Published Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 12:01 am / Updated at 12:08 am
Centura starts fast, downs Crusaders

CAIRO — Centura delivered the knockout punch early in Thursday night’s 55-33 victory over Grand Island Central Catholic.

The Centurions (10-5) led 18-0 after the first quarter, capped by Annika Gleason’s short jumper in the line to beat the buzzer. Centura forced Central Catholic (5-10) to commit 11 first-quarter turnovers and the Crusaders were 0-of-5 shooting from the floor until Emma Benton’s basket inside gave them their first points with 7:38 remaining in the second quarter.

"In the first half, we played just about the best basketball we have played all season," said Centura coach Kathy Mettenbrink, whose team led 33-8 at the intermission. "We shot the ball well, we executed well and our defensive intensity was good."

Casey Krolikowski led Centura, scoring a game-high 17 points. Gleason added 13 points and eight rebounds and Emily Wells finished with 11 points, including making three 3-pointers in the first quarter as the Centurions won for the eighth time in their last nine games.

"It’s the same thing we have faced all year when teams pressure us and we just didn’t respond," Central Catholic coach James Lowry said. "Kathy had their team really ready to play physical and I thought when they played us physically, we backed off. It wasn’t always X’s and O’s as much as we backed off and I didn’t have us ready to match their physicality."

Mettenbrink said Centura’s ability to frustrate the Crusaders early with full-court pressure defense fueled her team’s fast start.

"Our defense tonight was the best offense we had," Mettenbrink said. "We had some steals off of it and when the shot falls for you, you want to play defense a little bit more. That happened tonight."

Central Catholic committed 11 of its 23 turnovers in the first eight minutes.

"When you have (11) turnovers in the first quarter, you’re just not going to win any games and it’s pretty easy to see the reason we had zero points," Lowry said. "We just didn’t handle the ball very well. We panicked a little, Centura was more physical than us and we didn’t adjust very well. Kathy definitely out-coached me."

The Centurions recorded 17 assists on 20 field goals, shooting 48.8 percent from the floor, including going 5-of-10 from 3-point range. Guard Ashlyn Roth had a game-high six assists, while Krolikowski and Gleason had five assists apiece for Centura.

"We have kind of a balanced scoring attack, so teams can’t really key on one person, but they’re very unselfish," Mettenbrink said. "They hit the open player and really did a nice job of moving the ball."

Benton scored seven points to lead the Crusaders. Meghan Krajicek finished with eight rebounds for GICC, which had a 29-20 advantage on the glass.

Lowry credited the Crusaders for playing with effort throughout. After falling behind 18-0, Central Catholic was outscored 37-33 in the final three quarters.

"For the most part, our kids have tried to compete the whole time and I credit them for that," Lowry said. "When you’re down 18-0 early, it would be easy to give in, but they kept trying. The effort is there — we just have to get better."

GICC (5-10): Herbek 1-2 1-3 3, Kohmetscher 1-3 0-0 2, Krajicek 2-5 0-2 4, Benton 3-6 1-2 7, Lowry 1-1 0-0 2, Anspauch 1-4 0-1 2, Flaherty 2-6 0-0 5, Moravec 2-4 2-2 6, Goering 0-1 0-0 0, Seiler 1-2 0-2 2, Willman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-33 4-12 33.

CENTURA (10-5): A.Roth 0-1 0-0 0, Krolikowski 7-13 3-6 17, M.Roth 1-3 0-0 2, Wells 3-5 2-2 11, Gleason 4-8 4-5 13, Deines 2-5 1-2 5, Hansen 0-0 0-0 0, Neville 1-3 0-0 3, Myers 2-2 0-1 4, Schultz 0-0 0-1 0, Caspersen 0-0 0-0 0, Nitsch 0-1 0-0 0, Gorecki 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-41 10-17 55.

GICC ..................................... 0 8 8 17—33
Centura ................................ 18 15 9 13—55

3-point goals—GICC 1-7 (Kohmetscher 0-1, Anspauch 0-1, Flaherty 1-3, Moravec 0-1), Centura 5-10 (Wells 3-4, Gleason 1-2, Neville 1-3, Nitsch 0-1). Fouled out—M.Roth. Rebounds—GICC 29 (Krajicek 8), Centura 20 (Gleason 8). Assists—GICC 6 (Moravec 2), Centura 17 (A.Roth 6). Turnovers—GICC 23, Centura 12. Total fouls—GICC 18, Centura 17. Technicals—None. A—NA.

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