Central Earns Trip To Charleston
Knights drain 17 3s in rout of St. Marys
WHEELING–Buckets were falling at a rapid pace on Wednesday night at Coach Skip Prosser Court.
Wheeling Central buried 17 3-pointers as it raced past St. Marys in a Class A Region One Co-Final by a 91-61 count, punching its ticket for a sixth consecutive state tournament appearance.
The Maroon Knights did so without 1,000-point scorer and first team all-state senior Brent Price, who sat out with an injury but will be ready to go for the first-round battle in Charleston.
In his absence, Owen Gainer continued his incredible season with 26 points and six 3-pointers. He also received help from Ian Georges and Jalen Creighton who netted 13 and 12 points, respectively, and combined for six treys.
“We shot the ball really well,” Central coach Mel Stephens said. “Ian Georges has been playing really well for us and he stepped into Brent’s spot (Wednesday). He knocked down some big shots and of course you expect that from Owen.
“Jalen also came off the bench and made some big 3’s for us, too.”
St. Marys coach Mark Barnhart prepared his team for the sharpshooters of Central but once shots started falling, it was hard to stop.
“You knew that a barrage was coming because you know what kind of talent they have,” Barnhart said.
“It is easy to get the kids ready for it but to deal with it in this atmosphere is another thing.
“You have to be able to weather that storm and we can’t go down and take a quick shot and that’s what we were guilty of.”
The Blue Devils kept the damage limited early. In fact, they held a 7-2 lead early in the action.
The Knights started to catch fire midway through the first as Gainer garnered a pair of 3-pointers, along with one from Creighton and Bray Price each, giving them an 18-14 edge at the end of the opening frame.
With Central leading 23-18 early in the second, it reeled off an 8-0 run to soften the cushion to 31-18. The Knights recorded seven 3-pointers in the second quarter and finished the first half with 11 to secure a comfortable 51-35 halftime lead.
Gainer contributed 15 points and three 3-pointers in the first half and Georges drained all three of his bullseyes behind the arc in the final two minutes of the half.
“Brent creates a lot of offense for us and he gets the ball moving ,” Gainer said. “It was weird playing without him but I thought other guys stepped up and Ian hit some big shots. Bray played really well and Jalen came in and played well.
“My guys were just hitting me and giving me confidence. They just went in (Wednesday).”
Central continued to increase its lead in the second half as Cedric Williams tallied nine points in the third stanza to give his squad a 74-51 upperhand heading to the fourth and never looked back.
The Knights’ aggressive defensive pressure forced 13 turnovers and took its toll on the Blue Devils.
“I think our defense wore them down a little bit,” Stephens said. “That’s always our goal. They played well and shot the ball well but our thing is to try to speed teams up.”
Anthony Robbins accounted for seven points for Central, while J.C. Maxwell, Bray Price and Blake Peluchette all finished with six points and will make the journey to Charleston as the top seed to take on Tyler Consolidated.
“We’ve got some kids going down there for the fourth year in a row,” Stephens said. “But we’ve always got new kids who get to go for the first time. Logan Ruckh and Anthony Robbins came from Bishop Donahue and now they get to experience that. It is something special.
“We have come up short the last few years but hopefully we’ll go a little further this year and bring it back.
“It’s really an accomplishment to get down there, though.”
Evan Lamp was outstanding for St. Marys as he turned in 26 points, while Isaak Mooney provided 11 and Peyton Auxier added eight.