Potters control Central

East Liverpool’s Gabe Roach gets air as Stebenville Central’s Don Argentine and Luca Connor trail the play on Friday. (Photo by Jimmy Joe Savage) 

EAST LIVERPOOL–It was far from a spotless performance, but the East Liverpool boys basketball team had enough firepower to outgun a physical, scrappy Steubenville Catholic Central squad 61-48 Friday at Potter Fieldhouse.

“We started out pretty slow, we know we can still get better,” East Liverpool point guard Tresean Jackson said. “But a win is a win no matter how you get it. That’s all that matters.”

The Potters improve to 10-3 overall, while the Crusaders fall to 2-9.

Jackson shook off a first half without a field goal to finish with 12 points and seven assists. Timmy Neal was on target from deep with three three-pointers as part of his team-high 15 points. Gabe Roach rounded things out with 13 points.

East Liverpool coach Nate Conley told his players to enjoy the victory, but emphasized that his team needed to clean things up as they continue into the second half of their schedule.

“To be honest, I didn’t love how we played tonight, I want to be sharper,” Conley said. “We missed foul shots and layups and we got too careless with the ball at times. But give credit to Steubenville Catholic Central. They play hard. Their record doesn’t indicate how good they are. It wasn’t the prettiest win, but I told the guys to enjoy it. You aren’t going to win every game by 30 points. We’ll break down the film tomorrow and get back to work.”

The young Crusaders, who have six sophomores among their top eight rotation players, were led by guard Luca Connor with 13 points. Jack Rook battled his way to nine rebounds.

Catholic Central was within single digits for much of the first half and never let the game get fully out of hand.

“Coming in, we knew this was going to be a tough matchup for us, but I thought our effort was pretty good,” Steubenville Catholic Central coach Mike Holmes said. “We executed generally pretty well. We didn’t take good care of the ball in the first half, which hurt us, but we improved in the second half. We’ve been preaching consistent improvement with this group and I think you’re starting to see that.”

The Potters began to assert control late in the second quarter with a 10-0 run– highlighted by two turnover-fueled layups and a three-pointer from Roach–to take a 30-17 lead just before halftime.

They stretched the margin to 47-28 late in the third thanks to a 14-2 spurt keyed by Jackson, who finally got some shots to fall with three three-pointers during the run.

“I struggled early, but my approach is always to keep shooting,” Jackson said. “Shooters shoot.”

The Potters now get ready to travel to Buckeye Local on Tuesday with the Buckeye 8 Athletic League North Division title within their grasp.

Although East Liverpool holds a one-game lead over Indian Creek and still must play the Redskins Friday, a win at Buckeye gives the Potters the title all to themselves because the conference’s tiebreaker rules give the nod to the team who won the first game.

East Liverpool beat Indian Creek 63-56 in overtime in December.

“If we’re able to do it, that would be big for us,” Jackson said. “Last year was not a good year. We were really looking to turn things around this season and so far we’ve done that. We just have to keep it up and have a good attitude.”

Game notes

¯East Liverpool’s bench unit of Nick Woodyard, Tyler Roe and Izaiha Browning combined for 11 points and nine rebounds.

¯Friday was the ninth time this season the Potters have had three players reach double-digits in points.

“In defending them, you have to take some calculated rolls of the dice as far as who you try and take away and who you lay off of a little bit,” Holmes said. “I thought, in general, we didn’t do a bad job. We made them make some plays at least, we didn’t just give up easy stuff.”

¯Six of the Crusaders’ 11 games have come against teams with at least nine wins.

“We’ve been playing a bunch of larger schools with veteran squads,” Holmes said. “It’s a tough position to be in with six sophomores, but we know nobody’s going to feel sorry for us, so you have to find a way. It’s still taking some time, but I thought the last couple of games, we’ve played pretty good possession basketball.”

¯East Liverpool won the jayvee game 75-18. Zavea Green led the Potters with 17 points.

CATHOLIC CENTRAL: 8-13-9-18–48

EAST LIVERPOOL: 13-19-17-12–61

CATHOLIC CENTRAL SCORING: Luca Connor 5-3-14, Ryan Gorman 6-2-14, Jack Rook 1-1-3, Vince Carapellotti 2-2-6, Isaac Hough 0-0-0, Dom Argentine 5-2-12, Mike Rook 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 19, 10-17: 48.

EAST LIVERPOOL SCORING: Tresean Jackson 3-3-12, Gabe Roach 5-1-13, Timmy Neal 5-2-15, Brennan O’Hara 2-3-7, James Maxwell 1-1-3, Nick Woodyard 2-1-5, Tyler Roe 2-0-6, Izaiha Browning 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 21, 11-23: 61.

Three-point goals: East Liverpool 8 (Jackson 3, Neal 3, Roach 2).