By Robert Edmonds - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- The Central Falcons continued flying high as they extended their winning streak to four to open the young season when they hosted Warren County on Friday night.
Central opened up the game early from the perimeter as four different Falcons players knocked down 3-pointers in the opening quarter. With Warren County guarding the perimeter closely, the Falcons then went inside to senior Michael Marston.
Marston finished the night with a double-double, recording 20 points and 13 rebounds, both career highs for the senior, in the 73-46 thrashing of the Wildcats.
"We knew we had to work together as a team tonight," Marston said. "Aaron Heishman was able to knock down some shots, and they went outside and I was able to contribute inside. I think the pressure on defense also was a big factor. We take a lot of pride in our defense and work hard and we were able to get some turnovers and get on runs."
Trailing 17-7 to start the second quarter, the Wildcats rallied behind Marty Haley and Logan Hibbs. After a Hibbs bucket in the paint to start, Haley secured a steal and went the other way for an easy basket. Another bucket by Haley and a Hibbs basket that missed being a 3-pointer by the tip of his shoes pulled Warren to within five.
"I think we got off to a good start," Central coach Roger Wilkins said. "Even with that, they kept climbing back. They played very hard, and they have a good team and a good coach who does a good job with that team."
Feeling the Wildcats closing, the Falcons turned up the heat even more by going on a 15-2 run to build a commanding lead going into halftime. Marston led the way with eight points during the streak. Kyle Willis added four, while three other players each contributed with a basket of their own.
It appeared that the run deflated the Wildcats' confidence as the quarter drew to a close, but Warren came out fighting to start the second half. The Wildcats cut the lead to nine as they trimmed away at the deficit. Chase Rexthroat led the way as he connected on a shot inside.
On the next attempt down the floor, Rexthroat again battled in the paint. The senior converted a three-point play when he sank a shot from the foul line after being hacked by a Falcons defender.
"We came in tonight and wanted to slow down the pace," Wildcats coach Vernon Mathews said. "We did that sometimes, and sometimes we didn't. When we did, it showed and we were able to get inside for some easy baskets. I think the times we didn't, we forced ourselves into some quick shots and rushed things too much."
Once again, Central responded. Heishman connected on a 3-pointer to silence the Wildcats' attack. Marston added another six points in the quarter as the Falcons re-established their 14-point lead heading into the final period.
"It was very important for us to get the ball down to Mike [Marston]," Wilkins said. "That drew their defense in and he was able to get the job done down inside. He bounced back very well from the other night against Strasburg and had a career game in points and rebounds."
With the offense rolling and the Falcons' signature defense forcing an uncomfortable pace for the Wildcats, Central was able to force turnovers that resulted in easy scores to widen the margin to open the fourth.
Heishman took control for Central, scoring 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter. Seth Bauserman added 13 and Willis chipped in with nine in the winning effort.
"They got a lot of second-shot opportunities," Mathews said. "Marston did a good job inside cleaning up on their missed shots and getting them other chances. We tried to put more bodies on him in the second half and it helped. We wanted to do that early on as well, but we weren't able to execute. We did a much better job in the second half."
Despite the win, Wilkins thinks his team can get even better with the season just getting underway.
"Even with the win, we are not where we need to be," Wilkins said. "We understand that as a team, and we just need to keep playing together and keep the intensity and heart and we will continue to improve. We play pretty good team ball, and they play hard and hustle as a team."