Big Red sweeps Central

STEUBENVILLE – Emiley Masloski didn’t start Thursday’s Big Red-Catholic Central girls basketball game inside the Mickey Barber Gymnasium. She did, however, play a major role in finishing it.

The standout junior guard, still recovering from a knee injury, knocked down all of her game-high 13 points in the second half as Phil Casinelli’s club dealt the Crusaders a 41-32 setback.

Coupled with a 39-29 victory earlier in the season, Big Red, now 12-3, earned the 2012-2013 city championship. Tom Winland’s CCHS crew fell to 5-12.

“A lot of the girls hoped I would put her in last night (a 54-51 loss to Linsly), but I didn’t,” Casinelli said of Masloski. “We felt we needed her tonight and all the girls felt her presence on the floor. She wasn’t on early but she finished strong. Our girls feel comfortable with her out there.”

After Crusader senior Rachel Rigaud scored from the paint to make it 21-20 Big Red midway through the third stanza, Masloski went to work. She banked home a triple then drained a pair of free tosses. Her deuce late in the period allowed the visitors to increase their advantage to 31-22.

Masloski struck again to start the fourth, putting Big Red on top 33-22. She would score four more points before the final buzzer sounded.

“We needed this win more than anything,” Casinelli added. “We knew it was going to be a tough game. We were coming off two losses, playing our third game in four days and it is a rivalry game.

“There was a lot of pressure on our girls and they responded well.”

Big Red, thanks to four Mytia Barker points, led 8-7 after the opening frame. Central hung tough in the second, freshman Lauren Hunt recording five of her team’s 10 markers, and was down 19-17 at the break.

Both teams had trouble scoring from the floor. Big Red was 14 for 64 and Central just eight of 33. The city rivals combined for 51 free throws (the winners making 12 and the Crusaders 15). There were 21 free tosses attempted during the final eight minutes.

In fact, of Central’s 15 second half points, nine came from the stripe.

“It was a typical Big Red-Central game very physical,” Winland pointed out. “I think their physicality hurt us on the offensive end. We missed some easy shots and we struggled getting into our offense because of their physicality.

“Overall, I thought we played well. We were in the game. Our effort was there defensively and we were able to hang around. I’m proud of how hard they played.”

Barker contributed nine points for the Lady Red and grabbed eight of her team’s 38 rebounds.

“Mytia has been having big nights since Emiley’s injury,” Casinelli noted. “She has stepped up with her rebounding and scoring. We’re putting her in unusual positions and she’s been doing well at the point.

“We got balanced scoring tonight. Everyone that got into the game scored. When you can get that, it’s great.”

Big Red will return to action Monday, traveling to Edison.

Tori Knight was the Central scoring leader with nine. Rigaud finished with seven and collected 11 boards (as a team the Crusaders had 27).

“That’s Rachel,” Winland said of Rigaud’s performance. “She is our leader. With Rachel, you know what you are going to get out of her every night. Her, Rachel Irvin and Tori are great seniors to have.”

The Crusaders will travel to Toronto next Thursday.