CUBA, Mo. – The Central girls basketball team likely secured the top spot in its district with a powerful performance against rival Cuba on Thursday.
The Lady Rebels generated a 23-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, and attacked effectively to widen their advantage and prevail 67-33 for their 13th consecutive victory.
Central (19-1) ended the season for Cuba (8-15) last February in the semifinal round of the Class 3, District 3 playoffs. The Lady Wildcats will serve as host for this year's tournament in two weeks.
Skyler Amonette scored nine of her game-high 20 points during the hot first quarter to help Central (19-1) build momentum. She sank a 3-pointer within the first minute, and often produced on drives to the basket.
The Lady Rebels dominated along the boards to obtain early second-chance baskets. Callie Thurston and Caitlyn Holmes each ended with seven rebounds, while Sophia Horton and Amonette each posted five.
Central applied forceful defensive pressure to urge multiple errant passes, and Holmes was frequently at the head of resulting fast breaks. She tallied all 16 of her points during the first half, and capped first quarter with a reverse layup at the buzzer.
Ella Smith paced Cuba (8-15) with 10 points and five rebounds. She traded 3-pointers with Amonette midway through the second quarter to make the score 36-16.
The Lady Rebels remained active on defense, and thrived in transition to build a larger edge. The Lady Wildcats committed 11 turnovers during the first half, while Central had just two.
Kiyah Bast narrowed the deficit within 44-21 at the break by dropping in her first basket during the final seconds. Emma Sharp contributed seven points, while Loran Ransom tallied a game-high eight rebounds plus six points.
Central slowed its pace following halftime, but positive results continued. Thurston weaved through traffic on a determined drive, and converted a layup with five seconds remaining in the third to make it 58-30.
Ally Nelson introduced a running clock with 6:20 to play after recovering a defensive rebound and sprinting the length of the floor to drop in a transition layup.
Karissa Belfield notched seven points for Central.
The Lady Rebels have earned the top seed and a first-round bye in the MAAA conference tournament. They will play either Potosi and Valley at Mineral Area College on Monday.