The Center Point-Urbana girls basketball team has experienced highs the Central DeWitt girls are trying to attain.
The 4A No. 3 Stormin’ Pointers blitzed their way to a state title in Class 3A last winter, winning their three games by an average of nearly 28 points.
With eight more wins to start this season, Center Point-Urbana entered Tuesday’s showdown with the 10th-ranked Sabers riding a 17-game winning streak.
And ultimately, it was the Pointers’ winning experience that helped them extend that streak to 18.
Up to the task of its talented foe, Central DeWitt used a big second quarter to open an eight-point halftime lead and led by as many as 11 points in the second half.
The Pointers, though, did not wilt. Instead, they cut the Sabers’ lead down to four late in the third quarter and then took the lead outright in the fourth.
And in the final minute, it was the guests who made the most plays, turning two Sabers turnovers into the deciding points in a 49-47 victory.
It was a six-point Central DeWitt lead heading to the fourth, but the advantage did not last long as the Pointers scored the first seven points of the stanza to pull in front 41-40.
The Sabers countered with a hoop inside by Taylor Veach, but the Pointers’ answer was even better — a three-pointer by Adrianna Katcher that made it a two-point game.
Not to be outdone, a cutting Veach took a pass inside from Talbot Kinney and put it in, all while getting fouled. The sophomore tacked on the free throw as well and the Sabers were back in front with less than a minute to play.
Central DeWitt looked to be in great shape, too, as the next Center Point-Urbana possession ended prematurely with a travel.
The Pointers, though, swarmed on the Sabers’ ensuing inbounds pass, coming up with a steal and a quick hoop inside, which turned into a three-point play.
Now facing a 47-45 deficit, the Sabers still had a chance to tie or even take the lead.
The Pointers’ pressure, however, forced an errant pass along the sideline and the Sabers stepped out of bounds before they could save it.
That gave the ball back to the visitors, who calmly hit two free throws to make it a four-point game and time ran out on Central DeWitt after a final driving lay-up from Veach.
Both Veach and fellow sophomore Allie Meadows took over a quarter during the first half.
Veach put in 11 of the team’s 13 first-quarter points, including a deep three-pointer before the buzzer that made it 13-12 Sabers.
Meadows picked up right where her teammate left off. The guard opened the second quarter with her own three-pointer, part of a personal run of seven straight points that made it 20-12.
The Pointers answered back, pulling within three at 21-18, but Natalie Butler scored inside, and the Sabers finished the first half with back-to-back three-pointers — the first from Meadows, who had 11 points in the quarter, and the second from Grace Pierce — to take a 29-21 advantage into the break.
Five straight Veach points in the third quarter gave the Sabers their biggest lead — 34-23 — and it was still an 11-point margin when Center Point-Urbana went on a 9-2 run to close the gap and set up the exciting finish.
Veach scored 16 points after halftime and finished with 27 — matching a career-high.
Meadows added 13 points, dished out a team-high three assists and joined Kinney with two steals.
Veach grabbed seven rebounds and Kinney six, while Lauren Cooper dished out two assists.