McMECHEN -Bishop Donahue might have one of the best home-court advantages in the whole OVAC.
Toronto coach John Leary and his team experienced it firsthand Tuesday night.
With the crowd in full throat and the Bishops' full-court press in the their faces, the Red Knights quickly fell into a 30-9 hole and couldn't dig their way out as they lost 86-61 on Tommy ''Dino'' Smith Memorial Court.
Photo by TONY VIOLA
Bishop Donahue’s Chaice Truex flies in to slam the ball home during the Bishops’ victory against Toronto on Tuesday night in McMechen.
''I don't want to call this a hostile atmosphere, but ... my kids are young,'' Leary said. ''This is a loud, nerve-wracking atmosphere for them. We didn't handle it well in the first quarter. No matter how much you talk to them about it coming out, until you experience it, it's difficult to deal with.''
''We have a really good student section,'' Bishops coach Tom Wise said. ''They're loud and vocal. Because the seats are right on top of you, you have that feeling of claustrophobia at times if you're out here and people are screaming at you.''
Toronto (4-7) tried to stick with the Bishops (6-3) fast-paced, run-and-shoot offense early on, and actually got to within one at 10-9, but then Donahue ripped off the next 20 points.
''We started off pretty strong,'' Wise said. ''I thought we played an excellent first quarter. We used our run-and-jump, full court to cause a lot of turnovers.''
It's what the Bishops seem to do best.
They double-team the dribbler until he's forced to give it up, then, two passes later, it's in the hands of big man Chaice Truex or Lavonte Hampton or Trey Miller and they're putting in an uncontested layup.
''Bishop Doanhue is a very, very good team,'' Leary said. ''They get up and down the floor and they know this floor very well. They run that sideline break. You try to prep your kids coming in and talk to them about running offense and being aware. You have to run good offense because if you take long shots or you take bad shots, that turns into transition for the other team.''
One transition in particular served as the highlight of the night as Truex broke lose down the middle of the court to slam home an uncontested dunk - the first dunk in the Donahue Gym since 1986.
''When he came down here and threw that dunk down, I think they thought that was like a knockout punch,'' Leary said of his team. ''He throws the dunk down and they assumed Bishop Donahue wins, even though we still have 24 minutes to play. That's just part of growing up.''
Truex finished his night 6 of 8 from the floor for 13 points to go along with numerous rebounds, blocks and steals.
''He's very physical,'' Wise said of the junior. ''He's got great feet and he's very quick for a big guy. He's really improved and he's worked so hard at it.''
Bryce Jones led the Bishops with 17 points and was 4 of 7 from 3. Hampton and Miller combined to shoot a perfect 13 of 13 as they each finished with 14 points. Jared Yates also finished with 14 points for the Bishops to round out five double-figure scorers.
Toronto eventually began to settle down and actually outscored Donahue 22-18 in the second quarter, but still trailed 48-31 at halftime.
''You're down by 21 after one quarter, that's hard to overcome,'' Leary said. ''This is the third or fourth time this year that we've given up 80-plus points. You're not going to win too many high school basektball games when you give up that many points. I've always been a guy who stresses defense, and, right now, I'm a guy who better restress defense. On the plus side, we scored 61, but that's not the style I like to play.
''This is a good experience for them down here to deal with this because you're not going to find a more pro-opponent atmosphere anywhere you play. I'm sitting here on the bench trying to talk to them and you have to scream because they do a good job of making it loud in here.''
Sophomore Blaze Glenn led the Red Knights with a game-high 22 points and was the only Toronto player to break double-digits.