Five players sharing one responsibility wouldn’t fly on some high school basketball teams.
Frustrations over playing time or lack of touches would probably lead some players to remove themselves from the equation.
Yet it seems to work at Central Catholic, where five players rotate into the one or two post positions on the floor at any given time.
“I think it’s kind of fun,” senior center Matt Thieme said. “We can all sit here and whine about our playing time, but at the end of the night, we have to calm down and say, ‘We’ve got to get CC better.’
“This isn’t about who I am or who this other guy is. You can’t say, ‘Am I playing better than him?’ You have to say, ‘Am I playing well enough on this given night to give CC the best chance to win?’ “
The Knights have used seniors Thieme and Ryan DeBoy and juniors Gage Ulery, Hayes Cronk and Nick Thompson with a lineup that typically includes four perimeter starters.
Those five have combined for 9.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per night. Perhaps their biggest challenge of the season awaits on Saturday against Rockville and 6-foot-7 power forward Lane Mahurin in the Class A Frankfort Regional semifinals.
“It helps us out a lot, because we’re so deep,” senior guard Jake Churchill said. “We have so many guys that could start. If a big gets in foul trouble, you can always count on the next one on the bench to come in and do the job.”
The Knights don’t see the lack of one dominant post player as a weakness. Rather, they see their diversity as a strength.
For instance, Central Catholic can try several matchups against Mahurin. First, there are the bigger bodies like Thieme and Ulery, both of whom were starting linemen for the Knights’ state championship football team in the fall.
“I’ve been on the receiving end of some big screens from him where I didn’t even see him coming,” Churchill said. “It’s nice to have guys like that who aren’t afraid to put their bodies out there.”
Next there’s Thompson, at 6-foot-6 the tallest player on the CC roster. CC coach Dave Barrett made sure Thompson played two junior varsity quarters per night most of the season, which limited his varsity minutes. But he made a big impact in the sectional, scoring nine points in the opener against Frontier and eight in the final against Tri-Central.
Then there are the athletic Cronk and DeBoy, both of whom are also expected to play big roles on the Knights’ defending state championship baseball team this spring.
“The big thing is I’ve got confidence in them all, because they’ve all done a good job at one time or another this year,” Barrett said. “A lot of it has to do with matchups and how quick the other team is and how big and strong the other team is. We’ve been effective with it.”
To simulate Mahurin’s 22-point, seven-rebound talents this week, Central Catholic has used assistant coach Will Hubertz. The 6-foot-6 former Knights standout, who later played at Indiana Wesleyan, combines size and shooting touch to test each of the potential matchups.
Mahurin is also headed to Indiana Wesleyan, and also will face a variety of Knights on Saturday.
“Coming off the bench, we’re all going to be fresh,” Ulery said. “Dave knows how to work us all in to get our contribution to the team.”