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Central Staves Off Valiant Shadyside

Tigers nearly completed 26-point comeback

Photo by Cody Tomer Wheeling Central’s Quinton Burlenski goes for a layup against Shadyside Tuesday evening.

WHEELING — The atmosphere was exactly what is to be expected between Wheeling Central and Shadyside and the game itself didn’t disappoint.

In the end, the Maroon Knights withstood several roaring comebacks by the Tigers en route to an 80-68 victory on Coach “Skip” Prosser Court on Tuesday night.

Shadyside trailed by as much as 26 points in the second quarter and with under a minute to play, a Ben Wach 3-pointer cut the deficit to six (74-68).

However, down the stretch, Ryan Reasbeck and Leyton Toepfer stepped to the free-throw line and connected to reel off the final six points of the game to seal the victory.

“We made enough plays in the third and fourth quarter,” Central coach Mel Stephens said. “They cut it a couple of times but we were able to respond with big rebounds and big defensive stops.

“I thought Ryan really played well, not just scoring-wise, but rebounding. He was able to get us some extra chances and got himself some extra points. (Elijah) Brock for them inside is a handful and kind of got them back in the game but Leyton did a good job on the boards. He is a good player for us.”

Central stormed out of the gates on a mission with a 20-2 run over the first 4 minutes of action to take a 30-8 cushion into the second frame and eventually held a 26-point advantage (38-12) early in the second in large part due to four 3-pointers by Michael Toepfer.

“Michael is starting to shoot the ball really well,” Stephens said. “I told him before the game, ‘They changed their starting lineup a little bit and you’re going to be a matchup that will be tough for them to defend.’

“We have four guys on the perimeter who can shoot it and Caleb (Ratcliffe) battles his butt off inside. He had a big game point-wise because we were able to make some passes to him.”

Soon after, the Tigers began to claw back as they reeled off a 15-0 run sparked by seven points from Brock to pull within 44-34 at halftime.

“This was a great atmosphere and good for the kids,” Shadyside coach Ed Andes said. “I said, “Hey, keep playing. Their shots are all going in and hardly anything is going in for us. It’s going to change,’ and it finally did.”

The momentum changed, however, to start the second half as the Knights jumped out with the first nine points to pull ahead 54-34 before taking a 59-45 upper hand into the final frame.

“We had a big lead in the first quarter and sometimes you relax with a big lead,” Stephens said. “We reminded them at halftime not to forget what got us here. We said, ‘Think about what we did in the first quarter on both ends.'”

In the fourth, Shadyside used the 3-ball to, once again, make a valiant comeback as Korey Beckett, Wach and Bryce Amos all knocked down deep shots to eventually pull within six but the deficit was simply too much and Central knocked down its foul shots when it mattered.

“We learned a lot of things (Tuesday),” Andes said. “We dug a hole, came back, dug another hole and came back again against a really good team at their place. To have that kind of opportunity, I’m very proud of our team and overall I liked our effort.”

Reasbeck led all scorers with 24 points, along with 12 rebounds and six assists for Central, followed by Michael Toepfer with 17 points, Ratcliffe with 16 points, Quenton Burlenski with 12 points and Leyton Toepfer with nine points.

Beckett paced the Tigers with 21 points, while Brock amassed 17, Amos tallied 11 and Wach added 10.

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