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Irish scorch nets in victory over Rams


Central Catholic's Tony Mays puts down a high-percentage shot after getting by Rogers' Devonte Pratt last night. The Irish shot a sizzling 80 percent to advance. <br> <img src=> <font color=red><b>PHOTO GALLERY</b></font>: <a href=" /apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=TO&Dato=20100312&Kategori=SPORTS12&Lopenr=312009999&Ref=PH"_blank"> <b> Boys basketball, Central Catholic vs. Rogers: </b></a> March 12, 2010

The Blade/Andy Morrison
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As basketball coaches are basically wired to do, Central Catholic's Jim Welling found some things to complain about Thursday night after his team's 65-48 win over Rogers in the Division I district semifinals at Savage Arena.

Case in point: the Irish committed 18 turnovers and hit only 50 percent (14 of 28) of their free throws.

But even Welling couldn't hold back a sly grin while absorbing the fact that his 20-2 City League championship team had just dismantled the Rams (14-7) with 80 percent shooting from the field.

Yes, 80 percent - on 24-of-30 - for the game after hitting a sizzling 14-of-15 in the first half to grab a commanding 36-25 lead.

"In the least few weeks, we've had 15 or less turnovers every single game," Welling said. "That didn't happen tonight, and that's a tribute to Rogers too. "But I'm a firm believer that you've got to keep the throttle down all the time."

Junior guard Drew Lehman led Central's balanced scoring with 17 points, and senior Nate Hobbs and sophomore Tony Mays added 15 apiece as the Irish advanced to tomorrow's 7 p.m. districtchampionship game against St. John's Jesuit (17-4).

"If I was a fan I wouldn't want to miss it," Welling said. "It's going to be a good basketball game. We've got 24 hours to get our guys ready, and Ed [St. John's coach Heintschel] will have some time to get his guys ready. It'll be a great game for people to come out and see."

The Irish recorded a perfect 9-for-9 first quarter from the field to open a 22-15 lead and expanded it to 11 points by halftime.

"It feels really good," Lehman said. "Last year we dropped an egg in the [Division II] sectionals, so it feels good to get to the district championship. Hopefully we can get a win and move on to the regional.

"We were getting a lot of high-percentage shots, and that's what you're going to get [high percentage] when you have those. We were just running our stuff. We know what works, and when we run it well, we get good shots."

When Mays came up with a steal and turned it into a dunk in transition, Central enjoyed a 44-27 advantage 1:31 into the third quarter.

The rest - despite Central's turnover and free throw troubles - was academic, as Rogers got no closer than 13 points from there.

"We didn't play our game," Rogers coach Earl Morris said. "We've got selfish people, and selfishness will cost you the ballgame. We told 'em to go inside and all of a sudden we want to shoot jump shots and we don't want to guard anybody. That's the way it was.

"Central played well. They did what they had to do to win the game. We did everything we were not supposed to do. Congratulations to them, and we'll just get ready for next year."

Senior forward Quincy Caldwell topped the Rams with 13 points and nine rebounds, and junior guard Damond Powell added 11 points for Rogers, which lost a heartbreaker 69-68 at home to Central in their CL finale, a defeat that had kept the Rams out of the league playoffs.

Central outrebounded Rogers 25-18 and forced 14 turnovers. The Rams were 18-of-47 from the field and 8-of-10 from the line.

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