“Emmanuel is so tough,” Irish coach Cody Sarensen said. “We were fortunate enough to be hitting from everywhere tonight, which we’ve kind of been missing these last few games. The home crowd helped out tonight. It was a big win for us.”
Catholic Central’s Trey Dunn had a team-high 17 points and six assists, while Sabien Doolittle scored 14 points, Peyton Harris had 13 and Mykah Eichie added 11 for the D-IV eighth-ranked Irish (13-2).
Adonis Davis scored a game-high 21 points for the Lions (11-4), while Fred Shropshire added 17 points.
The Lions hoped to play zone defense early in the game, but eventually switched to man-to-man as the Irish hit shots from the outside. Dunn hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Irish a 16-15 lead after the first quarter.
“They hit shots,” said Emmanuel Christian coach Danny Moore. “They’re talented. Getting the right man matchups and trying to come out of their screen actions is hard. They executed. Their defense was good and affected our shots.”
The Lions trailed by six points at 24-18 midway through the second quarter, but the Irish went on a 12-4 run to extend its lead to 14 at the half. The run was capped by a long 3-pointer at the buzzer by Central’s Jayden Borden. The Irish outscored Emmanuel 20-7 in the second quarter.
“Any time you go into the locker room down 14 points and you feel like your efforts been pretty good, it’s like ‘Where do we go?’,” Moore said.
Borden had seven points for the Irish, but none were bigger than the 3-pointer right before the half. The shot gave the Irish all the momentum at the break, Sarensen said.
“I’m really proud of the way he’s playing, coming in here and picking up on things,” Sarensen said. “He’s been a great addition to the team.”
The Irish led by as many as 18 points in the second half. The Lions fought to get back into the game, but couldn’t pull any closer than 10 points.
The Lions face another big game against Xenia Legacy Christian on Friday night in Springfield.
“We’ve got some things we need to fix that will make a mountain’s difference,” Moore said. “The little things sometimes create those big mountains.”
The Irish host Greeneview on Friday before traveling to Triad on Saturday night.
After the game, both coaches agreed it might not be the last time the two Springfield private schools meet this season. Both will play in the Division IV sectional at Troy in the upcoming postseason.
“They’re a great team,” Sarensen said. “It just happened to be our night tonight.”