PARK HILLS – A superb second quarter by sophomore forward Breven McMullen helped the Central boys basketball team ensure a berth in the MAAA Tournament championship game.
The top-seeded Rebels heated up from long range to create separation from Ste. Genevieve, and rolled to a 72-46 semifinal victory on Friday night.
Central (15-8) flawlessly switched gears between transition offense and a more patient approach in the half-court look, and will tentatively face Farmington for the title Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
The threat of inclement weather has forced the original schedule to be retooled throughout the event, and the finals could potentially move to Sunday evening if no other options are available.
McMullen scored 14 of his game-high 19 points over a seven-minute stretch, and Jake Casey provided 17 points in a sixth-man role for the Rebels.
Ste. Genevieve (8-14) opened the contest with an immediate 6-0 buffer as Derek Morganthaler and Sam Stolzer sank consecutive 3-pointers.
Central countered with a 9-2 spurt as McMullen dished inside to Will Hopkins and Holden Mayberry for layups, and Brent Wagner connected from long range for an 11-8 lead.
Casey cashed a steal into a conventional 3-point play to break a 13-13 tie late in the first quarter, and the Rebels went on to dominate the second by a 21-7 scoring margin.
McMullen battled for a third-chance putback, then followed up five straight points by Casey with back-to-back triple. His next field goal in the post push the halftime margin to 37-20.
Wade Scherffius began the third quarter for Central with a slashing layup and open 3-pointer to further stretch the difference, and the outcome seemed inevitable from there.
He later atoned for a turnover by chasing down opposing guard Gabe Greminger for a transition block, and later finished a baseline cut for a 51-29 separation.
Ste. Genevieve occasionally moved the ball into forward Brandon Drury for baskets, but mostly hoisted jumpers with moderate success.
Drury ended with 12 points, and Chad Donze tossed in three 3-pointers to score nine. Greminger made four assists for the Dragons, who will face North County for third place.
Ste. Genevieve capped the third quarter with a highlight as Chase Koller made a clean steal with the last seconds ticking away and nailed a 50-footer at the buzzer.
But Wagner scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter after twice beating the Dragons to the rim. The Central lead eventually swelled to 66-38.
Scherffius tallied 11 in the triumph, giving the Rebels four players in double figures. Mayberry grabbed a game-high eight rebounds, and Hopkins made four assists.
Matt King is the sports editor for the Daily Journal. Contact him at email@example.com