Falcons hold off furious rally, top Mountaineers
WOODSTOCK — Central dominated Madison County for most of three periods, and then held off a furious rally on Thursday night.
The Falcons made some clutch plays down the stretch to hang on for a 67-62 Bull Run District and Conference 35 victory in boys basketball action.
“This is great. This has to be one of the best wins in a decade,” Central sophomore Varsey Bright said.
Central seemed to be in total control of the game late in the third period. The Falcons led 49-26 with 1:34 left in the third.
The Mountaineers, who entered the game with only one loss on the season, scored 14 straight points to cut the lead to 49-40 with 6:36 left in the game.
Central senior Austin Fadely hit a 3-pointer to extend the lead back to 12, but the Mountaineers kept chipping away at the lead.
“They’re a great team. They only lost one game before tonight,” Central coach Brandon Shields said. “There’s a reason they have that record, and we knew they were going to turn it on and make a run and how we responded to it was going to be key. I thought we did OK responding to it.”
Madison County eventually was able to take the lead, 57-56, on a 3-pointer by Isaiah Breckenridge with 2:04 left in the contest.
Central’s Ian Pugh hit two foul shots to give Central the lead again, but Madison County’s Dre Twyman answered with a basket for a 59-58 lead with 1:36 left.
“My assistant coach looked at me and said ‘take it over,'” Pugh said. “Him telling me to take it over gives me faith in myself and go seal the win.”
Pugh, who scored 8 of his 16 points in the fourth period, responded by scoring on a driving layup to give the Falcons the lead for good with 1:13 left.
Two free throws by Josh Orndorff extended the lead to 62-59 with 46 seconds remaining. Twyman made one free throw to cut the lead to 62-60 with 30 seconds left.
Bright made a free throw, and then after a Madison turnover Pugh put the game away by making four free throws in the final 15 seconds.
“I told them when I was in the huddle, I told them I wanted the ball, because I was going to make these free throws,” Pugh said. “You can’t shy away from pressure. You have to want the ball, or you’re not going to win. I want to win so bad, that I just wanted to make the free throws.”
The Falcons (11-6) started the game off strong, scoring the first five points. Central’s Kobi Hoover hit a 3-pointer to end the first period and started a 12-2 run to give the Falcons a 22-11 lead with 4:32 left in the first half.
A big part of Central’s success in the first half came on the boards, as Central out-rebounded Madison County in the first half.
“That’s great, because there such a big team. They were beating teams by out-rebounding them,” Pugh said. “We out-rebounded them. We had more heart than them, because rebounding is not about athleticism. Rebounding is not a skill, you just have to have heart to rebound.”
The Falcons also used a 2-3 zone to slow down the Mountaineers.
Central was able to hold Madison County 6-foot-5 center Dylan Breeden to only 6 points in the first three periods.
“I think defensively that first half is probably the best half we’ve played all season,” Shields said. “I thought our kids did a great job following scout, the game plan we laid out for them. We wanted to limit them inside as much as possible, make them beat us from outside.”
Central led 28-16 at the half and stretched the lead in the third period. The Falcons used a 16-2 run to take a 47-23 advantage with 2:47 left in the third period. Luke Estep had 9 points during the run.
Madison County (16-2) was led by Isiah Smith with 18 points, including 11 in the fourth period. Dalton Taylor had 15 points, and Breeden finished with 11 for the Mountaineers.
Pugh had six rebounds to go with his team-high 16 points, and Estep had 13 points and four rebounds. Bright finished with 12 points and Kobi Hoover had 9 points and seven rebounds for Central. Hank Hoover also had seven rebounds for the Falcons along with 4 points.
The win moves Central into a second place tie with Madison County in Conference 35. The Mountaineers beat the Falcons, 81-70, earlier this year.
“It’s amazing. My teamamtes played well, and I’m really really proud of the whole program – Central basketball,” Pugh said. “It’s amazing from where the team was last year to now. They were one of the bottom teams last year, and this year we’re tied for second. It’s amazing. You can’t ask for anything better for this team.”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org