Central leaves its mark in Toronto

TOUGH SHOOTING — Steubenville Catholic Central’s Julia Zatta attempts a tough shot around Toronto’s Jenna Leasure (41) and Bianca McDonald (5) on Wednesday. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

TORONTO — Ten players dented the scoring column Wednesday as Catholic Central’s state-ranked girls basketball team pocketed a 62-29 victory over Toronto inside the George J. Kunzler Memorial Gymnasium.

The win was the 14th in 16 starts for the Crusaders, who were 10th in this week’s Ohio AP Division IV poll and lead the OVAC Class 2A standings. The loss drops the Red Knights to 4-12.

Julia Zatta paced the Crusaders in scoring with 17. The junior guard netted nine in the first half as Central raced out to a 27-10 advantage. Senior point guard Tia Taglione contributed 10 points, five assists and six steals.

“We came out strong from the get go and I’m proud of the intensity the girls brought tonight,” said Central coach Jess Looman. “Julia had another strong game and we’ve come to expect that from her.

“Otherwise, our scoring was pretty balanced and that’s something a coach loves to see. We moved the ball and utilized our bigs. It was a solid team performance.”

Christine Dombrowski and Grace Godich evenly divided 14 for the Crusaders, who were up 13-0 after the opening quarter. Dombrowski also dished out four assists. Bella Oliver had six points and hauled down 10 rebounds as did Hannah Olszewski.

“I thought our bigs did very well rebounding on both ends of the floor (as a team, Central snared 46 rebounds),” Looman said. “Plus Brantley (Turnage) was a real force inside with her four blocks.

“My guards were able to force some turnovers and get some quick baskets especially early. That really helped us get off a quick start.”

Sharp-shooting Bianca McDonald paced the Red Knights with 11. She connected three times from behind the arc. Jozaeyah Jordan added 10.

Despite the loss, Toronto coach Rusty Hodgkiss said he continues to see improvement from his Red Knights.

“We did a better job tonight of handling the basketball,” he said. “When we played Central earlier, they annihilated us on the offensive glass and we turned it over a ton of times. Tonight, we did a better job of putting bodies on people but there is just such a size advantage. We put bodies on people but we didn’t move them out.

“The kids came up with a plan to hold the ball for two minutes before we shot and we worked on it during practice. They asked if we could do that tonight and it actually was a pretty good plan. Unfortunately, we just didn’t get the shots.”

Looman also saw improvement from the Red Knights.

“Rusty is doing a good job with his girls,” she said. “They played hard until the end and he should be proud of the strides they have made since we saw them the first time around.”

Both teams return to the hardwood today. Central hosts Indian Creek while Toronto travels to Columbiana.

“We’re playing in a pretty tough league (the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference) but we are a lot better than we were earlier in the season,” Hodgkiss said. “There was a 31-point turnaround in our games with East Palestine. We have improved but we still struggle getting shots. We have to continue working on that.”

Game notes:

¯ In the junior varsity contest, Anna Godich scored eight points while Edy Harold and Haley DiBenedetto netted seven apiece as Central earned a 32-25 victory. Madisson Roach led the Red Knights with five.

Catholic Central 62, Toronto 29

Central 13-14-18-17 — 62

Toronto 0-10-13-6 –29

CENTRAL (14-2): Harold 1 0-0 2; A. Godich 1 0-0 2; Zatta 6 4-4 17; Turnage 2 0-0 4; Fayak 1 0-2 3; Dombrowski 2 3-3 7; Taglione 5 0-0 10; G. Godich 3 1-2 7; Dorsey 0 0-0 0; DiBenedetto 0 0-0 0; Oliver 2 2-2 6; Olszewski 0 4-4 4. TOTALS: 23 14-17 62.

TORONTO (4-12): Thomas 2 2-6 4; Jordan 4 1-2 10; McDonald 4 0-4 11; Anderson 0 0-0 0; Swearingen 0 0-0 0; Yarosz 0 0-0 0; Taggart 0 0-0 0; Roach 0 0-0 0; Smith 0 0-0 0; Fogle 0 0-2 0; Leasure 1 0-1 2; Cottrell 0 0-2 0; Kinsey 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 3-17 29.

3-POINT GOALS: Central (Zatta, Fayak); Toronto (McDonald 3, Jordan)