By RYAN D. MURRAY The 7th seeded Toll Gate Titans were eliminated from the Boys Division III Basketball playoffs on Tuesday night after falling 59-48 to the 2nd-seeded Panthers at Johnston High School during the Quarterfinal round. Tom Colombo, a junior,
The 7th seeded Toll Gate Titans were eliminated from the Boys Division III Basketball playoffs on Tuesday night after falling 59-48 to the 2nd-seeded Panthers at Johnston High School during the Quarterfinal round.
Tom Colombo, a junior, and Derek Salvatore, a freshman, led the Panthers with 14 points apiece, while Tom Zednik, a junior, chipped in 13, and Jayden Osborne, also a junior, 10.
Toll Gate was topped by Liam Hart, who had 11 points and Francisco Lopez and Alex Usher, who added nine points each.
Despite coming up on the short end, Toll Gate head coach Tom Rayko was proud of the grit his team displayed on Tuesday night, and all year long.
“All season we’ve put in a good effort,” Rayko said. “We’ve had a good, solid season because we’ve had some sickness and some injuries that made us think during the season and have to rework on our lineup from time to time. So, I was happy they came out and fought.”
“We were down 11 at halftime and cut it to two and had a chance to kind of make a run, maybe get the lead and maybe it ends up being a different story,” Rayko said. “So, I can’t complain with how the kids played and how hard they played. I thought they did a great job.”
Ten minutes into the contest, the Panthers used a 9-0 run to build a commanding 24-14 lead after a 3-pointer each from Salvatore and Anthony Tavares. The spurt also saw Tavares make two free throws and Colombo one.
With 3:21 remaining in the half, Tavares dished ahead to Salvatore for a lay-in and that upped the Panthers margin to 28-16.
Johnston headed into halftime holding a 33-22 advantage.
The Panthers cushion briefly grew to 38-24 after a corner trey from Colombo, but Toll Gate’s Austin Noon, immediately responded with a 3-ball of his own, which jumpstarted a 16-4 Titans spurt that got Toll Gate within 42-40 with 5:42 left.
Hart scored seven of the other 13 points during the run, while Usher and John Gyra chipped in two points apiece and Lopez one.
Nonetheless, Salvatore buried a shot from downtown for Johnston after that and got the Panthers a little bit of breathing room at 45-40.
After Toll Gate’s Noon answered with a spinning layup, Johnston’s Colombo, was fouled while attempting a 3-pointer. The junior forward made, just the first of the three free throws, but fortunately for the Panthers, Tavares grabbed the offensive rebound after the third shot and dished to Colombo again, who this time made the trey untouched, and extended the Panthers lead to 49-42.
Toll Gate came up empty on its next trip down the court, and Tavares grabbed the defensive rebound before he was fouled and added two more points from the charity stripe, which extended the Panthers cushion to nine with 3:49 left.
Johnston maintained that advantage the rest of the way and cruised to the 57-48 triumph as it knocked off the Titans.