In Catholic Central’s sectional final victory against Legacy Christian, senior Jacob Woeber’s rebound and junior Trey Dunn’s buzzer-beating three-pointer forced overtime and saved the season.
In the district final against Ripley, junior Sabien Doolittle was two rebounds shy of a double-double (21 points, eight rebounds) and junior Mykah Eichie scored five consecutive points during a key fourth-quarter stretch.
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Who will step up in Catholic Central’s regional semifinal game against Marion Local on Tuesday? Even Catholic Central coach Cody Sarensen can’t answer that. He just knows it keeps happening.
“When we need stops or we need scores – we may not know who exactly is going to do it – but one way or another our team finds way to make big plays,” Sarensen said.
Catholic Central (23-3) plays Marion Local (21-4) in the Division IV regional semifinals 5:30 p.m. at Kettering High School’s Trent Arena. The winner returns for the regional final 7 p.m. Friday against the winner of Russia (16-8) and Fort Loramie (24-2).
“We had a nice run a year ago with a younger group,” Marion coach Kurt Goettemoeller said. “We had five starters back from a regional final team last year in Division III, so we had a lot of expectations this year.”
The Flyers are led by 6-foot-2 senior Tyler Mescher, a 1,000-point scorer, and 6-6 junior Nathan Bruns. The Flyers won the Midwest Athletic Conference that’s known for its physical play. Goettemoeller said he sees the same qualities in the Irish, especially on defense.
“They’re strong. They’re physical. We’re going to have to find ways to score around that defense,” Goettemoeller said. “I think they play pretty physical and I’ve been impressed with that.
“Their quickness is a chief concern of ours. They have the ability to get in the guts of your defense pretty quickly and wreak some havoc. We need to be able to contain their dribble penetration. They’re probably one of the quicker teams we’ve seen on the perimeter this year.”
Catholic Central has been tough inside with senior Dominic DeWitt, junior Peyton Harris, Woeber and Doolittle. Senior Trey Brown and Dunn have applied pressure on opposing guards.
“Woeber is our clean-up man,” Doolittle said of Woeber, whose 10 rebounds helped Central out-rebound Ripley 41-23 for the district title. “We can count on him to clean up the glass and it was really a team effort.”
Catholic Central reached the regional tournament with victories over Cedarville (60-42), Newton (68-37), Legacy Christian (42-40 in overtime) and Ripley (56-45).
Marion advanced with wins over Temple Christian (63-33), New Bremen (61-31) and St. Henry (39-38 in overtime).
“They’ve got a lot of good kids, but Doolittle is probably their main guy. We’re going to have to rotate bodies on him,” Goettemoeller said. “Hopefully he doesn’t get us in foul trouble with his ability. We need to keep Dunn out of the lane, because he’s good at getting in there.”
This is Catholic Central’s first regional appearance since the 1997 team reached the state semifinals. Marion Local makes its fourth regional appearance in the past five seasons, the last two in D-III. The Flyers lost in the regional finals in 2014, 2015 and 2017.
“Before we stepped on the court (for the district championship) coach said it’s been 21 years. Let’s go make history. And that’s what we did,” Dunn said. “It feels great knowing all the hard work we put in finally paid off. Now we have medals around our necks.”
And they’re looking for more.