The edict from above has called for basketball referees to call games closer.
The result was a sloggy foul-fest that occurred Saturday night at Alexander Arena and figures to continue until the players learn to adjust.
Central Christian College’s men escaped from Oklahoma Wesleyan 83-80 in the final night of the Classic for Christ, moving the Tigers to 4-1 on the season, 3-1 against KCAC schools.
But it was a hard-to-watch, choppy hackfest that had Central’s Tony Romero wondering where the game he enjoys coaching so much has gone.
The teams were called for 55 fouls, resulting in 65 free throws that drew the game out to more than 2 hours.
“The way they’re calling it now, it’s just stick your head down and drive and hope to get fouled,” Romero sighed. “We got some calls in the second half, so it went both ways. But there was no flow, too many whistles. It was tough. Thirty-nine and 26 free throws, that’s too many.”
The two former MCAC members played with considerable passion as it was obvious while they’re not in the same conference anymore, the steam hasn’t gone out of the rivalry.
Central led 42-39 at the half after being up as much as 12. The Tigers again blew out to a double-digit lead midway through the second half, 66-56, but the talented Eagles refused to fold, cutting the lead to one, 70-69, with 6:52 to go.
Central, though, never allowed Wesleyan to tie or take the lead. Up 83-80, the Eagles had two chances for a tying basket in the final seconds, but the Tigers’ Sam Clayborn came up with a block and then Bremien Alexander’s 3-pointer was off.
Michael Gholston led CCC with 23 points and Ernest Burton, in his first start, added 19. Jerome Jackson provided a spark off the bench with 11 and while highlight-film author Alonzo Stafford was held to just seven points, he snatched 15 rebounds.
The Eagles, an immensely talented team that doesn’t play with much structure, were led by Alexander with 19 points off the bench.
Central is right back in action on Monday when it hosts Manhattan Christian.
Central (83) — Gholston 23, Burton 19, Stafford 7, Warren 4, Nwosuh 6, Jackson 11, Clayborn 9, Robbins 4.
Oklahoma Wesleyan (80) — Hamilton 8, Everett 4, Thomas 13, Houston 12, Williams 13, Ross 8, Alexander 19, Schuessler 3.
• GRACE WOMEN 71, CENTRAL 60 — Speaking of hard games to watch, Grace won despite committing 36 turnovers, one more than the Lady Tigers, who are now 0-4.
The second quarter decided the outcome with the Royals outscoring CCC, 24-16.
Heather Crittenden led Central with 16 points and Kylie Laskowski had the best game of her career with 14.
“We made far too many mistakes in the first half and dug ourselves a big hole,” Central coach Chris Honeck said. "I was very pleased with the fight we showed in the second half, though, fighting back from an 20-point deficit to tie the score in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, we made a few of the same mistakes we had earlier in the game and let it slip away."
The big stat was rebounding as Grace had a 49-28 advantage against the shorter Lady Tigers.
Central is tentatively scheduled to host Manhattan Christian on Monday, but the Thunder’s Sally Rowell was fatally injured in a car accident this past week and the team pulled out of the Classic here. A celebration of her life took place on Saturday in her hometown of El Dorado.
Central (60) — Laskowski 14, Crittenden 16, Brooks 8, Banks 4, Lopez 1, Young 8, Floyd 2, Garza 3, Campa 4.
Grace (71) — Worley 5, Evans 8, Strickland 5, Ward 12, Kuney 8, Orozco 16, Hughes 4, Quedraogo 2, Bloodworth 11.