Basketball

Boys hoops: Mack Smith scores 27 as Warren Central pulls away

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Mack Smith (12) scoreD a game-high 27 points in lifting Warren Central past Lawrence Central on Wednesday night.

Mack Smith (12) scoreD a game-high 27 points in lifting Warren Central past Lawrence Central on Wednesday night.

Warren Central senior Mack Smith doesn’t enjoy hearing the word “soft” to describe him or his team’s play.

But that was the message Smith said his Warriors received from their coach on Tuesday night at halftime of a tie game against Lawrence Central.

The Warriors took that message to heart. Warren Central started the third quarter on fire — hitting its first six shots — and then held on late to beat a scrappy Bears squad 67-58 in the opening round of the Marion County tournament.

The Class 4A No. 7 Warriors — who improved to 10-0 — will play host to Lawrence North at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the tournament’s quarterfinals.

“Coach (Criss Beyers) came in at halftime and said we had no energy and were playing soft,” said Smith, who scored a game-high 27 points on 8-of-12 shooting. “Soft is a word we don’t want to hear. We know we can do it. We wanted to come out in the third and play hard.”

Tied at 28 at halftime, Warren Central used a 21-9 run to take a 49-37 lead with 2:08 to play in the third period. The Warriors shot 9-of-12 from the field en route to outscoring Lawrence Central, 25-17.

“We like to say, ‘Play hard, play smart and play tough,’” Beyers said. “We didn’t do that in the first half. We gave up too many offensive rebounds and points after rebounds. I think (the Bears) played harder than us (in the first half). We challenged them and said a few things at halftime.”

The Bears didn’t go away quietly, though. A layup from senior Eric Easter cut the Warriors’ lead to 56-51 with 3:16 to play.

But Lawrence Central couldn’t draw any closer. The Warriors did a good job of burning the clock down, and Smith all but iced the game with an 8-for-8 shooting effort from the foul line, which earned his coach’s praise.

“He gets his points, but more than just being a scorer, he’s become a vocal leader,” Beyers said. “But we really talk to the kids about it being a team effort.”

As a team, Warren Central is hot right now. The Warriors are coming off wins over the weekend against Lawrence North and Hamilton Southeastern.

“They haven’t achieved anything yet, but with their record, they’re going to get everyone’s best shot no matter who we play,” Beyers said.

Senior Trequan Spivey added 13 points for Warren Central.

The Bears, meanwhile, dropped to 4-6. They were led by Easter, who scored 16 points.

WARREN CENTRAL 67, LAWRENCE CENTRAL 58

Warren Central 17 11 25 14  — 67

Lawrence Central 11 17 17 13 — 58

Warren Central (10-0) — Tate 1 7-7 10, Minor 3 0-0 6, Spivey 5 3-4 13, Bell 3 1-4 7, Smith 8 8-8 27, Harper 0 1-2 1, Tyler 0 3-4 3, Hines 0 0-2 0. Totals 20 23-30 67.

Lawrence Central (4-6) — Bell 3 3-4 10, KJ Davis 4 2-3 13, Easter 6 4-6 16, Jordan 3 2-6 8, D Davis 3 0-0 7, Gillard 1 0-0 2, Terry 1 0-0 2. Totals 21 11-19 58.

3-Point goals: Warren Central 4 (Smith 3, Tate 1). Lawrence Central 5 (KJ Davis 3, Bell 1, D. Davis 1).