TORONTO - The Steubenville Catholic Central boys basketball team didn't get the start-to-finish defensive effort head coach Sean Tucker expects for them Tuesday night at Toronto High School.
Fortunately for the Crusaders, a strong offensive effort along with great second quarter defense was enough to bring home a 75-61 victory over the Red Knights.
"They jumped into some pressure, and for whatever reason we didn't space the floor very well and get where we needed to be," said Toronto head coach John Leary. "We gave them a couple of turnovers off that, and when you're playing a team like them, and you're scrapping and clawing like we were all night, a couple of cheap turnovers do a lot of things.
LOOKING TO PASS — Catholic Central’s Michael Carapellotti kicks the ball outside as Toronto’s Tyler Owens defends during the Crusaders’ 75-61 win over the Red Knights Tuesday in Toronto.
-- Fred Younce
"We were running our half court offense, they were running their's, and it was a good job by Coach Tucker to jump into that. It slowed us down a little bit."
After both teams lit up the scoreboard in the first quarter, the Crusaders led 25-20. Though his team led Tucker challenged his squad to step up the defensive intensity in the second.
"First quarter wasn't our defensive style," said Tucker. "We came out kind of flat defensively. We allowed way too many points in the first quarter. The second quarter started, and I talked to them about being a little more aggressive.
"I talked about helping out a little bit more, hedging our screens, doing the things we know we can do. I gave them a point limit to where they needed to be, and they held them. They held them to five points. They did a fantastic job."
The Crusaders stepped up their defensive intensity while maintaining the offensive pressure to push the halftime lead to 18 points at 43-25.
Toronto made a number of second half runs at the Crusaders, including a 10-0 spurt to end the third quarter, but was never able to cut the deficit below double-figures as the Crusaders answered each time.
The Red Knights held a 36-32 second half advantage, and the 75-61 final score was a great improvement for the Red Knights over the 84-40 loss the Crusaders handed them in their first meeting.
"We came out in the third quarter, and I honestly believe we came out with that mentality where we're not going to have to work as hard," said Tucker. "We tried a little bit different things with the zone to be more aggressive, and that backfired.
"That's my fault because I thought the kids would adapt to it better, be a little more aggressive defensively, and we didn't. We allowed too many three-point shots that we should have taken away. They did a good job. Don't take anything away from them. They played extremely hard for four quarters of basketball, and never quit.
"That's one thing with kids from Toronto, they never quit. They play hard. I keep trying to tell our guys we have to go hard for 32 minutes. Hopefully this is going to be a wake up call."
Added Leary, "I've never experienced them quitting or just rolling over and saying this game is over, let's move onto the next one. At halftime we were talking about making sure we played for 32 minutes because they had pushed the lead out to 18.
"We wanted to know if they were going to answer the bell and battle back or are we just going to roll though the next 16 minutes and if it ends in a 30-point game well we did better than first time because they beat us by 44 last time.
"My challenge to them was not to accept that. I'm very proud of them. They were fighting adversity. We were in foul trouble. Through all of that we just kept battling."
Offensively Central was paced by a trio of double-digit scorers. Michael Barber and Ryan Fletcher each struck for 16 points to share team-high honors with Michael Carapellotti putting in 12 of his own.
Toronto's Tyler Owens scored a game-high 22 points on the evening. Owens knocked down six shots from behind the three-point arc. Brad Melville added 13 for the Red Knights.
Both teams are in action Friday with the Crusaders on the road at Barnesville and Toronto entertaining Madonna.
Central 75, Toronto 61
Central 25 18 13 19 - 75
Toronto 20 5 17 19 - 61
CENTRAL: M. Barber 6 2-2 16, Colabella 3 2-2 8, T. Barber 0 2-4 2, Carapellotti 3 5-6 12, Manfresca 2 0-0 4, Fletcher 7 2-2 16, Herrington 4 0-0 9, Porreca 3 1-2 7, Kotur 0 0-0 0, Dombrowski 0 1-2 1, Howard 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 28 15-20 75. 3-pointers: M. Barber (2), Carapellotti, Herrington.
TORONTO: Glenn 4 0-0 8, Chadwick 1 0-0 2, Owens 8 0-0 22, Melville 6 1-2 13, Gault 3 2-2 8, Rawson 3 0-2 8. TOTALS: 25 3-6 61. 3-pointers: Owens (6), Rawson (2).