The drama and intrigue about who the winner would be were gone in just a matter of minutes.
It was clear to see which squad had a decided advantage in the Division II Central District first round tournament game between host No. 3 seed Centennial and No. 17 London on Saturday, Feb. 15.
The long, athletic and lightning quick Stars used a suffocating defense and laser-like execution to snuff out any thoughts of a Red Raiders (5-17) upset in what turned out to be a lopsided 71-20 Centennial victory.
But while his team was struggling just to get into its offensive sets, get off simple passes and get even a glimmer of a clean look at the basket, Raiders’ coach Bob Williams saw the silver-lining in the situation.
“That’s where we want to be,” the coach said. “We have to look at this at not being the end, but the beginning of something special. We’re young, hopefully our kids will work hard this spring and summer and hopefully everyone will come back, and come back better.”
It wasn’t all that long ago that the Centennial program was at the very bottom of the Columbus City League, but now looks to be a serious threat to win itself a D-II district championship. Williams thinks that the collection of talented, young players on his roster can learn a lot from playing in a game against a team as strong as the Stars.
“A game like this shows you your shortcomings certainly, it also shows you how good a basketball player you can become,” the coach said. “For me as a coach it also shows what I need to work on to get us to be able to play at that level.”
Centennial led 42-7 at the half and 60-12 after three quarters. But the Stars refused to back off their full-court pressure and made London work for everything it got. Being in that type of situation should prove to be vital when and if the Raiders are ever again in that situation.
“I told them we were playing the No. 3 seed, in order for us not to be facing these types of teams in the first round, we have to do better in the regular season, which will help us in our seeding. It also gives us something to think about going forward, how hard they played, how good this player or that player was.
“We need to be able to play a full game like this with the pressure on. We need to work on that, we played hard, but Centennial is a very good basketball team.”
London was led in scoring by Megan Cox who scored eight points. Aliyah Hiram and Lindsay Freet had three each in the loss.
Plains girls to
The 13th-seeded Madison-Plains girls will host their D-III tournament opener against No. 14 Johnstown Northridge at p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 19.
Northridge knocked off No. 7 seed Fredericktown 41-40 on Saturday, Feb. 15.
The winner of the Plains-Northridge tilt will advance to a district semifinal at Granville on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 18 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.