“The boys have put in a lot of hard work in the offseason,” said Irish second-year coach John Detling. “It has definitely paid off. It was an impressive win (for them). We had four guys in doublefigures. We knew we had the athletes and knew our bench is deep and seeing it the first game is obviously proof.”
Senior Michael Severt had 11 points and junior Noah Moore added 10 for the Cougars (0-1). Kenton Ridge struggled from the field, shooting 22.8 percent from the field (13-for-57).
“We didn’t shoot very well,” said Cougars coach Kris Spriggs. “Not shooting well and combine that with not playing very good defense, it’s not a good recipe. You’ve got to give (Central) credit. They played hard, got after it and created their own opportunities. They outplayed us.”
The traditional season-opening rivalry game is typically held the first Friday night of the season in front of a packed gymnasium. This year, the game was moved to Wednesday as Catholic Central announced earlier this month it will postpone all athletics and extracurricular activities from Thanksgiving Day until Dec. 9 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They played this year’s season opener in front of a small crowd of parents.
“In the beginning, it (felt different), but I know the kids wanted to play,” Detling said. “That was the No. 1 thing. It didn’t matter how many fans were here, they were ready for KR.”
The Irish led 18-10 after the first quarter. They opened the next quarter on a 7-2 run, forcing a Kenton Ridge timeout. The Cougars climbed back into the game after a 3-pointer by Severt and a layup by Chase Younts pulled them to within six points at 31-25 with two minutes remaining in the first half.
The Irish jumped out to a 45-30 lead midway through the third quarter and never looked back. Catholic Central hosts Greenon in its Ohio Heritage Conference South Division opener on Dec. 11.
“We were throwing eight, nine guys in,” Detling said. “If we can continue to do that, it’s going to be a great year for us … The guys are really buying into their role when they come in, even if it’s just contributing for two to three minutes.”
Defensively, the Irish held the Cougars to just 14 points in the second half.
“Everything we did to get us back in the game, we got away from,” Spriggs said. “It’s a learning process. We’ve only had two scrimmages, but I’m not making any kind of excuse. They outplayed us.”
The Cougars host Shawnee in a Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division game at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4.
“We’ll get back to the drawing board, have a good week of practice and hopefully have a good outcome next time out,” Spriggs said.