When Central needed offense from Kaleb Mallory on Friday, the senior point guard delivered points. Mallory didn’t miss a shot in the first half, scored four points in the third quarter, then scored seven more in the fourth to help his team hold on for a 58-50 win over Yorktown in the Class 3A Central Sectional semifinals.
With the victory, Central (8-13) advanced to play Hamilton Heights at 7 p.m. Monday in the sectional title game. Hamilton Heights beat Southside 73-56 in the first semifinal game.
The sectional championship is being played Monday so as not to conflict with Hamilton Heights’ girls basketball team’s appearance in today’s state championship game.
Mallory finished with 28 points on 9-for-12 shooting from the field and 8-for-9 shooting at the foul line.
“I didn’t know I didn’t miss a shot (in the first half,) first of all,” Mallory said. “I’ve never had a night like that. But I guess, sometimes you’re on, sometimes you’re off. I guess tonight was my on night.”
The senior scored nine points in the first quarter as the Bearcats jumped out to an eight-point lead by the end of the period. Central led by 11 points at halftime, and its lead lingered for most of the game.
Yorktown (15-8) rallied late in the game, and the Tigers trailed by just four points with about 38 seconds remaining after a basket by Riley Miller. Central’s Jabriel Allen then made the front end of a one-and-one, and Bearcat freshman Marcus Dukes grabbed the rebound when Allen missed the second.
Mallory then buried two free throws with 28.7 seconds remaining, and the lead had expanded to 57-50. Yorktown never recovered, missing a 3-pointer on its next possession. Mallory went to the line again, going 1-for-2 to score the game’s final point.
“I have ton of confidence in (Mallory),” Central coach Matt Fine said. “I’m so proud of how he’s grown up, to being a guy that last year, a guy that looked to everybody else. And now everybody’s looking at him. That’s a huge difference in a role from one year to the next. So, he’s accepted that. He knows everything that we do; he’s tough.”
Allen was the only other Central player to crack double-figures, scoring 11. Tim Barrett finished with nine points.
Yorktown was led by Caleb Morey, who scored 14 points. Jordan Bibbs added 11 points for the Tigers. Riley Neal had a team-leading eight rebounds.
Southside season ends
Hamilton Heights scored 27 first-quarter points, quickly building a 16-point lead and didn’t look back in a 73-56 win over Southside.
The Huskies (14-8) had five double-figure scorers, led by former Kansas State commit Alex Etherington, who scored 22 points. He had a double-double, also grabbing 10 rebounds.
Southside (7-14) was led by Terrence Johnson, who scored 16 points and grabbed a team-leading seven rebounds. Shemar Isom and Braiden Reynolds each scored nine points for the Rebels.
“We had a roller-coaster season, we really did,” Southside first-year coach Jeff Howard said. “I never started the same lineup, maybe more than twice. I love the kids, I love the school, I would just say it was a roller-coaster season, it really was. And it was just like this game. We had great moments. We’d have moments where it looked like, ‘Are they even coached?’ And we had moments where everybody looked inexperienced. To a certain point, they were.”
Conley Hoover finished with 13 points for Heights, including 11 in the first quarter with three 3-pointers. Bo O’Laughlin scored 11 points.