Century outworks JC
Centurions control the glass, hold off Indians' rallies, 69-63

- The very first possession of Monday night's contest against Century on the road turned out to be a bad omen for Johnston City and their head coach Jerry Hampleman.

With the Centurions having the ball and the Indians on defense, Century missed four consecutive shots but grabbed all four of the rebounds.

Although Century eventually came up empty on the trip after turning the ball over, this set the stage defensively for what would eventually cost the Tribe in this non-conference affair.

The much smaller Century squad outrebounded the taller Indians 35-27 which doesn't seem too bad.

But that advantage was 19-4 by halftime.

This spread, especially 10-offensive rebounds in the first two quarters, helped the host build a lead that they wouldn't relinquish in an eventual 69-63 victory.

This was the second triumph over Johnston City on the season as head coach Derek Williams' club bested the Indians, 71-57 to win the consolation championship at the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament two weeks ago.

For the Centurions, many of those second chances resulted in points from sophomore lefty Christian Halvorson.

Halvorson netted a game-best 28-points, many of which were around the basket as he led the rebounding charge with eight.

Junior forward Marcus Davis hit for 17-points while senior Cason Hight stood tall with 15.

“This was good to see because last year rebounding was our biggest struggle. We don't have the size, especially against this team (Johnston City) but it is something that we have working hard at in practice,” said Coach Williams. “We want to get positioning so we can at least get some 'over the back' calls.”

When the Centurions weren't converting from the floor, they were cashing in at the free throw bank, hitting 19-of-27 from the line.

Halvorson was 9-of-12 himself from the charity stripe as the hosts improved to 10-6 on the year.

Johnston City (6-9) managed to put three players in double-digits in scoring, topped by 15-points from senior EJ Thompson, 13-points from sophomore Chase Selby and 12-points from junior Matt Campbell in defeat.

The Indians also shot themselves in the foot, collectively, by committing 16-turnovers in the game and fell behind in the first quarter.

“To me, they (Century) wanted it more than we did tonight. They had way more rebounds than we did but we got back close to them in the fourth quarter. Some of the rebounds we got wasn't because we boxed out, it was because the ball just happened to carom and ended up in our hands,” said Coach Hampleman. “I hate playing zone, I never liked it but we are forced to play zone. We struggle defensively and when we go man, most teams spread the floor on us.”

Coach Hampleman's club managed to hold a couple of brief leads early.

A 3-pointer by Campbell and a pair of inside baskets by junior Luca Gualdoni gave JC a 7-5 spread with 5:29 left in the opening quarter.

However a quick bucket by Hight, one of his four 3-pointers in the contest, gave Century back the lead.

A 10-4 closing of the first quarter gave the Centurions a 21-13 advantage.

Senior Josh Hunt scored just six-points for the host but all three of his field goals happened in the first quarter with a pair of scores in the final run.

He cashed in two of his chances on assists from Halvorsen.

Halvorsen himself added to the Indians misery with a pair of scores, including a 3-pointer from the left wing as Century led by eight.

Johnston City had chances as they showed a few glimpses of turning things around.

Thompson, who was held scoreless in the opening quarter, nailed three of his shots in the second.

In fact he scored three consecutive baskets for JC, and when he got a lob pass for a lay in from senior teammate Gage Hall at the 4:48 mark, the Indians were down just 25-20 as Century took a timeout to adjust.

The Centurions responded with a 7-2 run to take a double-figure lead.

Hight canned another trey and Halvorsen scored on a fast break before assisting senior Justin Sauerbrunn on a bucket for a 32-22 lead.

Gualdoni scored again inside for Johnston City but the Indians went to the lockerroom down eight.

The best scoring move of the night for the Indians came in the opening two minutes of the third quarter.

A 3-pointer from Thompson and a conventional three-point play by senior reserve Hunter Peek (who scored all nine of his points in the second half) capped a quick 6-0 run that again forced a Century pow-wow.

However every brief run by Johnston City on this night was answered by the Centurions, with most of the damage coming on second chance points.

Halvorsen grabbed yet another offensive board and his stick back while being fouled by Gualdoni got the lead back to five at 35-30.

Century outscored the Indians 10-7 the rest of the quarter, with back-to-back 3-pointers by Hight and Davis spreading the lead.

Davis assisted on the Hight score and when Halvorsen added a pair of late free throws the hosts led 45-37 heading to the final frame.

Although the Indians rebounded the ball much better in the third quarter they still gave up three offensive rebounds and added seven more turnovers as they trailed by eight.

“We did a good job of getting rebounds and then we showed discipline by getting the ball back out for some wide-open looks,” said Coach Williams. “Josh Hunt got some key rebounds for us tonight and he got the ball back out to Cason (Hight) for some good looks. It is so good to see that we are coming together.”

Coach Hampleman saw his club make one final push in the early going of the fourth quarter behind Campbell, Thompson and Peek.

Campbell converted a three-point play and Peek and Thompson nailed long distance shots to cut the lead to 52-50 with 5:29 remaining.

But Century quickly answered with baskets by Davis who scored twice on drives in the lane.

His second one turned into an “and-one” for a 59-52 lead.

Coach Williams' team closed out the game by hitting 15-of-21 fourth quarter foul shots, including 9-of-13 in the last 2:17.

In a desperation mode, the Indians managed to pick up some offensive rebounds (nine) in the fourth quarter but they couldn't come up with enough points.

With two free throws by Davis, Century took its largest lead at 67-56 before closing out the win late.

Neither team set the world on fire offensively but the hosts got the most out of their second chances.

Century ended up 21-of-51 (41 percent) from the floor but their 16-offensive rebounds gave them sometimes second and third opportunities.

On the other hand, Johnston City was 25-of-54 overall (46 percent) and just 6-of-19 from long range in the loss.

The Centurions will head back into play Tuesday at Anna-Jonesboro and then they will play against Lovejoy on Saturday at the annual MLK Shootout at Mounds Meridian.

“We are starting to gel as a team. I've added some structure to the offense and we are starting to figure out how to communicate better with each other. At the beginning of the year they weren't thinking for themselves but now they have an understanding and playing the game better,” said Coach Williams. “We are getting better and better as a team.”

Johnston City plays host 1A Webber Township at home on Tuesday night and then play Hamilton County on Friday, also at home.

Later in the month Century and Johnston City will meet for a third time at the inaugural Egyptian Mid-Winter Tournament on January 20.

“We talk to the players about feeding the post and we did it early but then we stopped getting the ball inside and just settled for 3's,” said Coach Hampleman. “We have some 3-point shooters but percentage wise we aren't that good. I would rather get the ball inside first and then come back out for a better rhythm shot. We have been working on these things over and over but the problems still occur.”

Johnston City
Johnston City (63) – Thompson 3 2 3-4 15, G. Hall 1 1 1-1 6, Campbell 4 1 1-1 12, Gauldoni 3 0 0-0 6, Catore 0 0 0-0 0, Edwards 1 0 0-1 2, Peek 2 1 2-3 9, Selby 5 1 0-0 13, H. Hall 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-19, 3FG-6, FT-7-10, PF-20.

Century (69)
– Hight 0 4 3-5 15, Davis 2 2 7-7 17, Hubbard 0 0 0-3 0, Hunt 3 0 0-0 6, Halvorson 8 1 9-12 28, Crockett 0 0 1-2 1, Ryan 0 0 0-0 0, Sauerbrunn 1 0 0-0 2.
2FG-14, 3FG-7, PF-19-27, PF-12.

Fouled Out
– None.
Technical Fouls
– None.