Catholic Central moves on
Crusaders open tourney with win, earn another shot a Shadyside
STEUBENVILLE — Tournament basketball is all about surviving and advancing. Catholic Central did exactly that Thursday in its Eastern District Division IV opener.
Three players reached double figures as the sixth-seeded Crusaders held off Caldwell, the 12th seed, 47-33 inside the Mickey Barber Gymnasium.
With the victory, Central, now 13-10, advances to Saturday’s sectional championship game at top seeded Shadyside. The tip is set for 7 p.m. The Redskins and first-year coach Eli Svercek drop the curtain at 8-14.
Caldwell jumped out to an early 7-2 lead thanks to a Cayton Secrest triple and two hoops from Cloe Siddle. Julia Zatta and Carly Fayak then connected from long range to give Central the lead it would not relinquish.
Jess Looman’s club led 11-9 after one and 21-15 at the break. Christine Dombrowski caught fire in the third, draining two triples, and Central carried a 33-22 lead into the final eight minutes.
“It’s always great to win in the tournament and it was especially nice for our two seniors (Dombrowski and Zatta) to get a victory in their final game at home,” Looman said. “Being able to host a tournament game was a team goal this season, so I’m really happy that things worked out for our girls.
“I think our defense really made a difference tonight (Central held Caldwell to single digits during the first three quarters). We worked really hard on our 2-3 zone in practice this week. All six of our regulars played extremely hard on the defensive end. We were a little out of sync at times on the offensive end so getting points in transition really gave us a boost.”
Dombrowski, who struggled with her shot the last couple of games, found her touch again and led Central with 19 points. Zatta contributed 12 and Oliver 11.
“Our big three stepped up again tonight just like they have all year,” Looman said. “Christine got back in the groove offensively and that was great to see. The 3-pointer Carly hit in the first quarter was huge, I think it really gave us the spark we needed at the time.
“Bella, Hannah (Olszewski) and Edy (Harold) all did a nice job inside and collected some big offensive rebounds. They were strong defensively too, limiting Caldwell to just one shot a lot. It was a team win and I’m proud of these girls.”
Siddle scored 14 in her final game as a Redskin. Secrest, just a sophomore, finished with 13.
“We are pretty young and fairly inexperienced so we tell then all the time to equalize that you have to play hard and take advantage of every moment,” Caldwell’s Svercek said. “Tonight, I thought we played hard but we just didn’t execute what we worked on all week very well.
“Central came out in a 2-3 zone and typically when teams have played zone against us we’ve been OK. We have a couple of shooters and a couple of girls who can attack a zone. We didn’t do that tonight and that played against us. Plus, we had way too many turnovers at the top of the key and allowed Central to get out in transition.”
Looman said she was impressed with the Redskins and the way they played hard and aggressive.
“We watched some film of them and knew they were very aggressive on the defensive end,” she said. “I thought our girls did a nice job of handling the pressure in the half court.
“Caldwell did a nice job of moving the ball against our zone but fortunately our girls stepped up, were able to trap the ball high, get some steals and turn them into points.”
¯ Saturday’s game will mark the third time Central has faced Shadyside this season. The Tigers, who advanced with an easy victory over Malvern, won both of the encounters.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to play Shadyside again,” Looman said. “That’s a great, well-coached team with plenty of talent. We know it is a huge challenge and we don’t have much time to prepare.
“Our girls know they will have to play four solid quarters if we’re going to have any kind of chance.”
≤ Despite the loss, Svercek was happy with the progress his Caldwell squad made this season.
“They only won seven games last year and we lost five seniors,” he said. “We didn’t know what would happen. Overall, I thought we played well. We lost our best player for 10 games so it could have been a better year. I’m happy with how far they have come, how hard they have worked and how much effort they put in.
“These girls don’t ever quit. That comes from the leadership we receive from Secrest and our two seniors (Siddle and Hallie Morganstern). They haven’t quit all year and they weren’t going to quit tonight. They played hard the entire game.”
Catholic Central 47, Caldwell 33
Caldwell 9-6-7-11 — 33
Central 11-10-12-14 — 47
CALDWELL (8-14): Pfeffer 0 0-0 0; Secrest 4 4-7 13; Siddle 7 0-0 14; Morgenstern 1 0-2 2; Clark 1 0-0 2; Hood 0 0-0 0; Archer 1 0-0 2. Totals 14 4-9 33.
CENTRAL (13-10): K. Zatta 0 0-0 0; Harold 0 0-0 0; Green 0 0-0 0; J. Zatta 5 0-1 12; Fayak 1 0-0 3; Dombrowski 7 3-4 19; Oliver 3 5-8 11; Olszewski 1 0-3 2. TOTALS: 17 8-17 47.
3-POINT GOALS: Caldwell (Secrest); Central 5 (Dombrowski 2; J. Zatta 2; Fayak).