Central tops Toronto on Senior Night

STEUBENVILLE – Catholic Central’s girls basketball team climbed back to the .500 mark Thursday with an 85-26 Senior Night victory over Toronto.

Four Crusaders reached double figures (12 players total cracked the scoring column) as Jess Looman’s club improved to 10-10.

Central scored the game’s first 10 points (six coming from senior Haley Hartzell) and never looked back. The Crusaders led 20-7 after the opening frame and 37-11 at the break.

“I was real happy with our fast start,” Looman said. “We’ve had some scoring issues early in recent games but we seemed really focused from the start tonight.

“It was great to see Haley get going right away. We were able to get several baskets in transition and that certainly contributed to our quick scoring burst.”

Shayna Mirabella took game scoring honors with her 19 points. Hartzell finished with 15 to go along with 16 rebounds. Samm Simmons had 11 and Gabby Capaldi 10. Tia Taglione contributed nine.

“As I’ve said pretty much all season, we don’t have really have a go-to scorer,” Looman stated. “It seems like someone different steps up every game and leads us. Tonight, it was Shayna. She’s our best defensive player, but she also can be a threat on the offensive end.

“We were able to get our freshmen plenty of playing time tonight and that will benefit them going forward.”

Freshman Jozaeyah Jordan paced the Red Knights with eight points. Bianca McDonald and Josey Jones evenly divided 12.

“It took a little while to get her focused on basketball but now that she is, she is really taking control and stepping up for us,” Toronto coach Mallory Blanton said of Jordan.

“The girls played hard again tonight. They are getting better. I know it has been a long season but they are getting better.”

For Toronto, senior Miranda Robinson missed the game due to a death in her family and sophomore Gina Fogle suffered a season-ending injury in practice earlier this week.

Prior to the tip, Central saluted its two seniors, Nicole Virtue and Hartzell. Virtue is battling an illness but was able to join her teammates on the floor for the start of the game.

“Two great young ladies from two great families,” Looman said about her seniors. “They both worked extremely hard in the offseason and played key roles in our success.

“It’s unfortunate that Nicole became ill and hasn’t been able to play for a few weeks. I’m so glad I was able to be their coach for two seasons. They both have bright futures ahead of them and we certainly will miss them when next season rolls around.”

Both teams will enter OVAC pool play next week. Central hosts Shadyside Monday before traveling to Monroe Central Thursday.

“We still have an opportunity to achieve our goal of finishing the regular season with a winning record,” Looman pointed out. “It won’t be easy. Shadyside and Monroe are both solid squads. We’ll prepare hard and be ready to go Monday.”

The Red Knights visit East Liverpool Monday then entertain Beallsville Thursday.

“We’ll have Miranda back Monday which will help us when it comes to controlling the basketball and providing leadership on the floor.” Blanton noted. “It’s going to be tough having to play without Gina.”

Catholic Central 85, Toronto 26

Toronto 7 4 13 2 – 26

Catholic Central 20 17 18 30 – 85

TORONTO (0-18): McDonald 3 0-0 6; Hollaway 0 0-0 0; Jones 3 0-0 6; McEwen 0 0-0 0; Taggart 1 0-0 2; Jordan 3 2-2 8; Swartz 0 0-0 0; Swearingen 1 0-0 3; Leasure 0 1-2 1. TOTALS: 11 3-4 26. 3-pointers: Swearingen.

CENTRAL (10-10): Mastroianni 1 0-0 2; Bertoia 1 0-0 2; Mirabella 9 0-0 19; Dombrowski 2 0-0 2; Taglione 4 1-1 9; DiBiase 2 0-0 5; Godich 2 0-2 4; Hartzell 7 1-2 15; Olesky 0 2-2 2; Borden 1 0-0 2; Simmons 5 1-2 11; Capaldi 4 2-2 10; Virtue 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 38 7-11 85. 3-pointers: Mirabella, DiBiase.