By Robert Edmonds - firstname.lastname@example.org
QUICKSBURG -- If the key to winning is defense, then Central's boys basketball team appears to have what it takes to run deep into the postseason after an impressive performance against host Stonewall Jackson on Wednesday night.
Central used its staple pressure defense to rattle the Generals and force turnovers early as they built a comfortable lead. Running on cruise control, Central used the later minutes to give its younger players game experience as the Falcons coasted to a 57-30 victory.
"This week in practice, we focused on our defense a lot," Falcons senior Michael Marston said. "That is our staple, and we know if we come in and play our game that it's going to be hard for the other team to play with us. That was a key that really helped us out tonight."
"Our defense played pretty well tonight," Falcons coach Roger Wilkins said. "We were very patient with that and we wanted to get after it. We were able to create some turnovers and speed up the tempo to our liking. We didn't play out of control. We stayed within our scheme and that was definitely the key to the game early on."
Central wasted little time getting on the scoreboard. On the opening possession, Matt Sherfey found Seth Bauserman under the basket for a score. The next time down the floor, senior Aaron Heishman connected on a 3-point bucket to extend the lead.
With a full-court pressure defense in action, the Falcons forced the Generals into turnovers time and time again. The backcourt duo of Heishman and Bauserman forced the Generals' guards into six consecutive turnovers and led the way on offense.
"Our defense was what spurred us and got our momentum going," Bauserman said. "We were able to get some steals and easy layups. That helped us start looking down inside early on."
Heishman added another 3-pointer in the first quarter and Bauserman made his presence felt inside as he scored eight of his game-high 17 points in the quarter.
"Seth [Bauserman] has been a great complement to Heishman and Michael [Marston] this season," Wilkins said. "He started the season wanting to fit in with some of the senior players and he has made some big baskets and timely passes for us. He plays his role well and he seems to be settling in and finding some comfort."
After opening with a 16-2 run to start the game, Central put together two more runs in the first half to put the game well out of reach early. An eight-point spurt was quickly followed by 14 unanswered points in the second quarter, extending the Falcons' lead.
Marston was the catalyst during the later streak, scoring six points while dominating the younger Generals in the paint. Marston finished with 14 points, including 8-of-8 shooting from the free-throw line.
With the lead well in hand as the game wound down in the final quarter, Central took advantage of the opportunity to give their bench players time on the court for game experience.
"We all know our roles on this team and that is very important," Bauserman said. "That's one of the things that helps make our team so good. We are able to do a good job of working inside or kicking it out and know someone's going to knock the shots down."
Despite the dismal performance, the Generals did not give up and showed heart and determination throughout the game. Stonewall was led by freshman Matthew Litten, who scored 10 points. Stonewall Jackson sophomore Dylan Shirley added eight points.
Central is focused on its next game, hoping to avoid a letdown after the impressive performance.
"You have to bring intensity to every game," Marston said. "If you don't, then you can't play this game. Each game is a new one and we have to come out and be ready to go."