By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WOODSTOCK -- Coming off two dismal losses, Central needed to grab some positive momentum and get back on the winning track against Warren County on Saturday night.
The Falcons overcame a slow start, and used a strong second half to pull out a 54-31 win over the Wildcats in nondistrict girls basketball action.
"We kind of had a rough past two games, but I think tonight we really came together as a team and did an awesome job," Central junior Katelyn Poston said. "It was a really great win for us."
The Falcons (5-2, 0-2 Bull Run) had back-to-back Bull Run District losses to Clarke County and Madison County earlier in the week. Both games were plagued by foul trouble and a sluggish first half, and that trend continued for the Falcons against the Wildcats.
Central shot just 19.2 percent (5 for 26) from the field in the first half and had 12 turnovers, but the Falcons still built a 20-16 halftime lead.
"We're working on playing well the whole four quarters, 32 minutes," Poston said. "We're coming along. Tonight I think we played a solid game. Our second half was obviously better than our first. I think as the season goes, we're going to come together and have a great 32 minutes every game."
The Falcons' defense helped them out in the first half, as they created 15 turnovers and held the Wildcats to 19.0 percent (4 for 21) from the field.
Central also used a combination of a triangle-and-two and a box-and-one, and a 2-3 zone, as well as a full-court press throughout the game.
"I was really proud of our defense," Central coach Mallory Skarupa said. "We came in 10 minutes before the game, and I said 'Hey we're going to do a triangle-and-two today.' We did a triangle-and-two when [Alesha Adams] and [Autumn Troxell] were in. When just one of them was in, we did a box-and-one. Then stuck to our 2-3 zone on out of bounds plays and it was pretty effective. I looked at the scorebook and looked at their starters and [Adams and Troxell] were the only two that scored last time, so it made sense."
The defense worked as the Falcons held Adams and Troxell to a combined 12 points.
Central took control of the game in the third quarter, outscoring Warren County 15-5.
The Falcons were 5 for 8 in the third quarter from the foul line, which Warren County coach John Kelly said was a key.
"We put them on the line a little bit too much," Kelly said. "They're a team that's going to beat you with foul shots, because they're such good outside shooters.
"I thought we played them pretty well in terms of defense. But they have a knack of getting by that first initial line and getting fouled. That's kudos to them."
For the game Central was 24 for 42 from the foul line.
Central freshman Meredith Phillips scored eight consecutive points to start the fourth quarter and put the game out of reach.
Poston led the Falcons with 16 points, but the Falcons had seven different players score and had better balance against the Wildcats than in their last two games.
"With being such a small team, we talk about spreading the wealth out on offense," Skarupa said. "Everyone needs to be a threat on offense and defense."
Adams led the Wildcats with nine points.
Warren County (3-4) has only senior, and has been up and down all season, but Kelly said he was happy with the way his team played against the Falcons.
"I was impressed with our effort tonight in the sense that we finally looked like ourselves again," Kelly said. "I'm hoping we can start playing consistent enough when we start playing our district. That's what I'm looking for."
Poston was four steals shy of a triple-double for the Falcons. The point guard had 16 points, 10 rebounds, six steals and four assists, while Phillips had 12 points for the Falcons. Mary Wakeman had 10 points and four steals, and Brooklyn Pumphrey had eight rebounds for Central.
The Falcons will try to pick up their first district win of the season when they travel to George Mason. The Falcons beat the defending Group A state champions last year on the road, and a win this year would give the team a huge confidence boost.
"We're definitely excited," Poston said. "We beat them once so we know we can do it again. I think that as long as we come together, play as a team and crash the boards, we have a solid chance of beating them."
Contact assistant sports editor Tommy Keeler Jr. at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org