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Churchill's 23 points help Knights top Bison at J&C Hoops Classic

November 30, 2012
Lafayette Central Catholic High School

Senior guard Jake Churchill scored 23 points to help Central Catholic advance to the J&C Hoops Classic fifth-place game with a 57-42 victory over Benton Central at the Crawley Center last night.

Central Catholic, still missing five varsity players off of its Class A state championship football team, will have its full allotment of players when it takes the court at 4 p.m. Saturday. Benton Central will play in Dennis Blind Gymnasium in the seventh-place game, also at 4 p.m.

Churchill provided the punch the Knights needed to finally pull away from Benton Central in the second half. The Bison’s Brandon Rooze knocked down a long 3-point shot just before halftime to cut Central Catholic’s double-digit lead to 26-19.

Jacob Turner’s 3-pointer with 4:56 in the third quarter trimmed the Knights’ advantage to 30-24, but Benton Central couldn’t convert its next two possessions into points. Churchill delivered an early dagger, connecting on a 3-point shot at the 4:10 mark. A short jumper 30 seconds later give the Knights a 35-24 cushion.

“That was pivotal,” Central Catholic coach Dave Barrett said. “Jake’s a three-year starter, and those are the guys you count on to make those plays in that situation. Tonight he came through for us. He’s been around a lot and done it for us. He’s going to do it a bunch more for us this year.”

Central Catholic was able to stretch its lead to 50-34 after two Nick Thompson free throws with 3:45 left to play in the game. Churchill made the most out of his free throw appearances, making 11 of 12 attempts.

“He actually found his stroke at the line,” Barrett said. “He got his confidence going again from there. Making free throws will be a key to us winning this year.”

Churchill said it was a matter of shooting his way out of his slump. He was 1-10 from the 3-point line Monday in an opening-round loss to West Lafayette. He opened the game 0-9 from the field in the first half before turning it around to make 5 of 8 in the second half.

“It felt good to finally hit some field goals,” Churchill said. “For a while I thought I may never hit one, but my teammates did a great job of getting me open. I knew I couldn’t be afraid to shoot, but my teammates set some good screens and kept giving me good looks.”

It was an opportunity lost for Benton Central, who could get it into single digits on three other occasions but never within two possessions. The Bison struggled from the start, turning the ball over five straight times to open the game.

Benton Central didn’t get a shot off until Tyler Souligne’s steal and dunk with 5:18 left in the first quarter. Central Catholic led by as many as 13 points in the second quarter before the Bison started to chip away.

“At the beginning of the game, they just flat out took it to us,” said Rooze, who led the Bison with 18 points. “They were more ready than we were and wanted it more than we did, myself included. It’s a credit to them. We came out in the second half and started playing harder, but they are a good team and they played good team basketball throughout the game.”

Barrett credited help side defense on Rooze in forcing Benton Central to go to other players for points. The Bison couldn’t get anything going consistently, shooting 28 percent from the field (14 for 50).

“We knew Rooze was going to bring it up, so we put Cowan Olinger on him,” Barrett said. “He was bigger than our other guards, so I thought he could still put pressure on him and still be able to contain him. He still hit a couple of jumpers on some good spin moves. He made good plays, and he’s getting better and better.”

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