Falcons soar early, then hang on to top spot
FERGUS – The two-time defending champion Centre Wellington Falcons gained sole possession of top spot in the District 10 high school senior boys’ basketball league by slipping by the Centennial Spartans 70-67 Wednesday.
The Falcons used a strong start and then withstood a second-half comeback attempt by the Spartans for the win.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” Centre Wellington coach Jeff Brubacher said. “We played them in a tournament final the other night on the weekend and they beat us by 12. They’re a good team and I think they’re a little deeper than us. We were just able to kind of grind it out at the very end. I think they went 5-of-6 or 6-of-7 with threes down the stretch to narrow the gap. Keenen (Lochert) came up with the big play on the inbound and that sealed the deal for us.”
The Spartans had a chance at grabbing the win in the dying seconds of the game as Centennial had a throw-in deep in the Centre Wellington end, but Lochert broke up the inbounds pass by Centennial’s Kai Clarke, grabbed control of the ball, raced down the court and dropped in a layup at the buzzer to add the final two points to the Falcons’ total.
“I just kind of read Kai’s eyes,” Lochert said. “I saw that Cam (Powell) had just popped out and I saw the ball lobbed so I just went for it.”
Centre Wellington had led 29-13 at the end of the first quarter and 51-33 at halftime before the Spartans cut the gap to 13 points (63-50) in the third quarter.
“We kind of fell asleep after we got that big lead and they hit six or seven threes in the third quarter and fourth quarter to bring them back in,” Lochert said. “We blew three 20-point leads. I guess we just kind of fella sleep in the second half.”
The starters accounted for all the scoring for Centre Wellington as Brock Newton led all players with 21 points, Zach Cudmore had 19, Lochert 11, Braden Jonker 10 and Johnny Barclay nine.
Weird stat of the game, though, came from the Spartans who sank more three-pointers (15) than two-point field goals (8) and free throws (6) combined.
Hadi El-Miari hit five threes and finished with 19 points while Clarke and Powell each dropped in three threes. Clarke had 16 points and Powell 14. Jackson Wallace had a three-pointer in his nine-point outing and Jack Viveiros had six points as he netted two threes. Mason Reid hit the other three.
The match was the fight for first place as both teams entered the game with 9-1 records.
“That was the big talk at practice,” Lochert said. “Since they beat us on the weekend, we really wanted to beat them so it was just the whole talk at practice – the battle for first place.”
“(First place) is probably more a psychological thing than anything else,” Brubacher said. “We wanted to be one or two so we could host a quarter-final and a semi.”
With the win, Centre Wellington moves out of a tie with Centennial to be all alone in first. The Falcons, who haven’t lost in league play since their opening game of the season Nov. 27, are at 10-1 and Centennial’s at 9-2. The loss was the first for the Spartans since they were defeated by the Falcons Nov. 29.
The Spartans, though, defeated the Falcons 63-51 last weekend in the final of the Sir John A. Macdonald tournament in Waterloo. That proved to be a good learning ground for Centre Wellington.
“On the weekend, they killed us on the pick-and-roll and their big would just come out and shoot the three,” Lochert said. “Today, we defended that pretty well.”
“They had exposed some areas that we had to work on,” Brubacher said. “We focused on that in practice on Monday and Tuesday. We’ve got three games this week so there’s not a lot of time to work on anything, but we knew what we had to do. We’re pretty familiar with their personnel as they are with us, so sometimes it just comes down to little detail execution things and missed opportunities and made opportunities.”
Centennial 64 Centre Wellington 63
Another close one for the Spartans who had suffered their first loss in league play Tuesday.
High scorers in the game, Centennial’s Jackson Davidson and Centre Wellington’s Owen Fox, each had 21 points.
- Guelph Sports Journal