By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WOODSTOCK -- Central gave everything it had Thursday night against first-place William Monroe, but it wasn't enough to pull out the win.
William Monroe's Markel Williams scored at will inside the paint in the second half to lead the Dragons to a 69-62 Bull Run District boys basketball victory over the Falcons.
Despite the loss, the Falcons were happy with how they played.
"We know that when we hustle and just play as a team that we can play with anybody," Central junior Travis Cooper said. "We showed William Monroe and every other team that's going to look at this game that we can play with them. And that we're to be feared when it comes to [next week's district] tournament."
Central (5-13, 2-10 Bull Run) stayed close to the Dragons throughout, and tied the game 33-33 with 5:48 left in the third quarter on two free throws by Ricky Neff.
The Dragons then responded with eight consecutive points, all by Williams. The 6-foot-2 senior center had 24 of his game-high 32 points in the second half.
"He's a very good player," Cooper said of Williams. "He's quick and strong. But we need to do a better job of fronting him in the post and having help-side [defense]. We just needed to limit his touches."
The Dragons (16-2, 12-0 Bull Run) built the lead to as many as 10 in the fourth quarter, but the Falcons did not go away quietly. Baskets by Cooper and Neff cut the lead to 64-60 with 43 seconds left in the game.
A free throw by Darion McKinnie and two by Williams extended the lead to seven. Cooper then went over 1,000 points for his career with a driving layup and cut the lead to 67-62 with 21 seconds remaining.
However, William Monroe's Gary Morris hit two free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
"I thought our kids battled hard," Central coach Mickey Clinedinst said. "I thought we got better. [Williams] hurt us inside a lot. They went down there quite a few times. We tried to make some adjustments there and tried to front, and if we didn't get in front we were going to double. And sometimes we were late getting there, and sometimes we didn't get there."
Morris had 16 points for the Dragons, while Jeffrey Early added 11.
Cooper led the Falcons with 21 points, while Brandon Ritter added 14. Eric Semones and Neff each had 10 for the Falcons.
"You have to give our kids credit," Clinedinst said. "They have gotten better, and hopefully when we get to the tournament we can start making some noise. I thought the kids played hard. I thought that everybody that came in the game, gave us some big minutes. I thought we played together as a group."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or email@example.com