BOYS BASKETBALL: Unheralded Buttons beating ranked opponents

Central Catholic regroups after Lewis injury

AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Central Catholic.


Central Catholic has been rebuilt from the ground up without its five leading scorers from 2013-14, but the Buttons have come up with a winning playing rotation.

The Buttons (18-14, 2-1) have picked up the tempo and relied a bit more on their depth in fashioning a three-game winning streak that includes a pair of TAPPS District 2-5A victories. Central Catholic moved into second place with a 73-47 win at Brownsville St. Joseph (17-8, 1-2) Jan. 31 that finished the first round of district play.

The Bloodhounds were No. 24 in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches large private school rankings, but had been ranked several notches higher earlier in the season. Central Catholic is unranked.

“That was really a fun trip for us,” Central Catholic coach Bruce McConaghy said. “The kids played really well. I think they’re really excited about the way they’re playing.”

Central Catholic was a senior-laden team last year, when they fashioned a 25-8 record that included a 20-game winning streak. The Buttons’ leading scorer Tony Lewis, a University of Santa Clara signee, was the only junior among the top-five scorers, but a stress fracture limited the 6-foot-10 center to 3 ½ games this season before he was shut down for the year.

At the time, senior guard Jaime Nava also was injured, but the No. 6 scorer a year ago has returned to help lead the resurgence. Nava scored 22 points in the win over St. Joseph.

Eleven players scored for the Buttons, including Julian Rodriguez (9 points), Will Galindo (8) and Raul Aguilar (8).

“(The bench) has been really good,” McConaghy said. “We’ve had to change our style of play because of Tony’s injury. We’ve had some kids pressed into action, and they’ve responded.”

Central Catholic began the week with a 54-44 win at No. 23 Austin St. Andrew’s Jan. 27. Robert Elizondo scored a team-high 14 points. Aguilar and Tanner Nagel each scored 10.

“The quickness and tenacity of our kids got to them,” McConaghy said. “They weren’t used to playing against that. Any time you beat a team on their home court, it’s a feather in your cap.”

The Buttons rebounded from back-to-back losses to No. 4 Austin St. Stephen’s and No. 15 Antonian. McConaghy could trace the win back to the second half of the St. Stephen’s game, after the home team had established a 30-14 lead.

“We weren’t playing very well in the first half, and they’re good,” he said. “They have a 6-10 or 6-11 kid the University of Texas is interested in. We were missing a lot of shots in the first half, but then we started converting turnovers and getting to the rim.”

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