HILLSBORO, Mo. – Whitfield senior and University of Missouri commit Torrence Watson unhesitatingly pulled up from the midcourt logo to bury a buzzer-beating shot, capping a momentum-shifting third quarter against Central on Wednesday night at Jefferson College.
Watson also took control inside to outweigh a promising start by the Rebels, and totaled a game-high 44 points and 10 rebounds in a 63-49 victory.
The Warriors (21-7) eliminated Central (20-10) from the Class 3 state sectional round for a third straight year, and will face Charleston in the quarterfinals on Saturday at Farmington Civic Center.
Whitfield quickly overcame a 30-28 deficit at the break after Central starting guard Wade Scherffius received his fourth personal foul within the first two minutes of the third quarter. Scherffius was handed his fifth with 4:21 to play in the contest as the Rebels trailed by just six points.
Watson slashed hard at the basket to claim a 36-34 lead with 4:45 remaining in the third. He generated 10 points within a 15-6 stretch through the period to help the Warriors create separation.
Breven McMullen recorded all six points of the third quarter for the Rebels, and finished with a team-high 27 points plus five rebounds. He scooped a layup around two defenders with 3 seconds left, and narrowed the score to 40-36 before the lethal heave by Watson dropped through.
McMullen converted his ninth straight point for Central on a heavily contested shot from the top of the circle, and made the score 45-39 with 6:30 to play.
McMullen chipped the deficit down again to 53-48 on a completed 3-point play with 1:23 remaining. The Rebels looked to trap opposing ball handlers in the backcourt, but the experienced Warriors executed swift and poised passing to avoid miscues.
Whitfield applied constant pressure along the perimeter, as the Rebels attempted to work their shooters open for a chance to rally down the stretch.
Isaiah Alexander picked up a loose ball and rushed ahead to release a lob for Watson, who ended the play on a reverse slam with 45 seconds on the clock. Watson added another high-flying dunk in transition to cap all scoring.
Central achieved an early 4-0 edge, as the Warriors struggled to finish near the basket during the opening three minutes. Watson earned chances at the free-throw line to keep his team close, and converted 15-of-16 opportunities.
Whitfield, which played the entire first half without a turnover, shot 20-of-22 from the stripe while the Rebels went 7-of-10.
Central enjoyed a slight ahead early by battling for offensive rebounds and netting second-chance points. But Watson stretched a Whitfield edge to 12-9 by weaving into the lane for a layup just before the first quarter ended.
Brent Wagner quickly squared the game for Central with a 3-pointer from straight away on the initial possession of the second. He struck again nearly two minutes later to create a 17-12 lead, resulting in a Whitfield timeout.
The Rebels consistently fought to pop Wagner and McMullen open along the perimeter. Wagner, who tallied 13 points, widened the Central advantage to 28-18 on a corner three in transition with 2:40 left before halftime.
Luther Taylor and Watson remained dominant in the post to gradually chip away. Holden Mayberry interrupted an inbounds lob attempt to Watson as time expired in the first half to protect a sudden two-point advantage.
Mayberry paced the Rebels with seven rebounds. The Rebels sank the only five 3-pointers made during the first half.
Amechi Ramsey provided 13 points for Whitfield.