Four games into the season, Central Catholic basketball coach Jim Welling thinks his Irish are still a bit rusty because of the late start they got after the football team won a state championship.
If that is truly the case, future opponents should take warning.
The Irish had four players score in double figures while pushing their record to 4-0 Thursday night with a convincing 75-45 nonleague home victory over visiting Bowling Green.
“We’re still getting the rust off,” Welling said. “We’re not where we need to be to play up against the big boys.”
Keith Towbridge, one of the key members of the football team, led Central with 16 points, and grabbed six rebounds.
C.J. Bussey had 13 points, Deontae Cole added 12, and sub D.J. Moody tallied 10 as the Irish shot 53 percent (34-of-64) from the field.
“Our bench did a good job tonight, and the starters did a great job,” Towbridge said. “We moved the ball through their zone. They went man [defense] after halftime, and we just moved it and got it to the right man. That’s why we got a 30-point win.”
Nine different players scored for Central, which wasn’t able to begin season until Dec. 14 after the football squad won its Division II championship on Nov. 30.
“They really share the ball,” Welling said of his team. “They’re really an unselfish group of basketball players, and it’s fun to watch sometimes.
“That extra pass and, all of a sudden, we’ve got a layup or a wide-open look at a 3-pointer. It’s a good group.”
If Bowling Green (3-4) had a chance to stay competitive in this game, that chance was greatly diminished while its Wisconsin-bound 6-foot-8 standout, senior Vitto Brown, was off the court.
Bobcats coach Von Graffin benched Brown for the first quarter after the player missed all but 15 minutes of a recent practice session.
“Your best player has to be your most reliable as well,” Graffin said. “We only go seven or eight guys [deep], so that makes a difference. We have to create more depth.”
Brown’s absence was magnified when, two minutes into the second quarter, he picked up his second foul and sat for another four and a half minutes.
Brown eventually got rolling, scoring 16 points and grabbing seven rebounds, but the damage was already done.
Central, which led 17-11 after one quarter, broke things open with a 17-7 run late in the second quarter, a spurt that yielded a commanding 42-23 halftime lead.
“I think our depth started to wear on them a little bit, and they were getting a little fatigued,” Welling said of BG during his team’s 17-7 surge. “We made a nice little run during that stretch there.
“That’s kind of the trademark of how we play. We’re going to play you hard and aggressive and, hopefully, we can fatigue you enough to where we can get those runs.”
BG trailed 56-37 after three periods, but seemingly ran out of gas in the fourth, when the Irish closed with a 19-6 quarter.
“Bussey hit some shots we weren’t expecting him to hit, and they all shot it decent,” Graffin said of Central’s late first-half surge. “Then, when we stopped the perimeter stuff, they were able to find each other [for other shots]. They did a nice job with the ball.”
Andrew Herringshaw had 12 points and sophomore point guard LaMonta Stone added seven for BG, which shot 43 percent (19 of 43) from the floor.
The Irish topped BG 32-24 in rebounding, and forced 14 Bobcat turnovers while committing only six in the game. Cole led the Irish with seven rebounds, and 6-4 senior guard DeShone Kizer added seven points and five rebounds.
“I credit their balance,” Graffin said. “They got some things going, and they were able to keep subbing and keep the pressure on us. Also, their length made it difficult for us to get into our offense."
Contact Steve Junga at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 419-724-6461 or on Twitter@JungaBlade.