Tigers pull together to thwart Woodland

Thursday, December 27, 2007
Central senior Garrett Pannier defended against Woodland's Timmy Abner during Wednesday's first-round game in the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament at the Show Me Center. (Kit Doyle)

A short-handed Central team defeated the Cardinals 61-43.

Central's Anthony Watts says not just one player on the Tigers stepped up and accepted a leadership role when top scorer Jajuan Bell was suspended indefinitely for breaking a team rule.

Instead, the whole team did.

"Not one player but most mostly the team," Watts said. "Everybody has to step their game up a little bit more without him."

The No. 7 seeded Tigers again put together a team effort Wednesday to beat No. 10 Woodland 61-43 in the first round of the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament at the Show Me Center.

Watts poured in 13 points, Chase Johnson netted 15 points and Landon Ewers grabbed 10 rebounds to help the Tigers move on to the second round where they will play No. 2 Bell City today at 6 p.m.

Central jumped out early, going on a 6-0 run in the first couple minutes, but the Cardinals kept it close by hitting four 3-pointers in the first quarter.

Caleb Lee nailed the first of those four to cut the lead to 6-3. He netted another later in the period with his team down five points to bring the score to 11-9.

Woodland's Josh Hahn also knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:47 remaining in the first quarter. And soon after, Lee scored to give the Cardinals a 14-13 lead.

But Central scored the next two baskets -- both by Johnson -- to take a 17-14 lead heading in the second quarter, a period in which the Tigers tightened up their defensive pressure to prevent Woodland from receiving open looks from behind the 3-point arc.

"They [Woodland] had two who could shoot the ball really well," Watts said. "But it was nothing we couldn't stop.

"We just pressured them more. We did some zone and we did some man. Either way we were pressuring them outside."

The Tigers held Woodland to just six second-quarter points -- and no 3-point field goals -- outscoring the Cardinals 19-6.

Central entered halftime with a 16 point lead at 36-20 and never looked back,

Chase Johnson forced numerous turnovers and also penetrated to the basket.

"He gave us a lot today," Watts said about Johnson. "He hustled and got to the line and made his layups."

Woodland's Jordan King said Johnson's penetration opened up the Tigers offense.

"He did pretty good getting in and opening everybody else up," King said. "He does pretty well on penetration to get everybody else open. So he helps himself out and his team out a lot."

Central will face a tough challenge today against a quick and sharp shooting Bell City team and Watts thinks the Tigers need to work on making fewer turnovers, passing the ball down low more often and getting to the free-throw line more.

Johnson said his Tigers will be ready for the Cubs.

"[We[']ll] get to work against Bell City," Johnson said. "That's going to be a great game. But I know we can play with them."

CAPE CENTRAL17191510--61

WOODLAND (43) -- Caleb Lee 12, Josh Hahn 9, Joe Layton 6, Adam Cureton 5, Kyle Reynolds 5, Josh Freeman 6. FG 26, FT 1-5, F 7 (3-pointers: Lee 2, Hahn 2, Layton 2, Cureton 1, Reynolds 1, Freeman 2. Fouled out: none)

CAPE CENTRAL (61) -- Anthony Watts 13, Chase Johnson 15, Shane Nolen 8, Andrew Williams 5, Zack Boerboom 8, Garrett Pannier 2, Rick Russell 6, Landon Ewers 4. FG 28, FT 4-10, F 7 (3-pointers: Williams 1. Fouled out: none.)

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