DAYTON — Jackson Center kept up with Springfield Catholic Central for three quarters of a Division IV district final on Tuesday, but it had one scoring drought too many.
The Tigers didn’t make a field goal over a six-minute stretch in the fourth quarter, during which time the Fighting Irish pulled away to an eventual 47-36 victory at University of Dayton Arena.
Jackson Center pulled within 27-26 late in the third, but Catholic Central finished on a 8-2 run to take a 35-28 lead heading into the fourth.
The Irish pushed the lead to 41-31 when Ashton Young scored on a drive with 1:31 left. They led by as many as 14 points in the final 90 seconds.
Jackson Center shot 15 for 42 (35.7 percent) from the floor while Catholic Central shot 18 for 29 (62.1).
“We had too many absolute defensive breakdowns where we just didn’t guard guys, because we didn’t know who we were guarding,” Jackson Center coach Scott Elchert said. “That’s totally uncharacteristic of us. I can think of five buckets they had because we didn’t guard somebody. Just complete breakdowns.
“We didn’t make shots. We didn’t shoot well enough. …We knew they were the type of team we didn’t want to be down seven or eight points in the fourth quarter because they’re too good at spreading you out and doing damage.”
Catholic Central advances to face Botkins in a regional semifinal next Tuesday at Trent Arena in Kettering. The Trojans (24-2) beat Ripley Union Lewis Huntington 73-39 in the second D-IV district final on Tuesday in Dayton.
“They’re big and they’re deep,” Catholic Central coach John Detling said of Botkins. “Obviously they know how to win and what it takes. We’ll enjoy this tonight and then get ready for them.”
Junior 6-foot-4 forward Tyler Galluch led the Irish with 14 points while Ian Galluch and Patrick Kavanagh scored nine apiece and Young scored eight.
Kavanagh and Ian Galluch each scored six points in the second half while Young scored four.
“We needed that, because playing a Shelby County team, no lead is ever really secure,” Detling said. “I was really proud of our guys, especially our defense. I thought when we needed big stops, we came up big.”
Catholic Central finished with a 24-19 rebounding edge. Tyler Galluch had a game-high six rebounds, all on the defensive end. The Irish had one total offensive rebound.
Carson Regula scored a game-high 16 points and Nolan Fark added 12 for Jackson Center, which finishes 19-7. The rest of the squad accounted for eight points and shot 3 for 18 from the floor.
The Tigers will lose three seniors to graduation: Regula, Ryan Sailor and Xavier Esser.
Jackson Center dropped to 7-6 after a 10-point loss to Wapakoneta (which is coached by Elchert’s son Trey Elchert) on Jan. 15 but won 12 consecutive games before Tuesday’s loss.
“We were spinning our wheels,” Elchert said. “To these kids’ credit, we came in that next Monday and said we have to figure some things out. And we have. That’s a tough way to go out, but I am proud of this group for that, big time.”
Catholic Central scored the first six points, but Jackson Center finished the first quarter with a 10-7 advantage to pull within 13-10 heading into the second.
The Irish used an 11-10 scoring edge in the second to take a 24-20 halftime lead and scored the first basket of the fourth.
The Tigers went on a 6-1 run to pull within 27-26, but they made just three field goals the rest of the game.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.