YORKTOWN — The Central boys basketball team wasn’t off to the start coach Jeff Holloway was looking for.
Playing at Yorktown, Central pulled off a 72-49 win, but it was up just 27-17 at halftime.
And when his team headed into the locker room at intermission, he still wasn’t happy with the energy his defense was showing.
“I think that first group came out sluggish,” Holloway said. “We didn’t come out with the energy we needed when you’re on the road, but I found a group in the second half that was hungry and unselfish, and it changed things for us.”
Throughout the first half, Donald Allen, the Bearcats’ 6-foot-8 center, made life difficult for the Tigers on defense and was virtually impossible to block out on the boards.
The Bearcats offense didn’t appear to be predicated around getting their very big man the ball, despite him overpowering defenders when setting down underneath the basket and calling for the ball.
Instead, he cleaned up whatever shots didn’t find the basket, rebounding and putting them back, often with two players draped over him.
At times, it seemed like he couldn’t even tell they were there. But when the Tigers were on offense, he was forced to move around the perimeter, slowing down what Holloway wanted to be a frenetic defense. Players who are used to getting out and running, like Phillip Corthen III, didn’t seem to have the usual energy.
After starting the game just 1-for-13 shooting, Yorktown woke up in the second quarter. Brevin Smith and Bobby Smith combined for 12 points, helping to cut Central’s lead to just three before a plethora of turnovers helped Central take a 10-point lead into halftime. Bobby Smith led the Tigers with 15 points.
They weren’t playing fast enough for Holloway.
“We weren’t able to speed them up as much as we wanted to,” he said, “but we were looking for effort and energy, and we finally got it in that second half.”
Central outscored Yorktown 24-19 in the third quarter, with Corthen starting to find his rhythm. He finished the game with 16 points, eight of them coming in the fourth quarter as Central put its foot down and put Yorktown away.
The Bearcts started showcasing their athleticism, taking advantage of 30 Yorktown turnovers to create a fast break that Yorktown was unable to keep up with. At one point, Andre Jones leapt high and dunked in a missed basket, jumping over a Yorktown player in the process.
If Holloway wasn’t happy with the energy level in the first half, he had nothing to complain about in the second.
“A basketball game turned into a thoroughbred race,” Yorktown coach Greg Miller said. “We didn’t do a good job mentally in that race of keeping up.”
Central continued slashing into the lane, its depth wearing down a fairly inexperienced Yorktown team that lost eight seniors from last season.
It just took a while for them to get going.
“We were just going through the motions there at the beginning, but we turned it around pretty quick,” Corthen said.
Contact sports reporter David Polaski at (765) 213-5848. Follow him on Twitter @DavidPolaskiTSP.