They're ranked No. 1 among Class A teams in District Three for the first time in many years and they also beat Annville-Cleona on Monday night for the first time in a while.
In another renewal of one of the keenest rivalries in the county, the Catholic boys continued its impressive season with a 56-33 win Monday night at Annville-Cleona. Catholic got balanced scoring from Alex Frattaroli (15), Anthony Pletz (13) and Timmy Orr (12) in registering its 10th win of the year against two losses and going to 5-2 in Section Four. But more importantly, coach Scott Clentimack liked the way his team got after it on defense, while handing A-C its ninth loss to go with four wins.
"To hold a team like Annville-Cleona to 33 points on their court is pretty impressive," Clentimack said. "I was really pleased with our defense tonight. We held them to less than 20 points in each half, which is really tough to do."
And it wasn't as if coach Justin Edwards' Little Dutchmen (2-5 Section Four) weren't prepared for the match. They warmed up for Catholic by playing arguably the best team in the county, Palmyra, on Saturday night in the Mike Rhoades Tournament at Lebanon Valley College. A-C stayed with the Cougars for much of the game before losing, 54-46.
But against Catholic, they lost starter Casey Smith after a bad fall in the second quarter and struggled to find much of an attack all night. Paxson Hayes and Derrick Sanders had 10 each for A-C, but the next best was Matt Light with four.
A-C's problem was also due to Catholic coming off one of its best games of the season Saturday night, with a 70-33 pasting of Mount Calvary. Orr, the only senior starter, rained down treys on Calvary on his way to 29 points, three shy of his career high.
Orr came out looking to set up teammates more than score against A-C because he knew what to expect.
"I expected them to come out focused on me," he said. "I was just looking to penetrate and find open teammates. With this team, it doesn't matter who scores, only that we win."
It was the winning part that only mattered to Orr, he said.
"This is the first time we beat A-C in my four years," he said. "So, yes, it feels pretty good. This is a tough place to come in and play because their crowd gets crazy."
Clentimack put the win in focus.
"This is the first time we've beaten A-C since 2005-06 (actually 2007-08)," he said. "And this is my first win in this gym. So, yes, this is a big win for us."
The Beavers broke on top, 5-2, on Frattaroli's 3-point play with 5:38 left in the first quarter. Pletz than made two free throws to make it 11-4 with 2:22 to go.
In the second quarter, Orr finally hit his first shot - a trey - with 6:25 left to open a 19-10 lead. Pletz added two "3s" and nine points in the quarter as Catholic's lead grew to 24-10 before settling for a 30-19 lead at halftime.
A-C managed to gain an 8-6 edge in the third quarter to stay in contention at 36-27 entering the fourth quarter. But that was as close as it would get. The fourth quarter belonged to the Beavers.
Orr started taking it to the hoop, resulting in five free-throw attempts for him in the period and Anthony Thomas hit his only shot of the night, a "3" that opened a 42-29 lead with 4:59 left.
"We've been strong in the fourth quarter all year," said Clentimack. "Either we get stronger in the fourth quarter or other teams get weaker. I like to think it's because off all the conditioning we do all year, like the swimming program we do at Lebanon Valley College."
When it came down to it, Clentimack knows he has a good thing with Orr leading a team that includes Pletz and Frattaroli underneath and Thomas and Jaylyn Colon in the backcourt.
"We have four guys averaging more than 12 points a game," Clentimack said. "Alex and Anthony (Pletz) had good first halves for us. We don't have to rely on Timmy. We have other guys who can score."
And defend, rebound and handle the ball, as well.