WEIRTON - Scoring repeatedly off the fast break off of steals, Madonna built a 21-point halftime lead and cruised to an 87-62 victory over a young Toronto team Friday night in the Dubie Dome.
With five players in double figures, the Blue Dons utilized their speed and height advantage to amass a season high point total. Comprised primarily of players off their state championship football team, Madonna showed that they are beginning to get their basketball legs.
"We talked in our pre-game about applying pressure and getting transition points out of it," said veteran Madonna coach, George Vargo, whose club improved to 6-2. "We've got fast guys. We saw that in football and its paying off now in basketball.
ALL EYES ON — Weirton Madonna’s Josh Martin prepares to take and make a shot against the defensive pressure of Toronto’s Tyler Roush (20) and Riley Keirsey (21) during the second half of Friday’s 87-62 victory by the Blue Dons.
"Hopefully, this is a good sign, too. Two good games back-to-back (Madonna beat Clay-Battelle on Wednesday). We've got a week off now so we'll see what happens next Friday."
The Blue Dons will host Weir High next Friday in the annual city championship game.
Madonna took coach Vargo's pre-game talk to heart, especially senior Ross Comis, who leads the Blue Dons with 22 points a game scoring average. While he led the team again with 18 points, he also led everyone with seven assists and four steals in an all around game.
Madonna 88, Toronto 62
Toronto 16 12 17 17 - 62
Madonna 22 27 13 25 - 87
TORONTO (4-6): Stewart 1 1-1 4, Glenn 9 12-17 30, Clegg 1 0-0 2, Rawson 1 0-0 3, Roush 3 1-2 7, Lawrence 5 0-0 10, Hill 1 0-0 2, Carducci 1 0-0 3, Fordham 0 1-2 1. TOTALS: 22 15-22 62. 3-pointers: Stewart, Rawson, Carducci; Rebounds, 19 (Roush, Glenn, 4 each); Turnovers: 13.
MADONNA (6-2): Comis 6 6-7 18, J. Ewusiak 3 3-4 10, T. Ewusiak 8 1-3 17, Retton 0 5-6 5, Bowser 4 3-4 11, Silvestri 0 1-2 1, Jeter 1 0-2 2, Martin 6 4-4 16, Antinone 1 0-0 2, Biondillo 1 1-2 3, Shreves 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 31 14-34 87. 3-pointers: J. Ewusiak; Rebounds, 24 (Martin, 7); Turnovers: 8.
"It was a total team game tonight," Vargo continued. "We had five guys in double figures and I thought Josh Martin really looked sharp tonight."
Martin, Madonna's 7-foot center, scored 16 points and had a game high seven rebounds even though he sat out most of the fourth quarter when, with the big lead, Vargo inserted his substitutes.
"I liked the way Martin played tonight," Vargo said. "He looked like a basketball player tonight. If he plays like that every night and continues to get better as we move forward, we don't know what can happen at the end of February."
Toronto coach, John Leary's starting lineup included three sophomores and two juniors. One of those sophomores, Blaze Glenn, didn't let Madonna's size advantage bother him as he repeatedly drove the lane. He finished with a game high 30 points including 12 of 17 from the free throw line, and did not attempt a three-pointer.
"He's not afraid to go up against anybody," Leary said of his sophomore, who also quarterbacked the Red Knight football team. "He's fearless.
"Blaze is the leader of this team. He's a sophomore, but he's the leader of the team. During the timeouts he was talking to the guys trying to keep them up. He and Stu (junior Nate Stewart) both.
"Glenn never quitting is what makes us competitive. I told somebody the other day that as long as I have No. 3 I'll go play anybody."
Leary said he felt his team with perhaps the exception of Glenn played tentatively against Madonna's 1-3-1 zone pressure in the first half.
"In the first half, we gave Madonna six runout baskets with nobody back," Leary said. "I believe at halftime they were up by 21. I'm always playing that math game in my head and I told the kids at the break that you take away those 12 points and we're in the game. We practice that type of defense every day."
Leary said he was pleased with the way his team battled during the second half and despite being down by 20 or more points throughout, they continued to play hard.
"I have a lot of respect for Coach Vargo," Leary continued. "He's always been willing to help me when I ask and he runs a class program here at Madonna."
Senior Tyler Ewusiak came off the bench and backed up Comis with 17 points by running the floor and being on the scoring end of several of the Comis assists.
Another senior, Will Bowser, scored 11 points and Ewusiak's freshman brother, Joey, chipped in 10 points including Madonna's only three-pointer.
With players from both teams going to the basket in an aggressive brand of play, there were a total of 56 foul shots attempted. For the second game in a row, Madonna shot more than 30 times from the foul line, making 24 of 34.
The Red Knights, now 4-6, made 15 of 22 from the charity stripe.
Senior Derick Lawrence came off the bench and was the only other Toronto player in double figures, scoring 10 points.
The Red Knights are in the midst of four games on the road and return to action next Tuesday traveling to Bishop Donahue.