictine 78-36

This week: Saturday vs. No. 9 Buchtel

St. Ignatius led for much of its two-point loss Friday at Lutheran East, which threw a wrench in the Wildcats’ impressive run of late. Since their 22-point loss Jan. 6 at St. Edward, they beat Mentor by 37 points and topped Huntington Prep by double digits at Flyin’ to the Hoop.

13. Mentor (11-3)

Last week: Ranked No. 12; Jan. 16 beat Lake Catholic 85-63, Jan. 20 beat Euclid 72-57, Jan. 21 beat Cornerstone Christian 90-72

This week: Friday at Solon, Saturday vs. No. 6 Lutheran West

The trio of Matthew Biddell, Ian Ioppolo and Ryan Ioppolo continue to lead the Cardinals, while sophomore Kobe Frasure-Azzano is picking up the pace for the stretch run. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier, carrying a four-game win streak since that loss to St. Ignatius.

14. Maple Heights (11-4)

This week: Ranked No. 19; Jan. 20 beat Garfield Heights 48-47

This week: Tuesday at Shaker Heights, Friday at No. 10 Cleveland Heights

First-year coach Anthony Burns has Maple Heights with its highest standing in the Top 25 since the 2017-18 season. That team won 13 games in the regular season. This one has a 10-game winning streak, closing in on that mark with a shot at the program’s most wins since 2016-17 with 17 in that regular season.

15. Holy Name (14-0)

Last week: Ranked No. 13; Jan. 17 won at Parma 83-47, Jan. 20 beat Lakewood 55-53 (OT)

This week: Tuesday vs. Strongsville, Friday vs. Buckeye

Holy Name is closing in on a top seed for the Great Lakes Conference tournament, which begins Feb. 7. They have two more GLC games before that in-season tourney and survived Lakewood in overtime for the second time this season.

16. Medina (12-4)

Last week: Ranked No. 14; Jan. 20 won at Solon 53-33, Jan. 22 beat Fairview at Brush 70-58

This week: Tuesday vs. Brookside, Friday vs. No. 20 Brunswick

A second game in three days prompted Medina coach Chris Hassinger and his staff to lean on their reserves for a boost against Fairview. They answered, and the Bees have won eight of their last nine games with that lone setback coming in overtime to Gahanna Lincoln in Columbus.

17. Walsh Jesuit (9-4)

Last week: Ranked No. 18; Jan. 20 beat Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin 84-54

This week: Tuesday at No. 8 Archbishop Hoban, Friday vs. Padua

Senior forward Zach Halligan scored a career-high 32 points against NDCL, bouncing back from a 12-point loss the previous week to Green. Halligan connected on six 3-pointers against the Lions, keeping Walsh in charge of the Crown Conference race.

18. Green (10-4)

Last week: Ranked No. 15; Jan. 20 lost to Stow 40-36

This week: Tuesday at North Canton Hoover, Friday vs. Uniontown Lake

An abysmal shooting night plagued Green in its loss to Stow, which forced the host Bulldogs into 4-of-36 shooting for the first three quarters before a comeback that could provide a spark for the Federal League stretch run. Green is a game back in the loss column to Massillon Jackson and Canton GlenOak. They visit Hoover on Tuesday after it handed Green a one-point loss in overtime early this season.

19. Avon Lake (12-2)

Last week: Ranked No. 16; Jan. 16 lost to Brecksville at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse 57-48, Jan. 20 won at Avon 50-49

This week: Friday at Midview

Survive and advance could be the theme of Avon Lake’s second half to the Southwestern Conference schedule. Matthew Stuewe’s 19 points led the Shoremen in their one-point win at Avon, keeping their rival from a share of the SWC lead. They remain a game ahead of North Ridgeville in the standings.

20. Brunswick (9-4)

Last week: Ranked No. 20; Jan. 20 beat Strongsville 52-47

This week: Monday vs. International Sports Academy of Andrews Osborne, Tuesday vs. Cleveland Central Catholic, Friday at No. 16 Medina

The Blue Devils rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Strongsville for a second time this year. They had lost two of their last three until that win, but are getting back to full strength with a big trip Friday to Medina.

21. North Ridgeville (11-3)

Last week: Ranked No. 21; Jan. 17 beat Keystone 65-54, Jan. 20 won at Amherst 71-62

This week: Tuesday at Olmsted Falls, Friday vs. Avon

The Rangers edged Olmsted Falls last time by six points at home and lost by two at Avon in their first meeting last month. This is a critical week for North Ridgeville to remain within a game or better of Avon Lake in the SWC after that big 63-55 win on Jan. 13.

22. Brush (6-7)

Last week: Ranked No. 23; Jan. 18 beat John Marshall 84-39, Jan. 22 beat Cleveland Heights 60-58

This week: Wednesday at Padua, Saturday vs. East Tech

That tough schedule is showing in close wins against Cleveland Heights and Brecksville-Broadview Heights, which remains with only one loss entering this week. While Brush is the only sub-.500 team in the Top 25, remember that six of their defeats are by seven points or fewer. Four are against Top 25 teams, including No. 1 St. Edward and No. 2 Richmond Heights.

23. Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (11-4)

Last week: Ranked No. 22; Jan. 17 beat Wooster Triway 72-52, Jan. 20 won at Canton South 63-35

This week: Friday at Massillon Tuslaw

Sophomore sensation Darryn Peterson leads the area in scoring, averaging 31.5 points per game before Friday’s win at Canton South. Along with fellow sophomore guard Niles Nuru, the Royals are firmly in control of the Principals Athletic Conference and have two big nonconference games left on their schedule Feb. 11 at Walsh Jesuit and Feb. 18 vs. St. Vincent-St. Mary in Canton.

24. Nordonia (11-2)

Last week: Ranked No. 24; Jan. 20 won at North Royalton 64-63 (OT)

This week: Tuesday at Twinsburg, Friday vs. Wadsworth

Dominique Sanders’ Knights swept North Royalton in Suburban League play with last week’s overtime win. They remain a game behind Brecksville in the National Conference with their losses coming vs. the Bees and nonleague foe Brush.

25. Akron East (14-2)

Last week: Not ranked; Jan. 18 beat Strongsville 81-77, Jan. 20 won at Firestone 83-64, Jan. 22 won at Buchtel 68-65

This week: Tuesday vs. No. 9 Buchtel, Friday vs. Akron Garfield

The Dragons debut at No. 25 with their makeup game Sunday at Buchtel. Outside of the Akron City Series, they also have wins against Federal League-leading Massillon Jackson, Rhodes and Olmsted Falls.

Dropped out

Avon (10-3, was No. 25)

On the cusp

Cuyahoga Heights (14-0), Perry (12-2), Wadsworth (9-5)

Contact sports reporter Matt Goul on Twitter (@mgoul) or email (

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