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“Catholic’s intensity was a big key in this game. Coming out of the opening tipoff, they were way more intense than we were and got after it. They were ready to play and I don’t really think we were,” said Pleasant Hope coach Rod Mullings. “A lot of it comes down to the fact that we have a young team and they are just not used to this style of play yet. We’ve got some great young kids and they’ve got a bright future if they’ll stay after it and keep their heads up.”
With the score 7-5 in favor of Catholic at the five minute mark, the Irish unleashed a 24-0 run that extended into the second quarter. Eight players scored in the first quarter for coach Tony Armstrong’s crew as they connected for 5 three-point baskets.
“We guarded pretty hard and they struggled against our press. We got out in the open floor and we made shots,” said Armstrong. “We shot the ball well and that allowed us to get into our press. It got up tempo and the defense was pretty good.”
Brayton Ballenger, a 5’10 junior guard was the catalyst for the Irish as he made several steals early on and had 9 of his 11 points in the first half. When Ballenger wasn’t driving for layups, 5’11 senior guard Will Hennessey was torching the Pirates with 3-pointers.
Pleasant Hope battled back in the second quarter behind 5’10 junior guard Aaron Jones and 6’0 sophomore Matt Mills, but the Irish’ relentless defensive pressure kept them from making much of a dent in their big lead. The score at halftime was 45-17.
Ten players scored for the Irish, led by Will Hennessey with 17. Catholic sank ten 3-point baskets on the evening with Hennessey collecting five treys. It was the third straight win for the Irish, who will travel to Marionville Tuesday.
Coach Armstrong is no stranger to Marionville. He coached the Comets to a state championship in 1983, the first of Armstrong’s four state championships in his career.
Catholic won the JV game 52-39.
Pleasant Hope 5 12 6 1 - 24
Catholic 28 17 19 13 - 77
Pleasant Hope: Aaron Jones 13, Matt Mills 6, Jacob Gettle 4, Camron Hanson 1.
Catholic: Will Hennessey 17, Tyler Johnson 12, Brayton Ballenger 11, Robby Ruzicka 7, Eric Smith 7, Jacob Deragowski 7, Tyler Ast 6, Eric Atwell 4, Isaac Gray 3, Danny Richardson 3.
Records: Springfield Catholic 3-2, Pleasant Hope 1-5.