HASTINGS — Hastings St. Cecilia’s defense rose to the occasion in the second half against rival Adams Central Tuesday.
The Class C-2 No. 1-rated Bluehawks held the C-1 No. 3 Patriots to six points after halftime to turn a tied game into a convincing 56-33 victory.
Adams Central shot 50 percent (9-for-18) from the floor in the first half but only went 2-for-16 (12.5 percent) in the second.
“A lot of it had to do with kids’ desire to not let a kid get by them,” St. Cecilia coach Kevin Asher said. “In the first half, they got by us quite a bit and we told our kids to balance up a little bit more in your defensive stance (and) try to help out a little bit more. In the first half we were no help. I think that really, really hurt us game plan-wise because we were really, really afraid of the 3-point shot.
“In the second half we said to get a hand up and maybe that would help because of the fatigue factor.”
St. Cecilia senior post Zach Kitten, who finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, said communication was the key to shut down a dangerous Adams Central offense.
“They’ve got so many threats on offense,” he said. “You’ve got to honor everybody on their team. They’re all good players, they’re all well coached, they all shoot the ball well.
“Coach Asher really talked about just talking through some screens, whether that be helping out on a couple shooters. We felt like we could switch through some things for a half possession maybe and then get the switch back. It was big talking through and communicating.”
The first half ended tied at 27. St. Cecilia opened the second half by scoring the first eight points, but Garrett Sittner’s basket cut the lead to 35-29 with three minutes left in the third period.
That ended up to be the only points scored by the Patriots (16-4) in the third quarter.
“You know that Denver Broncos’ line — defense wins championships,” Adams Central coach Zac Foster said. “That’s St. Cecilia basketball. Coach Asher does a phenomenal job and his team is always so disciplined. They just guard you. For 32 minutes, they’re going to guard you.”
St. Cecilia (15-4) extended the lead to 43-29 entering the fourth quarter and kept pulling away.
“We got player movement along with ball movement,” Asher said. “We were kind of stagnant in our spots (in the first half). And we really tried to move our guys around a little bit because if they knew where our shooter was, then it was really tough for our bigs to get anything and our shooters to get any looks.
“I thought we drove it a little bit more (in the second half). We went inside a little bit more and if you make a couple shots right away, your kids start to loosen up.”
Foster said it wasn’t until later in the third quarter that the game started to get away from the Patriots.
“We talked about in pregame that the difference in the game was going to be toughness and discipline,” he said. “We had to find a way to be tough and disciplined on both ends of the floor. In the first half we were.
“In the second half I thought for the first five minutes we were doing the same things — causing problems. They had eight points through five minutes of the third, and then the doors came open where they hit a couple threes and it went to 10 or 12.”
Derek Boyd added 12 points and six rebounds for the Bluehawks, who enjoyed a massive 33-12 advantage in rebounds.
“The name of the game was rebounding,” Foster said. “They just murdered us on the glass. That was our biggest fear coming in.”
David Bohlen scored 19 of his game-high 21 points in the first half for the Patriots. He was 6-for-8 before halftime with four 3-pointers.
Adams Central now looks to bounce back after losing back-to-back games including Monday’s overtime defeat to Kearney Catholic in the Lou-Platte Conference tournament. The Patriots continue a busy week by hosting Ravenna Thursday and playing C-1 No. 2 Columbus Scotus Saturday in the Heartland Hoops Classic.
St. Cecilia hopes to carry its strong second half into games Thursday at Grand Island Central Catholic and Saturday against Sidney in the Heartland Hoops Classic.
“It’s a huge confidence booster,” Kitten said. “We’ve got some really tough teams coming up in GICC and Sidney, then moving onto the last part of our season and districts. It really gives us a boost going into the next two games, which aren’t going to be easy.”
Hastings SC 56, Adams Central 33
HASTINGS ST. CECILIA (15-4)
Sealey 1-4 0-0 3, Schmidt 3-3 1-2 9, D. Boyd 4-6 4-4 12, B. Asher 4-10 0-2 9, Kitten 5-7 5-5 15, T. Asher 1-1 0-0 3, Esch 0-2 0-0 0, Teano 0-0 0-0 0, Farmer 0-0 0-0 0, Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, Kirkegaard 1-3 2-4 5, B. Boyd 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-36 12-17 56.
ADAMS CENTRAL (16-4)
Bohlen 6-13 5-5 21, Goldenstein 0-3 0-0 0, Sittner 1-7 2-2 4, Wormstadt 3-6 0-1 6, Pleak 1-5 0-0 2, Kiolbasa 0-0 0-0 0, Eckhardt 0-0 0-0 0, Nelson 0-0 0-0 0, Keller 0-0 0-0 0, Grimmett 0-0 0-0 0, Anderson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-34 7-8 33.
Hastings SC 11 16 16 13—56
Adams Central 11 16 2 4—33
3-point field goals—HSC 6-17 (Sealey 1-2, T. Asher 1-1, Schmidt 2-2, Esch 0-2, B. Asher 1-7, Kirkegaard 1-3), AC 4-13 (Bohlen 4-7, Goldenstein 0-1, Sittner 0-3, Wormstadt 0-1, Pleak 0-2). Fouled out—Sittner. Rebounds—HSC 33 (Kitten 11), AC 12 (Goldenstein, Pleak 4). Assists—HSC 9 (B. Asher 4), AC 2. Turnovers—HSC 9, AC 8. Total fouls—HSC 15, AC 17. Technicals—none.