Connor lifts Central in double OT
STEUBENVILLE — Don Ogden’s initial victory as Catholic Central’s boys basketball coach couldn’t have come in a more dramatic fashion.
Senior Luca Connor drained a three as time was winding down Friday to give the Crusaders a thrilling 54-51 double overtime victory over River inside the Mickey Barber Gymnasium.
“It’s a combination of being ecstatic, but also drained,” Ogden said when asked to describe his feelings following the thriller. “Overall, however, it’s a good feeling. I’m so happy for the kids who have really worked hard and the fans who showed up tonight.
“It was an exciting one–no doubt about it. To come out a winner in an exciting game like this makes this victory even more special.”
The game was close from the opening tip. Central led 8-7 after the opening period and 21-18 at the half. Jack Rook scored eight-straight for the Crusaders to put them in front at the intermission.
A basket by Rook midway through the third put Central ahead 30-25. The Pilots, however, then rattled off eight-straight points. A triple by Stone Thompson and a free throw from Ty Long put River up 33-30. Connor then connected from behind the arc and it was 33 all heading into the final period.
The fourth quarter saw six lead changes. River went ahead 43-41 late thanks to Brody Lollathin’s 3-pointer. Connor sent the game into overtime when nailed a short range jumper.
Connor and Long got points to start the extra session. Vince Carapellotti’s hoop gave Central a 47-45 advantage. Long forced the second overtime when he scored from the paint.
With less than five seconds to play, the score was tied at 51-51. Connor then worked his magic and started a Crusader celebration.
“He’s just that type of player,” Ogden said when talking about Connor. “He’s human, of course, so sometimes he’s going to miss but overall, he is just a big game player.
“He has ice in his veins. He’s going to take the shot and I have full confidence that it is going to go in.”
Connor finished with 24 points to lead all scorers. Carapellotti contributed 11 and Rook 10 for Central, now 1-4.
Long had a strong night for the Pilots, also 1-4. He tallied 23 points and hauled down 10 rebounds. Thompson netted 13 before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Central’s half court trapping zone defense gave River fits early. The Pilots were guilty of 10 first half ball-handling miscues.
“Coach (Michael) Barber does a nice job of getting our defensive strategy for ready for a game,” Ogden said. “He put the zone trap in tonight and the kids did a heck of a job executing the game plan.”
Central outrebounded the Pilots 34-30. Cole Maragos led the Crusaders with nine and Carapellotti snared six.
Central is back in action Tuesday when it travels to Barnesville.
The game scheduled for Dec. 20 with Morgantown Trinity Christian has been canceled.
Kam Potts netted 15 points and Connor Hunter added 8 as River earned a 40-23 victory in the junior varsity contest.
Anthony Venditti paced the Crusaders with 8
Catholic Central 54, River 51
RIVER (1-4): Lollathin 1 2-3 5; Schmidt 2 0-1 5; Longwell 1 0-0 2; Thompson 3 4-6 13; Long 9 5-7 23; Lawrence 1 0-0 3. Totals 17 11-17 51.
CENTRAL (1-4): Rook 4 0-1 10; Connor 9 2-2 24; Anderson 1 0-1 2; Hough 1 0-0 2; Maragos 1 3-4 5; Lesnefsky 0 0-0 0; Carapellotti 5 0-0 11. Totals 21 5-8 54.
3-POINT GOALS: River 6 (Thompson 3; Lollathin; Lawrence; Schmidt); Central 7 (Connor 4; Rook 2; Carapellotti); REBOUNDS: River 30 (Long 10); Central 34 (Maragos 9; Carapellotti 6); TURNOVERS: River 15; Central 17.