The bench came to the rescue Thursday night for Central Christian College’s men as the Tigers ended a brief two-game basketball losing streak with a 77-72 victory over Haskell at Alexander Arena.
Reserve Steve Kuminga scored all 14 of his points in the first half as he was 6 of 6 from the field to keep the Tigers close as they were down 43-41. In the second half, super sub Ernest Burton scored 11 of his team-high 18 points as the Tigers charged back to improve to 21-7 on the year.
“We found a way,” Central coach Tony Romero said. “I thought we didn’t play with a lot of intensity on defense in the first half and they shot 58 percent as we struggled guarding the ball screen, but we kept grinding. We just wanted to keep pushing the pace and finally in the first 8 minutes of the second half we were able to create some turnovers.”
Haskell fell to 6-23, but Romero came away with great respect for his opponent.
“They play everybody tough. Nobody blows them out,” Romero said.
Also in double digits for the Tigers were Sam Clayborn with 16 points and Michael Gholston with 13.
Tsalidi Sequoyah, the 6-10 senior center who Romero said seemingly has been around forever, scored 25 points for Haskell, including 12 in the first 6 minutes of the game.
Central is back home on Saturday to take on College of the Ozarks, which outlasted CCC in overtime last Saturday in Missouri. Romero admitted the sting of that loss is still being felt, as the Tigers had a two-point lead with a second remaining, but the Bobcats hit two free throws and then won the game in overtime.
It will be Senior Day on Saturday, with game time set for 5 p.m. at Alexander Arena.
Central (77) — Warren 4, Osagie 6, Clayborn 16, Nwosuh 4, Gholston 13, Lenard 2, Kuminga 14, Burton 18.
Haskell (72) — Johnson 2, Candyfire 2, Sequoyah 25, Elledge 10, Brinson 6, Bruns 11, Moore 16.
• HASKELL WOMEN 91, CENTRAL 54 — The Tigers had only six healthy players and Haskell took advantage by running away for the win, scoring 62 of their points in the paint.
Kelsey Grimaldo poured in 20 points to lead Central, now 9-14. Abbie Banks and Micah Redenbaugh scored 10 apiece.
Grimaldo also set the CCC single-season assist record during the game.
Rebekah Glessner just missed a double-double for CCC with 10 rebounds and 9 points.
“I was proud of the fight we showed tonight," Central coach Chris Honeck said. "We were obviously shorthanded without Ridglea (Hearne) being available, but the girls kept fighting until the end of the game. Haskell's quickness caused us problems all night and made it tough for us to get into our offense. Defensively, we didn't execute our game plan as well as we needed to, and Haskell took advantage of that. I was very impressed with Rebekah Glessner tonight, especially with her efforts on the offensive boards, and also with Kelsey Grimaldo's overall game. With her 9 assists tonight, she broke the school's single-season assist record."
Central is home on Saturday to take on College of the Ozarks, with tip time 3:00 at Alexander Arena.
Central (54) — Glessner 9, Gonzales 5, Grimaldo 20, Banks 10, Redenbaugh 10.
Haskell (91) — Murphy 10, Meat 18, Bates 9, Honena-Reyes 21, Coriz 7, Shavinga 14, Penn 3, Buffalo 3, Lujan 6.