No. 2 Central Catholic’s (11-2) 72-55 win over No. 3 David Douglas (12-1) Tuesday night was their 27th consecutive Mt. Hood Conference victory.
The Rams take every team’s best shot night in and night out in what might be the best conference in 6A this season. Yet, they always find a way to be the team with more points.
Their only two losses came in the Les Schwab Invitational against teams ranked in the top ten nationally. The Rams held their own in those losses, which includes a last second defeat to No. 1 Montverde Academy.
One of Central Catholic’s greatest advantages this season is their depth. Head coach Dan Munson plays eight players deep and each one has the ability to score in double figures any given night.
On the perimeter, Central Catholic has four guards, each of whom fill their own roles. Point guard Deante Strickland is the most explosive. His speed and quickness is as good as any player’s in the state. Xavier Hallinan provides an even-keel senior presence. He facilitates, but can score when needed. Ben College is the sharp-shooter from the three-point line. Simon Stringer does a little bit of everything.
Inside, they have four forwards that will give any team a handful. LaMar Winston plays as a “stretch four” that can knock down a jumper, but also get to the rim with the dribble-drive. Patrick Myers, Austin Rose and John Paine can all score on the blocks and lead the way on the glass.
Along with so many weapons, Central Catholic is loaded experience. The combination of depth and poise allowed Central Catholic to beat No. 3 David Douglas Tuesday night without Strickland. That combination, along with Strickland, may be enough for the Rams to bring home a state championship.
For now though, they’re focused on being the target and adding to their conference win streak.
Head coach Dan Munson following the win over David Douglas:
What did you like about the win?
“I liked their poise. We’re fortunate to have a lot of depth. I thought early on they hurt us on the boards a little bit. I think they were more hyped up with the big home crowd. What I was most proud of was in the third quarter, we were up by nine at halftime, Douglas gets it within one, then with two and a half minutes left in the third quarter, we buckled down and got stops. We started making them become jump shooters again. We rebounded. We were much more deliberate in our offense. Especially in the fourth quarter to finish to close the game.”
What did David Douglas do to get back into it in the second half?
“They brought a lot of energy. They started getting to the rack on us. We weren’t able to handle their penetration. They got to the basket. They’re quick, athletic and they play really hard. I think the game got a little too fast in the third. We were playing a little too fast offensively. They got some emotion and energy going. We had a hard time stopping that. We gained our poise and I felt like our leaders stepped up and calmed us. Then, we were able to finish the third quarter strong.”
How about the play of Austin Rose off the bench?
“Austin has been huge. We’ve been talking him up about how physical and big he can be. We keep telling our guys to be ready. At some point you’re going to get a chance. We really feel that we have seven guys that can do some damage.”
What have you learned about your team so far this season?
“They’re a very talented group of guys that can handle adversity. You saw that in the third quarter tonight. They really like each other and play well together. A lot of fun times with these guys.”
You got to have a confident bunch with the start they had to the season.
“I think they are, but they’ve earned it. After the Reynolds game last week, our league is tough and if you don’t bring your A game, you can go down. We have a target on our back and we’ve got to be ready to play.”
The Rams will look to extend their conference winning streak to 28 games when they host No. 10 Clackamas on Friday night.