The proceedings Saturday night at the Muncie Fieldhouse took on such a tight and tense tone down the stretch, the result remained in doubt right up until Central boys basketball player Craig Owens tried to wriggle his way open on a shot near the basket seconds before the buzzer.
Then Yorktown’s Tyler Brumley slapped away the attempt almost as it left Owens’ hands to clinch the upset.
The Tigers walked into Central against the Class 3A No. 7 Bearcats, threw the hosts out of rhythm and escaped with the 46-44 upset victory to open their season. Before the final play, Yorktown coaches encouraged Brumley to go after that late block.
“We knew they were going to try to get close to the rim,” Yorktown coach Greg Miller said. “As well as he jumps and as long as he is, there wasn’t a whole lot of time to pass, so we told him to commit to it.”
The game was tight through most of the end of the game with neither team leading by more than three points in the final quarter. The lead for either team didn’t even reach five points after the middle of the second quarter.
Central led almost the entire game until Jordan Bibbs hit a twisting layup to make it 41-40 with 5:13 left in the fourth. Central later tied the game at 43 with a 3-point shot from Jabriel Allen, but moments later Bibbs connected on a pair of free throws to give the Tigers (1-0) a lead they would not relinquish.
Perhaps the biggest reason Yorktown knocked off a top-10 foe that went 19-5 last season was forcing the Bearcats (1-1) out of their preferred up-tempo pace and pressure defense.
The Tigers deployed a 1-3-1 halfcourt trap that completely brought Central’s halfcourt offense to a crawl. Then the Tigers hit a few key plays like 3-point shots at the second- and third-quarter buzzers, one after a defensive 3-seconds call when the Bearcats were holding the ball for the last shot.
Caleb Morey was a big weapon for the Tigers with three 3-pointers. The Bearcat offense relied on the scoring of Allen (11 points, seven rebounds) and Kaleb Mallory (13 points).
Central coach Matt Fine said his team committed several foolish fouls coming down the stretch, and missed a few of the opportunities it had in the final quarter.
“We just don’t have right now any sense of urgency to pick each other up when a bad play happens or to move on or to get a stop when we need a stop,” Fine said. “With those mistakes, we didn’t deserve to win.”