COLUMBUS — The Golden Eagles refused to go away …
Columbus Centennial put its athleticism on display Saturday night as the Stars raced out to as 22-point, 39-17 late first-half lead en route to a 77-71 victory in the opening round of the Division II Central District boys basketball tournament Saturday night at Centennial High School.
Closing to within 10 of the lead at 39-29 at the half, Eric Myers’ Golden Eagles came back out recharged and took the game to the Stars. After cutting the deficit to 54-50 at the end of the third quarter, Big Walnut used a 17-12 run to take a 69-68 lead with 2:01 remaining in the contest.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way our guys kept battling in the second half,” Myers said. “We were the deer in the headlights in the first half, but they came back out and left everything they had on the floor … that says a lot about our players and the future of our basketball program.”
Down 50-35 midway through the third period, Big Walnut (9-14) closed the period by outscoring the Stars 15-4 to go into the final 8 minutes down by only four points. Four unanswered baskets triggered the Golden Eagle rally with an 8-0 run as Zac Asher and Josh Seabrook counted layins, Logan Boyd had a putback basket and Nick Herbert buried a three to close the margin to 50-44. Mason Knight and Seabrook closed the quarter with back-to-back baskets.
After Centennial (14-8) opened the final period with a 5 unanswered points to take a 59-50 lead, the Golden Eagles went back to work. Led by the scoring of Boyd (9 points, 5 coming on a 5-point play), Asher (4 points), Boyd (9 points) and Matt Tarney (6 points), Big Walnut had its first lead, a 69-68 advantage on Asher’s rebound bucket with 2:01 to play.
“Our guys were so determined … they weren’t about to quit,” Myers said.
The Stars answered with a three-pointer from Gyai Gyamerah for a 72-69 lead with 1:46 left on the clock. Asher pulled the Golden Eagles at 71-71 on a short jump shot from the lane to tie the game at 71-71 at the 1:15 mark. Big Walnut would not score on its final three possessions, missing four shots from the field. Anthony Slappy put Centennial up to stay with back-to-back field goals for a 75-71 lead with 0:15.6 remaining. Octavius Luke sealed the win with two free throws.
Luke led Centennial with a game-high 27 points followed by Joe Thomas with 17, Gyamerah with 14 and Slappy with 11 points. Herbert paced Big Walnut with 16 points while Asher and Boyd added 14 points apiece followed by Seabrook with 11 points.
The Stars shot 51.9 percent (28-for-54) from the field, including 5-for-11 (45.5 percent) from beyond the arc. They made good on 16 of 21 (76.2 percent) at the foul line.The Golden Eagles were 27-for-60 (45.0 percent) from the floor and 9-for-12 at the line (74.o percent). From 3-point range, the made 8 of 17 (47.1 percent).
On the boards, Centennial claimed a 40-32 led by Jeremy Johnson with 98 rebounds backed by Thomas with 7 and Gyamerah with 6. Asher led BW with a game-high 10 rebounds. The Golden Eagles committed 16 turnovers, 9 coming in 18 first-quarter possessions. The Stars turned the ball over 14 times.