DuBOIS — Coming off a rough road loss Wednesday at St. Marys, the DuBois Central Catholic boys basketball team fed off a large home crowd Thursday to score a 53-39 victory over Philipsburg-Osceola on Homecoming Night at the Varischetti Sports Complex.
The Cardinals fell behind early Tuesday in a lopsided 86-30 loss at St. Marys, but DCC flipped that script Wednesday — jumping out to an 11-2 lead over the Mounties after the opening eight minutes.
Central (3-4) maintained that cushion for most of the second quarter and took a seven-point lead (17-10) into halftime. Both offenses finally got going a little more in the second half, with the teams trading scoring runs in the third quarter.
Philipsburg got as close as two points in the quarter before DCC entered the fourth up five at 29-24. The Cardinals then slowly pulled away over the final eight minutes to come away with the 14-point Homecoming victory.
Central Catholic got contributions from most of its roster as eight different players scored, Justin Miknis and Brandon Walker led the way with 19 and 12 points, respectively. Miknis added eight rebounds.
Walker scored 10 his points in the second half, including two 3-pointers in the third quarter, to help the Cardinals pull away. Teammate Anthony Kness added eight points, with six of those coming on a pair of big fourth-quarter 3-pointers.
“The best thing about last night (loss Wednesday at St. Marys) was that we had a game today (Thursday),” said DCC coach Dom Varacallo. “And, with the support of the fans and the school and it being Homecoming night — that really helped us and boosted our morale a little after last night’s game.
“In course of the season you’re going to have a lot of highs and a lot of lows. and (Wednesday) was a huge low. I could tell it really affected the guys, but it really shows a lot about their character with jow they wanted to come back and play well tonight. We controlled the game and ended up getting the ‘W.’
Miknis got the Cardinals off and running with a trey in the opening minute, but DCC went nearly two minutes without scoring after that before Miknis hit his second 3-pointer of the game off a nice pass from Thomas Grecco on an inbounds play.
In between those treys, P-O got its lone points of the quarter on a basket by Marcus Wisor just past the 6-minute mark. Central Catholic went on to score the final five points of the quarter. Peter Downer netted three of those on a basket and free throw, while Kness went 2-for-2 at the line with 1:58 on the clock.
Miknis pushed the DCC lead to 11 with a pair of free throws in the opening minute of the second quarter. However, the Cardinals went scoreless over the next 5:35, allowing the Mounties to claw back into the game at 13-8.
Walker ended the DCC scoring drought on a fasbreak layup with 1:47 left in the half, but P-O’s Ryan Whitehead answered right back with a basket of his own.
The score remained 15-10 into the final seconds, but Grecco scored just before the halftime buzzer after taking a nice pass from Miknis on a strong drive to the basket. Grecco’s hoop made it 17-10 at the break. Grecco had four points and 10 rebounds on the night.
The Homecoming festivities were held at halftime. Hannah Miller was crowned Homecoming queen, while Zachary Schoeneman was named Mr. C.C.H.S.
The Cardinals fed off that excitement and quickly pushed their lead to 11 points as Jonathan Kurtz scored two baskets in the first 40 seconds of the third quarter. Kurtz and Miknis were both part of the Homecoming Court at halftime.
Central’s intitial surge was short-lived though, as P-O quickly put together a 12-3 run to get within two points at 24-22 with 2:21 left in the quarter. Whitehead hit two treys iin the spurt for the Mounties.
Philipsburg got no closer though, as a basket by Miknis and 3-pointer from the corner by Walker — his second trey of the quarter — promptly extended the DCC lead back to seven at 29-22. Whitehead scored again before the end of the quarter to make it 29-24. Whitehead led P-O with 16 points.
Central Catholic lasted little time increasing its lead in the fourth, as Miknis and Kness each hit 3-pointers to put the Cardinals up 35-26. The Mounties fought back within six at 37-31, but back-to-back fastbreak layups by Walker made it a 10-point game (41-31) with 4:23 remaining.
“Whenever we get rebounds, we can run the floor really well, and Brandon is really good in the open court,” said Varacallo. “It all started with Thomas and Justin getting a few rebounds and Brandon was able to do what he does in the open floor.”
Philipsburg scored the next four points to cut its deficit to six before the Cardinals ripped off an 11-0 run to put the game away. John Swalligan jump-started that run with a basket on a putback. Kness drained another trey during the spurt, while Miknis went 4 of 5 at the foul line.
“Anthony Kness, that was just huge stepping up and knocking down two of those threes in the fourth quarter,” said Varacallo. “We need contributions from him going forward if we’re gong to be a successful team. And even though he only had four points, I felt Thomas (Grecco) really affected the game with the way he played defense and his rebounding tonight.
“It was great for the two seniors (Grecco and Swalligan) to contribute on Homecoming. Swalligan had a big bucket there in the fourth quarter too. We got contributions from everyone, and that’s what it’s going to take for us to be a good team. And, we’re on our way.”
Cardinal Jon Schoeneman hit 1 of 2 free throws with 12 seconds remaining to set the final at 53-39.
Central Catholic is back in action next week at the DuBois Holiday Tournament.