With its go-to guy gone to the bench with four fouls early in the third quarter last night at the Sullivan Center, Central Catholic cashed in on an insurance policy and took a 78-63 boys basketball victory over Sandusky.
Although Chris Commons did manage 25 points and six rebounds in about 22 minutes of playing time, the 6-7 Central senior watched his lesser-known teammates off the bench determine the game's outcome as the Irish stayed perfect at 8-0.
After Commons was whistled for foul No. 4 just 2:29 after halftime and Central up 40-33, Blue Streak guards Ryan Williams and Jason Prophet each hit 3-pointers and Central's lead was down to one point with 4:00 left in the third quarter. Sandusky (4-3) had taken the momentum.
That's when 5-10 Irish senior guard Ryne Robinson showed his court leadership, and non-starters Jordan Bonczek, Dan Amato and Matt Warner, all sophomores, and Jake Kraus, a junior, made key contributions.
“Our subs did an outstanding job,” Central coach Mike Padgett said. “I can't say enough about how they've been playing. It's nice having that depth.
“We took a bit of a gamble leaving Chris in there and we were thinking about giving him a blow when he picked up the fourth foul there. But I feel good that we can go to the bench and have guys come in and do the job.”
First Bonczek scored from down low. Then Amato hit one of his two 3-pointers, baskets that extended Central's lead to 45-39. Sandusky got no closer than four points thereafter.
Before Commons re-entered, the Irish had built a commanding 63-46 lead on Warner's nifty drive and reverse layup with 6:35 remaining. The four subs scored 13 of their 19 points after Commons' fourth foul, and also played well defensively.
Commons, who averages 21.6 points and 7.5 rebounds, was 10 for 14 from the field. For the season, he is shooting 65.5 percent (72 of 110).
“I don't feel I played good,” Commons said. “I should have eliminated my fouls. I came out in the second half and got two dumb fouls and had to go to the bench and depend on my teammates.
“But I want to depend on them, and everybody played great. Our teamwork is getting very good. We are deep. When one person goes down, we have people to pick up the slack.”
Robinson added 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting (4-of-5 on 3-pointers), and the Irish got 10 points and six boards from 6-6 senior forward Norman Mars.
“We've been in that situation before and we've been taught to play with poise and keep our composure,” Robinson said. “That's what we did. We needed a defensive stop there, something to turn the momentum around and get it flowing our way. We found a way to win.”
Sandusky last led in the game 19-18 a minute into the second quarter after a Jon Heath 3-pointer, but ultimately could not answer Central's balance and depth despite outrebounding the taller Irish 35-24.
“They showed why they're 8-0,” Sandusky coach John Schlessman said. “I think the key to the game was their bench.”
Prophet topped the Streaks with 18 points, Williams added 13, and Nate Matthews had eight points and six rebounds.
Central made 31 of 63 shots (49 percent) to Sandusky's 22 of 46 (48 percent). At the line, the Irish hit 9 of 15 to the Streaks' 7 of 17. Sandusky out rebounded Central 35-24.