PARK HILLS – The Central girls basketball team celebrated a successful Senior Night for Callie Thurston and Kimmy Wallen on Monday, but only after encountering a steady Arcadia Valley comeback.
Offensive rebounding factored heavily during an impressive first half by the Lady Rebels, who prevailed 60-52 while clinching their sixth consecutive 20-win season.
Thurston scored 16 points to highlight a balanced performance with four players in double figures, and collected 11 rebounds for a double-double.
Wallen, who continues her recovery from knee surgery, joined Thurston on the court for an ovation with four seconds left, once the victory was secure.
Sophia Horton totaled 15 points along with seven rebounds, Kaley Kimball produced 15 points plus nine rebounds, and Avery Norris compiled 13 points with eight assists for Central (20-3).
Arcadia Valley (14-9) showed its resilience to erase nearly all of an original 16-point deficit. An entry pass to senior Jaesa Brockes made it 49-47 with about six minutes remaining.
Central responded calmly as Norris found Horton in the post and Abby Holmes dished to Thurston on back-to-back possessions, ahead of an AV traveling violation.
Gracee Smith brought the Lady Tigers back within 53-50 on a 3-pointer with 1:44 left, but Horton had a perfect trip to the line, and Norris closed out the game with four straight free throws.
Brockes and Smith each shared game-high honors with 16 points, and Katie Whited contributed eight assists with seven points in defeat. Kirsten Day brought down nine rebounds.
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Kimball opened the game with two straight baskets, and the Lady Rebels teased a possible blowout when she scored off a Norris steal and outlet pass for an 11-0 start.
Brockes eventually ignited AV with a putback and subsequent 3-pointer. Josie Landrum arrived for an uncontested follow, and Smith opened the second quarter with a layup to draw within 20-16.
But Central generated second- or third-chance points eight separate times in the first half. Thurston connected from long range, and muscled in a putback to spark a 10-0 answer.
Horton drilled her second 3-pointer of the night, and Kimball made it 39-23 with a mid-range jumper. The Lady Rebels committed just one turnover while forcing four prior to intermission.
The teams combined for four fouls during a brisk first half. Arcadia Valley executed a much better start to the third quarter, and rallied with a timely 9-0 run.
Whited assisted Brockes on baskets from the paint and right corner before Smith cut the difference to 46-41 at the line. Whited whipped an excellent no-look feed on the run to Brockes for a jumper in the fourth.
Central completed a three-game season sweep of the Lady Tigers, and will learn its Class 4, District 2 seed on Wednesday morning. Aubree Eaton dished out five assists.
Arcadia Valley carries the No. 3 seed in Class 3, District 3, and will face St. Pius in the first round at noon Saturday at Jefferson High School.