STEUBENVILLE - Experience trumped youth inside the Mickey Barber Gymnasium Wednesday.
Catholic Central's senior-laden Crusaders erupted for 33 second quarter points and cruised to an 83-40 victory over Toronto, which starts four sophomores and junior.
"You had a lot of leadership and experience on the floor going against inexperienced kids and sometimes that is going to happen," Central's Sean Tucker said following the season opener for his club. "Take nothing away from Toronto; that is a very, very good group of kids. They are young and they have a lot of heart. They're going to do a lot of good things if they stick together."
Central started to pull away midway through the opening period after a Blaze Glenn hoop tied things at four. The Crusaders powered by four Matt Martello points and a Michael Barber triple outscored their guests 11-4 to grab a 15-8 lead heading into the second frame.
Tucker's team scored 11 straight to open the quarter and had a 20-0 run to finish it. John Leary's Red Knights managed just two points (a Tyler Roush field goal). Toronto also was guilty of nine turnovers during the Crusader run. Martello scored eight for Central, John Paul Dombrowski, making his first varsity start, seven and Tony Barber six.
The Crusaders made 14 of 20 second period field goals while Toronto was just three of 13 (the Red Knights went two for eight during the initial quarter). Central, which lead 48-10 at the break, shot a torrid 61 percent (20 for 33) in building its halftime advantage.
"It's scary because we only had one scrimmage coming into the regular season while a lot of teams had four or five," Tucker pointed out. "We shook some cobwebs off during the first quarter and played up tempo with the kind of speed we want during the second. That's the way we have to play if we want to win a lot of games this season."
Leary thought his now 2-1 squad played a "solid first quarter but we couldn't make a shot and I think we let that bother us. Defensively, we played pretty well and we weren't doing a bad job of rebounding."
"In the second quarter, the shots still didn't fall and we really let that get to us," he continued. "When we got down to the last four minutes, we quit doing everything well. For me, the Central program is the measuring stick of Class 2A in the OVAC. If you come here and compete with Central, you can compete with anyone in 2A. I don't think there is a better team on our schedule."
To their credit, the Red Knights scored the first eight points of the third stanza and outscored the Crusaders 20-18.
"I was proud of them for settling down and bouncing back in the third period," Leary said. We came out strong to start the second half. We're young and we have a lot of things to build on.
"Tonight was a quiz for us to see where we are. I don't think we are as bad as we played in the second quarter but obviously we have things to work on. We just kind of pouted in the second quarter when we didn't make shots. If you pout against Central, they are going to run you out of the gym and they did."
Central, which hosts Beaver Local Friday, had four players finish with double figures and two more just miss. Martello paced the way with 18 (16 coming in the first half) and Ryan Fletcher added 15. Dombrowski finished with 11 and Colabella 10. The Barber brothers both had nine.
"Like we said in the preseason, anyone of these kids can get double figures any night," Tucker commented. "The great thing about this group is not one of them is selfish. They spread the ball around and play extremely well together. Once we realize this is how we can play, it's going to be a great year for us."
Glenn led the Red Knights, who entertain Bridgeport Friday, with 13. Roush had eight.
"We have one day to get ready for Bridgeport," Leary said. "We have to bounce back."
The game was moved to Central because of Tuesday's snow. The two teams will meet in Toronto on Jan. 7.
Catholic Central 83, Toronto 40
Central 15 331817-83
Toronto 8 22010-40
CENTRAL (1-0): M. Barber 3 2-2 9; Colabella 4 2-4 10; T. Barber 4 0-0 9; Rigaud 1 2-3 4; Manfresca 2 0-0 5; Fletcher 6 2-4 15; Fischer 0 0-0 0; Svec 0 2-2 2; Martello 7 2-2 18; Dombrowski 5 1-1 11. TOTALS: 32 13-18 83. 3-pointers: M. Barber, T. Barber, Fletcher, Manfresca, Martello 2; Rebounds 30 (Colabella 7; Dombrowski 6); Turnovers 11; Steals 14.
TORONTO (2-1): Stewart 3 0-1 7; Glenn 4 4-4 13; Jordan 0 0-0 0; Roche 0 0-2 0; Clegg 0 1-3 1; Rawson 2 1-2 7; Roush 3 2-4 8; Keirsey 2 0-0 4; Hill 0 0-0 0; Carducci 0 0-0 0; West 0 0-0 0; Fordham 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 14 8-16 40. 3-pointers: Stewart; Glenn; Rawson 2; Rebounds: 30 (Glenn, Roush 7); Turnovers: 24.