Central Christian College’s men’s basketball team recorded one of its best wins of the year on Thursday by outlasting former MCAC rival Southwestern Christian 81-72 at Alexander Arena.
The Tigers improved to 2-5 in the Sooner Athletic Conference. Southwestern’s loss was damaging as it had been 4-2 coming into the game and near the top of the standings.
The Tigers, as they have done in many SAC games, led at the half 43-32 and this time they were able to put down the hammer and close it out strong, leading by as many as 16.
“It feels great to finish a game out,” Central coach Tony Romero said. "We have been struggling down the stretch of games, we had our moments tonight but we did enough to close it out. Anytime you can get a win in the conference we play in, that is something to be proud of. I am happy for the guys, they have been battling every game, we have been getting a lead on most everyone we have played in conference, but just to see it go away at the end. That can take a toll on a team, but our guys have remained positive and we know if we all can give a little more each day and love the process a little more that the outcome will take care of itself."
Balance was a key as Paul Ard II led four Tigers in double figures with 20 points. TJ Williams again supplied a spark off the bench with 13, Michael Arnada was huge off the bench with 12 and didn’t miss a shot as he was 3 of 3 from the field and 4 of 4 at the line, and Cam Martin scored 11. Jubril Osagie just missed a double-double as he augmented his 9 points with 11 rebounds.
“I thought our bench was a bright spot tonight, Cam and Jubril didn't have their best offensive performances, but other guys stepped up and made some big plays,” Romero said. “Southwestern Christian plays such a unique style, we knew it could be difficult gaining any type of rhythm offensively due to their defensive pressure and their ability to trap all over the court, there were definitely times where we were sloppy with possessions, but we were fortunate enough to have some individuals take advantage of 1-on-1 opportunities."
Shawn Scott kept the game from being a runaway by making 11 of 14 shots and scored 27 points to lead the Eagles.
The Tigers are now 8-6 overall. They are on the road Tuesday to take on No. 14-ranked Oklahoma City.
Central (81) — Warren 5, Osagie 9, Martin 11, Lenard 3, Ard II 20, Arnada 12, Daniels 4, Williams 13, Kuminga 4.
Southwestern Christian (72) — Lobo 2, Cole 9, Richardson 11, Scott 27, Diaz 8, Madkin 6, Kibisov 3, Gordon 3, Gonzalez 3.
• SOUTHWESTERN CHRISTIAN WOMEN 72, CENTRAL 58 — That first SAC win continues to be elusive for the Tigers.
Central is now 0-7 in the SAC and 1-14 overall.
The Eagles held the Tigers to 8 first-quarter points and led 33-22 at the half. They put the game on ice with a 23-point third quarter.
Holly Golden topped Central with 23 points. Havanna Yannello had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Central was just 18 of 60 from the field, 5 of 25 from beyond the arc.
Eliora Johnson had a monstrous game for the Eagles with 22 points and an incredible 25 rebounds, 9 of them on the offensive end.
“After 15 games we have developed some strength in the rebounding category,” Central coach Marc Golden said. "Now the trick will be to tackle our turnover issues while continuing to rebound the basketball. While 11 steals is a conference high for us we continue to work on improving our defense."
Central has a tough matchup on Tuesday when it plays at No. 8-ranked Oklahoma City.
Central (58) — Regier 6, Yannello 12, Golden 23, Forsberg 2, Banks 8, Mefford 7.
Southwestern Christian (72) — E. Johnson 22, Vestal 16, Tully 12, Frymire 11, Janz 4, Morley 3, Wooten 2, Judkins 2.