When playing at their best this season, the Central boys attacked the basket with speed and played an aggressive game at both ends of the court.
In the playoff opener at Mayer Lutheran last Thursday, March 7, however, the No. 5 Raiders strayed from that success formula and the result was a 53-37 loss to the No. 4 Crusaders that ended Central’s season.
“We came out real slow in the first half and very hesitant to attack the basket. LHS played a 1-3-1, which we prepared for all week, but we did not attack the rim and played at a very slow pace, which is not what we do we do best,” said Raiders head coach Nat Boyer.
The loss gave the Raiders a final season record of 18-9.
At Mayer Lutheran, the Raiders managed to score just 12 points in the first half and found themselves down 21-12 at halftime.
While the second half was more even at 32-25 in favor of Mayer Lutheran, the Raiders were unable to catch up. A cold night of shooting (10-37 from the field for a 27 percent success rate) didn’t help, and the Raiders were also beaten on the boards 33-28.
Evidence of Central’s reluctance to attack the basket could be seen in the shooting stats, where almost half of Central’s shots attempted in the game came from three point range. The Raiders launched 18 long range shots and connected on just two of them for an 11.1 percent rate.
“We had the type of team that would go as far as our game would allow us to go,” said Boyer. “When we played in attack mode and kept the game up-tempo, I think we could play with a number of teams. All in all, Mayer was the better team on Thursday. They came out and took control from the beginning, we made a run, but in the end it wasn’t enough. They took control of the game and we did not match their intensity or aggressiveness. We earned the five seed and the result of the game on Thursday justified why we got the five seed.”
Tom Messner was Central’s top scorer with 14 points. Taylor Trick added nine points and six rebounds, Trevor Groschen had five points and six rebounds, and Andrew Cardinal scored five points with four rebounds.
While the season had a disappointing ending, Boyer said the Raiders could be proud of their effort this year and the significant amount of success they did have.
“The last game of the season is always tough. You feel the disappointment for the kids and see the end of many kids’ careers that night. Wins come and go. In the end there is only one team in each class that walks out as a champion in the state, but I feel very fortunate as the head coach and a Raider fan to be able to say that these boys this year worked extremely hard, won a lot of ball games, and had a very good time along the way.”
A full season wrap will be available following the team’s awards banquet later this month.
Contact Paul Downer at [email protected]