The Central Rebels Boys Varsity Basketball team left Park Hills and travelled to Hillsboro for the annual Gene Steighorst Invitational, where they promptly won all three of their games and claimed the championship trophy.
They knocked off Northwest Cedar Hill, host Hillsboro and then finally took down an upstart Festus squad to win the whole thing. The three wins bumped their limited record to 3-1 on the young season.
The tournament kicked off on Monday against the Northwest Lions, and the Rebels jumped out to an early 18-12 first-quarter lead, helped by big threes from Kannon Harlow and Caden Casey. They then extended their lead in the second with a 19-10 frame that featured seven points each by Harlow and Jobe Bryant.
With a 37-22 lead heading into the second half, Central felt confident but kept their foot on the gas. They dropped 18 in the third and held Northwest to just 12 once again to push the lead even further. The Lions would try to claw their way back in the fourth, but they could only muster 11 points and the Rebels put up 15. That would seal the deal for the 70-45 win.
Harlow was the leading scorer with 17 and hit a trio of treys, while Kendall Horton was right behind with 16 points of his own. Zack Boyd and Bryant rounded out the players in double figures with 13 apiece.
So the Rebs found themselves in the Semifinals and had to take on the Hawks, who had home-court advantage. Things got off to a raucous start in this one, as Central drained 26 points in the first quarter and held Hillsboro to just 13. It wouldn’t get much closer after that either, as they won the second quarter 17-12 for a massive 43-25 lead at halftime.
They kept the kettle on the stove after the break with a 16-12 advantage in the third, helped by 10 points from Boyd, and then muscled through a 17-17 fourth quarter to hang on for the win. The 76-54 end result was more or less over from the jump, but it sent them to the Finals just the same.
The finale pitted the Rebels against the Festus Tigers, who ironically handed them their only loss of the year in the season opener. But this would be a different state of affairs.
Central kept up their theme of starting hot once again with an 18-13 first-quarter advantage. Bryant paced the way with eight points in the frame. That would segue into an incredible performance by Jobe, who tacked on four more in a 16-14 second quarter to give the Rebels a 34-27 lead at the halftime buzzer.
The second half is where Bryant really turned it on though. He hit a pair of buckets and a three-pointer in the third to help Central to 19 points, which set the stage for a dominant fourth quarter. He scored eight of the ten Rebel points and the defense held Festus to just five, holding on for the 63-45 victory and the Tournament Championship.
No surprise here, Bryant was the leading scorer with 27 and was a perfect 4-of-4 from the line. Boyd was the only other player in double figures with 11, but this was a team effort through and through as Central shut down a very dangerous Tigers offense.
Accolades are all well and good, and who doesn’t want a trophy, but the most important thing to take away from this win is that the Rebels really seem to be gelling as a team now. They will look to keep that momentum going on Tuesday as they travel to take on Cape Notre Dame in search of their fourth straight win. Watch the game on the Streamline Sports App.