the Toledo City League but neither could win the regular
season league title nor capture the No. 1 seed in the TCL playoffs. Those honors belong to Toledo Waite. Instead
Central and Start were playing for home court in
next Wednesday’s TCL semifinals. Central Catholic, by virtue of
its 48-45 win, will get to wear white.
TOLEDO – It was senior night at Toledo Central Catholic on Wednesday and Central’s opponent was Toledo Start. Both teams entered the game 9-1 in the Toledo City League but otherwise the game’s significance was diminished slightly by the fact that neither team could win the regular season City League title nor capture the league’s playoff No. 1 seed. Both of those honors again belong to Toledo Waite.
Instead Central and Start were playing to see who would be the home team for next Wednesday’s TCL playoff semifinals. Central Catholic, by virtue of its 48-45 win, will have the honor of wearing white but it was not easy.
Central Catholic began the evening on a high note as they jumped on the visiting Spartans early. After falling behind briefly, 8-2, the Lady Irish came storming back to outscore Start 21-7 over the course of the rest of the first half. Using an aggressive defense that included doubling the Start guard in possession of the ball the Irish forced the Spartans into 23 first half turnovers. The result was a 9 point Central Catholic halftime lead and it looked like the Irish were on their way to an double digit victory.
“We got out to a big lead and kind of gave it back,” Central Catholic head coach Steve Pfahler said. “But that's to Start's credit. They play extremely hard. It was just about making adjustments and finding a better mental focus.”
Start’s Yolanda Richardson was barely a factor in the first half. She was held to only 4 points and those came early in the first quarter. The swarming Central defense had successfully denied her the ball and so Richardson’s scoring opportunities were limited. The second half, however, was an entirely different situation and Richardson’s ability to dominate a game came to the front.
Behind Richardson’s work in the paint, both scoring and rebounding, the Start Lady Spartans caused Central Catholic considerable concern. Although Central enjoyed an 11 point lead until late in the third quarter, the Lady Spartans scored 8 unanswered points to pull within 3 as the quarter ended and, when Richardson opened the fourth quarter with an old-fashion three point play, the game was tied, 32-32, and the battle was on.
The fourth quarter was an up and down affair during which the Irish managed somehow to stay out on top but the Lady Spartans made the Irish earn it. Yolanda Richardson and Spartan freshmen Maleeka Kynard shared the scoring responsibilities and until teammate T.T. Arnold’s mid-court attempt at tying the game fell short the outcome was completely in doubt.
“They (Start) ended up having a shot to tie it at the buzzer on the road against a pretty good team,” said Start coach Bob Brown. “I think, if we fix a few things, hopefully we can change the outcome the next time.”
Richardson’s outstanding individual effort resulted in her leading the game in both scoring and rebounding. She had 21 points (17 in the second half) and 16 rebounds and played great defense as well on Central’s main inside threat, Brianna Jones, limiting her to only 5 points in the second half. Maleeka Kynard joined Richardson in double figures with 15 points.
The Irish were led on offense by post players, Katelyn Nowacki and Brianna Jones, with 11 points each.
Start (16-2, 9-2) and Central Catholic (15-3. 10-1) will meet again next Wednesday in the City League’s semifinals. The Start/Central matchup will be the second game of the evening as the No. 1 seeded Waite Lady Indians and Notre Dame Eagles will play in the opener.