Red Knights edge Devils
TORONTO — For 31 minutes and 58 seconds of Friday’s Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference matchup inside a packed George J. Kunzler Memorial Gymnasium, Lisbon appeared poised to spring a huge upset.
Then several Toronto veterans decided they weren’t going to have their senior night spoiled.
Trillion West just beat the buzzer with a deep corner 3-pointer to tie things up and force overtime. Nick Sninchak, playing his first game since suffering an ankle injury, gave the Red Knights their initial lead when he scored off an inbounds pass to start the extra session. Nate Karaffa knocked down a free throw then got two off a steal and score.
A few minutes later, Sean Tucker and his state-ranked Red Knights were being mobbed by fired up fans after escaping with a 66-62 victory.
With the victory, Toronto improves to 18-1 and will open OVAC Class 2A tournament play Tuesday at home against Shadyside. The Red Knights are the top seed in the event. Lisbon falls to 9-9.
“It’s very, very difficult for anyone to sit for 10 days without playing,” Tucker said. “That’s one of the reasons why we have moved a game to Feb. 22 so we don’t have to sit. These guys like to get out and play–they hate being caged up in the gym. We weren’t ourselves during the first three quarters offensively or defensively and that has a lot to do with us sitting for 10 days.
“Plus we had Nicky (Sninchak) coming back and we have to get him into a little better shape. It was senior night so there were a lot of emotions. Our guys are so resilient. They don’t buckle, they don’t get down, they continue to fight and they continue to believe. If they continue to believe the way they did tonight we are going to play a lot of basketball into March but they have to believe in one another and we have to be disciplined and do the those little things. Things like taking charges and boxing out. Those are the things we didn’t do a good job of tonight. The guys know that and they will correct those things because we don’t have to wait 10 more days to play.”
The Blue Devils, thanks to a couple of long range bombs by Justin Sweeney, sprinted out to a 12-3 lead early. Toronto went on an 8-0 run capped by a Brendon Matyas hoop to make it 12-11. Nick Mundy’s deuce put Lisbon up 14-11 after one.
Lisbon led 25-23 at the break and 46-40 after three as Sweeney drilled a deep 3-ponter at the buzzer.
Coach Chris Huckshold’s Devils extended their advantage to eight (54-46) with a little more than two minutes to play when Ryan McCullough drained a triple. Two West bombs cut the deficit to 54-52 with 50 seconds left. Lisbon’s Mike Davis went 1 for of 2 the line, making it 55-52 and setting the stage for West’s buzzer beater.
Karaffa led Toronto in scoring with 23, while West finished with 21.
Sweeney had a fantastic game for Lisbon, scoring 25 before fouling out with 2:04 left in regulation. Davis and McCullough evenly divided 20.
Before the game, Toronto honored its five seniors (Karaffa, West, Sninchak, Kobe Herrick and Trent Wright).
“I’ve been coaching 13 years and it is never, ever easy when it comes to talking about your seniors,” Tucker said. “I just thank God for blessing me with the opportunity to be with these kids and be a part of their lives. Those five seniors make you want to be a better person and that’s tough to do at times particularly when I am coaching stubborn.
“They come from great families and their parents should be extremely proud of the young men they are and they young men they are becoming. It’s all due to great parenting. We have some great, supportive parents and my hat goes off to them. These kids are a reflection of their parents. They take pride in everything they do and this town has great pride in them. It’s just a great feeling to coach these guys.”
Anthony Myslinsky scored 10 points while Zach Berger and Bryson Anderson had nine each as Toronto earned a 40-23 victory in the junior varsity game. Adam Spencer netted eight for the Blue Devils.
Lisbon hosts Springfield on Tuesday.
LISBON: 14-11-21-9-7 –62
TORONTO: 11-12-17-15-11 — 66
LISBON (9-9): Mundy 3 1-3 7; Bell 4 0-2 8; Davis 2 5-7 10; McCullough 3 2-3 10; Blackburn 0 0-0 0; Spencer 0 0-0 0; Sweeney 9 3-3 25; Fisher 1 0-0 2; Brownfield 0 0-0 0; Welsh 0 0-0 0. TEAM TOTALS: 22, 11-19: 62.
TORONTO (18-1): West 7 4-4 21; Herrick 0 0-0 0; Karaffa 8 6-12 23; Wright 0 0-0 0; Sninchak 1 3-4 5; Matyas 1 1-4 3; Gulczynski 3 1-3 7; Clegg 3 1-4 7. TEAM TOTALS: 23, 16-31: 66.
3-POINT GOALS: Lisbon 7 (Sweeney 4; McCullough 2; Davis); Toronto 4 (West 3; Karaffa); REBOUNDS: Lisbon 32 (Bell, Davis, Sweeney 6 each); Toronto 23 (Gulczynski 10); TURNOVERS: Lisbon 28; Toronto 8.