Central edges Bishops

STEUBENVILLE – Michael Manfresca came up huge down the stretch as Catholic Central rallied for a 63-59 victory over Bishop Donahue inside the Mickey Barber Gymnasium on Friday.

The senior knocked down four straight free throws and also grabbed a key rebound as the Crusaders overcame a 12-point deficit to win for the sixth time in eight outings.

He got plenty of help from fellow seniors Brenton Colabella (who scored eight of his 10 during the final frame) and Matt Martello, who buried two critical 3-pointers.

“If there is anyone I want shooting free throws with the game on the line, it’s Manny (Manfresca),” Tucker said. “He has a lot of concentration there. He’s done some great things already this year and he will continue to do great things.

“Manny and Brenton (Colabella) really did step up in the second half and particularly in the fourth quarter.”

Tom Wise’s Bishops (4-2) went up 12 (52-40) early in the fourth thanks to a Chaice Truex hoop from the paint. Colabella then drilled a long range three before Truex scored again. Sean Tucker’s club scored the next six on a Martello make from behind the arc and a conventional three-pointer by Ryan Fletcher.

It was 56-49 Bishop Donahue following a Lavonte Hampton jumper. Colabella cut the margin to four with another triple. Michael Barber pulled the Crusaders to 56-54 when he converted both ends of a one and one. Truex and Colabella exchanged buckets and Taylor Straughn knocked down a freebie, giving the Bishops their final lead of the evening at 59-56.

The score stood at 59-58 following Manfresca’s first free throws. Donahue misfired on its next possession and Manfresca grabbed the rebound. Martello found nothing but net from long range on Central’s ensuing trip and the hosts led 61-59. Manfresca’s next pair of foul shots closed the scoring.

Central needed a little fourth quarter magic after watching a 10-point first half lead disappear. Thanks to a shooting clinic by Fletcher (who sunk five of his first six shots), the Crusaders lead 18-13 after one. Fletcher scored 13 of the 18 (his final three points came on a buzzer beater from near half court). A Martello triple made it 25-15 Central early in the second frame.

Eight points from Straughn helped Donahue close the gap to 30-25 at the intermission.

The Bishops caught fire in the third quarter, outscoring Central 20-8 and grabbing a 45-38 lead. Hampton and Josh Miller contributed four points each and Truex, who missed most of the second quarter with an injury, swished a three. Jared Yates also connected from downtown.

“In the third quarter, we played super,” Wise said. “We hit some big shots, played solid defense and made good decisions.

“No disrespect to Central because they have an outstanding team, but we gave it away. We were up 12 then we had some bad shot selections. There was a whole series of little things that their six seniors took advantage of. They made plays when they had and we didn’t. We made them for a while but not in the fourth quarter. It’s just frustrating as heck.”

Fletcher scored a game-high 23 points and Colabella had 10 while Manfresca and Martello each finished with nine.

“Hopefully it was a wake-up call for us,” Tucker said. “We have eight games in 13 days and this was the first. I hope this shook us up a little bit and we get back to business tomorrow (the Crusaders visit Big Red today).”

Straughn netted 16 to pace the Bishops, who are scheduled to visit Paden City Tuesday. Truex added 15, nine rebounds and three blocks.