Crusaders weather storm
STEUBENVILLE — Charles Miller is Catholic Central’s best scorer, and he normally pours in at least 20 points each game in different varieties.
He can hit outside drives or drive in the paint. What made his 23-point performance Friday against Toronto special was his work at the free-throw line.
With the Red Knights mounting a huge comeback, Miller finished 5 of 6 from the charity stripe, including two big ones with 2.2 seconds left. That helped lift the Crusaders to a 48-45 win.
The rest of the team was 0 of 6 combined, a main reason why Toronto (2-11) cut the late deficit to one after trailing by 11 to begin the fourth. However, the Crusaders (4-2) contributed in other ways that helped secure the victory.
“At each point of the game, someone different contributed, so this truly was a team win,” CCHS head coach Don Ogden said. “I thought Toby (Lesnefsky) did a heck of a job on the big guy (Shane Keenan). Ryan (Gorman) has assumed the role of point guard and is working to being more comfortable there. I wouldn’t disagree that Vince (Carapellotti) was our best player of the night.
“We made some situational errors during the game, but then those guys that made the errors really made up for it later on. We emphasized sometimes scoring will not be your contribution.”
Following Miller’s back-to-back made freebies, Toronto had one last chance to tie the contest. But, with no timeouts remaining, they had stretch the length of the court.
Eventually, Keenan received the pass at half court, turned around and heaved a desperation 3-pointer that hit the top of the backboard as time expired.
“The thing is we were going to pull them over and draw something up, but we feared that (Miller) was going to pull a missed shot on purpose, then we touch it and it would be obsolete,” Toronto head coach Sean Tucker said. “We were trying to screen from the bench, but when you don’t have timeouts and not enough time, that’s what happens.”
The Red Knights’ comeback bid began with 3:28 left in the game. They sprinted on a 7-2 scoring run and trailed, 43-37, at the 1:24 mark.
Following some layups and 3s combined with CCHS missing free throws, Anthony Myslinsky, playing for the first time in a month after a prolonged injury, nailed a 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds remaining. That made the score 46-45.
The ensuing in-bounds pass went to Miller at half court where he was fouled.
“We spent a half an hour (Thursday) shooting foul shots,” Ogden said. “It’s coming, and we talked about that at the end of the game. We’ll probably be in a grind in every game. If we’re ahead, you stay ahead by making foul shots.”
During the scoring run and missed opportunities at the charity stripe, Catholic Central’s Andrew Dorsey hit two key layups to make sure the lead never dwindled. Carapellotti assisted on those, as well as most of Miller’s nine field goals. Carapellotti nearly finished with a rare double-double (seven rebounds and nine assists).
Dorsey also hit a pair of 3-pointers in the opening quarter to help set the tone. The Crusaders led, 23-10, at the intermission because of their aggressiveness and pressure defense.
Toronto, meanwhile, was in slow motion and rarely drove to the basket. It had long possessions of passing the ball back and forth beyond the 3-point line but hardly took advantage.
“The game was won and lost at practice (Thursday),” Tucker said. “We always try to teach our kids about life lessons. That’s what we’re about. We’ve really been preaching the way we practice is how we’re going to play, and we’re trying to incorporate that into their life. If we start taking things seriously, good things will happen. But, when we’re not, we’re not going to be real successful.
“It’s tough because these kids are working so hard. We have 11 losses, and you’ll never see one negative energy from the losses. We win and lose with class, and that’s what I’m extremely proud of.”
To light a fire under his upperclassmen, Tucker put three freshman on the floor to begin the third quarter. The Red Knights only could cut the deficit to 11 by the conclusion, then outscored Catholic Central, 22-13, in the final stanza.
Myslinsky finished with 11 points, five rebounds and two assists. Keenan had 12 points and eight boards. Brant Reeves added nine points, three rebounds and three dimes.
“What we tried focusing on was attacking the gaps and getting to the rim. We just choose not to do it sometimes,” Tucker said. “When that happens, the result is scoring 10 points in the first half.
“Our kids dug down deep, played with passion and showed heart in the second half. Now we just have to put it all together. If any group is going to do it, it’s this group.”
Carapellotti scored four points to go along with his near double-double. Lesnefsky had six points, five boards and three assists. Dorsey totaled 10 points and three rebounds.
“We emphasized at halftime that we can’t coast or get too happy. Toronto was going to scrap. They are a reflection of their coach, and we knew they would come out, pressure us and scrap,” Ogden said. “We had to keep our composure, which we lost a couple of times, and we played a little tentatively offensively. Defensively, we still tried to pressure them a lot.”
Gorman was fouled intentionally with 14.1 seconds remaining. With the Crusaders in double bonus, he missed the first one, but everyone reacted as though it was a 1-and-1 situation. The clock went down to 13.2 seconds and did not go back to 14.1.
Friday marked Catholic Central’s first home game since Dec. 7. It began the season with a home loss to Big Red on Dec. 4, then returned to defeat Jefferson County Christian. It then won on Dec. 18 at Toronto and Dec. 26 at Indian Creek. It was quarantined on two separate occasions before returning Wednesday and falling in double overtime to Barnesville.
Toronto won the jayvee game, 33-27. The Red Knights’ Nolan Dickinson and the Crusaders’ Evan Long each scored nine points.
Toronto: Tentatively travels to Frontier today (Saturday).
CCHS: Tentatively hosts Edison on Tuesday.
Catholic Central 48, Toronto 45
Toronto 6 4 13 22 — 45
Central 12 11 12 13 — 48
TORONTO (2-11): Anderson 1 0-0 2; Reeves 4 0-0 9; Chociej 1 0-0 3; Keenan 4 4-6 12; Karaffa 1 0-0 3; Myslinsky 4 2-2 11; Close 0 0-0 0; Hanlin 2 0-1 5; Baker 0 0-0 0; Dickinson 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 17, 6-9: 45.
CATHOLIC CENTRAL (4-2): Lesnefsky 3 0-1 6; Gorman 0 0-0 0; Miller 9 5-6 23; Dorsey 4 0-0 10; Venditti 2 0-1 5; Carapellotti 2 0-1 4; Harris 0 0-0 0; Bolster 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 20, 5-12: 48.
3-POINT GOALS: Toronto 5 (Reeves, Chociej, Karaffa, Myslinsky, Hanlin); Catholic Central 3 (Dorsey 2, Venditti). REBOUNDS: Toronto 25 (Keenan 8); Catholic Central 19 (Carapellotti 7). ASSISTS: Toronto 11 (Reeves 3); Catholic Central 17 (Carapellotti 9). TURNOVERS: Toronto 17; Catholic Central 12.