Depth propels Falcons to 12th straight victory
WOODSTOCK –Central’s bench has provided a spark all season, and Thursday night it happened again in one of the biggest games of the regular season.
The Falcons used a balanced attack, including 23 points from their bench to pull out a 66-62 Bull Run District victory over George Mason. Central has now won 12 straight games.
Bryan Davis led Central’s bench with 16 points. He was one of five players used off the bench for the Falcons.
“That’s the great thing about our bench, like Luke Estep when he fouled out, we have multiple people to step up and score,” Davis said. “And we trust each other to where if we pass the ball we’ll get it right back and take good shots.”
Estep, who finished with 12 points, was in foul trouble throughout the game but it didn’t faze the Falcons.
Central (12-1, 3-0 Bull Run) led the entire way, but George Mason made plenty of runs during the game. Each time they did the Falcons were able to respond with one of their own.
“We just kept our composure basically,” Central senior Varsey Bright said. “They made a couple big shots. We kept our composure and we just executed. We did what we did from the beginning of the game, which is we just kept pounding it pounding it, and making shots, getting rebounds and shooting it well.”
Central held a 13-3 lead after the first period, but the Mustangs rallied and cut the lead to 22-20 with 1:06 left in the first half. Two free throws by Davis and one by Dominic Strother gave the Falcons a 25-20 halftime lead.
Central coach Jeff Whittle said he wasn’t happy with the way his team was rebounding, especially in the first half.
“I thought all year we’ve been controlling the glass pretty well, but I thought George Mason hurt us on the glass,” Whittle said. “Some of that was them and some of it was us. We got to do a better job of boxing out.”
Twice in the third period the Falcons were able to extend the lead to nine, but each time George Mason rallied. The Mustangs used a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 46-44 after three periods.
Central’s Sam Shifflett hit a 3-pointer to start the fourth period and Bright scored back-to-back baskets, both off of rebounds to help push Central’s lead to 53-44 with 5:52 left in the game.
Bright, who also is a standout football player for Central, had four of his five rebounds in the fourth period.
“It’s kind of like football, if I see the ball in the air I’m going to get it,” Bright said. “I don’t care how big you are or how short I am, I’m going to get it.”
Twice the Mustangs cut the lead to four points over the next four minutes, but each time the Falcons responded. The Falcons made eight free throws in the final minute of the game to help seal the victory.
“I think so far this year when teams have made a run on us, we’ve responded right back,” Whittle said. “It might be some offensive putbacks, second and third chances. Maybe we need a defensive stop. They don’t let the other team affect them. They never get too down on themselves.”
Whittle said he was also very happy with the defensive play of Zeb Dyer, who also had 7 points off the bench.
George Mason (4-6, 1-1 Bull Run) was led by Max Ashton and Hollman Smith with 16 points each. Anish Chatterjee had 15 points and Thomas Creed had 11 for the Mustangs.
Bright had 12 points and Strother had 12 points and 7 rebounds for the Falcons.
The win puts Central firmly in first place in the Bull Run District. Davis said the team has to stay focused if they want to keep their win streak going.
“It feels great,” Davis said of the win streak. “But we got to be more prepared because now since we have a little streak going, teams are going to be coming at us 100 percent. Everyone’s going to be trying to end our streak. So we just got to come harder.”