Toronto hangs on to beat Lisbon

LISBON — On the verge of getting blown out in the third quarter, the Lisbon boys basketball team showcased a lot of resilience and pushed Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference co-leader Toronto to the limit Tuesday.

However, the Red Knights collected themselves in time and made all the big plays in the final two minutes to escape Nace Gymnasium with a 66-61 victory Tuesday.

The Red Knights improve to 11-5 overall and 9-2 in the EOAC, remaining in a tie with United. Wellsville (which faces the Eagles on Friday) is one game back. Lisbon falls to 7-6, 4-6.

“We’ve been playing with each other since we were all in youth sports and we’ve developed a lot of trust in each other,ã Toronto forward Jake Keenan said. âWe have a great bond and we all know what everyone’s going to do out there. That helps us a lot in these close games.”

Lisbon came out of the locker room down 28-22, but the Red Knights ripped off an 8-0 run in the blink of an eye to extend their lead to 14. Sensing things were starting to slip away, Lisbon coach Chris Huckshold called a timeout and the Blue Devils slowly began chipping away.

After slicing the lead in half by the end of the third, the Blue Devils kept up the attack and took their first lead of the game when point guard Justin Sweeney penetrated and found Dougie Minor open for a corner three to make it 55-54 Lisbon with 4:09 to play.

“We came out of halftime flat, but once we started getting some shots to fall then it seemed like our defense picked up. We kept them out of the paint and got some turnovers” Lisbon coach Chris Huckshold said.

Sweeney was able to consistently attack the basket and finished with a game-high 26 points to go with 12 rebounds, four assists and four steals.

“It was a great comeback by our kids. I’ve had some groups in the past that would have folded after getting down 14 but these guys didn’t,” Huckshold said.

A left-handed layup by Sweeney gave Lisbon its last lead of the night at 57-55 with just over two minutes left. From there, the Red Knights showed considerable poise.

Forward Lucas Gulczynski (10 points) tied it with a mid-range fadeaway with 1:54 left. On the ensuing possession, Gulczynski came up huge on the defensive end with a block and a charge taken.

After a Lisbon turnover with a minute left, Nate Karaffa (who led Toronto with 21 points) gave the Red Knights the lead for good when he raced the other way and converted an “and-1” to make it 60-57. Toronto’s defense clamped down the rest of the way and the Red Knights were ultimately able to finish the game at the foul line.

âWhen these guys are playing together and relying on one another, they are really mentally tough and it’s really hard to beat them,ã Toronto coach Sean Tucker said. âBut when they stop relying on each other, that’s where our downfall is. Lisbon executed their game plan really well tonight, but we had some guys really step up down the stretch.”

Trillion West added 15 points for the Red Knights, while Nick Sninchak had 10 points. Keenan had seven points. Toronto continues league play Friday at Columbiana.

“We all knew we had to just calm down and play the way we knew how to play,ã Keenan said. âWe just have to keep working every day and keep pushing each other the rest of the season.”

Game notes

ó Toronto has now won nine straight league games after an 0-2 start.

ó The Blue Devils were the first EOAC team to score over 60 points on the Red Knights.

ó Toronto won the jayvee game 49-39. Andre Roach led the Red Knights with 19 points. Michael Davis led the Blue Devils with 16 points.

Toronto 66, Lisbon 61

TORONTO: 16-12-22-16–66

LISBON: 7-15-21-18–61

TORONTO SCORING: Trillion West 6-0-14, Kobe Herrick 0-0-0, Nate Karaffa 5-9-21, Brendan Matyas 1-0-3, Lucas Gulczynski 3-4-10, A.J. Clegg 0-1-1, Jake Keenan 3-1-7, Nick Sninchak 4-2-10. TEAM TOTALS: 22, 17-29: 66.

LISBON SCORING: Justin Sweeney 12-1-26, Branson Brownfield 7-0-16, Dougie Minor 2-0-5, Jacob Mundy 0-0-0, Ryan McCullough 4-1-11, Nick Mundy 1-1-3, Grant Frederick 0-0-0, Brice Blackburn 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 26-41, 3-10: 61.

3-POINT GOALS: Toronto 5 (West 2, Karaffa 2, Matyas), Lisbon 6-13: (Brownfield 2, McCullough 2, Sweeney)