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Irish boys dump Spartans

For a team that has flown under the radar for the majority of the season, Catholic is finally getting noticed. In a 52-42 win against non-district rival Webb Friday, Feb. 2, at Webb, the Irish are playing their best basketball of the season at the right time.

“Four of the last eight games of this series went into overtime so the records aren’t going to matter because it’s always going to be close. But I hope we are peaking at the right time,” Catholic head coach Mike Hutchens said. “That’s our eighth win in a row and we are kind of flying under the radar. I like the way we are playing right now, we are playing defense.”

Catholic (15-5 entering the week), who is currently riding an eight-game winning streak, has won 13 of its last 15 games. In the eight-game span, the defensive- oriented Irish have only allowed two teams more than 50 points.

“We forced numerous turnovers and that’s what you’ve got to do in the post season,” Hutchens said.

Part of the recent success of the Irish has stemmed from taking advantage of the mismatches they are dealt. Against the Spartans (6-16 after the loss) Catholic dominated the frontcourt and used that to control the pace of the game.

“We felt like we had some mismatches in the front with quickness,” Hutchens said. “[Michael] Conaty did a real good job taking the ball and [hitting] short medium range jump shots for us.”

Ryan Walden led Catholic in scoring with 15 points. Mark David Kennedy had 12 and Conaty added 11. Webb was led by Neal Robinson’s 13 points.

Webb took a 14-8 lead at the end of the first quarter but Catholic marched back and forced a 21-21 game at halftime. From that point forward the Irish defense took over.

“In the first half we played a little bit slow, but coach talked to us and told us to pick it up in the second half and we came out and picked up the intensity,” Catholic’s Harrison Smith said. “Defense is the best thing that we have and it helped us control the tempo.”

Hutchens added, “I thought we handled the ball well most of the time and we got our running game going. We’re a little more athletic than we get credit for. We are a disciplined, slow paced team but when we want to run we can. I was real pleased with our fast breaks off turnovers.”

For the second time this season Catholic has beaten Webb. The first time, Jan. 16, the Irish escaped with a two-point win.

“Unless you come here and watch these games nobody understands the intensity of it and I thought Webb played real well too,” Hutchens said. “They’ve got a young team, they are real well coached. They played us real tough over at our place and its one of the most intense rivalries around.”


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