It was a bullfight Friday as the Centre Cougars battled archrival Rural Vista at home. They defeated the Heat, 47-41, to remain undefeated in league play.
After a slow 4-2 first-quarter start, Centre increased its defense. That, combined with good scoring by Cody Svoboda, Dylan Deines, and Cole Srajer resulted in a 24-12 halftime lead.
Srajer had a spectacular last-second 3-point shot from far beyond the arc. Fans roared as, after his initial attempt was blocked, he retrieved the ball in the air and hit the shot at the buzzer.
The Heat got back to within 3 points at the end of the third quarter and were within 1 point twice as the game wound down. As Rural Vista started fouling, Centre kept the ball in Srajer’s hands. He scored 8 free throws in the final minute and 13 seconds to secure the victory.
Srajer was leading scoring with 18 points, including 10 of 12 free throws. Deines scored 14 points.
Deines and Xavier Espinoza had 8 rebounds each, followed by Cole Methvin, 6, Brendan Bina, 5, and Svoboda, 5.
“The team continues to improve in different aspects of the game,” coach Richard Idleman said. “Seeing them grow before my eyes is special.”
Centre played Herington for the third time this year Tuesday in the opening round of the Cougar Classic.
They were 5-0 in the league and 8-1 overall heading into the tournament as top seed. Rural Vista is second seed.
The Lady Cougars lost, 51-35. Rural Vista opened up a 15-point lead in the second quarter, including 3 treys, but Centre got within 10 points by halftime.
The team continued to fight their way back in the third quarter, coming within 4 points. However, the Lady Heat got hot in the fourth quarter, handing Centre a 16-point loss.
Summer Espinoza led statistically, shooting 50 percent from the field, scoring 11 points including 5 of 6 free throws, and tying Kate Basore in rebounds, with 6.
Shelby Pankratz had three assists, and Kelsey Hett, Pankratz, and Basore each had 3 steals.
“It is hard to fight back from an early deficit and maintain the effort all the way through,” coach Alan Stahlecker said. “Rural Vista played very well.”
The Lady Cougars played Wakefield Tuesday in the opening round of the Cougar Classic.