BLOOMINGTON — Dictating tempo, creating turnovers, scoring in transition and sharing the basketball.
The Central Catholic High School basketball team executed that combination to near perfection Tuesday in an 89-50 trouncing of Illini Prairie Conference foe Pontiac at Cvengros Gymnasium.
"We just came out and played hard like we usually do every game and we were very unselfish, which we usually are," said Saints senior forward James Morris, who scored 17 of his game-high 23 points in the first half.
"My teammates just made some really good passes and I was able to put the ball in."
After entering the Class 2A state poll at No. 8 earlier in the day, Central charged to its ninth straight victory and improved to 16-5 overall and 5-0 in conference play behind its trademark offensive balance.
Austyn Ellison and Luke Yoder delivered 13 points apiece while Eli Davis had 11 and Jack Gilmore 10. The balance was also evident in the passing game as Yoder had five assists while Davis, Ellison and Morris each had four of the team's 26 on 32 field goals.
"When you get that many guys into double figures it means you're selfless. The guys have bought into that and they just go out and play hard," said Central coach Jason Welch. "They know their teammates will share the ball and they're all working for a common goal."
"They're one of the best teams in the state, I've said from the word go," said first-year Pontiac coach Durrell Robinson. "Watching them on film, they're one of the better teams in Class 2A. They did exactly what they've been doing to everybody else this year."
Ryan Weir finished with 12 points to lead the Indians (8-10, 3-2), who made 21 turnovers in the first three quarters before both sides turned to reserves for a majority of the fourth.
"I thought that our defense turned them over a bit and it resulted in some really good shots," said Welch. "It starts with your defense and the guys were able to get their hands on balls and get open shots."
Pontiac's shooting accuracy wasn't awful (21 of 41), but the Indians had too many giveaways and rarely got any second chances off their misses.
"We pride ourselves on the defensive end and Coach Welch really emphasizes playing hard defense every game and every practice," said Morris. "That's what we did tonight, created turnovers."
"You've got to be able to control tempo against these guys," said Robinson. "We had a lot of unforced turnovers which leads to a track meet and them getting buckets. Next thing you know you're down 10, down 20 and it keeps going."
The Saints actually trailed at the outset but went ahead 8-6 on a baseline drive by Ellison during a 10-0 run. Central had eight assists on 11 baskets and led 25-12 by the end of the first.
Converting numerous fastbreak layups, Central extended the margin to 42-22 when Patrick Rahuba scored off an inbounds pass. A 3-pointer by Ellison made the margin 51-28 at halftime.
And the Saints didn't let up coming out of the locker room, reeling off a 13-1 run capped by a Tommy Nelson jumper to start the third. When Cole Davis drained a trey to finish the third, Central's lead peaked at 83-39.
"We're always pushing, we're never satisfied with the scoreboard," said Morris, who also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds. "We're just trying to get better each and every possession."