Jabriel Allen had one of those special nights on offense that high school players dream about.
The 6-foot-4 Central senior wing swished six three-pointers, made 10-of-10 free throws and scored a career-high 36 points.
But, he would have given it all up for an NCC victory on Friday night at New Castle.
The Trojans surged to a 14-point lead in the third quarter, then held off the frenzied Bearcats, 66-63.
The victory lifted New Castle to 4-2 in their NCC opener, while Central fell to 1-4 and 0-2.
“I’d trade that (36 points) for a win any day,” Allen said. “It would be fine with me if I didn’t score and made 15 rebounds and we won.”
Central came close to winning its second game of the season at the end, but the long-range shooting of Steven Bennett and the inside play of Kyle Goolsby became too tough to overcome.
Bennett scored 28 points, including a message three-pointer only seven seconds after the Trojans won the opening tip. Goolsby scored 14, all from field goals around the basket.
“They did a great job of getting Steven in a shooting position,” Central coach Matt Fine said.
The Bearcats stifled Korey Ryan, who entered the game with a 22.4 scoring average. He made just one field goal and hit 8-of-13 free throws for 10 points.
On the other end, Central found it hard to penetrate until the end of the game, settling time and again for a long-range effort.
“It was hard to get to the lane,” Fine said. “I felt fortunate to be only down nine at halftime (32-23).”
A major reason the Bearcats stayed close was Allen, who hit three of their five treys in the second quarter. He scored 12 in the final quarter as Central made a flurry of fouls to slow down the clock.
He played so well that New Castle coach Steve Bennett at one point yelled to his team in a late timeout, “You don’t want 20 getting the ball.”
Point guard Keith Mallory added 15 points for the Bearcats, including nine in the 28-point final quarter. Central junior Jay’lin Barnes grabbed 11 rebounds to lead both teams.
New Castle opened the door for Central in the fourth quarter by missing seven free throws.
“They kind of kept us in it by not hitting (them),” Fine said. “I’m proud of (my team). They scrapped and hung in there.”
Fine said it’s important that Central play a strong game tonight, when it plays hosts to Delta at the Fieldhouse.
“There’s no sense of panic. We knew this part of the schedule was tough,” Fine said. “It’s time for us to play 32 minutes of basketball.”
Allen said the winning solution is fairly simple.
“We need to execute better,” Allen said. “All we’re focusing on is getting back on a winning track.”