By Jon Gremmels
Herald Sports Editor
---- — CLINTON — Lucas Laufenberg spent a few anxious moments watching from the bench after fouling out with 1 minute, 48 seconds remaining.
"It seemed like it lasted forever," Laufenberg, a senior, said of watching his teammates try to finish off Unity Christian of Fulton, Ill., in a non-conference boys basketball game Friday night at Central Catholic Auditorium.
"I didn't really know how it would go because a lot of our guys hadn't been in an experience like that."
He didn't need to worry, though. The Irish held on for a 50-43 victory.
"It's great having the younger players like that step in," Laufenberg said.
"Our young guys are going through some growing pains, but they're getting better," Irish coach Gerry Murphy said.
The youngsters came through in some key situations, but the Irish (2-5) also kept the ball in the hands of the experienced players when the game was on the line as they began the second half of the season the same way they started the first: with a win.
"It's always great to start with a win," Laufenberg said.
The Irish led most of the way, but the Knights made things interesting several times in the second half. They even held a short-lived lead at 26-25 early in the third quarter, but Laufenberg made sure the Irish got it back.
He scored eight of his team-high 18 points in the third quarter, helping Prince of Peace score six straight in one stretch and build leads of 35-26 and 37-28 with a minute left in the quarter.
"I liked when we had three freshmen, a junior and one senior, and they kind of took over and got us the lead back," Murphy said. "But, our last minute of every quarter we had key mistakes when we should have spread the ball out. I think we took some bad shots when we didn't need to take shots."
Unity took advantage of those situations.
"I thought we played hard," Unity coach Jack Roemer said. "We tried to do what we wanted, but we didn't always get it done."
Colby Dykstra led the Knights with 18 points and helped trim the margin to 37-33 by the end of the third quarter. He hit 1 of 2 free throws, and Nolan Willoughby rebounded the miss and scored with about 10 seconds left to cut the gap to four points.
But, one of the young Irish players stepped up to stop the run.
Seth Moeller scored from the right baseline with 6:47 left. After a Unity turnover, Moeller saw an open lane to the basket on the left side and drove for a layup for a 41-33 with 6:15 left.
"He's a real good player; it's nice to see him step up in a big moment," Laufenberg said.
Unity got back within 43-38 on two Eric Medenblik free throws when Laufenberg fouled out with 1:48 left, and when Willoughby went end-to-end for a layup with 1:10 left, the Knights were within 44-40.
But, Nic Roth made a pair of free throws, Caleb Kitteringham scored in transition off a feed from Schnier and then Schnier made a pair of free throws to preserve the victory.
Schnier also earned praise for his defensive play on Willoughby (seven play).
"We had Quin on Willoughby, who lit us up last year, and he shut him down," Laufenberg said.
PRINCE OF PEACE 50, UNITY CHRISTIAN 43
UNITY — Nolan Willoughby 3 1-5 7, Shawn Hintz 3 3-4 9, Colby Dykstra 6 6-9 18, Eric Medenblik 2 2-2 7, Sean Hansen 1 0-0 2, Brady Wilson 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 12-20 43.
PRINCE OF PEACE (2-5) — Quin Schnier 2 3-5 7, Lucas Laufenberg 7 3-4 18, Devin Bly 0 0-0 0, AJ Williams 0 0-0 0, Caleb Kitteringham 1 0-0 2, Jacob Jankowski 1 1-2 3, Nic Roth 2 3-4 7, Seth Moeller 3 0-0 6, Andrey Drury 3 0-0 7, Will Andresen 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 10-15 50.
Unity 10 8 15 10 — 43
Prince of Peace 12 11 14 13 — 50
3-point goals — Unity 1 (Medenblik); Prince of Peace 2 (Laufenberg, Drury). Total fouls — Unity 19, Prince of Peace 18. Fouled out — Laufenberg.