Blue Devils fend off Crusaders

STEUBENVILLE — Chris Tarquinio’s Steubenville Catholic Central boys basketball team did not put together a full game once again, and the Lisbon Blue Devils made the Crusaders pay by defeating Central 59-56 on Wednesday evening inside the Crimson Center as part of the third annual Chuck Watt/John Nese Holiday Classic.

“We told them before the game we have to start playing four quarters instead of two or even three,” Tarquinio said.

The Crusaders erased a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit in their last game at Weir Friday night and rallied to win in the closing seconds, but Tarquinio told his team it cannot get used to relying on such comebacks.

“We told them that what happened the other night doesn’t happen all the time, and it got us tonight,” he said. “We earned that victory the other night, but we just can’t keep getting down and expecting to come back all the time.”

Trailing by as many as 11 in the fourth quarter Wednesday, Central managed to pull within two at 56-54 with 19.7 seconds to go, but Donnie Vandeborne’s game-tying buzzer beater try hit the front of the rim.

“Like I said the other night, our kids never quit,” Tarquinio said. “With that being said, we’ve got to stop putting ourselves in that position to have to come back. We were down 11 and battled back to have a chance to tie it. I’m proud that we did not quit, but we have got to start putting four quarters together.”

Lisbon (6-3) got a game-high 26 points from Justin Sweeney, including five 3-pointers. He also finished with team highs in rebounds (five) and assists (five) and was named the player of the game afterwards.

“Justin plays unbelievable for a junior,” Lisbon coach Chris Huckshold said. “He is probably averaging about 28 a game. He hit some big shots early.”

Huckshold thought the Crusaders provided a nice challenge facing someone out of their area right after the break.

“The games over the holiday come down to execution and focus,” Huckshold said. “The kids are out of routine and out of school. I wouldn’t say it was a sloppy game, but neither team probably executed the way they would on a Tuesday or Friday night.

The game was as close as could be in the first half, tied after each of the first two quarters at 12-12 and 28-28. Lisbon broke a 34-34 tie late in the third as part of a 12-2 run to open up a 10-point lead.

“We regrouped at halftime and went on a good run,” Huckshold said. “It looked like we were going to put it away there, but they made some shots and we gave them some opportunities and let them get back into it.”

Vandeborne led the Crusaders with 18 points, eight assists and 10 rebounds for a double-double.

“Donnie is a player,” Tarquinio said. “He is a scorer and he does a little bit of everything for us. He got us back in the game. Unfortunately, that shot there at the end was just a little short.”

AJ Connor finished with nine points, four rebounds and seven assists. Jake Stoll added eight points and five rebounds.

Lisbon got 10 points, two assists and three rebounds from Branson Brownfield, and eight points, an assist and three rebounds from Ryan McCullough.

“I was really happy that we had some other kids step up,” Huckshold said. “They took the ball away from (Sweeney) a little bit later in the game, and some other kids made some shots and free throws in pressure situations. That’s something that will pay off later in the season.”

The Blue Devils were without senior Grant Frederick, who was traveling with his family for the holidays.

“That kind of changed up our rotation a little bit,” Huckshold said. “It shortend our bench a little and we had to have some kids play a little longer than normal.”

Both coaches enjoyed the event.

“This is great,” Huckshold said. “Any time you get an opportunity to highlight the kids and play in a big gym in a setting where the kids get to hear their names, especially for a good cause like this, it is good. They introduced (John Nese’s) family before the game, and I’m sure it’s an emotional time for them. I know a lot of people down here; we love playing down here.”

For Tarquinio, his ties to it are even more personal.

“This is a great event,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to play against coach Watt when I was at Central. Coach Nese was at Central when I was there. Although I didn’t play for him, I went to school with his youngest daughter, so I know the family really well and I knew him really well.

“Up until his passing this summer, any time I would see coach Nese, we would talk basketball. I learned a lot of things from coach Nese even though I didn’t get to play for him.”

Lisbon travels to Western Reserve after New Years, while Central returns to the Crimson Center on Saturday to face city-rival Steubenville Big Red.

Lisbon 59, Catholic Central 56

Lisbon 12-16-10-21 — 59

Central 12-16-6-22 — 56

LISBON (6-3): N. Mundy 0 0-0 0; Sweeney 10 1-2 26; McCullough 2 3-6 8; Minor 1 3-4 5; Brownfield 2 5-7 10; Blackburn 2 0-1 6; J. Mundy 1 2-4 4. TOTALS: 18, 14-24, 59.

CENTRAL (4-3): L. Connor 0 2-2 2; A. Connor 4 0-2 9; Gorman 1 1-1 3; DiBiase 1 0-0 2: Kilonsky 3 0-0 8; Vandeborne 8 0-0 18; Costello 2 2-2 6; Stoll 4 0-0 8. TOTALS: 23, 5-7, 56.

3-POINT GOALS: Lisbon 9 (Sweeney 5, McCullough 1, Minor 1, Blackburn 2); Central 5 (A. Connor 1, Kilonsky 2, Vandeborne 2). ASSISTS: Lisbon 14 (Sweeney 5); Central 19 (Vandeborne 8). REBOUNDS: Lisbon 20 (Sweeney 5, J. Mundy 5); Central 25 (Vandeborne 10). TURNOVERS: Lisbon 8; Central 5.