It was not exactly the night most would have projected. Sure, R-S Central's Men's and Ladies hoops teams were capable of beating East Rutherford, but in the first meeting, they both fell short in the county rivalry.
Last Friday night, the home-court was friendlier and both Central teams were on a mission. The Hilltopper Ladies pulled away 58-45 and the Men blew out East 77-50.
R-S Central's Men (16-8, 6-4) have lost just twice in the last two seasons at home and East Rutherford (18-4, 7-3) couldn't make it a third last Friday. The Lady Hilltoppers (15-9, 8-2) lost just three times at home all season, but have lost just once in 2019 at home.
The Hilltoppers led most of the way in the Men's game, even though there were seven lead changes and two first half ties, it was all R-S Central after intermission. Quay Logan spun a three pointer in from off the back iron for East to take a 25-22 lead. Once Elijah Carson scored a three from the left wing and Jacob Knox stole the inbounds pass and allowed Carson to finish on the other end, it was pretty much over. Central was up 54-36 by that point at the end of the third.
"This team has got better more so than any team I have ever been apart of," R-S Central Men's Basketball Coach Greg Wright said. "I couldn't be any prouder or grateful to coach this team and to be blessed with the coaching staff I have. Defensively, we were incredible, especially in the second half and that's what it takes to beat a good team like East Rutherford."
Central was led by Carson's 32 points and 15 rebounds, while Dee Williams added 11 big points and seven boards. Jacob Knox had 12 points while Ty Watkins ended up with 15. Christian Walker led East with 18. Of note: Central shot 28-for-52 for 54 percent.
R-S Central Ladies Coach Darius Fuller earned his 300th win in the victory over East Rutherford. It was Jada Logan's double-double (15 points/14 rebounds) and Maddie Gillie's 20-point effort that sparked the big win. Gillie's 8-point third quarter spurt pushed the lead to 13 and it stayed there for much of the second half. Nikya Lynch added 15 rebounds and Jada Wilkins 13 points for Central, ho became conference Co-Champs with East Rutherford (19-3, 8-2). East's Osha Makerson led the Lady Cavs with 22 points.
East Rutherford Men's hoops had their own triumph last week before the Central game as they held a frustrated East Gaston to 38 points in a 36-point victory over them.
"We played a bigger lineup, rebounded the ball well and shared it well," (in the win against East Gaston) Cavalier Basketball Coach Brad Levine said.
The Southwestern Conference Tourney Finals will take place at 6pm for the Ladies and 8pm for the Men at Shelby Friday the 22.
Playoff wise, for now it looks like East Men and Ladies will have a first round game at home on the 26th. R-S Central's Ladies currently hold a home playoff spot on the 26th. The R-S Men will have to travel in the first round unless they win the conference tourney, which in turn gives them the first round home game.
Thomas Jefferson's0 Men may sneak into the 1A playoffs as a road team.
Congrats to R-S Central's Zach Lewis for becoming a State Champion wrestler in the 113-pound division of 2A Wrestling. Teammate Loki Ryan was runner-up in the 120-pound division. Central finished fifth overall in 2A, East Rutherford 29th and Chase 42nd.
Daytona 500: Joe Gibbs Racing wasn't the favorite coming into the 500, but they left with a 1-2-3 finish. Sentimentally, Joe Gibbs Racing had to be one of the favs since the coaches son, J.D. Gibbs passed away during the offseason. Denny Hamlin, who was recruited by J.D. ended up surviving a crash-marred event to win his second Daytona 500 in four years.
I feel bad for Matt DiBenedetto who led 49 laps and stayed in the top five for most of the day as he crashed with less than 10 laps to go. Then again, that's the way those races go which included Matt in a 21-car crash in a restrictor plate race. NASCAR wanted an entertaining event and while it lasted forever, it was eventful.