Jason Welch has a theory on momentum in the postseason.
“Fool’s gold,” the Central Catholic High School basketball coach called it Monday.
So while the Saints are coming off a dominant 56-34 sectional final victory over No. 5-ranked Monticello, Welch’s message to his players is simple.
“That (win) and $2 will get you a cup of coffee … at least at the places I go,” Welch said. “It doesn’t make any difference who we played or how we played, the next opponent is who you really have to be focused on. If you aren’t, they’ll send you home.”
Next up for the seventh-ranked Saints (24-6) is unranked but red-hot Deer Creek-Mackinaw (26-6) in Tuesday’s 7 p.m. Class 2A Springfield Super-Sectional at the University of Illinois-Springfield.
The Chiefs knocked off a 24-3 Williamsville team (54-43) and No. 2-ranked Warsaw West Hancock (51-47) in the Farmington Sectional. Central played Williamsville in the regular season, winning 46-44 in the Riverton Coaches vs. Cancer Shootout on Feb. 9.
“They (the Chiefs) kind of dominated Williamsville,” Welch said. “They looked to me like they took care of them fairly easily and Williamsville had a wonderful season. It gets your attention.”
Dee-Mack has been led by 6-2 junior forward Levi Scheuermann and 5-10 senior guard Neal Scheuermann while setting a school record for wins.
Levi Scheuermann averages 16.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and has made a team-high 47 3-pointers. Neal Scheuermann has added 11.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
“Levi can score the ball and he plays great defense,” Welch said. “Offensively, he has a unique game. He can go inside-outside and hits the glass awfully well.
“His brother (Neal) handles the ball so well. He’s strong with the ball. He kind of orchestrates their team.”
Welch also is leery of Dee-Mack 6-5 senior forward Dawson Jones, an 11.2 scorer who averages 5.7 rebounds.
“He is a ton in the post,” Welch said. “They run a lot of nice things to him. They’re awfully well-coached and they’re really tough. Their defense is impeccable. Offensively, they run their stuff really well.”
Central has gone 24-2 since starting 0-4 in the Intercity Tournament. The balanced Saints have been paced by 6-6 senior Jack Gilmore’s 13.8 points per game and 69 3-pointers. Gilmore is a 44 percent shooter from beyond the arc and has a 4.5 rebounding average.
Six-three senior James Morris is at 11.0 points and 6.6 rebounds after missing the five games with a football injury. Senior guard Austyn Ellison adds 10.9 points, junior guard Luke Yoder 9.2, junior forward Tommy Nelson 9.1 and senior guard Eli Davis 8.4.
“They’re skilled and athletic all over the place,” Dee-Mack coach John Hughs said. “All of their guys can play and shoot it. We have to play within ourselves and keep the game as low-scoring as possible. We definitely don’t want to get into a running match with them.”
The Chiefs have led the Heart of Illinois Conference in defensive scoring average the past two seasons. They are seeking the second state trip in school history and first in Class 2A. The 2011 team placed fourth in 1A.
“The road we came through wasn’t easy,” Hughs said. “We feel like the teams we’ve played have prepared us for this game.
“We’ve talked all year about how we’re getting prepared for big moments. I stressed to them we were going to be in these situations in the postseason and you have to handle it. Our kids have done a good job of handling it.”
The winner advances to the state semifinals at 7:15 p.m. Friday at Peoria’s Carver Arena. The opponent will be the winner of the Joliet Central Super-Sectional between top-ranked Chicago Orr and Chicago Hope.