Latest addition helps Central boys roll 62-42

Sunday, January 9, 2011
Francis Howell North's Donte Wilkerson guards Central's David Watts during the second quarter Saturday at the Tiger Shootout. (Kristin Eberts)

In his first game with the Central Tigers, Curtis Branch helped his team to a comfortable 62-42 win over Francis Howell North at Saturday's Central-hosted Tiger Shootout.

The 5-foot-10 senior, who was not eligible to play during the first semester of the school year, scored 16 points, made three 3-pointers and was the clear director of the Central offense when he entered the game.

But those are not the things people -- including Francis Howell North fans -- were talking about after the game.

"Make sure you talk to them about how you made that kid fall down," interjected a parent wearing a Francis Howell fleece as Branch answered questions after the game. "I'm from that school. That was funny."

With 5 minutes, 20 seconds left in the game and the outcome in little doubt, Branch headed to the basket from the right wing. Then he stopped, backed out and headed back toward the goal again before pulling back one more time.

Central's Curtis Branch goes in for a layup while chased by Francis Howell North's Andre Wooten during the second quarter of their game Saturday. (Kristin Eberts)

This was more than his defender could handle.

"I just looked over and he fell," Branch said quietly. "I didn't know what to do."

The sequence got the crowd buzzing and sent The Jungle, Central's student section, into a frenzy. There were bows, multiple reenactments of the fall and an extended cheer.

"It felt good," Branch said of the attention.

A whistle stopped the play, but it didn't stop the parent from speculating about Branch's plans.

Central's James Lane puts up a shot against Francis Howell North's Kyle Lemons during the second quarter Saturday.

"So were you going to dunk that one?" the Knights fan asked.

Branch: "Yeah, I was."

Fan: "You were going to get it, huh? You think you had it?"

Branch: "Yeah, I had it."

It was the standout moment in the otherwise uneventful debut of a player expected to make the already 9-3 Tigers a better team.

Central's Ramsey Scott and Francis Howell's Phillip Snipes fight for a loose ball as Central's Branton Reeves looks on during the fourth quarter of a game during the 16th annual Tiger Shootout on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011, at Cape Central High School. Central won 62-42. (Kristin Eberts)

"I thought it went well," Central coach Drew Church said. "He's been busting his tail. It's hard for a kid -- especially a high school kid -- to practice for two or three months without playing. He's done a great job.

"He's taking care of business in the classroom, and he did well tonight. He's still got to understand a little bit how we play, but he's very unselfish and he fits in because he tries to get other people involved. And if they take something away, he also has the ability to penetrate and make shots. He's really going to help us and we're excited to have him."

Senior James Lane fueled a quick start for Central over the Knights (5-8), scoring six points -- including two on an emphatic dunk -- as the Tigers opened an 11-2 lead at the outset.

"He plays hard," Church said of Lane. "That's what you know you're going to get from James night in and night out. He's going to get his because he plays hard, rebounds, gets loose balls and goes after the ball. That's how he does it."

Lane finished with a game-high 20 points while T.J. Tisdell, the Tigers' other interior threat, added 10 points.

Central's T.J. Tisdell shoots over Francis Howell's Braxton Martinez during the third quarter of a game during the 16th annual Tiger Shootout on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011, at Cape Central High School. Central won 62-42. (Kristin Eberts)

Central nearly held the Knights scoreless in the second quarter.

Francis Howell North's only basket came just before the halftime buzzer sounded.

"Defensively, I think we played a little harder and a little better than we have," Church said. "We worked this week on trying to pressure the ball a little more and trying to step up our defensive intensity a little bit, and I think they did that and that led to some buckets for us."

The Tigers took a 29-12 lead into halftime and widened the margin by another 10 points in the third quarter before emptying the bench not long after Branch provided the game's highlight.

"I'm glad to get the first game over with," Branch said. "My butterflies are gone."


FRANCIS HOWELL NORTH (42) -- Clint Toedtmann 11, Donte Wilkerson 2, Andre Wooten 12, Kyle Lemons 11, Steve Raines 2, Braxton Martinez 2, Dan McGraw 2. FG 14, FT 6-10, F 12. (3-pointers: Toedtmann 2. Fouled out: none)

CENTRAL (62) -- David Watts 1, Andrew Williams 6, T.J. Tisdell 10, James Lane 20, Curtis Branch 16, Justin Espinoza 2, Zach Boerboom 7. FG 25, FT 7-10, F 25. (3-pointers: Williams 2, Branch 3. Fouled out: none)

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