Crusaders earn win on road

BRIDGEPORT – The John J. Havlicek Gymnasium hasn’t always been the most friendly place for Steubenville Catholic Central.

So, as head coach Sean Tucker watched his Crusaders fall behind, 19-14, after one quarter, he knew his team needed a wake-up call.

The message he delivered in the quarter break was clear, concise and taken to heart because the Crusaders responded with a 25-point outburst and basically never looked back en route to a 66-49 victory over homestanding Bridgeport Saturday night.

“We were really worried about how we’d pick up the intensity from where we left off (on Friday),” Tucker said after his team dropped a tough 68-67 setback at East Liverpool. “It was an emotional loss and then you come here and you can’t take anything for granted because Bridgeport has a lot of great athletes and everytime we come down here, we kind of play flat.”

The Bulldogs used a crisp offense in the first quarter, moving the ball well and knocking down open opportunities. However, the Crusaders turned up the defensive tenacity and went on a 21-5 run in the middle stages of the second period.

The run was fueled by Matt Martello. He found himself wide open time and time again. He made the Bulldogs pay, knocking in 10 of his 13 in the second quarter.

“They were on fire in the second quarter,” said Bridgeport head coach Donnie Cash. “We got away from what we were doing (offensively) in the first quarter. We weren’t passing the ball and cutting well enough. We got a little one-on-oneish and it hurt us.”

The Crusaders’ defense was strong again in the third as they gained additional separation.

“I was happy with how our guys stepped up (after the first quarter),” Tucker said. “Our intensity was much better in the second and third quarters. I didn’t think we were playing any defense at all in the first quarter because 19 points is too much to allow to anyone.

Bridgeport, which trailed 50-35 after three, was limited to just four points and had nary a field goal.

“This is two games straight we’ve not gotten out of the 40s on offense,” Cash said. “Defensively, I didn’t think we played that bad. We have to work on our offense. Coming out of half, when you’d think you’d make a run to have a shot (to win), we only scored four points.”

The game was battle of two of the area’s top small-school big men in Bridgeport’s Parker Dyson and Steubenville Central’s John Paul Dombrowski.

Dyson led all scorers in the game with 20 points and he grabbed six boards. Dombrowski, meanwhile, led the Crusaders with 18 points and six rebounds.

Joining Dombrowski and Martello in double figures for Central was solid senior Ryan Fletcher, who posted a quiet 12.

Dyson was supported in the scoring column by J.C. Cash and Q.J. Williams, who each had nine points. Williams also had nine rebounds.

Both teams collected 29 rebounds. Steubenville Central was guilty of just eight turnovers, which was four fewer than the hosts.