Central girls basketball team earns second straight win after slump

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Central’s Katie Williams shoots over Seckman’s Lacey Hutson during the second quarter Monday at Central. The Tigers won 51-34. (Fred Lynch)

After a tough mid-season stretch that saw the Central girls basketball team lose 10 of 11 games, the Tigers suddenly are rounding back into form.

The Tigers, led by Alayah Cooper-Johnson, held off a game group from Seckman to win 51-34 on Monday night, their second straight victory. Cooper-Johnson enjoyed her typical scoreline: 20 points, 13 rebounds, eight steals.

But it was far from a one-girl effort. Kadie Orenstein added 10 points and six rebounds, while Bailey Kratochvil had nine points, three assists and four steals. Fellow senior Katie Williams scored six points, and junior guard Kelly Morton followed up a 12-point total in Saturday's win over Rosati-Kain with a solid six-point effort as the Tigers (9-12) enjoyed balanced scoring for the second straight game.

"We look to those two as our senior leaders," Central coach Sherry Shirrell said of Cooper-Johnson and Kratochvil, "but I'm glad Katie stepped it up tonight. And [Orenstein] had a lot of rebounds tonight, too."

Central jumped to a quick 13-3 lead over the Jaguars, with Cooper-Johnson supplying 11 of her team's points in the run. The senior forward scored on a series of drives to the hoop and added a pair of follow-up efforts to get the Tigers off to a fast start.

Central’s Bailey Kratochvil shoots over Seckman’s Roni Knittig during the second quarter Monday.

Central upped its lead to 17-6 after one period and stretched it to 29-7 late in the second before the Jaguars (8-10) closed the half with an 8-0 run to make it 29-15 at the half.

Then Seckman scored the first five points of the third period to pull within 29-20, and the Central fans began to fidget.

They needn't have worried. Cooper-Johnson drew a foul and hit two free throws, then connected on a spinning drive in the lane to push the Tigers' lead back to double digits. A steal by Kratochvil led to a Morton layup, and suddenly it was 35-20.

"We knew [Seckman] had that in them," Shirrell said. "We talked about coming out strong in the second half. Then we gave up those couple of baskets before Alayah just took over."

Cooper-Johnson had one final surge late in the third. After Lacey Hutson scored to pull Seckman within 37-26 with just under a minute left in the quarter, Cooper-Johnson converted a layup off a steal by Central's Maddie Daum, then stole the ball in the backcourt and drove for a layup. She missed, but Kratochvil was there for the putback as the buzzer sounded to put the Tigers up 41-26 heading into the final period.

"Our girls worked hard, especially in that third quarter," Seckman coach Zack Brown said. "They worked hard, they didn't stop, they just kept pushing. [Central] just did more things right tonight than we did."

One of those things was spreading the scoring around, which made the Tigers more difficult to defend.

"I just think it comes through our offense," Orenstein said. "As soon as we run the play and make good cuts and good passes, a lot of people are open for good shots."

And just as Orenstein capitalized on her opportunities, Williams did the same, looking for her shot and even driving to the basket with authority. Something a senior leader is supposed to do.

"Leadership is definitely a part of it," Williams said. "But it's my confidence level. I just wanted to step up and show everyone that they can do it."

Seckman69118--34
Central17121210--51

SECKMAN (34) -- Kori Farmer 10, Becca Buehler 2, Morgan Montgomery 10, Mary Robinson 2, Chelsea Canania 3, Lacey Hutson 7. FG: 12, FT: 8-11, F: 10. (3-pointers: Farmer 2. Fouled out: none)

CENTRAL (51) -- Alayah Cooper-Johnson 20, Kelly Morton 6, Bailey Kratochvil 9, Kadie Orenstein 10, Katie Williams 6. FG: 22, FT: 6-11, F: 15. (3-pointers: Kratochvil 1. Fouled out: none)

JV -- Seckman won 31-28

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