NEW MANCHESTER - Steubenville Catholic Central went into the fourth quarter Tuesday at Oak Glen with what seemed like a comfortable 10-point lead, but the Golden Bears had other thoughts and narrowed it to two points twice before the Crusaders got hot at the foul line making nine of 14.
It lifted the Crusaders to a 60-50 win.
While the foul shooting down the stretch was good, Crusader coach Sean Tucker was dissatisfied with it overall as his 3-0 club made just 57 percent from the line (19-33) in the game.
"There is no excuse for the way we shot from the free throw line," said the veteran coach. "There's going to be nights when certain guys aren't on and other guys have to step up, but tonight we didn't.
"We kind of went into a shell. Don't take anything away from Oak Glen, man. They did an excellent job in their zone defense and extended it out. The problem was we didn't attack it."
On the other side, Oak Glen's Dave Smith was pleased with the effort his team put forth even thought they lost their second game in three starts.
"I told them after the game that I was just proud of their effort," he said. "They worked their butts off.
"We did two of the three things we wanted to do - we played hard and we played together, we just didn't play smart all the time. What I mean by playing smart is we have to recognize the situation. We want to get the last shot in the quarter, we want to get the ball to our hot man. Brennan (Smith) was hot tonight. We have to get the ball to him. We just didn't do it enough."
Smith, who is the coach's son, finished with a career and game high 30 points and had a double-double with his 10 rebounds.
"Before the game, I told Coach Smith I love the way your boy's been playing," said Tucker. "He's doing a heck of a job and a force to be reckoned with. He's going to a really tough, tough player. He had a really good game tonight. We threw everything at him. We couldn't play defense on him and we didn't have an answer for him."
With both teams playing deliberate half-court offense in the first half, the Golden Bears went to the locker room at the intermission with a 25-23 lead.
The Crusaders attacked the Oak Glen zone defense and outscored the Golden Bears by 20-8 taking a 43-33 lead into the fourth.
Smith made a layup to start the fourth quarter scoring and the Crusaders never got the lead back to 10 points again until Brenton Colabella made two free throws with seven seconds left in the game for the final margin.
Smith drove to the basket with 2:56 left and was fouled. When he completed the three-point play, the Golden Bears had narrowed Central's lead down to 49-47.
Central senior Ryan Fletcher, who led the Crusaders with 16 points, made a bucket from close in to give his team some breathing room with 2:34 left on the clock.
"That's a good team," Smith said. "They are very well-coached and we knew we had to be on top of our game to compete with them and we did."
The Crusaders had two other players in double figures with seven players contributing to the scoring column overall. Matt Martello got nothing but net on four long bombs and made a foul shot for 13 points and Colabella, who was five of eight from the line, chipped in 12.
Meanwhile, the Golden Bears had only four players score with two starters being shut out. Kyle Woodruff came off the bench to back up Smith with eight points.
The Golden Bears host Buckeye Local tonight and then play East Liverpool Saturday evening in a makeup game at the Oak Glen field house.
Catholic Central plays next at home against Madonna on Friday.
Catholic Central 60, Oak Glen 50
Catholic Central 12 11 20 17 - 60
Oak Glen 10 15 8 17 - 50
CATHOLIC CENTRAL (3-0): M. Barber 1 3-4 6, Colabella 3 5-8 12, T. Barber 1 4-4 7, Manfresca 1 2-5 4, Fletcher 6 4-10 16, Martello 4 1-2 13, Dombrowski 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 17 19-33 60. 3-pointers: Martello, 4, M. Barber, Colabella, T. Barber; Rebounds: 15 (Fletcher, 5); Turnovers: 7.
OAK GLEN (1-2): Click 2 2-2 7, Ford 0 0-0 0, Haddox 1 2-2 5, Smith 11 5-8 30, McGraw 0 0-0 0, Woodruff 3 2-2 8. TOTALS: 17 11-14 50. 3-pointers: Smith, 3, Haddox, Click; Rebounds: 20 (Smith, 10); Turnovers: 16.