Staffieri sparks Central

By on December 17, 2014
Manheim Central point guard Tony Staffieri, who finished with a game-high 15 points in Tuesday night’s win over Lancaster Catholic, converts on a fastbreak layup in the second half. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Manheim Central point guard Tony Staffieri, who finished with a game-high 15 points in Tuesday night’s win over Lancaster Catholic, converts on a fastbreak layup in the second half. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Manheim Central senior Tony Staffieri probably didn’t get a full night’s rest on Sunday.

Not after watching first hand as his Dallas Cowboys knocked off the Eagles in Philadelphia.

But you couldn’t have told by his play in a key Section Three-Four crossover game that the Barons played against Lancaster Catholic on Monday night.

Central’s senior point guard finished with a season-high 15 points, a couple of steals and was generally a thorn in the side of the Crusaders.

“It was a great win for the Cowboys, so I was feeling like a win tonight,” Staffieri smiled.

Mission accomplished.

Sparked by a dominant third quarter, in which they outscored Lancaster Catholic 24-8, the Barons improved to 2-0 in Section Three (5-1 overall) with a 64-44 victory in Manheim.

Back-to-back ‘threes’ by Staffieri sparked the MC boys on a 20-1 run, as they broke open a seven-point lead and comfortably grabbed the driver’s seat with a 53-27 advantage when Ryan Carlino dropped in a deuce in the final minute of the third. Staffieri also added a steal and fastbreak layup in that push, along with a baseline drive.

“I think in the second half, we just stepped up the intensity a little bit,” Staffieri said. “We got the ball moving well and I just happened to hit two open shots and got us rolling a little bit.”

“Tony really played well,” Barons’ coach Chris Sherwood said. “Sometimes I don’t think Tony believes how good he really is. But he made some big-time plays for us tonight. He was special. I’m really happy for him.”

Certainly, Staffieri had a lot of help from his teammates in this game. Matt Walsh and Dan Wiederrecht chipped in with 15 and 10 points, respectively, and Central’s pressure defense, length and physicality wore down a young Crusader squad.

Although Lancaster Catholic committed just nine turnovers in the game, the Barons accomplished their goal of getting the Crusaders uncomfortable.

Senior Joe Zukus, who was averaging 13.5 ppg and scored a game-high 25 in Catholic’s win over L-S last Friday, was held to just seven. Senior Grant Conway led the Crusaders with 14 points.

“One of our concerns was making sure (our players) recognize they have great length,” Lancaster Catholic coach Joe Klazas said. “Not only can they be physical on the ball with the length they have, it’s very intimidating. At least in Section play, that’s not something we’re going to see on a regular basis.”

“Really we are trying to speed people up and try to make them a little bit uncomfortable with what we’re doing,” Sherwood said, “and when we’re able to do that, we’re able to go on pretty quick runs.”

Actually, the Barons had a quick run right out of the shoot. Walsh, Staffieri, Taylor Funk and Tanner Brenize combined for four of Central’s nine ‘threes’ in the opening quarter, when the Barons jumped to an early 21-10 advantage.

“It equaled out because we were terrible from the line,” Sherwood said. “We knocked down some ‘threes,’ but we missed our foul shots.”

Those missed foul shots were looking costly when Conway’s runner in the lane cut the Crusaders’ deficit to 24-17 with 5:12 left in the half. Then when the Lancaster Catholic senior dropped in a layup, they remained within eight at the half, 29-21.

It got a little bit closer early in the third, as junior Thomas Gonzales grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a putback, cutting the Barons’ lead to 29-23 with 7:45 to go in the quarter.

After Wiederrecht answered with a putback of his own and a layup, Gonzales converted a three-point play to make it 33-26 with 5:28 left in the third.

That’s when Staffieri hit back-to-back shots from beyond the arc and the Barons were off and running. With the likes of Brenize and seniors Colin Brubaker and Ryan Carlino coming off the bench to dive for loose balls and grab rebounds, the Central boys got a lot of second-chance shots and held an 11-6 rebounding advantage in the third.

It was dirty work at its finest.

“They’re awesome, aren’t they?,” Sherwood said. “Colin, Tanner and Ryan get their hands on so many balls that end up giving us extra possessions. They are special kids. To really relish in that role, I can’t say enough good things about those guys. If you guys ever want to talk about them, I’ll talk for hours about those three guys.”

“We love those guys,” Staffieri said. “We would not be nearly as good as we are without them.”

Trailing 53-29 at the end of the third quarter, the Crusaders never got closer than 20 points down the stretch, that when Noah Thomas scored on a putback with :04 remaining.

For the Barons, it was just another night at the office for a senior-laden group.

“We continue to tell them, ‘Don’t take anything for granted,’” Sherwood said. “Wins are hard. These guys work really hard, they work hard in the off-season and this is it for our seniors. We have seniors and I think they’re ready to play every night. We have to get better, but they’re ready to go.”

Last Friday, Funk finished with 19 points and Staffieri added 10, leading the Barons to a 69-42 Section Three-Four crossover pummeling of Lancaster Mennonite in their league opener.

Central grabbed control by taking a 30-13 lead at the half and never looked back.

The Barons were also on the floor last Wednesday, Dec. 10 in a non-league clash against Garden Spot, when they overcame a sluggish start to defeat the Spartans 51-36 in Manheim.

Central trailed 10-4 at the end of the first quarter, but righted the ship to claim a 20-19 edge at the half. They extended their lead to double digits with a 17-6 run in the third.

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