PONTIAC — Tommy Nelson had a quiet first half Monday night, scoring two points as Central Catholic High School’s basketball team fell behind Pontiac, 26-24.
At halftime, Saints’ coach Jason Welch stressed the importance of finding his team’s 6-foot-5 senior in the final two quarters.
Central did just that, pumping the ball into Nelson during a 22-10 third-quarter surge that gave the Saints a 46-36 lead. They went on to a 64-52 Illini Prairie Conference victory to stay unbeaten in league play.
Nelson scored 14 points in the pivotal third quarter and finished with 22, same as Saints senior guard Luke Yoder. Central improved to 20-7 overall and 7-0 in the Illini Prairie.
“We started a little bit slow, but I thought we had a good run in the third quarter,” Welch said. “We focused on getting the ball into Tommy and he did a nice job of finishing. The guys recognized they needed to keep getting the ball to him.
“We built up a lead and were able to just keep them at arm’s length after that.”
Junior guard Cole Davis added 10 points for Class 2A No. 5-ranked Central in a makeup game that started at 5 p.m. Six-six senior Joseph Murphy scored 25 points for Pontiac (13-12, 5-3).
“He did a really nice job,” Welch said. “He shot the ball extremely well. You tip your hat to him. We tried to make him make some tough shots and he did.”
Central Catholic, which was playing its third game in four days, has another makeup game Thursday at home against conference rival Prairie Central. The Saints then play on the road Friday at St. Joseph-Ogden, which also is undefeated in league play.