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SHARPSVILLE — Tri-Central’s boys basketball team allowed Cowan the lead once on Friday evening with the first score of the game before blitzing the Blackhawks for the Trojans’ second win of the season, 61-34.

Tri-Central coach Bill Bowen took pride in his team’s ability to set the tone from the start on Friday night.

“This is over three or four years we’ve spent a lot of time developing the mindset and not getting knocked out in the first quarter,” Bowen said. “The best way to do that is to be pretty aggressive on both ends of the floor. … They beat us handily in sectionals last year and I think that just made us get off to a good start.”

The Trojans (2-1) started hot in the opening quarter when they put together a 6-0 run by Caden Leininger, Jace Cassity and Jake Chapman.

The Trojans’ defense set the tone of the game, forcing Cowan into turnovers leading into transition buckets while the middle remained open for TC throughout the quarter, spurring them to a 20-5 lead.

A Tri-Central 10-point run ended the first with Cassity converting on score along with the foul while Leininger had a 3-pointer followed by a fast-break layup to end the quarter.

For Bowen, adjustments on both ends of the floor were key for his team’s outcome.

“A good team adjusts. Adjusts to the defensive changes, personnel on the floor. That’s just what a quality team has to do. Their switching defenses stymied us in the second quarter but we threw two different looks at them and then the adjustment we made in the third quarter was huge,” he said.

Cowan’s 2-3 zone showed no signs of slowing the Trojans down in the second half as Leininger and Landon Grant hit back to back 3s to end the quarter.

The Blackhawks’ zone couldn’t find an answer for Leininger who converted on five 3s in the Trojans’ 27-point win.

Defensively, Tri-Central shut the door on any Cowan comeback when the Trojans outscored the opposition 18-3 in the fourth quarter.

Leininger finished the night as the game’s leading scorer with 24 points, including nine of the team’s 20 first quarter points. Chapman chipped in with 16 points while Jace Cassity ended the game with 10 points.

Notching their second win in a row, Bowen feels the perseverance the Trojans have displayed in the beginning stages of the season bodes well for more good things to come.

“We persevered,” Bowen said. “We shot the ball really well last Saturday and that was a big win over a 2A team, Rochester. We just had a pretty good week of preparation. We still are hampered with injuries and sickness and we persevered through that and it just shows we’re a quality team and a better team.

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