CUBA, Mo. – After defeating West County for the past three years in the Class 3, District 3 championship game, the top-seeded Central boys basketball team eliminated the Bulldogs one step earlier on Tuesday.
The Rebels established an effective drive to the basket, and limited the fourth-seeded Bulldogs to a season-low scoring output in a 58-36 semifinal victory.
Central (19-9) will battle No. 2 seed Steelville for the title on Thursday after the same schools meet in the girls’ final.
Sophomore Breven McMullen recorded a 13 points for the Rebels, and Will Hopkins provided 11. Brent Wagner notched 10 points, and Holden Mayberry added eight points plus a game-high 11 rebounds in the win.
Noah Vinson often slashed into the lane for West County (14-12), and ended with a game-high 15 points plus eight rebounds. Nate Kinnard added seven rebounds with six points.
The Rebels created separation by conjuring a 13-3 run through the third quarter. They maintained a consistent attack in close, and denied easy shots near the basket to help build an edge.
Wade Scherffius, who ended with eight points, delivered an entry pass to McMullen for a layup over two defenders to create a 40-20 advantage with one minute to play in the third period. Wagner drained his first 3-pointer on the following possession to cap the dominant stretch.
The Rebels generated an early advantage by converting multiple West County turnovers into fast-break baskets. Scherffius assisted Hopkins on a transition finish to achieve a 10-point lead with 22 seconds to play in the first quarter.
Vinson narrowed the spread within 17-9 by banking in a floater as time expired in the period.
Central held the Bulldogs scoreless during the first three minutes of the second period until Kinnard dropped in a putback attempt to make the score 20-11.
Nathan Hollock drilled back-to-back 3-pointers late in the first half for West County. Mayberry captured a 30-17 Central edge at the break, however, by converting a layup through contact.
Wagner opened the final period with his second shot from the perimeter, then Vinson quickly answered with a fadeaway jumper to make the score 46-22.
West County continued with aggressive drives to the basket, but struggled to finish many contested attempts against a stingy resistance.
Vinson made all six of his free throws during the fourth quarter, while the Bulldogs ended 8-of-10 as a team.
Hopkins shot 4-of-6 at the line in the final period, and Central went 6-of-14.
The Rebels kept their intensity down the stretch despite holding a comfortable edge. Keandre Mesa attempted a one-handed dunk for Central with 30 seconds remaining, but came up short.
West County senior Matt Cliffton capped all scoring with a 3-pointer at the final buzzer.