STEPHENS CITY — Trailing for one of the few times this season, undefeated Central didn’t flinch.
In a game of runs, Central came up with the biggest one to start off the second half and held on for a 76-65 nondistrict boys basketball victory over Sherando on Wednesday night.
“At halftime, we talked about coming out strong on defense,” Central senior point guard Jared Patton said. “We came out hot and went on a run.”
It was a 9-0 run, which opened up a 47-32 lead with 5:21 left in the third quarter. Patton had six of the nine points, with Sam Shifflett adding a 3-pointer.
Patton had nine of his team-high 21 points in the third quarter. Patton also had eight steals and seven assists in the game.
“Jared (Patton) did a good job of being a good leader out there,” Central coach Jeff Whittle said. “He was very vocal tonight.”
The Warriors (0-3) didn’t go away quietly. Sherando used a 19-8 run to cut the lead to 55-51 with 7:40 left in the contest.
However, Central’s Silas Ruhling was fouled while attempting a 3-pointer and made all three free throws, which started a 7-0 run for the Falcons. Central led by at least seven points the rest of the way.
Central trailed 26-19 with 3:24 left in the opening half as Sherando’s George Gibson scored 10 points during a 12-5 run.
The Falcons (7-0) answered with a 19-6 run to close out the half with a 38-32 advantage. Patton and Sam Shifflett had six points each during the spurt.
Patton said that the Falcons showed mental toughness when Sherando went on its run.
“It’s more mental,” Patton said of responding to an opponents’ run. “Some people when (opposing teams) go on a run usually get down on themselves. And I think we were just mentally strong and we can power through them going on a run then we can come back.”
Central coach Jeff Whittle said he was proud of the way his team handled some adversity.
“We haven’t been down much at all this season,” he said. “We’ve done a pretty good job of just keep playing and taking it one play at a time — next-play mentality. As long as they’re playing hard, our coaching staff, we can live with mistakes. Just keep playing because we can shoot the ball well. So a 7-point deficit doesn’t really bother us. They just have to keep playing.”
Sherando got off to a late start to the season due to the football team’s success. The Warriors have only four non-football players on the squad. Sherando coach Garland Williams said it will take time for his team, which has only played three games, to get to where they need to be.
“We’re right there with people,” Williams said. “We got to realize that those three teams that we’ve gone against they were ready to go and do their thing on November 4th.”
The Warriors had 20 turnovers, which Williams said is an area his team needs to improve on.
Gibson had a game-high 24 points and four steals. Sherando sophomore Keli Lawson had 10 points for the Warriors. Williams said he needs his players to buy into what the coaches are saying more than they have so far this season.
“You got to not only buy into but believe what we’re saying as far as things we want them to do,” Williams said. “Some folks think they can do different things that they can’t right now. And some guys don’t believe that they can do things when they really can. So we’re trying to coach them up both ways to do those things that we need them to do.”
The Falcons once again had a balanced attack with Shifflett having 16 points, Dominic Strother 14 points and Alex Neff 13 points. Ruhling came off the bench, in his first game of the season due to injury, and had nine points.
Whittle said having Ruhling back gives the team even more depth.
“He hit a couple big shots,” Whittle said of Ruhling. “It’s nice to have him back now because he’s another weapon. We got a lot of guys that can play. We’re pretty deep — it depends on matchups too. It’s a great group to coach. They’re a lot of fun. Hopefully, we can continue to get better. We still defensively got to get better in that area. But offensively we’re playing pretty well right now.”