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|12/15/2012 ||Email this article Print this article |
Sabers rise to the challenge, top second-ranked Solon
|Central junior Kyle Bauer goes up for a lay-up during the fourth quarter of the Sabers’ 60-51 victory over Solon, Tuesday night. Bauer led all players with 19 points, including three three-pointers, as the Sabers knocked off the second-ranked Spartans. Photos by Ross Eberhart|
|Saber forward Christian Wright composes himself as he heads to the free throw line during the fourth quarter of Central’s victory over Solon. Fouled with the Sabers up just five, Wright knocked down both of his attempts — the last of 14 points the Central junior scored in the game.|
By Ross Eberhart
The challenge proved to be great for the Central boys basketball team during Tuesday's home game with Solon.
The reward, though, was even better.
Taking on a Spartan squad that was ranked second in class 3A and had won both of last year's meetings by an average of over 24 points, the Sabers put together their best performance of the season.
Central built a lead as large as 13 points in the second half and then showed its meddle down the stretch, hitting their free throws when the Spartans had drawn within four to pick up a huge 60-51 victory.
It was not just one thing that the Sabers did well during the game, but rather a list of things which Central head coach Jeff Frick was more than happy to reel off.
"We played with confidence. We played with poise on the court. We were patient with our offense and did not force things," said Frick of what impressed him most with his team's play. "We let the offense create shots for us and we defended and rebounded well."
"It was a great team win for us and it is, hopefully, something that we can continue to build on."
In fact, both sides of the ball stepped up for the Sabers. The Central defense held Solon to its lowest offensive output of the season and forced the Spartans to shoot just 34 percent from the field (17-of-46) and 24 percent from three-point land.
The Saber offense, meanwhile, did not press against the attacking Spartan zone and instead took advantage of their open opportunities, shooting 40 percent from the field while also downing 20 free throws.
It was the Spartans who got on the board first with a jumper, but that opening hoop proved to be Solon's only lead of the game.
Quickly, Central answered back with Mitch Kirby pounding inside for a hoop. Solon came up empty on its next drive and Central took a lead it would never relinquish when A.J. Smith spun in the lane for two.
The Sabers kept it going. Junior Kyle Bauer found a soft spot in the Solon zone and drained a three-pointer and then, moments later, faked another three attempt and instead headed to the basket for an acrobatic lay-up.
The hoop made it 9-2 and forced a Solon timeout just over four minutes into the game.
The Spartans came out after the timeout and drained a three, but that did not phase the Sabers, who simply got a trey of their own from Christian Wright to push the lead back to seven.
Wright proved to be the Sabers' answer to Solon for the remainder of the quarter. The Spartans followed up Central's three with a pair of free throws, but Wright answered with a short jumper.
Solon came back with another basket only to see Wright answer again, this time with another three-pointer. The trey proved to be the final points of the quarter and Central was in front 17-9.
The small break between quarters certainly did not cool the Sabers down as Bauer continued Central's three-point barrage with a long range shot from the corner.
The Spartans missed on their trip down the floor and Bauer made them pay with another three-pointer that made it 23-9.
Solon switched to a man-to-man defense for the remainder of the second quarter and the move paid off as the Spartans outscored the Sabers 11-4 (Central's points came on a drive to the hoop by McClain Steffens and a Smith jumper) during the remainder of the period to cut the lead down to seven (27-20) at halftime.
Another Spartan hoop to begin the second half put the Sabers on shaky ground, but Central stayed calm and began to build up their lead again.
Kirby got free for an easy hoop inside and Steffens went coast-to-coast for a lay-up against the Spartans press.
Moments later, Central broke Solon's press again and Kirby had an open look for another lay-in.
In an attempt to stop the easy bucket, a Spartan defender grabbed Kirby's arm as he was going up for the shot and pulled him to the ground.
The Saber senior, though, still had enough strength to flip the ball through the hoop. The defender was whistled for an intentional foul on the play and Kirby had an opportunity to add three points to his lay-up (one for the personal foul and two more for the foul being intentional). Kirby made two of the three attempts and all of a sudden the lead was back to 13 (35-22).
Solon was not about to go away and three-straight hoops from the Spartans cut the lead back to seven. Central turned to a familiar face to stem the tide and, sure enough, Wright buried his third three-pointer of the game to stop the momentum.
Chris Keitel added a free throw for the Sabers and, despite Solon scoring the final points of the quarter, Central found itself up nine heading to the final quarter.
Solon scored again to start the fourth quarter, but Central was able to get to the free throw line on two-straight trips down the floor and Steffens and Bauer converted all of their attempts to push the lead back to 11.
Solon came right back with a 7-2 run (Bauer provided Central's points) to pull within six and then answered a Wright free throw with another hoop to make it 46-41.
The Sabers, though, got two more free throws from Wright, and Bauer snuck his way behind the Solon defense for a lay-up to go up nine again.
The Spartans made one more push, scoring five-straight points to pull within four - the closest they had been since the first quarter.
The next eight points, however, belonged to the Sabers with all of them coming at the free throw line.
Smith started the free throw parade with a pair, while Trevor Green added two of his own. Bauer knocked down one-of-two on consecutive trips and Steffens finished things off with two more freebies.
The Central defense, meanwhile, forced three Solon turnovers during the same stretch and rebounded any misses.
Solon ended the run with a hoop, but Green capped off Central's scoring with two more free throws and a Spartan three-pointer in the final second did nothing but bring the final margin under double-digits.
Bauer led the Sabers with 19 points during the game with Wright joining him in double-figures with 14.
Both Steffens and Kirby had eight points in the contest with Smith adding six and Green four.
Smith added a team-high 12 rebounds and also led the Sabers with seven assists and two steals.
Steffens and Wright each grabbed four rebounds of their own with Bauer, Mitch Green, Lucas Sheppard and Kirby all grabbing two.
Bauer, M. Green and Sheppard each had a steal in the game, while Wright blocked a team-best two shots for Central (Smith had one).