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Grand Island Central Catholic amped up the defense to start the second quarter Monday against Sutton.

And it paid off in a big way.

The Class C-2 No. 4-rated Crusaders used a 21-0 run in that period to pull away for a 58-42 victory over the No. 5 Mustangs in the championship game of the Grand Island Central Catholic Holiday Tournament.

Sutton (5-2) hit 7 of 12 shots in the first quarter to take a 15-9 lead, but the Mustangs went 2 for 12 in the second, with both of the makes coming in the final 1:27. By that point, that six-point lead had transformed into a 30-15 deficit.

“We got dialed in defensively,” GICC coach Tino Martinez said. “I think we started to take the paint away and forced them into a lot of perimeter shots. Those shots were contested, and we limited them to one shot.

“They’re such a good offensive rebounding team, but we limited them to one shot on most trips.”

The Crusaders (8-1) dominated on the boards 33-16, and that dialed-in defense paid off with a 32-21 halftime lead.

“We didn’t play very well in the first quarter,” said junior Koby Bales. “Tino just told us to put an end to it and get kills every single defensive possession. We just really amped it up. We started talking and started calling out their plays. It really hurt them offensively.”

Central Catholic put its balance on display at the other end of the floor. The starters were responsible for every point in the game with Bales and Dei Jengmer leading the way with 13 apiece. Jengmer added 10 boards to finish with a double-double.

Isaac Herbek contributed 12 points, Russ Martinez had 11 and Marcus Lowry finished with nine.

“Having five players – or seven players – who can all score 10 points, it hurts a defense,” Bales said. “It makes offense so much easier because you don’t have to look for just one player. You can look for all five, and you know they’re going to get a good shot.”

The Crusaders may not have that one player that you can pencil in for 15-plus points every night like in recent years, but so far their balance has provided plenty of headaches for opponents.

“It makes you hard to guard, especially when kids are willing to share the ball, and we are,” Tino Martinez said. “We just share the ball really well, and it seems like we’re looking for the best shot, not our shot.

“Then we have three guys who can score with their backs to the basket, and it’s tough for defenses to defend that. I thought our overall balance was good inside/out, and we took good shots all night.”

Jacob Haight finished with 16 points for Sutton, which Tino Martinez said is a high-quality team that will have a say in the C-2 title picture at the end of the season.

The boys and girls consolation games between Fullerton and Gothenburg were postponed due to travel conditions to the west of Grand Island.

GICC 58, Sutton 42

SUTTON (5-2)

Cade Wiseman 0-9 2-4 2, Quenton Jones 3-10 0-2 7, Dawson Nunnenkamp 0-1 0-0 0, Jacob Haight 6-9 1-2 16, Tyler Baldwin 2-5 0-0 5, Colton Haight 2-4 0-0 5, Eli Skalka 3-5 1-1 7, Maury Bautista 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-43 4-9 42.

GICC (8-1)

Russ Martinez 4-7 0-0 11, Koby Bales 3-4 6-9 13, Isaac Herbek 5-8 2-3 12, Marcus Lowry 3-6 2-3 9, Dei Jengmer 6-10 1-2 13, Tanner Turek 0-1 0-0 0, Brayden Wenzl 0-0 0-0 0, Jack Kenna 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-36 11-17 58.

Sutton 15 6 10 11—42

GICC 9 23 18 8—58

3-point field goals—Sutton 6-18 (Wiseman 0-3, Jones 1-6, Nunnenkamp 0-1, J. Haight 3-4, Baldwin 1-1, C. Haight 1-3), GICC 5-9 (Martinez 3-5, Bales 1-1, Herbek 0-1, Lowry 1-1, Turek 0-1). Fouled out—none. Rebounds—Sutton 16 (J. Haight 6), GICC 33 (Jengmer 10). Assists—Sutton 10 (Wiseman 3), GICC 10 (Bales 4). Turnovers—Sutton 10, GICC 16, Total fouls—Sutton 17, GICC 9. Technicals—none.

GIRLS

GICC 40, Sutton 34

Give the bench a big assist for Grand Island Central Catholic walking away with the championship plaque from its holiday tournament on Monday.

With the starters combining to shoot 2-for-23 from the floor, the subs came through with 25 points to held the Crusaders hold off Sutton 40-34.

Alyssa Wilson led that group with 11 points, including a key personal 5-0 run to start the fourth quarter and extend GICC’s lead to 30-23.

“I think (Wilson’s run) gave the girls some confidence and a little bit of energy because I think we lacked that today,” Crusaders coach Stacia Rice said.

Otherwise, it was a tough evening for GICC (6-2) against the Fillies (2-6).

“I’m not really happy with this win,” Rice said. “I didn’t think we came out focused. I don’t think we came out prepared. Credit to Sutton’s defense on that part, but I don’t feel like we played our best game.

“The good news is we still won, and the good news is there is still another tomorrow where we can always play.”

Both teams had similar numbers. GICC was 12-for-44 from the floor, Sutton 12-for-41. The Crusaders has 22 turnovers, the Fillies 23.

The few areas where Central Catholic held an advantage didn’t translate onto the scoreboard.

“At half, we had outrebounded them 20-12,” Rice said. “When you are outrebounding a team by that much and you’re only ahead by one point at halftime and you only have 17 points, you’re not focused in finishing a lot of shots. We didn’t come out well-prepared, and I guess that’s my fault.”

But the Crusaders did a better job of taking care of the basketball down the stretch, and Jenna Heidelk went 6-for-8 from the free-throw line over the final 2:01 to help secure the win.

Rice expected her team to eliminate the turnovers during crunch time.

“They should because they have a lot of experience in that sense,” she said. “It’s kind of our expectation that they were a freshman last year or maybe a sophomore last year, but we should be able to take care of the ball. We have a lot of girls who are great ballhandlers.”

GICC 40, Sutton 34

SUTTON (2-6)

Xytlaly Bautista 2-10 1-2 6, Lydia Rogers 1-3 0-0 3, Dayvie Perrien 2-7 0-0 5, Kylie Baumert 4-9 6-8 15, Julia George 1-7 0-0 2, Katie Griess 1-3 0-2 3, Laekyn Collins 0-2 0-0 0, Evianna Mendez 0-0 0-0 0, Tymerie Steinhauer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-41 7-12 34.

GICC (6-2)

Alexis Mudloff 0-6 1-2 1, Jenna Heidelk 0-2 8-10 8, Katie Maser 1-9 1-2 4, Elli Steenson 1-4 0-0 2, Chloe Cloud 0-2 0-0 0, Alyssa Wilson 4-7 1-2 11, Allison Kalvoda 2-4 0-1 4, Gracie Woods 3-9 1-4 8, Grace Herbek 0-0 0-0 0, Lucy Ghaifan 1-1 0-0 2, Raegan Gellatly 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-44 12-21 40.

Sutton 8 8 7 11—34

GICC 6 11 8 15—40

3-point field goals—Sutton 5-16 (Bautista 1-6, Rogers 1-2, Perrien 1-3, Baumert 1-1, George 0-1, Griess 1-2, Collins 0-1), GICC 4-16 (Mudloff 0-2, Heidelk 0-1, Maser 1-7, Wilson 2-4, Woods 1-2). Fouled out—Cloud. Rebounds—Sutton 29 (Perrien 7), GICC 40 (Maser 7). Assists—Sutton6 (Perrien 2), GICC 7 (Heidelk 4). Turnovers—Sutton 23, GICC 22. Total fouls—Sutton 19, GICC 15. Technicals—none.

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