BLOOMINGTON — Patrick Rahuba and his Central Catholic High School basketball teammates had no intention of basking in an emphatic victory Tuesday.
"We got through the first step and that was a huge win, but you can't get too high and glory just on that," said Rahuba, one of seven Saints to score at least 10 points in a dominant 103-40 victory over Maroa-Forsyth in the first semifinal of the Class 2A Central Catholic Regional at Cvengros Gym.
Austyn Ellison and Eli Davis led the onslaught as top-seeded, No. 8-ranked Central improved to 21-6. The Saints will face Heyworth (16-10) in Friday's 7 p.m. championship.
"At the end of the day, this game is gone. It's over," said Central coach Jason Welch. "You've got to turn the page quickly to the next opponent and you've got to be ready to go."
Seventh-seeded Heyworth posted a 78-52 win over Tri-Valley (12-15) in the second semifinal behind 24 points from Tate Eller and 21 from Jeremy Witten.
"We got some big baskets and we took care of the ball, which was key, and we hit some big shots," said Heyworth coach Tom Eller.
The Saints totaled 21 steals and 17 assists on 44 field goals, connecting on 37 of 47 tries from inside the 3-point line. Ellison filled his stat sheet with six dishes and five pickoffs.
"We just came locked in from the get-go and played as a team as we've been doing all year," said Ellison. "I think our guys were ready for the challenge and we all stepped up."
Luke Yoder contributed 12 points and was followed by James Morris and Cole Davis with 11 each and Rahuba and Tommy Nelson with 10 apiece. Of the seven Saints in double figures, Davis was the only one who played after Central took an 86-30 lead into the fourth quarter.
"We're still getting better as a team. We've still got to push each other in practice," said Yoder. "This win does build our confidence; it's a good regional win. Now we've got to focus on the next team."
Daanish Mahmood and Aaron Agee each had nine points to lead Maroa (7-20), which committed 27 turnovers and shot 7 of 26 from 3-point range.
Ellison scored 12 points in the first half as Central built a 52-18 lead, closing a 29-point second quarter on an 18-0 run. The blitz continued with a 34-point third period, with Welch sending in his reserves for the final six seconds.
Central broke the century mark on Davis' steal and layup with 3:14 to play.
"During the third quarter, we were like 'we've got to get to 100,' " said Yoder. "When he hit that, we went crazy."
After Witten made four of his five 3s in his 14-point first half, Tate Eller took control with a 17-point second half.
"Early on, we were hitting some outside shots. Jeremy had a lot of confidence, which was great to see," said Coach Eller, whose team led 34-20 at the midway point. "They were doubling down on Tate and he was doing a great job of finding open guys on the perimeter.
"What we talked about at halftime was 'we've established the outside game, now it's time to establish the inside game' and we did a good job."
Despite sitting out several minutes in the second quarter after suffering an injury, Clayton Leipold had 14 to lead a cold-shooting Tri-Valley squad.
"It's a hard game when the ball doesn't go through the hoop," said Vikings coach Jon Nelson, whose team made three treys — all by Leipold — to Heyworth's 13. "Unfortunately, that's hit us the last couple weeks and it's a bad time of year for that to happen."
Tri-Valley pulled within 44-36 on a Leipold 3-pointer in the waning minutes of the third quarter. But the Hornets countered with 3s by Witten and Tazden Eller, followed by a Matt Schultz jumper to take a 16-point lead into the fourth period.
"It was good to see that we didn't waver and we still stuck with finding the open guy and putting the ball in the air," said Tom Eller. "When the ball goes in the hole, it makes you look pretty good."