New Catholic Central coach debuts with win

New Catholic Central coach Cody Sarensen had been told by numerous people how raucous the crowd gets at Jason Collier Gymnasium, but he was still awed by the atmosphere of a packed house in his first game Friday night against Kenton Ridge.

But what awed Sarensen even more was the play of his team in the season opener.

It took the Irish several minutes to get going, but once they started running with a fast pace and quit turning the ball over, Kenton Ridge struggled to keep up and Catholic Central pulled away in the second half for a 50-39 win.

“They told me how loud it gets and exciting it gets, and it was and I loved every second of it,” Sarensen said. “… We waited until we got good looks tonight to shoot and we didn’t turn the ball over. They always say those with the fewest mistakes always come out on the winning end, so we definitely did a good job at that tonight.”

Central led 29-25 midway through the third quarter but finished on a 7-0 run after a free throw and a few baskets in the paint. The Cougars sputtered through the final 12 minutes as they couldn’t beat Central down the court and struggled to get rebounds.

Central dominated the early part of the fourth quarter to prevent any chance Kenton Ridge had at a comeback.

“We had some defensive breakdowns,” Kenton Ridge coach Kris Spriggs said. “They were able to get in the lane and take a shot, and then a guy had to come cover and help. Whoever’s man helped, their guy had a free reign at the boards. We gave up more offensive rebounds in the first quarter than we gave up the whole first half.”

Catholic Central outrebounded Kenton Ridge unofficially 28-21. Both teams had eight turnovers, but Central had three of its turnovers in the final two minutes after the result was sealed.

Thomas Kavanagh, a senior guard, led Catholic Central with 21 points. Cameron Kettler and Jameel Cosby led the Cougars with 10 points each.

Kenton Ridge jumped out to a 6-2 lead early in the first quarter, but Central finished the first on a 13-6 run that was capped by a 3-pointer from Kavanagh with two seconds left.

The Irish then scored the first five points of the second to take a 20-12 lead. Kenton Ridge finished the second on an 8-4 run to cut Central’s halftime lead to 24-20.

Catholic Central plays again Saturday night at Yellow Springs. Kenton Ridge plays Tuesday at home against West Liberty-Salem.

Catholic Central honored former basketball coach and athletic director Russ Guenther before Friday’s game. Guenther also coached football and baseball at Central before serving as athletic director from 1975 to 2000, during which time the basketball team made the state final four five times.

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