PARK HILLS – It was a game of ups and downs for the Central Rebels and the West County Bulldogs who were guests of the Mineral Area Cardinals in Saturday’s header for their Mac’s West Plains game. A final surge by the Rebels provided the winning margin as they claimed a 42-38 win over their neighbors.
It was the same winning score for the two teams’ first encounter at the start of the season in the Arcadia Valley Tournament with West County winning 42-35.
Opposite styles of offense was seen at the start of the game as Central tried to work the ball inside, and West County went to the three-ball to try and score. Both teams, however, showed extreme patience in their shot selection, and neither team opened up with the press.
The Bulldogs (7-7) led by a single point 5-4 at the 4:00 mark. Their only shots were three matching the three turnovers they also had.
The Rebels had taken only five shots in the first four minutes of play with Zac Cunningham scoring all four points, but in the next four minutes they would go on a 10-4 run by using their leaping ability to score inside. Jermaine Jones blocked a shot by West County and then took an alley-oop pass at the other end for an easy lay-up, collecting also a free shot.
The free-throw missed, but Bryan Jones pulled down the rebound and put it back for two to give the Rebels a 14- 8 lead at the quarter.
Jermaine Jones made a putback to start the second quarter, but his rebounding aggressiveness cost him as he picked up two quick fouls and had to take a seat. Cunningham scored four more points to give him 10 with 4:30 still left in the half, and it gave the Rebels a 10-point lead at 20-10.
West County’s three-point shooting was failing, after making 2-3 in the first quarter. Three straight misses gave the Rebels a chance to score on the other end, but their patient offense kept them from pulling too far away.
A three by Preston Harlow made it a 13 point lead, but an eight-foot shot by Torey Watson and putback by Trevor Kean made it a single digit margin at the half.
West County changed its offensive strategy for the third quarter as they came out charging the basket inside with Zach Priest leading the charge. Priest, who was held scoreless by the Rebels in the first half, explode for all 13 of his team-high points in the second half.
The Bulldogs also applied a full-court press and were able to score a quick six to make a game of it. Cunningham was able to score two baskets for he Rebels to keep their lead, but three straight turnovers to the Bulldogs press allowed West County to tie the game at 29-29 with only one minute left in the quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, West County gained their first lead since the first four minutes, with Priest scoring his last four points and Coy Mckee tacking on another two for a 35-33 lead.
The lead vanished as fast as it came as Matt Ketterer connected for his only points of the game with a three from the corner. A blocked shot by Cody Allen kept the Rebels ahead, and upon making a basket on the other end, Allen made it a three-point game. Cunningham made a turn-around jumper from eight feet to up the lead to five.
A drive inside by Watson earned him a conventional three for the Bulldogs, but the Rebels would make four straight free throws in the final seconds and West County’s attempts at three-pointers came up empty, 0-6 for the quarter. The Bulldogs finished 2-13 on the game from beyond the arc.
Central (5-8) will be back on the court again on Tuesday when they will host St. Clair. West County will travel to Valle on Tuesday.
West County 8 6 15 9 – 38
Central 14 9 6 13 – 42
West County – Priest 13, Watson 11, Kean 5, Morgan 4, Stacy 3, McKee 2. 3-pt. FG – Stacy, Kean.
Central – Cunningham 18, Allen 10, J. Jones 4, Harlow 3, Ketterer 3, Jennings 2, B. Jones 2. 3-pt. FG – Jennings, Ketterer.