The Centre High School boys’ basketball team played 3A Southeast of Saline Saturday in the championship game of the Herington Pre-season Tournament and walked away with a disappointing 57-46 loss.
“We played pretty well and had an opportunity to win,” coach Greg Wyatt said. “The score doesn’t indicate just how close that final game was. A couple of different outcomes in possession would have given us the win we were looking for.”
Timely 3-point shots and good rebounding kept the Cougars in the game for all but the final three minutes or so. Justin Deines made two 3-pointers, and Ty Simons made one and a free throw for 10 points in the first quarter compared with 15 by SES.
A 3-point basket by James Wyatt and a field goal by Kyle Methvin tied the game at 15 early in the second quarter. Deines made a layup to give Centre the lead. Herington quickly responded with 10 unanswered points to retake the lead. A 3-pointer by Simons narrowed the deficit to four points. After Deines made two free throws and Tanner Peterson made a field goal, SES led, 28-24, at halftime.
Wyatt scored two consecutive 3-point goals early in the third quarter to tie the game at 30. The game remained close the remainder of the quarter as both sides exchanged leads. Centre trailed by one point, 40-39, at the end of the quarter.
The Cougars held their ground until the final three minutes of the fourth quarter, when missed shots and forced fouls by Centre allowed SES to pull ahead.
The team made eight of 46 baskets from two-point range and eight of 29 from 3-point range. They were six of nine from the free-throw line.
Deines, who was celebrating his 18th birthday, was Centre’s leading scorer with 16 points. He also had seven rebounds — three offensive and four defensive, two steals, and two assists. Wyatt and Simons also scored in double figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Simons had five rebounds altogether, and Wyatt, Peterson, and Methvin had three each.
The Cougars got an exciting 7-0 start against Northern Heights Thursday. Deines made a layup, stole the Heights rebound, and passed the ball to Grant Srajer for another basket. Wyatt then made a basket from beyond the arc after a Heights turnover.
With an aggressive defense and strong offense, Centre kept the lead throughout the game, although Heights got within two, 26-24, in the second quarter. Centre led, 36-29, at halftime. After an 18-10 scoring advantage in the third quarter, they led, 54-39. The final score was 64-47.
The Cougars made 20 field goals compared with 11 by Heights and six 3-pointers compared with two by Heights. Centre was six of nine from the free-throw line compared with 19 of 23 by Heights.
Deines scored 19 points and had four assists and seven steals. Methvin scored 12 points and had eight rebounds. Simons had six assists.
Aggressive rebounding by the Cougars in the first game of the tournament Dec. 4 helped them to a 54-43 victory over Herington. Deines got the ball rolling for Centre with a 3-point shot. The two teams tied at 3-3, and from then on, Centre dominated. After four more points by Deines, a free throw and field goal by Simons, a 3-pointer by Kodey Johnson, and a free throw by Grant Srajer, Centre led, 14-6, at the end of the first quarter.
Methvin warmed up toward the end of the second quarter, scoring six consecutive points by halftime and another field goal to start the third quarter. After that, Wyatt went on a roll, scoring two consecutive baskets from beyond the arc and adding three more field goals for 12 points. Centre led, 44-28, at the end of the quarter.
However, just when it looked like the Cougars had the game in the bag, the Railers came on aggressively in the fourth quarter, scoring seven unanswered points to close the gap to seven, 44-37. The Cougars then began to play a delayed game, taking away the momentum from Herington and forcing them to foul. Srajer made a field goal and Simons made eight free throws in the remaining minutes, sealing the victory for Centre.
Wyatt led scoring with 14 points, all from the field. He also led at the boards with four offensive and four defensive rebounds. Simons scored 13 points, including nine of 12 free throw attempts. Methvin scored eight points and had seven rebounds. Deines scored nine points and had five steals. Srajer led in assists with three.
Coach Wyatt said Grant Srajer played a great defensive tournament. The 5-5 junior was given the role to shut down opponents’ best offensive players, often at a five-inch or greater disadvantage.
“Grant plays hard every minute of the game and enjoys the challenge,” Wyatt said.
He praised all of the players for their contributions.
“I’m proud of these guys for their hard work, effort, determination, and play,” he said. “They play well together, and they give everything they have.”