BLOOMINGTON — Central Catholic High School's pressure defense rattled Rochester early Thursday. The Saints took an 8-2 lead and forced Rockets coach J.R. Boudouris to call two quick timeouts.
Rochester eventually settled down and in the second quarter had its own answer — a devastating 24-0 run.
Central Catholic fell behind 14 and battled back the rest of the way. The No. 1-seeded Saints twice got within two late before No. 4 Rochester held on for a 59-54 victory in the Class 3A Central Catholic Girls Basketball Regional championship game at Cvengros Gymnasium.
"That was a little bit of a killer," said Saints coach Debbie Coffman of the 24-0 run. "We came out and played really good basketball to begin with. Things did not hit for us and 32 (Peyton Boudouris) got hot for them. We did a better job defending her in the second half, but we gave up too many layups."
Junior guard Lauren Shanks scored a game-high 22 points to lead Central Catholic, which finished with 22-6 record. Junior forward Bailey Coffman scored all of her 13 points in the second half.
Peyton Boudouris sank all five of her 3-point attempts in the first half and paced the Rockets with 21 points. Havilyn Dulin scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half as Rochester (20-12) advanced to Tuesday's Lincoln Sectional to face Effingham in a semifinal game.
Rochester survived 21 turnovers by shooting a torrid 70 percent from the field.
"We wanted to make them guard us in the halfcourt," said Rochester coach J.R. Boudouris. "As good they are with their press, we felt if we settled down and executed in the halfcourt we could get some good possessions."
Shanks' steal and layup gave the Saints an 18-8 lead early in the second quarter. But when Lindsey Sapetti sank a 3-pointer, the Rockets blasted off.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Peyton Boudouris gave Rochester a 32-18 lead with two minutes left in the first half.
"I'm on my kid all the time about shooting it with confidence, and she did tonight when we needed it the most," said J.R. Boudouris, whose team was 7 of 8 outside the arc in the first half. "Their pressure upfront is so daunting that if you break it, you can't be passive. You have to attack."
The Saints cut the deficit to 32-22 at halftime. Rochester remained in control most of the third quarter before Shanks' 3-pointer with two seconds left got Central Catholic within 44-36.
The 5-foot-3 Dulin, who was the top reserve on last year's Class 3A runnerup squad which graduated five starters, used her quickness to get inside and convert some nifty layups to keep Rochester ahead in the fourth quarter. Bailey Coffman's three-point play got the Saints within 52-50 with 1:29 left.
Katie Dorman split a pair of free throws with 21 seconds left to put Rochester ahead, 57-54. The Saints had a chance to tie, but Dulin forced a turnover and Sapetti's two free throws ended the scoring.
"We were trying to look for a 3 or quick basket and try to defend," said Debbie Coffman. "It's just one of those that doesn't fall your way."
Coffman made sure the Saints remembered what they had accomplished this season.
"I'm very proud of this team. I don't want to take one game to define us," she said. "We had two varsity kids from last year's team that was the 2A runnerup to playing in 3A. It's a lot faster.
"We had a lot of young kids stepping up and a lot of JV kids who became varsity players. This team was fun and they'll all be back next year."