Less than 24 hours following a hard-fought road loss within its region to Peach County, Central really didn’t have much choice.
The Chargers needed to get momentum back Saturday against Rutland and stay on track in a neck-and-neck race atop the region.
Powered by a big third quarter, the Chargers picked themselves up off the mat Saturday, holding off the Hurricanes for a 65-59 victory.
“I knew they didn’t have long to rest. I was just hoping that they had enough left in the tank to play (Saturday) against a city school that was going to be a tough matchup,” Central head coach Andre Taylor said. “Every game counts, and every game is a big game. We need to take every game we can get. We can’t have any let-ups.”
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Central is currently third in GHSA Region 2-AAA, a half-game behind Howard and a game behind Westside in the standings. Central hosts Westside on Feb. 4 and Howard on Feb. 11.
Having not led the game aside from the final moments of the first half, Central came out of the locker room trailing 28-26 and went right to work, taking over inside the paint and converting loose balls and rebounds into scores. Central’s Takori Clark played a large part, scoring a game-high 19 points and 12 rebounds.
“We just shut them down and played our game, we let the game come to us,” Clark said.
After Central trailed 34-33, Kavizea Oliver gave the Chargers at 38-35 lead, and it turned out to be just the start. Quintavias Virgil drained a 3-pointer, and Clark found his way toward the basket for a layup, which stretched the advantage to a 44-37 with 2:22 left in the third quarter.
“Our second group off the bench brought a lot of energy. We picked up the energy and the tempo. It made a big difference,” Taylor said. “We were crashing the boards, finishing our shots. It just picked up the energy.”
In the girls game, Rutland withstood a furious third quarter effort by Central prior to wresting the momentum from Central to claim a 41-24 win. Rutland held the Lady Chargers without a point through the game’s first 10 minutes and led 24-4 at halftime.
Adriaunna Brown led Rutland with 10 points and 10 steals. Chaunice Smith’s eight points led Central.