Central girls basketball loses in regional final

Central girls basketball loses in regional final

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Central girls basketball loses in regional final

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Central lost 61-52 Saturday night in the Bellmont Regional girls basketball championship game to Norwell. The Bearcats defeated Class 3A No. 1 Garrett in the morning semifinal.
EARLIER: The Garrett girls basketball team came into Saturday’s regional opener with a No. 3 ranking in Class 3A and a record unsullied by even a single defeat.
Then Central walked into the gym at Bellmont and slapped a purple blemish across that resume, sending the Railroaders home on the track from whence they came.
The game wasn’t always so easy, but Central roared back from a second-quarter deficit to knock off Garrett 48-35, and advance to within one win of the program’s first regional title. The Bearcats will play Norwell, a 55-54 winner against NorthWood in the other semifinal game, in the title contest tonight at 8.
Garrett (23-1) looked every bit the favorite early against Central, shredding the press, but the Bearcats slowed things down and locked them down in the second half.
But what Central coach Lisa Blalock saw in when she walked into the locker room said almost as much about the team as its play on the court.
“I thought it would just be madness with celebration and everything,” Blalock said. “They were excited, but they came to win two games.”
The Bearcats (18-5) had to do much of their work with star forward Jayla Scaife limited. She committed her second foul four minutes into the game, and her third unnecessarily with a few seconds left in the opening half. But she found ways to play around that, and asserted herself late, finishing with 19 points and eight rebounds.
Garrett controlled play in the early going and managed to go up 21-14 early in the second. They sliced through Central’s full-court pressure, led by Brandi Dawson (17 points, nine rebounds), with Taylor Smith (13 points, eight rebounds) finishing inside.
But Central applied the brakes, as the Railroaders got sloppy with seven turnovers in the second quarter.
Blalock said her charges were so patient on offense in the second half, they were almost resting. Defensively, they overloaded one half of the floor, pressured skip passes and time and again and made picture-perfect recoveries to prevent open 3s on the weakside, a staple for Garrett.
And by game’s end, Central had allowed 12 second-half points, as Scaife and a balanced attack did the rest.
“We just had to get a feel for how it was going to be,” Scaife said. “They’re a faster team than what we’re used to.
“Once we did, it started to work.”
The Bearcats came into today having won the program’s first sectional title since the 1996-97 season.
Only one city school has ever won a girls basketball regional title. Muncie Northside won during the 1982-83 season.

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Central girls basketball loses in regional final
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