Toronto tops St. John

TORONTO – The Toronto boys basketball used two 8-0 runs to turn a four-point deficit against Bellaire St. John into a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter, and the Red Knights made their free throws down the stretch en route to a 69-56 victory Friday night.

“I told the guys that in high school sports whenever you play a team twice whether it is in basketball, softball or baseball however the first game goes you expect it to go the same way the next time,” Toronto (5-8) head coach John Leary said. “That’s not always the case. The other team is allowed to get better. They are improved, and we are trying to improve.”

Both teams made runs throughout the game, but the Irish was unable to answer the Red Knights final spurt.

“We played against six all night,” St. John (4-11) head coach Kevin Lahna said. “It is disappointing for the kids. It turned into a one-man show. I understand you are not going to get every call right. I’m not taking anything away from Toronto.”

St. John Central was unable to contain Toronto standout Blaze Glenn. Glenn netted a game-high 42 points to lead the way for the Red Knights.

“We played pretty good defense with the exception of on Glenn,” Lahna said. “He is a nice player. Give him credit. He hit some tough shots. We gave him some easy shots, but he also made some tough shots.”

Also for Toronto, Nate Stewart tallied nine points, Blake Rawson and Riley Kiersey each collected seven points and Hank Clegg and Derick Lawrence each tallied two points.

Two players scored in double digits for St. John Central. Garrett Holubeck collected a team-high 14 points, while Guy Pagano produced 10 points.

Toronto’s second 8-0 surge of the second half gave the Red Knights a 53-44 advantage with 6:29 left to play in the game. The Irish closed the gap to 55-49, but the boys from the Gem City countered with an 8-2 spurt to build a 63-51 lead.

“For years, people looked at playing against us a show up and win game,” Lahna said. “In the last three years that I have been here, that has not been the case. We act like we belong. We just want to get better each week. That is all I can ask.”

Toronto led by as many as 16 points in the quarter. The Red Knights led by as many 10 points three times in the second stanza, but the Irish fought their way back into the game.

“We got down early because we couldn’t shoot,” Lahna said. “Fortunately, they started to press. We have been able to beat the press. They pressed, and we were able to get going.

“We just lack scorers, and it has killed us.”

Thanks to a 12-1 run to end the first half, the Irish ended up taking a 32-31 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Toronto’s game scheduled for tonight at Cameron has been canceled. St. John’s is still scheduled to play tonight at home against Beallsville. Toronto is scheduled to return to the court Tuesday at home against Madonna.

“It was not a 14-point game,” Leary said. “They played tough. At the end, they had to foul us to get the ball back. We finished strong.”