The St. Clairsville Red Devils' basketball team has played in plenty of big games over the last few seasons.
They've never played a school, however, as big as the one they'll tangle with on Sunday afternoon at Walsh University in North Canton.
Taking part in the second annual Dunk 4 Diabetes Shootout, the Red Devils will put their 11-1 record on the line against Cleveland St. Ignatius, the Division I power with 1,112 all male students enrolled.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE’S Dan Monteroso (5) shoots between Union Local defenders Gavin Porter (23) and Colton McKivitz during a recent game. The Red Devils’ senior can reach the 2,000-point mark for his career Sunday.
Tipoff for the Red Devils' game is slated for 3:15 and it's actually one of six games on the docket Sunday. The final four games of the afternoon, which includes St. C., will be broadcast live on SportsTime Ohio.
"We're really excited about this opportunity," said Red Devils' head coach Kim Clifford. "We're excited about the challenge and atmosphere that lies ahead. It's great for our kids, program and school to be included in this kind of event."
The Red Devils were invited to the D4D last spring by event director Chas Wolfe after advancing to the Division II state tournament with an all underclass roster.
"I think being invited says a lot about the program," Clifford said. "This is just another little nugget for the kids to enjoy. We're going to make a day of it, watch some other good basketball and play against a really good team. We're looking at as a fitting reward for these kids."
This is actually the second showcase event of the season for the Devils. They beat Upper Arlington in a two-day basketball festival at Marietta College last month.
St. Clairsville, which is ranked fifth in the Division II Associated Press Poll, will take on an Ignatius squad that will be playing its third game in as many days.
Coach Sean O'Toole's team has dropped three games this season and two came on back-to-back nights when they fell to Columbus Northland and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. They also lost last weekend in the annual Flyin' to the Hoop event near Dayton to Our Savior New American from New York.
"We've seen Ignatius live and on film," Clifford disclosed. "They're everything you'd you'd think they'd be. They're going to be a challenge physically for us, but that's what we signed up for. When they invited us, we told them give us what you got as an opponent."
The Devils' coaching staff made the trip to Cleveland last weekend and watch Ignatius defeat rival Lakewood St. Edward. That was a costly game for the Wildcats. They lost their best player in 6-7 senior Alec Papesch to a broken wrist during an accident in warm ups.
Ignatius, however, won't be short on talent, however. Senior Derek Sloan is a capable scorer at 6-5, while junior Eric Black provides matchup problems on the interior. Junior Danny Bova is the point guard. He's not a scorer, but he's a tireless defender and manages the game well.
Junior Kyle Berger, who was visited this week by members of the Ohio State football coaching staff, including Urban Meyer, is a role player, but has developed into more of a scoring threat.
Junior David Black (6-5), who is Eric's twin brother, is the Iggy sixth man.
The Wildcats have the ability to go as many as 10 deep.
The Red Devils, whose lone loss came on a buzzer beater to Columbus Africentric last month, are led by senior standout Dan Monteroso. The Purdue football commit is just 15 points shy of becoming only the 45th player in OHSAA history to reach the coveted 2,000-point plateau.
"It's a big thing and I am just happy to be part of it," Monteroso said. "I really don't even think about it much. I am just trying to do everything I can to help us win games. If it happens Sunday, it does."
Monteroso is averaging better than 27 points a game this season.
He's joined in the starting lineup by seniors Riley Carlton, Adam Jeffries, Jerrid Marhefka and junior Joel Giffin. Seniors Dylan Campbell and Jared Burghy are top two options off the St. C. bench.
"I really like how we've played the last couple of games," Clifford continued. "I like where we are going into this game. That doesn't determine what will happen, but we feel like we're playing well."
St. Clairsville will depart for Stark County at 11 a.m. Sunday after a 9 a.m. shootaround.
"We hope to get up there in time to see most of the game before us and then we're planning on staying to watch most of the game after us."
The Dunk 4 Diabetes actually gets under way this afternoon, but the weather has reportedly caused Gateway, Pa. to drop out of the event, leaving organizers scrambling.
All told, the D4D features more than 50 Division I prospects; four teams from the 2012 state tournament and seven teams that advanced to the regional final.
The D4D also features Huntington Prep, which took part in the Cancer Research Classic earlier this month in Wheeling. Huntington Prep is led by Andrew Wiggins, who is the top overall Class of 2013 player in the country.
The complete Sunday schedule for the D4D is as follows:
11:45 a.m. - LaBrae vs. Malvern.
1:30 p.m. - Garfield Heights vs. Gahanna Lincoln.
3:15 p.m. - Cleveland St. Ignatius vs. St. Clairsville.
5:00 p.m. - Cleveland Benedictine vs. Huntington Prep.
6:45 p.m. - North Canton Hoover vs. Bishop Kearney (NY).
8:30 p.m. - Shaker Heights vs. Pickerington Central.
Staskey can be reached at email@example.com