Knights top Central

STEUBENVILLE – It’s Toronto vs. Steubenville Catholic Central.

Enough said.

Red Knights sophomore Lexie Berger swished a triple to give the visiting Red Knights a 37-27 lead with 2:53 left in Thursday’s game and it seemed over.

But, it wasn’t.

The game was officially put out of reach when Toronto junior Lindsay Bodnar buried two free throws for a 43-38 lead with 10.5 seconds remaining and an eventual 43-40 victory.

“It’s Toronto-Central, what can you say,” Red Knights third-year coach Mallory Blanton said after her club raised its record to 11-5 after an 0-3 start to the season.

“Every game is like this. It’s a big rivalry. Give Central credit, they came back when it looked like it was over. They played hard. They never gave up and it was a fight to the end.”

It was.

Berger’s first triple of the final period gave Toronto a 33-21 lead, thanks to a 9-0 run to start the period, with 4:42 left in the game.

Central’s Rachel Rigaud, one of three seniors honored on Senior Night, along with Rachel Irvin and Tori Knight, put the hosts on the board in the fourth with a free throw 14 seconds later.

Rigaud and Irvin each hit a free throw and a Micca Mirabella old fashioned three-point play for a 34-27 deficit before Berger’s second triple.

“We just needed to make some more buckets down the stretch,” said Central second-year coach Tom Winland. “I cannot question their effort. It was there all night.

“We played hard and got after it. We just have to do a better job of finishing the easy shots and making our free throws.”

Buckets by Rigaud and Miranda Parkinson and another Rigaud charity toss made it 37-32 with 95 seconds left.

A Bodnar two made it 39-32, but Parkinson canned a trey to make it 39-35 with 65 seconds showing.

Parkinson made a free throw (39-36), but Makayla Bauman banked home a bunny for a 41-36 cushion with 27.6 to be played.

Irvin found the bottom of the net with 17.2 to go for a 41-38 score before Bodnar went to the line.

“We get impatient everywhere,” Blanton said of her Red Knights. “But, we also saw some good things tonight.

“We didn’t give up when Central made their run and that’s what good teams do. We found a way to win and that’s what we’ve been doing.

“They are starting to realize that feeling this they can win is normal – that they should be winning. It’s taken them a whole to figure that one out.

“I think us believing in them, them believing in themselves has really helped. We’ve had success and I think they are using that and finally realizing that we are a good team and we deserve to win.”

Toronto’s version of the Killer B’s – Berger (10), Bauman (10) and Bodnar (9) – totaled 29 points.

Parkinson paced the Crusaders with 11. Rigaurd contributed 10 and Irvin nine.

“We have to be cocky and say, ‘I’m going to finish’ and ‘I’m going to make this shot,'” said Winland. “The girls did exactly what I wanted them to do. They attacked and we got what we wanted, we just didn’t finish.

“That’s a credit to coach Blanton and Toronto because they play really, really hard and they create that stuff. We have to learn how to handle intensity and how to handle pressure.”

The Crusaders (5-13) were 7-of-12 from the free throw line in the final period and 9-for-19 in the game. They visit Oak Glen Monday with a 7 p.m. varsity start.

Toronto, which has lost twice since Dec. 10 and avenged a 46-38 loss to Central on Nov. 29, heads to Weirton Madonna Monday.

Toronto 43, Steubenville Catholic Central 40

Toronto 6 6 12 19 – 43

Steubenville Central 7 4 10 19 – 40

TORONTO (11-5): Berger 3 1-2 10, Bauman 4 2-6 10, Bodnar 2 5-6 9, Turner 3 1-2 7, Harrison 1 1-2 3, Schaming 1 0-0 2, Sears 0 2-2 2, West 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 20 12-22 43. 3-pointers: Berger 3.

STEUBENVILLE CENTRAL (5-13): Parkinson 4 2-3 11, Rigaud 3 4-8 10, Irvin 4 1-4 9, Mirabella 2 1-1 5, Torrance 1 1-2 3, Knight 1 0-0 2, Dziewatkoski 0 0-0 0. Ondos 0 0-1 0, Hunt 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 15 9-19 40. 3-pointers: Parkinson.