The Celina basketball team is in the midst of one of its greatest three-year stretches in program history and appear to be on its way to yet another district title.
The Bobcats put themselves in terrific position Friday night to potentially hoist the district crown for a third consecutive season when they cruised to a 52-39 victory against rival Melissa at home.
The win improved Celina to 5-0 at the midway point through district action and although the Cardinals were held to just 39 points, head coach Bobby Stastny believes his squad did not execute properly on the defensive end.
"A win is a win, but we gave up too many set shots late," he said. If you take away about four of those set shots then maybe we're up by 20 or more. We had too many mental breakdowns for some reason, but we still played well enough to win."
Celina held a double-digit lead in each quarter except for the first and never trailed in this contest.
However, Melissa made matters interesting late and faced a plethora of turnovers in its full-court press while its star player in senior point guard Ezra Monroe heated up as well.
Monroe scored 10 of his team-high 13 points in the final frame and even got the Cardinals within six at 41-35 following a nifty and-one play with a few minutes to go.
And although Celina recorded just one made field goal in the fourth quarter to go along with multiple costly turnovers, the state-ranked Bobcats found a way to hold on and get the job done at the free throw line, including senior Karson Stastny sinking 13-of-14 free throw attempts.
In fact, Celina's last 11 points of the game came from Stastny at the line, as he and his game-high 24 points held off any chances of a miraculous Cardinals comeback.
"That was very important," Stastny said. "Thank goodness he was hitting and we didn't have any type of Hack-a-Shaq situation."
Celina looks to continue its winning ways Tuesday when it takes on a Sanger team in which the Bobcats defeated handily earlier in the district slate, 54-32.