Central finds way past Scott City

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

In a game in which early foul trouble plagued Central, it was a fifth foul to Scott City point guard Jeremy Schlosser with less than five minutes remaining which proved to be a difference-maker in a 70-65 Central win in the semifinals of the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament on Monday night at the Show Me Center.

With the Rams (7-1) down 62-56, Schlosser was called for an offensive foul, taking him out of the game with 4:50 remaining.

"When you lose your point guard, you lose your floor general, you lose your leader," Scott City coach Lance Amick said.

Even without Schlosser, Scott City was able to make a run on the Tigers (9-2), and the Rams even took the lead at 65-64 with less than two minutes remaining.

After falling behind, the Tigers responded by getting to the free-throw line. Scott Chestnutt hit two big free throws to give Central a 66-65 lead, and after a Rams turnover, Mitch Craft hit one-of-two free throws to pad the lead.

Down two with 30 seconds remaining, Mark Dannenmueller, who finished with 21 points, was stripped by Will Johnson, who's free throws sealed the victory.

"Our defense made some big strips," Central guard Eli Harris said. "We played good pressure defense and made them turn it over."

The game, which saw Central lead by as many as 13 points in the first quarter, remained close throughout the second half. While the Tigers worked from the outside with six 3-pointers, Scott City got much of its offense from 6-foot-9 center Tyler Ward.

Ward scored 14 of his 22 points in the second half and was able to take advantage of mismatches with Chestnutt on the bench with three fouls.

"He was a warrior tonight," Amick said of Ward. "He showed a lot of people we've got a 6-9 guy that's pretty decent."

Harris was the catalyst for Central's offense throughout the night, hitting four 3-pointers. Harris finished with 22 points. Ryan Delph added 17 points for Central and Chestnutt finished with 12 points despite only four first-half points.

"You've really got to credit Eli Harris," Amick said. "How many big shots did he hit."

Another big contributor for the Tigers was Craft. Making his season debut after having knee surgery at the end of the football season, Craft had seven rebounds and six points in the second half.

"What a coming out party for Mitch Craft," Central coach Derek McCord said.

Central will be making its first final appearance since defeating Scott City in the 1996 championship game. Central and Jackson will be meeting in the final for the first time in the tournament's 59-year history.

CENTRAL 70, SCOTT CITY 65

Scott City11241515--65
Central24131815--70

SCOTT CITY (65) -- Jeremy Schlosser 2, Mark Dannenmueller 21, Tyler Ward 22, Mark Johnston 10, Ryan Glastetter 2, Andy Beck 8. FG 25, FT 12-15, F 20 (3-pointers: Beck 1, Dannenmueller 1. Fouled out: Schlosser)

CENTRAL (70) -- Ryan Delph 17, Scott Chestnutt 12, Will Johnson 4, Eli Harris 22, Jake Knepp 8, Mitch Craft 6, Alex Espinoza 1. FG 23, FT 18-26, F 17 (3-pointers: Harris 4, Delph 1, Knepp 1. Fouled out: none)

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