FAIRBURY — In one half Tuesday, a hot-shooting Central Catholic High School basketball team barely allowed more points than the number of 3-point baskets it buried.
The Saints made seven of their 13 3-pointers in the first half in taking a 31-8 lead into intermission en route to a 58-37 Corn Belt Conference win over host Prairie Central.
"I thought that the defensive effort led to the shooting," said Central Catholic coach Jason Welch, whose Class 2A No. 6 team improved to 14-4 overall and 8-1 in league play. "Especially early, we were able to contest and block out and then be able to run and get high-quality shots."
Jake Reinhart scored all of his team-high 11 points in the first half for the Saints, who also got 10 from Mitch LaTulip and nine from John Rave. Reinhart and Rave each had three 3s.
Tom Shafer topped the Hawks (8-13, 1-8) with 13 while Hayden Wenger finished with 10. The duo accounted for all of Prairie Central's scoring until a Colton Steidinger jumper finished the third quarter.
"They turned us over and they shot it really well. That's the game in a nutshell," said Prairie Central coach Joe Moore, whose team suffered a second straight home blowout in conference play after an 83-43 loss to University High on Friday.
"I'm disappointed in our effort," he said. "We've checked out in those two games, but when both teams shoot over 50 percent from 3 on you, it's tough."
After a Shafer jumper opened the game, the Saints scored the next 15 points to close the first eight minutes as the Hawks struggled to get shots against a 2-3 zone. A deep Reinhart 3 made it 12-2 before Jake Baughman added another trey at the buzzer.
"I felt like it was taking what was given," said Welch. "We always try to work inside out, well inside out the ball's got to get in there to get out. I thought tonight we got our feet set and consequently we got a big lead."
Threes by Baughman and Reinhart to open the second quarter capped a 21-0 run for Central Catholic, then Rave followed a Wenger jumper with yet another trifecta to make the lead 24-4. The Saints shot 50 percent (11 for 22) while holding the Hawks to 25 percent through the first 16 minutes.
"If you're going to make a run in the conference and win some more games, you've got to play defense," said Welch. "That's something we want to hang our hat on and I thought the first half tonight we really showed it."
Once the Saints' lead reached 30 on John Hayes' inside basket off a nice feed from Nick Morris, Welch was able to play mostly reserves in the fourth. Ten Central Catholic players scored, with eight making at least one shot from beyond the arc.
"They're just really athletic and they're well coached," said Moore. "We didn't rip the ball; they were kind of weak with it. They're quick and they're better than we are."