Toronto opens title defense

TORONTO — Toronto withstood the Wellsville attack.

The Red Knights answered the Tigers’ fourth-quarter charge with one of their own as the Toronto boys’ basketball team held on for a 76-68 victory Tuesday night in an Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference opener Tuesday.

Toronto led by 10 points entering the fourth quarter, but Wellsville cut its deficit to four points before the Red Knights responded and pushed their lead out to 11 points.

“This is one of the ones where you survive and advance,” Toronto (2-0) coach Sean Tucker said. “We got lucky tonight. After the game, (Wellsville coach Dave Thompson) said, ‘We almost stole one,’ and they did. We were not in a good mindset tonight, and that totally falls on me. During timeouts, we told the kids what not to do, and they went out and did the opposite. We were not mentally focused. That’s on me.

“We have the opportunity to go home with a win. We will learn from our mistakes. I have got a lot of respect for ‘Bug’ and his program and his coaches. They only play five kids, but they are all scrappy. They outplayed us tonight. We came out on top of the scoreboard because we were able to finish a couple of buckets in the fourth quarter.”

Wellsville (0-2) pulled within 61-57 a few minutes into the fourth, but the Tigers ran out of gas down the stretch and were unable to complete the comeback.

“We almost stole one,” Thompson said. “We don’t have any depth. We play five guys, but those five guys played well. Coach Tucker does a great job. When you come down here, you know it is going to be a physical game and you are going to have to battle. We told the kids that. We just didn’t get any breaks tonight. We would go on a run, and then they would hit a couple of 3s. We would get a steal, and they would come down and hit a 3. Coach Tucker has done a (heck) of a job since he has come here.”

Five players scored in double digits to lead way for the Red Knights. Individually, Nate Karaffa finished with a team-high 19 points, Lucas Gulczynski tallied 17 and Nick Sninchak contributed 14. Also, A.J. Clegg and Trillion West each collected 11.

Three players scored in double figures for Wellsville. Individually, Justin Wright recorded a game-high 21 points, Darrien Suggs delivered 20 and Derrick Suggs scored 12.

“Darrien Suggs played well, and Luke Green played well for a sophomore,” Thompson said. “Justin Wright played well. This is his first year of varsity ball.

“I’m happy with how we battled, but I am disappointed with the loss. We just are not getting up enough shots. In the past, we would get up 70 shots in a game. Friday night against East Liverpool, we only had 50 shots. We will regroup. We will go back to the drawing board, and we will try to get better.”

The Red Knights led 53-43 entering the fourth quarter, but a basket by Wright pulled the Tigers to within 55-51. Toronto answered with a 7-0 spurt to go up 62-51. Wellsville fought back and pulled to within 70-65 with 53.2 seconds left.

Darrien Suggs played a strong all-around game for the Tigers as the junior dished out five assists and had three steals to go along with his 20 points. Also for the visitors, Derrick Suggs pulled down seven rebounds and dished out four assists, while Green grabbed eight rebounds.

“We have to run,” Thompson said. “Our half-court offense is not good. People know that. Our first look is to run the break. We do not have subs who can rotate in and contribute. We are going to fix that. It is going to take a little bit of work. We lost to East Liverpool Friday night. We were up at halftime. They played nine guys, and we played five.”

Wellsville won the junior varsity game, 22-20, as Levi Boley scored seven points.

WELLSVILLE: 9-19-15-25–68

TORONTO: 16-17-20-23–76

WELLSVILLE SCORING: Green 3 0-0 8; Da. Suggs 8 0-0 20; Scott 3 0-0 7; De. Suggs 4 3-3 12; Ramsey 0 0-0 0; Wright 10 0-2 21; Talbert 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 28, 3-5: 68.

TORONTO SCORING: West 5 0-0 11; Herrick 0 0-0 0; Karaffa 7 4-6 19; Wright 2 0-0 4; Matyas 0 0-0 0; Gulczynski 8 0-0 17; Clegg 4 3-4 11; Sninchak 5 0-1 14. TOTALS: 31, 7-11: 76.

Three-point goals: Wellsville 9 (Da. Suggs 4, Green 2, Scott 1, De. Suggs, Wright); Toronto 7 (Sninchak 4, West, Karaffa, Gulczynski).