STEUBENVILLE - Toronto coach John Leary knew it was coming.
"We knew what they were going to do, we just didn't do a good job of executing what we needed to do," he said. "But, Steubenville Central had a lot to do with that.
"I knew they would come out and played us under our chin and they did."
TWO MORE — Steubenville Catholic Central’s Ryan Fletcher goes up for two of his game-high 18 points against Toronto’s Tyler Owens in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s 84-40 win by the Crusaders. - Mike Mathison
The Crusaders boys basketball team had not played in 10 days, but it didn't show.
Central got all over the visiting Red Knights from the tip, raced to a 26-6 lead after eight minutes and finished the evening with an 84-40 victory.
"It's scary being off 10 days," said Crusaders coach Sean Tucker.
Within those 10 days was the annual senior class trip to New York City.
"At yesterday's practice, just the way we practiced, I don't think our enthusiasm was there," said Tucker.
"I didn't like that and we were facing a Toronto team that was off to a fantastic start.
"We watched them play against Edison and they played extremely hard. They crashed the boards and played good defense.
"I didn't like our first two possessions tonight, but, after that, they guys ran the offensive sets well, found their rhythm, moved the ball well, played well defensively and made our defense become our offense and that's what we want."
It was off to the races and a 46-18 lead at the break.
"It was definitely nice to finally play a game," said Crusaders junior Matt Martello, who scored 16 points with all of his baskets coming from beyond the arc. "The long break takes it toll. We had some easy days in there to get our legs back, but we just came out tonight and played hard.
"We weren't overlooking Toronto, we just had to come out and play our game and we did that. Our job is to come out and play as hard as we can play and we did that."
Teammate Ryan Fletcher led all scorers with 18 points.
He talked about the layoff.
"We just try to compete each day and make each other better," said Fletcher. "It was a long break and it was nice to get back on the court.
"Tonight, we wanted to come out fast, play hard and get the win."
That they did.
Michael Barker added 13 for the winners.
Dillon Gault led the Red Knights with 17. Brad Melville added nine.
"Since I took this job, I've always tried to approach everything that we've done as a learning experience," said Leary. "I told the boys tonight that this was quarter exam, this was a good measuring stick because we were playing a really good team.
"I'd like to know what Steubenville Central shot in the first half. It had to be 65 percent or better. It may not have been, but that's what it felt like.
"They took us out of our offense. We didn't handle that very well. We have to get better at executing our offense against that kind of defense.
"We can't hang our heads now. We're 3-1 and we go to Bridgeport Friday. We have 18 games left in our season before sectionals. We told them to shake it off. We'll look at the tape, learn from what we did tonight and move forward.
"I was really proud of my senior boys tonight because, as badly as we played at times, they held their poise. We talk a lot about that, keeping our poise, whether it's good, bad or ugly."
Catholic Central 84, Toronto 40
Toronto 6 12 12 10 - 40
Catholic Central 26 20 21 17 - 84
TORONTO (3-1): Gault 8 1-6 17, Melville 2 4-4 9, Glen 0 3-4 3, Chadwick 0 0-0 0, Stewart 0 0-0 0, Ziegler 0 0-0 0, Owens 0 6-6 6, Lawrence 1 1-2 3, Roush 0 2-2 2. TOTALS: 11 17-24 40. 3-pointers: Melville.
CATHOLIC CENTRAL (2-0): Fletcher 6 4-5 18, Martello 4 2-2 16, M. Barber 6 0-0 13, Carapellotti 3 1-2 8, Dombrowski 3 0-1 6, Herrington 3 0-0 6, Manfresca 2 2-2 6, Colabella 1 0-0 2, Howard 1 1-4 3, Kotur 1 0-0 2, Porreca 1 0-0 2, T. Barber 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 33 8-14 84. 3-pointers: Martello 4, Fletcher 2, Carapellotti, M. Barber.