Knights Cruise To A 67-34 Victory Over Hornets
The Hundred Hornets showed their nerves early in the Section One, Class A boys’ basketball sectional championship at the Maroon Knight gymnasium March 6, but still tied Central 17-17 before the Knights used a 17-2 run to close the first half and go on to capture a 67-34 victory.
Hundred lit up the scoreboard first with a free throw by Logan McDiffitt, but Central came back with a deuce while Corey Kimble netted a jumper in the paint to retake the lead early in the first quarter, aided by a steal and five Emery Smith rebounds in the first three minutes.
Central rattled off seven straight points to take a 9-3 lead with two minutes left in period and Hornet Head Coach Justin Balwanz called a quick time out to talk things over.
Neither team scored in the next two minutes, but Smith rebounded his miss and hit a runner as time expired to close the Central lead to 9-6.
The Hornets took the ball out to start the second period and McDiffitt drove to the hole where his shot rattled around the rim and fell off. Central went down and hit a triple, but McDiffitt made a basket inside. After a Central deuce, Smith made a nice move inside to pull the Hornets to within four. Dalton Kuhn then nailed a basket from beyond the arc to pull the visitors to within one; and, shortly thereafter, McDiffitt hit a on a threeball to knot the game at 17.
Central scored the next nine points and the Hornets ended their drought on Smith’s two-pointer that closed the gap to 26-19. However, the Maroon quickly stretched it to 34-19, closing the half with two free throws and back-to-back triples with the second one coming at the horn.
McDiffitt paced the Hornets with 11 points, while Kimble added nine points and 11 rebounds. Smith and Dalton Kuhn each netted six points, while Smith grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. Zach Phillips and Shane Kuhn each netted a free throw.
The victory, Central’s 19th against five defeats, keeps Coach Mel Stephens’ defending state champions on the home floor for next Thursday’s Region One co-final against Williamstown, which lost 35-33 in overtime to St. Marys in the Section Two title joust.
Hundred (14-8) also gets another chance to advance to the state tournament, but the Hornets will again have to try and find a way to win on the road when it plays at St. Marys, also Thursday night.
Hundred, which has just one senior on its roster, showed up with plenty of desire and high hopes of knocking off the Maroon Knights, who have emerged as state champions five times in the previous seven seasons.
”I kept telling our kids that it’s not who we play or where we play. The most important thing is how we play,” Hornet Coach Justin Balwanz said. ”We left everything we had on the floor and I’m proud of our effort. But, Central has a great basketball team and they are very well-coached. This was a gut-check game for us. We’ll learn from it and, hopefully, it won’t influence our approach to when we go to St. Marys next week.”