STEUBENVILLE-Oak Glen gave Catholic Central all it could handle for two quarters Tuesday. Then, the Crusaders picked up the intensity, went on a 10-0 scoring run and cruised to a 55-36 victory inside the Mickey Barber Gymnasium.
The Golden Bears were down four (19-15) at the half and moved closer following a Taylor Kincaid free throw make to open the third quarter. That's when Sean Tucker's unbeaten club got it going.
Point guard Michael Barber registered a hoop and one on a nifty drive down the lane. Michael Carapellotti drained a freebie before Zack Herrington (he connected from behind the arc and at the line then scored in the paint) went on a six-point tear to put the hosts ahead by 13 (29-16). The Crusaders were up 36-23 heading into the final stanza.
Oak Glen's Jakob Ford
Herrington scored 17 of his game-high 23 points during the second half.
"We realized what we had to do in order to beat a team that plays zone," Tucker said of his club's turnaround. "The kids came out and did what they had to do. They cut hard to the bucket, they followed their shots, they saw the floor better and they got out in transition.
"We played flat in the first half. We just can't half halves like that. Eventually it is going to catch up with us. Luckily tonight it didn't and these kids were able to remain perfect."
Central 55, Oak Glen 36
Central 10 191719--55
Oak Glen 7 8 813--36
CENTRAL (5-0): Barber 3 2-2 8; Martello 0 2-2 2; Carapellotti 4 2-4 11; Colabella 0 0-0 0; Herrington 7 8-10 23; Fletcher 1 0-0 2; Porreca 1 0-0 2; Manfresca 2 1-2 5; Kotur 0 0-0 0; Dombrowski 0 2-2 2; T. Barber 0 0-0 0; Howard 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 18 17-24 55. 3-pointers: Carapellotti, Herrington; Rebounds: 32 (Herrington, Carapellotti 7); Turnovers: 11.
OAK GLEN (1-4): Click 0 0-0 0; Ford 0 1-2 1; Kincaid 5 1-2 11; Howell 6 1-3 13; McLaughlin 1 2-2 4; Smith 1 0-2 3; McGraw 1 0-0 2; Congo 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 15 5-11 36. 3-pointers: Smith; Rebounds: 20 (Kincaid 8); Turnovers: 22.
Central, now 5-0, was up 10-7 after one quarter thanks to four points by Carapellotti. Herrington recorded four of his team's 10 second period markers. Meanwhile, Kincaid and his Cody Howell kept the Golden Bears close, accounting for 12 of the first half total.
"I think we have gone into the half down two or four points in four games this season," Oak Glen's Dave Smith noted. "We talk about sustaining the energy of from the first half. For whatever reason, we have a letdown every time.
"I just don't know why that happens. We could very well be 4-1 right now. I'm not sure what it is going to take for us to reach the next level. We made mistakes, we had 22 turnovers and we made bad decisions when we came out after halftime."
Carapellotti added 11 points for the Crusaders, who were 18 of 53 from the floor. Barber finished with eight. Herrington tied Carapellotti for the lead in rebounds with seven and recorded five steals. He and Barber both dished out three assists.
Central was a strong 17 of 24 from the line, including an impressive 13 for 17 during the final eight minutes.
Howell topped Oak Glen in the scoring department with 13. Kincaid had 11 to go along with his eight boards. The Golden Bears had a respectable shooting night, going 15 of 31.
"Their intensity definitely was greater in the second half," Smith said. "We made good decisions in the first half. We were able to kick the ball ahead and get some layups. We didn't do those things in the second half.
"When people pressure you, you have to make them pay for it. We didn't do that tonight. We need to work on being more consistent."
As is generally the case, Tucker's bench played a key role in the victory. Michael Manfresca ended the first frame with a hoop and opened the second by scoring on a nifty pass from Herrington.
"I try to get in there, give guys a break and do what I can," Manfresca said. "I understand what my role is when I enter a game. Coach did get on us a little bit at the half; we came out, picked up our intensity and played a good second half."
Aleks Porreca, another one of Central's role players, noted "it feels great to be 5-0."
"We have a lot of momentum going into Friday (the day Central visits Madonna)," he pointed out. We can't start out flat like we have been. We need to come out and play our game."
Tucker's crew won't play another home game until Jan. 12 when Bridgeport visits. After the Madonna game, the Crusaders will participate in the Undo's Tournament before traveling to Oak Glen, Big Red, Toronto and Barnesville.
Oak Glen will host Beaver Local Saturday.