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Comeback extends CC's winning streak

February 26, 2012
Lafayette Central Catholic High School

Central Catholic's boys basketball team made a few defensive adjustments at halftime of its game Friday against Rossville at McHale Gymnasium.

Nothing too complex was added, but the Knights brought a different mindset to rally for a 66-62 win, their sixth straight.

"Basically it was just all intensity," said Central Catholic senior Danny Anthrop, who finished with a game-high 24 points. "We knew we had to get after it. We came up with a couple of different matchups, but for the most part it was just going as hard as you can. We didn't have the best intensity in the first half."

Rossville used a pair of key runs to take a 36-26 lead over the Class A No. 10 Knights into halftime. The Hornets (10-10) went on a 12-0 run over the first and second quarters to take a 20-9 lead; before finishing the half on an 8-2 run.

James Baker, Austin Miller and Brandon Tonsoni combined to score 30 points in the first half, 20 of those in the second quarter when the Hornets shot 8 of 12 from the field.

"We got our shooters open and got them in a rhythm," Rossville coach Dave Mosson said. "When we move in our offense we're pretty good, and when we stand, we're not very good."

If not for Andrew Hubertz hitting four 3-pointers in the first half, the Knights could have been in a dire situation. He finished with 15 points on five 3-pointers.

"We easily could have gotten blown out," Central Catholic coach Dave Barrett said. "Nobody else was laying worth a darn offensively in the first half, but Andrew hit some shots to keep us in it."

In the second half, Central Catholic's defense took over. The Hornets went nearly six minutes without scoring, turning the ball over on eight of nine possessions during the stretch.

"It was just guys playing harder and taking the penetration away," Barrett said. "They had a lot of penetration from their point guard (Baker) and we backed off a little bit and had our bigs help contain.

"Then we didn't leave their shooters (Miller and Tonsoni) on the wing. I think we got the Miller kid a little frustrated, which when that happened it kind of snowballed from there. Give our guys credit because they were up in him."

Despite its offensive struggles, Rossville still led 44-43 after three quarters after a Tonsoni putback with 25 seconds broke the Hornets' scoreless streak.

Both teams traded baskets early in the fourth quarter, which saw six lead changes in the first two minutes.

Rossville then built a 54-49 lead with five minutes to play, only to watch Central Catholic rattle off a 12-2 run that put the Knights ahead, 61-56, with 90 seconds to play.

Miller's 3-pointer with 1:10 left pulled the Hornets to within a possession, 62-59. While Central Catholic made just 5 of 10 from the free throw line in the final minute, Rossville couldn't hit enough shots to rally and lost to the Knights for the ninth consecutive time.

"To their credit they came back," Mosson said of his team. "They could have folded the tents, and earlier in the year, we probably would have, so I was really proud of the effort. I thought we competed and played hard for the entire 32 minutes the best we have all year."

Anthrop finished with 24 points on 8 of 13 shooting, most coming off drives to the baskets which either led to field goals or free throw opportunities. He had 16 points in the second half.

"That's just his game" Barrett said. "We can't just settle for jump shots all the time, and I thought we did that in the first half, all of our guys. We knew we had to start attacking the basket."

Barrett said his team struggled running a motion offense, which led to a style change.

"We're not getting guys open period," Barrett said. "We're not setting screens, we're kind of slow in crossing each other, really not getting anything accomplished.

"We went to some set plays with Danny attacking the basket and tried something different."

Central Catholic junior guard Jake Churchill scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half. Tonsoni finished with 20 to lead Rossville, while Miller had 15 and Baker 14.

Rossville sophomore E.T. Brenneman, who finished with five points and 11 rebounds, suffered what Mosson guessed was a concussion after hitting his lower back and the back of his head on a drive to the basket in the fourth quarter. He didn't return, but sat on the bench for the remainder of the game before going to a hospital for evaluation afterwards.

Central Catholic (12-8) and Rossville could meet again in Sectional 54 in a few weeks. The teams have met in the postseason four of the past five years.

"(During the postgame hand shake) we almost said in unison we'll see each other in a couple of weeks," Mosson said.

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