Central revels in fresh start
BY BARRY LEWIS World Sports Writer
Monday, February 18, 2013
2/18/13 at 4:01 AM
Central coach Eli K. Brown III stressed to his basketball team that the start of the playoffs meant new goals, new expectations and a new season.
The Braves, ranked No. 10 in Class 4A, ended the regular season with a seven-game losing streak against a difficult schedule that included two games against 5A No. 2 Memorial and another against 5A No. 5 Edison.
"We had never lost more than three in a row since I had been here," said Brown, who is in his third season as head coach. "It can be very difficult to stay focused and keep playing. But I told them that type of adversity will help us in the long run."
Central overcame more adversity on Saturday night and is 1-0 in its new season after a 54-51 victory over Webster in a 4A district game at Central.
The Braves (11-11) advance in the winners bracket to face Cascia Hall in a regional at 8 p.m. Thursday at Webster.
Central, after a rough third period, trailed 39-35 going into the fourth quarter before Brown made some defensive adjustments.
"We turned up the pressure," Brown said. "We had been lazy - jogging back to our traps. I told them we needed to be sprinting."
Brown shifted Ari'Yon Smith to guard Webster's leading scorer, Kortney Smith, and Brown came up with three steals in the fourth quarter.
The defensive tactics helped Central rally for a seven-point lead, but Webster nearly came back in the final minute. The Braves, however, prevailed as Webster missed a pair of 3-point shots in the last eight seconds.
"We dodged two bullets," Brown said.
Central and Webster had split two close regular-season games.
The Braves received big contributions from 6-foot-3 sophomore forwards Cameron Williams, 17 points, and Chaz Glover, 12 points.
"Our sophomores grew up," Brown said.
Delvon Lucas, a 5-7 senior guard who is Central's leading scorer at 22 points per game, had 14 points and 10 assists.
"My hat's off to him," Brown said. "I told him before the game that Webster would be ready to key on him. They did, and that left Cameron and Chaz open."
The playoffs arrived at a good time for Central, which reached the 5A state tournament the past two seasons.
"This allowed us to start fresh," Brown said. "That helped us. Webster is a good team, and winning that game should give us confidence in the playoffs."
Barry Lewis 918-581-8393