BOWLING GREEN -- In the first half of its basketball game against Bowling Green Friday night, Central Catholic looked like world beaters.
By late in the third quarter, however, the Irish and coach Jim Welling were wondering what in the world happened to their 17-point lead.
But Central (6-1) managed to regroup in time to stave off the Bobcats' furious rally, then held on down the stretch for a 54-45 victory in a game played at Bowling Green State University's Stroh Center.
PHOTO GALLERY: Central Catholic vs. Bowling Green
Danielle Turner topped the Irish with 15 points, none bigger than his six-foot, pull-up jumper to break Central's drought of 6:04 without a point in the third quarter.
During that span, Bowling Green (4-5) used a 15-0 run to melt a 29-12 Irish halftime lead down to just two points.
"You drive programs to do things the right way at both ends of the floor," Welling said, "and following [Thursday's 48-36 win over Elida], all of a sudden you're looking at this team [in this game] and thinking, 'They finally got it. This is a joy to watch.'
"Defense created some offensive opportunities, our offense was running well, and we got [BG] frustrated because we were taking some things away. But if you don't keep the throttle down, kids will go back to exactly what they know, which is soft, undisciplined, and not very knowledgeable. They think they can cruise."
Central guard Cliff Bussey had 11 points, and forward Keith Towbridge added six points and nine rebounds while helping limit BG's 6-foot-7 junior standout Vitto Brown to just nine points.
One night earlier Brown, who grabbed 12 rebounds in this game, registered his fourth 30-point game of the season with 32 against Cleveland John Hay at the Blade Classic at the Huntington Center.
Nolan Dill, who topped BG with 10 points, delivered eight of those during the Bobcats big third-quarter rally. Andrew Herringshaw and Evan Gardner added eight points apiece for the Bobcats.
The Irish put the defensive clamps on BG from the outset, holding the Bobcats to 2-for-9 shooting in each of the first two quarters while building the 29-12 halftime lead.
Meanwhile, Central complemented its own tight defensive play with patience on offense, which led to a 13-of-23 effort from the field over the first 16 minutes.
Trailing 5-2 after BG's Tyler Dunn netted a 3-pointer 1:24 into the game, the Irish closed that period with a 12-1 portion of a larger 19-3 surge.
Bussey capped that decisive run with a steal-and-layup for a 23-8 Central lead 4:21 before halftime.
"They got physical with us, and we didn't respond very well to that," BG coach Von Graffin said of his team's first-half woes. "In the third quarter we did what we were coached to do and had a real nice quarter.
"Central didn't score until 1:56 left in the third quarter. If we play like that, we can beat some people. But we can't let people get leads on us and have to battle back."
BG's third-quarter surge started with a Gardner 3-pointer and was capped by Brown's six-footer with 2:40 left in the period.
After Turner's drought-breaker, Dexter Johnson hit a 3-pointer 26 seconds later to give Central some breathing room at 34-27.
"Danielle Turner hit a huge shot that kind of broke the ice, and [BG] was starting to get a little fatigued," Welling said. "Then we get a turnover and a rebound, and we're back in the flow."
Entering the final period, Central had pushed its edge back to 39-31, then led by as many as 12 points on three occasions over the last six minutes.
Central was 20-of-40 (50 percent) from the field, 9-of-14 from the line, and committed nine turnovers while forcing 10.
Bowling Green was 17-of-45 (39 percent) from the field, 5-of-10 from the line, and matched Central's 27 rebounds.
Contact Steve Junga at: email@example.com 419-724-6461, or on Twitter @JungaBlade.