Despite losing two of three games they played last week, the Centre boys’ basketball team (11-9) is seeded first in the substate tournament this week at Hartford. They had a bye Monday and will play Hartford (8-13) Thursday in the semi-finals.
They played league-leading Solomon last Thursday at home and were defeated 65-52.
The Cougars put up a royal fight against a taller team. They held their own until the last quarter, when the Gorillas pulled away to win by 13 points.
Centre seemed to take Solomon by surprise as the Cougars roared out of the starting gate to put the brakes on a tall, talented bunch of Gorillas. After three three-point shots, two by Grant Srajer and one by Ty Simons, and a field goal and free throw by Kyle Methvin, Centre led 16-14 at the end of the first quarter.
Dakota Stimpson opened the second quarter with two consecutive layups, giving Centre a six-point lead. Scoring by Conner Montgomery and Simons increased the lead to 26-18 before Solomon roared back with nine unanswered points and a 27-26 halftime lead.
The Cougars kept up the pressure in the third quarter, tying the game and even going up by one. Solomon led, 44-41, at the end of the quarter.
Two free throws by Methvin at the beginning of the fourth quarter put Centre within one point. But from then on, the ball game belonged to the Gorillas. They drove to the basket again and again and made numerous free throws. They outscored Centre 21-11, handing the Cougars a 13-point loss.
Simons led Centre’s scoring with 18 points, followed by Stimpson with 10.
Simons, 18; Stimpson, 10; Montgomery, 9; Methvin, 9; Srajer, 6.
The regularly scheduled game at Peabody-Burns Feb. 25 was a thriller. Centre won, 63-60.
The Cougars maintained an edge throughout the first half, leading 11-8 after one quarter and 33-25 at the break.
The Warriors picked up their game in the second half. With less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter, they took a two-point lead, 41-39. After two free throws by Montgomery and a Peabody-Burns three-point shot, the Warriors led, 44-41.
The Warriors came out strong in the fourth quarter, stunning the Cougars with a quick seven-point run to take a 10-point lead. However, two 3-pointers by Srajer, one by Methvin, and a couple of baskets and a free throw by Simons turned the game around and put Centre ahead 55-52.
Peabody-Burns scored the next five points to regain the lead, but Srajer sunk another trey to put Centre up by one.
Centre led by five points with 16 seconds to go when the Warriors made a three-pointer, but it was too little too late. After a forced foul, Montgomery made a free throw as time ran out, resulting in a three-point victory for the Cougars.