Red Knights earn a ‘sick’ road victory

McMECHEN – With an hour bus trip, an early afternoon start and the absence of two players and head coach Mallory Blanton due to the flu, Toronto’s girls’ basketball team found itself behind the eight ball heading into a contest with a steadily improving Bishop Donahue team Saturday.

And the Bishops felt little sympathy for their guests early on, crashing the offensive boards for repeated second and third shots to take a four-point halftime lead. However, in a four quarter game you can’t take any periods off, and Donahue’s troubles in the third frame made the difference in the end.

Junior Lindsay Bodnar tallied 16 points and added eight rebounds and the Red Knights came out of the locker room and went on a 14-3 third quarter blitz to record a come-from-behind, 47-42, repeat victory over Bishop Donahue at the Father Raymond Jablonski gymnasium.

But while Coach Donnie Gillis’ 3-10 record Bishops couldn’t finish the deal Saturday, he was happy about the progression and improvement his team has made since earlier in the year.

“We had 28 turnovers and they beat us by 28 points earlier this season,” Gillis said. “So I think just in that you can tell that we have improved as a team. We average 21 turnovers a game, and that was our high against them. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to not take care of the ball very well.”

Not only did the Bishops make a game of it yesterday, they turned the ball over just 19 times, actually three times less than their guests.

Rich Coburn, who stepped in for Blanton, watched Toronto (9-5), which had been outrebounded by a 21-14 margin at the break, turn the tables in the third. After knotting the count at 24-24, and then falling behind by a pair, the Red Knights rolled off 10 straight points before a late free throw made it a 34-27 lead heading to the fourth.

Bishop Donahue had chances, twice turning the ball over in the final seconds while trailing by just three points, once erasing a made basket.

“We have a lot of sickness going around, but we know that is not an excuse and we have to have kids step up, ready to go and play,” Coburn admitted. “We made some adjustments at the half after getting outrebounded badly in the first half.

“Coming out we knew what we needed to do and we did it. I know they only have three wins, but they are a well-coached team that came to play.”

Lexi Berger finished with 11 points for the winners while Kayla Brown had eight. Toronto actually finished with a 34-29 edge off the glass after a 20-8 showing in the second half. Kat Polinski paced the Bishops with 13 while Kelsey Schau scored 11.

Toronto hosts Conotton Valley in a 6 p.m. varsity game on Monday. It welcomes Southern Local Wednesday and visits Steubenville Catholic Central on Thursday.