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Functioning in first gear, Central Catholic fared well while playing a half-court game against Scott through one quarter in last night's Division I sectional final at Waite.
But when the Bulldogs found a second, third and fourth gear with its run-and-jump pressure defense, they pulled away for an easy 67-51 victory.
Trailing 13-12 after one period, Scott (17-4) forced 18 of Central's 21 total turnovers in the final three quarters and profitted by outscoring the Irish 55-38 during that span.
Scott's win sets up a district semifinal matchup with City League rival Libbey (16-6) at 6:15 Thursday night at Savage Hall.
The Bulldog turnaround began midway in the second quarter after Central (13-8) went up 21-15 on a pull-up jumper by senior guard Dan Amato (21 points) 4:43 before halftime.
The Irish would commit five turnovers during the Bulldogs' decisive 17-2 run to end the half, a surge capped by a 3-pointer at the buzzer from Darrion Griffin, who topped Scott with 17 points.
"In the first quarter we didn't do anything but play straight man-to-man and I said, 'Let's run-and-jump 'em a little bit,' use the surprise element," Scott coach Joe Suboticki said. "We did a good job of that in the second quarter and a little bit in the third. We got a couple steals there."
Scott scored the final 12 points of the first half, then opened the third quarter with buckets from Griffin and Kenny Byrd (15 points) for a 36-23 lead.
Sam Bastian was Central's only counter to Scott's dominance during the third quarter, scoring eight of the 10 points the Irish managed.
When Scott guard James Walker (15 points) scored on a fallaway jumper just before the third-quarter buzzer, the Bulldogs held a commanding 47-33 lead and Central never got within 13 thereafter.
Amato, who scored 13 of his 21 points in the final quarter while trying to bring his team back, was the focus of a Scott defense which limited the sharpshooting guard to just two points during the decisive middle quarters.
"I knew Central would be a lot better because they had Amato, so we played him tough for the most part," Suboticki said of the Irish senior who was out with an injury during the City League game between the schools. "We let up a little at the end but, all in all, we did a good job on him."
Scott was 26-of-62 from the field, 13-of-20 from the line, outrebounded the Irish 34-27 and forced 21 turnovers while committing just 10. Guard Kyle Lightner was the fourth Scott player in double figures with 11 points.
"We had to handle their pressure well to win, and when they made their run there at the end of the first half, we didn't do that," Central coach Paul Patterson said. "We had couple times where we didn't handle the basketball well, plus, in that same stretch, we missed a couple layups.
"In the second half we just couldn't battle back. We'd cut it down a little and then their pressure would get to us again. That was the thing we tried to work on because we knew they'd bring great pressure at us."
Central was 19-of-42 from the field and 10-of-11 from the line. Bastian scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
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