TORONTO - The Red Knights may never forget their first game inside the new George J. Kunzler Memorial Gymnasium.
Down 22 (59-37) after three periods, Toronto's boys basketball team capped a fast and furious rally with one fantastic finish to clip debuting Edison 74-72 Tuesday.
"In all the years I've been coaching, I've preached to the kids constantly to just keep playing, no matter what is going on, just keep playing," said a jubilant John Leary. "I thought that was falling on deaf ears tonight when I called time out with about four minutes to go and we were down 10 or 12.
CLUTCH KNIGHTS — Toronto’s Nate Stewart (1) knocks the ball away from Edison’s Austin Horan, left, and Austin Hyndman (5) in the first half of the Red Knights’ 74-72 win over the Wildcats.
-- Matthew Peaslee
"I was hoping they would finish the game hard and see what might happen. They are kids and so is the other team, Edison. When things start going bad, sometimes you just get on a roll. That happened to us tonight."
Back-to-back buckets by Austin Horan gave Edison the 22-point lead after three. The Wildcats, who led 38-33 at the intermission, outscored Toronto 21-4 during the third stanza. Nate Moses' club shot 50 percent from the floor during the quarter while the Knights were just one for 11.
Leary's Knights, now 2-0, cut the deficit to 10 with 4:21 left to play. Blaze Glenn scored off a steal to make it 67-59 and Riley Keirsey's lone hoop of the night pulled the Knights to within six.
Edison's Dylan Jones canned one of two from the line before Nate Stewart drilled a three to make it 68-66 with 2:38 remaining. Jones and Glenn both knocked down a free toss and Storm Allese got a deuce to put Edison up by four.
Blaine Rawson's basket made it 71-69 and Skylar Wilken went one of two from the stripe to give Edison a three-point advantage. Stewart followed his own miss then put Toronto ahead by knocking down two freebies. He was fouled after rebounding a missed Edison free throw. Rawson closed the 37-point Toronto quarter by knocking down a free toss.
"That was a heck of a game," Leary continued. "Nate (Moses) does a good job with his kids. In the third quarter, they came out and buried us. Fortunately, we put a run together in the fourth.
"In my heart, I wanted our kids to keep playing hard but meanwhile I was thinking all these coaching thoughts - we have to regroup, we broke down here, we need to fix something there. Then the kids bailed me out. I'm very proud of them."
Glenn scored 15 of his game-high 30 points during the fourth quarter Toronto run. Stewart finished with 23, 14 coming during the final stanza.
The Red Knights canned 12 of 17 fourth quarter shots. Edison, meanwhile, was just three of 11 and committed eight turnovers (the Wildcats had 19 for the night).
"We played really well in the third quarter but it got away from us in the fourth," Moses stated. "They pressed us a lot in the in the fourth and we turned the ball over. We just have to get better. You can't turn the ball over when you are up 22 points."
Four Wildcats reached double digits, Austin Hyndman leading the way with 20. Wilken added 16, Jones 14 and Horan 10.
Edison won the rebounding battle 42-26. Wilken grabbed nine and Hyndman eight. Stewart and Glenn both had seven for Toronto.
"We closed the other gym by playing a real good first quarter against Wellsville," Leary noted. "We were leading at the end of one but they were the better team and showed it. I told the kids for the rest of their lives, they can tell everyone about coming back from a huge deficit in the first game at the new gym.
"It's something they will remember the rest of their lives. They made a memory in the first game in the gym."
Both teams are back in action Friday. The Red Knights will travel to Bellaire St. John while the Wildcats will host Martins Ferry.
Toronto 74, Edison 72
Edison 14 24 21 13-72
Toronto 14 19 4 37-74
TORONTO (2-0): Stewart 9 2-4 23; Glenn 10 10-15 30; Roche 0 0-0 0; Clegg 1 0-0 2; Rawson 2 4-6 9; Roush 1 3-4 5; Keirsey 1 1-2 3; Lawrence 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 25 20-31 74. 3-pointers: Stewart 3, Rawson; Rebounds: 26 (Stewart, Glenn 7); Turnovers: 15.
EDISON (0-1): R. Springer 1 0-0 2; Jones 3 7-10 14; Lee 3 0-0 6; Hyndman 8 4-6 20; Allese 2 0-2 4; B. Springer 0 0-0 0; Woika 0 0-0 0; Wilken 6 3-5 16; Horan 3 4-6 10. TOTALS: 26 18-29 72. 3-pointers: Jones, Wilken; Rebounds: 42 (Wilken 9, Hyndman 8); Turnovers: 19.