Christmas Tournament: Cape Central bests Advance in quarterfinals

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Central's leading scorer and rebounder was on the bench for most of the third quarter after picking up his third foul early in the period.

Advance appeared ready to take advantage as the Hornets pulled within five points of Central in a quarterfinal of the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament.

But the second-seeded Tigers didn't leave seventh-seeded Advance any more of an opening. They overcame the absence of junior forward Jamal Cox and pulled away for a 71-53 victory Friday night at the Show Me Center.

"We had some guys step up," said Central coach Drew Church, whose squad advanced to the tournament semifinals for the fourth consecutive year. "We fought through some adversity with the foul trouble. I was happy to see that."

The 6-foot-6 Cox, who averages about 19 points and 10 rebounds, missed much of the second quarter with two fouls and scored just four first-half points although Central (5-3) carried a 35-27 lead into the break.

Cox picked up his third foul 1 minute, 20 seconds into the third quarter. He remained on the bench the remainder of the period.

"We had to sit him," Church said.

Advance (7-2) cut its deficit to 36-31 and later 38-33 before the Tigers exploded.

Central ended the third quarter on a 17-3 run to break the contest wide open at 55-36.

Senior guard Garan Evans scored seven of Central's final 11 points in the period.

"Coach really emphasized winning the third quarter. He said if we won the third quarter we'd win the game," Evans said.

Evans had a big performance, scoring a game-high 21 points. He hit four 3-pointers.

"Garan played well. He made good decisions and he's been shooting the ball well," Church said.

Evans said he's been hitting shots during practice, which has carried over into games.

"I've been trying to shoot it well in practice, trying to lead my team," Evans said.

Evans wasn't the only Central player to pick up the slack for Cox, who finished with only seven points.

Marcus Dixon, a burly 6-2 senior forward, scored 14 points.

"I just wanted to go out there and play hard," Dixon said. "Jamal was in foul trouble and I had to step it up."

Andre Statam, a 6-4 sophomore forward, and freshman guard Al Young both added 10 points.

"Marcus is a big strong kid. Andre is another young one who is improving. He's probably one of our better shooters," Church said.

Junior guard Lane Below paced Advance with 18 points. He made three 3-pointers. Senior forward Ethan Barr scored 16 points and senior guard Tyler Middleton added 10.

"We got it down to five, but just couldn't get past that," Advance coach Andrew Halford said of the decisive third quarter. "We got a little too ahead of ourselves. We turned the ball over too many times, they made some free throws and they had a few transition layups and built the lead back up."

Advance led twice early, at 3-0 and 5-3. Evans' 3-pointer put Central up 6-5 and the Tigers never relinquished the lead although the Hornets stayed within range until the closing minutes of the third quarter.

Central's biggest advantage was 21 points in the final period.

"Advance played tremendously hard. They're a good team," Church said.

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