Defense key for Central in state quarterfinals
PALMYRA — Central’s offense was struggling at times in Saturday’s 59-45 win over Goochland, but the Falcons’ defense saved the day.
Early in the game, the Falcons were turning the ball over too much, but Central’s man-to-man defense held the Bulldogs at bay until the offense started clicking.
“We all played great defensively,” Central senior Varsey Bright said. “I think we all boxed out well, and we all kept our man in front of us. They made some shots — that’s what players are going to do throughout this playoffs and throughout the state tournament. But I think all in all our defense was good.”
The Bulldogs shot 31.4 percent (16-for-51) from the field in the game. Goochland had a strong third quarter but was just 10-for-39 (25.6 percent) the rest of the contest.
“I think all game long we played well defensively,” Central coach Jeff Whittle said. “I’m sure they didn’t play their best game. I’m sure they might have been off, but I think some of that is a credit to us and our defense.”
Central senior Bryan Davis said the Falcons understand how important defense is how vital it is to win games.
“Defense – coach Whittle talks about it all the time,” Davis said. “Defense wins games. Defense won us this game. Defense is the reason we’re here – taking charges, not jumping to block shots, playing sound defense, not reaching, not doing anything exaggerated.”
Central also took several charges and freshman Dominic Strother had two blocked shots.
The Falcons won the rebounding battle, 37-26, including nine boards for Davis.
“We had (Goochland) on film that they all crash the boards,” Davis said. “And (Saturday) I went in like no one’s going to out-jump me. I’m going to grab the boards and I’m going to dish them out. We all knew they all crash the boards. Whoever had the most rebounds or the most possessions would most likely win the game. So I just tried to go out there and get us as many possessions as I could.”
Central has held teams to 56 points or less in 11 of its last 13 games.
Whittle said he’s been happy with the way his team has played defense this season.
“I think overall we got some athleticism,” Whittle said. “And other guys that aren’t quite as athletic, but are pretty heady players, with a good basketball IQ. Basically (Saturday) we were just trying to keep people in front of us and make them take tough shots over top of us. And I think the last quarter of the season, I think our defense has improved tremendously.”