Untidy Tigers top Mehlville

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Heading into Friday's home game against Mehlville, Central's boys basketball team had not played a game since beating New Madrid County Central a week earlier.

The Tigers' rust was apparent in a sloppy 62-46 homecoming victory. The win improved Central's record to 14-3.

"It was a typical homecoming game. It got a little sloppy at times," Central coach Derek McCord said.

Central looked to put the struggling Panthers (3-14) away early with an 8-2 run to start the game. Mehlville's Jeff Crouch pulled the score to 8-5 with a 3-pointer, but the Tigers closed the quarter with an 8-0 run. The burst was highlighted by the first of two Ryan Delph dunks in the game.

"It's been a while since we had a little excitement," Delph said of his dunk.

After holding Mehlville to only five first-quarter points, the Tigers' defense began to spring leaks in the second quarter. The Panthers matched Central shot for shot throughout the quarter and trailed 35-22 at halftime.

"We've got to realize we've got to sustain our intensity the whole four quarters," McCord said. "I think we had some moments where we were just trying to steal the ball. We were gambling too much."

Central grabbed its biggest lead of the game with a 5-0 run to start the third quarter, but once again Central's defense had problems shutting down the Panthers. Mehlville point guard Rodney Heard made his presence felt in the third quarter with several lay-ins off drives through the lane.

Panthers stay closeHeard cut the lead to 43-34 with less than two minutes left in the quarter. Mehlville cut Central's lead to nine again at 46-37, but Central ended the quarter up 48-37 and never let the lead dip below 11 points the remainder of the game.

"I don't know what was going on tonight," Delph said. "We didn't execute. We just shot wildly every time."

Delph led the Tigers with 15 points, all coming in the first half. Mitch Craft added 11 points and Scott Chestnutt and Will Johnson had 10 apiece.

Tigers junior Eli Harris left the game in the second quarter with an apparent knee injury and never returned. Harris finished with four points.

"Hopefully we didn't lose him," Delph said of Harris.

The Tigers will have to tighten their play in a hurry with a home game against Doniphan on Tuesday and a road tilt with Poplar Bluff on Friday.

Craft said they just have to put the Mehlville game behind them and concentrate on Doniphan.

"Like any sport you play, the next game you play is the most important one," he said.

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