McMECHEN - St. John Central veteran head coach Bubba Kapral came way from his team's girls' basketball game with Bishop Donahue impressed.
Not only with his team, which just won its 12th game, but also with the one that just dropped its 11th.
''They've improved tremendously,'' Kapral said of the Bishops. ''The first time we played Bishop Donahue, we had our way with them. But, Coach (Donnie) Gillis and his staff have improved a lot, so I give them credit.
''I'm surprised with Bishop Doanhue.''
The Bishops battled long and hard, but eventually grew tired giving up a 13-4 run to end the third quarter as the Fighting Irish went on to claim a 63-46 victory at Father Raymond Jablonski Memorial Gymnasium on Thursday night.
''The second half I just think we wore them out,'' Kapral said. ''I saw them after the game and I knew they were tired. (Jessica) Alvey and (Kaydie) Coppa, they bring the pressure and that's what we want to do. (Marissa) Rose led us in points, but it's usually our senior, (Kristen) Russell, who does it, but that just shows that we can share the wealth. It was a nice win.''
The Fighting Irish (12-6) looked like they may have been on their way to another blowout with a 7-2 run in the second quarter, courtesy of Rose, who hit three buckets in that span, to make the score 28-17. But that's when the Bishops (3-11) caught lighting in a bottle with a 8-3 spurt that sent the team to the locker room only down five at 29-24.
The Bishops got within four midway through the third with back-to-back buckets by Ekaterina Polinski that made it a 35-31 contest, but that's when the visitors slammed the door, highlighted once again by Rose, who put in a layup, raced down the other end of the court to come away with a steal which led to another basket for the freshman.
Rose, one of three freshmen starters for the Fighting Irish, led the team with a game-high 23 points, two shy of her career high.
Russell also ended her night in double figures for St. John with 19 points.
As for the Bishops, Gillis points to late defensive misques which led to the teams eventual demise.
''We weren't getting to the tape line,'' he said. ''They were driving on us to the baseline, taking easy shots because our weakside help wasn't stepping over and doing their job. They're told they have to get to the tape line, step over if someone gets beat, but they weren't doing it. St. John just made their shots.
''Plus they kind of picked up our defense a little bit too, and we just couldn't make a bucket.''
A theme that has been heard all too well by the team that shoots 20 percent from the floor and gives up the ball 21 times per contest.
''I thought we played very hard. At St. John, Bubba does a helluva of a job. Last time they played us the beat us by 29 points.''
Kelsey Schau, who didn't play in the first meeting because of a sprained ankle, led the Bishops with 15 points and had the only 3-pointer in the contest.
Polinski added 12 points, while Ali Bauer chipped in 10.
At Barnesville, Jamie Carpenter's Lady Shamrocks mounted a 38-21 halftime lead over Caldwell and went on to record their sixth victory in 17 starts.
Paige Huntsman hooped a team-leading 14 points to pace a balanced Barnesville attack. Miranda Plumly provided 13-point support as did freshman Shaela Markovich. The winners' Marissa Burga recorded five steals and dished out three assists.
Lexie Schell led Caldwell with 14 points with teammate Madison Burris netting 10 counters.
Barnesville has a scheduled Saturday afternoon (4:00) tipoff at St. Clairsville.
Indian Creek 65, Harrison Central 35
At Wintersville, oh what a difference a Bre makes!
When the girls basketball teams representing Indian Creek and Harrison Central collided earlier this season, Creek's 6-5 sophomore Bre Berryman was on the bench, recovering from an injury. The result-a 59-55 victory for the Huskies.
Berryman was back for Thursday's clash and played a huge role in reversing the outcome.
Berryman recorded a double-double (20 points and 13 rebounds) and keyed a second quarter surge as the Redskins rolled to a 65-35 Buckeye 8 triumph.
With the win, Erin DeSantis' club moves to 12-5 on the season and remains firmly in the hunt for a league title. Harrison Central, meanwhile, falls to 8-10.
Freshman Bethany Davis has a career night for the winners, scoring 17 and dishing out four assists. She was extremely efficient from the floor, knocking down seven of her nine attempts.
Ten of Berryman's game-high 20 points came during the second frame. Creek held a 29-15 advantage at the intermission.
"I think tonight was more about us than it was about them," Harrison Central's Nick Yourkovich said. "They are a good team but we came out with a complete lack of enthusiasm. When we don't play with enthusiasm, we are not very good and it doesn't matter who we are playing."
The Huskies did show some life in the third frame, running off seven straight points to climb within nine at 31-22. Post player Katie Ellzy sparked the run with four markers. Creek, thanks to eight points from Berryman and four from Brooke Mains, outscored the visitors 16-4 from there and led by 21 (47-26) heading into the final stanza.
Like Berryman, Kamarec also recorded a double-double for the winners. She scored 12 points and collected 11 rebounds. As a team, Creek grabbed 40 missed shots. Berryman also swatted away six Huskie field goal attempts.
Ellzy led Harrison Central with nine. Compher and Orr combined for 12. The Huskies had 26 rebounds (Compher grabbing five) and were just 14 for 65 from the floor.