Cleveland Central Catholic flexes depth, advances to D-III title game


CCC center Anton Grady is headed to Cleveland State. (Photo by Gary Housteau)

Cleveland Central Catholic overwhelmed Piketon with an avalanche of bodies Thursday in a Division III state semifinal at the Schottenstein Center. The Ironmen played 13 players and had 11 score in a 76-52 win over the Red Streaks. The reward? A shot at the program’s first state title. 

COLUMBUS – In order to get to the state tournament Piketon had to overcome a 10-point deficit in the final 2:30 of its regional final game against Grandview Heights. There were no such heroics Thursday.

Down 10 points after the first quarter and 20 at halftime, Piketon fell to Cleveland Central Catholic 76-52  before a crowd of 11,056 at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center in a Division III boys basketball state semifinal. The Ironmen utilized a balanced attack (11 players scored), a stifling rotation (13 players played) and efficiency at both ends of the floor to end the Red Streaks season.

Piketon closes out at 24-3, while CCC improves to 23-3 and has a spot in Saturday’s state final at 2 p.m.

“We were very loose today in warm-ups and I saw it in their eyes,” CCC head coach Kevin Noch said. “They had the Eye of the Tiger tonight.”

Piketon had one lead in the game – 2-0. After that the Ironmen went on a 10-0 run and never let of the gas.

Piketon standout Jordan Brabson picked up his second foul with 1:34 left in first quarter and the Steaks down 13-5. The whistle put Chall Montgomery at the line for two shots. He made both for a 15-5 lead and the Ironmen’s advantage never dipped below double-digits again.

CCC used a 10-1 run to open the second quarter and led 34-14 at the break.

In the first half the Ironmen shot 50-percent from the floor, turned the ball over just three times and had 13 players log minutes. Ten scored at least a basket and only two had more than three points. Defensively CCC forced 13 Piketon turnovers.

Piketon opened the second half on 10-0 run and three times got the deficit to 10 points in the third quarter. That’s as close as it got.

“We intentionally didn’t call a timeout (after the 10-0 run), because I believe that builds character,” Noch said. “Piketon’s crowd was amazing and (Piketon) came out strong, but by not calling a timeout our guys were able to step up and we hit a big bucket. Then we got comfortable and our defense kicked in again.”

Said Piketon head coach Jeff Lisath: “We didn’t quit. We got down big in the first half but we came out in the third quarter and played hard. We did do some good tings, but we just couldn’t get over the hump.”

Piketon was making the first appearance by a Scioto Valley Conference school in the state tournament since Richmond Dale Southeastern and Chillicothe Unioto made back-to-back trips in 1990-91.

The Streaks, who averaged 70 points per game and had two 1,000-point scorers on their team (Brabson and Cody Smith), were held well below their average. They shot 37-percent from the field for the game and turned it over 23 times.

Smith led Piketon with 17 points, while Brabson finished with 15. Both exited to standing ovations.

Lisath was denied his 200th win (199-117 career record).

“I think (Piketon was) uncomfortable shooting their shots (today),” Noch said. “They look like they are very comfortable around the arc but we covered them well and made them shoot it where we wanted them to.”

CCC was paced by standout sophomore Anton Grady who had 19 points. Grady, a 6-8 forward, also added game-highs in rebounds (nine) and blocks (four). Montgomery was the only other CCC player to reach double-digits (12 points).

As a team the Ironmen shot an ironclad 51-percent from the floor and had an impressive 18 assists on their 27 baskets. Eleven of 13 players scored at least three points and CCC’s bench outscored Piketon’s 32-3. The Ironmen held a 44-30 scoring advantage in the paint.

Said Lisath: “We knew going into the game that their depth was going to be an issue for us.”

CCC, making its second trip to state, brings a 10-game winning streak into its first state championship game. The Ironmen lost in the semifinals in 2002. CCC faces the winner of Friday’s second semifinal between Defiance Tinora and Dayton Christian on Saturday.

Looks like 5:30 a.m. practices paid off.

Said Noch: “Even though we got this victory, we know there is one more to go.”





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *