The atmosphere at Villa Angela (Ohio) St. Joseph said it all Thursday night in a battle with Lakewood St. Edward.
Packed to the rafters and intensity high, St. Edward picked up a tough road win spurred by a late run in the fourth quarter, 82-76 the final score.
“It put the icing on the cake,” 2015 St. Joseph and five-star power forward Carlton Bragg said after the loss. “It was tough.
“We battled our butts off and they just came up with the win. We have a good team, just came up short again.”
Bragg, who scored 16-points in a very physical game under the basket, did his best to will his team in the second half, opening up the third quarter with high energy, often demanding the basketball matched up with smaller defenders in the post.
“I’ll do that or just give it to the hot man like Simon the way he was hitting three’s I would’ve given him the ball the whole game,” Bragg said. “He kept us in the game.
“Of course I’m the ‘star player’ but it’s all about my teammates and I have to make them better. They were giving me passes and I was determined and making shots.”
Currently rated a five-star and the No. 3 power forward in the 2015 class, Bragg routinely brings big time college coaches to the gym. On Thursday, assistants from both Kansas and Illinois, including head coach John Groce, were in attendance.
With all the hype and hoopla surrounding his hoops game, Bragg shrugs off the attention.
“It’s just being focused really,” Bragg said. “I just put on my music in the locker room, just stay focused. I don’t know how I do it, I just do it.”
Holding offers from all over the country including Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State, UCLA and West Virginia, Bragg maintains he is wide open in his recruiting process, nowhere near a decision.
“I’m just in the process of getting recruited,” he said. “It’s kind of fine but sometimes it can be overwhelming the way they call you.”
Despite not officially holding a scholarship offer from John Beilein and Michigan because he’s yet to set foot on campus in Ann Arbor, Bragg says his relationship with the Wolverines remains strong, looking at a visit in the near future.
“It’s good,” Bragg said. “I’m supposed to go down there (over) spring break I think. I’m not for sure yet but still checking though.”
On his visit plans Bragg added, “I’m planning as many visits as possible.”
Following the loss to St. Edward Thursday, St. Joseph is now 13-7 on the season, but still eyeing the ultimate prize with the state tournament just weeks away.
“Now we’ve got nine games left until we get another state ring,” Bragg said.